The Next Evangelicalism

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I loved this clip - it is a cool opportunity to sit in on a conversation with some great Asian-American Christian thinkers and leaders. Soong Chan had some really cool thoughts to challenge us with, in particular realizing how captive our thinking, our theology and our churches are to Western thought.

I'm definitely adding this to my "to-read" list.

Interview: Soong Chan Rah from Eugene Cho on Vimeo.

The Shaking of All Things

Thursday, May 7, 2009

This is are really good interview with Mike Breen and Eddie Gibbs - you can watch the rest over on ShapeVine. It has some really good metaphor's for what is happening around us and a lot of thought to chew on afterward. Let me know what you think.

Craig Gross & Being the Church in Sin City

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Thought this was a really cool snippet of what Craig and The Strip Church are doing to be the Church in Las Vegas.

Craig Gross on Ministry in Sin City from Url Scaramanga on Vimeo.


Interview with author Ron Martoia [Part 2]

Friday, March 6, 2009


5. I found in a simple google search a number of overly-demonizing critiques of your work. How do we work to be the change in our church communities and handle the often 'demonizing' accusations of those who disagree?
Yes great question and yes I am a reincarnation of the devil himself apparently according to those website along with a host of others you and I know. I think gentleness is the only road on this one. Stages of human development and faith development tell us that you can't grasp a different level of development other than your own center of gravity. So I don't have hope for others to just jump in head first. But I do think there are some very well place questions we can ask that really put people in a place of evaluating whether or not the Christianity they are defending is the real deal, their personalized construction overlaid with all sorts of baggage, or a modernistic version that has canonized the way we have been doing it the last 200 years as THE way. We have to ask really good questions about the core issues and the outcomes we are getting.

6. Others who criticize your work say you analyze the problems well and it resonates with them, but you offer few solutions. It seems to me that your work intentionally offers a great framework for us to take and adapt in our context and sphere of influence. What do you say?
Well you are apparently the careful reader (lol)! Here is the deal, everyone wants in the box packaged answers. That is a product of the assembly line industrial revolution. We have been doing that for some time. Go to conferences get the in the box small group stuff, or evangelism training package or the usher greeter training kit.... you know what I mean. So people want more of the same. But if we haven't learned anything in the last 100 years haven't we learned that all the in the box programs really haven't brought deep lasting life change? I am convinced that indigeniety is the key. You need some sound processes that you indigenize in your local context in ways that work with who you and your leadership team are for the ethos of your church and the people you are trying to reach. One size does not fit all in fact one size means it fits everyone poorly. So I try and avoid the platitudinous prescriptions that people are always pressing for.

7. If you were asked to boil the whole of Scripture down to its most basic elements, what would those be?
We are imago dei creatures infected as we are, and the good news is that shalom wholeness and wellness is available to every single person which reverses that infection. Our role on the planet is to broker that shalom wholeness and bring everything back to the original edenic state. That includes me, others, and the entire creation.

8. If you could mentor us in only a few sentences, what would you say to young leaders in the church of the U.S?
Don't let anyone convince you to do reruns, do overs or keep doing the way we have always done it. Reflect and seek interior quiet more than you do. Help people navigate liminal space more than pump them full of doctrine. Give up monologue and engage in dialogue. The million dollar skill set into the 21st century will be dealing with great emotional process in your own life and the lives of those around you. It is the #1 I'm being asked about these days and one of the main things I am talking about.
Thank you so much Ron for taking the time to not only answer my questions but also to speak into our lives.

If you haven't read his books, they are a must read on your list. You can find out more about Ron Martoia and some of his current projects on his Velocity Culture site.


Interview with author Ron Martoia [Part 1]

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I recently got the opportunity to send some questions to Ron Martoia for the benefit of all the readers of Tomorrow's Church. Ron has written a number of books and articles, but his most recent, Transformational Architecture, has been a really good read for me. It is both stimulating and challenging - I highly recomend it. Ron is on a mission to recapture our understanding of God, to be fuller and to help us regain our voice in today's culture. Enjoy.

1. Ron, what has God been speaking to you about lately?
I guess there are a few things that have been occupying my thoughts these days. 1. The need for us to engage a new transformational model of life change. All our information exchange is apparently not getting it done...lives aren't being changed if Gallup and Barna are even close to correct. 2. We need to figure out how to revoice Christianity. By revoice I mean what Karen Armstrong alludes to in The Great Transformation. We are known for being legalistic (think Dave Kinnaman's research in UnChristian) and narrow. How do we revoice and reposition our following Jesus in a way that is inclusive and compelling? 3. I am more convinced than ever we need a blending of kataphatic and apophatic spirituality, in fact this is the focus or the book I am working on right now.

2. For those that have not yet read Static or Transformational Architecture, how would you summarize those works into a couple of sentences.
Static was an effort to deal with 5 big static creating terms and reframe into a larger story the common fall-redemption story so common in evangelicalism, a story that makes it sound like the gospel exists to get people to heaven. Instead I suggest a creation-fall-redemption-restoration paradigm that starts the story of God with imago dei of Gen 1 instead of the fall of Gen 3. Kind of neat to start the story where God starts it huh? TA was an effort to take that bigger framing story and put it on the ground in spiritual conversations. A sort of postmodern...can I say the word....ugh...evangelism. Hate that word. But the point of TA is to help people rethink God, the goal of relationship with God and how to enter that from a variety of new vantage the drive we all have to be god, and the propensity to see God in creation.

3. The challenge to find the 'fuller' narrative of God is a beautiful opportunity to rethink our dialogue (or lack of) in our culture. How do we take that concept and apply it to the politics of our country? Or do we? The Christian voice exercised in the Democratic process seems to only play to our disadvantage. I think many of my younger generation feel disillusioned by how to play our faith out in a political way. What insights would you offer us?
Boy that is a loaded one but let me make a couple really brief observations. 1. Jesus' interaction with the politics of the day as a mechanism of change for the masses didn't seem to be a high agenda item for him. 2. While I think we need to work all we can for a more just society I wonder what models Jesus left us that invite us to plunge in neck deep to the political process. I struggle with answering that well.

4. Your description of 1P (first person), 2P (second person) and 3P (third person) views of God was really eye opening. I had not previously considered how I unintentionally interact with and perceive God. What are some ways you engage the 1P and 3P views of God in your own journey?
I often do field gaze mediation, a kind of eyes open centering practice that is a very 3P practice. My 1P experiences are more of me learning to realize this person sitting across from me is imago dei. They are "breath of God" creatures. What does this mean to how I love, interact, not judge them? Loving them as self is a 1P practice. Not loving them as I love my self that is very egoic. But loving them as if they were self...and they are...I'm imago dei and so are they. This is a daily practice I engage, and has it ever challenged me, uncovered my impure motives, nastiness, and how self centered I am.

...more to come tomorrow.

Missional Ministry

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is a re:post from Craig Groeschel's Swerve blog. I thought this was a great insight on how to live our Christian lives and go about making disciples.

If you plan to reach the next generation for Christ, don’t ask them to believe what you believe, instead invite them to do what you do.

Beliefs are a dime a dozen. This generation has seen every variety of spiritual beliefs you could imagine (and many you couldn’t imagine).

They’re extremely turned off by people who don’t live what they claim to believe.

This generation doesn’t want to hear about what you believe. They want to see your beliefs in actions. And if you’re daring enough to live like Jesus, you’ll have a shot at reaching the next generation.

  • If your version of Christianity is limited to what you’re against, you’ll not likely reach many.
  • If, on the other hand, your faith is so alive you must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and love the outcasts—all in the name of Christ, the King, you will attract interest.

As strange as it might sound, if you truly live a missional and Spirit filled life, the young generation might join you and do what you do, then one day believe what you believe.

I think this is a great model for discipleship, stop instructing people to believe the way you do and just start inviting them to do what you do. Thoughts?

Living Faithful

Sunday, February 15, 2009

So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.

Jesus of Nazereth, Matthew 6.34

I have been re:reading the Gospels as of late, re:finding Jesus' teachings and re:evaluating his interactions with his culture. And as I read about God's care for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, it challenged me on a personal level, as it relates to the church of tomorrow.

I like to think that this blogging effort here on Tomorrow's Church is about dreaming of what the Church should be and could be in the future. But, it is plenty about worry for me, worrying we've messed it up too much, worried we've maimed the voice of Jesus' teachings, worried that we must re:found ourselves in the person of Jesus - worried.

Seems so silly doesn't it? The Church is the Bride of Christ, could not be mine - God's hand has been authoring this redemption story, not mine. I did not start this story and I can not end it either. I have a part to play, but it is not universal and beckons me to live a humble and faithful life today! Gandhi was so right when he said we must be the change we seek.

Living faithfully is a huge undertaking and enough work for today. Perhaps on some levels we have over-strategized, over-criticized, over-amplified the need for 'tomorrow-thinking' and under-delivered on today. We always want the bigger, the grandiose, the keys of knowledge about the future - yet we fall considerable short on the simplicity of Jesus' teachings. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is one such example and a great starting point for today.

I want to be the change I seek. And though I'm not advocating abandoning this blog or saying we should not plan and dream about the future, I am saying it should come with a heavy dose of humility and reality. A reality that God's in control, God can be trusted and God has not promised us tomorrow but has given us today to live faithfully within.

I've got a good start, but a long way to go in being this and doing it faithfully - you?

God the Father? Pt. 2

Saturday, February 7, 2009

On my trip to Boston earlier this week I had the opportunity to teach a Theology 1 class. The professor for the class asked if I could talk about how theology affects ministry. I thought it was a good opportunity to hear the students' voice in a discussion I've been having as of late regarding how our relationship with our parents can affect our perception of God.

Something that stuck out to me in the discussion with the students was from a girl named Allie, who had grown up in a broken home, like many others that I work with in Teen Challenge and around the world. Allie mentioned that in her early years as a believer she had trouble identifying God as her father because of the abandonment and failures in her own family. She said clarity came as she got older and was able to understand a little more the nature of God and as she aged, her mother and other family members became more intentional in affirming her and making sure she understood that her father leaving was not her fault.

In part 1 of this series, I asked what is looks like to be intentionally involved in a child's life who is lacking a parent? I believe Allie's story begins to answer that question, we must affirm that the situation in their lives are beyond their control, that it is not their fault and help them develop an understanding of the unfailing fatherhood of God. Any thoughts?

An Important Distinction

Monday, February 2, 2009
This struck me as I'm trying to finish The Forgotten Ways and what a task it has been. I feel like Jacob and I've been wrestling this book forever - but it has been good. So instead of saying it my way, I'll just quote Mr Hirsch.

Our problem, it seems, is that we too quickly identify the concrete-historical expressions of church as the body of Christ. And while there is a truth to this, for the church is the body of Christ, perhaps the greater truth is that the body of Christ is the church. When we say that the church is the body of Christ, it claims a certain authority for a particular expression of church. To say that the body of Christ is the church is to open up possibilities as to how it might physically and organizationally express itself. This doesn't just localize it to one particular expression of church. The body can express itself in many different ways and forms. The distinction is paradigmatic. To restate it in these terms enables us to escape the monopolizing grip that the institutional image of church holds over our theological imaginations, and allows us to undertake a journey of reimagining what it means to be God's people in our own day and in our own situations.


God the Father? Pt. 1

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Over the last couple of days I've been reading through a book by Donald Miller titled "To Own A Dragon: Reflections on growing up without a Father." Donald Miller is one of my favorite authors because of his raw honesty and I enjoy the wit that he adds to his writing. I was actually looking for one of his other books, "Through Painted Deserts" when I decided to pick up this book- The library didn't have the other.

Initially I thought, I grew up with a good father-this book might not apply to me. Oh, how wrong I was. I got about 5 chapters deep and Donald Miller started speaking into my life, as a man now, and as a future father.

Miller begins to discuss how our parents and the authority around us influence our perception of God, the Father. For most of us, our parents weren't perfect, and for a lot of us we grew up without one or the other- and those things affect us whether we realize it or not. We can believe that God is present, real, and active: but like Miller touches on, we can forget that He is a father, He isn't a distant authority figure, but He is close, personal and present in our daily lives.

I want to share this from Miller's book, I'd love to hear some of your thoughts:

"I started thinking about the wisdom that is handed down when we have authority figures in our lives. We learn a trade by submitting to authority, we learn a work ethic by submitting to authority, we gain an academic life by submitting to authority, and more than any of this, we learn who we actually are by submitting to authority. And when we have earned authority ourselves, we teach others, because for so many years we have been taught. A guy like me, then, who has a resistance to authority, is begging to be useless. What I mean is, he isn't receiving any advice on how to live, and in turn he isn't able to hand advice down to those who are coming behind him. And if he is handing down advice, it isn't good advice. I mean it isn't tested and tried by years of experience."

Is there some knowledge and wisdom that children who are missing one or both parents have to learn on their own?

If so, do we have a responsibility to pass that knowledge on to children who are lacking that authority figure in their lives? Can we even be that sort of presence in their lives? If so, what's that look like? Thoughts?