Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Any thoughts on topics of conversation for our January gathering and beyond? Post them here and let's get some ideas flowing.
What are you wondering? Any books or ideas worth exploring. Anything you have passion about or expertise in and would like to share? Any topics from last year that we should revisit?
The floor is yours....
Monday, December 04, 2006
Our last cohort gathering of 2006 is this Thursday,
at The Flying Saucer (in the pool room) 11 10th Avenue South Located behind the Union Station hotel Nashville, TN 37203 (615) 259-PINT
This month Chris Seay will be our guest speaker and he will share his thoughts on "recovering the biblical narrative". Chris is one of the leading voices of the emerging church conversation and this topic is near and dear to his heart.
Also, in the interest of being good guests, the Flying Saucer asked that we check the menu and call in our lunch orders early is we can. I'll post the menu here tomorrow and when you call just tell them you are with the "Pool Room" group.
If you have any questions hit me back, otherwise I'll see you Thursday.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Featured speakers include Diana Butler Bass, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Nanette Sawyer, Karen Ward, Tony Jones, with Troy Bronsink leading the worship ... a little something for everyone, whether you're mainline or not, denominational or not.
The event will take place on the campus of Columbia in Decatur, GA. Registration is $275 (includes lunch both days), though there are a limited number of $75 registrations available to folks who work in settings where they don't have continuing education funds (if you're interested in this option, e-mail email@example.com ... pre-approval is required) . Housing is available on the campus or in nearby hotels.
The seminary strongly urges folks to register online at http://www.peopleware.net/index.cfm?siteID=572&event=2007LL&subeventDisp=CESEMJAN .
I'm glad to be a clearing house for folks who want to carpool down together. Please make your reservation and then e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know you're signed up. I'll get in touch with everyone who contacts me in early January to make carpooling and any other arrangements.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Today I got word that Chris Seay is sick and will not be able to join us for the Cohort gathering tomorrow. He was willing to come up just for us but I assured him that it wasn't necessary and that we'd see him in December instead.
So, tomorrow for the Cohort come out ready to share your freshest wonderings. Given all we've talked about this year and where you are in your life and faith practice, what are the questions you have? What are you excited about? What are you hoping to see God do next? Where have you been surprised by the kingdom?
I think we'll just pass a hat around and drop in questions and then read through and discuss them, letting our wonderings set the tone.
If anyone has something they'd like to discuss or present on let me know tomorrow (496-2008) and we'll get it together.
See you then.
Peace in Jesus,
Thursday, October 26, 2006
So, how do we want to handle guest speakers? We all talked about Chris coming in at last month’s meeting and, because we agreed it was a good idea together, we invited him. Is this the best way to approach having “speakers” when we they want to come? Do we like that format enough to try and find people to “speak” to us, or is the occasional “expert” a better way to go?
Again, a penny for your thoughts.
So far people who want to use the cohort as a platform for getting word out about their organization have been in one of two groups. First, there are ministries that want to share what they’re about because they have common values with us. I’ve been inviting them to come to a cohort meeting knowing that we have announcements at the end and they can share the if they’d like (Habitat for Humanity is one example). Second, there are folks who have a product they are trying to sell (it can even be ministry related i.e. webpage software for churches) and want to access the “emergent demographic”. These folks I have thanked but tried to explain that we are not a group where that type of relationship (vendor/customer) is what we’re cultivating. They can join us as people, but I discourage their participation as salespeople.
However, there are some areas (like the book thing did with Tim last month, or Jay’s Brian McClaren announcement) that don’t quite fit into either group. These are things that are of general benefit to our community life and things we should share. So, my questions to us is, how do we want to handle these things? Not in a policy way so much (i.e. where is the line?) as a relational one (what kind of life are we trying to have together?).
Thoughts, opinions, feelings?
It seems to me these choices should be made as a group so, what say you?
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The Godfather himself is coming to speak at a conference in Franklin in November. I received an e-mail today asking me to help spread the word throughout the Nashville area about Brian’s appearance, and this conference, which looks extremely interesting.
Missio Dei – “The Mission of God for the Next Generation” is a conference sponsored by an organization called Wiconi International. Wiconi is an organization focused on the intersection of Christianity and the Native American community, attempting to bridge the cultural gaps between westernized, colonial Christianity and native American culture.
The Missio Dei conference appears to be a regular gathering, and this year they are featuring Brian speaking at two different times, focusing especially on embracing God in the global church. The conference will be November 9 – 11 at the Christ Community Church in Franklin, and will feature worship from many cultures, including Middle Eastern, Pakistani, African, and Native American. Brian is schedule to speak at a luncheon for church leaders at The Factory in Franklin, and will be the keynote speaker at the Friday evening session of the conference (7:00 p.m.). The materials suggest that the Friday evening session is open to the public without registration, which the church leaders luncheon does require registration and costs some bucks.
I frankly don’t now much about Wiconi other than what I’ve picked up on the website, but this looks extremely interesting in thinking about issues of multiculturalism, so let me know if you are interested in attending.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Here is what we sent to Scot McKnight in regard to his book manuscript we read together. The recording didn't work (my fault) so this was based on my notes. If anyone wants to make corrections, post away!
Reflections and responses to Scot McKnight's forthcoming book A Community Called Atonement, 10/5/06.
We had lots of conversation and sifting through it all I think there are about 5 salient points.
1.) Is Atonement the best word to use in all this? We talked for a long while about the Biblical connections to atonement and how atonement of sins in Lev 16 is different than the forgiveness of sins on the cross. Jesus linking of the Cross and Passover further complicate the matter. So, question asked – what if a new word should be coined? Maybe you could borrow one from Doug;)
2.) The emotional highpoint seems to come in the middle. At some point McKnight tells an incredibly poignant story (it's from a woman's email; she is a nurse who washes the feet....) that is the emotive high point of the book but it comes just past the mid-point. We couldn't help thinking sermonically at that point - that the climax came but there were still pages and pages to read.... anyway, worth a thought
3.) Golf is Good. Loved the golf metaphor of needing “every club in the bag”. So helpful. AS was his whole emphasis on finding an atonement theology that “works”. We felt it was a good via media between the academy and the parish. He nails it there.
4.) Atonement Wars, Really? Tim (West) asked if we experienced the Atonement Wars referenced by McKnight at a “street level” in our contexts. Most of us agreed that we did not. We all experience the fights about other stuff in our protestant traditions (which are broad, Non-denom to Episcopal), but not that. However, we know the fights are going on (you don’t need to look too hard on the net to find the fray) and that’s where his offering of a missional implication for the theology really helped. If the fight is not your concern, the book still really matters.
5.) The Kingdom gets back burner-ed. Some felt that the book read as though McKnight thought the atonement made possible the coming of the Kingdom of God, in Jesus. So, basically, the Kingdom wasn’t really happening in Jesus life and ministry until the cross and the atonement happened. I know this isn’t what he believes, but the group thought this should be pointed out.
Compiled by Dixon Kinser
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
We have our next cohort gathering this Thursday, October 5 from 11:30-1:00 at the Flying Saucer in the pool room.
Our conversation will revolve around the idea/theology of the atonement in a postmodern context. We will be discussing Scot McKnight's new book that deals with this subject and record the conversation in order that he can make changes based on our feedback. You do not "have to have read" to come and be part of the conversation. We will have someone summarize McKnight's argument so we can all participate.
If you have any questions email me at email@example.com and if this is your first Cohort, you have to fight...I mean your lunch is free. Sorry, too much Fight Club;)
See you there,
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Our next Cohort gathering is this Thursday September 7 from 11:30-1:00 at the Flying Saucer.
It sounds like this season might be one of continuing some conversations that we began last year, so, this gathering will focus on issues of race, racism and justice. A friend of mine, Jud Laughter (PhD candidate at Vandy in critical race theory), will be presenting some perspectives on race and it's social and cultural dynamics. We'll then be pursuing a missional response together in the conversation. Jud's stuff is really excellent and provocative (for example - race is a socio-cultural designation - it has nothing to do with skin tone) and should be excellent.
Likewise, if you like to read, Tim will have manuscripts of the new John Franke and Scott McKnight books for us to read and discuss for next time in order to help the authors tweak the material before it's published. He'll give us more details this Thursday as well.
Finally, if this is your first time to visit the cohort we would like to buy you lunch. Please, allow us the honor.
If you have any questions hit me back.
Peace in Jesus,
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Last time we met, one of us asked "what is emergent"? Quite a question. Are you emergent? Am I? What is "it," what is "us"?
So, I stumbled (in a weird, weird way) across this article on-line. It is written from a conservative Baptist perspective, and both defines and criticicizes Emergent and the emerging church movement. I found it informative, interesting, and a bit infuriating.
I hope you do to:
Lots of Love:
Friday, August 04, 2006
"What You Win Them with Is What You Win Them To"
This statement, spoken by Randy Harris at the Lipscomb Summer Celebration, is an idea that has stuck with me, in my craw since I heard it. I realized in listening to it the bald faced truth of it.
Many churches over the last generation or so have adopted an "attractional model." In other words, offer enough programs or special services or cool teaching (or teachers) or hip worship, and people will come into your church. Once you've got them there, you just keep offering those things enough because you have to keep the people there. This is ESPECIALLY true in a place like Nashville where churches are like lobbyists in Washington; you can't swing a dead rat without hitting one. If you don't offer someone what they like, they'll just go somewhere else. So, following the title of this post, if you offer someone a great children's program and then children's program changes or goes away, then they just leave or stay and complain about it.
The focus then needs to become in our congregations, not the attractional model, but the missional model. I've talked before about how "missional church" or "missional Christian" should be absolute redundancies, but the sad fact of the matter is that our congregations have become more like affinity-based social clubs, rather than organizations with the mission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28. What we have to be clear about is the purpose we are here for. We are to be a blessing to the world, recalling God's call to Abraham in Genesis 12. We are to work with God in bringing His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven, creating disciples of Jesus not simply admirers of him or adherents to some beliefs about him.
The challenge comes in working within an existing church to do this. I think Otter Creek is starting down this road. You can listen to some of the recent Sunday sermons (last week's Purpose of Membership, specifically) and hear a greater calling to discipleship, that our elders will be asking us the questions about our discipleship walk. Undoubtably, there have been people who have come to Otter Creek for our children's programs and/or our worship and/or whatever else (not being like other Churches of Christ). I hope those people will join with the elders and other members in this push toward greater discipleship (even though statistics apparently show that churches that begin this kind of transition from attractional to missional/discipleship focused lose 50-70% of their attendance).
I firmly believe that a congregation that devotes itself whole-heartedly to following Jesus could make a change in its community. I pray God gives me the strength and perseverance and patience to walk through this with my brothers and sisters, and that Otter Creek can be a place where disciples of Jesus are formed and matured and grow in the faith with a mind toward Jesus and a heart for the world.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
The Nashville cohort, which has been off for the summer, will officially reconvene on Thursday August 3rd, at the Flying Saucer from 11:30-1:00. The agenda will be simple, hang out, reconnect and make new friends. The inimitable Sam Davidson will be hosting the gathering and fun should be had by all.
Be thinking about anyone you know who might be a good "guest speaker" at a cohort this year. I've met a few folks who I've asked to contribute and spur conversation but I'm sure I'm not the only one. If you know anyone, of have a particular area of expertise yourself, let me know as this get put in place for the fall. As for honorariums...we can at least offer to buy them lunch:)
I look forward to reconnecting with you all soon.
Peace in Jesus,
Monday, June 05, 2006
The church that Phil and I attend, Otter Creek, will be holding a dodgeball tournament this Saturday, June 10, at 4:00 p.m. The money raised will go towards missions teams going to the UK and Guatemala this fall.
The cost is $10 per player ($3 for spectators). If you want to put a team together, you'll need at least 6 players over the age of 16, and each team must be co-ed. You can also sign up individually, and we'll put you with a team.
If any of y'all are interested in playing, or know people who are, shoot me an email at tiffsniff(at)hotmail(dot)com. Last year's tournament was a blast, and we're expecting this year to be even better.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
The topic this month was "Worship" and it was quite the discussion. Here's a recap from Taylor Burton Edwards of Emergent Methodist:
There were maybe 12 or so of us there today-- including a "recovering" Willow Creek staffer, a guy who's ended up having a Bible study meeting gathering in his home, another guy who is a poet/writer and erstwhile home church pastor (with 15 people 7 of whom are children under the age of 13), a youth/young adult pastor at a local Episcopal Church, a volunteer from that ministry, and another guy who was interested in the overall topic. In all about 4 of us were newcomers to the group today. We also had a special guest from Kiev, Ukraine-- a guy named Paul Thorson who's planting a church there, and who has just published a book called Painting in the Dark -- all of us there today got free copies. And yes, it was all guys today... I think this is a real challenge point for the whole emerging thing, to what degree it really represents male only leadership, even if it is not intentional, but that's another story.
Today's topic-- worship...
The conversation was rather free-form, and I think everyone contributed along the way. I think we came to a few common affirmations, though I don't think that was the point of what we were doing...
a) Worship is fundamentally corporate... worship itself is an act of a communal body.
b) Christian worship is primarily responsive more than generative... that is, in our worship we respond to what God has done for us and through us more than we try to "gin up" something we offer to get God's attention or even to offer a pleasing sacrifice to God.
c) Christian worship is relational-- God isn't the object, but the subject (the Thou, in Buber's terms, not the It) of our action, and we are certainly not the object either. Not even of God. We're all in this together.
d) God may not need for there to be a presider-- someone whose role is to help "conduct" the giftedness of the people in an orderly and profound way-- but we probably do.
We were of several minds on talking about whether worship and prayer are the same thing... my own tilt is that they're not... that prayerfulness or attentiveness to the presence of God in all things is something we may well strive to do individually at all times, but that's not the same thing, per se, as worship.
We were also struggling with the notion of strengths and weakness. Paul Thorson reminded us that God really makes a huge difference in our lives in the places of our deepest weakness... so we maybe need to be more thoughtful about whether we look at worship only as a means of offering our best to God, and need to make room for the possibility that God is also waiting for us to cry out in our distress, failure and weakness... no happy clappy all the time, no pep-talk self-help feel-good stuff as dominant mode, etc.
We will not be meeting during the summer months unless unofficially we get a group up. Have a great summer, y'all!!
Thursday, April 27, 2006
So, I offer a few questions for reflection before next Thursday:
What is worship?
What is your theology of worship?
How has that shaped your praxis of worship for the emerging context?
As always, feel free to add other questions through comments.
I'm looking forward to the conversation.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
- With the first Christian community practicing their faith as a minority religion, can Christians today do the same as a majority?
- How has the notion of empire and colonialism shaped evangelism?
- How does one go about a theology of money and/or capitalism?
- What is the church’s relationship to the state and vice versa?
- What role should one’s faith play when campaigning for political office?
- How has our understanding of democracy shaped church polity?
- What if the American Revolution, with its believed divine inspiration, had failed?
- How does one navigate the often blurry line between church and state when it comes to social programming?
- Is America a “Christian nation”?
- How does one live missionally and prophetically in today’s America?
"God & Country"
This coming Sunday (February 5th) our church will recognize scout Sunday. This is a tradition that we have taken up in the past few years as a way of recognizing the role scouting has played and continues to play in the formation of many of our young people. Among the many virtues scouting promotes is the importance of faith in God. And so it is appropriate that we set aside a Sunday to acknowledge the relationship this family of faith has long had with the various scouting traditions: Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies and others.
I confess this has presented something of a challenge for me. The challenge comes not from what scouts represent, their program, or values. It is quite clear that scouting has had a tremendous and positive impact on the young men and women who participate in it as well as the adults who lead them. No, the challenge comes when our national flag is processed in the context of Sunday worship and the pledge to that flag is recited.
I consider myself a fairly patriotic individual. I value the democratic freedoms on which the United States is founded; particularly the first amendment freedom of expression and the establishment clause that allows us to practice our religious beliefs free of government intrusion or interference. At sporting events I regularly choke up at the singing of the national anthem. I understand the value of the pledge of allegiance as a means of teaching the importance of citizenship.
All that said, Sunday worship is a time that we gather first and foremost as citizens of the Kingdom of God to raise our voices in praise to the one to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance. That Kingdom is one not bounded by national borders, but includes the people of every tribe and nation. What makes me uncomfortable is pledging our allegiance to anything other than God during that time we have set aside specifically to worship God. It may be a poor analogy but I would liken it to making a date with someone, showing up and then talking about someone else. Often when God speaks through the prophets about his relationship with the people it is as a “jealous God”.
As much as I value our flag and the nation that it represents, the primary symbols for Sunday morning are the font -where the waters of baptism remind us of our identity as those who belong to God through Jesus Christ- and the table- where we are invited from east and west, north and south to be fed as one people. I believe this is who we are truly called to be, before nation or party or any other factional identity.
That is the reason why I initially asked that the pledge not said when the scouts processed at church, because I am cautious about confusing or diluting our worship.
As your pastor I am in essence the theologian in residence, and felt I needed to share my thoughts on this with you on why I had suggested that we refrain from saying the pledge on Sunday. I have been asked to reconsider my position in deference to those for whom the procession and pledge are meaningful. In the spirit of practicing what I preached this past Sunday (January 29th) I feel I ought to yield to the love and respect I hold for our scouts, their families and those who value this tradition. Perhaps together we can continue to discern the ways our faith leads us to serve Christ as well as our country.
“The elemental truth of Babylon’s apocalyptic situation is Babylon’s radical confusion concerning her own identity and, in turn, her relationship to Jerusalem. The awful ambiguity of Babylon’s fallenness is expressed consummately in Babylon’s delusion that she is, or is becoming, Jerusalem. This is the same moral confusion which all principalities suffer in one way or another; this is the vocational crisis, really, which every nation in history endures. This is the vanity of every principality—and notably for a nation—that the principality is sovereign in history; which is to say, that it presumes it is the power in relation to which the moral significance of everything and everyone else is determined. Babylon’s famous wantonness, Babylon’s decadence, Babylon’s profligacy has only most superficially to do with materialism, lust, or the decline of moral values, and Babylon’s fall is not particularly a punishment for her greed or vice or aggrandizement, despite what some preachers allege. Babylon’s futility is her idolatry—her boast of justifying significance or moral ultimacy in her destiny, her reputation, her capabilities, her authority, her glory as a nation. The moral pretenses of Imperial Rome, the millennial claims of Nazism, the arrogance of Marxist dogma, the anxious insistence that America be “number one” among nations are all versions of Babylon’s idolatry. All share in this grandiose view of the nation by which the principality assumes the place of God in the world. In the doom of Babylon by the judgment of God this view is confounded and exposed, exhausted and extinguished. A magnificent celebration in heaven extols the triumph of God’s sovereignty over principalities as well as human beings (Rev. 18:20; 19:1-2).”—Stringfellow, p. 51
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Great conversation today! Thank you all for it.
Here are two more resources regarding truth. The first is Jim’s article that he read from by William Placher. The second is a short sermon by Paul Tillich about the “doing the truth”. This is some of the stuff I was referencing about the practice of truth. Add more at your discretion.
Is the Bible True? by William C. Placher
Doing the Truth by Paul Tillich from The Shaking of the Foundations
Once again, I apologize for missing the last half hour of the conversation today. One day I'll be able to stay for an entire meeting.
I did want to let you all know of a podcast that a buddy of mine and I have started doing called the Post Restoration Podcast. It's a couple of Church of Christ guys talking about a lot of the things that we've been talking about at the Cohort. It's really rough, but of course, we'd like people to listen and add their thoughts to the conversation.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
"Brian McLaren scares me. It isn't his ambiguity on the question of [you name it] that worries me so much as it is his reckless passion for ambiguity in the first place, and his utter fear that someone, anyone, will take offense for any reason; the larger disease of which the first is a symptom."i hereby post this comment from a blog...and i post it out of context. but it seems to speak to one of the things about "truth" that i find interesting. why is it that "truth," or perhaps "uncertainty about truth" (maybe those are two completely different things), is such a scary thing. why are we so afraid of those who claim to know it? and why are we so afraid of those who claim not to know it?
Sunday, January 29, 2006
As I wander through the miasma of emergent/post-modern/neoChristian/whatsis, it occurs to me that this really isn't all that new. In fact, it started back in the early 70s when those longhaired freaky people stumbled over Jesus on their way to Nirvana and decided to go tell the folks at 1st Baptist and Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility what they'd seen. The nice Church folks smiled politely, told them to cut their hair and quit trying to impersonate Jesus, and proceeded to inculcate the Emergence out of them.
If they hadn't been so high, I suspect the Jesus Freaks might have twigged to the difference between Modern Churchianity and Jesus a long time ago. But it seems to be mostly their kids' generation who is waking up and embracing Life. It's fun to watch, and promises more than anyone other than God can possibly deliver.
Anyways, one thing I like to do is try to talk to the post-post-modern folks about how Jesus doesn't wear a suit or give out tickets to heaven to all the good people while spanking all the rest really really hard forever, amen. His Gospel is all about life and love and stuff that most of us really want more of. And one place I like to go to talk about this stuff is the Rainbow Gathering. There's one in Florida in February (14-28). I'm planning to drive down on the 16th. Gas-sharing passengers are welcome.
Enough rambling. See you next week.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Jamey Tucker (the new religion and ethics reporter from News 2 (abc)) came out to visit our cohort gathering today to talk about forgiveness, the pope and the emerging church among other things. Jamey is a very cool guy and it was good to meet him, although having the camera trained on us while we conversed was a new experience. The story airs today at 4:00 and could feature a good interview with Jay and a bad one with me :) Check it out.
See you all in February when we talk about truth!
Friday, January 06, 2006
Anyway, it's good to be connected with you guys. Thanks to Dixon for inviting me to join the Nashville conversation. I will try to make it to the February meeting, and will probably post often.
If you would like a peek inside my head and my current situation, take a look at my blog: www.blurrychurch.blogger.com