Review: Equipped for Adventure

    Equipped for Adventure: A Practical Guide to Short-Term Mission Trips by Scott Kirby was published in 2006 by New Hope Publishers. It is a handbook for making short-term mission trips happen. This is a holistic treatment of the process of making short-term missions a centerpiece of your church’s ministry. Kirby casts vision, answers criticisms, and then proceeds step by step through the process of planning, organizing, actuating, and following up a mission trip.

    I found this to be a helpful text. Kirby provides the busy minister or volunteer with a guide to make missions a reality in any context. I thought one of the most enlightening conversations in the book was in reference to partnerships. The discussion helps to provide a matrix for understanding when and with whom a partnership ought to be formed.

    I also found the Appendices to helpful. These provide the resources to carry out the ideas and concepts taught in the book. This is key. So many other books on mission leave out the applicable. I strongly recommend this book for those who are looking to begin doing short-term missions or bring focus to their church’s mission program.

    Review: Spiritual Leadership in the Global City

    Spiritual Leadership in the Global City was written by Mac Pier and published in 2008 by New Hope Publishers. This is a book of stories and mission combined to get your mind and heart thinking about what it means to reach a city. Pier’s text looks at twenty different churches and Christian organizations in New York City. He walks you through their development and growth. Each church and organization provides you with a key spiritual leadership insight. It has a unique, engaging, and accessible format.

    Quite honestly this is one of the most encouraging reads I have encountered in a long time. I am pastoring in Metro Detroit which by all accounts is a city on the verge of failure. From what I understand this is similar (on a much smaller scale) to what New York was going through in the 70s and 80s. Upon finishing this book I was encouraged that there is hope for our city and surrounding region. I came away with a fresh desire to partner with other churches and leaders for the sake of the gospel.

    The most helpful part of this book were the discussion questions at the end of each chapter. The chapters function almost like little parables when paired with the questions. I think this could be timely to be used with a leadership team in a local church in an urban environment.

    Review: Eyes Wide Open

    Eyes Wide Open by William D. Romanowski

    Brazos Press, 2001.

    Group Discussion Questions

    Eyes Wide Open was written by William D. Romanowski the Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences at Calvin College. It was initially published in 2001 and was revised and expanded in 2007. As a Christ-follower seeking to engage culture and to make culture I have found that this little book is remarkably helpful. Romanowski’s style is engaging and accessible. He is writing from the Reformed perspective and is seeking to see Christians engage the world around them in such a way as to transform culture.

    The book opens with a solid discussion of the state of Christian engagement within the culture. The first eye opening discussion is on the apparent double talk by the Christian world regarding popular culture. Out of one side of our mouths we decry the debasement of the culture around us and yet we consume pop culture as quickly as anyone else. Why is this? It’s because we are members of the culture within which we live and it is through the voice of pop culture that we find a road map for understanding the world around us. While this is not inherently bad we as believers must come to the place where we can evaluate and transform this road map to point people to Christ and the redemption that he offers.

    From here we come to a discussion regarding the re-imagining of pop culture. This section points toward the competing and yet similar aspects of the vision of pop culture and the church. With the core question being: how do we reconcile this reality?

    Next, Romanowski evaluates “Christian” art and points out that much of it is missing the point of pop art because it does not communicate to a fallen world. The closing chapters of the text give a framework for how a follower of Christ might be able to engage the arts and culture.

    I think that Eyes Wide Open is must reading for any Christ-follower that is serious about engaging the culture. Along with gaining a vision for how the Church can engage the lost world Romanowski also provides in his Appendix a matrix that is helpful in discerning the good and bad of pop culture offerings. He also applies his matrix to the film, Titanic. In conclusion, I think this can be a useful tool for helping train this generation of believers to think about the culture and engage it, as opposed to them waiting to be told what to think.

    Review: Compelled By Love

    Compelled by Love: The Most Excellent Way to Missional Living was written by Ed Stetzer and Phillip Nation and published by New Hope Publishers. Stetzer is the director of LifeWay Christian Resources and Nation is a church planting missionary in north Metro Atlanta.

    Compelled is broken up into three parts. The first, “Death by Love: God and Mission” looks at how the three persons of the Trinity love and how their love applies to our relationships and ministry. The second part, “Identifying Love: The Church in the World” looks at how we are shaped by love. This section really highlights the way that love works itself out in the context of the Christian community. I would say that this is the central argument of the text. The third part, “Formed by Love: Believers and the World” looks at how the church is to interact with the non-Christian world within which it finds itself. This section I think is the most important as it challenges the presumptions of the status quo.

    There were two chapters that stood out among the rest. The first was Chapter 9 where Stetzer and Nation push back on the popularity of bashing the Church. They argued quiet well that if you say that you love Jesus then you will love his church. The vision cast for the necessity and centrality of the local church is fantastic. It might be one of the most simple and clearly stated arguments for the local church that I have read. The quote from James Emery White has really stuck in my mind over the last few days, “The church is not simply the vanguard of kingdom advance; it is the entire assault force (145)”. When we pick on the church we are picking on the very bride of Christ. We must love what Christ loves, and Christ died for his church.

    The second chapter that really stood out was Chapter 12, “Called to Love: Living a Missionary Passion for the Lost”. Here Stetzer and Nation challenge the deep rooted selfishness that is inherent in the Christian community by walking through the Jonah narrative. They are calling the church to a renewed sense of contextualized service. I was reminded again that I am a Jonah, as most of us are, willing to serve God on my terms in my ways. How many times do we miss the God-sized redemptive opportunities around us because we are pouting in a corner as a result of not getting our way?

    In conclusion, I can’t really find too many weaknesses with this text. I think in future printings (yes, it’s that good) it would be helpful to see an appendix with some best practices for individuals and churches to be able to look to as a model. By no means a claim of a “magic bullet” or a “recipe for missional ministry” but just some jumping off points. I think some of the people in my life will read this and wonder, “OK, now what? How do I DO this?”

    Review: Trolls and Truth

    So, I have this awesome opportunity to read and review books from New Hope Publishers. It’s a great way to score some free books and have some accountability to read! Anyway, here is review number one (review number two will come today or tomorrow).

    Trolls and Truth: 14 Realities About Today’s Church That We Don’t Want to See is written by Jimmy Dorrell. He is the lead pastor of Church Under the Bridge and also the Executive Director of Mission Waco in Waco, TX. This is a little book and quick read. It hits on 14 key issues that Dorrell has found to be truths that the first world American church needs to hear. He argues that most of the American church ignores the poor and broken in their communities. He is writing from his own experiences as a pastor to those very people. He tells the stories of 14 different people. Those stories each function as a parable for a particular truth that he believes the contemporary church can learn from those people who live on the fringe of society. He covers a wide range of issues including appearance, actions, societal barriers, giving, communication, and music.

    I found that his most powerful chapters were regarding the issues of gifts (Dedrick’s Truth) and the fact that the “rich need the poor” (Catfish and Pilgrim Bill’s Truth). Regarding giftedness, Dorrell tells the story of Dedrick and his unique issues and life. While Dedrick has serious mental limitations he joyfully worshiped God. Dorrell’s church embraced him and found a place for his infectious excitement and exuberance. He served the community with how he was made. This is particularly challenging. If you look around your congregation you know who “those” people are. Will you embrace them and find a place for them to serve their God or will you ignore them?

    Catfish and Pilgrim Bill’s tale flips the script on the American mindset. It argues for the fact that the rich need the poor. The rich need the poor because it is through their engagement with them that they find meaning and purpose. The poor teach them what it means to love and care for things beyond the almighty dollar. The rich need to get outside themselves and it is through relationships with the poor that they are able to break out of their self-centeredness. Truly powerful.

    One area that I find weak in Dorrell’s text is that I wish he would have written from a bit of a more universal application of his principles. The question that I kept coming to was, “What if you do not have access/proximity to these kinds of people?” For example, our church is located in Farmington Hills, MI. While there are those who struggle and there are certainly a handful of homeless people, it is not a hot-bed for the poor and indigent. For us to find the people represented in Dorrell’s parables, we would need to relocate the church. I believe that our church is called to where we are and that God has a mission for us. Dorrell would have provided an even greater tool for the church had he broadened his application a bit to more of a principle level.

    All in all this is a wonderful book, especially if you are willing to do the work to take the application to the principle level and apply it to your context. Well worth the read.

    Discipleship…who knew.

    So it turns that some of the greatest thinkers in the Christian world are coming to the conclusion that the church has missed something. It has missed “discipleship”. We are not training, building, developing, and sending mature believers into the world. It seems to me that this is the “cost” of the great “evangelical” movement that has developed over the last fifty-five years. Prior to the fifties the church trained people well. There was a commitment to “catechism”. There was an emphasis on education. However, there was a cost. The cost was that of evangelism. We were not inviting people into the community of faith. So, were we really training people well? Probably not.

    But, now we get the message out and get people saved but we are not building and sending. We need now not a pendulum swing but a re-centering on the life and ministry of Jesus. I think that this is a good article and points us back to where we need to be. However, it’s still a rehash of Coleman’s Master Plan of Evangelism. If we could only master the Master Plan.
    NextReformation » The Great Omission

    Review: Activate

    Doug Walker passed along a book for me to check out and I thought that is was pretty helpful. So, I thought I would briefly review it here. The book is entitled Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups. The authors Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas are pastors at the Journey Church in New York City. They consider themselves to be a “Church of Small Groups”. It is in this context that they have seen their church grow exponentially and powerfully.

    Basically, the content of the book is simple and straightforward. They give a an overview of the subject in Part One. Here they take about 70 pages to give you a fly-over of their small group system. In Part Two, Searcy and Tomas, then breakdown the system specifically and discuss how to implement the system in your church. They also provide an in depth calendar and very specific how-to’s.

    The text is an easy read and did not take very long to work through. So, if you are looking for something quick that will also challenge and provide you a structure for you to consider regarding small groups this is a worthwhile read.

    So, what’s the evaluation? Most of what is written is pretty standard small group stuff. However, there were two issues that have stuck in my mind that I think are worthy to throw out here. First, Searcy and Thomas use a semester-based structure. Their groups are only committed to be with one another for 10–12 weeks. They argue that this model follows the best educational/growth model that we know of. That is, the necessity of stress and release. This was interesting to me because it really flies in the face of conventional thinking about small groups. Most would say that a good small group requires a minimum of a one year commitment. This has been pretty challenging to consider the ramifications of this length of time. I am not sure what I think about this. I am still chewing on it.

    Second, they unequivocally state that “intimacy” is a myth about small groups and as a result has caused the church to think in such a way that makes the implementation of small groups very difficult and sets them up for failure. “Intimacy” is something that is very difficult to create, if not impossible. When we look at small groups and tell people that they will have “intimacy” if they join a group this will almost always fail. They want people to focus on friendship. The idea that a small group provides a place for friendship which, with some in the group, might lead to intimacy. This change in direction is something I whole-heartedly agree with. The intimacy fallacy is one that has plagued ministries for so long. If we would just lower the relational expectation a bit then we will find greater success and at the end of the day the intimacy we long for.

    I am not sure on one of their key platform items. I really embrace another. Time to go back and chew on this a bit more. I would encourage you to grab the book and think through some of these issues.

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    The Younger Unchurched…

    There are so many thoughts running around in regards to the emerging generations. These generations are building an ever greater legend for themselves as the “unreachable” generation. They drop out of the faith following high school. They are all “evolutionists”. They “hate the church”.

    The legendary status of this generation is amazing. The only problem is that the stats do not bear it all out. Ed Stetzer over at LifeWay Research is doing some good work. The stat that is most profound is that yes these generations find the church hypocritical. However, they are very, very open to the Bible. Nearly two thirds of the thousand surveyed said that they were open to having a friend study the Bible with them.

    The Bible. It’s still relevant. Who knew?

    On the Radio Talking about the Younger Unchurched… — EdStetzer.com

    Review: Prodigal God

    On my vacation I am reading! It’s great! I just finished The Prodigal God by Tim Keller and am going to wade into Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places next. But, I wanted to get some thoughts out about Prodigal first.

    Tim Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He is beginning to expand his ministry influence through writing over the last couple of years. He hit the scene popularly with his book The Reason for God. He has recently published a new book entitled, The Prodigal God. This is a short read (I read it in about two and a half hours) but the substance is much weightier (I have pondering it for three days!).

    In a nutshell Keller tells and teaches the parable of the “Lost Son” from Luke 15:11–32. However, this is not your typical flannel-graph retelling. Keller takes the parable and flips it upside down, left, right, and under. The transformation of our understanding of the parable comes quickly when he challenges the typical understanding of the term “prodigal”. We usually think about it as a negative term which has come to mean someone leaving or running away. However, Keller redefines (or educates us about the true definition) as one who, “1 spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant, 2 having or giving something on a lavish scale.” These definitions are often spun negatively and only applied to the younger son. However, it is the father of the story who is truly living out this reality.

    Our understanding of the parable of the “Lost Son” has always focused on the younger son who wasted all that the father has given him. We shake our head at the older brother and his lack of grace. Keller wants us to see that the younger brother is the “tax-collector or the prostitute”, the older brother is the “religious person” and the father is “God”. These are common enough. However, the twist comes when he makes an excellent case for the fact that the key to the parable is the response of the father to the OLDER brother. Read the passage again. Notice, it is the OLDER brother that misses out on the banquet and grace of God. He has lost his soul by obeying. Keller spends most of his time driving this home. The more insidious sin of the parable is the hard-hearted, legalistic, arrogant, obedient, heart of the older brother.

    The exegesis of the passage is well done. The target audience is broad so you won’t get the nuts and bolts of how Keller came to his conclusions. I would love to see an exegetically driven text from Keller that helps us understand how he came to his conclusions. That being said, this is a must read for anyone who is trying to understand the gospel and how it applies to their lives.

    By means of application and conclusion, I will share with you what I am wrestling with. Friends, most of you reading this are of my ilk, the older brother. The prideful, arrogant, do-it-yourself, know-it-all, obeying-in-all-things, hard-hearted older brother. What happens when the father comes to us and invites us insider to celebrate the grace he has bestowed on another? Will we celebrate? Or will we stand outside in righteous indignation?


    The sermon from July 19 was lost. So, I am putting up a manuscripted version of it for those that want to take a look at what was said but missed it. It’s not exact but hits the same points.

    Hebrews 12:18–29

    We don’t believe that God is who he says he is and therefore we we don’t care.

    The question that we are answering this morning is this:

    Why is there a deep apathy in the family of God? Why has there been no cry
    or repentance for our nation’s sins just as Daniel did for Israel? Romans 1:18–32 speaks of God’s wrath against man because of his progressive downward spiral. Why no repentance?

    This question is fundamentally about what we believe. A.W. Tozer said in his remarkable book, Knowledge of the Holy that “the most important thing about you is what comes into your mind when you think about God.” I think that is one of the most profound statements in Christian literature. Everything we do and say points to what we believe about who God is.

    Consider what Annie Dillard says (from Teaching a Stone to Talk), “Why do people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless
    ourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does
    o one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a bunch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing cr
    sh helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should alsh us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god my draw us out to where we can never return.”

    Friends, this is the issue that is at hand. What is it that we believe about who God is?

    The letter to the Hebrews is in many ways a mystery. Nobody knows who wrote it. Nobody is really sure to whom it was written. What seems most likely is that it was a letter written by a pastor to his Jewish congregation somewhere near Rome. There was a large Jewish population there and it is likely that within the city there were multiple gatherings of Christ followers and probably one within the Jewish quarter itself. The pastor was writing to them on the eve of persecution. It was about to get bad in Rome and he wanted to encourage his people. He knew that they could avoid persecution if they would simply set aside this Jesus and go back to their old ways of believing. So, he set out to write a letter to encourage them to stand firm in their faith because Jesus is better than everything else.

    So then we come to passage that we are going to look at today. Hebrews 12:18–29. Here the pastor is giving them a graphic image of the God whom they now serve. He brings to their mind the image of Mt. Sinai and the giving of the commandments. This is the key event in the story of the Hebrew people. It was here that their leader, Moses spoke directly to God and would return emanating God’s glory. The holiness, majesty, and glory of God was so real that they could not even touch the mountain or they would die. The God of the universe was present on that mountain and the people trembled in awesome reverent respect.

    He is telling his people this is the God whom they are up close and in person with through faith in Jesus.

    But, that’s not all look at what’s next: They come to celebration that is beyond anything they can imagine. They are inheritors of the living God! This is what it means to be a part of the assembly of the first born. It means that you are included in the inheritance.

    The story goes on though. It comes with a warning. He says look at this majestic, holy, great God who has invited you into his presence as his own, will you faithfully follow after him? Will you listen to the call that is on your life? Will you refuse him? H
    points to the return of Jesus and says that when that day comes the things that are not eternal will be shaken away and what is real and eternal will be all that’s left. Therefore we are to be grateful for being in this kingdom that will last forever.

    What is his application? “Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” He says then, in light of all this, our response to the reality of God in us is that we are to acceptably worship God.

    How can we acceptably worship God if we don’t really believe this?

    I think that most of us live just like this from the film, Talladega Nights. Ricky Bobby and his family are illustrations of our silly attempts at making God manageable, trivializing him down to something small and meaningless. We seek to make him into something that we want. I think that Ray Ortlund describes it well in his brief essay, Jesus Jr.

    “Our local deity is not Jesus. He goes by the name Jesus. But in reality, our local deity is Jesus Jr.

    Our little Jesus is popular because he is useful. He makes us feel better while conveniently fitting into the margins of our busy lives. But he is not terrifying or compelling or thrilling. When we hear the gospel of Jesus Jr., our casual response
    s “Yeah, that’s what I believe.” Jesus Jr. does not confront us, surprise us, stun us. He looks down on us with a benign, all-approving grin. He tells us how wonderful we really are, how entitled we really are, how wounded we really are, and it feels good.

    Jesus Jr. appeals to the flesh. He does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him. He is not able to understand them, much less impart them, because Jesus Jr. is the magnification of Self, the idealization of Self, the absolutization of Self turning around and validating Self, flattering Self, reinforcing Self. Jesus Jr. does not change us, because he is a projection of us.”

    Our lives, everything we do reflects what we believe about who Jesus is.

    Why is there apathy? Why are we not seeing the repentance that we have seen in the past? Quite honestly it’s because we don’t really believe that any of this stuff is real. We minimize Jesus and create a reflected version of ourselves so that we can remain safe and comfortable.

    We say we believe in prayer, right? Well, let’s see on average there’s two or three people who gather prior to the service to pray. I am not there either, but, I think it’s time I start showing up. Maybe most of us are praying on our way in, but I doubt it. We simply don’t really believe that praying is effectual. We don’t really believe that if we pray and ask God to move in our worship service that he will move in our service. No, we believe that we need a great band, a better speaker, maybe some entertaining videos and dramas. But prayer, well that’s not really doing anything.

    We say we believe in the Bible right? Well, Romans 1:16 says, “the gospel is the power of salvation to those who would believe.” So, we boldly share our faith and invite people to encounter Jesus right? Oh, wait, no we don’t. We don’t want to offend them. We don’t want to make them uncomfortable. We don’t want to appear to be crazy Jesus people. We want our “lives” to “preach” the gospel to them. We think a slick ad campaign will bring them to Jesus. Except that Romans 10 tells us that it is by communicating, speaking our belief in Jesus that leads people to belief.

    As Doug and I were planning one day at the Coffee Bean in Plymouth there was a man sitting near us. He eyed us up and down. He was listening to what we were talking about. He would walk in and out of the room. And finally he walked over and asked, “Are you pastors or something?”

    “Yes we are.” Doug replied.

    “Do you have any people in your congregation who are sick? With chronic pain? Maybe cancer?” The man asked.

    “Yes we do.” Doug responded.

    “Oh, man, then have you heard about medical marijuana? It will change their lives! It has healed me and it’s benefits are endless! You have to tell people about this and help them get the medicine they need!” Marijuana guy exclaimed.

    He spent the next fifteen minutes proselytizing us concerning medical marijuana. He believed that marijuana would change the world and fix the core problems of our society.

    Do we believe that Jesus and the life he offers is better than marijuana? Most of our lives would say that we don’t. Or consider this from a man named Penn Gillette. He is a devoted atheist and a comedian. You may have heard of him, he is the Penn from Penn and Teller. Well, after one of his shows a man gave him a Bible and this was Penn’s response (click here for the video).

    Profound is it not? How much do you have to hate someone to not share the message of Jesus with them?

    We look at the statistics of young people walking away from their faith after high school and we try to figure out a better program to make Jesus more exciting. Yet, what matters most is that kids see their mom and dad authentically living for Jesus. Second to that is having another adult involved in their life authentically living for Jesus. All of us desire to see children who love Jesus and are getting to know him, yet it’s the same handful of people over and over again who get up an hour early to teach sunday school. If we really wanted kids to walk with Jesus people would be lining up to volunteer and mentor young people.

    We see that there are people hurting everywhere around us and then wonder when the “church” is going to begin a program to reach “those” people and yet we forget that we are the church. There is nothing “out there” that is going to do it for us. What will do it is us falling madly in love with our savior and really believing that we are so utterly broken that there is no hope apart from him. Until we really believe it then apathy and self-reliance will remain.

    My brothers and sisters in Christ the reality that we must face is that we would prefer a manageable and safe deity of our own creation. If we say that we believe in Jesus and yet ignore him and choose to fill our lives with other stuff so that we are too busy to engage in his mission, then what do we really believe?

    In this question there is a desire to see spiritual awakening take place. In a little book called Fireseeds of Spiritual Awakening, Dan Hayes lays out the five pre-requisites for awakening.

    • God’s people must recognize that there is a desperate need for spiritual awakening.
    • God’s people must humble themselves before Him.
    • God’s people must confess their sin and repent.
    • God’s people must continually and earnestly pray.
    • God’s people must call others to join with them to meet these pre-requisites.

    We are pretty good at number 1. It’s numbers 2–5 that we struggle with. It’s 2–5 where things get to close to home and we are faced with the necessity of real change in us and around us.

    The bigger issue for me is that if we do these things then history tells us we can expect:

    • Holiness of life for believers.
    • Obedience to God and His Word.
    • Increased power from God.
    • A massive movement of God’s Spirit in evangelism.

    When I am honest with myself all four of those things scare me to death and excite me beyond comprehension.

    What would happen if we lived this out? What would happen if this kind of spiritual awakening took place? We wold be transformed. The world around us would be transformed. God would be glorified.

    You see, when we come face to face with the God of the Bible, the God we meet in Hebrews 12:18–29 we are necessarily driven to our knees humbled, praying, gathering to pray, and calling others to join us.

    So what do we walk away with? Well that’s really up to each of us. Will we believe? Will we bear out that belief by how we live? How will we choose to live in this world? Will we pray or will we simply go on living as happy, brainless tourists on a tour of the absolute?

    Love and marriage, love and marriage, USED to go together…

    If you are wondering about the effects of the much ballyhooed “Sexual Revolution” of the 1960s then I suggest you take a look at this article. If you are wondering whether or not things have changed in the world then I suggest you read this article. Friends, this is not your world anymore. The emerging generation has solidified a sexual and moral compass that requires us to help those who are Christ followers to find their identity not in the context of their generation but in and through the context of the Scriptures. We are not to get caught up in the modern/postmodern debate. That’s just silly. Postmodernity is here and will remain. The issue is how are we to live in light of the Scriptures and the new culture within which we find ourselves.

    First, we must not desire the “good ol’ days” because quite honestly they were not that good. Second, we must be teaching and training kids from the cradle to love the Scriptures and teach them to study and understand, not just inoculate them with bed-time bible stories.The question before us is — will we engage (pun intended!)?

    Marriage Still Fits Into Millennials’ Future…Eventually | Ypulse

    Urban Exile: Gran Torino

    I read this article this morning because I am always interested to see what people have to say about Michigan and Detroit. Usually it’s some sort of comedic piece or a good chuckle at the ineptitude of the city’s political structure. However, this morning when I read this Out of Ur post on Gran Torino I was moved.

    You see, it’s not everyday that you see a snapshot of Detrtoit that points to the racial and the spiritual. But, here we do. I have worked in and around the city of Detroit for four years. My first three and a half took place on the college campuses and for the last six months I have been in the suburbs working at Grace Chapel, EPC. In my time here I have been amazed by what is happening in and around our city.

    Many people look at 8 Mile and Telegraph, those grand dividers as the keys to what’s going on here. The reality is that they aren’t. There is a movement growing of the emerging generation to re-engage in a real way the very real problems that our city faces. They see the problems. They live the problems. Yet, when you go to Wayne State University or talk to people from Citadel (a multi-ethnic church in the heart of the city) you begin to glimpse a different picture: hope.

    Whereas our parents generation was one “lost in space”, our generation is one that seeks to rectify those problems and change the future. Are we despairing? Yes. Are we frustrated with an institutional agenda that makes change difficult? Yes. Are we without hope? No.

    As I think about what David Swanson says in his article I can’t help but think that this is the generation that will change the tide. We can only hope.

    View Original Article

    Connector Churches

    I read this today and thought that the nine traits listed in Ed’s book are really insightful. What do you think?


    Creating Deeper Community
    Churches that are effective at attracting and developing young adults place a high value on moving people into a healthy small group system. Young adults are trying to connect and will make a lasting connection wherever they can find belonging.
    Making a Difference through Service

    Churches that are transforming young adults value leading people to serve through volunteerism. More than being pampered, young adults want to be part of something bigger than themselves and are looking to be part of an organization where they can make a difference through acts of service.
    Experiencing Worship

    Churches that are engaging young adults are providing worship environments that reflect their culture while also revering and revealing God. More than looking for a good performance, young adults desire to connect with a vertical experience of worship.
    Leveraging Technology

    Churches that are reaching young adults are willing to communicate in a language of technology familiar to young adults. Young adults sense that these churches are welcoming churches that value and understand them, engaging them where they are.
    Building Cross-Generational Relationships

    Churches that are linking young adults with older, mature adults are challenging young adults to move on to maturity through friendship, wisdom, and support. Young adults are drawn to churches that believe in them enough to challenge them.
    Moving Toward Authenticity

    Churches that are engaging young adults are reaching them not only by their excellence but by their honesty. Young adults are looking for and connecting to churches where they see leaders that are authentic, transparent, and on a learning journey.
    Leading by Transparency

    Churches that are influencing young adults highly value an incarnational approach to ministry and leadership. This incarnational approach doesn’t require revealing one’s personal sin list so much as it does require that those in leadership must be willing to express a personal sense of humanity and vulnerability.
    Leading by Team

    Increasingly churches reaching young adults seem to be taking a team approach to ministry. They see ministry not as a solo venture but as a team sport–and the broader participation it creates increases the impact of ministry.

    Is your church reaching young adults? If so, are any of these traits proving to me more instrumental than the others in your context?

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    Baseball, Redemption, and a Hospital Room

    A week ago yesterday my bride received a phone call. It was one of those calls that you dread. Her dad, Dennis, was in the hospital due to a stroke. It was “minor” but for a man like Dennis and for a family like ours it is major. Dennis is an athlete (at times becoming a scratch golfer!). Dennis is the life of the party. Dennis is the picture of the entrepreneurial spirit. Dennis is the kind of man that other men want to be. This is seen in the respect that his four son-in-laws have for him and the tender love that he bestows on his four daughters.

    Amy left Detroit early last Thursday morning and drove (I am sure more quickly than she cares to admit) directly to the hospital room in Evansville, IN where Dennis was beginning his recovery.

    But wait, that’s not the whole backstory.

    The beloved St. Louis Cardinals were about to finish their three game homestand against the hated Chicago Cubs. The Cards had won the first two games of the series and were in position to sweep and return to first place in the division. In business like fashion they dispatched the Cubs and welcomed to town their cross state rivals, the Royals for a weekend set.

    Every single day there was baseball. Every single day there was time spent in a hospital room. Every single daay there was a conversation over lunch or dinner that took place between Amy and Dennis about the Cards.

    You see baseball was the beginning of healing. It was normalcy brought into an abnormal situation. It was the pastoral balm that allowed father and daughter to sit and talk and be. Baseball. Not doctors. Not a golden tongued preacher. Not a good book. Baseball. It was the context. The rhythm of life that never stops. It’s six on, one off created rhythm that touches us deep.

    Some say the season is too long. Some say the games are too long. Some say it’s boring. Some say it’s day in and day out grind take away from it.

    I could not disagree more. It is redemptive. It is ongoing. It is always with you. It provides passion, joy, pain, sorrow, elation. Most of all, it provides time. Time for a father and daughter to be together. Time for them to get lost together and forget that they are in a hospital room. Time for them to be transported to that place they both love. That place where the buzz of the crowd, the warmth of the sun, and smell of the hot dog fill you.



    A Hospital Room.


    Scot McKnight on Spiritual Eroticism

    Scot McKnight: Spiritual Eroticism | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders.

    Above is a link to an article by Scot McKnight. As I read it I was struck by how pointed the article was. Do we love Jesus, no really, do we love Jesus with the kind of love that requires us to be in his presence? Or are we satisfied with the idea of loving Jesus?