Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Web: Sex vs. God

"The number of web pages dealing with God and religion is booming. Religion, in fact, is now nearly as popular an internet topic as sex: A search for "sex" on Google returns about 408 million hits; a search for "God" yields 396 million."

source: Washington Post

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bradbury on jumping off

"Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Buid your wings on the way down.'' Ray Bradbury

I like this because it is descriptive of a certian leadership style - one that I find very satisfying. The way to grow leaders and find solutions is by jumping in - even (or especially) when there are few answers. Through a process of 'going' everything becomes clearer new methodologies are produced - in real time with real results (good or bad).

In my view, nothing develops leaders better than deployment.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

New Orleans

The last four days I have been in New Orleans with a number of student relief teams. It was great logging time with Kenny Miller, Chip Scivique, Kathyrn Taylor and Pete Kelly talking about the future of good news / good deeds within Campus Crusade.

NO is still a very hurting location. Many of the inhabitants have not returned, but it seems like life is slowly coming back.

I will be back on "The Forgotten Ways" in a few days . . .

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I spent the better part of last week in the Everglades with my family - some needed rest and connection time with my crew. We had a great time and must have seen 300 gators. Very cool. Here is Cameron testing his bravery.

I will be back on the Hirsch discussion in day or so.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bono's Acceptance Speech at the NAACP

There is some very interesting Kingdom stuff happening here!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Holy, Loving Critique

This caught my attention. Again, nuggets from from Hirsch: (if you don't have the book yet, you can read the whole first chapter here).

  • A prophetically consistent Christianity means that we must remain committed to a constant critique of the structures and rituals we set up and maintain.
  • We should . . . understand it as a form of 'holy rebellion' based on the loving critique of religious institution modeled by the original apostles and prophets - "holy rebels" who constantly attempted throw off encumbering ideologies, structures, codes and traditions that limited the freedom of God's people and restricted the gospel message that they are mandated to pass on.
  • It is rebellion because it refuses to submit to status quo. But because it is holy rebellion, it directs us toward a greater experience of God that we currently have.
  • Vital movements arise always in a the context of rejection by the predominant institutions (eg. Wesley and Booth)
  • C.S. Lewis: "there exists in every church something that sooner or later works against the very purpose for which it came into existence. So we must strive very hard, by the grace of God to keep the church focused on the mission that Christ originally gave to it."
  • We realize that the Bible sustains a thoroughly consistent warning against the centralization of power in a few individuals and concentration of it in inflexible and impersonal institutions.
Not that we want to be rebellious for the sake of rebellion, but I believe we must lovingly, graciously and genuinely question the forms and structures handed to us. What, if anything, hinder us? What would you change?

Or - think of it this way: If Cru were a denomination, what denomination would we be theologically? (A: some kind of reformed baptist kind of thing - with a latent charismatic undertow). Now structurally, if were a denomination, what denomination would we be? (think about our hiring, placement, reporting structures, etc?) What say you? How does this help us, hurt us and inform the conversation?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jesus Is #1

I have to admit, when I saw this as the central piece of Apostolic Genius, I was a bit disappointed. It seems rather simple - but that may be the very point. Lordship is both simple and radically difficult.

Summarizing this aspect is not easy. These snippets may help us to understand the primacy of "Jesus is Lord." [for Cru purposes, substitute 'church' with 'movement' for this to be relevant to our situation.]

What does all this practically mean for those seeking to recover Apostolic Genius in the life of the community of God?

  • it will involve (re)engaging directly the central confession of "Jesus is Lord" and attempting to reorient the church around this life-orienting claim.
  • it will also mean simplifying our core messages,
  • uncluttering our overly complex theologies,
  • and thoroughly evaluating the traditional templates that so shape our behaviors it and dominate our consciousness.
From Alan:
I have become absolutely convinced that it is Christology, and in particular the primitive, unencumbered Christology of the NT church, that lies at the heart of the renewal of the church at all times and in every age.

Sadly history amply demonstrates how we as God's people can so often obscure the centrality of Jesus in our experience of church. There is so much clutter in our "religion," so many competing claims, that this central unifying claim that lies at the heart of the faith is easily lost. It is remarkable how Jesus can be so easily cast out from among his people.

So - what do we have that clutters our Christiology - and what should we do about it? What should we do about it organizationally?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Is It Really Like This?

More from Forgotten Ways: This is a research quote from Sally Morgenthaler,

Despite what we print in our own press releases, the numbers don't look good. According to 2003 actual attendance counts, adult church-going is at 18 percent nationally and dropping. Evangelical attendance (again, actual seat numbers, not telephone responses) accounts for 9% of the population, down from 9.2% in 1990. Of the 3,098 counties in the U.S., 2,303 declined in church attendance.

Is this true? My take on stats like this is similar to Winston Churchill's ("the only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself"). On campus are we experiencing this decline? or is it a 'church' thing only? Would you say, from your observations, that the church is in decline in the west? Or are we moving ahead and progressively getting better and better at reaching students (and people) in all categories?

Most of Alan's book does not focus on the gap, but on what happened to make phenomenal Jesus movements happen. His findings are truly amazing and should inform the expansion of the church for years to come. I put this in my must read category - especially for those who are leading toward the rapid expansion of the kingdom (you will love it).

If you don't own a copy get one here.

You can hook up with Alan and his thinking here.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

How Did They Do That??

I am on my second read through of Alan Hirsch's fantastic book on movements. Alan does a excellent job of capturing the essence of 'movement.' He gathers insights by looking at the expansion of the NT church and the church in China and asking "How did they do that?".

So - how did they do it? (go 25k to 20 million in 200 years). Before you venture your guess, here is the reality of both situations.

  • Christianity was an illegal religion (at best tolerated, at worst persecuted)
  • No buildings
  • No Bibles (or very few)
  • No professional pastors, teachers or paid staff
  • No bands, seekers services, or youth groups (or flannel boards)
  • No seminaries, commentaries, bookstores or publishing houses
  • They made it hard to join!
Those are Alan's observations - here are my additions.
  • Few people could read (they could not have a 'quiet time' in the way we often teach)
  • No one had a college education
  • No mass communication (no email, phone, etc)
  • No strategic planning processes, no PrEFACE model, no Growth Model or Leadership Model.
Had enough? The growth was explosive - and without many things that we consider essential.

What gives? What is true of these situations that we are missing now? How did this initial movement move so fast, so furiously and so effectively?

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Winners Are

The 5 copies of Alan's book, The Forgotten Ways go to:

  • Chris Newport at Texas Tech
  • Steve Baker of Philly Metro
  • Michael Brown at Bowling Green
  • Rick Pridey of the Sioux Empire Campus Team
  • Dave Lowe at UC Davis

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Apostolic Genius

Alan identifies six elements of what he has termed Apostolic Genius (defined as the unique energy and force that imbues phenomenal Jesus movements). There may be more, but there are never less.

  1. Jesus is Lord - at the middle is this simple but radical confession. This statement oversees all of life. (at first this seems logical, simple and kind of weak - but as you read more on these implication, you begin to realize the highly volatile nature of this radical confession).
  2. Disciple Making - the life-long task of becoming like Jesus. Again, this sounds simple, especially with our preconceived notions of disciple making. Disciple making involved bringing every aspect of life into the likeness of Christ.
  3. Missional-Incarnational Impulse - every missional movement shows the twin engines of outward thrust and a related deepening. This seeds and embeds the gospel in new locations / people / cultures.
  4. Apostolic Environment - this is the type of leadership and ministry required to move ahead. Don't let the word apostolic freak you out - it simply means 'sent one', but the implications are huge.
  5. Organic Systems - don't even get me started. Alan says, 'Phenomenal Jesus movements grow precisely because they do not have centralized institutions to block growth through control' - some one get me a tissue.
  6. Communitas, Not Community - communities and bonds that come together in the context of a shared ordeal - or those that define themselves as a group with a mission that lies beyond themselves (and engaging in a risky journey).
Here is Alan's take - (this is where I stole the pretty picture).

So the question is . . . how we doin? In each of these categories there is a way that the church in the west has attempted to operated (Cru included) that stunts the functioning of apostolic genius. We must figure out what needs to change and then be courageous enough to change it (or to simply start something new).

I have my opionion (like that will shock anyone) - what about yours? Get the book. When you look at these 6 elements, where do we need to adjust? What are we missing? How do we change? What would you suggest as the next steps?

Over the next few posts, I will try to explore each of these ideas in various ways.