Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Then I'll be heading to West Texas--Midland--to see my aunt and uncle and one of my cousins. I have not been able to visit them in years, so it will be good to get together with them.
See you guys later, and I'll try to keep posting during the trip. Later.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I wanted to share with you some of the research I'm doing on suburbia. Suburbia, in turns out, has always been promoted as a sort of fantasy way of living--closer to nature than the inner city, with technology that makes life easier, and close to, guess what--shopping. Materialistic dreams and suburbia go hand in hand.
Note the following from Dolores Hayden's book, Building Suburbia:
- In 1869, Catharine Beecher urgered women to take charge of the suburban house and family, which she called the "church of Jesus Christ." (p.34)
- In 1921, an editorial writer in the National Real Estate Journal actually told readers that the Garden of Eden was the first subdivision!
- In the 1940s, ad writers for GE promoted purchasing a home as "an adventure in happiness."
This shows that materialism really has been an idol for Americans, with spiritual and biblical imagery being used explicitly at times to promote it. Why do we "buy" into these liese that homes and things can bring us happiness?
Sunday, May 27, 2007
- Love is all about sex and romance.
- My spouse should meet all my needs.
- The grass is greener on the other side.
- Marriage should be easy.
- There is no hope.
“Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays." --Henry Youngman
While attending a marriage seminar on communication, David and his wife listened to the instructor declare, "It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other." He addressed the man, "Can you describe your wife's favorite flower?"
David leaned over, touched his wife's arm gently and whispered, "Pillsbury All-Purpose, isn't it?”
Did you like these?
Friday, May 25, 2007
There is no doubt that many struggle in their marriages. We need to help people through their problems, offering practical, "how-to" points, biblical teaching, love, prayer and support. See many of you guys on Sunday.
One of my friends, Marc, is giving us four Royals tickets and a parking pass from his company to see the Royals on Monday. Gina has been begging us to go see a baseball game, so this is great timing. The Lord provides!
I met with another member on Thursday, a new convert, and went through her Strengths and Spiritual gifts with her. This woman has great gifts in mercy, faith, and evangelism. As we talked about her gifts, she felt affirmed in what God created her to do and encouraged to practice these gifts even more.
I feel blessed to be able to use my gifts, and I love helping others see their place in the kingdom as well.
How has using or discovering your gifts helped you in finding purpose in life?
Thursday, May 24, 2007
It must pain God to have his children treat one another like this. I just talked with a member today, and she was very upset at the fact that her adult children did not get along with one another. I know my parents felt the same way when my brother, sisters, and I did not get along. Think how God--who created us out of love and in his image--must feel about humanity's inhumanity towards one another. Sad.
If there were ever a call for the church to be missional, to go out and proclaim the reign of God and transform society, it is now.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
"We know that within two hours after leaving a church service, the typical individual cannot recall the theme of the sermon they heard. But if they have a discussion about a principle and its application to their life, or if they have a multi-sensory experience with those principles, they retain the information much longer and the probability that they will act on that information rises dramatically."
Note that I did not say that preaching was a waste of time or that it did not have power or that it ought to be done away with. It does have power, and Paul confirmed this, stating that God had chosen the foolishness of preaching.
However, preaching ought to be one of several ways that we communicate truth in the assembly. Video, discussion, sharing of stories, art, and multiple voices help in communication and understanding the biblical message. And preaching itself ought to be more interactive. Alas, our physical arrangement and expectations of what constitutes an assembly limits us.
How do you suggest making the worship assembly more interactive and multi-sensory?
It is great to see OC putting missional church on the schedule. Many movements begin in our Christian colleges, and I am happy to help with this in any way that I can.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
You would think that the church in England, which had commissioned Patrick to go to Ireland, would be thrilled at this. However, they were not. They saw the role of a bishop as only having to do with two things: administration and chaplain duties. In other words, caring for faithful Christians. They were offended and angered that Patrick was spending the majority of his time with "pagans," "sinners," and "barbarians."
Sad, isn't it? But is that not the attitude of most churches today? Ministers should be the chaplains of the church, giving a peppy sermon on Sunday and spending the week hanging out with Christians, visiting hospitals, and the like. In other words, pastoral care and an internal focus. It is not that these things are bad, but that they are the overwhelming focus.
What if ministers acoss the nation spent the majority of their time with non-Christians--Wednesday night service at a local school function, Sunday night neighborhood fellowship groups, and the like. Which would reach more people for Christ? For that matter, what if the whole church--which is made up of ministers--did the same thing? We learn a powerful lesson from Patrick on how to reach the world today. We must go out, live incarnationally, and bless others' lives. And we need ministers who will take the lead in doing this.
What do you think most people's expectations for a minister is?
Monday, May 21, 2007
Younger generations are moving towards a worship gathering that is more participatory, and less of a spectator event. This is a challenge in larger churches, but can be done through video, through multiple speakers, and by having a worship space that allows for phyiscal interation (tables, empty spaces, and the like).
For a look at some of these concepts, check out Dan Kimball's Emerging Worship.
There are elements of emerging worship that are very good and biblical. 1 Cor. 14:26 says,
"What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church." Preachers like Timothy still had a central preaching role, but clearly many people were involved in the assembly. Recovering this practice not only is biblical, but it can really help younger people connect as they hear many different people's stories. Remember, truth is intensely personal today.
There are some elements of emerging worship that are being done without much theological reflection. Theological reflection needs to occur on worship issues, otherwise emerging worship can become the new pragmatism--doing whatever works. As with all things, we should take the good and leave the bad.
What do you think of hearing more stories and more people participating in worship gatherings? Does hearing stories of people like Ric and John help your faith and worship experience?
Bell combines a postmodern style with some deep and interesting biblical gems. He has done a lot of study on Judaism, which gives a lot of insight to some biblical texts on Jesus.
Our Starbucks group continues to be a great gathering place for young adults, who love the atmosphere, the music, and the interactive setting. I also see in Starbucks some Boomers. People my age, Gen Xers, like Starbucks, but often have young kids and aren't able to go hang out a lot, though they enjoy it when they do. It is a good "third place."
Friday, May 18, 2007
I owe a lot to Chuck. He took me down to the jail to do Bible studies with inmates when I was a college student. This raised up in me a love for sharing my faith and leading others to Christ. I dropped out of medical school, and decided to go into ministry. The Wilshire congregation hired me full-time, and Chuck and I worked together for about four years.
This impressed upon me the importance of befriending, encouraging, and mentoring those around us. If you have a younger person in your life, seek to call them alongside you and help them grow in the Christian walk. You will enjoy this, and it will have a powerful affect on his or her life.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I just started reading "Better Together: Restoring the American Community." http://www.amazon.com/Better-Together-Restoring-American-Community/dp/0743235460
It is written by Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone. I can tell you already it looks to be a great book. Putnam opens up the book talking about a group named Valley Interfaith, which worked with the community to improve the local schools. 86% of the students were economically disadvangeted, and 58% had limited proficiency in English.
Note these significant actions by Valley Interfaith:
1) Putnam states that "the teachers did not ask parents to come in to the school, but made visits to students' homes, asking parents about theirt hopes and worries regarding the school and their children. For many parents, it was the first real connection with the school, the first time anyone had bothered to ask their opinion." p.11
2) The workers in Valley Interfaith seek out community leaders whom they can train in leading ministries that help their community. Reformer Saul Alinsky believed that "reform could best be achieved when the citizens of poor and neglected communities organized and exertted power on their own behalf." Their motto is, never do anything for anybody that they can do for themselves. p.12
3) Their ministries were based around local support and ideas. "Unlike activist organizations that develop a public agenda first and then try to attract people who support it, the IAF encourages the emergence of local agendas from these congregations." p.12
4) Assessing community needs was done through "hundreds of one-on-one conversations."
It seems to me that this is a missional approach to serving the community--going to where people are, finding their needs, listening to them, and helping them be a part of improving their community.
These one-on-one interviews sort of reminds me of what Rick Warren did, but with a missional emphasis.
What if we took this approach to helping our community?
I was recently asked what books I have read in the past year. I thought about this, going through my books, and I came up with the following list. It mainly covers missional church, postmodernism and culture, and evangelism.
It came to 41 books, nearly a book a week. That was a little higher than I thought it would be, but I do like to keep up with what is most current. On the other hand, my wife reminds me that my pleasure reading has taken a big dip, and she is right.
Anyway, here is the list. I'll try to go back and add links later. I have highlighted the top five I enjoyed for various reasons. If you have a question about one, let me know. I also have book reviews of many of these on my website, www.storyofredemption.com
- God's Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church by Charles Van Engan
- Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission by David Bosch
- Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens by Neil Cole
- The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World by Alan Roxburgh, Fred Romanuck, and Eddie Gibbs
- The Present-Future by Reggie McNeal
- The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church: And the Causes Which Hinder It by Roland Allen
- Liquid Church by Pete Ward
- The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch
- Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders by Earl Creps
- Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture by Michael Frost
- The Way of Jesus: A Journey of Freedom for Pilgrims and Wanderers by Jonathon S. Campbell with Jennifer Campbell
- Emerging Churches: Creating Authentic Community in a Postmodern Context by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger
- An Emergent Theology for Emerging Churches by Ray S. Anderson
- Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World
- Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
- Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller
- A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren
- The Gospel According to Starbucks by Leonard Sweet
- Sprawl: A Compact History by Robert Bruegmann (on surbanization)
- The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey
- The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell
- Seeking a Lasting City: The Church’s Journey in the Story of God by Randy Harris, Richard Foster, and Mark Love
- Missional Church Planting by Ed Stetzer
- Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples by Thom S. Rainer
- Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer
- Death by Suburb by David L. Goetz
- The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom
- Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church by Mark Driscoll
- Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends edited by Kevin Vanhoozer
- The Big Idea: Focus the Message—Multiply the Impact by Dave Ferguson, Eric Bramlett, and Jon Ferguson
- Revolution by George Barna
- Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages
- Preaching that Speaks to Women
- Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon
- Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell
- CrazyBusy: Overbooked, Overstretched, and About to Snap
- Culture Shift: Transforming Your Church from the Inside Out
- Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill
- Mission in the New Testament, edited by William J. Larkin Jr. and Joel F. Williams
- Exploring the Worship Spectrum: 6 Views Paul E. Engle, series editor
- Contextualization and Syncretism: Navigating Cultural Currents by Gailyn Van Rheenen
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The average size of a new home from approximately 1000 square feet at the end of World War II to nearly 2500 square feet by the end of the 20th century. Meanwhile, the number of people per household has shrunk dramatically, from 3.14 persons per household in 1970 to 2.63 person per household in 1990.
Isn't it ironic that our homes have exploded in size, while our families have decreased in number. We talk about needing to work longer today. But what we are actually working longer for is a perceived middle class lifestyle--which is vastly inflated from past years. If people 50 years ago saw most of our homes, they would think that we are all rich. And most us us are.
We are finishing out our basement--most of it ourselves--because it adds value to our home, is a big tax shelter for ministers, and can be used for fellowship. We are looking forward to this being done in the next month, and we believe we can really use this as a gathering place for both churched and unchurched Christians. But we can hardly make the argument that we "need" a bigger home.
What is up with the bigger houses today all across America? Hmm . . .
 Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl: A Compact History (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2005), 58.
 Ibid., 60.
I tell you, I am excited about the upcoming generation--the Millennials, or those born 1982 or later. Sure they do not know anything much about the Bible, but I believe that God is going to use them for something truly great.
Check out Millennials Rising, the next Great Generation by Neil Howe and William Strauss. http://www.amazon.com/Millennials-Rising-Next-Great-Generation/dp/0375707190/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-5518143-5243312?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1179333663&sr=8-1
I am really amazed at this group of young people. They are polite, well-behaved, and well-adjusted. Unlike my generation, which grew up with parents constantly gone, they have had much parental involvement, a ton of coaching, and a lot of other adult involvement.
- Are racially diverse and accepting. They grew up with Tiger Woods and Halle Berry.
- They are team players.
- They are the most watched over generation in recent memory. They have had very little unsupervised time.
- They believe in the future and in themselves.
- They have high self-esteem.
- Well educated.
- High achievers.
- Techno wizards
- Look up to their parents
There are challenges with this generation, of course. But they are poised to truly be great. I sense an openness to authentic following of Jesus. And this is a good thing.
What positives do you see in Millennials?
Monday, May 14, 2007
Jesus may have been using house as in "household" and not a physical dwelling. But houses and households are usually quite inseparable, and usually the word translated "house" (oikos) has a double meaning.
I was thrilled to have this opportunity to bless my neighbor's house. I went over to his house, and we held hands with him, his wife, children, and extended family, and I prayed for them. I asked that God give them love, laughter, light, and blessing in all areas of their lives. I prayed for each room (living room, bedrooms, and kitchen), and I prayed that God might keep evil away from them.
It is great to know and be known by your community and your neighbors, and to have opporunities to serve those around us.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Thank you to all mothers out there. We fathers (and sons and daughters) would be a mess without you!
Friday, May 11, 2007
Interesting that Newsweek's Boomer Fineman asserts that, "America was built on argument. Arguing is what we are." According to Strauss & Howe, it would be more appropriate for him to say "Arguing is what Boomers are."
The above news story on the US divorce rate is quite interesting. Some key points:
- The US divorce rate peaked in 1981 and is now at its lowest rate since 1970. That's not too from far from the time of the Beaver
- Families with two incomes and of higher education levels tend to have lower divorce rates
- Part of the decline is due to the increase in co-habitation and waiting longer to get married, so these numbers may be a bit deceiving.
Here is a good quote from the article on young adults and marriage/divorce.
"In the past 30 years, we've had more divorce than any culture has ever had," [Glenn Stanton, family policy expert] said. "A lot of young adults now are coming out of the family upheaval of the '70s, and they are cohabiting out of fear. They don't want to mess up the nice clean carpet of marriage - they saw their parents do that."
What implications does this have for ministry and outreach to young adults?
Thursday, May 10, 2007
New Christians bless our lives in so many ways. They have a gratitude and wonder that we long time Christians often do not have. I think of new Christians like Kim Smith, who inspire me every week as they talk in wonder about God and his blessings. My faith is built up through theirs. Thank you to all the new Christians who have taught me so much!
Yeah right. Technology actually takes time from us, because it speeds up the pace of life.
And note these stats. In a lifetime, the average American will:
- Spend six months sitting at trtaffic light waiting for them to change
- Spend one year searching through desk clutter looking for misplaced objects
- Spend eight months opening junk mail
- Spend two years trying to call people who aren't in or whose line is busy
- Spend five years waiting in lines
- Spend three years in meetings
This is a great book that talks about the dangers of leaving no "margin" in our finances, time, relationships, physical condition. It is a great book, written by a doctor.
Can you believe these stats?
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
It struck me as the judges went around and commented on who they thought would go home that Paula had read that stat about needing 10 positives for every 1 negative. Paula just encouraged the contestants, while Simon said bluntly that he thought LaKisha was going home.
True, even I find Paula a bit sickly sweet at times. And it seems she often fails to say the obvious--that someone stunk it up. I guess it just goes to show how hard it is to hold back sometimes. We think that we have to always say the obvious. But we don't.
We all need a little Simon in our lives sometimes. But most of the time, we probably want someone to encourage us rather than kick us in the shins. It may look weak when we look at it from afar, but if we were on stage in front of millions of people, we probably wouldn't want someone to say we were horrible, ghastly, or the like.
Who would you want as a friend--Paula or Simon?
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I know that myspace has gotten a lot of bad publicity. But I am glad to have technology like this that allows us to keep track of our friends all over the country. True, it is not a subtitute for living in community, but it does help one feel connected with a wider circle of friends. Before myspace, I would have had to wait until my 20 year reunion to find old friends.
People my age use sites like myspace mainly to reconnect, while younger people use it for much more. What online social networking group do you use, and how do you use it?
I keep learning new things on this from a book I got in yesterday, The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey. Part of the fifteen books that I got in from amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Blogging-Church-Brian-Bailey/dp/0787984876/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-0811016-6015263?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1178631492&sr=8-1
Thanks for your patience!
Monday, May 07, 2007
If you go to the community section on their website, you will find one of the most innovative church sections around. It works a lot like myspace, allowing one to add photos, subscibe to blogs, post comments, and more.
Would you like to see these features in the church's website, and would you use them?
- ► 2009 (111)
- ► 2008 (220)
- I'm off to Quest and West Texas
- The Dream of Suburbia: Is our home our god?
- Funny Quotes on Marriage From Sunday's Sermon
- Desperate Marriages
- My daughter's last day of school, Memorial Day
- Finding Purpose in Life
- A Horrible Story of Modern Day Slavery
- The Limited Power of Preaching: Can you remember l...
- I'll Be Helping with OC's Lectures (Quest) May 31-...
- The Celtic Way of Evangelism
- John and Ric shared a powerful story in our worshi...
- New Book for Our Starbucks Group--Velvet Elvis
- A good friend of mine is coming in town today
- Better Together: Restoring the American Community
- Books that I have read in the last year
- How big is your house?
- Your Kids--Part of the Next Great Generation
- Missional engagement in suburbia
- My neighbor asked me to bless his house yesterday
- Viewing the church as story, rather than structure...
- What I did for Mother's Day for my very special wi...
- The Rise of the Millenial Generation--and unlike B...
- US Divorce rate at lowest lewel since 1970, Cohabi...
- Is coffee unhealthy for you?
- New Christians help us realize how blessed we are
- You won't believe these stats on time wasters
- Who do you want for a friend--Paula or Simon?
- What is the relationship between physical health a...
- Could busyness be an attempt to avoid looking into...
- Reconnecting with friends through technology
- Add James' Blog to your Yahoo News Feed
- Cool Church Website
- ▼ May (32)
Theology and Popular Culture Blogs/Websites
- Churches in coffee shops and homes a growing trend
- Harvard's New Emphasis on Applied Knowledge is Instructive to Churches
- Young Adults want a lifestyle and authenticity, not religion
- My neighbor asked me to bless his house yesterday
- Exiles-Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture
- Christianity is about a lifestyle, not one hour a week
- Emotion in Worship
- Death by Suburb
- The Don Imus Firing--Lack of Redemption or Justice?
- Books That I Have Read in the Last Year
Some Other Blogs & Sites I frequent
- James Nored
- I currently am a preaching minister, evangelist, and missional leader at the High Pointe Church of Christ in McKinney, TX. I am working towards a Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, studying missional church, evangelism, and postmodern culture. I give missional church and Spiritual gifts seminars for churches. I have written an evangelistic Bible study for postmoderns (Story of Redemption), New Members class material, and a work on Spiritual gifts. I am blessed with a wonderful wife (Becki) of 13 years and two beautiful daughters (Gina-age 7, Emily-4), the loves of my life.