Sunday, December 23, 2007

What a Long Strange Trip it's Been

A year ago, as I prepared to make my traditional Christmas dinner (see post tomorrow) and looking at the new year, I felt like crap and was making plans for dialysis in the new year.

What a long strange trip it's been.

One year later, I'm sitting here having started the day with a 3.6 mile run (I've run 5 times this week) and am making plans to go to China -- for a class in my Doctorate and a side trip with my wife Kelly to check out Kunming for possible (maybe probable) relocation and ministry -- Lord willing -- starting in August.

What a long strange trip it's been.

Hopelessness (though with a sense of hope but unclear what it would look like) one year ago.

Hopefulness (with a wonder at how blessed I am)

A friend said to me the other day "are you nuts, thinking about going to China?" "I mean, you've got a great house and a good life here." "But there, man, it's a pit -- why would you do that."

My response is thankfulness to God for my illnesses and uncertainty that they have exposed me to. Think of all the people God called to minister in "hard" conditions -- so very many of them were "blessed" with poor health and disease in their past. I'll let you in on a secret: Going to "suffer" in China sounds so wonderful, it feels like I've won the lottery to even be considered by God as a candidate to be used by him as a blessing to widows and orphans -- like the homeless little girl at the top of the page walking past policemen who seemingly don't care, and the baby in the grime -- in a place with such great need. I'm a naturally selfish guy (I don't have to try hard to want my own way). Yet God, God alone is able to mold missionaries -- so often through prying our fingers away from the things that we normally want to get our comfort in.

"You'd be making such a sacrifice." Really? Huh. It doesn't feel like it at all -- and I know that's not me,'cause I'm actually not a very good person.

What a long strange trip it's been.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Missional Church

Over coffee at the Blue Mug the other day, my friend Geoff and I got talking about what it means to be a missional church. Must it mean -- as Geoff and I had tended to agree it did previously -- that the church as a body moved saw itself as part of the Missio Dei and thus acted outwardly (in mission) together. Or, might it mean also a church where the individual members lived lives of missionality?

Put another way, does the church have to act together or can it be comprised of people who incarnate Christ to the world individually. I'm tending to think both.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Audience or Church

Just finishing up Exiles by Michael Frost -- good book, recommend it to everybody.

Anyway, in talking about the flow of how what we think of "church" happens -- referring the "church" event, Frost makes several very good points about the communal worship experience needing to flow out of a community of people who love God, are part of his mission -- feel a sent of joint sentness -- coming together to corporately to express their worship of God together. A couple of points that were particularly interesting, first, Frost's list of distinctive between an audience and a church (which sounds more like you when you enter your church?)

1. Critical (you paid money and you want a decent show)
2. Unconnected to anybody else (highly individual)
3. Expectant (hoping the show will be good)
4. No relationship with the performers
5. Facing the same direction
6. Focused on receiving not giving
7 Generally passive
8. Easily Bored
9. Expected Norms (You'll be silent, you'll stay seated until the end)

1. A family of deep trusting relationships
2. A body of interconnected, interrelated parts
3. Everyone is gifted and expected to contribute
4. Compassionate, caring
5. Generous, hospitable
6. Focused on giving
7. High priority on unity
8. A royal priesthood, everyone enjoying access to God.

Which one of these two, call them A or B as opposed to church or audience actually looks more like most of our churches? Which one of these looks more like what is described as church in the bible.

You say, "oh, that's our small group, not our church."


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Belong, Believe and Behave -- or, um Behave

This video from my friend Alan's blog is brilliant. Give it a look (for those of you who wouldn't normally click the link do so just because it is a skit that involves fruit, which is always cool).

Seriously, give it a look.