this site makes me think.
We're all a legacy of St Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne 650AD
Hey, I've run-helped-been the sleepover dad for 5 parties in 6 days. I feel like Martha Stewart, not.
Anyway thanks for all the GREAT comments. Seems larry need some punctuation and one-thought-at-a-time help.
So I'm on to Gareth's post specifics. I'll get to that tonite.
But before I go...
I noticed that the only real negative or truly disagreeing thing on all 24 comments was the fact that I generalized about so many Brits not getting money from the church system, and working at so many jobs. I'm willing to be wrong. That was the way it looked to me. What we can agree on is that even though they may be working for the existing church system, they don't support, defend, or intend to grow the old wineskin. And most US churches, and most para church orgs, still try to support the existing status quo. Go to church, tithe, read and pray. My only idea is what if 20% of the church employees in the US gave 1 hour a week to a new wineskin. It would be a revolution in the making. I know it's a generalization. A total one, but the point gets across.
All those wonderful comments...toast... just cause I changed colors! Great.
OK..secretly, remember everything you wrote, and which post it was on and re-enter everything. It will only take a few minutes. Really... it'll be fun!!!
Really, if you liked something from a previous comment, comment here, and I'll try to connect for you.
The following is a re-cap of a conversation Gareth (from mootblog), Jonny Baker and I had in nashville. At our meal of barbecue and beer, I launched into an as yet unwritten analysis of UK vs. USA emergent culture.This shows a gross generalization of us and uk churches. It isn't intended to offend, but rather to give a way to see some of the larger picture of church culture.
Gareth's re-cap of my ramblings from his blog:
In the US church:
1. churches still want programs (e.g. 5 steps to convert the emerging generation)
2. Mega-churches are still succeeding and growing, to a certain extent they embody what many people want from church
3. pastors are still very much career people - setting up an emerging church for a maximum of 50-100 people for not very much salary or working part-time in Pizza Hut does appeal very much at all to pastors on $70,000+ in large churches
3. Success is still the operative measuring stick - if a 'program' is not getting bums on seats then it is not a success in Kingdom terms
4. The post-WW2 period in the UK which saw rapid decline in church attendance across the board (save for some renewal from the Charismatic movement) actually had a positive side - out of this fallow ground grew the shoots of what we would now call the 'emerging' church, without this fallow period we may never have seen the creativity and imagination during the last 15 years
5. Unless the US evangelical church (which has for all intents and purposes become a civil religion) undergoes a serious decline in attendance or an incredible turn around in attitudes towards the make up and purpose of church, then the great opportunity presented at this time for the church to become a creative imaginative force may well fade away.
He actually said this so well, it was way better than the original.
i'll try to fill this out, responding to one of Gareth's points per post over the next week or so. I'd enjoy comments from anyone who has experienced both cultures. The more the merrier!
But this post is to give my basic overview of the situation. It's essentially
The US is just different from the UK and y'all are lucky. J & G were kinda.. "gaa" what do you mean?
After WWII the UK had quite a spiritual dark age. They had the crap bombed out of them.The US was bloodied, but not bombed. War is hell and the Brits no longer had a cheery view of the nature of man, or the providence of God. They had some churches which became successful but most declined, and essentially went off the radar screen of UK culture.
In the US, Billy Graham's ministry took off in the late '40's and the 50 year American evangelical revival began. With high hopes, nuclear bombs, a clear enemy, and a booming economy, life was great. Campus Crusade, Intervarsity, Nav's all began to make major inroads on college campuses.
By 1975 high school and college kids in the US were experiencing salvation in record numbers. College fellowships of 1000 students were commonplace all across the US . The Jesus people had made their impact and now the fruit was showing. From these christians came the massive church planting, and mega church movements. WillowBack style churches would begin popping up everywhere. Calvary Chapel, Vineyard, Foursquare, AG were all growing like weeds.
However, in the UK during this time, only a few churches saw anything like this growth. But not hundreds and hundreds of 1000 member churches hatching like rabbits.
And that makes all the difference.
So in the UK starting a youth ministry meant that you had 9 or 10 kids, and the rest you had to meet on the street, or in clubs. There was not the same "if you build it they will come" as in the US. Nothing was that easy. Slick programs meant almost nothing. And so:
1. In the UK if you wanted to present the good news, you better not use that old fetter, the anglican church. So gospel had to bypass church, and deal directly with culture.( See Roxburgh) The result was new forms, new wine skins. Great wine. Any success wasn't based on a great band, or great preaching. Both of those were "generally" already passe. UK youth didn't believe the preacher anyway.
2. This created a small, new, developing culture of creative people in the UK participating in the creation of worship, having to create new things, not waiting for the professional to give permission, letting the process be messy, and having to learn lots of new things constantly to keep up with culture. It seemed everyone I met at Greenbelt last year in the UK was so comfortable with culture and would be so much more effective than me. Greenbelt, a UK arts festival, began in 1973. So this group has been developing for 30 years.
3. Much of the opposite has happened in the US. Church and gospel were one, and culture didn't care, didn't listen, and became even more defensive against the gospel! But frankly the church didn't freakin' care if culture doesn't care!! There are millions of us and we want culture to conform to us. Just a tad arrogant. Just a tad. And we have professional everythings. Freaking everything. Music, worship, Leadership, Preaching, yada, yada, yada...We've created a culture of spectators. The spectators are told to tithe, read, pray and everything is fine. And we pay those professionals lots of money. lots. It's safe, easy, power based and has some semblance of being a career.
4. Now 45% of the US considers themselves either born again or evangelical. 45%!! Jesus! If I'm a seminary student; do I want to make miniscule gains, create new things, have messy ministry, live and work in the dirty city center, or do I want to make money, have lots of clout, live in the 'burbs, see lots of "fruit." Doh? Pretty simple.
5. New UK ministries (that's all there were because the old ones gave up the ghost) became much less "extractional" (See Frost and Hirsch) than ours. They went to culture, outside of the church (cause there wasn't any, really), to love people. We on the other hand, wanted people to leave their culture, get saved, come to our building. Crap! We succeeded. Double Crap.
So when Lilly and I visited the UK in '01 and '03 we noticed how so many of the ministry leaders were outside church, most of whom didn't get money from church, were comfortable with culture (not afraid of it), and did ministry which normal non-religious people would like. We saw this at Grace, holy Joes, Revelation/Warehouse, Greenbelt, etc. These people knew culture, were fluid in it and made a difference. Conversely across the pond, leaders told people in the US that culture was bad, could poison them, steal their children, and make them adulterers. So not only are US Christians afraid of culture, we've been disconnected from it for so long that we are awkward and seem "dorky" in it. Like a whole generation with "high water" pants. We also told them the lie that if they stay in church they wont be soiled by culture! How totally impossible is that!
As a result of all this the UK is 10 or 15 years ahead of the US in doing and experiencing "emergent" stuff. It will also probably develop and grow better than in the states. Why? Because so many young passionate believers in the states will opt for the accepted route in ministry. The model and resources of the established evangelical churches in the US aren't going anywhere. They will be intact for the foreseeable future. We have made inroads, but what happens when the status quo is challenged? We will get marginalised! Count on it! If bookstores can ban McLaren's books, anything is possible. If you can be angry with someone that humble and accessible, wow.. you can be mad at anybody.
Taking another bite of barbecue, I stated that the UK was probably the best training ground for young emergent types, since the DNA of taking the gospel to culture, and comfort with culture already exists. And that seems so difficult to find in the US. Most of those going to culture in the US seem so religious, and patronizing. Even with the best of intentions.
And lastly for this post... so many of the seminars focused on "transitioning" existing churches into the emergent matrix. Jonny and Gareth were "uh, why." Because many of us in existing churches believe, to our detriment, that marginal change, not developing all-new wine skins, is the order of the day. We are drawn by the siren song of the 75 million evangelicals. "Well, if just a few of them got excited..." instead of learning the culture and taking the gospel in a new way to the culture. We still first assume that we are church people, and ministry happens from church, with church and in church; instead of active people of faith with good news to incarnate. People we touch we will learn to love, and then enjoy friendships with them for a long time.
So the folks at EC fall into two basic categories: 1. those expecting to bring emergent stuff into already existing churches or 2. those small few who will build new wineskins and go to culture outside of the church. Jonny and Gareth already live in a UK church structure which knows it won't ever reach culture. So they support lots of little ventures as multiple little viruses (Roxburgh). That's what UK denominations have known for years. Only 5% (if that) of the US denom leaders get this. Again, still lured by the money, and ease of attracting the already convinced.
Now, I make fun of Jonny hanging with the Archbishop of Canterbury, but Rowan Williams (not atkinson) knows his name. Really. Why? Cause Rowan knows Jonny has answers, and religious people don't. So he surrounds himself with people like Jonny who are in culture. Most other leaders won't.
When speaking to Emergent types in the UK, they never seem to have real jobs. (except for the Rev Dr. Dawn) A project here, and 2 year ministry launch there. They create proposals for foundations etc. They don't have church jobs. Because church jobs don't really exist. Jonny and Gareth have assumed that the only folks who have full time jobs, which don't need other income, are Anglican priest types; in the church culture. Everyone else there doesn't depend on church, it's not strong enough to carry everyone. They've disconnected from religious stuff, with money, worship, and have found new ways to incarnate jesus.
So that's my little overview. Any comments?
More on Gareth's comments later.
In the comments on my last post, Marko from Emergent/YS shares some great insights. He also gives his e-mail address if you want to be a part of the solution next year.
Jonny Baker and Gareth (mootblog) have challenged me to express more on the US vs. UK on emergent issues. I've done a rather long post, but I'll work on it more tomorrow.
Thanks for welcoming me back!
So back from a self imposed bloggin vacation.
Bugged by at least 8 folks at the nashville convention to start bloggin again.
Here goes. I'm learning that I should write shorter posts, and more of em.
I agree with most of the posts I've seen that the large group meetings need to resemble emergent culture rather than any old YS conference. How do we change 'em?
Well they're gonna hate me, but Marko and Pagitt and Thom and Holly need to have you send your post to them. Directly. Now. If you want to have a voice, tell them. Specific actionable stuff.
I've complained about conferences on this blog before. And all I got was crap cause it was perceived as whining. I wasn't, but that's the way it was perceived. And I didn't get the result I wanted. Nothin changed.
So if you want change; talk to those who can influence change. And when you blog, try to express that you know they worked their butts off. Cause they did.
So thanks Doug, Marko, Thom, Holly, Tic and everyone involved. You rock. I think you have an army of opinionated helpers out here who want to give input and will help you work to make the changes.
Vince Lombardi. St Vince?
Yes, he was a football coach. He is the most famous professional football coach of all time. The Super Bowl trophy is named the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Under his control, the Green Bay Packers dominated the NFL in the ‘60’s. Because of their many NFL championships, and winning the first two Super Bowls, Green Bay is nicknamed “Title Town.” His players and the fans loved him. They still do.
Lombardi’s most famous saying was;
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Lombardi taught regarding winning, sacrifice, victory, struggle, and more. I even had a quote from him on my wall as a teenager. He believed in hard work, community, and commitment to a team, integrity, and honesty. Many of these principles are foundational to having a healthy, fulfilling life. Lombardi spoke of all these ideas, but his view on winning is his most famous and enduring message.
I think we may have taken a wrong turn here. Has America honored his statement about winning as the critical, valuable, intrinsic truth in its value core? Do we value winning above all else. Do we see the balance in how Lombardi lived and related to his teams? As a nation we have high-jacked his view of winning to fuel our obsession. We simply ignore second place. Have you noticed? Even though the Olympics have medals for three athletes, we only care about Gold. Everything but winning is losing. Whether Lombardi’s phrase galvanized us on the reality of our national desire to win, or if it simply described what was pre-existent already in our hearts, I don’t know. But it seems to me that Lombardi has become the patron saint of the USA in last half of the 20th Century and beyond. St. Vince.
I began to think about Lombardi as I walked my dog, Fred, around the local High School football field. What are we teaching to our teens? How much do we fuel an unhealthy obsession on winning, being better than others? While sports have many positive attributes and benefits for the student athlete, there are also many students who feel ostracized and “not enough” because of insipid competition among students. And then the most interesting thought entered my mind. How does the “winning” view of life “square” with what Jesus said and did? You know the answer. It’s the opposite. You know, “the first shall be last “ and all.
Jesus was last. In fact he didn’t talk about winning at all. He was a failure. He wasn’t even second. Or third. Did Jesus have drive, commitment, and excellence? Uh, not really. Obviously our attitude toward success, competition is significant, so in churches around the country we ignore it, or worse try to baptize Lombardi-isms. In other words, we may have allowed the church goers to believe that an unchecked attitude toward winning and the Gospel can co-exist. Or by ignoring it, have we allowed an unhealthy focus on winning to continue to grow in faith communities that are based on mutual service, and love for the unsuccessful?
What are the primary issues here? How can we continue to function well in a society that honors success above all-else, and still think accurately and critically? And in even greater importance, how will we live knowing we have profound decisions to make? Here are the issues as I see them:
• In every way we judge success, Jesus was a failure. He was a homeless, unemployed, drifter, living off the generosity of others (we call that a beggar), and murdered as a terrorist. How do we integrate the truth of the life of Jesus and a competitive society?
• He neither modeled, nor encouraged economic success, our primary measure.
• He functioned outside established channels, didn’t have access to resources others assumed. He didn’t chafe at the lack of resources he constantly experienced. We seem to assume that resources always follow spiritually correct living. And the Jewish community he lived in believed that implicitly.
• He didn’t expect gain from his behavior. Like having a leading religious leader aligned with an opponents party notice him and add him to his staff. Strangely, he had no concern for using his skills to acquire resources. This is to say, he wasn’t entrepreneurial. He wasn’t trying to grow anything, especially his influence or social capital. It kinda feels weird to even write that.
• He was kind to things I use, or ignore. The land, plants, animals, homeless, lost, orphans, slaves, the blind, lame etc.
• Winning requires having a score. Jesus never kept score.
• Winning requires a prize. And a group of people who want the prize. And a prize that is worth struggle and sacrifice. In my world the prize always represents a blend of money, power and fame. The Super Bowl trophy for instance. Think of what being a Super Bowl winner means to the financial lives of a player, or coach, or owner.
• Winning requires having losers. Jesus only played in games with no losers. Even if I lose everything I gain the whole world. Everyone wins when they associate with Jesus.
• Winning loves competition. Competition creates comparison and better than/less than. Since humans were his creation, Jesus could never value one person over another. We do constantly. And we teach our children to do the same.
So back to St. Vince.
If I remember correctly, Mike Yaconelli said once in a rant on the YS site, “how can someone with a basic understanding of the New Testament participate in sanctioned athletics?” Essentially asking the question:
“Why train high-schoolers who are just beginning to understand the power of the Gospel to buy into America’s unhealthy focus on competition?”
Can Lombardi and Jesus be at odds? Ememies? Does that mean that most of our Corporate experience based on the winning athletic "team" violates the direction of the spirit in my life? And in the world? Maybe? Not?
Do we actually want to train our next generation that winning isn't everything. Do we believe that? Or that it isn't neccesarily even a good thing?
How can we tell America's churches that winning and succeeding are neither valuable nor important to a Christian? What would we do instead? How do we pay for the building?
Do my kids know the kingdom impact of “We Won!?” That somebody lost.
Maybe it just makes them good Americans if they don’t.
I did. From L'occitane. I saw some at a cool resturant. I told myself that I was getting it for Lilly. Birthday and all. But it was for me. It was lavender. I really like it. Should I warn others to have better "gaydar" about me. Just so you know, I love Le Mis too! Memorized the songs. "QueerEye" here we come?
Of course Lilly could care less. Whatever!
Just wanted you to know. I've been searching for it, and I cant find it anywhere. Maybe it has been misplaced, maybe McLaren lost it in his turtle tank. Many people belive there is one and they don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe it's really there. It's kinda like WMD, it's there but we'll never find it. Maybe the Iraqi's are hiding the emerging church. Maybe it's in a spider hole somewhere. Could Sadam have hidden it in one of his palaces? Naa.
Maybe Cartman (you know from South Park!) hid it in his bag of Cheessy Pooffs. Maybe we should blame Canada. Those Canadians have too many blogs and have too many opinions. If we invaded, we might find all those emerging churches. Except that all of Canada is below zero for day time highs. And even if we found them we wouldn't want to go. Just too cold.
Could it be here in Cincinnati? Nope, this is where they hide everything.
I'll keep looking. Like OJ, for the real killers.
I'm kidding for those of you who don't know me.
Let's have a little fun. Relax. I don't really have to define what I'm doing. Neither do you! That's part of the fun.
I don't have to report in to "M" to explain why I haven't captured Dr. No.
I can be a part of all or none of the conferences around the world. I can be a part of as many or as few online communities as I choose. So What? Who cares. The only people who need me to define what this is are those who want to control it or condem it. Well too bad! They aren't gonna get any ammo from me. If for you life and community exists on theooze.com message boards great; If it only exists in a local group of friends great too. If it includes those from other continents, or with more traditional church folks, great. Or maybe with punks, goths, jocks, geebs, bohemians, hip hop, rap, folk or freakin Liberace; GOOD FOR US! Be you! Be in relationship with the jesus you know and the people you know. That's all!
And honestly, if anyone wanted mention me along with McLaren, Myers, Kimball, Burke, Pagitt, Tony or Andrew Jones, Scandrette, Rudy, Keel, Holly, Jonny Baker, Seay, Conder, Jason, Ivy, Marko, Hunter, Willard, or Sweet I'd go happily, willingly. They rock. It's a friendship. That's all. Friends. It's intentional. If it were more than friends, it might suck. But it doesn't. Simple really.
It's been two weeks since Lilly and I posted on the "women at Mayhem" issue. The result has been amazing, overwhelming and slighly odd.
So many people have e-mailed, blogged and commented that it is clear that the issue is really being discussed, and some people (many women) are speaking their minds for the first time in a while
Both Jonny Baker, and his mate Jenny, and Maggi Dawn in the UK as well as many folks we've never met from around the world have made strong statements and let their opinion be heard. I think that maybe it might be one of the strongest elements in the power of the blog. It's a global discussion whose time has come. Thanks to the folks around the USA and Canada, the UK and on the Continent, and in Auz for their input and love. It's kinda overwhelming.
Also; thank you Chris Marshall for "accidentally" hosting a lot of this on his blog, as Lilly and I didn't have comments then. Maybe it was just as well. And thanks for taking alot of the attacks sent your way like a stud; simply because you played MC at the event.
I must admit again that I never expected any resistance to my post of the 13th. How naive! Can you believe it. I had to get over being angry that anyone even "considered" disagreeing with the "Great and Powerful ME." But I'm better now. If I'm gonna put it out into public space, then I better be ready for whatever comes. It's just adulthood.
I was kinda blown away by the variety of opinions and the intensity of feeling of the bloggin community. We are a community of some wild folks. Buncha bikers at a bar!
"Look out Louise, Tiny just broke out the chain saw!"
Anyway, even if you disagree with me still, though I know that's a logical impossibility, you're still welcome on my blog and in my home.
I wonder how this work of building relationships in the emerging/simple/organic/post/wabi church is any different than in any other part of western life. We still end up liking the people we like; the people we have lots in common with. Is your experience different? Do you have relationships with people you irritate you, make you feel uncomfortable, or just in general bug you? Or with people who see the world with utterly different lenses with regard to theology, practice, assumptions, lifestyle, or expectations in the world of faith?
As I look at people, and talk with Joe Myers, and read his book, it seems that we all do this on autopilot. Ushering those who cause pain out and away from us, and ushering in those with whom we feel a connection. And then when we finally have a group around which makes us feel good, we defend it, fight for it to remain the same. And at least with myself, all this goes on under the radar. I'm almost never conscious about this, and as I look around, most folks aren't either.
So I'm asleep as I tell people that I don't want to be with them; that they won't work in my life. So the lesson I'm learning is that life in autopilot can dishonor God, and tell people exactly the opposite of the Kingdom message: That they are wanted, loved, and someone is waiting for them with an open heart and an authentic smile.
Let's be intentional about staying open to new people in our lives who may not look like the ideal friend. Just for fun.
Great name for a new band.
Reading the "Rule of Benedict" for the first time without lots of commentaries. This guy had a great heart.
Guess I'm learning that the volatile mixture of adrenaline and testosterone can have devastating effects on the church, and how opposite from that is the Rule. And how all the fruits of the spirit seem so disconnected from my "male" assumptions.
Wouldn't it have been nice to see King George admit during the State of The Union speech that WMD was a scam to get us to go to war.
"I'm sorry folks but I was wrong. I misled you. I violated your trust. Last year at this time I sold you on the immanent threat of WMD. I shouldn't have. I won't gloss over it (like he did). Yes, he was a bad man. Yes, the Iraqi people will be better off in the future. But that is no excuse for my behavior. The end never justifies the means. I call myself a Christian and I tell the truth. I failed you."
I would have stood up and cheered! Because he would have made it a little better, part of the shell game stopped.
But alas, no.
What is a republican to do? Would John Kerry tell me the truth? About WAR for God sake?
Does George think I can vote for him when everyone admits it was a sham, but him. Really? I'm that stupid? He keeps making himself look more and more like Michael Moore's caricature of him from "Dude where's my Country".
And then to yell and scream about Steroids. Why? How is that presidential? What a bit of political squat!
This is so sad. It feels very Nixon-esque.
My post from a few days ago has become a part of a wonderful discussion. Some of the comments on blogs I've read today have been terrific. I didn't know that a few paragraphs could create such fervor. Can we retain the good and healthy discussion and refrain from any personal attacks? Some comments and blogs attacked people they didn't know. Yikes!
For those of you who don't know my history, I began attending Eastside Foursquare Church in the Seattle area months after my conversion. The Foursquare movement was begun by a woman; Amie Semple McPherson. So having a woman pastor or having women preach was a total non-issue. And it has been for almost 24 years. So this was particular discussion is weird to me. I thought I'd get a few e-mails saying, "Hey, sorry, we're working on it."
I will admit to a few mistakes:
1. I didn't intend to attack Chris or Alan or Kevin or any women in their respective faith communities. They did a great job. I had a great time. Saw friends I hadn't seen in forever. Brian was classic and sincerely memorable. Dave Nixon's roundtable was just what I needed. Hearing Joe Myers again was perfect. Seeing Tammy Jo, Rachelle, Chad, Joel, Jon, Joe L was great.
2. I didn't mean to say that they intended to exclude anyone. I assume they didn't mean to. And my message probably sounded like they were jerks. I'm sorry. They aren't.
3. I mentioned Rachelle. I shouldn't have. I didn't get her permission to use her as an example. I just spoke to her, and she was weirded out at the number of people who commented on her that don't know her. My point was many women capable of presenting attended. It's time they were invited to do their giftings too. And I've learned that Chris had in-fact invited some women to participate. Sweet.
4. One comment said that I shouldn't talk for the women and that they should speak for themselves. I guess they are right. I guess what I was saying was that as a guy, I was bothered. But in response to your comments I am asking each of the women I spoke with after the weekend to write their own response and share their feelings directly with you.
5. My prayer is that in the future, meeting planners for our gatherings will discuss this before we meet and honor this discussion as they plan.
6. I'm getting ready to move my blog to "typepad", so you can comment directly to me. So I don't have to read Chris's blog to see how people feel about me. In the mean time please e-mail me directly or copy your comments to me so we can discuss any of this further. We are family. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Some women commented that they felt happy in serving Jesus behind the scenes. And that I had belittled their contribution. I'm sorry. Didn't mean to do that either. I just don't want to demean women in leadership "visible" positions either. My take is that any person can serve in any capacity. And I want all the doors open for everyone, not just some. That's because leadership needs both men and women, and so does behind the scenes serving. It seems to me that we've had many thousands of years of male-only leadership, and it has let us down in lots of ways. I say "keep reforming."
7. I really do love the Mayhem family, and it's home. I'll grab a coffee or a curry with anyone.