the starfish and the spider
Saturday March 31st 2007, 6:27 am
Filed under: church, youth specialties, books

starfish.jpgns, by ori brafman and rod a. beckstrom

read this a couple weeks ago, and it has my brain churning. really. i’m ready to implode ys and reinvent from the fringes. i’m ready to create a giant youth ministry wiki and see what the clearly engaged and smart practitioners of the youth ministry world came come up with!

this is one of those paradigm-shaking, re-orienting business books. like “good to great” and “a whole new mind” and others, this book says, “whether we thought about things correctly in the past is really not the point; the point is things have changed, and will change more, and we need to adjust now.”

very interesting stuff for church leaders to think about. sure seems to have MASSIVE implications for the whole burgeoning new wave of house churches.


listening to the beliefs of emerging churches
Friday March 30th 2007, 6:24 am
Filed under: books, emerging church

emergingchurches.jpg, robert webber, gen. ed.

i read this book a few weeks ago, and have been meaning to post about it. but i haven’t had enough time to write the post i really want to post: something wonderful and beautiful and worthy of this great book. but now i’m leaving the country, and i’m trying to get a few posts ready to go live while i’m disconnected. and i don’t want to wait to recommend this book any longer. so, scrap the wonderful and beautiful post. let’s go with this:

this is a freakin’ fantastic book. really, one of the best books i’ve read on the emerging church. personally, i LOVE multi-author books like this. i know, as a publisher, that they don’t tend to sell as well. but i love the dialogue and tension and questions. i find, most often in my life, that i discover truth in the tension between two semi-opposing opinions or ideas. which means, a book like this rocks my world.

mark driscoll’s chapter ticked me off. i didn’t think it belonged in the book. it wasn’t even apples to oranges with the rest of the book; it was apples to… i don’t know… like, dachsunds. something completely and utterly “other.” i actually got a bit frustrated with the dev editor, that they allowed him to do that. HOWEVER, i really thought it was worthwhile to have mark’s responses to the other chapters, as well as the other authors’ responses to mark. so… i guess it’s one of those “you have to eat your brussel sprouts” things (although i like brussel sprouts, and did even as a kid, so that analogy doesn’t quite work).

when i picked up the book, i was thinking that john burke, the pastor of gateway church in austin, tx, wouldn’t really fit under the umbrella that is the emerging church. and he even asks that question in the beginning of his chapter. but i thought john’s contributions to the book were great. he and gateway do belong here.

kimball is pure kimball: bridgebuilder, lover, grace-giver, friend, passionate about finding common ground, evangelist, evangelical. he’s the gracious glue that oozes between all the pages and holds all the bits and baubles of this book together. and, i see dan starting to get a little bit more of a backbone in stating what he doesn’t agree with.

pagitt is pure pagitt: cranky, brilliant, ascerbic, pointed, thoughtful, paradigm-busting, reshaping, compelling. did i say brilliant? actually, doug’s on really good behavior in the responses. but certainly, having doug and driscoll in this book is what makes it dicey and fun to read, a bit voyeuristic even. without doug and driscoll as part of this book, it would likely have been too nice, and slipped into b o r i n g.

karen is pure karen: artsy, creative, poetic, communal, living what she preaches. karen is clearly the most “other” in this book. but her presence, her voice, her church, and her thoughts, add an indispensible element to what works in this book (really, when i was working to develop “the church in emerging culture: five perspectives”, frederica matthewes-green ended up in this unoffical role, being a gadfly to all the otherwise evangelical and male/logical speak in the book. karen cuts cross-current like that).

this book adds a level of depth and understanding to the emerging church discussion. any idiot who, in the days and weeks and years to come, tries to publish a book that says, “the emerging church believes this….” in one dismissive broad brushstroke (like carson did), will clearly be misguided thanks to this book.

oh, geez, i just re-read this post, and realized i didn’t even mention robert webber, the general editor. his contribution to the book is fantastic: a framing (and naming) of each perspective. really brilliant stuff. almost as brilliant as when webber would walk across the front row of desks in the lecture hall at wheaton college, when i had him as a prof, just to keep our attention.


what a wonderful parental admission
Thursday March 29th 2007, 6:59 am
Filed under: youth ministry, faith, family, youth work

in an email dialogue with the parent of a teenager several weeks ago, we were talking about how amazing her kid is. and she wrote this:

My prayers for him before he was born were too small.

something really struck me about that. something about my own children, and all the kids i work with in youth ministry. something wonderful, and something challenging. i think i need to re-evaluate how i pray for liesl and max, in particular. as well as how i pray for lex, zach, matt, aaron, bryan, brandon and shane, the guys in my 7th grade guys small group.


interesting time magazine article on bible classes in public schools
Wednesday March 28th 2007, 6:58 am
Filed under: faith, news

we had a “bible as literature” class in my public high school. no one thought anything of it, in terms of controversy. time mag has an article on this newly hot issue.

a ‘graph:

SIMPLY PUT, THE BIBLE IS THE MOST influential book ever written. Not only is the Bible the best-selling book of all time, it is the best-selling book of the year every year. In a 1992 survey of English teachers to determine the top-10 required “book-length works” in high school English classes, plays by Shakespeare occupied three spots and the Bible none. And yet, let’s compare the two: Beauty of language: Shakespeare, by a nose. Depth of subject matter: toss-up. Breadth of subject matter: the Bible. Numbers published, translated etc: Bible. Number of people martyred for: Bible. Number of wars attributed to: Bible. Solace and hope provided to billions: you guessed it. And Shakespeare would almost surely have agreed. According to one estimate, he alludes to Scripture some 1,300 times. As for the rest of literature, when your seventh-grader reads The Old Man and the Sea, a teacher could tick off the references to Christ’s Passion–the bleeding of the old man’s palms, his stumbles while carrying his mast over his shoulder, his hat cutting his head–but wouldn’t the thrill of recognition have been more satisfying on their/own?

(ht to brian buchanan)

we are in a black hole of time today
Wednesday March 28th 2007, 6:53 am
Filed under: thinking..., family

if you’re reading this on wednesday, march 28 (the day i set it to post), my family is in a black hole of time. we left los angeles at 9:30pm last night (tuesday), and, after a 12 hour flight, will arrive in auckland, new zealand, at 5:30am on thursday. this is because we cross the international date line, backward. so wednesday ceases to exist for us.

i know people fly across the dateline by the thousands every single day. and i have done so many times in the past. but this “almost time travel” always strikes me as interesting: that me and my family will completely not experience, nor never recover, wednesday, march 28.

of course, our flight home has us flying 12 hours, and landing before we left. so that’s another mind-bender.

enjoy wednesday a little extra for us, since we have no option of interacting with it positively or negatively!


the doxology is the 4th verse
Tuesday March 27th 2007, 6:47 am
Filed under: faith

my friend, the brilliant contemplative musician jeff johnson, sent an email the other day mentioning that he’d stumbled onto the hymn from which we get the doxology sung in so many churches. i’m surprised to say i’d never thought about (let alone heard about) where the doxology came from. an anglican priest in england (named thomas ken) wrote it in the 17th century!

beautiful words. read ‘em slowly. pause between verses.

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
thy daily course of duty run.
Cast off dull sloth, and joyful rise
to pay thy morning sacrifice.

All praise to thee, who safe hast kept
and hast refreshed me while I slept!
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless life partake.

All praise to thee, my God, this night
for all the blessings of the light.
Keep me, oh keep me, King of Kings,
beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

UPDATE: astute reader debbie has brought to the attention of ysmarko that there are EVEN MORE verses! here they are:

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.

By influence of the Light divine
Let thy own light to others shine.
Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways
In ardent love, and cheerful praise.

In conversation be sincere;
Keep conscience as the noontide clear;
Think how all seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.

All praise to Thee, Who safe has kept
And hast refreshed me while I slept
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake
I may of endless light partake.

Heav’n is, dear Lord, where’er Thou art,
O never then from me depart;
For to my soul ’tis hell to be
But for one moment void of Thee.

Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew.
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.

I would not wake nor rise again
And Heaven itself I would disdain,
Wert Thou not there to be enjoyed,
And I in hymns to be employed.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


alternate names for ‘i can’t believe it’s not butter’ spread
Monday March 26th 2007, 9:21 am
Filed under: humor

a list, from mcsweeney’s, as printed in the book , and read on my sony reader ebook

alternate names for ‘i can’t believe it’s not butter’ spread
by bob shea

“not butter? then what the hell did i just eat?” spread

“i still say it’s butter” spread

“after all the damage you’ve done to this family with your habitual lying and deceit, you have the nerve to sit there with a straight face and tell me that this isn’t butter?” spread

“i’m pretty sure that was butter” spread

“i’m comfortable calling this butter” spread

“this challenges everything i’ve come to believe about butter” spread

“i’m not entirely sure it’s edible” spread

“i’m willing to suspend disbelief about this being butter for about as long as it takes me to eat this toast” spread

“in the absense of actual butter, sure, i’ll play along” spread

“i guess you could call it butter. if you don’t but any in your mouth” spread

“i can’t believe it’s so flammable” spread


new life fellowship
Monday March 26th 2007, 9:19 am
Filed under: church

yesterday I got to attend a service at new life fellowship in queens. funky place: they bought a big old elks lodge building three years ago, complete with a classic second and third floor auditorium.

the service was a moving experience for me - I kept finding myself choking up, and needing to take a pause from singing. I have never seen a church with the racial diversity of this congregation. seriously. from what I could see, it was roughly equal quarters african american, asian american, latino and white. with a handful of pacific islanders, middle easterners, and indians thrown into the mix. and people weren’t sitting in racial clumps or anything. it was a gorgeous goulash, baby.

most “multi-ethnic” churches I’ve seen seem to only have significant attendance from two racial groups, and maybe have a portion of a third. but this even mix was amazing, and moving. felt a bit like heaven. I think, if I lived in the area, I might attend new life for this reason alone (though the worship service was wonderful also).


the blitz
Sunday March 25th 2007, 10:48 am
Filed under: personal

i’m in new york city right now — more specifically, queens. in a few minutes i’m going to attend the church service of a cool multi-ethnic church called new life fellowship. the senior pastor, coincidentally (since this isn’t why i’m here) is pete scazzero, author of , published (also coincidentally) by zondervan (a.k.a. “mommy” or “daddy”, depending on the day).

yesterday, i presented the CORE for the first time this year in bath, new york, a small town (really small town!) in the middle of the state. then i drove back up to rochester and flew down here. i’m presenting the CORE at new life this afternoon here in NYC this afternoon.

after flying home tomorrow (monday), jeannie and the kids and i fly on tuesday to new zealand. we’ve been looking forward to this trip for a long time. i’m speaking at a camp for 5 days, and the generous organizers are flying my whole family over, plus giving us a week in a beach house. so we’ll spend a day in auckland, a week at the beach house, five days at the camp, then we’re flying to the south island for four days.

we fly home to san diego on april 12. then, on the 13th, i fly to atlanta for another jh believe event. from atlanta, i head north to philly, for the emergent board meeting and philosophical discussion. finally home the evening of the 17. so my next day in the office is wednesday, april 18.

luckily, some of this run involves me sitting in a beach house in new zealand doing close to nothing!


amazing quote from prince caspian
Saturday March 24th 2007, 5:28 am
Filed under: faith

jeannie was reading prince caspian to max, and stumbled on this wonderful quote:

“aslan,” said lucy, “you’re bigger.”

“that is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

“not because you are?”

“i am not. but every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”


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