[emergent southeast]

"not all voices are on the westcoast"

    gink (gingk) n. Slang:  An odd or peculiar person.  [Cf. dial. E. gink trick]

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

My apologies for posting immediately after John's new beginning post, your in my prayers bro (they are envious prayers, but they are still prayers ;). I just wanted to say that this is, in my opinion, a fair assessment and constructive criticism that I welcome. He is definitely a voice worth listening to. Here is his blog.

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the adventure begins

today is the day we pack the truck and send it on it's way. we will be leaving behind this chapter of our lives and moving to a new chapter. as we close out the california chapter and open the north carolina chapter i have a great many things to be in praise over, God has blessed me in many ways -

my family; my wife tina, a great and supportive lady whom i love dearly. she supports me, reads what i write and even will help me work out ideas. she cares about what i do, and is a very supportive part of my ministry and my walk. our children, heather and steve, veronica and lauren - three bright spots in a day :). the rest of the family, mother-in-law, brothers, sisters, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunts, cousins and more - a large and supportive ring around me as we move into a new phase of life.

our friends; people who are willing to go out of their way to help us see the possibilities of what community is and can be. the people of connection church and their hearts and spirits.

over the next year i will be growing as a husband, father, friend, pastor, person. i will be looking deep into my personal walk of faith as i seek to start a dmin in 2006 [over at george fox with len sweet] and pastor with the people at connections. this adventure marks a great point in my life and my walk. i thank God for all the blessings he has given to me over this year - as i seek to hold those blessings with respect and grace i ask that all keep us in their prayers.

we will be "off-line" for a while as we have a family time trip across america - we will post as we can [family over posting ;)].

pax

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

following?

i ran across this story, and it got me to thinking about "following." to follow - to allow another to lead, and simply follow behind them. what does it take? what does it mean? trust? grace? friendship? what does it take to cause you to follow? are you willing to do it all? are you willing to take the "leap" and follow the leader? here is a very interesting story i ran across that might get you thinking...link

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Monday, July 11, 2005

a letter from a friend, and a possible reality:

i think this thing of the "emergent southeast" is a very good and very cool thing. it seems that the news is getting out, and people are emailing me about it. here is an example of one such email [and a great site] from one of the people who i think has some very cool ideas:

camp is a place i have grew up in and now a place I am attempting to rethink and reimagine. i've been doing some alt worship (form and theology) during various retreats and camps and have gotten some fascinating feedback from the mostly small, conservative churches that attend. camp is such an important part of the south's religious experience, part of its very foundations back in the 19th century revival meetings.

For a while, i've been dreaming about the possibility of a southeastern emergent gathering and would like to suggest the possibility of a camp setting..the intimacy, community and historical significance would serve as an interesting background to such a gathering..just throwing out a feeler to see what some others think..of course there is the possibility of our camp in SC, but there are plenty that would seem to facilitate such a gathering..

obviously, emergent in the south (especially the rural south) is going to have its own characteristics and theological directions. Thank you for setting up this blog as a way of letting many of us come together to continue the conversation in a very specific way..

well, i think that is a great idea. to see an emerging event that is dealing with the needs of the people is great - there are a great many "small" towns and suburban centers in the south that are very different from those on the west cost, or the midwest. our needs are different, and at some level our "historic starting point" is different. as a person who grew-up in the west (nevada and california) i can attest to this reality. many of the emerging events that are taking place are designed for the urban centers, and they all focus on the same things.

if, the idea of an "emerging gathering" is something that will be useful, i am all for helping getting one off the ground. we need to spread the word of this blog, and let people know we need voices - no emerging gathering can be formed if we do not hear the voices of the people we seek to hear.

if we get the word out, connect with other voices, and seek to know where God is leading, then i think we can get something happening by the summer of 2006. the possibility is to have a "ochlos" [one of the greek words for a 'gathering' {ock-los}.] it is used by mark [and others] to describe gatherings and crowds as they came to here the teachings of Jesus, "then Jesus went again to walk alongside the lake. again a crowd came to him, and he taught them."

who knows, the possibility is endless :) pass the word.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Adjusting our lens and hearing aids

I have a few foundations that I hold for myself, not in creedal, dogmatic, or systematic form but more in a flexible, magnanimous, and sporadic form. They are more like virtues of life, if you will, that I try to follow. One that I have is, seeing beyond categories. I apologize if this comes off harsh but I am vehemently opposed to the injustice that is done to individuals and groups that are generalized and then marginalized because of whatever lineage, category, party, context, race, religion, etc that they are in or resonate with. Great example, what if I were to say "all conservative are tight asses." That is simply not true. Not all conservatives advocate or hold the same beliefs. There are extremities within each category and the pendulum swings on both sides. What I am saying here is: Southeast Emergent has to see beyond labels and categories. We have to be the people of GOD who see people for who they are in GOD's lens. My professor and mentor guided me in this. He taught that we have to move beyond the categories that determine who's in and who's out. The categories that reinforce schismatic behavior and exclusive mindsets. In our pluralistic culture we have to see the mosaic of the kingdom and call out and affirm the things of GOD. I think the initial course of this is with our speech. What is our speech and communication conveying and articulating to those that are within the kingdom and those that we are inviting? I think a gem for me has been Nancey Murphy's book. Our pluralistic culture is eradicating these predilections and compartments that we love to create and making it more and more difficult to know and confine people and knowledge. I think this is the chemotherapy that we need now seeing in retrospect what we have done with comparmentalizing people into groups and labeling them "good and bad." Guess what? Both sides think they are "good" and the other is "bad", so what progress can we get from that? None. We need to see beyond the labels and categories that we find them in and see what GOD is saying and doing through them. We need to see them not as different from us, but very similar to us. We need to see them through GOD's lens. I often hear people equate Islamic fundamentalism to murder and terrorism. This is syllogism that is very deceptive. Not all within Islamic fundamentalism believe everything everyone believes, so how can we categorize them? Not all blacks listen to hip hop. Not all are like all. We just need to listen harder and see deeper. We have to refrain from labeling, stamping, boxing, and writing people or groups off as a mass production and saying "they are all the same." We each have something to say and something GOD desires to be heard in liberals, conservatives, democrats, Hindus, bisexuals, and so on. There is something beyond that surface that GOD is whispering and we have to be willing to hear and search for it attentively. We are part of great misunderstanding that is hindering the kingdom of GOD, not ushering it in. When we draw a line in the sand we pick sides. When the GOD-man draws a "line" in the sand, we all are on one side. To emerge, we need to move beyond our categories that have only split the people, and that involves making alterations to our vocabulary and how we articulate. The old or new seeds that are coming to fruition have to be aware of what garden they are in and be sensitive to that context. The garden we are in now, has not tolerance for senescent labels, and they must be dismantled. I leave with this quote from Leopold von Ranke "Every age is immediate to God, for in every age the Divine desires to realize itself, and is unable to show itself in it's entirety in any single era." Not only do I believe that to have relevance and significance in eras (time periods), and stages of our individual development, but in people other than ourselves. We just need to adjust our lens and hearing aids to the focus and tune of GOD.
Peace

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Saturday, July 09, 2005

Good Ole Jerry

I think a friend subscribed me to Falwell Confidential. I know I didn't sign up. Anyway, here is a snippet from the latest email.

In announcing its formation, the Christian Alliance for Progress unveiled what it called its “Jacksonville Declaration,” an open letter to the political and church leaders of the religious right, which “challenges and invites them to return to a Christian foundation of compassion and justice, values that Jesus passionately taught and lived.”

First, the sole purpose for Jesus’ ministry on earth was stated in His own words: “… for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:30). Any organization that deems to calls itself “Christian,” simply must have as its basis the reality that Jesus asserted that salvation could come only through Him.

I wonder if the leadership of the Christian Alliance for Progress would state that Jesus Christ, who conquered death following His crucifixion, is the singular avenue to eternal life in heaven? If not, how can the name Christian be suitable for this organization?

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Friday, July 08, 2005

Back for Round 2

Let me preface this post by saying that I love the church. If I am being very honest, and you give me a little room to possibly be silly, I am bonkers over the church. I love her people and anything I say, both good and bad, about Christ’s bride is motivated by my love for her. It is my love of the church that set me on my current journey to find out what is going on with the church, where it is headed, and where I fit in. No matter what form they choose to take on in the way they do church and be the church, I have more love than anyone could know.

In my post yesterday I explained a couple of tension points for anyone interested in emerging church ideas in my part of the southeast. There are many, many more and I am sure I will be adding to the list as I post here. Today I want to talk about the church culture here in my corner of the region. It’s where I was born and raised. Church and church culture has been a part of all 33 of my years. So what is the church community like in my neck of the woods?

Most churches in this area are 200 or less in attendees. They are normally filled with people they have gone to church with all of their lives and their parents and grandparents went there as well. This causes most churches to be tight knit groups and inwardly focused. Mega churches are a fairly new thing here and surprisingly, do well. I would have thought that their seeker friendly models would turn folks off in this area, but they do get good responses. This is an encouragement to anyone looking to different models whether emerging or some other expression. There are a good number of people, like myself, looking for something different.

As stated before, there are over 1000 churches in the area. One reason for the large number of churches is a direct result of a problem this area struggles with mightily. Church splits. It is one of the issues we deal with here that both saddens and angers me greatly. It is almost a way of life here. If you do not run the pastor out, you leave and take a large number of people with you to start another church. A joke around here has been that the SBC doesn’t have to spend any money in the state of Tennessee for church planting because they only need to wait for their churches to split.

For the most part you will find the area to be very conservative and lean towards fundamentalist expressions of the gospel. This is a direct result of Southern Baptists being the biggest part of the church at large here and another sizable portion being made up of other types of Baptists and Pentecostals. Politically, you are looking at a heavily republican area and that translates into the church being republican for the most part. Or it could be the area is republican because the church is. That is how much the church and the community at large is intertwined. It’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins at times.

What are the issues outside the church that most people seem to focus on? Abortion, gay marriage and other homosexual issues, and the Ten Commandments being posted in public and government places are ones you will hear the most about. If you do not believe that, go to Timesnews.net and read the letters to the editor on a daily basis. Social justice issues such as poverty (either here or overseas), racism, or gender bias are either not given attention or are not viewed as problems we need to be dealing with. (Adding a personal note here, I think all of these things are important and that it is a mistake for any side to drop them. Especially if you are dropping them because it’s an issue that someone not like you is championing. An example if the way some would not be a part of the Make Poverty History campaign because they view it as a liberal issue not be associated with. Another example would be an emergent steering clear of the Abortion issue because they wouldn’t want to be associated with fundamentalists.)

Ending on a positive note, the church in this area is very generous and generally looks to impact the community around them in a positive way. A great number of Christians in this area truly wish to reach people for Jesus. I have personally been cared for by folks in the local church all of my life. My grandparents were part of the local church and my family has benefited from their guidance. As much as the church in this area can frustrate and upset me, it was a factor in my coming to Jesus. That brings us full circle and explains why I am so interested in the Emerging Church conversation. I love the body of Christ and I know there are other, maybe even better ways, to be the body. I know that we do not have all the answers or the perfect expression of being the church and I am finding many good ideas and questions in the conversation.

Till next time…

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

the baker parable

I just recently resigned from a church in Alabama. A lot of 'old world' issues there, and very religious. That is NOT why we left, God really did release us, but we would like to share with you some of what it is like to be at a church in 'the south'. This is a great parable written by the Sr. pastor there, whom we still love and adore, and would have given anything to stay on staff with him.

the baker parable

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first shot

Since John invited me last night (Thanks John!) to post here I have been thinking about what I would write in my first post. Having been born and raised in East Tennessee I think my experience is fairly unique as this emerging conversation is concerned. So for starters, here are some observations about where I live and what emergents might face. I’ll post a couple of my observations in this post and continue in another.

First, if you use words and phrases with church folk in this area like emerging church, missional, or reaching out in a postmodern world, the responses will range from ‘what is that?’ to ‘you are out of your mind’. These are strange and/or scary terms to Christians of the south. If you talk about Jerry Falwell or James Dobson, people understand you. Mention names like Brian Mclaren or Stan Grenz, and you can expect that they will not know who they are or what they are about. This in itself is not a huge problem. Where the problems arise is when you start explaining who they are and what they are saying. In a heavily fundamentalist conservative evangelical community, these ideas and those who are talking about them are a threat. Anyone who agrees with any or all of the emerging conversation risks being labeled a liberal or heretic. To question the way the church operates and lives out its calling is a no-no here. Why? Because everyone already knows the right way to do it.

The next thing that comes to mind is the war on culture and the divide between secular and sacred. For the most part, anything not directly tied to the church is not accepted as something a good, God fearing Christian should involve themselves in and enjoy. The secular culture and those in are the enemy and need to be beaten back. A personal example here would be music. Many of the Christians that I know would have a real problem with some of the music I enjoy. Many folks in this area even have a problem with Christian music that sounds like secular music. Anything related to secular culture should be shunned and not given a place in a Christian’s life. This leads to great misunderstandings of the people that we say we want to reach out to. I’ve personally had heated debates with family members concerning secular culture and how I think we MUST understand it. The person debating with me thought it mattered little if at all.

Next time I’ll give a run down of church culture and where we are compared to other parts of the country…

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

WGW 2005

here is what it says on the site promoting the event:

W2G 2005 is a gathering of like-minded leaders who face the same kind of challenges that you face. It is a conference designed to turn up the volume on your effectiveness for the Kingdom.

Join hundreds of other leaders (staff and lay) from the east coast Oct.18.05 in Burlington, NC and get the most recent tools, insights, networking and inspiration to help your church be its most effective in growing in today's context.

The day of learning will include
Check-in from 8:00 - 8:30
Worship @ 8:30
Session 1 with Ron Martoia
Session 2 with Gordon MacDonald
Lunch (included if you register before 8/30/05)
Session 3 with Ron Martoia
Session 4 with Gordon MacDonald
Session 5 Q&A with Ron and Gordon, ending @ 4:00

Online registration is now open, and an Early Bird Rate of only $25/person is available through June 15. register

if you need a place to stay click here: LINK
places to eat, click here: LINK

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interested in connecting?

i am in the process of moving to north carolina. in that move, i would love to get this blog rolling and focus on issues that are facing us in the southeast. if you are connected to an emerging ministry in the southeast, i would love if you added your voice to this new collaborative blog.

the idea is to be a place where people can find out what is happening in our area. conferences, gatherings, events, new churches, new expressions - what ever it is - we can be a collaboration of people looking to be a light to those seeking a way in this crazy thing we call emerging - if it's you, cool - join. if you know of others, cool - spread the word :)

if you want to be a part of this - email me at jxpxus [at] yahoo [dot] com

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Previous Posts

EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE - CHARLOTTE

Carolina Cohort Gathering?

Mainline Emergent/s

Presbymergent?

Tony Jones in Charlotte

we can help

up coming stuff

The World I Dream

Megachurch Pastor Braves Emerging Church Cohort Me...

Hi, I'm Steve K.

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