Friday, May 27, 2005

transforming secular space

I read this on the new blog of Ryan Bolger. I realize his point was in reference to teaching specifically on worship. However, this one phrase, describing emergent churches, jumped out at me...."transforming secular space." It got my wheels turnin'.

We currently run 3 services in two different locations at Crossroads; a saturday night service at a community center in stratford and two Sunday morning services at the YMCA in Trumbull.
We ran out of room at the YMCA and at the same time realized we had a large group of folks coming from Stratford up to Trumbull so we launched a 3rd service at the Community center in stratford. We wanted to open up seats in Trumbull so we would have room to invite our friends and feeling like God was moving in stratford, we wanted to be a part of what He was doing there.
We have opened up seats in Trumbull and we are starting to have an impact in Stratford. In both locations part of our impact has been simply because we are in the middle of the community. We are where people go throughout the week. We take secular space and transform it.

People are working their butts off to make this happen. There are three of us on staff and everyone else is volunteer. We transform a cafeteria and gym into a sanctuary and then take it down again every weekend. Our folks look tired. For the most part, people have maintained great attitudes, for the most part. We have lots of conversations about avoiding burn-out.

The question on everyone's mind is, "Will we ever have a place of our own?" That has been the question on my mind as well. Recently though, for me, the question has evolved into "Should we have a place of our own?" Are we more effective being in the middle of the community? Being in a non-traditional/traditional place like New England, would we be more effective if we had white clapboard siding and a steeple? Would that give us more legitimacy in the highly cynical eyes of New Englanders? If we weren't so busy setting up and taking down (and recovering from that) would we have more time to reach out to our friends, to those in need around us? What would we be sacrificing by moving out of secular space? Jesus spent most of his time outside the temple walls, right? If we built temple walls would would those wall become "a refuge from the world or a refuge for the world?"

My world view

Here is my world view as determined by this little quiz I found via Jen Lemen's blog.
You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















created with

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

me and bubba trying to catch a nap

me and bubba trying to catch a nap
Originally uploaded by kayos.

When I used to dream of fatherhood this was the picture that would come to mind. Unfortunately, the nap part is all too rare.

getting your rocks off in NY

My friend Dan taught at the Saturday morning session of our Men's retreat this past weekend. Dan talked about character being central to our relationships; regardless of who those relationships are with. He talked alot about servant leadership and Christ's example, and gave great examples from David's life; examples of moments of really Godly character and not-so-godly character.
He also gave us each a rock. And we talked for a while about how that rock represents the crap in our lives that corrupts our character and harms our relationships. Our challenge was to get rid of that rock before we returned home on Sunday. Dan encouraged us to chuck the rocks off of one of the camps scenic overlooks or to bury it deep in the ground of Upstate NY. That's when somebody chimed in "yeah we can go home and tell everyone we got our rocks off in NY." I got creative and drowned my rock. I threw into one of ponds. I really had no desire to ever see that rock again.

I knew Dan was gonna do a great job with his teaching but I didn't realize how great it was gonna be or how deeply it was gonna impact all of us.

is it broked?

In my continued bumbling, I thought for sure I broke this blog for good last night. If this actually posts all is not lost. Several hours later... I'm not sure what I did exactly...but I think i am back in business and with a 3 column template...just what I always wanted.

Monday, May 23, 2005

360- Men's Retreat

One of the amazing views from Camp Pinnacle, where we took 32 guys from Crossroads this past weekend. It was an amazing trip...guys grew closer to God and to each other. We laughed alot, hung out, got way beyond the surface, and shot each other repeatedly with little round balls of paint.
I haven't digested everything yet so I'm sure there will be more to come

Monday, May 16, 2005

Template #$%!&*)!

Messing with the with everything a work in progress

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

More on the Last word and the Word after that

I wasn't planning on a string of post's on McLaren's new book but it is causing much mental wrestling.

I read these words found on page 121 in reference to the many gospel passages that speak of behavior, judgement and its consequences.

Neil: What's the point that Jesus is trying to make?
Dan: One thing it defintely wasn't just as you predicted. It wasn't 'hold the right beliefs,' 'affirm the right doctrines' or anything like that. Instead, Jesus was clearly interested in action, in what we do, in how we treat others, especially, and in whether we trust him enough to follow his teaching even if it means difficulty and persecution. It was clear that Jesus wasn't just saying anything goes, everything's OK. He was telling people that they would be held accountable that how they live now would count forever.

As I read that, this passage in Ephesians came to mind.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
My gut reaction, I think mostly from my conservative evangelical background, was "McLaren is advocating a works based theology." I was cringing, thinking okay he is going down a bad road here. Then I went and actually reread the passage from Ephesians, in it's context. When the passage gets cited, verse 10 is often left out. I have read the book of Ephesians numerous times. But as I reread it this time, I was almost surprised as I read v10.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works..."
Why do we leave that part out? Are we just that lazy? The modern church, maybe unwittingly, has been enabling the bad behavior of Christians. "I believe the right things, I am good, I am covered." When in realilty, through God's grace, good works, especially to those and for those on the edges of society are now our responsibility, our mandate, our mission.

These verses are not our eternal get out of jail free card. They are our marching orders. The gift of grace has been lavished upon us. I can think of no more precious gift, nothing more extravagant, nothing more costly. We must live it out. We have been given much. Much is expected from us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Something new at Leadership

I have a group of adults who help me lead our student ministries. Last night at our regular Leadership meeting I tried something new. Instead of doing a traditional bible study or training on how reach out to teenagers we did a group contemplative prayer/Lecto Divina kinda thing.
I actually walked our group through the daily prayer for May 9 from Sacred Space, a contemplative prayer site run by the Jesuits.
I was really nervous about how it would be received. I had pictured everything from giggles, to questions about when I became a Yogi.
It was received really well. Everyone was into it. Comments like "that was awesome, I have never done anything like that before" and "I am totally relaxed now" and "What struck me during our prayer time was how grateful I am for all of you and this church and this ministry."
Trying new stuff is worth the least this time it was.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Keeping me up at Night...for a different reason

I was able to spend a little bit of time with the friend I wrote about here.
Now there is something Keeping me up at Night...for a different reason.
He told me that he thought a big part of the reason he came home was to be a part of making our church a place where college folks would want to check out Jesus. He said felt like it was God bringing him back here, like there was something he needed to do here. I couldn't be more excited...for him, for me, for our whole community.
God is good and I can't wait to see what he is going to do next.

Party in the Living Room, Torture in the Basement

This is the title of the 4th chapter of Brian McLaren's new book The Last Word and the Word After That. In the chapter, the main character, Rev. Dan Poole retells the story of his daughter's confrontation with a member of her campus' Christian fellowship regarding the concept of hell.

Rev Dan's daughter, Jess, sums up here difficulties with the idea of hell this way in a previous chapter, "If Christianity is true, then all the people I love except for a few will burn in hell forever. But if Christianity is not true, then life doesn't seem to have much meaning or hope. I wish I could find a better option."

In chapter 4 Jess had decided that becoming a universalist was the best way for her to handle hell. So during a sharing time at a meeting of her campus fellowship she decides to share that fact. Her proclamation was met with silence.
A girl named Joanna catches up with her after the meeting and explains why universalism is one of the worst heresies facing Christianity. Joanna goes on to say that Jess' views on heaven and hell, the Party in the Living Room, Torture in the Basement analogy are worldly. And that Jess lacks an understanding of "God's holiness and justice and God's ways are higher than are ways and whatever..."

I actually stopped and put the book down after reading that section. My brain was cloudy with memories of similar conversations. Conversations, discussions and arguments that took place, 15 years ago in college, 10 years ago with family members, five years ago with high school students, 18 months ago in front of an entire congregation as I helped lead a question and answer day at our church. In hindsight, I am not proud to say, that I was the Joanna character, at least externally. Very matter of factly, very ananlytically stating to friends that " yeah people they know and love will end up in hell." Even before reading this book, the memories of those conversations were not fond ones. The feelings that accompany those memories are ones of regret, of inadequacy, and of betrayal. The Rev Dan character sums up my memories of those conversations later in the book when he says "I had been pretending to know something when deep down inside I didn't."

All this to say that, I no longer feel comfortable, right or good playing the role of Joanna. Nor do I think universalism is the way to go. I am a man without a home. As a youth pastor it feels like a dangerous place to live.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

MAdnesS within

it calls me to the impossible!
it will not relent!
there is no escaping!
This madness that exists within.
it will not let me be]
This madness that exists within.
it was ignited by love/
its flame fanned by passion/
if i try to extinguish it/
it grows/
it is insatiable/
This madness that exists within.
to love the One:.
to love the unlovable:.
to love in spite of the cost:.
to love because of the cost:.
paid by the one:.
who created:.
This madness that exists within.
i am not alone/
i know there are others/
pursued by it/
driven by it/
consumed by it/
This madness that exists within.
there is no therapy]
no program]
no drug]
no cure for]
This madness that exists within.
i am forever in its debt!
i am forever in its grip!
there is no place that I would rather be than with!
This madness that exists within.