Category Archives: Missional Church

On-line missional theology course about to begin…


oHere’s a ad I got from our VP for student advancement asking if I would post a note here. Since they pay my salary and since Todd Mangum, the teacher, is fabulous I’m happy to do so. If interested in learning more about missional theology, consider…

Your First Course at Biblical Seminary Could Be The Course That Gives “Feet” to Theology:

Missional Theology 1

Instructor: Biblical’s own Dr. Todd Mangum (www.biblical.edu)

This link will take you to the syllabus:

http://www.biblical.edu/images/equip/PDFs/2007springsyllabi/TH521S-Mangum.pdf

Or see our website (www.biblical.edu) and click on “equip”

Limited cyber-seating. Register Today:  800-235-4021 Ext 106

Q: Can I use this course in my program at another seminary?

A: Very likely…please contact us for more information

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Filed under church and culture, cultural apologetics, Doctrine/Theology, Evangelicals, missional, Missional Church

Buzzword watch: Let’s have conversation


In every good movement and cultural shift, there are words that signal these changes. However, just as quickly, the word gets picked up and used so frequently that it begins to mean absolutely nothing.
“Conversation” has become a buzzword of this present cultural moment. I heard Hillary Clinton invite listeners to join the conversation in the launch of her presidential campaign. Emergent/missional church leaders use the phrase.

Originally, the word signalled the change from hostile fights focusing on declaring the TRUTH of one’s position to that of dialogue and discussion, of understanding others rather than labeling them. Sounds good. But labeling and stereotyping others is a part of what it means to be human this side of heaven. And so, “join the conversation” quickly morphs into “join our conversation if you want what we want”. Pride and arrogance kill most catch phrases. WWJD (a phrase I never really liked anyway) may have had value to some but it also became meaningless to most.

My school uses the phrase and I think it is a good thing for seminaries to find ways to enter the world of those they serve. If we do it well, it looks like conversation (read John 4). And if we do it well, we learn so much from other cultural perspectives. But, I find myself not wanting to use the term because it sounds so superficial and bland. 

Not sure what I’d replace it with given that any good catch phrase will have the same problem.  

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Filed under church and culture, Cultural Anthropology, Missional Church

Andy Crouch on church and culture


Last week we had Andy Crouch (columnist for Christianity Today and project director for Christian Vision Project) at Biblical talking to us about the relationship between church and culture. It was a good presentation so I want to give some of his thoughts here (but mind you, my interpretations of what he said):

His descriptors of culture: It is urban, affluent (even the poor are shaped by America’s affluence), post christian, and thin (intellectually and relationally).

Question? The church is in culture but is she transforming or being transformed? Should it see its job as transforming culture?

Since the 19th century, the church has had these postures toward culture:
1. Condemning culture (the suspicion of christians of increasing worldliness)
2. Critiquing culture (a la Francis Schaeffer, take in culture but critique it)
3. Copying culture (the rise of the christian rock music scene)
4. Consuming culture (just use it, no critique)

#2-4 are what we call cultural engagement. Each one may be short-sighted. Andy suggested that these are all good gestures but not good postures or stances for the church. There are things we should condemn, things we should critique, things we may want to copy, and things we may want to just consume. However, he called us to look at the creation mandate for guidance on a different posture: Cultivate and Create. Adam was called to cultivate the garden and to create by naming the animals as he saw fit. (I’ve written on this as well so it was neat to see him say something similar). Our posture, says Andy, should be one of cultivating culture and creating culture. He showed us a short video from the Christian vision project of an artist in NYC (and two prominent pastors) talking about doing both cultivation and creation after 9/11.

Good things to think about… 

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Filed under Christian Apologetics, church and culture, cultural apologetics, Missional Church

Prophet or slanderer? Some additional thoughts


One of my colleagues gave me a friendly challenge after reading my initial thoughts about the differences between prophets and slanderers. While he agreed with my starter list on the differences, he asked about how I would respond to Jesus’ accusatory responses to the Pharisees. As prophet, Jesus called the teachers “white-washed tombs…a den of vipers”. My colleague could have gone further and added things the OT prophets said to Israel and Judah. Isn’t there a place for modern day prophets to be very firm and clear in their convictions, even insulting? Can’t they call a spade a spade? Continue reading

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Painful words in the church: What’s the difference between a prophet and a slanderer


For those who might not know it, Mark Driscoll wrote a blog post regarding Ted Haggard’s admission of sexual immorality. The post contains some comments regarding protecting pastors from such problems. While several of the points are useful, one point in particular offended many:

Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.

Scot McKnight at http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=1697 blogged on the topic and pointed to a Seattle pastor’s open letter to Driscoll, calling on Driscoll to offer an apology. Several responders to McKnight’s blog then took Scot to task for being easy on Brian McLaren’s “provocateur” style of writing/talking but being hard on Driscoll’s offensive remarks to women, especially pastor’s wives. These issues have made me think about a deeper issue: What is the difference between someone willing to speak up about difficult issues with a prophetic and provocative voice and a person who uses reckless words to slander individuals he or she does not respect or value?

Does Driscoll speak provocatively about the lack of frank sexual discussions among pastors and spouses? Or does he link a pastor’s indiscretions to his wife’s behavior even though he states that is not his reason? (Is it possible that pastors’ wives “let themselves go” because they are neglected and at the bottom of their husband’s ministry lists?) I Realize that every prophet may give in to the temptation to slander and every slanderer may speak prophetically. So the distinctions I try to make between the two cannot be categorical.

1. A prophet names things and people (especially opponents) in a way that they would agree or approve. A slanderer uses names to disparage and to smear opponents, even those who might barely be related to the issues at hand. (Scot McKnight, in a recent presentation at Westminster Seminary, offers some good advice in this area when talking about emerging/missional church authors and their critics. When you describe your opponents, you ought to do so in a way that the opponents says, “that’s me.”).  A prophet does not stoop to build straw men.  
2. A prophet highlights viewpoints in order to point out their possible logical conclusions while a slanderer takes another’s position to an extreme and paints the person as intending the outcome or so foolish not to see the result.
3. While pointing out possible outcomes, a prophet is still able to describe these outcomes with complexity and shading while the slanderer merely paints everything in black and white.
4. A prophet points to a better way, creative solutions, risky but realistic options while a slanderer wastes no effort trying to provide solutions, but is satisfied with producing only criticisms and tired stereotypes.  

When I look at this list, I realize that I have slandered those less theologically astute, the biblically naive, and the psychologically narrow-minded. God has gifted me with some level of critical thinking. How will I use it to give Him the glory?

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Filed under Christian Apologetics, conflicts, Doctrine/Theology, Missional Church

Painful words in the church: What are we to do with our stories of pain and mistreatment by other Christians?


Its no revelation that Christians hurt each other in some very serious ways. While I believe that more people have been loved by Christians than hurt, the painful reality is that we can do so much damage. Hence we have books such as Dwight Carlson’s, Why do Christians shoot their wounded. Here’s what often happens. We tell the stories to others. There is something good and something bad about our telling of our stories. But before I discuss the good and the bad, let me tell two quick stories (which I will later critique). Continue reading

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Filed under conflicts, Missional Church, sin

Ponder these quotes regarding today’s church


Ponder some words by local city pastor Steve Huber (Liberti Church) 

Talking about community is like being at a jr. high dance. Everybody wants to be on the dance floor but they all are hugging the wall. [We talk about it but stay on the sidelines for self-protection reasons. Its also true of racial diversity. We talk about it as a good thing, but then we live in monocultural communities. Even racially mixed communities or churches may not be true communities because they are controlled by one culture or in transition from one to the other.]

We’re part of the Simpson generation. We make fun of everything and everyone. [the dissatisfaction with our structures, even the ones we are a part of]

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Filed under Cultural Anthropology, Missional Church

Missional Church Leadership


Spent last Friday and Saturday participating in a conference discussing the future of the church and how her leadership must change (Sponsored by CityNet, a church  planting/revitalization ministry serving Philadelphia). Eddie Gibbs (Fuller) and Dean Trulear (Howard) provided the keynotes. What made this conference different is that it wasn’t merely talking heads. We spent a good deal of time in small group discussion and interacting with panelists. Further, there was a real effort made to make this conversation applicable to a variety of cultural settings. It wasn’t just a white conversation about postmodern angst.

We talked about culture changes (and the church’s relevence to it), character issues, and training challenges. As the only member representing Seminary education (not sure, maybe I was invited because I work with pastors as a psychologist), I participated on a panel discussing training/leadership challenges. Continue reading

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