Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 at 4:40 pm

callid at theology after google

in this intellectually intriguing, brilliantly delivered talk, callid challenges us to speak boldly about our experience of Christ and revel in the Christ within which we are intertwined.

on this palm sunday, as we acclaim the Christ we do not fully know, let us trust that our acclamation will lead us towards greater revelation.

thanks for the good word callid. i love you brother and am so thankful for the teaching gift you have been given!


In Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm

on prayer and going postal

a couple of nights ago i had a disturbing dream. i was visiting a local church that has been quite critical of the gathering for some time. after the sermon – which, if memory serves, was filled with theological certainty and strict morality – i sat down with the pastor and, in the guise of questions, offered a trenchant critique.

the pastor immediately threatened to shoot me for incivility, but, assuming he would not follow through, i continued the one-sided conversation. in response the pastor picked up a rifle, rested it upon his knee, and after some discussion, he shot me through the abdomen.

there’s not a lot of love lost between this pastor and i, but as i woke up, i couldn’t help but think that my critique, which was shaped by my contempt, inspired his violent action.

this dream, as well as emergent village’s recommendations concerning the appropriate manners of theological conversation,* has led me to believe that i need to be far more careful about the worlds my critiques and words create.

here is the abbreviated list of emergent village’s commitment to church in all its forms, as abbreviated by franke:

1. To be actively and positively involved in a local congregation, while maintaining open definitions of ‘church’ and ‘congregation.’

2. To seek peace among followers of Christ, and to offer critique only prayerfully and when necessary, with grace, and without judgment, avoiding rash statements, and repenting when harsh statements are made.

3. To speak positively of fellow Christians whenever possible, especially those with whom we may disagree.

4. To build sincere friendship with Christians from other traditions.

i am truly sorry and i humbly repent for the times i have neglected charity and poured out contempt upon my brothers and sisters. i believe that gracious, well intentioned questions and critique are vital to the vibrancy of the Christian faith, but these conversations need to be shaped by charity, filled with grace and grounded in prayer.

* which john franke mentions in his excellent new book, manifold witness.

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 at 1:00 am


five years ago i dropped my cell phone while shoveling snow. fortunately kellie found the phone half buried in the driveway, but it made 37 unprovoked calls to dr. james the same day and was pretty much worthless from then on. when i realized my phone was useless i immediately started worrying that i wouldn’t be able to replace it with the script i had saved from my call center job. when i mentioned my anxiety to my friend craig he told me not to worry. “we all have more connections than we could ever imagine,” craig said. “rely on your network to help you replace it.” fortunately, i followed craig’s advice, emailed a few friends and had a $5 replacement within 48 hours.

for years i have had a friend who constantly confronts catastrophic problems. as soon as he recovers from a job loss, he’s faced with failing health. once the failing health is addressed, his partner pulls out. once he finally secures a stipendiary scholarship, well, you get the drift. i wish i could say differently, but i’ve often avoided him simply because i cannot solve his problems. recently my friend called with yet another conundrum – the kind that would have once been a clarion call to run – and i simply used my network to point him towards a service that might sustain him in his hour of need.

i’m still learning that although we can’t do everything we often can make the connection that will help others or even our fragmented selves. craig’s invaluable lesson was echoed by dwight friesen’s thy kindgom connected. that’s the main reason i’m glad i read the book.

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2010 at 1:06 am


what’s that sound? oh my god! that’s hacksaw jim duggan’s drunken slur!

the south is going to (fail to) rise again on thursday night, april 29 at the irish american in malden. proceeds from this event will support triangle, so dust off your 2 x 4, grow out your mullet and meet me there!

tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. email me for more ridicule and details.

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2010 at 4:12 pm

crazy magnet

one of the priviledges of pastoral ministry is checking up on friends who are ill. yesterday evening when i was surprised by the following exchange at an assisted living facility in danvers.

unknown elderly gentleman (eg): “you better wear the green tomorrow!”

g13:i’m not irish,* so why should i?”

eg: “because bad things happen to those who don’t!”

g13: “like what?”

eg: “like getting your head chopped off.”

* though i just might be korean

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2010 at 5:04 pm

on soybean and subversion

after church last week i was talking to my colleague about my soybean bible experience. in the midst of the conversation i admitted that “15-20% of the faculty and students at soybean seemed to loathe me.” menasco quickly noted that 15-20% is a significant number, but it’s a figure that i’ve grown accustomed to and, to be honest, pretty comfortable with. i continued by affirming that i am “thankful for, and humbled by, the insightful professors and friends who revealed a subversive grid within my own tradition.”

that grid – which consists of castelein’s conception of jacob as a model for ministry, neal’s teaching on the ladder of descent, birdie’s emphasis on constant prayer & worship & lowery’s reticence in regards to inerrancy as well as many other strands – has deeply informed, if not directed, the path of the loyal radical that i am trying to walk.

In Uncategorized on March 15, 2010 at 2:25 am


in a moving piece in the april atlantic, jonathan rauch recounts the challenges he faced caring for his aging father and argues that since elder care plays such an essential part in most of our lives that “we should all be given time off work at age 40 to take a course on elder care.”

i think rauch has pointed out a great unmet need in our society that our faith communities are well positioned to address. maybe a megachurch can start an “enjoying geriatrics” program or something.

In Uncategorized on March 14, 2010 at 12:54 am

emergent and acts 29: together for the gospel

the church formerly known as sinners & saints has been inactive for some time. in 2007 after four great years together we decided to dissolve the church and start following Christ in new ways.*

for some reason, when we disbanded sinners & saints we did not shut down city on a hill, the legal name under which we operated. over the years we have considered transferring the 501(c)(3) – that we inherited – to the gathering or the church that meets in beverly, but for one reason or another the transition never came to fruition.

about a month ago, blake ferrell, from a new city on a hill church in brookline, contacted me to see if we would be interested in transferring the 501(c)(3). the new church has been planted with support from hope fellowship church in cambridge, the greater boston baptist association (gbba) and the acts 29 network.

after some discussion with blake and bland mason, the senior pastor of city on a hill, the board of directors** of the old city on a hill has decided to transfer the non-profit to our new friends in coolidge corner. this transfer made sense to me because the gbba originally paid for the paperwork, i have always admired the work at hope fellowship and i wanted the acts 29 guys to know that there are friends of emergent who are eager to help them as together we proclaim, await and embody the Kingdom that was and is and is to come.

so tonight, after we broke the bread of prinzis and connected in conversation and prayer, a friend of emergent and two church planters from acts 29 came together for the gospel. it does my heart good to know that the mission that unites us is far greater than the squabbles that threaten to divide us.

* note that i did not say “with new communities.” most of us who were involved with sinners & saints are still bound by both the bonds of community and, for six of us anyway, the lintels of the same house. i thank God for that.
** that sounds pretentious until you realize that four of them live at 4 judson.

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2010 at 9:18 pm

i can’t believe…

that david dark didn’t come up with this idea. i might attend one of these gatherings if the gospel according to america is the topic at hand.

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm

more reflections of a loyal radical*

on wednesday i had the opportunity to attend the quarterly “birthday luncheon” hosted by a church planting organization that is a part of the stone-campbell tradition of which i am also a part. during the free form fellowship time at the end of the luncheon the leader of the church planting org encouraged me to touch base with the minister of my home church so that i could suggest a few ways the latter gent could more effectively connect with the older members in that church community.

i like the senior minister in my home church quite a bit. he has provided adequate pastoral care to my family and, through the ordination process, has openly affirmed my ministry. however, i do not have a strong relational connection to the man and i know precious little about his strategy for serving and leading my home church. for that reason, i think it would be awkward at best and wholly inappropriate at worst for me to ring him up and give him the 411 on connecting more effectively with the seniors in my home church. although i like the minister at my home church and we are in some sense bound by mutual affection, my connection to him is more institutional than relational.

fortunately, on the north shore i have connections with a number of ministers like jesse, ben and dave that are far more relational than institutional. within the past couple of weeks, i have had in depth conversations with one of these guys about the ecclesiological structure of his church, even though his church is not a part of my tradition. moreover, i have had more limited conversation with another about pursuing denominational affiliation and ordination in a number of traditions, none of which were my own. these connections with local ministers whom i regularly serve beside are much more important to me than the kind, yet quite tangential connection i have to most of the ministers in my tradition.

the rise of missional networks – from small groups like the origins project to large groups like the willow creek association – seem to suggest i am far from the only minister experiencing a simultaneous distancing from traditional affiliation and deepening of relational connection with local ministers and initiatives. i don’t have the time or ability to map out all of the potential implications, but the shift from institutional to relational primacy will probably lead to pronounced shifts in our theology and missiology.

i suppose the primary conclusion of this post is that i need to finish friesen’s thy kingdom connected.

* i’ve borrowed the concept of the loyal radical from jonny baker. his description of living in the tension between the center and the margins really resonates with me.
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