Five Reasons to “Animate” Your Church’s Adult Education Program

Tony Jones recently posted some info about a project that I am part of, the new Animate Faith Formation Series, from SparkHouse. I have already been compensated for my part in the project, so my gushing over the project is not so much about sales as it is about hoping people take advantage of this resource that I am truly proud of.

From what I can tell, the folks at SparkHouse wanted to bring together seven of the greatest Christian thinkers in the universe in order to create an adult formation curriculum that was, not only theologically solid, but engaging and thoughtful. As the tagline reads:

Seven leading Christian voices.
Seven big conversations about faith.
All you need is seven weeks.

As it would turn out the seven greatest thinkers were already booked, so they scraped together seven other folks who have been known to flap their gums about God, faith and life:

And over about six months we wrote, procrastinated, wrote, submitted, re-wrote, gathered, critiqued, re-wrote and finally recorded our thoughts on God, Jesus, Salvation, Spirituality, The Cross, the Bible and Church. The results of our efforts can be seen in this first of many teaser videos:

Here are five quick reasons why I think you should order it today:

  • We invite rather than instruct. While we each give our perspective on faith, these are not offered in order convince anyone of anything, but rather to present a compelling reason to think about each topic and then explore what this means for each person.
  • We were allowed to be ourselves. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but we were each encouraged to bring our own stories into this project and the process. The danger in this kind of openness is that our personalities and styles might not always jive with the hearer, but the potential for folks to hear a genuine invitation to conversations about faith hopefully comes through.
  • We modeled what we encourage. Part of the process was to engage with one another through a script read-through and workshop. Gathered in one room over two days, we each read, critiqued, received and eventually left with a better message than we could have developed on our own. This mutuality and respectful exploration was an important part of this project and we hope this same kind of interaction will take place for the participate in the series. And in case you were wondering, YES this was a tad bit intimidating.
  • Not everyone will be happy with what we say or who we are. There will be some who will try to place the seven of us into some theological box from which we are collectively destroying Christendom and perverting the Gospel with our false theology in word and deed. And while there are times when I WISHED for that kind of power, rest assured that I stand proudly with these folks, not because I agree with everything that is said, but because we have each entered into a liberating journey to make faith real in a world where too often Christianity is experienced as anything but freeing.
  • It just looks awesome. Okay, I have to admit that when I was told that there was going to be animation, I thought to myself, “Cool” and immediately hoped for some Speed Racer version of myself. Well, not only is the artwork and graphical layout great looking, after previewing my own segment, folks will be moved by how the animation helps fill and form the words and thoughts that are trying to be expressed. Also, the journal that tis part of the series is one of those rare “workbooks” that people will keep on their bookshelves, not as a reminder of a moment in time, but as a way to look back on their journey of faith.

So, thanks to Tony Jones, Paul Soupiset and Team and the rest of the SparkHouse crew for their vision, leadership and support during this project. It was a blast. For more information about the “voices” of Animate including bio’s, links and trivia, click HERE and here are the various Social Media  links of interest: FacebookTwitter and YouTube.


Obedient Slaves, Silent Women and Understanding Biblical Literalism

First off, this picture is courtesy of a Tony Jones post. The comment thread on this post is worth the price of admission. Never a dull moment over there.

Last week William Reeser left the following comment on my post, The “Marginalization of the Christian Right. While that post was not directly about marriage equality, because it was the focus of both pastors’ sermons, this is a fair comment.

You can “nit pick” at words all you like, (marginalization v. losing influence, etc. ) but the sadness of the matter is, to say the Bible supports homosexual marriage or that Jesus would think homosexual marriage is a good thing, is just Biblically WRONG!  Please read Romans Chapter 1.

And my response was as follows . . .

Okay. the whole Scripture passage fight usually leads nowhere, but I might be willing if you can help me understand how you approach Scripture. I do not know your tradition so what’s your perspective on the Hebrew Bible versus the NT? How do you take historical, contextual, text, authorship etc. issues into consideration?

For example, please let me know how you look at these two passages:
Colossians 3:22, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” and 1 Corinthians 14:34, 34, “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission,as the law says.”

Heaven knows that I am no Biblical scholar. I am a pastor with a seminary education who believes that Scripture holds God’s inerrant truths, hopes and intentions for humanity. That said, I do not believe we get to that Truth by interpreting Scripture literally. Scripture holds authority over my life, not only guiding how I live and love, but how I believe God acts in the world. Make no mistake, however . . .  as a progressive, sometimes liberal person, I take Scripture very seriously.

I know that some believe that those of us who use various critical methods of Biblical study are taking something away from scripture, that by looking at the context of the day or examining its literary strcuture, we are somehow eisegeting (reading our own views into the text) rather than exegeting (hearing what comes out of the text absent of our own views). In other words, there are some who think that by examining the text from multiple viewpoints and lenses we are twisting and turning Scripture so it will say whatever we want it to say.

Fair critique. I’ve def seen it and have probably done it myself. At the same time, I also think it is impossible to read ANY text without doing so through the lens of one’s particular life . . . but that’s a post for another day.

The alternative for those of us who to believe that the Bible should not be read literally is to believe that context, structure and other variables have had no impacted what is written and how it has been interpreted over time. After studying Greek and Hebrew in seminary, examining many different translations of the Bible and seeing how different people communicate, there are simply too many variances in scripture for me to take it as literally as others do. But yet, I do know that when it comes to some passages, especially the ones many call the “Clobber Verses” around homosexuality, the “God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It” mindset is strong.

As of this posting, William has not responded to my response, so if you are one of these folks who resonates with William, I would love for you to take a stab at it responding to my response. I hope that others will listen, maybe challenge a bit, but remain respectful all the while.  Again, help me understand how you look at scripture, how do you interpret these two passages and then maybe there can be more fruitful conversations. Again, here are the two passages . . .

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.- Colossians 3:22 (TNIV)

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. – 1 Corinthians 14:34 (TNIV)

I look forward to your response and please to pass this along to any folks who you think might fit AND claim the “Biblical Literalist” position and might be willing to engage.

In the mean time, if you want an excellent resource about the Bible, Church and Homosexuality, please see Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church by Jack Rogers. His chapter where he unpacks the  Clobber Verses is right on, though the entire book is solid.