my broken family (Church vs. Art)

J. M. W. Turner Rain, Steam and Speed c.1844

I love art. I teach it. I try to preach it to others. My faith is truly alive due to artists - both old and new. They imbue hope, life, and peace. Rembrandt and Michelangelo, Goya and Picasso, and more recently Wooster. These are my commentaries upon the Scriptures. As a Christian this often lands me in two worlds simultaneously. One foot in church related things and the other in creative arts. I've found the bridge is most often me. I enjoy mixing it up in both worlds, but it would be truly f … [Read more...]

I Like the Bible but I’m Not Sure I Know All the Words by Randy Woodley

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I had been learning to play bass guitar for two years when I was finally asked to be in a real band. The fact that I had a new Fender Jazz bass and an Acoustic 360 watt amp that I had worked and saved for the summer prior didn’t hurt my chances of being asked to be in the band. At 15 years old, I was anxious to show all the stuff that I knew, and as a singer I could remember an incredible number of words of various songs. There I was, for the first time with the band, in one of the member’s liv … [Read more...]

Loving Jesus, Hating Religion: A Well-Meaning False Dichotomy

The last two weeks has seen a new viral sensation take over our computer screens. A spoken word artist named Jefferson Bethke, who goes by the handle "Bball1989," released a video on Youtube that has, in less than two weeks, received more than fifteen million hits called "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus." So regardless of what any of us personally thinks about what he's saying, it's incumbent on us to listen up.For starters, there's some really good stuff in his message. He … [Read more...]

The Church Doesn’t Know How To Have Sex

Sex has become something bourgeois. Not that the proletariat ever experience sex mind you, but the real act is saved for those who can afford to talk about it. In high school sex is a sort of perverse social currency whereby someone's acceptance is measure and defined by the quantity of partners they have experienced intercourse with. To talk about sex in this context is not only anticipated but is also encouraged. But, what happens when sex becomes nothing more than a transgression? As in, … [Read more...]

The Birth of the Emerging Church & a Missing Voice

There is one important person who helped start the entire discussion about "Progressive Christianity" or the "Emerging Church" who has been silenced. He is speaking again, and I'd suggest we all welcome him back. Let me explain:Somewhere around 1996 an organization called Leadership Network pulled together about 10-20 young leaders in the church to begin a discussion about ministry for Generation X. Within a few months, the conversation morphed into a more academic one about post-modernism … [Read more...]

New Years Resolutions

With the New Year upon us, it is the time for New Years resolutions.  These have become sort of a joke in our society for the propensity for being dropped in a few months or weeks or days.However this does not stop the marketing machine in America.  You can expect to get an assortment of opportunities for gym memberships or dietary supplements in the next week (I have already gotten several) with specials such as waived entrance fees and discounts for signing up for a whole year, etc.  We la … [Read more...]

My Spiritual Path to Virtual Community

Michael with his Sudanese students

Upon receiving a welcome email with a username and password, I paused to reflect. A frighteningly wonderful realization surfaced: I've walked alone to discover a virtual community. This marvelous opportunity to join the writers of Emergent Village once again affirms what my life has been shouting for years -- my peers truly dwell in cyberspace. Despite my failures to connect at the local church level, despite the mundane state of all things Michael, my spiritual journey entails this virtual … [Read more...]

Churches, Take Up Your Mats and Walk

There’s an old joke that speaks directly to one of the biggest issues holding back Churches these days:How many Christians does it take to screw in a light bulb?Change? Who said anything about change?!?!I get asked to come in and help struggling churches all over the county. Most of them are aging and see the proverbial writing on the wall if something about their future doesn’t look different soon. Pretty often, I’m asked to unlock the secret to getting young people into the pews, th … [Read more...]

Racism and the Fear of the Other

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Woops! It surfaced again. Most of the country was shocked to hear the news of an interracial couple being kicked out of the all White, Freewill Baptist Church in Pikeville Kentucky last week. Sure, we were a bit surprised but after all, it is “rural Kentucky” and wasn’t the word “Baptist” used? Easily dismissed as a anomaly, we store the occurrence in the “you know you’re a redneck when” file of our brain and move on but please…Not so fast…What about October 2009 when a Justice of the Peace i … [Read more...]

Why I am Emergent, Part 2: Multivocality

As an addendum to last weeks post on the conversational element of Emergent, I want to assert my belief that when it comes to voices in the conversation, more is better.In one of our Twin Cities Emergent Cohort meetings several years ago I rememberTony Jones saying that the fear of many concerning open discussion in biblical or theological small groups is that heresy will rule the day.  “If everyone has a say,” the argument goes, “there will be no truth.”  Tony rightly argued that it is a … [Read more...]


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