How we failed to plant a successful church

Bec Cranford-Smith works at the Gateway Center in Atlanta. She is the site supervisor of  contextual education in partnership with Gateway Center and  Candler School of Theology. She is the pastor of Church of the Misfits.

 How We failed at Successful Church Planting  I sat with middle aged white men in a room decorated by someone infatuated with browns and oranges. The paintings seemed vaguely reminiscent of French vineyards and Italian streets, yet I was closer to crop dust, cotton and Crepe Myrtles in Macon, Georgia. The inquiry began after a couple of jokes and a word of prayer. I crafted my vision of the Church of The Misfits, sharing with conviction about contextualizing Christ to … [Read more...]

Re-narrating an Emergent God


I want to continue the conversation that Mark Longhurst began with his excellent post on an "emergent God" on March 1.Mark alluded to the many origins of the emergent community and emergence Christianity. When one expands that language to "progressive Christianity," the list of origins expands even further. I count the experiences and memories that I have of a consultation with the sorely missed Stan Grenz for Leighton Ford Ministries on postmodernism (1993), the conversations that produced … [Read more...]

The Real Emergence

Bed of Coals

 It happened during a difficult time. My life had been dismantled; the pieces were strewn all over the place. I was spending a lot of time alone, trying to figure out what had happened and how to begin to reassemble myself.On this night, I was in my room watching the movie Hotel Rwanda.The movie aptly illustrates humanity’s potential for depravity by telling a story from the Rwandan genocide of the mid 1990s. On this night, I sat on my bed and stared at the TV, becoming more … [Read more...]

Living Life on the Inhale


So which one are you?An I N H A L E R or an E X H A L E RI am an inhaler. I often desire what is not meant for me. I did not always know this about myself. It's the journey of a lifetime to really and truly know yourself fully isn't it? I had plenty of negative words bouncing around in my head to describe being an INHALER.Self-absorbed Selfish Stingy/frugal/cheap EgotisticalThese are ugly, horrid words that no one in their right mind would readily admit to. But here I am … [Read more...]

This Advent, Think Different. What Is GOD Waiting For?

be the change

It’s Advent again. This is the time, leading up to Christmas, when we reflect upon the thousand storylines of prophecy through the centuries that moved in solemn procession toward that One climactic event; the incarnation, the birth of Jesus. We reflect upon the convergence of those storylines culminating in this one Messianic babe. Every sacrifice, from Abel’s altar to the last Passover lamb before the Passion, paved the Messiah’s path. Often, during Advent we use this time to refle … [Read more...]

Joy in Solemnity


'I have spoke with the tongue of angels I have held the hand of a devil' Wisdom from U2Yin/Yang Inhale/ Exhale Day/NightLast night my loving husband of 22 years spoke truth to my heart. And it hurt like HELL. But apparently was exactly what I needed to hear from the person who loves me most."I don't understand where this self-loathing comes from. You used to be so confident in your intelligence. I think for some reason, you don't feel worthy of how very smart you … [Read more...]

Election Day: Recuperation, Trasformismo, and a Spectacularized & Commodified Jesus


Cricket:   Jesus is never mad at us — if we live with him in our hearts?Tommy:   I hate to break it to you, but he is. He most definitely is.         I [Heart] Huckabees (2004)Election Day, 2014. Our votes today will be translations of our political ideologies into a series of choices from a limited option set. These ideologies are the products of many factors including our life experiences and personal faith/worldviews. But there will be more happening today than simply persons c … [Read more...]

Hints of Jubilee

photo 1

The Old Testament practice of jubilee is perhaps so radical that it is not only inconceivable to imagine its practice in the present time, it was apparently impossible to legislate as a part of the ancient Israelite legal code. The prescription of leveling every gain achieved at the expense of others (land gains or human servitude) every 50th year was designed to specifically prevent the formation of a permanent, multi-generational impoverished class in Israel. Historical evidence generally … [Read more...]

Making Me a Channel of His Peace


Two and a half years ago I attended my first Centering Prayer retreat at the St. Francis Renewal Center with a special group of all ages seeking God's friendship in the stillness. I sat in one of the later sessions of the weekend and began pleading with God:"I cannot do this on my own. I do not know enough to teach this meditation in the prisons as you've called me. Who am I to go forward in this way- I am a wife and mother and not an expert on this topic, by any means. I don't know enough … [Read more...]

Authenticity and Community


I love being part of the emergent movement. I love the space to think, learn, and grow, in ways that help bring faith to life. That space, one created in authenticity, and one that tries to live in authenticity, is something that I found liberating and engaging. As I started dipping my toe in the emergent stream, the world opened up. The Bible became more real. The exposure to older traditions than my own opened the door to new experiences of faith that have been tested over time and found … [Read more...]