Storytelling for the health of the church

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[Adapted from a script I wrote for a video that IVP made for the Inhabit conference.  My segment didn't get used in the IVP video, but these thoughts are worth sharing here on the blog] My friends at the Parish Collective often speak of the importance of parishes being rooted and linked. These two virtues show us two different ways that storytelling works in our local churches.Storytelling is absolutely essential to the health and flourishing of local parishes. As we seek to be rooted, stories serve to shape our identity—they remind us who we are and how God is at work tr … [Read more...]

Shusaku Endo’s “Silence”

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[Note: Today is the birthday of the great Japanese Catholic novelist Shusaku Endo. To mark the occasion, we're posting an essay John wrote for Besides the Bible: 100 Books that Have, Should, or Will Create Christian Culture (IVP, 2010) about Endo's powerful novel, Silence. The director Martin Scorsese has said he hopes to start production on a film adaptation of Silence in 2014.]Francis Xavier disembarked at the southernmost tip of Japan in August 1549, and for two years the trailblazing Jesuit missionary preached in the streets, debated Buddhist monks, and conversed with local warlords. Wh … [Read more...]

The World is Not Ours to Save…Whew! [Patheos Book Club]

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I was asked to write a reflection on Tyler Wigg-Stevenson's new book The World is Not Ours to Save: Finding the Freedom to Do Good (IVP 2013) for the Patheos Book Club.  But for those who have been following the "Slow Church and the Urgency of Justice" Series, this post is also relevant to that conversation.I recently had the chance to interview Wigg-Stevenson for the current issue of The Englewood Review of Books, so I will borrow a couple of snippets from that interview as I reflect on the book.Cause fatigue is a significant problem among activists in the twenty-first century.   As an … [Read more...]

What is Missional Reading?

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I was sitting down this morning to write the next post in the "Slow Church and the Urgency of Justice" series, when I got distracted by an excellent post by Jon Boyd on the Intervarsity Press blog... [Question] Junot Díaz on Creating a Reading Public Boyd shares some excellent thoughts from novelist Junot Díaz, and then poses these questions: What are we doing these days, and what more could we be doing, to encourage readers in this day and age? Where have you seen bright spots, fertile nurseries of readers-in-the-making? What ideas do you have to multiply such incubators and make them e … [Read more...]

Reading and Discussing Books in our Churches

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John's church (Evangelical Quaker) and mine (Independent Christian Church) are very different, but one thing we share in common is the practice of reading and discussing books together.  One way that this practice takes shape in John's church is a monthly book club that is presently reading and discussing books that were featured in John's book (co-written with Jordan Green and Dan Gibson) Besides the Bible: 100 Books that Have, Should, or Will Create Christian Culture.Here at Englewood, we have a variety of settings in which books are read and discussed from classes during the Sunday … [Read more...]

Favor: Growing Deeper in Our Church Communities

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My ebook Growing Deeper in Our Church Communities: 50 Ideas for Connection in a Disconnected Age is FREE for Kindle this weekend (through 11:59PM PT on Sunday).First of all, download a copy if you don't have one already:  http://amzn.to/GrowingDeeperGrowing Deeper (written in early 2010), was one of my first attempts to explore the practices that contribute to a deeper and richer life together in our church communities, and in that way contains some of the seeds of Slow Church.  Until the Slow Church book is released later this year (Lord willing!), there are two little books that t … [Read more...]

How to Be a Poem

Today I was thinking about spiritual formation and what came to mind was a poem by Wendell Berry, the Kentucky writer, farmer, and activist. The poem is called "How To Be a Poet." But I think it could be re-titled "How To Be a Poem." Here's what I mean: the New Testament says we are "God's workmanship." The word used for "workmanship," poiema, is the same word from which we get our word "poem." Thus, it's not too much of a stretch to say that we are "God's poem." So much of what Berry describes here is good advice not just for the poet but for anyone who wants to put themselves in the loving h … [Read more...]


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