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Veritas on Noise Trade

Just wanted to let the Emergent Brethren community that you can download some great tunes on Noise Trade from the Veritas Community. Last summer we produced a CD with original music from several musicians within our community. We called the CD “Music From Our Community”. We were finally able to upload several of the Tracks on Noise Trade and now you can download some great Veritas music. So go to for some great music, share with your friends about the music and Veritas via Social Networking media (Twitter, Facebook, etc…) and if you feel so led you can also support our Veritas community by donating when you download the music.

Books / Readings, Ministry Formation, Missional

Celtic Way of Evangelism

In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, which we celebrate tomorrow, I thought I would share some thoughts from the book “The Celtic Way of Evangelism” by George G. Hunter. (We had an amazing Saint Patrick’s Day Party this past Saturday by the way which I’ll write about tomorrow).

I read the book a few years ago and as I look back on it I realized just how influential this book has been in my life, my theological journey and the ministry and mission of Veritas. Here are some random quotes from the book.

“Indeed, the fact that Patrick understood the people and their language, their issues, and their ways, serves as the most strategically significant single insight that was to drive the wider expansion of Celtic Christianity, and stands as perhaps our greatest single learning from this movement. There is no shortcut to understanding the people. When you understand the people, you will often know waht to say and do, and how. When the people know that the Christian understands tehm, infer that maybe the High God understands them too.”

“The apostolic band would probably welcome responsive people into their group fellowship to worship with them, pray with them, minister to them, converse with them, and break bread together. One band member or another would probably join with each responsive person to reach out to relatives and friends. The mission team typically spent weeks or even months, as a ministering community of faith within the tribe. The church that emerged within that tribe would have been astonishingly indigenous.”

“So the British leaders were offended and angered that Patrick was spending priority time with ‘pagans’, ‘sinners’, and ‘barbarians'”

The Celtic model of reaching people: 1. You first establish community with people, or bring them into fellowship of your community of faith. 2. Within fellowship, you engage in conversation, ministry, prayer, and worship. 3. In time, as the discover that they now believe, you invite them to commit.” (Sometimes what we call belonging before believing)

“Evangelism is now about ‘helping people to belong so that they can believe.”

“The Irish and other Celtic peoples were predominately right-brained and, in reaching them, Christianity adapted remarkably from it’s earlier Roman reliance upon words, propositions, concepts and theological abstractions.”

Those are just a few of the thoughts from this great book. As I flipped through it, I realized that I need to read this book again very soon.

I close with this prayer from Saint Patrick:

…Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

Books / Readings

Thy Kingdom Connected

The other week I received the book “Thy Kingdom Connected: What the Church can learn from Facebook, the Internet, and Other Networks” by Dwight J. Friesen from the Ooze Viral Bloggers. I get a book about once a month, read it, and then post my thoughts on this blog and also on the Ooze Viral Bloggers site. It’s a great deal. I get free books out of it, and all I have to do is write about the books.

The book is about Network theory and what the church can learn from it. I’m not sure exactly what I was getting when I chose the book. Maybe I expected more “practical” applications to Network theory. As a church planter I am looking for ways of using things like Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet to interact with people, get the word out about Veritas, and develop missional opportunities. After adjusting my expectations about a chapter into it, I began to connect with alot of what Friesen was getting at.

The three biggest connections that were helpful to me were the Bounded Set/Centered Set discussion, the chapter on Network Ecology, and the discussion about Christ Commons and Christ Clusters.

The discussion on Bounded and Center sets reminded me of the same theme in the book “The Shaping of Things to Come.” A Bounded set is all about boundaries. Therefore making it easy to determine who is in and who isn’t. Alot of the times with Bounded sets within the Christian community there are clearly defined lines of what makes a follower of Jesus, and alot of those things are, in my opinion, peripheral issues. Things like what political party you belong to, whether you smoke or drink, what you “look like”, etc.. A Centered set however is all about direction. It’s about orienting around a center or “hub”. It doesn’t matter how close to the center you are, it matters if you are moving toward the center. And so for the church, with Jesus as the center, or “hub” we need to be a centered set, encouragiing people to move toward the center.

Hopefully Veritas is the kind of place that lives out a centered set instead of a bounded set. He want to focus on the center (Jesus) and help people make their way towards the center. To orientate their life toward movement toward the center and not the other way. That is not to say that we don’t have ideas what makes a follower of Jesus. We just don’t focus on alot of external things that people can too often get hung up on.

This is what Friesen says about missional communities and centered sets, “The centered paradigm has some clear advantages for thinking about spiritual formation because it focuses on what is central while allowing for porous boundaries. The centered paradigm helps Christ followers orient themselves in terms of who God is as revealed in Christ. And the issue is not external boundaries but movement with the Holy Spirit toward Christ. The centered paradigm still maintains a distinction between being a Christian and not being a Christian, but its emphasis is not on maintaining the external boundaries in order to preserve personal purity in order to ensure that one is “in”. Rather, the distinction is for the sake of cluster identity. Centered paradigms also allow for and encourage variation among Christians. All are seen as being on different paths along their Christ-centered journeys, and that’s a good thing.”

Next time I’ll look at the chapter on Network ecology and the idea of being closed while at the same time being open. So this looks to be a 3 part blog on “Thy Kingdom Connected.” Hopefully I’ll do the next two blogs before I leave for Deep Creek Lake in Maryland for some Snowboarding on Thursday.

Books / Readings, Church Planting, Decline/Growth

Evaluating your Faith Community

I have been wading through the dense work that is “Thy Kingdom Connected”. I am struggling to figure out how the thoughts, words, and philosophy works itself out in my context. I am still working on that and will be for a while if not for as long as I’m alive. But as I sit here in Starbucks reading I came upon a great quote regarding how you evaluate the effectiveness of your faith community. And this has helped me, because last week I was struggling alot with trying to evaluate the community and was always coming back to the same old metric of numbers. Here is what I just read that is so helpful. Read this, ponder it, and wrestle with it.

“To determine how your church is doing, don’t gauge it by the individuals in your church, or even in comparison to what other churches are doing; go to God’s bigger narrative. How is your local faith community participating with God in God’s dream for the re-creation of heaven and earth? How is your church participating in the flourishing of God’s dream of abundant life for all?”

And so I need to ask myself, “How is Veritas currently participating with God in God’s dream? And how can Veritas begin to participate with God in God’s dream?” Those are two great questions that I will be wrestling with and also asking others within Veritas what they think.

I’ll be blogging later this week with more reflections from “Thy Kingdom Connected.”

Books / Readings, Missional

Live Sent Post #2

So this week was a fairly full week and I didn’t get around to posting a second reflection on the book “Live Sent” by Jason C. Dukes. But here are some more “random” thoughts about the book and some quotes that I especially resonated with.

First off, I would say that one of the best chapters in the book relates to discipling, or “discipleship”. This chapter was a much needed part of the book, and a much need part as we think about Veritas and our future. Rethinking the idea of Discipleship being individualistic, cognitive-only, and done in a class with a beginning and end point. Afterwards you are a disciple and you have your certificate to prove it. He says that “Discipling is learning and living the ways of Jesus so that others learn and live His ways, too, so that others learn and live His ways, too, and so on.” Jason says that discipling is a “process, a multi-tasking kind of process that has as its core value the necessity of doing life together.” He frames discipling around 3 elements:

1. A first element I would suggest for the discipling process is relationship.

2. A second element I would suggest for the discipling process is discernment

3. A third element of discipling I would suggest is release. (this third part to me is so needed and follows Jesus model of sending out the 12 and the 72.) Jason expands on this by saying, “Church leaders must be willing to measure success not by how many people they can draw and manage, but by how many they can release and relate with and coach to be discipling far beyond their influence and control.” And one way to do that is by watching the calendar of the church, “We will not busy you with church activities, but rather we will equip and release you to be the church within yoru daily and weekly activities.”

Here are some other quotes from other parts of the book in regards to living a sent/missional life:

“You were made to know life abundantly, and life abundant happens when you live beyond yourself.”

“If we rethink our ‘live’ and embrace wholeheartedly a life lived beyond ourselves rooted in the ways of Jesus, then it will influence the way we define success in life.”

“He trusts you with the responsibility of sharing His love with the world and being a significant part of His restoring humanity.”

“Getting to know the people of the culture we have been sent into and knowing the effective ways to connect with and communicate with them is called “contextualization”…..”Unless you are befriending them, eating with them, drinking coffee with them, encouraging them, learning from them, and giving yourself away to the people of yoru culture, you are not contextualizing.”

“The health of a local church is actually not based on the number who ‘attend’ but rather the way in which people love one another and are walking relationally in life.”

Another great section of the book in my opinion was chapter 7 entitled “Stay on the postal route (or wireless travel. Our spheres of influence in daily living.) In this chapter he lays out the spheres of influence that you have in your daily life and how to live sent in the midst of those spheres. His spheres of influence include: family, Neighborhood, Marketplace, World, and the Web. Ths is a great reminder, especially the family and Web part, as sometimes I forget about living sent to my wife and children, and extended family, and I almost have never thought about living sent on the web.

I’m sure there are more quotes that I could write about. More thoughts I could write about. More ways of Living Sent, but I think these are enough for now. I have finished Live Sent and will be moving to the book “Thy Kingdom Connected:What the Church can learn from Facebook, the Internet, and Other Networks” by Dwight J. Friesen. I will be blogging about this book in the near future as I read it.

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