Archive for November, 2007

Change!?!, Community, Leadership, Missional

An Empowering way to get ministries started.

Recently we shared lunch with some of the new attenders at our church as a way to get to know them and to introduce them to our church. 

 I thought I would share with you the process we use to empower ministries to begin…

Not a lot of hoops here (no permission necessary!), and no water for the fire… just gasoline. You see, I believe that as a pastor, it is my job to empower people to live out of their gifts and callings… we are all ministers when we say yes to Jesus… I am a pastor, but all who have said yes to Jesus are ministers.

At CoJ, to start a ministry a couple of simple things must take place. First, the ministry can’t violate our vision or core-values (see our webpage for those). Second, you must get a couple of other people who will join you in the venture as a team(I can’t think of a leader in the bible that acted on their own… Moses had Aaron, Paul had many co-horts, Jesus sent the disciples out in twos). Third, be able to raise the necessary funds at least of the first year… then we can talk about if it becomes a core ministry, adding it to the budget (however, doing so, deflates commitment to the ministry somewhat at lease further removes it). Fourth, be willing to evaluate the ministry periodically and adjust or let go of it. And you see, it’s just that easy.

Someone asked, “well, doesn’t that create an opportunity for things to run amuck?” I guess it may, but I like the way Gamialiel puts it in Acts… If God is in it, I can’t stop it, and if God is not in it, it will fail. (my translation of his words in Acts 5:38-39).

Community, Leadership, Missional, Uncategorized

Will the real fascists please stand up!

Someone wrote me this week asking a curious question. The email read, “Do you believe we are at war with Islamo-fascists?”

The following was my answer:

You and I, (and the Church in general), are not at war with Islam… and I am certain that God is not at war with Muslims. If we have a responsibility with regard to other religions, it’s to ensure that when they encounter us (you and I) they see the real Jesus, not the version that confuses civil religion (patriotism), with following Christ.

Just like all real politics are local, so are the most effective missionaries. Whatever we do, wherever we go, if we do it in service to God, we are emissaries of Christ, and are therein missionaries of his Gospel. And if it is true that all mission is local then, where, how, when and why the American system confuses or confounds that Gospel is definitely our concern. I for one am VERY troubled by the global rise of corporate imperialism.

Having spent nearly twenty years as a counselor, I am capable of using the DSM VI to assess the “personality” of the corporate “person.” By employing that checklist as a diagnostic tool, I believe the operational principles of most corporations result in highly anti-social “persons.” They are: self-interested, inherently amoral, unfeeling and devious; they breach social and legal standards to get their way; they do not suffer from guilt, and yet they can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism.

This point-by-point analysis results in a disturbing diagnosis: the institutional embodiment of imperial capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a ‘psychopath’.

Without a moral compass, and neither corporations nor capitalism are instilled with one, extreme, exclusive profit motives are inescapable. In fact, Capitalism as an economic philosophy is intentionally amoral. And today, Capitalism is a global theology. As such, the postmodern world has a international belief system, that is absent morality, absent the bible, and absent the teachings of Jesus.

What was so seductive about Marx and the theory of communism was the fact that it was as much a moral treatise, as it was an economic theory. No such moral treatise exists for postmodern Capitalism. And if the unchecked, unbridled, savage aspects of corporate imperialism become ever more triumphant, I don’t know how we can hope for a world where democracy, equality and freedom are the norm, not the exception. What we need today is a moral manifesto for capitalism; something that can reign in the ever increasing power of international corporations, something spiritual, something Christlike.

And with regard to capitol, I think the Roman Catholic priesthood got that ‘vow of poverty’ thing wrong. The world would be much better off if we all took vows to generously share our wealth and its creation… as much, and with as many people as possible. And not just in terms of legal tender, but wealth in the forms of equal access to health-care, quality education; fair and safe employment standards, and ecologically sound environmental habits. I believe that these are some of God’s goals for the Mosaic Generations; 21st century expressions of authentic Christian piety. And as such, they require that we practice these things missionally, not isolating ourselves from the world, but rather working for the healing and blessing of God’s beloved creation.

Pietism and piety, are masterpieces of Christian tradition. But even the most genius masterwork needs generational reinterpretation for it to remain historically relevant. I for one am tired of hearing that disavowing homosexuality, supporting lower taxes, and condemning Islam are the touchstone missions of the American church. Instead, we need a new kind of piety, one that combines the Sermon on the Mount, with the issues of the day. If we can accomplish that, the juxtaposition would transform the Church from an arm of the Republican Party, into the voice of God Almighty.

Books / Readings, Change!?!, Spiritual Formation, Understanding Context, Young Adults

Another book to suggest and maybe dialoge about…

I am almost done reading Ron Martoia’s book Static: tune out the ‘Christian noise’ and experience the real message of Jesus.  I would highly recommend this book to you and encourage you to read it with an open mind.  It will be challenging to say the least because Ron challenges some of the long held assumptions we make about salvation.

 Some highlights… Ron suggests that when we read the Bible, we often read it through the lense of the people Jesus ministered to… those who received healing, the poor, the lame, the marginalized…. since many of us are not poor, or marginalized, then maybe the better lense to look through is that of the religious leaders.  That really changes how I hear Jesus’ teachings!

He suggests that we often twist, add to, change the biblical texts to fit our preconceived theologies instead of letting the biblical texts form our theologies.  He deals most with the salvation as a way to heaven issue and pushes a deeper understanding of salvation as a restoration of shalom which impacts our life now and in the future.  This is a view I have held for a long time and have wrestled with as well…. If so many of us are “saved” then why aren’t things here on earth different.  Or to put it another way, if so many of us have said yes to Jesus, then why are we still cheating on taxes, ignoring the poor, fighting with our neighbors, and divorcing our spouses?

 The book is done in a mostly narrative style (similar to McLaren’s New Kind of Christian trilogy) but not as masterfully.  It is a fast read until you get to the last few chapters where he really moves beyond the story line with the major part of his thesis. 

 Again, I would highly recommend it and would love to be part of a group that has a converstation around it.  Jeff, wanna set that up too!?


Another site to check out…

I am a big fan of Rob Bell’s of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He has done two sermon series in the last year that I think Cob’s would really find helpful… here is the link to his site and the series are God is Green and Calling all Peacemakers.  

 I automatically download his sermons each week to my ipod and listen to them when I walk.  A great way to kill two birds with one stone… get feed spiritually and get exercize… something most pastors need.

 Also, while you are on their site, check out their xyz plan!

Books / Readings

Book Blogging?

Brian McLaren is on a nation-wide tour this year and next promoting and talking about his new book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope. Here in the Pacific Southwest District, we are organizing a group to hear him when he speaks in San Diego next March.

One thought has been on my mind the past few days. . . there are lots of people who drop-in on this site and some who write on the site. Would you be interested if I set-up one page on this site that would focus on blogging on a particular book?

Martin mentioned that he’s reading the above mentioned book. I need to read the book. Others in the PSWD will be reading the book for Brian’s appearance in San Diego. It might be interesting if we read the book together and posted comments on a new page for this site. If it would be helpful, I could set-up a reading schedule, so that we would be more likely to post comments on the same book section. Or, we could just post comments without any organization.

What do you think? If a few of you post comments to this post and like the idea, I’ll be happy to set it up!

Jeff Glass

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