Archive for October, 2005

On the Cover of Rolling Stone

October 30, 2005

With thanks to RandyElrod.com for this…

Excerpts from Rolling Stone’s interview this week with Bono:

Q:What role did religion play in your childhood?

A:I knew that we were different on our street because my mother was Protestant. And that she’d married a Catholic. At a time of strong sectarian feeling in the country, I knew that was special. We didn’t go to the neighborhood schools — we got on a bus. I picked up the courage they had to have had to follow through on their love.

Q:Did you feel religious when you went to church?

A:Even then I prayed more outside of the church than inside. It gets back to the songs I was listening to; to me, they were prayers. “How many roads must a man walk down?” That wasn’t a rhetorical question to me. It was addressed to God. It’s a question I wanted to know the answer to, and I’m wondering, who do I ask that to? I’m not gonna ask a schoolteacher. When John Lennon sings, “Oh, my love/For the first time in my life/My eyes are wide open” — these songs have an intimacy for me that’s not just between people, I realize now, not just sexual intimacy. A spiritual intimacy.

Q:Who is God to you at that point in your life?

A:I don’t know. I would rarely be asking these questions inside the church. I see lovely nice people hanging out in a church. Occasionally, when I’m singing a hymn like . . . oh, if I can think of a good one . . . oh, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” or “Be Thou My Vision,” something would stir inside of me. But, basically, religion left me cold.

Q:Your early songs are about being confused, about trying to find spirituality at an age when most anybody else your age would be writing about girls and trouble.

A:Yeah. We sorta did it the other way around.

Q:You skipped “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and you went right . . .

A:. . . Into the mystic. Van Morrison would be the inverse, in terms of the journey. It’s this turbulent period at fifteen, sixteen, and the electrical storms that come at that age…

Q:You never saw rock & roll — the so-called devil’s music — as incompatible with religion?

Look at the people who have formed my imagination. Bob Dylan. Nineteen seventy-six — he’s going through similar stuff. You buy Patti Smith: Horses — “Jesus died for somebody’s sins/But not mine . . .” And she turns Van Morrison’s “Gloria” into liturgy. She’s wrestling with these demons — Catholicism in her case. Right the way through to Wave, where she’s talking to the pope.

The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt. So the blues, on one hand — running away; gospel, the Mighty Clouds of Joy — running towards. And later you came to analyze it and figure it out.

The blues are like the Psalms of David. Here was this character, living in a cave, whose outbursts were as much criticism as praise. There’s David singing, “Oh, God — where are you when I need you?/You call yourself God?” And you go, this is the blues.

Both deal with the relationship with God. That’s really it. I’ve since realized that anger with God is very valid. We wrote a song about that on the Pop album — people were confused by it — “Wake Up Dead Man”: “Jesus, help me/I’m alone in this world/And a fucked-up world it is, too/Tell me, tell me the story /The one about eternity/And the way it’s all gonna be/Wake up, dead man.”

Q:Soon after starting the band you joined a Bible-study group — you and Larry and Edge — called the Shalom. What brought that on?

A:We were doing street theater in Dublin, and we met some people who were madder than us. They were a kind of inner-city group living life like it was the first century A.D.

They were expectant of signs and wonders; lived a kind of early-church religion. It was a commune. People who had cash shared it. They were passionate, and they were funny, and they seemed to have no material desires…

But it got a little too intense, as it always does; it became a bit of a holy huddle. And these people — who are full of inspirational teaching and great ideas — they pretended that our dress, the way we looked, didn’t bother them. But very soon it appeared that was not the case. They started asking questions about the music we were listening to. Why are you wearing earrings? Why do you have a mohawk?…

Q:What draws you so deeply to Martin Luther King?

A:So now — cut to 1980. Irish rock group, who’ve been through the fire of a certain kind of revival, a Christian-type revival, go to America. Turn on the TV the night you arrive, and there’s all these people talking from the Scriptures. But they’re quite obviously raving lunatics.

Suddenly you go, what’s this? And you change the channel. There’s another one. You change the channel, and there’s another secondhand-car salesman. You think, oh, my God. But their words sound so similar . . . to the words out of our mouths.

So what happens? You learn to shut up. You say, whoa, what’s this going on? You go oddly still and quiet. If you talk like this around here, people will think you’re one of those. And you realize that these are the traders — as in t-r-a-d-e-r-s — in the temple.

Until you get to the black church, and you see that they have similar ideas. But their religion seems to be involved in social justice; the fight for equality. And a Rolling Stone journalist, Jim Henke, who has believed in you more than anyone up to this point, hands you a book called Let the Trumpet Sound — which is the biography of Dr. King. And it just changes your life.

Even though I’m a believer, I still find it really hard to be around other believers: They make me nervous, they make me twitch. I sorta watch my back. Except when I’m with the black church. I feel relaxed, feel at home; my kids — I can take them there; there’s singing, there’s music.

Q:What is your religious belief today? What is your concept of God?

A:If I could put it simply, I would say that I believe there’s a force of love and logic in the world, a force of love and logic behind the universe. And I believe in the poetic genius of a creator who would choose to express such unfathomable power as a child born in “straw poverty”; i.e., the story of Christ makes sense to me.

Q:How does it make sense?

A:As an artist, I see the poetry of it. It’s so brilliant. That this scale of creation, and the unfathomable universe, should describe itself in such vulnerability, as a child. That is mind-blowing to me. I guess that would make me a Christian. Although I don’t use the label, because it is so very hard to live up to. I feel like I’m the worst example of it, so I just kinda keep my mouth shut…

Q:How big an influence is the Bible on your songwriting? How much do you draw on its imagery, its ideas?

A:It sustains me.

Q:As a belief, or as a literary thing?

A:As a belief. These are hard subjects to talk about because you can sound like such a dickhead. I’m the sort of character who’s got to have an anchor. I want to be around immovable objects. I want to build my house on a rock, because even if the waters are not high around the house, I’m going to bring back a storm. I have that in me. So it’s sort of underpinning for me.

I don’t read it as a historical book. I don’t read it as, “Well, that’s good advice.” I let it speak to me in other ways. They call it the rhema. It’s a hard word to translate from Greek, but it sort of means it changes in the moment you’re in. It seems to do that for me.

Q:You’re saying it’s a living thing?

A:It’s a plumb line for me. In the Scriptures, it is self-described as a clear pool that you can see yourself in, to see where you’re at, if you’re still enough. I’m writing a poem at the moment called “The Pilgrim and His Lack of Progress.” I’m not sure I’m the best advertisement for this stuff.

Q:What do you think of the evangelical movement that we see in the United States now?

A:I’m wary of faith outside of actions. I’m wary of religiosity that ignores the wider world. In 2001, only seven percent of evangelicals polled felt it incumbent upon themselves to respond to the AIDS emergency. This appalled me. I asked for meetings with as many church leaders as would have them with me. I used my background in the Scriptures to speak to them about the so-called leprosy of our age and how I felt Christ would respond to it. And they had better get to it quickly, or they would be very much on the other side of what God was doing in the world.

Amazingly, they did respond. I couldn’t believe it. It almost ruined it for me — ’cause I love giving out about the church and Christianity. But they actually came through: Jesse Helms, you know, publicly repents for the way he thinks about AIDS.

I’ve started to see this community as a real resource in America…

(Excerpted from RS 986, November 3, 2005) Read more here. Or better yet, buy the magazine.

Thinking Like Jesus

October 26, 2005

The great struggle I have and I am quite sure many others have too, is what to think. My mind seems to think progress and loyalty and leadership and decisions. In my mind, to be successful is important and I like to think I am on the track towards that. It’s not money for me its accomplishment. Money wouldn’t hurt, but significance and respect rank higher up on the scale. My generational sin is pride, not material things or morality. Sure, my mind is intentional and so I evaluate everything I can to make sure I am on the right track. But to what?

Yet, in the midst of this type of thinking, I am called to think like Jesus. I am called to the role of a servant, a slave of my Savior and a servant to humanity. So, how do I balance thinking like Jesus with getting results intentionally?

When I think like Jesus, I am restful and just do my best.
When I think like culture, I am driven and have to be the best.

When I think like Jesus, I am joyful.
When I think like culture, I am a self-made optimist.

When I think like Jesus, I value people as the most important thing in the world.
When I think like culture, I value people for my own benefit.

When I think like Jesus, all circumstances are opportunities to trust God.
When I think like culture, circumstances determine my happiness.

When I think like Jesus, my time is his time.
When I think like culture, my time is results-oriented.

When I think like Jesus, I enjoy life inside out.
When I think like culture, I endure life outside in.

When I think like Jesus, it’s all about him.
When I think like culture, it’s all about me – even though I think I’m doing it for him.

When I think like Jesus, what’s important to him is important to me.
When I think like culture, what’s important is what’s produces results.

When I think like Jesus, I read the Bible to talk to God.
When I think like culture, I read the Bible to help me fulfill the mission I think he’s called me to.

When I think like Jesus, I don’t carry any burdens.
When I think like culture, I carry the world on my shoulders.

When I think like Jesus, I don’t have a problem – they’re all his.
When I think like culture, I have many problems to fix.

So, why don’t I think like Jesus more often?
Thinking like Jesus is a cultural clash and we have to fight to keep it!

So Jesus, what do you want to do today?

A Decision and a Commitment Aren’t the Same Thing

October 25, 2005

Man, is it important to understand the difference between a decision and a commitment. Leadership expert Fred Smith taught me about this on breakfastwithfred.com. He begins by saying that decisions are not commitments. One is short-term and the other is long-term. I could go off on this…very solid thoughts.

“People decide short-term to work for a specific emphasis; long-term commitment is aimed at the ultimate purpose. Both are necessary. People committed only to the long-term vision and not to specific tasks will not accomplish much. The short-term commitment produces the activity. But that must be judged by the overall vision. In evangelism, we see a lot of decisions. Billy Graham is right in talking at his crusades about decisions, not commitments. Decisions are often like New Year’s resolutions. The leader’s job is to move people from decision to commitment, says Smith.”

He says, “I’ve observed that this is one difference between the spoken word and the written word. Speakers are most effective at bringing people to decisions, but generally it takes reading to bring people to commitment.”

Spiritual Environments

October 23, 2005

This morning I was interviewed in a leadership breakfast led by Travis Vaughn, who is a good friend and pastor of a church plant in Cumming called Lake Ridge Church. This discussion stemmed from Travis’ desire to see his leadership team create more spiritual environments where people could ask questions about life and God.

I’m not going to go into detail with where the dialogue went but I’d like to share a couple things that I seem to keep bringing up lately when people ask me about the conversations I’m having…

• They don’t like the church or even Christianity but they do like Jesus.
• We have this “thing” with assumptions. We assume people think like we do. No one – I mean no one likes it when someone assumes something about them.
• Why is our evangelism efforts focused on recievers, rather than real people?
• Why do we assume that when a person becomes a Christian they are automatically a disciple?
• From my experience the number one way to have lots of amazing spiritual conversations is humility. If you’re humble anyone will talk to you. How can we be an image-bearer without it?
• The message we must present today needs to focus on heaven and the honing device our hearts are already after rather than hell and the decietful heart. Jesus’ message is and was attractive!
• We must put our ideas into a language people experience on a daily basis.
• Is our goal to become better Christians or more Christ-like? The most important thing is to do what Jesus told us to do. We have got to get our heads out of cultural Christianity, if we are going to create powerful spiritual environments.
• People do want to have spiritual conversations! It all depends on how you go about it.
• The two hot bed topics in my conversations with 20 something’s: spirituality and sexuality.

Assuming

October 23, 2005

Question: Why do we assume that when a person becomes a Christian they are automatically a disciple?

Emerging Culture – Outline

October 13, 2005

Here’s the real outline. What’d you think?

I. Understanding Emerging Generations

How do we bridge the gap between the modern and postmodern cultures?

1) Our generation is now a missionary frotier
It’s time see the young generations as a missionary frontier.

2) Significant desire for experimental spirituality
We have chosen an extreme openness to experimental spirituality

3) Intense openness to spiritual things
We have become a deeply “spiritual” generative.

4) New Methodologies
Youth and College pastor must change their methodologies if they are going to reach the postmodern.

5) Christian Subculture
The Christian and non-Christian are becoming all too alike and this must come apart.

6) A Cultural and Global Generative
The leverage of the media and the Internet

7) A Disconnected Generation
Deep desire to be understood by their fathers and mothers.

8) Pluralistic Culture demands new approaches
Truth has to be personalized because we have been impacted by a pluralistic culture.

II. The Heart and Role of Leading Emerging Generations

What does this generation look for in a leader?

1) Relational vs. CEO Approach

Trinitarian-Shared Leadership

We have chosen Trinitarian leadership; instead of a hierarchy we should lead as a community of voices sharing each other’s roles unified in one direction.

2) Event vs. Process

Process Oriented Leadership

We have chosen to lead more by a process and less by events because that’s where real transformation takes place.

3) Being a “Poet and Gardener” Leader

Evolution of Leadership

We have chosen to embrace the evolution of leadership, understanding our role in God’s story.

4) Creative Innovators Artist Leadership
We have chosen to embrace our uniqueness so we artistically replicate our God.

5) Relevant Environments
We have chose to create environments that are conducive to the hearts of people. This will allow us to connect with people.

6) Organic Flow of Ministry

Participatory Leadership

We have chosen organic growth, ministry and movements instead of organizations and institutions. We live with a “tourist” mentality rather than a “maintenance” mentality.

7) Missional vs. Consumer Mentality

Reproduction Leadership

We have adopted the concept called missional living; therefore our theology has shifted from developing one system called “missions” to turning theology into one department of mission and moved from consumer church to missional church.

8) Leadership Conclusions

III. Spiritual Formation and the Emerging Church

How does this generation relate & connect with Christ?

1) Tribal Community Togetherness Formation
We have chosen to channel our growth through tribal communities instead of bureaucratic programs because we believe in a call to community where we live as one big family on a journey together.

2) Engage Culture Holistic Formation
We have chosen to integrate our faith into all areas of life Instead of separating the spiritual realm from normal life.

3) Return to the Sacramental Ancient Depths Formation
We have chosen to return to the ancient depths of our heritage.

4) Centralize Everything with Jesus A Jesus Formation
We have chosen to be like Jesus.

5) Greatness is Servanthood Slave Formation
We have chosen to walk by action and not theory.

6) Authentic Eyes Visual Formation
Reading the word through a refreshing lenses.

IV. Conversations and Communications with the Emerging Generations

How should we communicate with the emerging generation?

1) Moving from sin-management to kingdom-management preaching”

2) A new hunger for depth and theology vs. shallowness and anthropology

3) Who is truth? Vs. What is truth?
Apologetics focused on “Who is truth?” vs. “What is truth?”

4) Fellow-journeyer vs. problem-solver
The preacher as a “shepherd” and fellow-journeyer vs. a message presenter and problem-solver

5) Questions and Thinking Allowed

6) Use Visual eye-catchers in messages

V. 8 Postmodern Branding Trends You Can’t Afford to Miss

AS THESE SEVEN KEY CHURCH CULTURE TRENDS SHOW, BRANDS ARE LESS AND LESS ABOUT WHAT WE DO, AND MORE AND MORE ABOUT WHO WE ARE. THAT’S TURNING THE CHURCH CULTURE BRANDSCAPE INTO A MINEFIELD.

That’s turning the church culture brandscape into a minefield.

Evangelism replaced by “Spiritual Conversations”

Discipleship replaced by “Replication”

Good News, a Worthy “News Flash”

Sermons replaced by “Weekend Talks”

Church Membership replaced by “Partnership”

Conversion replaced by “Allegiance to God’s Kingdom”

Systematic Theology replaced by “Worldview”

Missions replaced by “Missional”

The New Lingua Brands that are being made new by the Emerging Culture:
• Communal
• Radical
• Revisionist
• Social Activists
• Tribal
• Revolutionary
• Emergent
• Participatory
• Image-Driven
• Apostolic

Rethinking Ministry for the Emerging Culture

October 13, 2005

Last year I wrote a series of messages for Josh on the emerging culture. I have some other ideas for it and would love to hear your reaction as you read this broad stroke outline. Does it spark your interest? Make you want to read more? (wish I could figure out how to use my fonts – but I’m still blog-illiterate)

Rethinking Ministry for the Emerging Culture
“…exploring ministry in a post-Christian world…”

Contents

Outline

Goals

1) Understanding Emerging Generations
A foundational look at our emerging culture, where it is heading and how it influences where the church is heading

2) The Heart and Role of Leading Emerging Generations
Ministries suffer from a great lack of quality leaders; this generation has to rethink how leadership is done

3) Spiritual Formation and the Emerging Church
Thinking through how this generation experiences and connects with God

4) Conversation and Communication with the Emerging Culture
Rethinking how to dialogue with this culture

5) 8 Postmodern Branding Trends You Can’t Afford to Miss
As these eight key church culture trends show, brands are less and less about what we do, and more and more about who we are

Appendixes

Bibliography

Lowercase People

October 1, 2005

I’m digging the new online collective that Jon Foreman and the Switchfoot gang have pieced together. Jon, in trying to expand his efforts of changing the way people think and along the way raising some mega cash for his humanitarian causes, have created Lowercase People (www.lowercasepeople.com)

i.e. I’m jacked for my buddy Brent Cole who is the managing editor.

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