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Archive for the ‘Jason Clark’ Category

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Jason Clark, wrote chapter in ‘Let My People Grow’. His chapter title was ‘What does disciple making look like in the emerging church?’ He recently posted a brilliant, and I mean brilliant, audio presentation on the problems within Western models for spiritual formation based on his research in the book. Some of the nuggets are:

“The problem is what it means to become and grow as a Christian is so disconnected form how people grow in every day life that its no wonder people don’t associate church as a place to grow.”

“People want to grow but the system, beliefs and values and the things we have in place in our church actually don’t help people grow.”

“Often what we do in church is say,”We’re going to give you the answers. (The problem is)…it’s only one way people grow.”

“There are lots of church built on people having a good time. And the danger of that is people’s growth is based on they feel…and we get tired of that.”

“What is the habitat for spiritual growth?”

These are just a few within the first ten minutes. You can catch the rest here.

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This is a book review of Tom Sine’s book, The New Conspirators, by IVP. Part 2 is a review of Conversation I: Taking the new conspirators seriously.

In this first conversation, Tom provides an overview of what he sees are the four streams or expressions of the New Conspirators. These four are emerging, missional, mosaic, and monastic.

  • The Emerging Stream: Tom’s review here is cursory and he even says so. A clearer and much more detailed review was provided by Gibbs and Bolger in Emerging Churches, or Frost and Hirsch in Shaping of Things To Come. He does provide some of the history that leads up to the emerging expressions, which were more prominent in the UK.
  • The Missional Stream: Sine provides an insight here that I was not really aware of. He points to the missional as arising out of academia. He points to the work of Leslie Newbigin, Darrell Gruder, Frost and Hirsch, and Alan Roxburgh.
  • The Mosaic Stream: This stream arises out of the reality that the church must embrace each expression of God’s creation. He points to the urban hip/hop church as example of new expressions that are coming out of urban areas. They are decidedly multicultural and using multiple forms of art and culture to renew.
  • The Monastic Stream: This stream arises out of the desire for social justice and the call to the poor. This stream has several expressions within it and is the most focuses on social justice. Monastic communities have little interest in church planting and provide deeper theological arguments for their way of life.

Overall, I found the conversation broken down into four streams evocative. I found myself identifying with each in a fresh new way, saying, “That’s me.” The four streams are somewhat like personalities in the crowd. Each is just different and each can learn from each other. The review is cursory, but this doesn’t really matter. There are already well written works on each stream.

The conversation is also different in that it is not a theological observation. There is not real breakdown of what each group believes. I found this actually refreshing. The four streams are not active breakdowns of beliefs but actions. This has already done well here by Jason Clark.

I would place myself in the emerging missional stream. Although I am not monastic in the traditional sense, I would hold that the missional church is very interested in both inward and outward mission, of which the poor are specific call. Another thing is that I guess I just always assumed that the church is mosaic. In fact some of the most interesting expressions typically are new and come from unexpected places.

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I first want to say that when I chose to participate in this synchroblog I did not anticipate nor expect what it would do to me. And yet today, a mere three days into it I have begun to ask some serious questions about some things in my life. It’s called “my stuff”. Part of this I’m assuming is a mishmash of everything I’ve been reading and thinking about over the last couple of years, and the image is just starting to get clearer, like puzzle that is beginning to take shape. My original question was essentially to ask how everything I did was affected by God’s mission. Was it in line with what God was calling me into?

I’m reading a very interesting book by Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite called Deadly Viper Character Assassins, and there is a very interesting chapter on the “Bling Bling Assassin”. It deals with the nature of our stuff and how we often seek our validation through it. I plan to post a review of the book tomorrow. But what got me was a deeper question. In a consumeristic society, we often wrestle with how much is too much. Jason Clark is doing his PhD on it. It’s a great question. What role does the consumer culture play in our lives. Is the BMW (or anything really) a need for validation? Or deeper still, is a BMW, even when it’s not validating us, okay to buy? I’m not a bling bling kind of guy, but what role does what we use our money on play in the mission?

My initial thought was to jump to the common conclusion that I’ve heard most of my life, that material items are bad. But it’s never quite felt right to me. There is a consistent theme of stewardship and responsibility of material wealth throughout Scripture that leaves me wanting a deeper, more holistic approach to my motives. I want to find a wholeness in my stewardship that allows me to enjoy what God has given me but hold onto it very lightly and with an open hand. I want to find a place in life where I can give at not just any moment, but the right moment that what He had given me was meant for.

And these desires and questions suddenly made me think of one of my favorite movies, Schindler’s List. I love this story because it is for me one of the greatest stories of what the Gospel looks like in life. It’s about fighting for people’s dignity and against oppression. It’s about taking a great risk with stuff and putting it all on the line.  It is a great example of mission in action.

One of my favorite scenes of all time is near the end of the movie. Oscar Schindler has a profound moment of redemption when those he has rescued honor him for what he did. But immediately following this scene, he walks with the Jews and has a second profound awakening. For what feels like the first time, he realizes the holistic nature of what he has done. He has saved a life and it is good. But just as the yin shows up, so does the yang. He also recognizes that he could have done more and the awareness is terrifying to him. I believe the quote was,

“With thing ring I could have bought one more life.”

As I began to really sit with this quote I thought about my stuff. I don’t want to feel that regret in my life. I don’t want to unpack all of the rarely used items (Items I had assumed would fulfill me but had found their way into a box in the garage, collecting dust) for an unsuspecting crowd at a garage sale. I don’t want to look at that one thing that cost so much and wonder what glorious purpose it could have been used for. I want to know the value of restoring a life. I want to know the profound nature of His mission and how I was meant to live.  I want to know the deeper purpose in what my Father has given me.

And the only way I know how to know which stuff to buy is to put it all on the altar and ask my Father. I have to listen to him as His son. I don’t really like this idea right now. Maybe tomorrow, when I’ve slept on it I’ll get used to it. But right now it sucks. This is my trust. I’ve held onto it so long, that it feels good in my hands. The choice is a part of me.

And the voice inside my heart is asking, “Am I really losing something or am I gaining freedom?”

Am I really losing when my stuff keeps me from hearing His invitation to wholeness. Am I really losing when I begin to shed the items that keep me from the one that truly loves me for who I am. It means a deeper level of maturity and stewardship that I know he is inviting me into, one that is more holistic and good for me as well as his kingdom. It means letting go of my want, so he can give me what I need.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

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Jason Clark made a presentation to the EA UK Council entitled, “Emerging Church: Paradigm Shift or Passing Fad?” You can listen to the audio presentation a this site. Jason does a brilliant job of breaking down the Emerging church into four distinct categories. On a chart are two sides: Theological Engagement (Orthodoxy) and Sociological Engagement (Orthopraxy). This chart creates four quadrants. (I hope Jason I did justice to your presentation.)

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A. Theology is fine but our cultural interaction needs significant change. “We have the story right but we need to impact culture with it.”

B. Significant theological and cultural interaction changes are needed. “Lets blow up the church and start over.”

C. Some theological reflection and some social interaction changes are needed. “The world has changed so lets ask good questions about how we need to change.

D. Lots of theological reflection but remain conservative socially. “We are where we are because of what we believe.”

My question is where do you find yourself?

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