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Archive for the ‘Mark Driscoll’ Category

Mark Driscoll is at it again.

He essentially challenged the idea that Emerging or Missional Communities have converts. This dialog originated when Mark Driscoll made the following quote,

“And all the nonsense of emerging, and Emergent, and new monastic communities, and, you know, all of these various kinds of ridiculous conversations – I’ll tell you as one on the inside, they don’t have converts. The silly little myth, the naked emperor is this: they will tell you it’s all about being in culture to reach lost people, and they’re not.”

David Fitch followed up with a really great response that essentially said, “Yes it is harder to develop a missional community but we actually have more converts based on size.”

I would offer that emerging and/or missional communities actually have A LOT more converts but not the kind of converts you would typically think. And here’s what I mean.

A couple of days ago I stopped by Kathy Escobar’s site because the woman knows how to speak it. And she presented a rather interesting, but condensed chart from this guy. It charted six stages of spiritual growth. I found it interesting but what stuck out to me was that there were essentially two macro stages to his process. The church stage and the following Jesus stage. And the guy was very astute to put a wall right in between the two. I also suggested that discipleship really begins after the wall.

And here’s where I would offer that the emerging/missional communities actually have more converts to the second category because we focus almost exclusively on the second category. When we have a convert, we typically begin with following Jesus into His mission, into participating into the restoration process started so long ago. Postmodern expressions (emerging/missional) aren’t interested in passive experiences that are fake. We’re interested in what’s real. When we invite someone to faith, it’s in practicing love and trust, not in saying the sinner’s prayer that they will forget in a couple of weeks. We’re not interesting in knowing ABOUT God. We’re interested in knowing God.

When we started the original group for Thrive we we’re all rubbing up against the wall and were not finding a way out. We were essentially sick of organized Bible studies, memorizing the right answers, and sitting in the pews on Sunday with blank stares on our faces wondering what we would have for lunch. We wanted to follow Jesus. And yet there was very little if any practical methodologies to do so within our church, nor any of the ten churches in our local area that we had all hopped from over the last couple of years.

You see it’s easy to get converts into the first category. It’s what most churches do because it doesn’t require much more than a well developed four point theology that convicts someone (re: guilts them in) to participating in a Sunday community. It’s easy to systematized, compartmentalize and even create a factory for the process. Is it well meaning? I would assume so, and would even hope so. But does it produce followers? I have my serious reservations.

The second category requires dealing with people’s bullshit, which are the lies that we tell ourselves so we can avoid our brokenness. And this requires love. It requires community in mission. It requires getting messy and crossing over, or even going through the wall. In Thrive groups we call this crossing the bridge of chaos, because dealing with our brokenness means looking at the lies we tell ourselves and the wounds we have accumulated…so we can let them go. It means dealing with fear and taking steps of trust in a God we can’t alway see. It means participating in His restoration process for our own lives, in being loved so we can love. And we don’t like to do that do we. Yet THIS is what it meant to follow Jesus.

To me I’d take ten converts to following Jesus over 100 people saying an organized prayer and then sitting passively in a pew listening to Mark Driscoll. But then again that’s just me.

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I don’t like doubt. It’s a bad trait I’m working on. If there is a lingering of doubt, I will often spend the time to remove it just so I can move on. And the doubt will often drive me to do things I wouldn’t normally do. It’s the tension that kills me. I don’t like it.

In my twenties, I went out with a girl and it was one of the better dates I had been on. We just clicked. But the morning after our first date, the creeping doubt began to move in. I began to question every step of the date, analyzing if she really liked me, even though she said she did. In my fear, I sent two dozen long stemmed roses to prove to her that I liked her rather than just living with the tension. She never went out with me again.

One of the tensions I’ve observed between the traditional church and the emerging church is the debate between truth and doubt, or certainty and faith. I hear a lot from people who don’t like that those in the emerging church don’t have all the answers and are okay with that. Certainty is this intense drive to prove out what we believe by finding every known doctrinal point that will build up our point. It creates a way of seeing the world that is often missing quite a bit of humility. Mark Driscoll’s confession (ht) is a shockingly simple example of what I mean. The desire for certainty often comes at the expense of relationship, which is what Jesus was trying to accomplish in the first place.

There are 88 references in Scripture to the word certain. In most cases it is used to describe something will absolutely happen, as in “this will certainly happen”. In a few cases it means “a specific something”, as in a certain man or certain donkey. The only specific reference to certainty as a way of thinking or believing is in Hebrews.

Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

But even in this specific reference it is being certain of what we hope for in what we don’t see. It is a call to faith.

Certainty is a valuable place but it is also a trap to a large extent. Certainty is the place where we assume our doubts have ceased to speak. We are free to live consistently with what we believe. I get that and often wish for that. And so my desire for certainty often drives me to seek out only the information that will fit with the space of what I’ve created. It has the very real potential to create a blindness to what doesn’t fit. Once again my missional brother from Canada has said it so well.

“To hold to one perspective of belief and to exclude any and all possibilities- that isn’t theology. That’s politics.”

Certainty drives us to an unattainable state to an extent. The endless search for certainty is always focused on what is not there, or the problem. It’s religion. When we spend all of our time removing doubt, we’re always looking for the missing piece rather than living in faith and enjoying what we already have, the love of God. And I’m not suggesting abandoning the journey. I’m just saying that the search for truth for the sake of certainty is not the point.

I’ve been what most people would define as Christian for most of my life. I’ve said the sinners prayer (at least 150 times in every conceivable way). I’ve been to 10 years of Christian education including four years at two Christian colleges. I’ve sat in over 1,500 hours of Christian teaching on Sunday’s. And yet all of the data did little to produce certainty. In fact it produced more doubt than anything. Why? Because in the quest for certainty, I was the one in control.

And certainty is a deadly beast. It doesn’t just invite us to prove it to ourselves. Real validation doesn’t come from within. It invites us to prove it to the world because then we’ll really know it true. The world becomes the sounding board. And how dare the world not see it the way we do. They are either wrong…or right. And we can’t be wrong, can we? We need proof. Then we wouldn’t be certain. So we end up pushing others away at the expense of our certainty and relationship. We get angry because no one wants to be around, which makes us angrier. I know because I’ve lived that life…deeply. And it doesn’t work.

But the problem is that the Gospel doesn’t call me to certainty. It calls me to faith. And faith is this place of trust between not knowing and knowing. It is the space of living in the tension with what I don’t know, as if an unfriendly beast were sitting by my side waiting to see if I will allow it to control me. Faith is the space where I am not in control. It’s trusting that what my Heavenly Father is doing through His Spirit is real and that he won’t let the beast have it’s way with me. Faith means not having to prove it but engaging it so I can see the hand of my Father. And sometimes I don’t like it. Faith requires me to sit with the tension and wait on my Father. It requires stepping into the spaces that will show me He really does love me. And not from some propositional truth that exists as ink on paper but from real like experience. And isn’t that what we really want, to know.

The postmodern world and the emerging church to a great extent has not abandon truth. We all know that truth does exist. It has abandon certainty. It has abandon this dangerous game of proving to the world that we are right. Those I know in the emerging church absolutely beleive in the truth. We’ve just decided that we can live with the tension and are exploring the role of faith.

Keith Green once said, “You know I can’t really explain to you really how he does it. But he proved himself to me in such a holy way, such a complete way, that I would die for that faith.” Notice how he says, “He proved.” Not “I proved.” I love that.

I realize that when Jesus said, “Come follow me,” he was inviting us to abandon the alluring blanket of certainty and embracing the well worn coat of faith, so that we could see just how much He loved us.

Much love to you all today.

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Can you feel it in the wind? It feels like we’re in this strange season where voices within the church are pulling the trump card called heresy. I guess this is to be expected with any movement. The old gives way to the new only through troubled means. But as I survey this territory, I find that it is not a road I want to traverse. Love still remains the better path.

Wikipedia has a really great dialog about heresy.

“The word “heresy” comes from the Greek αἵρεσις, hairesis (from αἱρέομαι, haireomai, “choose”), which means either a choice of beliefs or a faction of believers. It was given wide currency by Irenaeus in his tract Contra Haereses (Against Heresies) to describe and discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. He described his own position as orthodox (from ortho- “right” + doxa “belief”) and his position eventually evolved into the position of the early Christian Church.

Used in this way, the term “heresy” has no purely objective meaning: the category exists only from the point of view of speakers within a group that has previously agreed about what counts as “orthodox”. Any nonconformist view within any field may be perceived as “heretical” by others within that field who are convinced that their view is “orthodox”; in the sciences this extension is made tongue-in-cheek.” (From Wikipedia, Etymology)

The fundamental problem with heresy is that its a judgment people make about other people’s belief, spoken, written, or whatever. And the power behind the word is the assumption that the person is in grave error, such that they may not be under grace anymore. Historically, heresy is used to imply to someone is out of grace. This is the underlying insinuation.

“Heretics usually do not define their own beliefs as heretical. Heresy is a value judgement and the expression of a view from within an established belief system. For instance, Roman Catholics held Protestantism as a heresy while some non-Catholics considered Catholicism the “Great Apostasy.”

Heresy is an extremely powerful word. Many in history have died for it. When we use it we set ourselves up as the authority. We are the ones who “know”. And to speak against the one who has called out the heresy is to question the authority, which puts that person in the spotlight they likely never desired. Who are we to question authority? We dont’ have PhDs and MDivs. Luther, although well educated took great risk in taking a stand and holding to his beliefs. Yet, those in the reformed camp sit on the edges of his coat and embrace what was once heresy.

My concern is when authority bases their understanding on right belief as the nature of our grace. Imagine the fear that causes people. This fear has historically produces so much that we are now ashamed of. Is His kingdom built on fear? Man, I’m in trouble because then I have to wonder if I’ve got everything in line. And baby, I don’t. Thankfully we have Scripture and freedom of dialog. And we do have love and grace.

I find it really interesting that someone could actually make a judgment of heresy. Especially when every those who are typically attacked (McLaren, Bell, Pagitt), do actively speak that Jesus is the Son of God.

All of this brouhaha got me asking a very serious question. Do the people who give the claim of heresy believe faith is by grace alone? I ask this because the fundamental issue at heart here is the question, “Is a heretic (defined as someone who believes something wrong about Scripture) still in grace?” I would argue yes, with one exception. The fundamental ascent of the heart, as revealed by the Holy Spirit is the question, “Who we say Jesus is.” The Apostle John even provided a very simple test. The call to guard against apostasy in Scripture was to guard against those who wanted to add something to the work of Jesus, to go back to the law and move away from grace alone. This was the fight Paul wishes to fight. Our intellectual understanding of Scripture does not establish our grace. Jesus did.

My concern is that when we make the judgment that when someone is in error they are no longer in grace, we’ve crossed back over into apostasy ourselves. We’ve practiced the one exception because we’ve added to grace. This is Galatians revisited. If grace were the sum total of our belief systems then no one would make it. Why, because we’ve stepped back into performance (the law) as the defining factor of salvation. Children would be out simply for the fact that they don’t know everything.

Performance, or the establishment of a doctrinal set of beliefs as a criteria has always been about control, which is opposite love. Control is the domain of the enemy. And to be honest, why would anyone want to become the judge? Why would we want to be the one to establish the box people have to live in. Because once we establish the box, we have now established our own ruleset. This is what I love about grace. It destroys the box.

And sometimes I get why people make the judgment. I would suggest that Mark Driscoll and Johnny Mac, and those who make these claims have good intentions. They clearly love the Gospel. But I would suggest that before we make judgments we listen to the words of Jesus not to step into that arena. When we do we are the ones fighting each other and the enemy is in the stands laughing at us. I would suggest that Jesus understood that to make ourselves the judge is to create the standard in which we are judged. JR Woodward has a post that captures this well. This was the curse of the law. If we try to fulfill it, we are then defined by it.

I love Jesus’ own words on the subject.

“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” (John 12: 47)

Let’s hold on to love people, and discover why turning the other cheek is so much more powerful. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to be the one to convict those who need it and in the process love our brother so that we can earn the right to be heard.

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When Mark Driscoll chose to pick a fight with the specific voices in the emerging church at the SBC conference, I really didn’t want to get involved. What would drive someone to do something like that when it wasn’t even what he was there to speak on? I did listen to his message for the sake of being informed and did comment. I even drafted a a lengthy response for this blog. But I never could hit publish with my response because I always felt like it was stepping into a fight I didn’t want to engage. I thought about it. The bully had swung and missed and I kept wondering what was the real reason for this urge to swing back. The more I thought about it, the more I kept wondering what the issue was in the first place.

I for one, and I’m sure many others, loved the wink idea as a response. Many of you got that it just wasn’t the fight we were interested in walking into. Brian McLaren and Rob Bell simply didn’t comment. Doug simply accepted his boot from the next SBC conference. Love it all.

The moment that some think is going to be really, really important, left me wanting and wondering if this is the best that we as a body of Christ can really come up with? Will this be a defining moment in the emerging church? I actually think so but for a very different reason than most. I for one think that this will be a moment Mark will regret what he did at some point in the future. Not because he was right or wrong, but because I think at some point in the future he’ll see that he got derailed.

And the reason I say this is because MoreThanMine posted a recap that included my comments. And as I was reading through the comments I made again, I recognized that at the end of his 1 hour twenty minute talk he spent about ten minutes talking about new forms and being incarnational. I really like what he said in these ten minutes. Other people liked it too.

And I realized that Mark had the unique opportunity to really inform a body of believers that would tend to be on the outside fo the emerging church, and to talk more about incarnational and open so many minds at the SBC. This is one of the hearts of the emerging church. How do we embody Christ in our everyday lives. He had the opportunity to provide positive steps forward for everyone who was interested in the emerging church conversation. This would have been so affirming and would have given everyone something to really think about. Instead of spending 50 minutes critiquing the church, he ended up throwing in incarnational as almost an aside.

And then I realized what the enemy does so well. He invites us to go after our own brothers. The enemy invites us to take the first swing because if he can get us to fight each other, we’re not fighting him. We become the enemy, and he finds his amusement from the grandstands.

I think about the allure of the word heresy. It has so much power, so much force and weight, It also has so much potential to make me look good. The crowd is on my side. If I’ve called someone a heretic I must know something they don’t or I wouldn’t possibly say THAT. The temptation to swing first is so present because it sure makes us look so good in the process. The enemy even gives us a bright, shiny banner with the words, “In the name of God,” written all over it. Who is going to argue when we’ve got (g)od on our side.

But, If I use the word heresy on someone, even for good reasons, it invites the other to defend themselves, to swing back. And if they do, now we have a fight that divides us. And if you and I aren’t speaking to each other, we’re not as strong. I’ve actually lost my brother who can’t watch my back. I’ve actually lost relationship with someone who can remind me what my Heavenly Father looks like.

All of this makes me realize there might have been a deeper wisdom to Jesus inviting us to, “Turn the other cheek.” How many times have we read that verse assuming it was only our enemy. Maybe Jesus knew we’d need that verse for our own brothers (and sisters) too, for the one’s that hurt us within the church.

The reality is that my brother is going to miss the mark sometimes. But if I go to him in secret, holding his dignity in love, he’ll know I really am his brother. I can listen to why he thinks this or that and say, “Oh I get it…but have you thought about this.” It’s just between the two of us. Jesus knew that love was the only response that worked. In a mission of restoration and reconciliation, I can’t do that if there are blows thrown.

Maybe Jesus knew that the moment someone strikes us is the moment we are being invited to destroy ourselves by striking back or running away. When someone hit us was actually the most defining moment of our lives. It was in this moment that life was demanding an answer to who we really are. Are we really the children of a living God?

You see the reason I think this will be a defining moment in the future is because love will win out in this one. The emerging church body will stand up and say, we don’t need to fight to win. We already have.

So my response to Mark is sorrow. My hope is that you will someday find the best in your brothers because that will be the best in you. That will be what your Heavenly Father is looking for in you.

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