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Archive for the ‘Michael Frost’ Category

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Recently I wrote about the books that have been very meaningful to me. And then I was thinking about this. What was the last book I read that I couldn’t put down? I mean the type of book that I really had to finish. And that book would probably be Exiles by Michael Frost. I devoured this book and highly recommend it.

What about you?

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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 was watching this very cool video (ht) of Michael Frost from the 2007 Presbyterian Global Fellowship Conference in Houston, TX. Michael, if you didn’t know is the co-author of Shaping of Things To Come. At around 20:00 of the video he begins this very interesting section on elders. And I began to realize that much of the problem within the emerging/missional church is that we don’t have seasoned elders who have been engaged in these conversations like Michael is presenting here. It’s new. It’s fresh. But that new, fresh territory means that we don’t have elders. And that means some of us will get it wrong.

And I recognize that it is sometimes hard to embrace something that has no foundation, no traditions or elders that have done the hard work of sifting through all that we are contemplating. The liminal shift we are in is in some ways a return to the original design that Jesus modeled so long ago. And yet in my life time these are new dialogs, new practices, new explorations in what it means to follow Jesus. And as Michael mentions in the video, it would be nice to have those who have explored this territory before.

But hey, I’m also recognizing that I am enjoying this path we are on. I like exploration and enjoy the freedom that my Heavenly Father gives me to figure it out. Much love to all you brothers and sisters who are with me on this journey, and a wave to all those back at the village. We’ll send reports.

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I was going through a section in Frost’s Exiles the other day and came across the great quote from Hemingway in his book. “Most new realists have what Hemingway once indelicately called a ‘built-in, shock proof crap detector.’ They see the reality behind the saccharine smiles of fake, patronizing Christians.” That’s harsh…but it’s true. But the problem, I believe is indicative of an underlying structural problem within the church. We engage programs and stuff assuming that it produces discipleship and spiritual growth. But it doesn’t. I used to think I was alone in this feeling.

But then I came across this video, which I wrote about it in Is Willow Creek Going Emerging? and I realized that the same problem exists in the larger church. It wasn’t just me. Programs don’t produce spiritual growth along the entire spiritual contiuum. They actually produce dissension. The higher up the ladder we go in our spiritual development, the more we realize that we need something decidedly more real, more authentic. Orthodoxy must give way to orthopraxy.  We can hear about faith, hope and love, but we need places to practice missional discipleship.  We need places and practices that make our faith deep, not just wide.

Hemingway’s quote took me aback to some extent. My first thought was, “Wouldn’t I want to know if my own faith was fake?”  And the study from Willow Creek showed that those within the church are beginning to exercise their own crap detectors.  To a great extent the postmodern movement and the emerging movement are one giant built-in, shock proof crap detector.

What say you?

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