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“Maturity is growing into the awareness of our ignorance.”

God’s Creativity

I never ceased to be amazed at the creatitivity, simplicity and elegance with which God designs the universe and the world we live in.

The Matrix on Windows

As a life long Mac guy, I have never owned or had to use a PC.  And I love when stuff comes out like this.  It’s just plain funny.

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I’m reading Will Mancini’s book Church Unique and he has a very interesting history on the transition from church growth movement to a more missional movement.  Very interesting stuff so far.

But his comments got me thinking.  The former’s intent, which is based in a modern approach, was bent towards “getting people converted and into heaven.”  It was simple, concrete, straightforward, and could be broken down into steps.  These steps eventually became the basis of a very defined “sinner’s prayer”.  The specific contents of that prayer may have varied in different circles but the intent was the same.  The focus was on a specific moment of belief.  It focused on attracting people in and leading them to one specific action.  The rest of the spiritual formation process leading to maturity unfortunately became secondary and to a large extent got lost in the last fifteen to twenty years.

The missional approach has a much different intent. It’s focused on engaging the Missio Dei and is geared toward restoration and reconciliation. It’s not simple, or concrete, nor straightforward.  It’s chaotic, squishy, oriented towards relationship, engaged in the practice of following Jesus, and is both inward and outward in its activity.  It’s specific “act” is following Jesus, which can be defined but not in the same way as the sinner’s prayer.  Instead it focuses on constant activity that is restorative, engaged in the world, surrounded by community, and focuses on love and trust.

This shift into the chaotic and uncontrolled is hard for people.  The large shift towards missional is interesting for people.  They know they want it but they don’t know yet “how” to engage it.  The parameters have yet to be set and people are still trying to figure it out.  And yet to engage the chaos is to encounter peace that surpasses the chaos.  It just takes a little while to get there.

As a side note, what is interesting to me, in reading some of Generation We, the current millenials were raised in this chaos.  They are used to it as a way of life.  And this is creating an awkward transition.

Where do you find yourself in the transition?

A Church Quiz

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Please let me know in the comments how you did.

1. I would rather go to a church that:

(A) Had great worship

(B) There was love.

2. I would rather go to a small group that:

A: Had cool people.

B: There was love.

3. I would rather participate in community that:

(A) Had lots of programs

(B) There was love.

4. I would rather attend a function that:

(A) Was hip and entertaining

(B) There was love.

5. I would rather be lead by:

(A) A really smart person.

(B) Someone who loved.

Sound off

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At first glance this is likely going to seem like a really strange post but I promise you it’s actually an observation on restoration of the human soul.

Recently my son was playing some games on the web.  I decided to join him and found this game called Death Row.  The name immediately intrigued me and so I clicked on it to play.  The purpose of the game is to “reform” the prisoner, discover clues to his innocence and get him pardoned before he is executed, all within fourteen game days.  To successfully accomplish the mission you have to reform the prisoner by increasing his health, mood, respect, and worth ethic, which is no small feat.  Accomplish the mission quickly and your score goes up.

The prisoner begins the game very angry.  He’s been hardened to the point of rage and lets you know it immediately.  He is no one’s friend. In order to find the hidden clues you have to purchase items (rug, desk, linen, computer, etc) that fill out the cell.  To make money, you send him to work, trying different jobs in order to find the one he likes.  When you do he makes works harder.  To make money faster, you have to increase his work ethic.

What I found interesting in playing the game several times was the pattern that emerged in reforming the prisoner.  First I had to increase his health by feeding him well.  As silly as this seems it made a big difference.  Then I had to buy a toilet, sink for hot water and then a mirror.  Once this is accomplished, I could have him look at his image in the mirror and his work ethic and mood went up incrementally.  Once his work ethic was at a sufficient level, he worked harder.  And this allowed him to make money faster, which then allowed me to buy more stuff faster and win the game.

It was really interesting to me that the makers of the game understood the basic role that our dignity and self-image plays in our own restoration.  When the prisoner looked at his own image in the mirror and his health was low he hated himself and his mood and his respect for me went down.  During one game, I irritated him mercilessly, dropping his respect for me to zero.  He hung himself in despair and the game was over.  But when I helped him take care of his basic human dignity he improved dramatically.

What was also surprising to me was outside of food, the other functional objects in the room made little difference in improving his work ethic.  Items like a blanket or television set did little other than affect his mood.  In other words, stuff didn’t really matter in his restoration.

Once I had accumulated enough money I could purchase a computer for his cell.  Again the makers of the game seemed to understand the basic role of dignity in our humanity.  The computer allowed the prisoner to take an online course in law, economics and computer design.  Each of these skills dramatically increased his work ethic at exponential levels.  In other words, when he could participate in his own restoration he reformed at unprecedented levels.

My total score was how reformed he was based on the four categories.  In other words, I to score really well I had to affect the whole person.  I couldn’t just focus on one category and leave the rest.  I had to restore all of him.

I say all of this because in Thrive, understanding the role of dignity and the whole person was huge for us.  It was central to understanding the love was the restoring or holding of the person’s dignity, which was established by God in the act of creation. It wasn’t something ooey-gooey or codepently sticky sweet.  It was in fact deeply courageous and restorative. And as human beings we aren’t just a body, or mind, or a soul.  We’re all three.  We can’t just fill people up with information and assume we had done our job.  We had to create a space that allowed people to work through stuff and deal with not just what they thought but how they felt.

How often do we assume that following Jesus is simply about memorizing the right verses or serving on the right committees?  Jesus came to heal, not to create some religious program that led to boredom, yet how much of what we do leads to the latter?

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Posted an interesting article that I posted over at Emergent Village. It’s called “Pastor Abandons His Church.”  Love to get your thought on it over there.