Tag Archives: emerging church

City Church and things changing in Bend

**Edit:I have made some changes to the following post and comments as I realize it is terribly bad form to begin naming churches in negative ways. I never want to slam churches and what they are trying to do.

Please know that I apologize for the deliberate naming. My feelings don’t change, but better to not name.

Also, in no way am I trying to link City Church with anything else that other churches are doing. My comments are my own and not belonging to City church as a whole.** With that said:

I gotta say I’m proud. Proud of my good friend, Kevin Wright, one of the pastors at the community I am getting involved at, City Church, here in Bend, OR. He has just recently been on the program, The Story, on public broadcasting.

Here’s the LINK for the audio.

City Church | Bend OR

This all reminds me of a post I put up a few months back, about the inevitable division that I see happening within Christianity and within Bend as well. It’s a painful time we are facing right now and going to be facing soon. My thinking in the fall of 2008, was that here in Bend we would see a number of individuals really get raked across the coals because they are trying to think and do Christianity outside the box of traditional Christianity. I had no idea that it would happen so soon.

The dissolving of Oasis I didn’t see coming so soon. I think sometimes we try and soften the impact by letting people know what we think in small doses or doing what we can to change our language to help others digest it better. My thinking is that the same people are going to be effected. It can happen all at once or we can prolong the pain and stretch it out.

Another friend of mine just had a very frustrating and saddening dismissal from his church. This church here in town let him go as there was apparently too many students thinking for themselves and asking questions. At a time when the students were more excited than ever about following Jesus and my friend was more fulfilled than ever in youth ministry, they decided not to renew his contract. He was to be done in two weeks. After many rumors, much incomplete information given, and church politics, my friend and his wife could use some prayer.

So all this has happened in the first two months of 2009. What’s next? I am kind of glad that I am able to do what I am most passionate about independently of the overarching perceptions and pedestals of a church hierarchy. While it is so difficult to imagine, at this point in life, that I will not be paid to do ministry… there is a bit of freedom there. I am called to be a spiritual leader, no a professional pastor-person. We need more spiritual leaders (who actually are not always liked and are not always paid). The spiritual leaders among us need to realize that this must be our first priority and MUST not be compromised.

So yah, 2009 is going to be hard. I imagine many of us trying to do new things will be challenged to our limits. I would give things about a year and hope that in 2010 there will begin to be fashioned a very strong and authentic community expression. We will come together again. Keep listening…


Why I do what I do and why I like trees

tree rootsQuote from Gurus, Ashrams and Christians – Vanyana

“Individual Christians in Iran [or Bend] should not think of themselves as television antennae or sets, tuned to receive and to reproduce exactly what comes to them from the sending station abroad. We out to think of ourselves as trees with our roots within the soil of our own ethnicism and culture, receiving the water of life through our own soil and breathing the Holy Spirit through our own skies. Antennae and television sets are mechanical, imported, and only good to reproduce a programme set by others. They will be broken by storms and their use could be limited or directed by others. from above. Trees, on the other hand, have their roots within the soil of their locality. They are creative and they grow. Because they have roots, they can often stand up to storms…”

The Celtic Martyrs

In similar thought with my last post about martyrdom and whether emergents can be called martyrs, I have found the Celtic Christians’ (some of the first emerging Christians) perspective on martyrdom to be one of great interest and perhaps offering some insight into our current culture. I just finished How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill, and have found some good summaries in Sun Dancing, by Geoffrey Moorhouse.

Ireland is unique in religious history for being the only land into which Christianity was introduced without bloodshed. There are no Irish martyrs… And this lack of martyrdom troubled the Irish, to whom a glorious death by violence presented such an exciting finale.. If all Ireland had received Christianity without a fight, the Irish would just have to think up some new form of martyrdom…

The Irish of the late fifth and early sixth centuries soon found a solution, which they called the Green Martyrdom, opposing it to the conventional Red Martyrdom by blood. The Green Martyrs were those who, leaving behind the comforts and pleasures of ordinary human society, retreated to the woods, or to a mountaintop, or to a lonely island… there to study the scriptures and commune with
God. (Cahill)

They didn’t go alone however. Most often went with twelve others, also remaining available to those who seek insight, instruction and baptism. As more began to stay these hermitages gave way to what many know as the monastery. The monasteries, centers of learning, writing, and languages, preserved much of what was lost as the Western empire was collapsing.

Green martyrdom, however, failed, “both because of the apparently unquenchable Irish tendency to sociability and, perhaps even more important, because of the natural fertility of Ireland itself, which possessed nothing resembling an Egyptian desert…” (Cahill)

With the monk, Columcille, a new martyrdom began in order to reach continental Europe with the gospel. Monks setting off in boats
doing the hardest thing an Irishman could do, a much harder thing than giving up his life: he was leaving Ireland. If Green Martyrdom had failed, here was a martyrdom that was surely the equal of the Red; and henceforth, all who followed Columcille’s lead were called to the
White Martyrdom, they who sailed into the white sky of morning, into the unknown, never to return. (Cahill)

It was in this way that Christianity was revived in Europe.

So that leaves us with today’s emerging church. Are some of them martyrs? False martyrs? Is everything according to traditional orthodoxy? When was any movement completely in line with traditional orthodoxy? Only time will tell as to what difference is made through those of us who are seeking to live out our faith in a way that seems more authentic for us in this day and age.

Emerging Martyrs?

I really appreciate Ken Wytsma’s latest blog on martyrdom and how it fits into the world of following Jesus today. He writes of martyrs who suffer because they are doing what God wants them to do and those who suffer because they are going against what God wants them to do. Most often those who are not doing what God wants think they are suffering for God when actually they are opposing God.

One of the characteristics of my generation is to jettison orthodox thinking or sound doctrine as outdated and then chart a course for adventure, self discovery, experience, engagement and many other noble things. The problem is that the latter didn’t require the former. Relevant and meaningful engagement doesn’t require a rejection of Scripture and orthodox theology.

These guys, who go by many names and join many of the latest emerging movements, often run into road blocks, rejection by other Christians and have difficulties getting going or being understood and the temptation for them often is to feel justified, persecuted and that they are martyrs.

Makes me think… as most often I read things with great personal reflection. Do I feel like a martyr? I know there are many times I reflect on the slowness and the challenges of this community growing that I have embarked on. The challenges of modeling and encouraging ownership and leadership. The challenges of getting over myself and my own learning edge to be brave and get outside my comfort zone. The challenges of marking my success and value by how I am loving, by how people’s lives are changing, by how connected I am with God’s work… and not marking it by numbers, size, or converts. I find myself challenged every day… and I wonder, do I feel like it’s because I’m doing God’s work, or because I’m not.

Thankfully, I don’t feel as though I have rejected scripture or given up on doctrine. I take it all very, very seriously. Granted I see it as progressing… but the history of those who come before me is essential. I do think that there is a great deal of rejection of Christians toward some of the things coming out of the emerging church. This makes me think twice about what I am doing when I see it happening graciously and openly. So often though, these differences that we have get talked about behind closed doors or with people who agree with us. When we assume we have more of the “right” truth than the next person, it is awfully hard to hear them well. I really hope to hear from people, “Hey, you know, I don’t really agree with you on this… but you want to get some coffee or grab a beer and talk about it face to face?”

I just finished How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill, and he mentions the martyrdom of the Celtic saints. I’ll do another post about this HERE… this one’s long enough.

Mark Scandrette on priorities of Jesus followers

From Soul Graffiti

We often spend so much time reacting to religious traditions or a religious culture that we have little energy left to cultivate a proactive spiritual path. Even among “believing” people, there is often more critique and conversation about “the church” or parochial issues than honest engagement with the ways of the master – how Jesus lived and what he taught. Perhaps we have been too easily pleased by our overeducated ability to analyze and deconstruct. Rather than being skeptical, why couldn’t our collective sense of unrest about religion and spiritual community motivate us to be more curious and engaged?