Podcast with Missional Monks

On Saturday I had the opportunity to record a podcast with Missional Monks Chris and Brett.   It deals particularly with the challenges of sustaining faith and spiritual practices in today’s world.


Big Tent Synchroblog

Last week I contributed to the synchroblog for Big Tent Christianity a conference coming up in Raleigh NC September 8,9.  There are a fascinating series of articles going up here that i would heartily recommend to you

Big Tent Christianity Synchrobloggers
(in alphabetical order)

David Adams, “Big Tent Christianity”

David Adams, “What is That to You?”

Shawn Andrews, “Fruitful”

Kathy Baldock, “Synchroblog for Big Tent Christianity”

Greg Bolt, “Big Tent Christianity – Part 1″

Heidi Bolt, “Big Tent Christianity”

Joe Carson, “Big Tent Christianity and ‘ground level truth’”

Joe Carson, “‘Big Tent Theologian’ wanted to develop theology/praxis for Christian engineers, please state your terms”

Julie Clawson, “Big Tent Christianity – A Place Without Fear”

Philip Clayton, “Is Big Tent Wimpy or Radical?”

Matt Cleaver, “Big Tent Christianity in Big Time Denominations”

Bob Cornwall, “Coming Under the Big Tent!”

Bob Cornwall, “Living Under the Big Tent – Christianity That Is!”

Bob Cornwall, “What’s New about the Big Tent?”

Roy Donkin, “Big Tent Christianity”

Ryan Dueck, “Big Tent Christianity”

Jan Edmiston, “Big Tent Christianity: Wikichurch”

Mark Eikost, “Peace”

George Elerick, “Monkeys with Vertigo: The BTC Event”

Kathy Escobar, “recovery under the big tent”

Rachel Held Evans, “Small Town, Big Tent”

Scott Frederickson, “‘Big Tent Christianity’ and Prairie Table”

Henry Friesen, “Big Tent Christianity”

Tripp Fuller, “Kierkegaard on ‘What big tent Christianity is NOT’”

Matt Gallion, “Big Table Christianity”

Andrew Hackman, “Big Tent Christianity and The Sneetches”

David Henson, “The Samaritan in the Big Tent”

Chad Holtz, “Big Tents, small gods and Knotted Brides”

Corey Howard, “Big Tent Christianity”

Ken Howard, “Coming Together to Build a Bigger Tent”

Tony Hunt, “For and Against Big Tents”

Ira, “The Church’s One Foundation”

Tony Jones, “A Plea for Big Tent Christianity: Don’t Suck”

Matt Kelley, “Big Tent Christianity: Easy to Say, Hard to Do”

John R. King, Jr., “Our Common Faith!”

Amanda MacInnis, “Big Tent Christianity”

James F. McGrath, “Thank God My Opponents Are Pharisees!”

Brian McLaren, “Big Tent Christianity Synchroblog”

Tim Meier, “Assumptions”

Hannah Middlebrook, “Engage”

Bert Montgomery, “Going Inside the Big Tent with Charlie Manson”

Josh Morgan, “Big Tent Christianity”

Josh Mueller, “Dreams of a Big Tent Christianity”

Patrick Oden, “Sketching a Big Tent Christianity”

Thomas Jay Oord, “A catholic Spirit for a Big Tent”

Joe Paparone, “Big Tent Christianity – Synchroblog”

Lesley Paparone, “Being The Church”

Matt Ritchie, “The Case for Progressive Christians”

Dyfed Wyn Roberts, “Big Tent Christianity in Wales”

Daniel Rose, “Big Tent Christianity 1″

Daniel Rose, “Big Tent or Single Issue?”

Daniel Rose, “Scattered, Gathered, and Beautiful”

Daniel Rose, “Unity, Liberty, and Charity”

Ellen Ross, “Big Tent Christianity, Part One: What Faith Is Not”

Bo Sanders, “An Everyday Theology”

Christie Sanders, “Hope”

Christine Sine, “Big Tent Christianity – Living the Gospel Now”

Anthony Smith, “Hopes for Big Tent Christianity”

Arthur Stewart, “A Tale of Two Tents”

Alan Ward, “Coming Together Under a ‘Big Tent’”

Nathan Wheeler, “Wishful Thinking”

Randy Woodley, “Honest Hatred Under The Big Tent”

John Worst, “Hospitality”

Karissa Worst, “Racism”

Sustainable Grace – A Care for Creation Liturgy

I couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking at Church of the Beloved in Edmonds WA.  I love this community based church which meets at Rosewood Manor.  Here is the first part of the liturgy for the service which I thought you might enjoy

(Adapted from Awakening to God’s Call to Earthkeeping)
ONE: We who have lost our sense and our senses–
our touch, our smell, our vision of who we are;
We who frantically force and press all things,
without rest for body or spirit,
hurting our Earth and injuring ourselves:
ALL: Now we call a halt.
ONE: We want to rest.  We need to rest and allow the Earth to rest.
We want to rediscover and reflect Christ’s Spirit who lives in us,
who is the ground of every unique expression of life,
and the source that calls all things into communion.
ALL: Now we declare a Sabbath.
ONE: We declare this to be a space
for simply being and letting be,
for recovering the great, forgotten truth and beauty,
for learning how to live again.
ALL: Now we come to worship our Maker.
ALL THINGS A Reading of Colossians 1:15-28

{ Note: This reading plays off of the words ‘all things’ by exchanging readers each time these words are spoken.  While the first reader is ending their phrase saying ‘all things’ the second reader is beginning their phrase saying ‘all things’ at the same time. }

ONE:  From the Colossians 1:15-28.  (pause)

Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things

TWO:  ...all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers–all things…

ONE:  …all things have been created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things

TWO:  …all things, and in him all things…

ONE:  …all things hold together.  He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in all things

TWO:  …all things.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things

ONE:  …all things whether on earth or in heaven,

ONE & TWO:  by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Be a Difference; Make A Difference – Podcast by Tom Sine

Here is the latest podcast that Tom has done talking about ways to make a difference and be a difference.  He was interviewed by Jonathan Blundell last week on Something Beautiful

The Lord’s Prayer – How Should We Say It?

Last night I attended a meeting at which the organizer used this beautiful rendition of the Lord’s prayer from the New Zealand Prayer book.

Eternal Spirit

Earth-Maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all.

Loving God, in whom is heaven.

The hallowing of your name echoes through

the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the peoples

of the earth!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom

sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,

now and forever.


That send me hunting for other versions of the Lord’s prayer on the web intending to upload some of them here.   Not surprisingly the work has already been done for me.  There are many collections of alternative translations of the Lord’s prayer available, many of them well worth reading and meditating on.

Here is one of the best collections I found put together by the Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ.

This collection included another of my favourites by Mark Berry of Way Out West.  Mark is a very creative liturgist.  Many of his liturgies are available through Proost in the UK


O Breathing Life, your Name shines everywhere! Release a space to plant your Presence here. Imagine your possibilities now. Embody your desire in every light and form. Grow through us this moment’s bread and wisdom. Untie the knots of failure binding us, as we release the strands we hold of others’ faults. Help us not forget our Source, Yet free us from not being in the Present. From you arises every Vision, Power and Song from gathering to gathering. Amen – May our future actions grow from here!

The Wisdom of Stability

Our good friend Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove has a new book out called The Wisdom of Stability. We live in an incredibly mobile society that where on an average people move every 2-3 years.  Jonathan questions this way of life and claims that the need to become rooted in a community lies deep within us.  There is a great interview with Jonathan in Raleigh’s News and Observer in which he explains

“We felt that by moving again and again we could get to a place where you dig 10 wells 3 feet deep and never strike water,” said Wilson-Hartgrove, 29.

The Wilson-Hartgroves see stability as a virtue. The couple consider themselves modern-day monks, devoted to a religious community of like-minded people who practice prayer, contemplation and works of justice.  Read the entire article here

As one who spent much of my life on the move, this book resonated with me and my own need for stability.   I have long felt that all of us need stability zones and rootedness in our lives and am convinced that much of the fear and anxiety within our society is because of this lack of a sense of who we are and where we belong.

However Jonathan is the first one I have come across who has articulated this need as a Christian virtue partly because we need to be rooted in a community to care about it and become involved.  I know that many monastic orders in the past have called people to a commitment to place but that is not something we hear much about today.   This is a challenging and thought provoking book.  I would heartily recommend it to anyone who seeks to engage in their community as part of God’s call on their lives.

Is The Emerging Church for Whites Only?

Last week I posted a link to the discussion that is going on about the male dominated nature of the emerging church movement. This week I wanted to highlight the broader discussion on The Emerging Church and Race.  This is such an important discussion as we move forward into a majority future in which the Christian church will be more non-white than white.  And until the present time, not only has this movement been very male dominated it has also very white dominated.  But that is beginning to change, something that all of us should applaud.

God calls us to share life together with sisters and brothers from every tribe and nation and that is not possible if we do not welcome them as friends, and sit down at table with them – not inviting them to our table where we set the agenda and make the rules, but sitting down at a new table at which all of God’s children are listened to and embraced.

The posts below are in response to the Sojourner article Is the Emerging Church for Whites Only?. Sorry you do have to register at Sojourners to read this article.

Here are some other posts on the God’s Politics blog that you do not need to register for.  First of all is a great article by Mustard Seed Team member Eliacin Rosario Cruz – Can the Subaltern Speak? or Moving the Conversation Forward

If you want to catch up on the entire conversation check out this: Emergent and Race. It has lots of great links to posts by, amongst others:

Onleilove Alton – The Global Emergence Won’t Be Televised

Brian McLaren – Turning the Tables of White European Male Privilege – Our Tables, Their Tables and New Tables

Julie Clawson – Emerging or Converging

Lisa Sharon Harper – An Open Letter to the Emerging Church Movement

Sarah-Ji – What Is Happening Is Bigger Than Emergent

Shane Caliborne – The Emerging Church Brand: The Good The Bad and the Messy

I Didn’t Learn It From the White Males

Some of you have been following the synchroblog initiated by Julie Clawson on What is the Emerging Church. The responses to this have been diverse and fascinating.  I particularly enjoyed this post by Mike Clawson – maybe because like me Mike has learned many of his lessons from theologians outside the Western context.

This effort is partially in response to the recent Sojourners article by Soong-Chan Rah and Jason Mach alleging that the emerging church conversation has largely been dominated by white male hipsters, and partially just to celebrate all the good things that are in fact emerging. So even though I am a white male (though decidedly un-hip), I did want to contribute and speak to my own experience of being led into this conversation through non-white, non-western voices in the first place.  Read Mike Clawson’s entire article here

The first of May I will be in New Haven Connecticut teaching a course on Spiritual Renewal in Missionary Life.  All of my students will be from non Western countries.  It as challenging and renewing time for me too in which I feel I always learn more than I teach.  Part of the wonder of the good news of Jesus is that it can be contextualized into every culture, place and stage of history. Opening our eyes and our ears to voices that are unlike our own is always challenging but so enriching of our faith.

Synchroblog on What is Emerging

Here is a list of other contributors to the synchroblog What is Emerging.  There are lots of great posts in this series and I would highly recommend them to you.  Thanks Julie for initiating this.

Julie Clawson begins the conversation on What is Emerging

Pam Hogeweide compares the emerging church movement to a game of ping pong.
Sarah-Ji comments that the emerging questions people are asking are far bigger than any defined movement.
Sharon Brown writes about using labels as an excuse.
Peter Walker reflects on how the emerging church conversation helped him recognize his power and privlege as a white male.
Dave Huth posts a on new ways to talk about religion.
Kathy Escobar finds hope in seeing a spirit of love in action emerging in the church.
Nadia Bolz-Weber reflects on the the beautiful things she sees emerging in her church community.
Chad Holtz writes on our Our Emerging Jewishness.
Julie Kennedy describes her organic entry into the emerging church and reflects on moving forward with a new public face.
Dave Brown comments on the emerging church and swarm theory.
Danielle Shroyer reflects on what is emerging in the church.
Brian Merritt offers his pros and cons of the emerging church.
Julie Clawson is grateful for emerging globalized Christianity.
Susan Philips points out that emergence happens as G-d redeems our shattered realities.
Mike Clawson reflects on the non-western voices that brought him to the emerging conversation.
Jake Bouma suggest that what is emerging is a collapse into simplicity.
Liz Dyer believes a chastened epistemology is a valuable characteristic emerging out of the church today.
Rachel Held Evans writes on what is changing in the church.
Tia Lynn Lecorchick describes the emerging movement as a wood between worlds (from The Magician’s Nephew).
Amy Moffitt shares her journey towards a theology of humility.
Travis Mamone comments on the need for the emerging church to rely on the word of God.
Sa Say reflects on the the prick of doubt.
David Henson lists what he sees as what is emerging in the church.
Angela Harms writes in in defense of emergent.
Wendy Gritter asks how we can listening to the voices from the margins.
Bruce Epperly comments on the largeness of spirit of emerging spirituality.
Linda Jamentz reflects on listening to the voices from the margins in church.
Lisa Bain Carlton hopes that our emerging conversation can respond humbly to our moment in time.
Christine Sine asks how far are we willing to be transformed.
Lori Allen Wilson reflects on what is emerging in the younger generations.
Cynthia Norris Clack sees love emerging in the church.
Bob Fisher lists the values emerging in his faith community
Mihee Kim-Kort writes of the conversions and conversations she sees around her.

What Is Emerging in the Church?

This post is in response to a synchroblog initiated by Julie Clawson.

A couple of months ago I read through Jonathan Brink’s interesting article Is The Emerging Church Dying or Maturing on the Emergent Village weblog. It seems to be very relevant to this topic.   At one point he comments:

Emergence suggests transformation but it also reveals that we’re not finished.

I have been thinking about this statement and its implications ever since.  More than anything what is emerging is the willingness to question all our assumptions about life, faith and God, which in some ways is scary but in others is very refreshing.  Christianity in its beginnings was a countercultural movement that brought transformation and change to every society in which it took hold because those that followed Christ questioned the assumptions on which their cultures were based.  But unfortunately in many societies this countercultural movement was lassoed, bound and stifled.

It is not so much a matter of what is emerging but of what is being transformed and how willingly we allow ourselves to ask the questions that will bring about this transformation.  And it seems to me that we are in a time in which our view of faith, of God, of the kingdom of God and of what it means to be a follower of Christ are all being questioned and hopefully transformed.  And that I think is a very healthy point to be at because change happens at the grassroots level where ordinary, everyday people are grappling with how to follow Christ in a turbulent and rapidly changing world.  It is my hope that we will never become so caught up in what is emerging that we become complacent and stop being transformed.

Tom and I have been involved in the emerging church conversation since the mid 1990s when it first emerged in the UK.  We have watched with interest its spread downunder and throughout North America and its struggles with theology and the shaping of spiritual practices.

I have watched with even more interest in the last few years as the movement here in the US has grappled with issues of justice, inequality and the need to listen to more diverse voices – women, Latinos, Africans and Asians.  In the future I hope that the issues of climate change and our need to live more lightly on the earth could move from the periphery to the centre of this movement too.  But I am sure that other issues I am not even aware of will continue to emerge and shape this movement and those that follow it.

A couple of months ago I wrote an article for the MSA Seed Sampler on What Will Shape Spirituality in the Next Decade? I expanded it on my blog to three articles that looked at the trends I felt will have most impact over the next 10 years –

What I appreciate about the emerging church is that it is engaged in grappling with aspects of all these issues, as well as some others that I have not mentioned here.  It is not hiding its head in the sand and pretending that the world is not changing or that we don’t need to change in order to be effective followers of Christ in the future.

We live in a world in which the rate of changing is increasing and I think that the conversations the emerging church has initiated and continues to participate in will become even more important in the future.  Yes I think the movement is maturing but I hope that as it matures it will not become comfortable and settle into a conformist way of doing things.  I love the concept of transformation because it does imply an ongoing process.  My hope for the future is that the emerging church can continue to challenge all of us to recognize that we are on a journey of continual transformation that needs to engage each new issues facing the church in the future.