Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Thoughts on the State Evangelism Conference

To me the highlight was Reggie McNeal. I read his book, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church and I resigned my church less than six months later. Reggie’s breakout session dealt with three shifts he thinks the Western church needs to experience: From internally focused to externally focused; from program driven to people development; from institutional leadership to an apostolic movement (or AD 30 leadership).

Reggie majored in on one of the themes of his book, that is, our churches are far too focused on themselves and their people and not involved in impacting the community enough. The ironic thing was that he was saying all of this while within one of the largest evangelical churches in Missouri with a multi-million dollar campus. There are so many “ministries” to be involved in that you would never have to engage with a lost person if you never wanted to because everything were interested in being involved in was offered within the walls of the church.

I was so convicted by his book because I saw myself in his writing. I was so busy “feeding the monster” as I called it (that is, developing and running programs that ministered to the church members) that I never had time to develop relationships outside of church. Part of that was my own fault for not making the time, but I usually was so drained by all of the “ministry” I was doing that I didn’t have time or the desire to expend the energy to get involved with my community. I think I am going to reread my notes and post some of the thoughts on his book very soon on this site. If you haven’t read this book and you would like to, let me know, I’ve got an extra copy.

Another highlight of the evangelism conference was a message by former state evangelism director Bob Caldwell who had some great things to say to Missouri Baptists about allowing the next generation of leaders to do their thing.

Now...Where's My Coat?

It seems that every community has the old saying, "If you don't like the weather in ________, just stick around, it will change soon enough." I've heard that in STL and Dallas/FTW. It's funny, in DFW, they would say that but I could predict the weather for about 3 straight months with little variation. From June 30 to September 30, the weather would be: Sunny, highs in the mid to upper nineties, lows in the upper 70s, no rain. To show you the STL version, check this out from yesterday's Post Dispatch:

Tuesday was one of those days when the Midwest proves its reputation for fickle weather. It was 73 degrees at 12:39 p.m., breaking by six degrees the record set for Jan. 29 in 1988. In less than four hours, the temperature fell 50 degrees. Cold wind gusted to near 40 mph.

The temp got down to about 14. The wind chill had to be below zero. The lesson: always have your coat nearby in STL in January.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Night Out with SSLYBY

We dropped Maggie off at the baby-sitter's and went to dinner and spent way more than I am used to, but for once, you got what you paid for. I had the best steak I have had in a long time. We got to the music venue right at 8:30 (concert time). The opening act was on stage and it looked like they were about to start. No, just air check, they go outside for awhile and the concert doesn't start until about 9:30. Witch's Hat was the opening act. Four members, guitar-bass-drums-lead singer. Interesting group, strong catchy power trio hooks with a lead singer who was trying to channel both Jack Black and Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden. A lot of medieval/Dungeons and Dragons/Lord of the Rings influenced lyrics. They seemed to have a lot of fun and the crowd enjoyed them. They were a local band as was the second band, Bald Eagle. A little more hard core than the first group. Once again, good musicians and a tight band but their lyrics were screamed and unless one was familiar with the songs, you would not have understood 3/4 of their lyrics.
At about 11:15 the headline act, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin comes on. They are a pop band heavy on catchy hooks and intelligible lyrics. Definitely a shock to the system if you came to see Bald Eagle and thought you would hang around for the last band. I think they were genuinely nervous playing after this group. The styles were extremely contrasting. I also think they are not used to being the headliners (they toured with and opened for Mute Math last year). Musically they were great all night, but you could sense that the lead singer was a little off, which could be explained because they hadn't played live in a few months and they followed the "screamers." About 6 songs in, they shifted their line up. The lead singer left his guitar and played bass, the bass player moved to drums and the drummer came out front, played guitar and shared lead vocals. The band took off from then on. This is the second time I've seen them and in both shows, after the line up change, that band was stronger.
Highlights: my favorites - Pangea, Oregon Girl, Half Awake (after the shift) and The Oceanographer (from their upcoming cd Pershing, to be released April 8th).

I started to think, why don't they start these shows on time? Don't they think about people who have baby-sitters and who don't necessarily feel like standing for 4 hours? Then I looked around the room and thought, there aren't a whole lot of people like that in the room. 12:30 is not a late night to 22 year olds. Surprisingly enough, it is for me. Funny though, I saw Spoon and Wilco and got home by 11:00. Difference, week night shows and only one opening act. Is it time to give up the live music thing? No, never! I refuse to admit that I am getting old (even though my back is extremely sore from standing for four hours last night).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mizzou Musings

I did not go to Mizzou but I have been a fan all of my life. I did apply and intended to go, but I got a scholarship to SLU [braggart] and went there. I have followed the Tigers in basketball and football since the Sunvold-Stipanovich days and I remember when Steve Piszarciwiecz was QB of the Tigers. I did, however, recently join the MU community recently (in a very small fashion). I got a library card at the Ellis Library and can now check out books. Not only do I feel like a scholar again, I actually feel like I am connected to the school I have been following all of my life.

There has been a recent dust up in the Athletic Department about a blogsite with the name This man, an alum, registered the domain name seven years ago when it had expired. He offered it to Mizzou for his expenses. Never heard anything about it. Now he is being threatened to turn it over because he has been accused of copyright infringement. Visit the site and let the guy tell you the story. It is interesting and the guy is pretty entertaining.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is going to be at Mojo's tonight. I am dragging the wife. So underrated.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Now That's an Apology!

This is an interesting story on its own merits, especially if you frequent any of numerous sports blogs. But I find it interesting because of the apology.

Dana Jacobson, co-host of ESPN2's "First Take," is currently being disciplined for remarks made at a Jan. 11 celebrity roast for ESPN Radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic.

Her characterizations of the Notre Dame football program, which have been criticized by a Catholic organization, were deemed "inappropriate" by the network, which issued the following statement from Jacobson:

"I am sorry. My remarks about Notre Dame were foolish and insensitive. I respect all religions and did not mean anything derogatory by my poorly chosen words. I also deeply regret the embarrassment I've caused ESPN and Mike and Mike.

"My actions at the roast were inappropriate and in no way represent who I am. I won't make excuses for my behavior, but I do hope I can be forgiven for such a poor lack of judgment."

That is an apology. In these days, hardly anyone ever says "I'm sorry, I did/said something stupid. I was wrong and I was sorry." Usually you get, "I am sorry if anyone was offended by what I did." This usually implies, "I didn't do anything wrong, but my actions are causing a firestorm, so, since no one gets my humor, it's really your fault, but I will say I am sorry I offended you."
Now, I don't think I want to comment on what she said, but, if she said all three things she supposedly said...Oh My! She really needed to apologize.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Last Post on Breaking the Missional Code

The Process of Breaking the Code (chapter 15)

I am providing a skeleton outline of this chapter, which really does not need a whole lot of elaboration. Realize that most of what I have in this chapter is me thinking about starting college ministries.

Understand Your Self

Confirm God’s Call on Your Life
Fall in Love with the People (or campus)
Die to Yourself and Your Preferences
Examine Your Leadership Readiness

Understanding Your Community

Get Counselors from the Context – these are the people who live in the culture. This means making friends with the people who are like the people group you are trying to reach.
Study Demographic Information
Talk to the Experts
Do Prayer Walks
Identify Spiritual Strongholds
Review the History; Become the Expert
Understanding Networks – determine who influences the people that God has called you to reach; find “bridge people” from the context. Who has God already placed in the community through whom he plans to use to transform the campus with the gospel?
Understand Where God is Working in Campus Ministries
Find All of the Campus Ministries and Map them Out
Research Indigenous Campus Ministries or Campus Churches
Determine Musical Preferences
Determine their Leadership Systems – that is, what kind of leadership are they used to in their context? Is it professor-student? Supervisor-co-worker?
Determine How They Learn – classrooms? Small groups? Dialogues? Lectures?
Identify the People Groups on Campus – not just those you hope to reach, but who else is on campus, what subgroups or subcultures are there?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Does This Sound Like Your Dad?

In Genesis 42, Jacob's family was struggling because of a famine in the land of Canaan where they lived. The narrative picks up with Joseph speaking to his sons:

42:1 - When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you just keep looking at each other?" 2 He continued, "I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die."

Sounds like my dad...

Sleep, Sleep tonight...

Below is an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” The letter is a response to a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen on April 12, 1963 titled "A Call For Unity" which agreed that social injustices were taking place but expressed the belief that the battle against racial segregation should be fought solely in the courts and not taken onto the streets.

Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown you brothers and sisters at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million negro brothers smothering in an air tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you…seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky and see her distorting her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs that read “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and you last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title of “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never knowing quite what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” – then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait…

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An Explanation

This picture should sum up why I avoided Sportscenter, NFL Live, First and Ten, 1310 The Ticket and all other NFL talk this week.

Monday, January 14, 2008

As King James Only as One Can Be

King James Bible Only!
As King James as they wanna be...isn't that a rap album title of the late 90s? Read this interesting part of the statement of faith for the Believer's Church in Touchet, WA.

We are as "King James Only" as one can be. Don't even consider for a moment quoting any Greek or Hebrew definitions and/or those infamous 'better words,' etc. that seem to go with today's so-called modern Biblical scholarship. We want God's words, not principles. We believe the KJB is the inspired and preserved word and words of God - it makes no sense to us to lean backward into the past nor is there anything 'new' coming other than Christ Himself. We believe that which is perfect to be the King James Bible and that it has all come spiritually. I Corinthians 13:10 I won't even take up my time with anyone arguing with them about the originals, etc. We are face to face spiritually today through that King James Bible and someday we will be physically face to face with the Saviour Himself.

All those new modern perverted and corrupted Bibles bring to folks 'another spirit' and 'another Jesus.'

As you can see, we truly as King James Only as one can be!

This is all interesting to think about when you realize that there was NO English translation of the Bible for more than the first 1300 years of Christian History. The KJV came along 1500 years after the writing of the New Testament manuscripts. Oh well, at least that have that issue resolved in their minds. You would hate to take up your time and actually consider the truth. BTW, I guess that means that all of the people groups this "missionary" movement want to reach must first learn English to be able to read the "KJB".

Friday, January 11, 2008

Some More Good News

Radiohead coming to St. Louis

St. Louis is confirmed as a stop on British rock band Radiohead’s upcoming North American tour. Exact dates and venues are to be announced.

See the brief article here.

Good News about Evangelism?

Get it? Good news and evangelism, see what I did there? Anyway...I have really found some great value lately in the Lifeway research website. I think it is a valuable tool for anyone seeking to impact their community for the kingdom of God. The current article examines our society's attitude toward organized Christianity and their attitude toward Jesus. And surprise! They are not the same. (For two good books on this subject, see Kimball's They Like Jesus but Not the Church and unChristian by Kinnamon and Lyons.)

Here are some excerpts from an article from Lifeway's research site:

A majority of unchurched Americans are turned off by the institutional church and don’t have a biblical understanding about God and Jesus, yet they believe Jesus makes a positive difference in a person’s life and would enjoy an honest discussion with a friend about spiritual matters.

Those are just a few of the findings from a new study of unchurched Americans conducted by LifeWay Research in partnership with the North American Mission Board’s Center for Missional Research. LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources, and the North American Mission Board are both entities of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"A full 72 percent of the people interviewed said they think the church ‘is full of hypocrites,’" (Ed) Stetzer said. "At the same time, however, 71 percent of the respondents said they believe Jesus ‘makes a positive difference in a person’s life’ and 78 percent said they would ‘be willing to listen’ to someone who wanted to share what they believed about Christianity."

Despite their negative opinions about the institutional church, most unchurched people are open to discussing spiritual matters with a friend. The research showed that:

--78 percent of those surveyed said they would be willing to listen to someone who wanted to talk about their Christian beliefs. The number rose to 89 percent among adults 18-29 years of age.

--Only 28 percent of adults 30 years and older said they think Christians they know talk to them too much about their beliefs.

--78 percent of adults 30 years and older said they would enjoy an honest conversation with a friend about religious and spiritual beliefs, even if they disagreed with the friend.

"Even though the unchurched have a confused view of God and a negative view of the church, they are overwhelmingly open to someone sharing about their Christian faith," Stetzer said. "We think religion is a topic that is off-limits in polite conversation, but unchurched people say they would enjoy conversations about spiritual matters."

Monday, January 7, 2008

Two Chapters in One Post!

Chapter 10 – Revitalization to Missional Ministry

Here are the things I thought were relevant to this chapter for us. It was kind of a research project. I’ve adapted this to our situation.

Make a list of the fastest growing, biblically faithful, and culturally engaged campus ministries/churches and go visit them. Then bring home what you’ve learned and discuss it. What are these ministries doing and why is it working? What are we doing and why is it not working? What can we learn from these ministries? What can we try in our group that we saw them doing?

Planting Missional Ministries (chapter 11)

Church planters who break the code are learning a better way than franchising the successful models of the mega-churches; they are finding methods and models that connect with their community. How?

  1. They are learning their contexts before choosing their methods. I have often told people that each new campus mission will look different than all of the others. We need to know our students before we try to reach them and choose a method.
  2. They are learning from others without copying them. Instead, they are modifying.

Are My Teams in Place?

Before going public with any kind of public launch (if this even applies to any of us), we need to examine the state of our teams. Our families must be on board. We need a planter’s ministry team. By ministry team, the authors are referring to one or more people who feel called to commit their life and ministry to the church-planting (or campus mission planting) endeavor. We need an initial group of adult investors. We need a significant number of team players committed to the plant before we are ready to launch.

Have We Solved the Resource Challenge?


1) What will it take? We need to consider a start up budget, operational budget, and salary support.

2) How much will it cost?

3) Who will pay for it?

Do We Have a Clear Vision

Values – what are the core convictions that drive the form and function of the campus ministry?

Vision – What will it look like twenty or thirty years from now?

Mission – How are we going to accomplish the vision?



Have We Networked My Community?

What niche does our mission fill on our campus (or community)? Imagine if a large segment of the community or your cultural group could answer that question. Networking in a community involves a number of things which are represented in this list:

  • Determining the spiritual climate and reading the culture,
  • Creating a positive perception
  • Building credibility within the community
  • Penetrating social and relational networks
  • Building personal relationships
  • Inviting people into a biblically functional community
  • Baptizing new believers, and
  • Sending believers back into relational networks with purpose.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Thursday, January 3, 2008

"Breaking the Missional Code" Continued

Chapter 7 – Contextualization

The Way Worship is Experienced

Stetzer and Putman discuss worship in context and note that there were times in Scripture when worship was conducted in a public forum where large groups of nonbelievers were engaged (Acts 2-3). With this in mind, many churches see the purpose of their worship gatherings as a place and time where they can create a safe environment for both believers and seekers to experience life change. This happens when the worship gathering takes on a form and expression that is familiar to the cultural group.

Churches that break the codes recognize this and are served by asking questions like these:

  1. Is the setting inviting and familiar?
  2. Are those attending and participating familiar with music?
  3. Can those attending and participating relate to the communication style of the preacher/teacher?
  4. Is the Bible being taught in a way that people can experience and grasp the message?
  5. Is the language used understandable and true to biblical content?
  6. Is the way in which people are invited to participate in truth clear and engaging?
  7. Is there enough tension created to cause people to move forward in faith?
  8. Does the creativity used connect with those attending and participating?

The Way Evangelism Takes Place

We are talking about not only getting people to say yes to some propositional truth, but we are talking about leading people to change their worldview. We need to be totally committed to reaching out to disconnected people.

The way we should engage people in a meaningful way is radically different. It is a shift to journey.

This assumes some very important things, such as:

  • Trusting God to be at work in the lives of lost people.
  • Building relationships with all kinds of people and valuing who they are.
  • Listening and learning where God is already at work in their lives.
  • Praying that God will reveal to you and give you words to share with others on their journey.

The Way We Make Disciples

It seems that the longer individuals took to finally go public with their faith, the less likely they were to fall through the cracks or go out the back door.

A note from a recently returned missionary to Malaysia – in the culture from which he had just returned, when someone experienced conversion, they were already firmly grounded in Scripture, often engaged in community, and usually involved in some kind of service within the church. Discipleship was a journey that took place while participating in the local community of faith.

As believers recognize that they are missionaries, they will find more and more ways of engaging those outside the church in authentic relationships.

Churches that understand the discipleship process are also proactive about creating strategic and specific experiences for those who are on the journey. Worship gatherings are designed to create space where people can experience God and progress at their own pace.

Discipleship often involves participation in service prior to conversion.

Yet, churches that “break the code” are serious about conversion and make a big deal about people going public with their faith.