Archive for June, 2010
I cannot believe that it has already been a year of blogging here. The Almost an M blog has been a healthy exercise for me and, I hope and trust, a worthwhile contribution to the church conversation happening in the west.
In celebration and review, I am listing the 10 days with the most traffic over the past 12 months and the posts that were the primary cause. Based on clicking, here are the top-rated posts:
1. JADED is coming to you and JADED Reviewed – The introduction, launch, and review of “the conference event of the year!?!” (For any who are a touch on the gullible side, I will point out that these posts were done on April 1.)
2. Quick Star Approach – A video clip where a non-believer shares, “I’d like to say something about Christians trying to convert non-Christians.”
3. God’s Stories – Spreading the word about a new video tool that communicates His stories from a middle-Eastern perspective. If you have not seen this before, you need to check it out!
4. London / Paris JetSet Tour Continues – This video clip is from the latest Upstream Collective JetSet tour which I participated in.
5. Farewell Starbucks – A recent post about some life changes and the corresponding missiology that impacts that.
6. Am I crazy? – This has a compelling story and original video piece with Michael Frost about what to I do if a person is frustrated with church as he or she has been experiencing it.
7. Where are you going? – A missiological approach to entering a new place.
8. Six Keys to Save the Church in the West – A review of the key points from Alan Hirsch’s video during The Nines video conference event.
9. The Fight – Here is a touch of story about a fight and a lot of story about our family’s Christmas plans and the discipleship process.
10. Really? – Some quotes from U.S. church. That may not be a good thing.
OK, so I said goodbye to Starbucks. Since that time my closest Starbucks closed up shop. No kidding, there is now brown paper taped over the windows. I didn’t expect my departure to have such an immediate impact. In fact, if my occasional purchase was the difference between viable operation and butcher paper, then maybe it needed to close or relocate.
Since my last post, several have inquired about the next move. Perhaps with the move I will be able to spend some time at the local Burger King. I am a fan of their Mocha Joe–good stuff if you like sweetened, ice coffee. I am doubtful, though, that this will be my main hangout as it has patronage of the locals, but is not representative of their food and culture. More on this later….
One interesting, comical event from this week occurred when a friend and I were making a quick run from the house to Home Depot for some more of some important something or other to prep the new place for my family. My new neighbor’s family friend, Francisco, was outside drinking a beer. He apologized for not having more beers to share, but wanted to know if I would like to come over and share his.
We are not parting on bad terms. In fact, I appreciate how St. Arbucks has always been there for me when I could not find a quaint, local-flavor coffee shop that had a beverage that was at least as good. Though I am not a big fan of their normal coffee, I do enjoy a Starbucks frappucino, caramel macchiato, and mocha–especially with a bit of peppermint added. But my consistent patronage must end. I will still be able to come and see you from time to time when I am on the road, but no more visits in my hometown. This also goes for my other local coffee shop that has such amazing pastries. Though I may still stop by, it will be very, very rare.
As we move into another part of our town where Christ needs to be exalted among an exploding, low-income minority group, I don’t find any of your stores for miles. The roads that demarcate where my new people reside are still at least two miles from your kind, green sign. Though the future place(s) for my work on all things digital while interacting with the people on some level is not clear, I will find a spot where the language and culture reflect the people rather than my more accustomed, U.S. environment. My drink(s) of choice and normal fare will need to change as well.
Thank you Starbucks. I will see you in the future. But until then you can find me in….
Over the past several years, I have often been reminded of a simple truth that impacts my perception and responses to others. It has impacted my lifestyle and my missiology. Ultimately, it even impacts my views on ecclessiology. The statement is this:
Lost people have a propensity to act lost.
When I forget this, I can easily be lured into a mission of moralism where I want to help make people be better. With this reality firmly embraced, however, I have a passion to be sent as Jesus was sent.
While on the recent JetSet, we had a missionary / church-planter–T.J.–share some of his story. He has been in France more years than not. While so much of his talk was fascinating to me, there was one slice that grieved me. This is a paraphrased version of that story told in 3rd person.
As the “French” guy, TJ was invited on multiple occasions to be present at Sunday lunch with U.S. families that had finally convinced their French exchange student to go to church for the first time. The best he could understand is that these families wanted him to do a church debrief as he was uniquely qualified to understand and communicate with them from a French vantage point. This scenario played itself out on five different occasions with five different students. When TJ asked the young person how they liked their church experience, the responses were similar. Each thought the music was good. Each thought the preaching time was interesting–but not in a good way. They were surprised at how passive and compliant the audience seemed to be to whatever the preacher was saying. Each of them shared some variation of the following idea: “I felt like I was in a Nazi war rally.”
This is the unique, growing challenge of working in a post-Christian context.
These pictures were taken over a period of a few days in London during the recent Upstream Collective JetSet trip (thanks to Brad Hamilton for the assist with the photos). These represent the mosaic that is modern-day London and so many other global cities.
With the influx of immigrants and cultures, there is, some say, now a trans-national individual. For the individual that is a frequent traveler, student of cultures, in close relationship with non-native nationals, and/or as a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation immigrant, there is a stronger connection with a culture that is more diverse than the singular culture of their parents. As a result, it is possible that a resident in a global, urban center may identify with cultures in other large, urban cities around the world more so than with the culture in other smaller cities and towns in his or her native country.
Missiologist and life-long practitioner, SJ expounds on this idea that there is no such thing as a multi-cultural church. Instead, he claims that there is a multi-ethnic church. Though a church may have people from different nations and languages, the reality is that every church has its own culture. For this reason, a city such as London needs thousands of churches and the resulting cultural connections and expressions that come out of this.
After helping host last week’s JetSet trip with The Upstream Collective, I had some additional meetings in Spain before returning back to London for a return flight home. With all of the conversations and things to do while in London last week, I never had a chance to break away and see Buckingham Palace. But today I took that opportunity on the way from the airport to the hotel. And….
Upon arriving there in the constant dreary rain, I walked past the front of Buckingham wanting to take pictures, but not wanting to ruin a SLR camera. Then I decided to come back to the entrance and try to snap a couple quick picks with the iPhone. That’s when the guards moved from inside the fence to the outside and began stopping all passers-by. Then just moments later, out rolled the Queen of England and Prince Philip.
Then I remembered that: He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. (Daniel 2:21)
Note: In the upcoming weeks I plan to spend more time debriefing some aspects of the trip and the conversation. I am still processing, and still trying to get back home. Some themes I am still thinking about and praying through include global cities, contextualization, presence vs. proclamation, working in a post-Christian context, etc.