Thursday, July 24, 2008

tangible kingdom. week one. take two.

well i have talked with most of you and it seems as though the books don't travel quickly. so, for those of you who do have your books, i'd like to hear your thoughts. for those of you waiting we'll act as thought this is the first week and on Thursday of next week we'll go over chapters 4-6.

if you have any questions let me know.

one thing that seems to stick out in the book for me has been from the 3rd chapter. there was a guy who wrote a letter to Hugh and was telling about his struggles in the church. that he feels that an old pastor like him isn't relevant anymore and is trying to catch up with the times. Hugh's comment about the letter and many other places throughout the book is that they are all very well needed. They are the foundational pieces for the movements of change that have been happening in the church. They are the ones who have shown us Christ. They are the ones that have helped us the Kingdom.


zac said...

I think i have found myself in every place in that shipwreck metaphor.

The whole chapter on tensions was really good for me. each one I thought was right on, especially in regards to identity. The story of his daughter alli and the girls at school was so poignant. I will say that the amount of negativity is a little discouraging but i understand. I am excited to get into a more of a discussion for the future.

Anonymous said...

hey everyone,

Josh thanks for doing this!

Here are some thoughts I have on the chapters 1-3

Chapter 1

I really kinda of liked the first chapter.

I can relate to his experience in the irish pub. working at a church in brooklyn, ny was probably the greatest church experience i've yet to have. many people have their opinions of new york city, but it is a great place to have an honest conversation. i've met people like the waitress he met. those encounters get my excited about the possibilities of doing ministry!

Part of the chapter i struggled with was him almost whining about his church experience. is that bad? :0)

I feel like he had a bad experience and now he's going to write this book and make lots of money about how we need "re-do" church. He has not mapped this out. I'm trusting he will later on in the book. He sounds like McClaren, some of Bell.

So far it's been very interesting. wish we could have this conversation face to face.

Chapter 2

the "confusing" premise of this chapter is doing things different and making them new. He then goes on to write they are not actually new but ancient (sounds like Weber in "Ancient Future Faith). He goes on to say these ways of the NT church have always been good, etc. I'm thinking-why are people leaving then? What are we doing wrong!??!

Chapter 3 and maybe some from chapter 3

What did you think of him dividing the teams between the Jerusalem XNS and the Galilean XNS?

From what i'm reading and seeing as of late is that people are putting down "Doctrine Theology" or Systematic theology and picking up Narrative Theology." Some are even asking the question- Was the Bible written to be systematic?

Here's what i've been seeing. People who are after Narrative Theology aren't bent on calling out sin, like he says, or coming up with rigid rules.

I've actually seen this! I was in a church service and the pastor actually APOLOGIZED for talking about sin!!

What am I/we to make of this? (is this the direction of the church)

Here's what i worried about with this chapter and i'm not even sure if the author meant this or not...

What is going to happen to truth?

1) Should truth be largely proclaimed from a pastor or...
2) Should truth be discussed? (what happens when a more dominant leader than you decides no, actually.. this is going to be truth?)

Lastly... I think people want to be belong before they believe. I think that's why those irish waiters and waitress were so interested in this guy talking about Jesus. Sometimes I wonder if we really think what we are asking a person to consider, give up, just by coming to a church service.

that's all for now. I look forward to reading more!

Anyone want to tackle my questions please feel free to do so.

Looking forward to hear other perspectives,


Anonymous said...

first of all i'll say that i'm glad that this book isn't boring. chapters one and three hit me hardest. i love the story about the pub and how he met G-d again while leaving there at 6am. it just goes to show that G-d can meet you anywhere anytime. how refreshing. then again in the third chapter when he tells the story of his daughter. i'll tell you that i was ashamed of myself when i heard it. i could never garuntee that i would have done the same. such a strong stand for such a little girl. the closest i ever came to standing up like that was in third grade when a girl was getting made fun of for picking her nose, so i walked in front of the kids making fun and stated, "so what, i pick my nose too!" i would have been petrified to tell my parents that i wasn't a chirstian anymore. i thought i would automatically go to hell. what is it that when we grow older we become ashamed and fearful. how i long to be that little girl who would stand up for something i believe in.

yesh said...

the reason why my heart glows for the missional body of christ is that it doesn't need a building for people to hear or see the gospel. you meet people where their at but being purposeful in the relationships you choose. how do you get the comfortable pew sitters to see the Kingdom active in their lives?

that's crazy that he apologized. when i look at most of the new testament i see the recognition of sinful nature and being told not to gratify those desires. and what do you do with James when he talk about confessing your sins to one another. hmm... i dunno... that's crazy.

as far as the truth goes here are my thoughts. the truth will always be the truth, when it's from God. but when you get to those grey areas that aren't finite, love abounds. Pete has a very good way of communicating this... maybe he'll pop his head into this discussion.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys,

Sorry I haven't piped in. I feel like I'm looking into a late night Bible theology question. Ben, chill out! JK You bring up some good points. Truth is a huge question and is hard to deal with when you are dealing with people who don't walk with Christ. I think Truth will happen when someone begins to walk with Christ. Outside of that it is up to the person to figure out what Truth really is. There are "truths" that most people believe in outside of Christ, but most of it is gray or just ignored. As far as sin goes I feel like a Missional Body is and should be all about confronting and dealing with sin. The first church was pretty open about sin and confronting it. I don't know why we would apologize for talking about it.

The big idea that I'm getting is that Church can happen anywhere at anytime, with anyone. Charlie Hall has a song that goes with this idea called "Walk this World." If you haven't heard it check it out on Youtube. It basically just talks about taking, doing, being Church wherever we go. Walking this World lifting the bread and wine, remembering Jesus. I can't wait to get into the book. I still don't have mine, so I'm a big slacker/sinner. Oh wait, I apologize for bringing up my sin. I take that back.


Anonymous said...

Hey Rick,

Thanks for the words of wisdom. I'm glad your in on this as well.

i'll do whatever it takes to generate discussion. ;0)

i want to learn from others. even if it's playing devil's advocate.

with the sin issue...
I think what really messed up the "american church" was when we individualize sin.

As best I can tell from Scripture - Sin is communal (GEN 3, Lev 4, Achins sin, david and bathsheba... all of the "one another" passages from Paul and Jesus embracing isolation so that we may have community.

Realizing your junk is my responsibility makes for a whole new outlook on life. Which is what i like about the book.... putting the bent on conversation.

Maybe this needs to be answered later but as we go through the book i'd love to hear different perspectives on how you would do a "church service" and what your faith community/church would be about during the week....


Amanda said...

Okay, I just got my book today (and I just got home from the longest day at the fair ever!!!) so I haven't had a chance to read any of it yet (I promise I will soon), but I am intrigued by the mention of individual sin versus communal sin. I spent some time looking into the topic last semester.

I think, as Christians, we understand the need to repent for the sins that we are personally responsible for, but we have trouble with the idea of taking responsibility because we are simply associated with a particular group. Whether we are guilty by association or not is not really the issue. Ephesians 4:3 states that we should “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” and Matthew 5:23,24 states that if a brother (or sister) has something against you, to be reconciled to that person. Sometimes repentance calls us to step out of our own pride and selfishness and put on a spirit of humility in order to be at peace with one another. David Anderson addresses this question further in Letters Across the Divide (Baker Books 2001) a book containing letters he and co-author Brent Zuercher wrote back and forth to one another. He writes”
“Regarding an apology, I am going to suggest that the job is ours! Whose? Ours! Christians’! First Peter 2:9 says that we are all priests. It is my job as a believer and your job as a believer to confess and repent for ourselves and our people. I should be so sick over the sins of myself and my people that I am willing to apologize, repent, intercede for, and forgive anyone and everyone.” (Letters Across the Divide, 118).

So perhaps the question isn't so much "Am I personally responsible for this sin" as much as it's "Is this sin, regardless of whether I feel personally responsible, driving a wedge between God and myself and others?"

So yeah...

I'll start reading and actually comment on the book soon.

mollyann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mollyann said...

So this isn't a lot, and it's not very deep...or theological...but there were three words at the bottom of page four that resonate with me and the ministry I found myself in this summer.
The author said that his job description for a time was to "just be there". And I've begun to realize the times when we are "just there" can sometimes be the times God works the most.
The times when we don't have a huge program planned, a "to do" list, or all these expectations or agendas. We are just there being Jesus to people.

Anonymous said...

I think that the issue of individual sin vs. personal sin is interesting.

In Genesis the Lord was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because their sin is so flagrant. But then Abraham acts on their behalf, by asking the Lord if he will wipe away the wicked with the righteous and the Lord says he will spare them if there are 50 righteous people in the city. And Abraham talks him down to 10. You know the story.

Again God sends Jonah to Nineveh to warn them that they are about to be wiped out because of their sins and the repented and turned to God as a City.

The issue of absolute truth, God's truth and sin.

Jesus was accused of hanging out with sinners and tax collectors. His reply was it is the sick that need a doctor not the healthy.

Jesus was accepting of people where they were at. And only got angry at people who were in the know. People who sinned but knew better. Every time Jesus talked about hell he was talking to the so called righteous people, never to the people who are sick. So Jesus loved people where they were at, but he didn't leave them there.

When a woman was brought to Jesus caught in adultery, he accepted her and saved her from the mob set to stone her, he didn't condemn her and told her to go and sin no more.

So my view is that we as followers of Christ should accept people where they are at. And not condemn them for sinning. But help them to find the God who loves them and wants a life free from the slavery of sin.

I don't know I feel like I have been rambling and maybe not really making much sense. My mind has been jumbled with the wedding coming up.


Amanda said...

As I was reading the invitation I found myself trying to pin point where I am in the shipwreck metaphor, if I am even there. I have been in several places before, but I guess I feel like it's important to know where I stand now.

This is what I understand:
the Ship is the church (but more so buildings and programs than body?)
the water/harbor is the journey
the peaceful enclave is the Kingdom of Heaven (as available in the here and now?)

I guess I'm obviously on a ship since I go to a church, but if I had to place myself somewhere in the metaphor, I feel like I'm on a rescue boat after having been treading water and swimming for my life b/c I was made to walk the plank by the warring and then inhospitality of other ships.
But really I feel removed from it all, sitting on the edge ready to abandon ship for fear that the ships will start warring with one another (or within one another)again or only welcome nobles onto the ship and not the people who really need to be on one.

Chapter's 1-3: "God is messing with me again."

I think that really seemed to be an overriding theme, and possibly the theme of our lives. A constant tension...I don't know about anyone else, but it seems that God is always calling us higher, deeper, wider, more narrow.... We can't, or shouldn't, get comfortable where we are. Perhaps God keeps us on our toes or 'messes with us' because when we get comfortable or think we have it figured out, it's easy to move to a place of complacency and inneffectiveness.

The Church in America has become very comfortable, I think... so intertwined with American culture that it's hard to distinguish between what is truly Christian and what is simply American Religiosity... that the church has rendered herself inneffective and unproductive. Is it any wonder that church appears to be dying out?

The other day I was flipping through another book that I read about a year ago (if you're wondering, it was: The Shaping of Things to Come by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch) and I saw something I had written in the margins. It said: "We cling to what we know will work until it no longer works for us. Does church work anymore?"

That's still a question in my mind. I wonder if perhaps we need to let 'church' die so the Church can emerge.

This is tension for me. I'm studying Youth Ministry... to go into a church position! (Although a few people know that I've questioned whether or not to even go back to Bethel) But I also remember this verse:

John 12:24
Truly I say to you, If a seed of grain does not go into the earth and come to an end, it is still a seed and no more; but through its death it gives much fruit.

Really, maybe we need the death of church so we can stop doing 'church' and start being the Church.

"Tension also comes when you know you can't go back to present forms of church, but you don't know what gong forward will look like or what it will cost us in life, focus, family, or finances." (pg 18)

I hear ya...

Pete said...


Thanks for inviting me to participate in this study. I know I'm coming to the table a bit late, but I figured I'd share some thoughts anyway. It helps me process more than anything...

I have to be honest. When I read books like this one, I find myself wanting to put it back down. Sadness starts to fill me. I've spent some time praying and thinking about why this happens every time I encounter books like this. I was going to share the reasons, but it is becoming clear to me that this stream of consciousness leads nowhere I'll stop that stream.

Halter and Smay obviously have a heart for The Church. They've also obviously been hurt when The Church has fallen short. This often happens when we see the ideal, only to be abruptly reminded that is doesn't exist yet.

That's ok. The process is good. They are on a journey that is leading them to BE the church in this time and this place. This is a worthwhile ideal since He called us to it. The journey will not only lead them to a good place, it will help them appreciate it more when they get there.