Joseph Myers is the author behind this book and his previous bestseller: The Search to Belong: Rethinking Intimacy, Community, and Small Groups.
I was...moreJoseph Myers is the author behind this book and his previous bestseller: The Search to Belong: Rethinking Intimacy, Community, and Small Groups.
I was a little hestitant to get this book, not because his other book was bad (in fact, it was good)…but as I was flipping through it I found myself thinking….”his last book was good, but how does one begin to incorporate his insights and wisdom”. And while his latest book starts to answer that question it remains purposefully slim on “here is what you do.” Rather it makes you flip the questions over and over in your mind and in your context and begin to ask “what does what he is talking about look like in our situation” rather than taking examples that he may give and just apply them haphazardly.
The whole books turns on the idea of Master Planning (MP) versus Organic Order (OO). He then chapter by chapter shows how most churches operate under the concept of MP but find themselves not really doing much or accomplishing much by focusing on what their plans are for people’s lives. This really challenged my thinking. Is the church all about making people plug in to fit their (the church’s) agenda? And should the church perhaps be more about finding ways to incorporate itself into people’s lives? The concept was (and still is) hard to get my mind wrapped around, but I think the implications are huge.
MP promotes place or point thinking “we’re headed there!” by asking the question: “where are we going (headed)?” OO asks the question: “what are we hoping for?” is more substance oriented and filled with journey language that promotes flexibility.
To keep this review short(er) I will comment only on some of the 9 areas that he talks about in regards to organic community.
1. Patterns: Presecriptive vs. Descriptive. Many ways to use to connect to God and others. Small groups (however good or helpful they may be…are not the end all be all).
2. Participation - lots of time trying to get people to participate, little time figuring out how. Churches tend to want people to plug into what they are doing. We must, as a church, answer the real question of “why me?” that people ask, rather than the organizational focused question we assume people are asking of “what’s in it for me?”
3. Measurement - This is not a neutral tool. This was a mindblowing section for me. We measure what we perceive and tell others is important, or that will become important. People’s stories are a universal measurement of life.
4. Growth - Piecemeal vs. Incremental. Churches tend to choose incremental because there are bigger upfront “growth” reports. It is quicker and faster. Yet it can exhaust a lot, or most of our resources because we are just wanting one or two things done, right now, to get see and experience growth.
5. Power - MP: power through position. OO: sees people who take on roles during the life of a project. Project holds the power, not the position.
6. Cordination - MP: cordination through cooperation. OO is about collaboration. Organic community, he writes, “is not a product or end result, but rather it is a process.” It is a different kind of ‘intentional’. “We have some control over environments but not on actual community emerging.”
7. Partners - Edit-ability vs. Accountability. Perhaps to simplistic but grace vs. keeping track of wrongs.
8. Language - Language is living. Moving from noun-centric to verb-centric world. I would ask though, is there room for both?
9. Resources - OO celebrates possibilities not options. A spirit of scarcity but not be truth but a personal view of resources available. He states that the church promotes scarcity world view through trying to get people to buy into their (church) MP. Example - bulletins are filled with ministry stuff inside the walls of the church or members home. He asks a vaild question: What can the church do to assimilate into people’s lives?
This book is part of the new line of books from emersion. Which is the Emergent Village’s resource arm for leaders and the church. To be honest I ended up liking this book more than The Search to Belong. They both are good, ask great questions and make leaders delve a little deeper into our minds, hearts, and motives of why are we doing what we are doing. You may or may not agree with his conclusions - but he gets the conversation started. By the way, he isn’t some whack job saying whatever. He owns a consulting firm that helps churches, businesses, and other organizations promote and develop community.(less)
Steve Chalke is a great writer. He has already displayed his writing prowess in The Lost Message of Jesus. Here he does it again, and unlike last time...moreSteve Chalke is a great writer. He has already displayed his writing prowess in The Lost Message of Jesus. Here he does it again, and unlike last time, doesn’t get in so much trouble for what he writes.
Steve and his church fall into the emerging church camp without making too much of a big deal about that fact. He simply writes from a heart and a passion that wants to see the church get fired up about the things he believes Jesus was fired up about.
Chalke informs us that an Intelligent church is one that is an: inclusive, messy, honest, purposeful, generous, vulnerable, political, diverse, dependent and transforming church.
Inclusive - open to all who are displaced and marginalized. Will be filled with those who have life sorted and for those who don’t.
Messy - having all sorts of people who are at different points on their journey of faith. They may not all believe the same things, have all the same values or behave consistently.
Honest - allowing people to come and begin with them where they are at, not where we want them to be or think they should be. If church is to be a “home” in one sense, a home is where one shouldn’t have to pretend. A home is one in which we don’t have all or feel a need to always give the right answer.
Purposeful - good to know where we are going and how we are going to get there. *upcoming book review on Organic Community challenges this view somewhat
Generous - generous with grace and kindness rather than judgement. With Jesus we don’t fall from grace, rather we fall into grace. Generous with resources and time
Vunerable - indentifying with pain, sorrow and struggles of our communities. We bear their wounds and fears, and our reputation means less to us than our compassion for them.
Political - “a critical friend that respects but also challenges government.”
Diverse - based off of Trinitarian theology, people have unique gifts and abilities that serve the body and thus need to be able to flourish within the body. Diversity recognizes that not one of us are balanced - we need others, their wisdom, input and insights, gifts and abilities. And yet, diversity does not mean isolation but diversity within community.
Dependent - relying on others to meet needs that we can’t or feel we can’t by ourselves. In this case our dependency on God through, especially, prayer and the belief that our prayers really can be effective.
Transforming - love God and love others and through “that commitment reflect his love to them.”
A couple of quotes:
“A generous church recognises that its tone and emphasis are as important as the core ofits message.”
“Our mission is simply to reach out to others and walk with them as far as they will let us, taking them on a journey with God….It is not our job to convert people. Our job is to be intentional about showing God’s love, grace and acceptance to people.”
“When churches are out of touch with the people who live around them, the problem is not that they are irrelevant - although they are - it is that they are not incarnational.”
Great book to digest, reflect on, re-read and apply. I certainley want to be part of an intelligent church.(less)
This was a book that I wanted to read for quite a while but never went out and purchased for myself. About 1 1/2 weeks ago, I was given this book as a...moreThis was a book that I wanted to read for quite a while but never went out and purchased for myself. About 1 1/2 weeks ago, I was given this book as a gift and so I dived in and read. It was good, not as good as I had hoped (which made me glad that I wasn’t the one who bought it!). The format was rather simple. Two respected Christian leaders (no matter if you agree with them or not)…each wrote a number of chapters in the book and at the end of each chapter the other one gave a brief response to what was written. What was nice was that there wasn’t always agreement between the authors, but never a condemning, ‘you idiot’ attitude either.
They talked on such things as the environment, sin, gospel, salvation, social action, postmodernity, homosexuality, women as pastors, doubt, worship and the like. McLaren comes from a postmodern/emerging viewpoint on most issues, while Campolo comes from the ‘left edge’ of Christianity. What was truly a unique experience for me was that, while I have come to appreciate, love the writings of, and agree with a number of things that McLaren (and others) espouse, is that I found myself nodding in agreement at more points with Campolo than McLaren.
Even during the times I disagreed with either author I found myself thankful to be understanding where they and others are coming from on these important issues. Good book, not great but worth the read (if you get it as a gift!)(less)
Truly, truly, truly a great book. Rick McKinley is the lead pastor of Imago Dei, a community of faith in Portland, OR. This is the church where Donald...moreTruly, truly, truly a great book. Rick McKinley is the lead pastor of Imago Dei, a community of faith in Portland, OR. This is the church where Donald Miller, the author of numerous books including the phenomenally successful book Blue Like Jazz attends and helps out at. This book is about how do we see ourselves, how do we let other people, how do we let other things, and circumstances define us. Much of the time we can be defined by others in loser type categories. We aren’t this or that. And because of this we are pushed towards the gutters, the margins of life.
McKinley says…don’t let these things define you because that is not who we are. First Jesus came and he came to the margins and he spent time there and hung out with people who felt alienated and out of place with the rest of society. In the words of the old Steve Taylor song, Jesus was for losers. And then he says let God define you. God sees us so much differently then we see ourselves or how others see us. We are his creation, we are his possession, we are his treasure. Reimagine life defined by how God views us rather than how we view, or how others view, ourself.
Jesus came to the margins, to redefine our view of ourselves. But he came to the margins not to leave us there but to pull us from there and then to help others escape the margins of life.
The book is a great read, moves, at times, a tad slow but is filled with good stuff. If you are caught in the margins you can escape. If you are out of the margins you don’t have to ever go back. Allow God to define you, not others.(less)
What an absolutely incredible book. Page after page I was literal glued to what he was communicating. I took two weeks to read this book (instead of o...moreWhat an absolutely incredible book. Page after page I was literal glued to what he was communicating. I took two weeks to read this book (instead of one - which is okay, i have a few extra weeks built into my reading plan for the year) - which normally would allow more time for digestion; however, a number of things went on in this two week period which made for reading that was spaced a little too far apart. Upfront let me say that this is one book that will be on my reading list for next year. It is that good and insightful. This is one of two books that I wish I had about 3 years ago in a previous life (metaphorically of course). The other being, Well Intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in Your Church.
Chapters 2-4 deal with the “Seven Deadly Fears and Seven Essential Conversations.” And within this context deals with such things as culture and the gospel, scriptures and ethics, and christian traditions. He deals with the idea that the method and message have never been culture free. Our understanding and communication of this wonderful message of Jesus has always been linked to the culture we find ourselves in. The message (for right or wrong, good or bad) is always shaped/changed according to our interests, worldview, prejudices, etc. Just look at modern, western churches. Salvation is very personal and private. That feeds off of our value, and cultural idol, of individualism. Yet, biblically there is more said about salvation being communal and public. Another idea in this section is, ‘the loss of tradition.’ Yet he writes, “typically, when we decry the loss of tradition, we mean we’re losing the way things used to be done around here - at least in the recent past….our primary resistance to change stems from the fact we don’t feel comfortable with transition. Comfort and safety are two of our most common, unspoken values.” And then the clincher, “in certain circumstances each can be appropriate, BUT NEITHER ONE IS A BIBLICALLY ORDAINED ‘GIVEN’ IN OUR LIVES OF FAITH AND COMMUNITY.” So you see, safety and comfort are two American values…and for so long chuches operated (and still do) under the banner of safety and comfort - it has tainted how we view the message of God. Since when is what God calls us to corporately or individual always safe or comfortable?
He takes a chapter and talks about “Transition in Community Formation.” So many people today complain that the church has lost her voice in contemporary culture. What they mean is that we don’t have the same influence, primarily, politically that we used to. That our nation was founded on Christian principles and everything is just going to hell today because we can’t pray in school, post the 10 commandments. We need a Christian president, Christian judges, Christian this or that…….but yet, and this is what many people miss, with this marginilization comes the freedom of the church being able to be the church again! The question according to Rodney Clapp used to be, “How can we survive and remain faithful Christians under Ceasar?” to “How can we adjust the church’s expectations so Caesar can consider himself a faithful Christian?” to “How can we create a community identity distinct from our surrounding culture, yet retain our favored status?” Yet what Clapp gets at is this: we don’t have favored status anymore, we are aliens and strangers and because of that we have the ability to pursue what God has truly called us to be.
Isn’t it ironic that so many people will sing of this place not being there home, they are just passing through, etc., yet, they are trying to make the layover as comfortable, safe, convienent, and to their benefit as possible? Hmm. Is this a case we’re we have changed the message of God? I had a guy tell me once that he thought i was not only changing the method but the message in my preaching. And you know what? I think I was. Thankfully! My message was saying you don’t have to vote republican to be a christian, that God cares about social issues and we should too, that God embraces everybody not just people who look, think, act, vote, dress just like us, that our church would welcome people whose lifestyles didn’t match ours…not that we would approve of their choices but because they are made in the image of God and worthy of our love and compassion, knowing that we all make choices that go against what God wants for and from our lives. The message that this guy thought i was changing was ‘God’s Word.’ But really I was challenging his understanding of the message that had been wrapped in the cultural context he grew up in, his own prejudices and worldview. He wanted a safe gospel, I wanted a gospel that challenged us to the core. Whose message was actually changed?
He deals with the ideas of being missional, and the transition in worship. Along the way he makes comments that are sure to challenge and provoke discussion. But needed discussion. There is a change happening in culture/society. And it profoundly affects the church. And if the church is going to be faithful to her calling she will need to adapt, change, retain that which is good and right, strip herself of unneeded baggage and concern and learn to live as aliens and strangers once again. Tim Condor is a good and needed guide that will inspire and challenge us all in this time of transition.(less)
Roger Olson is a theology professor at Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. In his book, Questions to All Your Answers he takes head on s...moreRoger Olson is a theology professor at Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. In his book, Questions to All Your Answers he takes head on some of the most heard phrases uttered by christians. He breaks them apart and then thrusts questions back on the phrases.
Some of the better chapters in the book are called, "Jesus is the Answer - So What is the Question?", "The Bible Has All the Answers - So What About Cloning?", and "Money Isn't Bad, Only What We Do With it - So Why Did Jesus Say it's Hard for a Rich Man to Enter Heaven?". These entries take you along for a entertaining, humorous but thought-provoking ride.
For instance, "Jesus is the Answer" - Olson believes that while not intending this result the preoccupation with WWJD has left many folk christians with a "Jesus Only" theology and have lost the Trinity. At it is at this point that he leans into Eastern Orthodox treasure and pulls out "Trinitarian Life." That from them we can learn that, "...knowing and communing with Jesus is one dimension, however crucial, within a larger spirituality of being taken up into the life of the Trinity and enjoying the fellowship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" (pg. 72-73). Of course one of the main problems with this slogan, Jesus is the Answer" is that most people aren't even aware of any need that they have. People, according to Olson, need to know to what questions Jesus is the answer - so therefore we need to start with conversations about music, culture, goals, relationships, world problems - rather than just Jesus is the answer to your problems.
One irritating thing about Olson is that he seems to come from an Arminian point of view. Which is fine, but, he clearly takes jabs at non-Arminians (whether they be Calvinists or whomever). He says a lot of good things, but sometimes those things are drowned out by a constant need to elevate his viewpoint over his point.
It's a good book, some parts were definitely better than others, but all in all a good one to pick up and read through and be challenged by regarding the phrases that christ-followers can easily throw around.(less)
Rating this book was very difficult. At times it deserved the three stars it eventually got, other times it deserved 5 stars....easily.
Tony Jones pul...moreRating this book was very difficult. At times it deserved the three stars it eventually got, other times it deserved 5 stars....easily.
Tony Jones pulls no punches in denying original sin and does a decent job of providing numerous reasons as to why it may not be such a clear cut doctrine as we are typically, at least those of us raised in christian homes and churches, bound to believe. This does not mean that I have dropped my position of adhering to the idea of original sin, but it does mean that I am at least willing to listen to what he has to say and to consider his perspective.
In some ways what Tony does in this book is no different than what many recent authors have been doing in other places. First, they are challenging the idea that we can simply look at the bible and walk away with the "plain meaning" of scripture. We cannot do this because none of us come to the text without influences that color, shade and even blind us to how we read and understand the Bible. It just simply doesn't happen. To say "this is what the Bible says" is nothing more, at least on one level than saying, "this is my understanding of what the Bible says". Second, Tony and others are opening up the doctrine of the atonement and doing a couple of things. A.) They are allowing the atonement to have its full breath rather than simply pigeon-holing an entire doctrine into one idea that scripture itself does speak to but also uses the atonement to talk about ransom, victory, etc. B.) They are allowing the doctrine of the atonement, in it's full vibrancy and color, to speak to how we understand what really happened through the death (and resurrection) of Christ.
What does all this have to do with Original Sin? According to Tony Jones and, again, others, where one starts will help determine where one ends up. If one starts with the idea that we are bad creatures with a sin problem that is somehow passed down from generation to generation then what we need is some legal transaction that takes away that sin by a capable person who is able to satisfy the wrath and judgment of the one we have offended.
**I intend to finish and update this review over the next few days.(less)