I finished Eugene Peterson’s The Pastor last night while waiting for the kids to finish up at piano lessons. It was a good book (if a little more hortatory than one might expect from a memoir) and I am grateful for the window that it provided into the life and career of a man I admire greatly. Perhaps unsurprisingly, over the course of reading Peterson’s memoir I have found myself reflecting often upon this peculiar vocation called “pastor” that I have found myself in, how I ended up here, and what I understand it to be. Read more
Posts from the ‘Mission’ Category
This morning, I began teaching a kind of “Apologetics 101” mini-course at church. On the agenda today was the question of how it is possible to believe that Jesus is the way, truth, and life when there are so many other religious options out there. In other words, how do we affirm one perspective as true in a pluralistic context? Perhaps more importantly, how do we do so in an intelligent, curious, and sensitive manner that does not alienate and annoy people unnecessarily? It was a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking class. Read more
At any given time, I have between 25-30 unpublished, half/barely-started posts or links to interesting articles occupying space in my “drafts” folder. Needless to say, things can get buried pretty easily, so I try to periodically root through this folder to see what I once thought was interesting/worth posting on, and to determine what might need to see the light of day (or be consigned to the cyber-scrap heap!). Read more
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my post “Pockets” has been featured this month over at High Calling’s “Around the Network.” It’s always nice to be recognized—especially in the context of writers and thinkers whose work you respect and admire. Be sure to check out some of the other posts that are highlighted as well. I’ve only made it through a few so far this morning, but I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated each contribution I have read. Read more
Well, I just returned from a wonderful week away and am spending a good chunk of today slowly wading through a very clogged in-box! One of the more humourous discoveries I have made thus far in my wading is this cartoon sent by a friend last week.
As is so often the case, it is funny because it is true… Read more
In just under a month, an interesting “first” will be taking place in Raleigh, NC. Big Tent Christianity: Being and Becoming the Church is a conference/conversation being held to talk about what it is that unites followers of Jesus from a broad range of contexts and perspectives and how we can live and work and talk together in a spirit of cooperation, respect. It is intended to reflect a willingness to learn from rather than shout at/about one another in this crazy thing called the church. It is an attempt to come together under the “big tent” of the body of Christ and to recognize that the big tent is more important than the little tents that we are, perhaps, more familiar and comfortable with. Read more
Well, what I originally intended to be a relatively brief blog series has turned out to be a three-month odyssey of procrastination, but we have finally arrived at the seventh and final of Stuart Murray’s seven core convictions of Anabaptists (from The Naked Anabaptist): Read more
So, why church? The short answer is because the Holy Spirit formed it to be a colony of heaven in the country of death… an appointed gathering of named people in particular places who practice a life of resurrection in a world in which death gets the biggest headlines: death of nations, death of civilization, death of marriage, death of careers, obituaries without end. Death by war, death by murder, death by accident, death by starvation. Death by electric chair, lethal injection, and hanging. The practice of resurrection is an intentional, deliberate decision to believe and participate in resurrection life, life out of death, life that trumps death, life that is the last word, Jesus life.
Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection
Perhaps surprisingly, despite the fact that I earn my living at a Mennonite church, very little of my formal education was devoted to learning about Anabaptist history and theology. I took one year of Bible College at a Mennonite school when I was 19, but that was about it. I studied philosophy at university and deliberately chose to pursue graduate studies at an inter/trans-denominational institution. I received bits and pieces of the Anabaptist story along the way in my studies, I read the occasional book by a Mennonite author, and I almost always worshiped in Anabaptist churches so it wasn’t like I was clueless. But I’ve never exactly swam in the deep end of the Anabaptist pool. Read more
While we’re on the topic of Christianity and culture/how to engage those who think differently than us in a pluralistic postmodern world (and while I remain in shameless self-promotion mode), I noticed yesterday that Direction (an MB publication that describes itself as somewhere between an academic journal and a denominational magazine) has just made their Spring 2009 issue available online—an issue that contains my review of John Stackhouse’s Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World. Read more
This morning I was involved in a conversation about “consumer-driven” models of church. Especially in a cultural context where churches find themselves competing for “market-share” with other churches, it becomes quite easy for churches to come to see themselves as “service-providers” in some form or another. People come to us to have their “religious” needs met and we are expected to accommodate them by providing a package that is uplifting, inspiring, intellectually stimulating, or some other desirable adjective along with a whole host of articulated and unarticulated social needs. If we don’t meet these needs appropriately or enthusiastically or sensitively or “relevantly” enough, well, there’s a whole host of other churches that will (or will claim to). That’s what churches are for, after all. Read more
This morning’s tour through the blogosphere led to the discovery that Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society) is giving up on the 2002 revision of the New International Version of the Bible (the TNIV) because of the “mistakes” of this translation. As someone who actually likes the TNIV and uses it somewhat regularly, I was surprised and a little disappointed to learn about this. I realize that the TNIV is not a perfect translation and that, like every translation, there are biases and interpretations that come through, but it’s one that I’ve come to appreciate over the years—not least because of its commitment to render the original text in more gender inclusive language. It’s a translation that I don’t hesitate to recommend to others, whether they are long-time Christians or they’ve never cracked open a Bible in their lives and are just curious about what they might find. Consequently, I was interested to discover which “mistakes” the publishers were talking about. Read more
The last week or so I have spent a good deal of time on ferries and in buses, trains, and vehicles as I bounce around from convocation ceremonies to retreats and conferences in and around Vancouver. As such, I have had less time than usual to do any writing (in case you’re wondering about the lack of recent posts).
This week I’m at Regent College for a pastors conference. One of the interesting things about many events at Regent is the diversity (ethnic and theological!) of those present. Today I had two interesting conversations, one with an American and one with an Indonesian. In both cases, I found the presuppositions about God and human beings very strange and a bit unsettling. Read more
I’ve been reading Frederick Buechner again lately and, as always, am finding his way of putting things to be quite memorable. Here’s a quote from Whistling in the Dark that serves as a good reminder about what the church is about as we head into another weekend. This comes after a brief discussion of the structure and purpose of the Alcoholics Anonymous program: Read more
A few weeks ago I received an email from Mike Todd (a friend made during my time at Regent College) who was wondering what I thought about an article by Hungarian financial speculator George Soros. Now those who know anything whatsoever about me will undoubtedly consider this a somewhat strange request. What on earth could I possibly have to say about an article on market theory? And you would not be alone in your curiosity—the request caught me off guard as well. To say that economic theory is not a body of knowledge with which I am well-acquainted or competent to discuss would be an exercise in spectacular understatement. Read more