The Book I Didn’t Want To Read

jasonI’ve known Jason Micheli for about 8 years . We met accidentally when Dennis Perry blew Allison and I off for premarital counseling. We were shopping for a church and minister to marry us. We weren’t a church going couple. We had nothing against the church, in fact we wanted to have a Christian wedding ceremony.  Allison and I both grew up in mainline churches, Lutheran and Methodist respectively. But like most of our millennial peers we never returned back to the church after our time in college.

I found out Jason had cancer, lymphoma specifically, on February 6, 2015.

I received a text message early in the evening asking me if I would preach on the coming Sunday at the church we had just planted. As a seminary student, when you are asked to preach you don’t ask questions. Instead you prepare a sermon and hope that pastor doesn’t realize the mistake they’ve made.  Jason had not mentioned why he needed someone to fill in that Sunday morning. It was not until I dove into the sermon prep that I found out.

Me: Got it.  I’ll read Sunday and try to come up with a game plan.  Am I doing the w hole service of just the preaching? Either way  I am good to go, you got nothing to worry about homie.

Jason: Besides intestinal surgery and lymphoma 🙁

Me: Oh shit. Sorry man. Anything i can do?

That’s it. That is how I found out the closest person (aside from Allison, love you babe) I have to a best friend has cancer.

cancer-is-funnyThis is a book I didn’t want to read.

I pre-ordered the book when it was first available on Amazon. The plan, because I didn’t want to read the book, was to receive the book, put it on the shelf, and never read it.

Fast forward to October 2016 and Jason asked me to curate the conversation on today’s episode of Crackers & Grape Juice. I had to read the book.

I read Cancer is Funny: Keeping Faith in Stage-Serious Chemo on flights to and from Indianapolis. Jason taught me early on that if you want people to leave you alone on a plane all one need to do is place a Bible on your seat tray.

It was hard for my row-mates to ignore that Bible displaying, hipster hair cut, 30-something passenger who was laughing out loud while crying. They would ask, “are you alright?” “Do you need a drink?”

I responded, “I’m OK, but I will take you up on that drink.”

This is a book I didn’t want to read.

Jason Micheli is a person who turned my world upside down. From premarital counseling, where instead of a Christian marriage book as homework he assigned Passionate Marriage (a sex book) to then entertaining my questions about ministry and ultimately helping me realize my call to ordained ministry. Jason is someone who not only turned my world upside down but also my family’s life.

The honesty with which Jason spoke to Allison and I about our marriage and the way he included both Allison and I in Camden’s baptism made Cancer is Funny: Keeping Faith in Stage-Serious Chemo a book I needed to read all the while not wanting to. I knew it would be gut-wrenching and honest account on what Jason was going through. As a friend who avoided conversations with Jason about his cancer I didn’t want to read about something I had been avoiding.

Cancer is Funny: Keeping Faith in Stage-Serious Chemo, just like Jason, will make you laugh and cry. At the same time, just like Jason, it will make you think deeper about the ways in which we talk about Christ, suffering, and God’s interaction with us as we are experiencing times of trouble or despair.

I didn’t know how to respond to Jason’s cancer. As I sat in bed weeping after reading Jason’s ‘coming out’ blog post I had no idea what to do. I thought running a marathon and raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society would help and it did. I raised over $2,500.00 to support research efforts. I tried praying, reading, and studying even harder in school so I could be the pastor who would know how to respond. Jason’s book is just what I needed. I needed to understand how the divine meets us in our time of need, all the while not quite in the ways we all want it to happen.

Here’s my response to Jason:

  1. You’re going to kick the shit out of whatever form of blood cancer this is.

  2. You have family and friends that will shield you from the gawkers, and allow you to keep this as private or as public as you want. Don’t let the fishbowl overwhelm you. Focus on your health and let people like me, Dennis, and Bryan deal with the gawkers.

  3. God is love, and the love you have shown to others over the years will be coming back to you ten-fold.  I am sure there will be times when you feel abandoned and alone, but it is that ever present love of God that will be shown through family, friends, and strangers.

  4. One last piece of motivation – when you beat this (and you will beat this) the mouth kisses from Andreas will end

I don’t know if the mouth kisses from Andreas have ended (I kind of hope they haven’t) but I do know responding to stage serious cancer isn’t something I will ever be comfortable doing. And I think that’s good.

Hear more about my thoughts on Jason’s new book, Cancer is Funny: Keeping Faith in Stage-Serious Chemo, along with the voices of Todd Littleton, JC Herz, Tony Jones, Jeff Pugh, and Kendall Soulen on today’s episode of Crackers & Grape Juice. 


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Baptism is Not a Spectacle

ken-tannerWho is Kenneth Tanner?  This is what I asked Jason a few months ago as our podcast, Crackers & Grape Juice, began to gain more followers than the average United Methodist Church has sitting in the pew each Sunday morning.  Kenneth Tanner is a Charismatic Episcopal Priest in Rochester Hills, Michigan.  Before meeting Ken on Facebook a few months ago, I had no clue there was such as a thing as a Charismatic Episcopal.  Having grandparents who are and were Episcopalian, and even taken a class at an Episcopal seminary, a Charismatic Priest in the Episcopal church is like a Millennial walking into a mainline church.  They just don’t exist, and if they do, we need to study them.

Ken is best known for his Facebook memes.  No, they are not memes about cats playing a piano but instead are of the theological flavor.  Ken has found a way to utilize what is normally a means of poking fun or ridiculing someone, to now be a way of sharing theological ideas in a way that is more accessible than most blogs (including this one).

I want to share one of those Facebook commentaries with you.

Ken wrote the following as a response to a video showing what can only be described as a WWE-style baptism.

Watch the video, and then consider Ken’s response.

A sad mockery, which exposes what must be a total misunderstanding of the sacrament. Baptism is a participation in the death of Christ, a reenactment of the cross. It’s a gift but also one approached with great reverence and humility. It is the work of the Spirit of God and not, as the actions here suggest, something that *we* do. Yes, it is to be celebrated but this practice loses connection with the hard wood realities of the cross.

Baptism is not a spectacle.

And this is not a matter of worship “style.” I disagree with any sense of subjectivity —you have your way of doing it and they have theirs—because the vast majority of Christians around the world across all denominations who are alive and walking the earth today, including the vast majority of those who lived in past centuries, would not recognize what’s happening here as Baptism.

Ken will be joining us on an upcoming episode of Crackers & Grape Juice.  We will talk about what a Charismatic Episcopalian is, he will dive into this video a little more, and I even attempt a Fleming Rutledge podcast prayer.  Use the links below to subscribe to the podcast so you do not miss our conversation with Ken and our other great guests.


If you like this post and want to follow my blog, all you have to do is subscribe using the ‘Subscribe Here’ box above in the top right corner.

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The Noise of Politics

Today on Crackers & Grape Juice we are sharing part 2 of a conversation Jason & I had with Fred Schmidt about election day. Fred is of the opinion, and I am now leaning this way, that Election Day communion & prayer services are not things faith communities should be participating in. There are people who listen to the podcast who will disagree but I hope everyone will take a few minutes today or this week to hear Fred out.

In addition to this episode, today in our staff devotion, we read & discussed the following prayer from Walter Brueggmann. Together, today’s episode and this prayer, are resources for you to use in and out of your faith communities.

We watch as the jets fly in with the power people and the money people, the suits, the budgets, the billions.

We wonder about monetary policy because we are among the haves, about the generosity because we care about the have-nots.

By slower modes we notice Lazarus and the poor arriving from Africa, and the beggars from Central Europe, and the throngs of environmentalists with their vision of butterflies and oil of flowers and tanks of growing things and killing fields.

We wonder about peace and war, about ecology and development, about hope and entitlement.

We listen beyond jeering protesters and soaring jets and faintly we hear the mumbling of the crucified one, something about feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, about clothing the naked, and noticing the prisoners, more about the least and about holiness among them.

We are moved by the mumbles of the gospel, even while we are tenured in our privilege.

We are half ready to join the choir of hope, half afraid things might change, and in a third half of our faith turning to you, and your outpouring love that works justice and that binds us each and all to one another.

So we pray amid jeering protesters and soaring jets. Come by here and make new, even at some risk to our entitlements.

Prayers for a Privileged People, Walter Brueggemann

 


If you like this post and want to follow my blog, all you have to do is subscribe using the ‘Subscribe Here’ box above in the top right corner.

You can listen to the conversation I had with Rob Bell about this and other episodes of Crackers & Grape Juice by subscribing on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spreaker.  We promise to provide you with theological conversations without stained glass language.

For the love of all that is holy: Give us a review there in the iTunes store or on Spreaker. It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast.

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Youth Ministry Journal – Bad Communication

We live in a time where youth ministers have more access to their students than ever before. We Tweet, Snap, post, and DM on social media platforms with our students whenever we want.

Maybe it is Sunday afternoon and you want to remind students about the awesome youth group you’ve planned. Easy, send a Snapchat message you all your students and you’re covered.

You want to help students grow in their discipleship? Easy, Instagram devotions are all over the internet, pre-planned, and easy to schedule postings.

All of your students own a smartphone (probably nicer than yours), which means texting them to answer a question, remind them about small group, or to reach out after a long absence from church is as easy as a few clicks of your iPhone.

The resources made available to youth ministers, especially the free ones, are invaluable when it comes to building relationships with students.  Never before has the local church had such a reach into the lives of students, and this means we have the opportunity to really make a meaningful impact on their lives.

We have the opportunity to make disciples in such away that we have moved beyond attractional ministry to building long-lasting relationships with those we are called to serve.

However there is a catch: Unfettered, 24-hour access requires establishing boundaries. After all, we as youth ministers are the adults in the relationship and if we cannot set healthy-boundaries how can expect our students to do so.

Communicate With Parents

I would not have said this 3 years ago. Camden has truly changed my outlook on youth ministry. You must be in conversation with your students’ parents about what they believe are healthy communication practices. You are not the parent in these relationships. Parents do have the final say in who communicates with their children and when it happens.

Do you think most parents would be happy to know that youth minister was communicating with a student during school hours? Do parents want you distracting an already distracted student further in the classroom? Having this conversation with parents upfront allows them to learn about the platforms their children are using while at the same time establishing community boundaries and expectations for all participants.

Set Boundaries. Protect Yourself

Establishing a church social media policy is a must. The reasoning is two-fold.

First, it provides protection to you as the youth minister. A social media policy allows you, parents, students, Staff Parish Relations Committee, your Senior Pastor, and all other stakeholders know what the ground rules are. These policies will vary from community to community but are a vital part of a larger Child Protection Policy.

Second, establish appropriate boundaries.

Yes, communicate with and answer questions for students instantaneously is a great way to let them know you care about them. It is a great way to ensure they know they can always turn to you. But, and this but is big, appropriate boundaries must be established. Texting or Snaping with your students at 11 o’clock at night might not be the best course of action. Why you might ask?

For starters, if it is a school night, your students need their sleep. Encourage them to go to sleep. We all know how tired, overworked, and stressed out these kids are. A great service we can do for them is to encourage healthy self-care habits for them.

Second, you as a youth minister need a healthy work/home-life balance. Are you truly honoring your spouse by sitting on the couch at 10 o’clock chatting it up with high school students when you could be chatting it up with that person you promised to love and cherish above all others?

There is a grey area here. Students often do not understand why you need a day off. They do not realize why it is so important for you to take time away from them, and if you are available 24-hours a day via social media you are not giving yourself the opportunity to take a Sabbath day. I am not implying that if an emergency arises, a true emergency, that you should not respond. I am however implying that for your own health, the health of your spiritual life, and the health of your ministry taking time away from 24-hour communication lines is a necessity of any health ministry.

How are you communicating with your students? What’s worked well? What blew up in your face? I’d love to hear about, and I’m sure others will too.

Committed to the Dirt, Not the Flowers

The funeral is what takes place at the grave, tomb, or fire.

Thomas Lynch is a poet, author, and undertaker.  He was the inspiration for the television series “Six Feet Under”.  His books, poetry, and even Christmas cards have a transformed the way Jason, Taylor, and myself think about our role as pastors when dealing with the death and dying we experience in our communities.

In this episode of Crackers & Grape Juice the crew tackled the topic of death & dying.

Tom argues there is nothing different between the brick and mortar of a funeral home and the church. Finding meaning in the midst of grief, according to Taylor, is experienced more at the graveside than in a well-play organ prelude or church service liturgy. Sacred space is sacred space and it does not matter if that is a 100+ year old funeral home or a newly built church sanctuary.

According to America’s Undertaker, getting the dead where they need to go is the business of the funeral.  He notes there is a distinction between memorial (with faith claims) and bringing someone to their final resting place.  Lynch argues that funerals are getting the dead to where they need to go, and often times memorials are used in place of a funeral which removes the family/community from the committal process.

The PBS special, The Undertaking, rattled me when I first watched it.  Tom is a strong advocate for family participation when dealing with the death of a loved one.  He believes families and faith communities have been removed from the process of committing loved ones to the ground. It seems that we have sanitized the death and grieving process in our churches.

Death, funerals, and memorial services are things I still struggle with. I know, believe, and place all of my hope in the grace offered to us in the promise of resurrection.  Yet, when someone passes, whether tragically in an accident or after battling a long illness, I still do not feel comfortable “dealing” with death. I do not know if we should ever feel comfortable around death, after all Jesus weeps when confronted by death.  Tom’s words of encouragement give me hope that we can grieve as a community and that my sadness is not seen as weakness or a lack of faith. If a seasoned undertaker like Tom still weeps when standing at the back of a church door, then why can’t I?


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You can listen to the conversation I had with Rob Bell about this and other episodes of Crackers & Grape Juice by subscribing on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spreaker.  We promise to provide you with theological conversations without stained glass language. For the love of all that is holy: Give us a review there in the iTunes store or on Spreaker. It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast.

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Miley Cyrus, panSexuality & the Thing Your Mom Use to Say

Twitter blew up a few days ago as Miley Cyrus spoke openly about being a pansexual individual.  Yes, pansexuality is a real thing, Miley is not creating a new word or trying to confuse your teenagers.  Simply put, a person identifying as pansexual all gender identities and people.  Gender identity does not play a deciding role when determining attraction to a person.  A pansexual person can be attracted to anyone who identifies as LGTQ or as straight.

What does this mean for me as the parent of a teenager?

Great question, I’m glad you asked.  For the parent of a child who identifies as pansexual it means that you still love them as if they were gay, bi, or straight.  I know it sounds confusing but if your child (or a friend for that matter) identifies as pansexual, it does not mean they are gay or bi.  This can be really confusing.  But, you must begin with love.  You might be confused or scared, and guess what, your child probably is too.  Typically, teenagers do not like to standout from their peers.  If your child feels comfortable now coming out after Miley Cyrus made pansexuality somewhat acceptable in the eyes of their peers, stand beside them.  Love them.

Here are three things I think will help as you help your child navigate their new found freedom after coming out as a person identifying as pansexual:

Listen first, then ask questions.

More than likely, your child is going to feel nervous, excited, afraid, and free all at once.  Load on top of that the onslaught of teenage hormones and there is a recipe for teenage emotional overload.   Be patient and listen.

Empower your child by asking clarifying questions but know that your child may not have an answer.  Remember back to your teenage days, you often did not have an explanation for the way you felt, you just knew you felt that way.

Leave your own agenda behind.

You may believe that anything outside the walls of a straight, heterosexual relationship is against God’s design for humanity.  You are entitled to your theological interpretation of scripture however, this conversation you are having is not about you.  It is not about advancing your theological agenda on a teenager who is still figuring out what they are feeling.

Remember you love your child, want them best for them, and will do anything to help them to be happy.  This is something I’ve struggled with as I explore my own theological beliefs all the while knowing that my son would upend all of that one day.  I love my son, he is my agenda.  I’ve learned over the past 3 years all parents have at least one thing in common, and that is our children are our agenda.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

We can all remember our mothers say, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Glenda would say that to me and my siblings over and over again.  I believe this is the most important thing to remember when talking to our children about sexuality.  If you have nothing nice to say, keep quiet.  It’s that simple.  You standing, yelling, and telling your child they are wrong, going to hell, or disowning them will not do anyone any good.  You or your child.

Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Jesse J have made it “OK” for teenagers to realize their sexuality in ways that we could’ve never imagined as teenagers.  What we can do as parents, is walk along beside them as they explore what it means to a fill in the blank teenager in a world more confusing and faster paced than we could ever have imagined.

Do you have a teenager who identifies as LGBT or pansexual and need some help? Consider these resources as a starting point

Reflecting On My Time With the Evangelicals

What are you doing here?

That question was asked of me countless times last week.  As a United Methodist, my presence at the OPEN Faith gathering at Christian Theological Seminary was received with welcome, question, and (once) even with distain.  Why would someone from the mainline want to attend a gathering of evangelical church leaders?

I was asking myself the same question all last week.  After I boarded the plane in Norfolk, then took the 5 minute Uber ride from my Airbnb to the seminary campus, I asked myself, “what in the world are you doing here?”  It’s a legitimate question for other attendees to ask of me and for me to ask of myself.

Some of my responses looked like the following:

The UMC and evangelicals have a lot in common.  We love Jesus, right?  That’s a good starting point.

We in the UMC are in the midst of a large conversation about human sexuality.  In my experience the more conservative voice has been louder.  I am here to learn a new vocabulary so I can add to the conversation.

I am interested in the MDiv. at CTS, so I figured since it was sponsored by OPEN I’d come check it out.

There were some there who were suspect because they thought I was there to promote a UMC agenda (potlucks?) or my podcast (C&GJ).  And in full-disclosure I did not lead with the potluck or podcast.  Although, potlucks would’ve been very non-threatening.

So why then did a UMC youth pastor, who serves a church who leans more to the conservative side of the scale theologically, attend a conference for progressive evangelicals?

I learned the answer was twofold.

First, I want to develop language to engage theological conversations.

To do this, we must engage in actual theological conversations.  I believe we have lost this skill.  In the age of Twitter and Facebook, our conversations are limited to 140 character canon shots that we throw out into cyberspace and never responded to.  We are not engaging in theological conversation, we are screaming at one another in the public square or worse yet in the wind.

Meeting people like Stan Mitchell and Colby Martin, hearing them speak and reading their work, has provided me with the opportunity to develop language I had put off as something I would do when “I had the time” or when it was convenient.

Progressive evangelicals, for the most part, are coming out of Southern Baptist and conservative evangelical traditions.  This is what I believe is going to happen to the UMC in the not so distant future.  Part of my preparation for ministry in the new UMC landscape will be to help facilitate conversations between people who view the issue of human sexuality as the defining issue for church today. I don’t think this is the defining issue.  I’d push to say sharing Good News of Jesus Christ is, but hey, who am I.

Second, as most of us know, evangelicals are excellent church planters.

One of the things I feel called to is the planting of new faith communities.  This conference was an opportunity for me to learn from people who know how to plant churches that are sustainable and welcoming to the entire community.  I can be easy for us to build communities that match our preferences views but to create a community that is inclusive of the entire community requires us to step out of our comfort zones, and as someone in the mainline I have become too accustom to being comfortable.

So answer the question already.

To answer the original question, “what are you doing here”, I want to be part of the conversation. Mainline UMC, conservative evangelical, or progressive evangelical, it does not matter to me.   I believe that in order for us to make disciples for the transformation of the world we must be in conversation with one another.  It’s bigger than LGBT inclusion, but that should not be taken off the table.  This is a larger conversation that needs to begin in the mainline.

Grace Is Messy, It Really Is

Grace is messy.  I know we like to think of grace as the thing from God that makes it all, makes everything all better, but there can be times where that refining process takes longer than we’d like.  There are times when we will hit rock bottom, wishing the pain would just go away, and when it doesn’t we try to take care of the pain ourselves.

steve-austinA few weeks ago, Jason & I interviewed Steve Austin for the latest episode of Crackers & Grape Juice.  This is the best episode we’ve recorded so far.  Better than NT Wright, Rob Bell or even Fleming Rutledge.

I met Steve in a Facebook group for Christian bloggers and authors.  Steve posted a link to his latest book, From Pastor to Psych Ward: Recovery from a Suicide Attempt is Possible, and I knew from the title I needed to read it.

This book is about as honest as you can get.

Steve doesn’t hold much back as he looks back on what led him from the pulpit to the psych ward.  Steve burned the candle at both ends: working full-time, being a father & husband, and also serving a church.  On top of that he had been abused as a child (to which he openly deals with what that meant for him as a teenager and also as an adult).

matt-hardy-suicide-noteWhen things got to the point of no return, when the pain was too much to bear, when he felt as though there was no grace left Steve decided it was time to end it.  It sounds blunt, but when you hear Steve talk about it, he’s blunt.  Jason & I tried to tip-toe around saying it and then Steve helped us.

Sexual abuse, lack of self-care, and church ministry is a dangerous cocktail.  We all know those pastors and church workers who seem to work endlessly, always finding one more thing that needs to be done.  We often think to ourselves, “if I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”  And this is often true.  But at what cost?

I was addicted to connection: phone, text, email, social media, blogging… Because I had no boundaries, I had built a wall that separated me from my family.

I have often fallen into this trap, luckily for me I have people around me (mostly Allison) who step in, tell me I need to take a breather, and then re-evaluate what I need to be doing.  And again, we all do it, especially in a time where pastors and church workers are just a text, Facebook message, or tweet away.  The worst part of it is that we respond.

Steve points out that even today, we feel compelled to respond to the message we receive at 9:00 PM, a time when I should be spending time with my wife.  I feel compelled to respond to the text message when I am watching my son play soccer.  I myself am building up a wall that separates myself from those who I care deepest for.

So what are we to do?

I’m glad you asked.  Go to Amazon, download Steve’s book, and let’s talk about it.  I think it starts with a mix of self-care and boundaries but I want to hear what your think.


If you like this post and want to follow my blog, all you have to do is subscribe using the ‘Subscribe Here’ box above in the top right corner.

You can listen to the conversation I had with Rob Bell about this and other episodes of Crackers & Grape Juice by subscribing on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spreaker.  We promise to provide you with theological conversations without stained glass language. For the love of all that is holy: Give us a review there in the iTunes store or on Spreaker. It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast.

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(progressive) Hermeneutics

I am spending a portion of this week attending the Open Faith conference.  It as been organized by the OPEN Network.

OPEN Faith is a National Conference bringing together those from various streams of faith including (but not limited to) Non-denominational, Progressive-Evangelical, Post-Evangelical, Evangelical, Charismatic, Free-church (and, frankly, most any other ‘stream’) seeking to live and believe in just, generous Christian ways.

The goal of the OPEN Network is to bring together leaders and networks seeking to embody an ecosystem for a ‘Just and Generous Progressive Evangelical’ expression of faith in the United States.  It’s straight forward, I believe, while at the same time bringing a longing desire for a new way of approaching the theology of the church.

stan-mitchellLast night, at the end of the days seminars, that time in the evening when everyone wants to sit down to discuss hermeneutics, Stan Mitchell presented a talk titled “A Progressive Hermeneutic”.  Stan is the lead teacher and pastor at Gracepoint Church in Franklin, Tennessee.  Gracepoint is an open and affirming, fully-inclusive faith community in the heart of the Bible belt (God’s country).

During Stan’s talk, he focused on the way in which progressive & conservative Christians take on the task of hermeneutics.  In layman terms, hermeneutics within the church is the way in which we (all of us) take on the task of interpreting scripture.

Here is a highlight I want to share with you.

“Full inclusion is only inclusion if a transgender person can take my place as senior pastor.”

Fleming Rutlege has told me that she believes that many churches who advertise their openness to LGBT brothers and sisters are doing so more for the street-cred the will receive.  Last night, Stan called us all out.  We can only claim to be open, affirming, and welcoming of all God’s children if we are willing to allow those who look the least like us.  This is a scary proposition for most of us.  We like what is comfortable.  We want leaders who look like us, like our preconceived notions of what we think a leader should look like.

Here’s the kick to the gut. Jesus broke the preconceived notions of what a savior would look like. He wasn’t born into a family of wealth or means.  Instead his birth has all of the great makings for a scandalous movie.  He didn’t ride into Jerusalem on a horse carrying a sword, ready for battle.  While being arrested, when the swords were drawn, he told his disciples to stand down.

If Jesus broke the mold on how a savior would look and call for God’s Kingdom to come, Stan makes a great point.  We cannot, as disciples of Jesus Christ, say in one breathe that we worship a man who broke all preconceived notions of who he would be and then in then say, “no, you can’t lead in our church because you don’t fit the model of who we want as a pastor or teacher.”

Watch Stan’s entire talk below and let me know what you think about inviting a progressive hermeneutic to the theological discussion.

 

So That We Can Be The Body of Christ

jerry-herships-1Jerry Herships is probabyly the pastor you have never heard of but should have.  He is the pastor of Afterhours Denver, a faith community meeting in bars on Monday nights and serving the homeless population 365 days year in downtown Denver, Colorado.

I first heard of the work Jerry and his conspirators are doing through a coaster.  Yup, evangelism can happen through a coaster.  I was in Denver on a business trip during my first year in seminary when I sat down at a bar in Denver, and then much to my surprise was invited to participate in the work Afterhours is doing.  No, someone didn’t grab me by the shoulder and try to sell church to me.  I was intrigued so I googled and learned some more.  A few days later, I flew home, and didn’t think much of Afterhours.

Last CallFast forward 5 years.  I am perusing Amazon.com looking for new book to pass some time during an upcoming conference.  I order Last Call: From Serving Drinks to Serving Jesus.

I don’t read books.  I still read books but not all the way through.  Very rarely do I finish a book cover-to-cover.  This book is different.

Two sittings.

That’s all it took. Not because it is a short book but instead because I couldn’t put it down.  You are going to laugh, shake your head in agreement, and think to yourself, “they are living out the line from our UMC communion liturgy that most of us barely remember hearing.”

“that we may be for the world the body of Christ”

The stories Jerry shares about his experiences with “the guys” is a breath of fresh air.  Too often we hear about mission work that takes place “over there” or for one-two weeks a year.  Missional church is a buzz word that often times remains just a catchy buzz word to get you in the door.

Afterhours is different.

Jerry is different.

In this episode Jerry talks about ending a church service that was drawing 300+ people.  Seriously, who does that!?!? Someone who realized that the established goals of a church mission were not being met.  That takes balls.


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