Sunday, September 09, 2007

I've Moved

Yep, I've packed up and moved. My new address is Come on over and take a peak.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Book Recommendations

I am putting together an Independent Study for my doctoral program. It will encompass the work we have done this far in launching a non-profit. What books would you recommend on 'leadership' in business, non-profit and church?

Friday, September 07, 2007

4th Grade

Alex entered the 4th grade on Tuesday. This afternoon Alex and I walked to 7-11 so he could get a slurpee to celebrate his first week back to school. Alex said to me, "mom, I think this is going to be my best year." When I asked why, his reply, "because Nathan told me this is the best year and I think he's right because today we watched Popeye at lunch and a Charlie Brown movie after recess..."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Eugene, Luke, Holy Spirit, Power

I have been reading, Christ plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson. I have been meditating on the Gospel of Luke almost since last November. A few thoughts from Eugene on Luke:

  • St. Luke is probably the only Gentile writer in the New Testament
  • He is also the only Gospel writer who was not an eyewitness to Jesus
  • He has the unique experience among the Gospel writers of knowing Jesus exclusively through the work of the Holy Spirit in the community of Jesus’ followers
  • His Gospel begins with a visitation of the Holy Spirit that results in conception; the book of Acts (authored by Luke) begins similarly, also with a visitation of the Holy Spirit that results in conception.
  • In the Gospel it is Jesus, the Savior who is conceived, in Acts it is the church.
  • The two Holy Spirit conceptions are meant to be understood as parallel beginnings in the parallel narratives: both Jesus Christ and the community of Jesus Christ similarly conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Eugene goes on to lay out the story of the Holy Spirit’s miraculous work in the conception of Jesus and his cousin John. However miraculous the Spirit’s work in conception of life does not shortcut or skip anything human – There is nothing in a Holy Spirit—conceived life that exempts that life from the common lot of humanity. Both births were completely natural. A nine-month pregnancy preceded each birth; they were both weaned at the breast, gradually acquired the ability to eat solid food, sit up, one day rolled over and started to crawl. The long, complex, often painful process of growth from fetus to infancy to adulthood to parenthood and then on into old age is embraced and given meaning as God in Christ continues to be present in and for us by his Holy Spirit.

The marriage of God and humanity is inseparable. Not to embrace our humanity is in my opinion to deny our very essence. Living out my true humanity means I embrace my very life from the creative work of the Spirit of God who gave me this life.


At the end of the Gospel and at the beginning of Acts, Jesus tells his friends that he will send the Holy Spirit to them, he also says that this coming of the Spirit will be accompanied by power. Power is a critical word in the context of the Story. Luke uses the word “power” to instruct Mary on how she will conceive “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” Here the Holy Spirit power makes a woman pregnant. All five of the Holy Spirit references in Luke 1-2 are related to pregnancy and birth. This is an interesting use of “power”-- Eugene suggests this is not at all the way power is conventionally used. Sexual impregnation is associated with intimacy and lovemaking, gentleness and mutuality. If the sexual act is impersonal or harsh or forced, it is understood as a violation. One way then to look at “power” from the context of our Story is that it would be inconceivable to understand power as anything impersonal or imposed by force.

The second occurrence of the term “power” by Luke is in the account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Jesus is tempted by the devil to command stones to become bread, to become the ruler of the kingdoms of the world, and to prove his divinity by performing a spectacular circus trick by diving off the pinnacle of the temple and commanding an angel to save him at the last minute.

Each is a temptation that has to do with the exercise of power: power to impose his will on the creation, power to impose his will on the nations, and power to become a celebrity. Each of these exercises of power could be good, feeding a lot of people, ruling the whole world justly, demonstrating the miraculous ever-present providence of God to the people on the street. Jesus said "no" to each in turn. Why?

Eugene’s conclusion: Because in each case it would have been power used impersonally, power abstracted from relationships, power without any engagement in love, power imposed from the outside. Each instance—and Jesus’ citations of sentences from the Story each time highlight this—would have been a use of power that was ripped out of the context of the Story and therefore ripped out of the participating context of people’s lives. And here is the punch …Whatever the power of the Spirit means, bullying force isn’t part of it…the power of God is always exercised in personal ways, creating and saving and blessing.

After the three refusals to use power to do good things, in the wrong way, Luke tells us this: “Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee…He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.” We watch the narrative unfold, Jesus whether teaching in word or act, he is always personal and relational. Jesus employing the “power of the Spirit” is set in explicit contrast to the three depersonalized, decontextualized uses of power in the wilderness: power to feed the hungry, power to do justice and power to evangelize by miracle.

The moment the community exercises power apart from the story of Jesus, tries to manipulate people or events in ways that short-circuit personal relationships and intimacies, we can be sure it is not the power of the Holy Spirit; it is the devil’s work. The Holy Spirit, no matter how loudly or fervently or piously invoked in such settings, is a stranger to such religious blasphemies…

Wow, Eugene lays down the smack...

Monday, August 13, 2007

On Vacation

Rich and I are on vacation in Whistler Village. We arrived around 7:00 last night. Alex and his friend Nate are with us. I am looking forward to being with Rich and Alex and just hanging out with no responsibility other than making sure we have some tasty meals! We are staying in a condo so we are able to have most of our meals in. It is supposed to be 80 today...the boys are getting ready to hit the pool and then this afternoon we will walk through the village and check out the upper village.
I started a novel on the way up...brought a couple of books to read for fun. No school reading, no email for work...and no blogging until I am back.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I wonder...

Often we find the purest evil, the most unadulterated selfishness in the people who pride themselves on their morality. William Wilberforce 1797

Tickets are on sale now

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Gay Conversation

I found this on Bob Hyatt's blog which led to this, Eugene Cho's blog
You would have to read the back story on all of this, but it began with Dan Savage's visit to the church Eugene's leads as part of a 30 author rate the church's in Seattle article.
Eugene is a good guy. It seems to me he was attempting to dialogue with Savage around a very controversial issue for many different people of faith. How do people of difference move forward if we cannot have a reasonably respectful conversation from both sides of an issue? If you go and read, I am interested to know how you think the conversation can be framed to promote dialogue and learning from one another rather than combative polarizing?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Made my first deadline!

Deadline - Church History & Revolution -- August 1st

Overture II - India - August 11th

Church History – finished!

Revolution – finished!

Now I am working on my course work for the class I took in India. It will take a good week’s worth of writing. I can see light!

Last night my nine year old son asked me if I could play “go fish”

me at my computer, “no Alex, I am doing school work” (he’s been hearing that for three weeks)

Alex, “I think your school is dumb”

me, “you will be in college someday and then you will understand why this takes time”

Alex, “I’m gonna do what you did, go when I’m 50”

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Church History - 2 of 4

On Sunday, July 8th I did sermon 2 of 4 on Church History for VCC
I decided to focus on a few characters from the era known as the Middle or Dark Ages. Two lights shining in the darkness: Saint Dominic (worship God with your mind) and Saint Francis (worship God by serving the poor and caring for creation).
Tomorrow - George Fox and William Penn - how the "Society of Friends" have reach into the Vineyard - John Wimber, the Vineyard movement's founder began his Christian faith in a small community of "Friends" in Yorba Linda.
Today we can see the influence that the Friends or Quaker tradition had on the movement and on us. History can and does shape us even without our knowing.
Next Sunday I will wrap up the series and then we will go back to our journey through the Gospel of Luke, sometimes known as the Gospel for the poor.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Cup of Cool Water

Have I mentioned lately that my plate is full?

Somehow in all the busyness I forgot to slow down and really spend time reflecting, being with God, journaling, all those things that I know bring me a sense of peace. A few days ago I was reminded why spiritual practices sustain me.

The last few months in the few moments I have been “awake” meaning slowing down enough to notice, I have had a couple of themes going on. One, being invited to the irresistible dance that is going on between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (perichoresis) and two, feeling like I have had no place to catch my breath.

A friend gave me a book last fall that I started on Tuesday, May I Have This Dance? by Joyce Rupp. The first page reads: Thus God says to these bones: “I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live.”

Then that same friend mentioned I might want to read Psalm 23 in the Message, which I did this morning. This phrase leapt off the page at me: True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Friends listening, contemplative prayer, reading, journaling, reflection – a cup of cool water for my soul!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Check This Out

My friend Rachelle has a 'zine for summer.
If you have not read Rachelle you are missing a treat...
check it out Magpie Girl

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

First – Orcas Island -- Second - Church History

I am on Orcas Island at my sister’s house. We arrived yesterday and will be here until Thursday. It is so picturesque here. I am sitting in one of the living room’s looking out through the trees at the water. We stayed up late last night playing cards. Karla and I are a bit competitive with the guys…hmmm…the guys are good sports…
Alex and Micah slept out in a tent under the stars. They had a blast. There is no television here so the boys are exploring, hiking, sliding down hills on cardboard and chasing bunnies. Last night we watched deer cross the street and listened to all the night creatures croaking and creaking…
Rich, Alex, my brother-in-law Frank and Alex’s friend, Micah just got back from a hike. Oh yeah, Mr. B and Mario went hiking too!
We got up, had coffee, made breakfast then the guys and dogs went on a hike, Karla worked in her garden and I went to work on my studies.

I began a four part series at VCC on Sunday as part of my course work for the Global Church History class I took in May through Bakke Graduate University. Here are some references I said I would post:

The Story of Christianity by Justo L. Gonzalez Volume I and Volume II
Church History Series on 15 DVD’s by Ray Bakke, done in 1988 at Wheaton College Campus (these may be checked out one at a time – see Rose)
Outline from sermon series available upon request (email
That’s it for today. More next week. Have a safe holiday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

C hurch Signs

The sign for the church on the corner of our street says:
Judgment begins at the House of God

I wonder what message that conveys?
I should have finished my thought...
I wonder what message that sign conveys to a person walking down the street or driving by who has no prior connection with Christianity? I wonder what it might convey to people who have not really explored Christianity? Just wondering...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Reflections on leading a faith community

Some of my mentors on leadership and belonging to a faith community:

...I can never be involved in creativity except by entering the mess. Mess is the precondition of creativity. The tohu v'bohu of Genesis 1:2. Chaos.
...if we in fact believe in the Holy Spirit, then we must not at the same time try to moonlight as efficiency experts in religion. We cannot nurture the life of the Spirit in a parishioner while holding a stopwatch. We cannot apply time management techniques to the development of souls."
E. Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant, (Eerdmans 1992), p163-4.

To listen, when nobody else wants to listen, is a very beautiful thing.
Mother Teresa

Let us be very sincere in our dealings with each other, and have the courage to accept each other as we are. Do not be surprised or become preoccupied at each other’s failures-rather, see and find in each other the good, for each one of us is created in the image of God.
Mother Teresa

The road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.
Dag Hammarskjold

Prayer and action, therefore, can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates in into questionable manipulation. If prayer leads us into a deeper unity with the compassionate Christ, it will also give rise to concrete acts of service.
Henri Nouwen

Letting Go

Keeping up with responsibilities is tricky. I am practicing letting go on many levels. Eighteen months into a doctoral program is proving to be more time consuming then I could have imagined. I love school and receive it as a gift. So, I don’t want to whine. When something as “big” as a doctoral program enters your life (at least mine) others things have to go to make room. That’s the “letting go” I am constantly practicing these days. Some of the “letting go” that does not come easy for me:

  • Spending much leisure time with friends
  • Having time to cultivate new friendships
  • Often having people over to just hang out
  • A clean house (which is why I don’t have many people over these days)
  • Saying "no" to things I used to so easily say "yes" to

These are just a few things…I know this is just a season and in two years when I am graduating with a Doctor in Ministry it will all have been worth it. For now it seems that much of my spiritual work is “letting go” of some of the luxuries that have to be on hold for now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Random thoughts about Church History

I am preparing a four part series on Global Church History to present at VCC over 4 Sunday's. This will be my project for the class I took in May. It's hard to pin down 2000 years of history in four 30 minute talks...hopefully I can wet a few appetites for folks to do some reading and study on their own or in a group.

One thing that has been stirring in me since the class is this…we watched the movie Luther, which by the way I highly recommend. Something dawned on me…how is the indulgence selling back in Luther’s day any different from the folks that preach messages on if you give “seed” money to this or that you will “get” this or that from God? You can fill in the this or that. I am sure we have all heard and seen it promised that if you give you get.

Can someone tell me what the difference is?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Course Work

Well I am down to it. I have stacked three courses (16 credits) and now have until August 1st to complete the course work. Today I am at Mars Hill Grad School for the day. I am using the library and quiet to get my head into writing. I'm going to begin with the Global Church History class I just finished. My project is a 4-part sermon series to be taught at VCC this summer.
Also, on that note, one of my blog posts while at the church history class made comments about cremation. Just to clarify, Ray was not opposed to cremation, his negativity was around our cultural phobia and denial of death. Cremation is not the point, honoring and remembering the dead was the point. So often when ashes are scattered there is no "place" to go to remember and honor the dead. Ray's suggestion to me, make a garden on the church property to at least put a stake in the ground with a name to remember those that have been a part of us. We don't own our grounds so that's not an option. I get his point though. Remembering and honoring the dead does not come easy for us. Embracing a theology of death (we are all going to die unless we are those that remain and are alive when Jesus comes back) is important...helping each other die well is something I have seen sorely lacking. Enough on that for now.
Back to work!

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Today the church remembers and celebrates Pentecost. The origins of Pentecsost reach back to one of the Jewish celebrations - the Feast of Weeks or Day of the First Fruits. The church celebrates Acts 2 - the coming of the Spirit in the upper room. The mighty, rushing wind, what appeared to be tongues of fire, the disciples spilling out into the streets speaking in all the languages of the people visiting Jerusalem for the celebration. The amazing outdoor speech that Peter gave and then the incredible inbreaking of the Kingdom of God into Jerusalem with over 3000 people deciding to follow and live in the way of Jesus.
Today my prayer is that we too can live in a way that we receive the Spirit and live our lives as the gathered people that follow and live in the way of Jesus that brings healing and hope to our world.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Random Musings

This morning I read this weeks' online study on Revelation . We are getting into the actual text...I highly recommend it.
I am following Jesus Creed (which I usually do) the McKnight's are in Italy. It's enjoyable to follow along and remember our time in Italy. Our trip to Italy was notably in the top 10 favorite all time two weeks of my life.
Tomorrow I am speaking at a church in Seattle. The lead pastor and some of his staff attended the Missional Matrix event we hosted in March. They asked me to give the same talk I gave at Missional Matrix to their congregation. I am looking forward to being with them.
Sunday evening Rich and I are off to Las Vegas with friends. We are celebrating a friend's 50th birthday. We are looking forward to the sun, hanging out and seeing a couple of shows.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bakke May 20th Session 3

This afternoon our lecture was on faith and reason, scholasticism etc
We also looked at the six ways different groups wanted reform at the eve of the Reformation:
1. Reform through evangelsim - conversion is the way to reform society. Today - evangelism should be our priority...evangelical churches
2. Erasmus - Education will bring reform. If people have the correct knowledge that will bring reform to the church and change society. If priests just had a bible - today we would say seminaries.
3. Conciliarists - councils (Trent, Piza...) will bring reform - we need more structure and management - present day - we need a strategic plan and set goals...
4. The government assitance model - Henry VIII and in Spain the Inquisition - today Jerry Falwell, MLK...
5. Anabaptists - we need new churches back to the model of the New Testament church (this was during the time where there were state churches) today, Brethren, Mennonites etc
6. Ignatius Loyola let mission reform the church ...the Jesuits went all over the - para-church orgs and mission societies.
Which is right? All of them...
Luther and Calvin used all six - the point there is not one way to bring reform to the church.
We spent the rest of the afternoon discussing how Christianity lost Africa.

Between 500 and 1300 the church didn’t grow – we gained Europe and lost Africa

Here I am going to copy my rough notes:

Northwest coast of Africa down to Eritea – 5000 miles

One fourth of all Christians lived there.

The thesis of some say, Islam destroyed the churches. Ray’s study shows the church self-destructed. Here is his thesis on how:

1. The church in Africa was never indigenous – the Greek controlled the East and Rome controlled the West.

2. With exception of the church in the Nile valley – the churches didn’t have the bible in their own languages. They were forced to use Latin or Greek.

3. The seminary in Alexandria – in the 4th century had a revival of Plato. Platoism – (Constantine was in power) wealth coming, secularization going on – the desert movement happens. Neo-platonic thought – holiness is more important than evangelism – you can’t save society so save yourself – an over emphasis on sanctification – so you are not mission driven – it’s more important to separate yourself from the world and keep yourself. An over emphasis of sanctification will cut the nerve of mission every time. Today American experience on home schooling.

4. The division between Truth church and Grace church – the devastating split in N Africa – 250-258 Rome celebrated it’s 1000 year anniversary. In this 8 year period the senators in Rome were making great speeches. Others talked about the erosion of Roman power. Some saying we are not as great as we used to be because there are those in our midst that refuse to say Caesar is Lord. There is a saying going around that Christ is Lord. Persecutions were not a blanket thing done everywhere. Between 250-258 there were some pretty vicious persecutions. There were Christians that lapsed under persecution. Cyprian was the bishop of Carthage in 250. He had only been a Christian from 246. He fled and wrote pastoral letters to the martyrs. He had grace for those who lasped under the threat of persecution.

Novatia was a Roman traveling around and when he heard he said you cannot do that, what about those that have been martyred if we forgive those that lasped what does that say to those that died – the church split between truth churches and grace churches.

The church split in all these different ways so the church self-destructed. The theology got so complicated. When Islam came through. Islam had a 5 law track – basically believe God and obey these 5 things in fact you don’t have to believe it just do it.

While we make our theology so complicated - Islam comes and makes it simple. Islam came through N Africa and people were fed up with corruption, infighting and complicated theology. We ended the day discussing the patterns we see through history during times of reform.

Bakke - Sunday, May 20th Session 2

Ray begins this session with the Filioque crisis that hit in 787 – The Latin phrase “and the Son” the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son – the Western church added this to the Nicean Creed in 787. This eventually split the eastern and western church in 1054. The issue for the Eastern church were twofold: one you don't change creeds, make a new one but don't change the creed that took so long to wrestle through and second, Islam was coming through the East and had the same Shema as Israel - there is one God, for the Eastern church adding the phrase would seem they were advocating for three Gods.
The Western church also had reasons for adding the phrase one of which is they were working in tribal cultures that seemed to view Jesus as a super tribal chief rather than God. This is an important concept for us today as we approach mission. In the western church we don't trust the Spirit we trust Christology. We preach Christ to unleash the Holy Spirit. The Orthodox churches believe the Holy Spirit is unbounded - you don't bring Christ to a community, you discover Christ in the community.

Next we looked at Monasticism beginning with the Desert Father's and then up through Francis and Dominic. One interesting point that came up that through half of its history the Roman Catholic Church allowed priests to marry. It wasn't until Benedict that priests became celibate. The cause for this is too long to go into. Today with the decline in the priesthood and with the chruch moving toward a Latin and African world maybe Pope Benedict (who ended limbo last week) will bring reform by allowing priests to marry.
We concluded this session with a lecture and discussion on the crusades.

Bakken - Sunday, May 20th

Today I am going to blog notes as I go so they will be rough.

I will finish yesterday’s notes later this afternoon.

Sunday – Session 1

Open listening to a piece – Holy, Holy, Holy so majestic, transcendent in this setting…

We are sitting in the living rooms in a circle looking out to the side of a mountain listening to a choir singing. It is beautiful.

Please can we learn hymns at VCC? Being in a church history class I really want us at VCC to connect to our past. We are not an island (the 20th – 21st century evangelical Christians) to ourselves there is 2000 years of history to take hold of and to be our guide as we go forward.

Ray has asked Jim Henderson to share with us. He is introducing himself.

He was not raised in church so he does not have an affection for church culture. He was brought into the church experience as a young adult. His parents are musicians so his affection would be more in music. His heroes in life are James Brown and Ray Charles. He says Jesus invited him into his heart and he said yes. He got involved in an evangelistic culture so he thought you were supposed to get people saved all the time. He also was in a culture that did not value education. As a result he went on and started planting churches. There was no training for church planting. There was also no money. No education. He began painting houses. He has planted several churches…it was on again and off again as a professional Christian. This has complicated his relationship with money. He is now telling how long we have been friends and our history of working together.

In the mid 1990’s we began experimenting with evangelism. Jim stood up and said we are all resigning from evangelism but we are not going to stop telling people about Jesus. We began experimenting. He is an experimenter and a provocateur. Which makes him not a good pastor. He however, loves pastoring leaders.

He resigned the church and went back to painting houses. Churches don’t want to pay you for experimenting. He started an organization Off the Map. Primarily to re-imagine evangelism. The whole game of evangelism became very intriguing to him. This led to all types of experiments. One of which since he couldn’t get people to come to church he began paying people $25.00 to come to church and critiquing him and the church.

Off the Map began doing conferences and Jim wrote a book about Evangelism without Additives. By the way, Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel alone but we don’t know the other’s names. We need to give our teammates credit.

He is now telling the story of the Ebay atheist. Go to here to read the story. He co-founded Off the Map with Dave Richards. OTM would not exist without his leadership. He called Dave to see if they could come up with a marketing budget and bid on the atheist. He is now telling the story of how the Ebay system works.

Off the Map is a virtual organization. Hemant visited churches and blogs his experience. What made this story provocative is that Jim is not trying to convert him but hiring him to convert Christians. Jim wanted to have Hemant’s church experiences to teach Christians how atheists and non-Christians view Christians.

This story got a lot of publicity. The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, lots of radio. Since that time both Jim and Hemant were offered to write a book. Hemant wrote his own book. Jim found a new atheist, Matt Casper to co-author a book with him. Jim and Matt went to ten churches, anonymously and reviewed them.

Jim is talking about one church that stood out – Lawndale Community Church in Chicago. Everyone should study this church – it is the way of the future.

Out of this comes the book, Jim and Casper Go to Church. You can find the book here.

Jim is doing a disclaimer that he is not an expert on any of this. He had been a pastor for twenty-five years and even though it was not him, he empathizes with pastors. He is particularly interested in ordinary Christians. He likes unmotivated and uninterested people. He is very interested in moving people. How do you get people to change is very intriguing. The book project was just about taking an atheist to church. He didn’t prepare him, he didn’t try to explain church, he just took them. Jim wants to learn more about why people like Jesus but don’t like the church.

He is now talking about how we (Christians) have taken on a meta-narrative of being the world’s moral police. History gives us a perspective on where we are in relation to this large story. So, Jim took Casper to church because that’s what Christians do. They go to church. The second thing we understand about ourselves is that we are in the beliefs business. We can ascertain a lot about someone by determining their church background. Example, what will you think if I drink wine, if I say damn, or how I baptize. These are really inconsequential but it’s how we think about our beliefs.

Jim does not know hockey so if he went to a hockey game with someone who knows hockey the person knowing the game would have a different experience than attending with someone knowledgeable about the game. This was Jim’s experience attending churches with Matt. He is giving the story of visiting Joel Osteen’s church – you can read about this in the book.

Jim asked me to give a short summary of what we (VCC) are doing in Shoreline.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote “the church is only the church in so much as it exists for others”

David Bosch quotes “Jesus had no intention of founding a new religion” and that “this new community should not severe itself from the world”

Drucker – something is going on right now that within a few decades a massive reorganization will happen. Usually the church is at the forefront of resistance to the change. There is a lot of discontinuity going on right now. This becomes the work we are involved in and we either see it as an opportunity or an obstacle.

This book has nothing to do with Christianity and Atheism. It is more about modeling how to create a dialogue with people with whom you disagree. Reorienting to see how people see Jesus.

Ray is now telling the story of Lawndale Community Church. You can get the story from the book, Chicago Hope. I don’t think Chicago Hope tells Ray’s involvement with the beginnings of this church. He is telling the story of Wayne Gordon and how he got the coaching job at an inner city Chicago school. You have to move to the neighborhood to be member of Lawndale.

Ray models how to be accountable to women in ministry. He is telling the stories of the different women he is the assistant to in the DMin programs that BGU is involved with. This is astonishing because Ray is brilliant but recognizes his limitations and puts women who are gifted into places of leadership and then assists them.

Ray’s 10 questions – model analysis guide

  1. What’s unique about the context of this ministry?
  2. What’s the history, where did the vision come from? Vision is a holy discontent with things as they are. Ministry begins with a capacity to see. You look at things as they are and ask why, I dream dreams that never were and ask why not.
  3. What do they actually do? What’s the program? Where do they actually do what they do, what, where and when.
  4. How’s it organized? How are they structured? Is it a sustainable model?
  5. Who’s the audience? Who are they trying to reach?
  6. How do they pay for it?
  7. The skills, what is the organization learning that they are trying to teach their staff? What’s the tool kit?
  8. What’s the theology of this model? Is it a Philippians’ or a Colossians’ model? One hermeneutic clue – pay attention to Jesus. The public Christ and the personal Christ that came unglued in 1920. Modernists coming out of WWI were devastated. Christians killing each other in Europe. Modernism decided to go into social work. Evangelicals went to the personal Jesus. We are going on 100 years of this separation. The irony and sadness is that in the 1800’s it was the Evangelicals that were doing social work. Like the founders of the CMA – AV Simpson. Salvation in the Slums…Rescue Missions began in the streets of the cities …Niagara conference of 1889…so many movements are in reaction to something else rather than just being innovative…Reformed churches operate top down – creation and redemption theology are their – the holiness tradition you start with the Jesus in me…revivalism and social reform – the holiness movement coming out the 18th century vs the holiness movement of the 16th century were two very different christologies. Calvin tithe pays for church services – tax money pays for public service. So Christians have two kinds of tithes, common grace is a city wall, a hospital, an education system etc…saving grace pays for Christian ministries – for Calvin God owns all the money and you are called to steward it in two buckets – no difference to Calvin – it is an ecological theology…in the holiness of Wesleyan Pentecostal – Jesus in me is the starting point (Neihbor writes about this) a personal conversion.
  9. The strengths and limits of this model? (not good or bad) is this a bicycle or a 747? There are things a storefront (a bicycle) can do …there are things the large church (747) can do…every model creates space for a different model to be next to it. If you can read a supermarket you can read a community…send students into a supermarket and ask them how the store has changed…how is it the church in the neighborhood doesn’t understand how the community has changed but the supermarket without the Holy Spirit understands the change – the mega church creates the need for boutique churches …exegete your neighborhood in the supermarket
  10. Take away – what are the transferable concepts or principles for my context?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bakken Day 2

We began this morning (after breakfast) with two songs. Corean played the baby grand and we sang an old African American spiritual “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me.” Ray then asked if anyone had questions or reflections on our time yesterday. The first question was how did Ray choose the people for his mission trail. Ray began by talking about Barnabas (his choice for the first century). Ray identifies with Barnabas as Barnabas was a reconciler. This led to a discussion about the difference between Truth churches (churches that insist on right doctrine), churches which are bounded set – you must believe the way we believe to belong, and Grace churches, or churches that operate a bit more centered set. Grace churches are secure in what they believe but that is not the criteria for belonging. Good discussion.

Next, a discussion regarding homosexuality and the church. Ray talked about the difference he sees between advocacy and co-belligerence. He explained that under the U.S. Constitution homosexuality is not illegal therefore he would absolutely advocate for gay rights including civil unions. As a Christian he does not believe this is God’s design (but neither is a child born with a missing limb) so he would not be co-belligerent meaning he is with you on one issue (rights) and will stand with you there. This doesn’t mean he loses his ethic (whether it be heterosexual or homosexual).

Next, we discussed who were the current day Gnostics? This discussion went a way I was not expecting. Gnostics remember wanted nothing to do with the earth, they had special knowledge and everything was about escaping this body and our desires (sounds a bit Buddhist) but the point of Christianity is (Ray speaking) God opens the Scripture with his hands in the mud, creating humanity out of the very dust of the earth, and then closes in Revelation with his hands in the mud creating a new heaven and earth cleaning up all the toxic waste humankind has dumped and right in the middle of the Scripture we actually find God incarnating into a human body – nothing could be farther from Gnosticism than this God of Christianity. The other issue Ray raised was one I need to think about. The early church had such a strong view of the physical resurrection of the body that they would never think of cremation. Today we live in a culture that does not want to deal with the dead. We have so disconnected ourselves from death he feels that cremation becomes a way of staying in denial. Hmmm, I understand what he is saying…I don’t think we as Americans have a very good theology of death, and it is also very, very expensive to bury people. Ray talks about cemetery tours – he sees them as our “great cloud of witnesses” that we should take our children to and teach them about the people that went before us. He raises an interesting perspective on death and dying.

A highlight for me, Ray’s quote. “I no longer pastor a church in a community I am the pastor of a church for a community.”

We then looked at the heresies of the early church. Heresies are exaggerations of the truth. Heresies actually helped the church as it forced the early church to wrestle with truth. Here are the list we covered this afternoon:

Ebionites – They tried to Judaize Jesus – Issue – Was he just Jewish or is he more?

Montanism – Montan is the Holy Spirit – How do we hear the Holy Spirit pre-canon?

Marcion – Old Testament God and New Testament God opposed – Christian anti-Semitism

Arianism – Is Jesus subordinate to God? - Is Jesus similar to or the same as the Father?

Modalism – One God three roles – Is Jesus human?

Adoptionist – God adopted Jesus – Is Jesus God?

Nestorianism – The hypostatic union – How do the two natures of Christ fit together?

Eutichius – The Divine nature is shrunken version of human – One nature – the opposite of Nestorianism.

Our last session before breaking to watch the movie “Luther” was a discussion on the doctrine of Sacred Space. (the bell just rang for dinner will continue later).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Recap of Today

First of all I slept on what I guess would be the third floor -- from the second floor we went up these narrow, small steps to a room with two beds built into the wall. I think they were built for the Bakke's grandchildren. I had a good night's sleep. I got up by 7:00 a.m. for coffee, oatmeal and an egg casserole. Visited with a few people and then we began class at 8:00.
Corean Bakke (a trained classical pianist and music master) led us from the baby grand piano in a couple of hymns that she composed and wrote. The house was built with acoustics for Corean's piano and it is beautiful...
Ray began the first lecture with the question, "what is history?" Answer, the written record of the past. He then asked, "who wrote history?" someone in class answered, "the winners". He then asked, “why the title of the course was Global Christian History, the answer because most of what we have been handed has come through a very Western lens. We are living in a time where the marginalized peoples that did not have the scholarship to write history are challenging the perspectives. Example, American Indians and Latin American natives. After an overview and stories of this then the we moved on to why we should study history. So we began the day by getting perspective on history and how it has been recorded.

Next we reviewed Early Church history – from the early church to A.D, 590. Looked at the spread of the gospel, the how and pre-Christian – the so called 400 silent years and saw that they were not silent at all…God was reorganizing the world for Jesus to come into it and then to see the gospel spread – “in the fullness of time”

Ray made the comment at the end of this session that Evangelicals think church history began with Luther – they take the attitude anything that came before was Roman Catholic and Orthodox and we don’t need it. Basically a very arrogant view.

We broke for lunch then walked the Mission Trail. Ray has staked out a trail on his property and has a stake in the ground that represents one person from each century of the 2000 years of church history.

We began this trail at the Trinity Tree. A cedar tree with one strong trunk that quickly separates into 3 parallel trunks with their own branches. I will write some of Ray’s thoughts on the doctrine of the trinity.

“Trinity is more than the Christian name of God as Father, Son and Spirit. Our earthly families of mothers, fathers and children mirror the “heavenly family”, and deeply root my idea of the significance of relationships and community. From this biblical idea, I understand that the primary life of God is in working relations that flow into the mission of creation, redemption and reconciliation of all things. Moreover, for me to be a functional Trinitarian Christian means I live simultaneously in three time zones...Because of the Trinity, I see all working roles as equally sacred. While early images and vocabularies limit us, I do see no hierarchy in the members of the divine Trinity, and therefore I understand the Father, Son and Spirit to be equal in what they as God have done in creation, or will do in our salvation. My doctrine of vocational calling anchors here also. I believe that for each of us, be we male, female, clergy or laity, our calling as individuals is equal. And, like the members of the divine Trinity, I believe each of us will also mutually submit one to another as Christians and family members.”

Ray designed the mission trail together with a chapel and grotto to remind him of that “great cloud of witnesses” who have crossed all boundaries of this world, to pass on the good news of the Gospel…We are provided a brief biography of each person representing their particular century. We stopped at each stake in the ground and Ray explained why he chose each person to represent their century. The mission trail took about three hours.

We came back to the house and Corean gave us a talk on the Liturgical colors of the church year (we have just been talking about wanting to change out the colors at VCC to fit with the liturgical season) and with each season she has a desription:

Advent – blue, pink and purple – season of expectation

Christmas – red – season of hope

Epiphany – orange – season of manifestation or time of regognition

Lent – black – season of testing or struggle

Easter – white – Alleluia

Pentecost – red – Holy Spirit

From May to Advent is called Ordinary Time – Corean doesn’t like that description but divides it up into

A sage green – new growth

A mature green – season of empowerment

We finished with a Christmas hymn that Corean composed and then broke for dinner.

Tonight’s movie is – The Kingdom of Heaven – about the crusades. Tomorrow night – Luther. Today was a beautiful day. The clouds have set in and it’s beginning to rain. Our reflection is to think of our own spiritual autobiography…where are our roots back generations in faith and to reflect on the people of the early church period and pick five people we feel connected to and why…

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bakken - Global Christian History

Ben and I drove to Bakken (Acme) this afternoon. We arrived just before 7:00. Ray and Corean Bakke live on a mountain. They built the house. Corean designed it for her love of art and music. It was built from three types of wood from the property. High, vaulted ceilings with magnificent windows that look out over the beauty of Bakken Mountain. Corean decorates the house with the colors of the liturgical calendar. Right now it is Easter season so everything (candles, Bach's robe) is white. Even the artwork on the walls is changed out with the liturgical calendar. It is Corean's way of expressing her faith in her home at all times not just at Christmas. She will talk with us more about that tomorrow.

Introductions were made tonight. There are about 16 of us, both doctoral and masters students. We officially begin tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast and 8:00 for our first session.

The women (6 of us) are staying here at the house. The guys are staying offsite in some friend's homes in Acme. Time to sign off.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Heading to Bakken on Thursday. I am taking the Global Church History class. We are staying onsight at Ray and Corean Bakke's house. We arrive Thursday evening and stay through Monday afternoon. Ray Bakke is a brilliant historian, couple that with the beautiful setting and I am thinking this will be a bit like a retreat. I am looking forward to it. How many of you remember the cartoon "roadrunner" well Bakken is located in Acme, WA -- no kidding!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Going Home

Rich and I head home this morning. This has been a fantastic time. We had time to hang out together. We spent time catching up with old friends. We also met new friends. I especially had a great time meeting some women face to face that I have been corresponding with over the past few months.

The conference highlights for me:

  • Seeing Amy
  • Meeting Adey, Ellen, Cindy, Diane and many more…we didn’t have much time together but I can’t wait to see how we will connect and work together in the future
  • Lunch with Kevin Rains, Keith & Kathy Seckel and another man from KY (I am so sorry I met so many new people I can't remember your name)
  • Hugging Dave Nixon
  • Bert’s address: “Kingdom…Spirit…Mission
  • Eloise – your prayer and encouragement was unbelievable – the Spirit part of our tradition is something I never want to lose – I had never met Eloise before and at the very end of the evening she prayed the kind of prayer for me that let me know God is very present and knows my heart – wow – she nailed it for me and it was so life giving
  • Spending time with David and Doug. A few months ago (during the Missional Matrix) Kelly said “When you Pray Move Your Feet.” David Ruis’ new album, When Justice Shines will inspire you to do just that. Go here to purchase the album.

One last reflection…why I love the folks that makes up VCC, our faith community. As mentioned in my last post when Rich and I left Seattle last Sunday we were pretty wiped out, tired and cranky. When I get to that point I also get very discouraged…which I was when we left. On Monday morning I woke up to a voicemail from someone that just wanted to say thank you for all Rich and I have done to pour into this life…I won’t go into details. This happened to us one other time a few years back, we were in just about the same shape, went away and woke up to a voicemail from someone just wanting us to know how VCC had made such a difference in their life and wanted us to know. I have had several moments beginning with that voicemail on Monday morning to celebrate, hold and receive as gifts. Now time to go home!

Monday, May 07, 2007


Rich and I are in Anaheim for the Vineyard National Pastor's conference this week. We are looking forward to connecting with friends. Most of all we both realized about a week ago that we are spent. Need some time away together to recalibrate. We spent most of the day so far at the pool. This year the conference organizer's put a lot of free time in the schedule to hang out or to rest.

With the addition of a graduate program into our lives we are realizing we have to take time to rest. At the end of the month we are going away again for three days for complete fun and relaxation. We are going to Las Vegas with our friends to celebrate his 50th birthday. Looking forward to that...

This year the conference will be interesting - celebrating 25 years as a movement. Looking forward to meeting up with old friends and meeting some new friends I have been interacting with via e-mail. Winn and Donna are also here. It is 85 degrees today!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Mother's Day and Making a Difference

Dave Richards' post today on his blog gives a great idea for Mother's Day gifts to empower women. Check it out here.

I received an email on this same campaign from Jessica this morning. I think this would be a great way to celebrate Mother's day this year. What a very simple, "doable" way to empower a woman to make a difference for herself and her family and her community.

Will you post this, email your friends, get the word out?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Revelation - Decoding Its Vision with Sanity!

What the Left Behind Series Never Told You!

Interested? I am. My doctoral advisor, Winn Griffin is beginning a weekly Bible study on the book of Revelation. You can sign up here.

Honestly, a good study on this is so necessary. I was surfing one sleepless in Seattle night and was watching one of the Chrisitan stations. I was fascinated with the amount of fear and manipulation that comes out of certain theologies. Winn says, "bad theology is an evil task master".
This would be a great study to do with friends. Hmm, I wonder if I might join a Revelation group...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

Bless those who mourn, eternal God,with the comfort of your love that they may face each new day with hope and the certainty that nothing can destroy the good that has been given. May their memories become joyful, their days enriched with friendship, and their lives encircled by your love. Amen

Adapted from "Prayers of Our Hearts" © 1991 Vienna Cobb Anderson.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Something I am working on in my doctoral program is the issue of "power". I have been reflecting on power as it relates to leadership in the faith comunity. Henry Nouwen is again helpful here:
“It is not enough for the priests and ministers of the future to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time. All of that is very valuable and important, but it is not the heart of Christian leadership. The central question is, are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God's presence, to listen to God's voice, to look at God's beauty, to touch God's incarnate Word, and to taste fully God's infinite goodness?”
I have been keeping my eyes open to "notice" people who hold power in the Christian community. I am making note on the way power is used whether very intentionally as well as blindly. You have heard it said (I don't remember by whom) "when you don't have power you talk about it a lot" (if you know who said this let me know).
But look at different groups who do not hold power in our society and then begin to listen to what they say without first jumping to all kinds of judgments and assumptions...maybe we won't like what we hear but maybe a second listen, trying to "hear" empathetically what is being said.
I am rambling a bit here.
As I have been noticing how people use their power I am struck, struck by the many people who hold power and are not aware of it. When you are not aware of your power then I believe it is difficult to "see" those that don't hold the power position in any given situation.
One thing I do know, that in Christian leadership, there is a point where stopping to reflect on one's own power and how it is used is very, very important in these days where voices from the margins are becoming louder and louder.
The leaders that I watch move aside to share power with those that need to have room made for them is the ideal of servant-leadership that I see Jesus modeling over and over again in the gospels.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

On Relationship

“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.” -
Henri Nouwen

Friday, April 06, 2007

Resurrection thoughts from Dr. Winn

My doctoral advisor posted an interesting way of reading the Gospel of John in light of resurrection...have a look

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Holy Week

Last night we finished our Wednesday evening Lenten Group. When this group began I was in India but followed along in the book "Show Me the Way" by Henri Nouwen. It was a seven week group that met for soup and discussion around the daily mediations from the book. It was a meaningful way to travel through lent. Tomorrow a group of us are going to attend the Stations of the Cross at the Roman Catholic Church down the street from us. Besides Easter Sunday, the Good Friday Stations of the Cross is the most meaninful part of this season.

Hope you all have a meaningful Holy Week...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Life is Full

Anne Lamott was hysterically funny and profoundly inspirational. She signed my right “auntie” with her name, a heart and a rose.

Life is very full. I know that the spiritual life in order to thrive needs silence, solitude, a break from all the busyness…however, I am embracing that this is a season in my life that is very, very full and it is okay. I am married, parenting a nine year old, co-pastoring a faith community, launching a new non-profit and trying to keep up with a doctoral program…

Throwing a doctoral program into the mix of an already very full life seemed insane…but to me it is a gift! So, I receive and embrace this gift and the reality that for the next three years I have a lot to juggle. I will plan short getaways, moments of silence and solitude wherever I can. The fact that I have a very supportive husband and a laid back nine year old helps…

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Anne Lamott

I'm sitting at Third Place Books. I am preparing for my Palm Sunday talk. I am here to have dinner with Sharon and then a book signing with Anne Lamott. Her new book, 'Grace (Eventually)' is out and she will be here for a reading and then a book signing. A couple of weeks ago when I was in Cincinnati, Tracy Rains showed me a picture of her autograph from Anne. Tracy asked Anne to sign her "auntie" with a Sharpie. I loved that so much - Anne's reference to her "aunties" in Traveling Mercies...I brought my Sharpie I did! I turned fifty last October...the "aunties" are out of control right now...I can think of no better treat than to have Anne sign one of them.

Thanks Tracy!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Inside the Missional Matrix

What an absolute blast! This was such an engaging, dynamic time. I have been in and (mostly) out over the past month. I have so missed home and being with VCC. This past weekend was so much fun. You can hear the podcasts here Here are my highlights:
  • Kelly Carpenter and the musicians leading with "I Need to Wake Up" by Melissa Etheridge. What a powerful resonated with how many of us feel today. Kelly and his wife Merrilyn have a gift to hear sounds and messages from the culture that aligns with the Holy Spirit's call to us today. He and Merrilyn are some of the most generous people I know.
  • Todd Hunter - I love this guy. He is so refreshing, so smart and has so much to say that we need to hear. What a humble leader. He is like a young Ray Bakke, he is so inspiring and gifted to help us make sense of the times.
  • Scot Mcknight - I met Scot through his blog. I could listen to him teach for hours. He captured our imagination as he taught with passion, honesty and excitement. It was infectious. He is brilliant.
  • Kris Mcknight - Influential in her own right. She is like gold. What an honor to be with them. What a fun couple!
  • Amy Powell - a young church planter from Wisconsin that found me through this blog. When she arrived on Thursday we were instant friends. She is a dynamic leader with a heart for her generation. I can't wait to watch the story of her community unfold.
  • Rachelle Mee-Chapman - What can I say -- I love Rachelle
  • Jessica Ketola, Joanna Brantley - when these two sing you hear from the thinspace.
  • My husband - he is the best!
  • Jim Henderson - such a good friend, creative is an understatement - on Saturday, Jim put up some butcher paper and had people that wanted to lead a 30 minute workshop sign up and then had them give a 30 second commercial of what their topic would be...we all sat there wondering if it would work -- it did! So thankful for Off the Map's innovation and creativity.
  • Eliza - an atheist you can read about here She was so courageous to come and be with us. There were moments during her interview that were could hear a silence of pensive thought drop in the room
  • Jim Fox and all the folks from VCC who did the setting up-serving-cleaning-serving. I love this faith community. I know I am biased but we are rich in people that are earnestly trying to learn what it means to live out loving God and loving neighbor.
  • Thanks to everyone that came to Missional Matrix and participated by interacting with the topics, asking hard questions, being okay with some things that couldn't be answered and for sharing a part of your story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

St Elizabeth's Rated

Matt Casper the atheist who co-authored this book was in Cincinnati for the weekend. He rated St E's here. You will love the book. It's an honest look at what the church does through the eyes of an unchurced sceptic.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Home Again

I am so glad to be home again. The weekend was great. I met so many great people. Too many to name them all but a few that went out of their way to welcome me; Julie, Sandy, Owen, Lilly, Rob, Elaine, Eric, Tracy, Kevin, Dave, Jody, Jeremy and others…
I was able to spend some time with Bob Ekblad. He and his wife Grace are only an hour away, I hope we will get to carve out some time to be with the Ekblad’s, I think we have some things we can learn from them around social justice. I had dinner with Bob and Kelly Bowen last night. What quality people. They remind me of JR and Nancy. Faithful, passionate people that want their lives to count. They are the real deal, servants with no ego.
It was good to get some time with Jason, Brooke, Kevin and Tracy yesterday. I think Vineyard Central has a unique place. Strong community with people very committed to love their wider community.
Looking forward to this weekend Inside the Missional Matrix

Friday, March 16, 2007


I arrived last night. I am staying in a renovated convent that belongs to Vineyard Central. Vineyard Central and Church of the Savior were featured at the same time in the Cutting Edge magazine about four or five years ago. I remember when I read that issue because something in me so resonated with both places. Vineyard Central had purchased an old Roman Catholic church, St. E’s with the property came the rectory, now the brown house and a convent, where I am staying. The brown house is home to the Rains’ family and others that live in intentional community. The convent is home to the Nixon’s and I believe they are now using the rooms here for a retreat house. If it wasn’t so expensive to fly here right now from the northwest, this would be an awesome place to come on retreat.

Today, I went across the street for a cup of coffee. As I was crossing back in front of St. E’s looking at her beautiful structure, I remembered how the story of VC and Church of the Savior gave me language for things that had been percolating in my heart for so long. When you bump into someone or something that puts language to what you intuit is such an awakening. That was the beginning of Rich and I getting clarity around what was in our hearts to do. In the last month I have had so many moments of flashback to powerful moments, places, circumstances and people that were road signs and directional for where we are right now.

I am here to participate in the Feast of St Patrick. The hospitality here is off the charts. The people are so easy to be with. Tomorrow will be a full day. I am anticipating that it will continue to be very rich and memorable.

Part of my childhood memories of being catholic, attending parochial schools come back and I feel very much at home here. I think it is beautiful that a young, vibrant faith community is bringing and finding life in an ancient setting.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


We left Hyderabad on Friday, March 2nd at 2:30 a.m. When we arrived at the Hyderabad airport I asked the woman at check in for our flight if I could upgrade (complementary) to business class. She wrote down my name and told me they would let me know at the gate if seats were available. Sure enough, right before boarding they called my name and bumped me up to business class. It was pure luxury. I had been up since about 6:00 a.m. My seat laid all the way down into a bed. I slept for seven hours! I woke up and watched Casino Royale – we landed probably ten minutes before the movie finished. I will have to rent it to see how it ends.

The first leg of my journey from Hyderabad to Frankfurt was about ten and one half hours. We had a two hour layover in Frankfurt then began the nine and one half hours home to Portland. I didn’t get the gift of business class on this leg of the journey. The hours went by very slow. I could hardly wait to see Rich and Alex in Portland. We landed in Portland at about 12:30 p.m. by the time I got through customs it was 1:35…Rich and Alex were there…so great to see them.

Rich drove me straight to the Vancouver Vineyard where a Women’s conference was in full swing. I was scheduled to speak at the 2:00 session which I made right on time. I felt a bit scattered. I did the session, then went to dinner with Carol, Abbie, Debbie, Laurie and Deborah. Went back for the evening session to hear Eleanor Mumford then went and met Rich and Alex at the hotel. It was a nice way to do re-entry!

Pretty much today is the first day I feel acclimated back to life here. I need to make the time to reflect on the trip. We need to ask the questions as to what I experienced might mean for me and for VCC. I don’t think it was an accident that my Overture II was in India.

One reflection, when you go to places in the world that don’t have the luxury of reason about everything, people that absolutely live in the present moment because they have nothing, it challenges my faith at a level where maybe everything doesn’t have to be analyzed and figured out. I met courageous followers of Christ who are devoting everything to making India a better place for all people. These folks are heroes. I need to at least ask the questions of how this experience might shape me for the things the Lord has for me and the community I serve.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wednesday Feb 27th Hyderabad

I only have a few minutes to quickly post. Today's lectures were awesome. We began with Sunil Sardar. He spoke about Phule and Ambedkar and the caste system. He was very good. Some of the students challenged his theology of salvation...he is using the cultural story of ancient India before Brahminism to call people back to God. I will blog more on that later.

The next speaker was a professor of political science at the University here in Hyderabad. I am in an internet cafe so I am giving you a bare bones summary. I don't have my notes with me. This professor does not claim to follow Christ. His studies of history and politics have led him to believe that India will become a post-hindu nation in the very near future. He believes when that happens there will be such a vacuum of faith that 400 million people will be left to convert to either Islam, Buddhism or Christianity. He chastised us as westerners for not bringing the message of Christ to India. He laid out a powerful argument to show how we abdicated to Islam. If what he believes is coming his question to us is what will we do about it...

I am not doing his lecture justice. We were stunned to say the least. 40% of the planet's population is now located in China and India. If India becomes a post-hindu nation the implications for how that will change the world is monumental. The IT industry and other business that is booming here has set the stage for India to become very, very important.

His lecture reminded me of Revelation 3 -- I had a sense the Holy Spirit was saying through him, Western church this you have done well, but here is what I have against you...

Very, very powerful message. I had bought his book for this course and had not read it yet. Now I can hardly wait to read it.

We went out and saw another micro-credit org today. I can't even remember the name of it.

I will have to finish updating when I get home. Tomorrow we have class until evening then Deborah and I go to the airport to start our 24 hour journey home. I will see some of you on Sunday. Thanks to all who have been praying. I have had a wonderful trip. So much to think about and process.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tuesday - February 27th

I am in Hyderabad. I am in an internet cafe that has a very slow server. I have been journaling - the overnight train trip and the first day here but can't upload from my laptop here. I will try to do it before I leave but don't know if I will find a place to do it. In the meantime I had some more thoughts on our time in Chennai. We do so much without time to reflect or think it is hard to capture or process much. I imagine I will have a lot to think through as I return.

Thoughts on our time in Chennai
I realized I left some things out of my daily notes. There just was not enough time for it all. One of the more 'dreamy' (Deborah's description) moments was on Thursday evening. Tim and Carol arranged a dinner for us at a 5 star hotel. We were outside under palm trees and amidst beautiful flowering plants. It was beautiful. The moon was crescent shaped and I felt like I was in an Aladdin story. The food was delicious. We had an outside buffet of every kind of Indian food. I heard the wine was delightful but I didn't try it. I did not want even the chance of getting a migraine.

Another thought I had in reflecting on our time in Chennai was about the visit we made to the House of the Destitute. The women were so beautiful. I wish I could describe in words what I felt there. Fifteen elderly women sharing one room with cement a cement floor and walls. One bathroom that was a hole in the ground and a shower hose. I saw Jesus in the midst of their beauty. I heard the Lord say, "The Kingdom of Heaven is such as this."

And then the micro-credit visit. Christine, a woman in my group had a great idea. I would like to begin a monthly group of men and women. We would meet monthly and bring $25 each to contribute. We could send the money to the micro-credit group in Chennai (or other places) and ask for the profiles of the women we were sponsoring. The average loan they were making is about $75 so for every three people in our group we would be sponsoring one woman. we could keep a board or some way to display the women. We could pray for them and their families. We might even want to follow the news of what is happening in Chennai or in India...

I need to sign off now but wanted to update...

Hyderabad is a bit different then Chennai. Some of us are getting a bit cranky because there is not much down time but it is good.

Thanks for commenting is nice to get news and comments from home.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Chennai – Day 7 (Sunday)

We left at 8:00 a.m. this morning in three vans to see how the church in Chennai worships. We spent about 10-15 minutes in each church:
A very large Pentecostal church (over 5000) that has grown through their deliverance ministry
A Syrian Orthodox Church – it was like a high mass in a RC church
A Presbyterian Church – The COO we met at ‘Sify” attends (large church very intellectual)
Powerhouse – a very young contemporary church – when we entered they were being led in worship by one of the best known bands in the city – they were singing David Ruis’ song Whom Have I But You…
Assembly of God - (38,000) there were three services going on simultaneously – they have many services a day – first we went into the indigenous gathering – it was very large, the music was loud and good, then we went up to another part of the building that was jammed full of young people, very Western feeling, they were sing I Will Sing of Your Love Forever, then we peeked into a third very large gathering that was like the first one in Indian.

We came back to the hotel. It is about 2:00 p.m. We had lunch and will now get ready to go to Hyderabad on the train. There are 2500 Christian churches in Chennai. We had only a birds eye view but what we saw was a very thriving, energetic church. Joyful and worshipful is how they all felt. Ray would convey to us the history of the church in Madras/Chennai after each visit. He is a church historian, it never ceases to amaze me when he can call up facts of history and then will bring a theological reflection. Chennai has been very interesting. Tim and his wife, Carol have been here since 1974. They think their time is coming to an end. They will be returning to the U.S. in the next six months. Carol’s attitude is that they will come back and have to relearn the church and the culture, much like Newbigin after he spent 30 years in India. Returning to see how much the culture has changed and then asking the questions on what that means to be a follower of Christ. I am going to pray for them. It will be a huge transition. They have been gracious hosts to us. Tim is one of the most dynamic leaders I have ever met. Very humble yet very strong. He has loved this city and Chennai loves him. This was apparent especially the few days we were exposed to city officials. Tim and Carol are coming back to the States to relearn the culture but I think they will have much to teach us in how to contextualize the gospel in our culture.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Chennai – Day 6 (Saturday)


At 7:00 a.m. this morning I met with Ray to discuss what my area of specialization might be. Right now I am leaning toward Church and Ministry Multiplication. Ray agreed that choosing a specialization that fits with the ministry I am involved in makes the most sense. He wants to introduce me to a woman that created and developed much of the work at Lawndale. I may try to do an Independent Study with her. I also got the go ahead from Ray to do an Independent Study around the work I have done and continue to do with John Savage, Strategic Leadership Institute. Ray agreed with me that Winn would make a great dissertation advisor.

Now we are getting ready to observe a City Seminar. The title of the seminar is Mobilizing the Local Church to Serve the Community. There will be representatives from the various city government and pastors and teachers from all over the city in discussion. Our job is to listen and observe.

Chennai – Day 5 (Friday)


We once again began the day with Ray giving us a bit of perspective. How fast is development happening and should we be critical of it? When we (the U.S.) were as old as these countries black people and women could not vote. He often wondered how Hindu India has bookend countries that are Muslim. Pakistan and Bangladesh were once part of India. These countries were Hindu long before Islam. Pakistan was created at midnight 1947, I’m not sure about Bangladesh. The river people (Pakistan and Bangladesh) were discriminated against and when Islam came they were prime for conversion. He then put our own history in perspective. He told us not to be judgmental about where India is as a country. Thought India is an ancient civilization it is a very new country. India was occupied by the British for 200 years and only gained independence in 1947. Two thirds of the nations were created after WWII. The U.S. is just a little more than 200 years old depending on where you put the beginning, 1776 or 1789. 57 years later, which is the same age as India we were in a civil war. Women could not vote until 1920 and Black people 1965. India is doing well compared to us at their age.

Our first presenter was Prateep Philip, Inspector General Police, Social Justice. Founder of Friends of Police.

When Raji Ghandi was assinated in 1991 Prateep was the assistant superintendent of police and was 3 ft away from the bomb blast and the only one that survived.

In India there is one policeman to every 1000 people. He has developed a program much like our neighborhood watch. It is called Friends of Police (FOP) which is a training program for individuals to help the police prevent crime.

Next we had presentations from three women. Joshy Tewes of Intermission was the first to present. Joshy is married to a German man and their organization has given birth to the micro-finance organization we visited earlier and the Community College we observed yesterday. Joshy’s guiding Scriptures has been the story of the Samaritan woman at the well and the story of Moses’ mother. She was dynamic.

Next we heard from a young woman, Kavita, who co-pastors the Powerhouse church we heard about on Tuesday evening. She is one of the very, very few women in ministry that anyone here even knows about. She spoke on the plight of women in India. Even though they have had a woman Prime Minister, the Indians are very conservative and women do not have many rights. She spoke about violence against women, dowry harassment and numerous social issues facing women in India today.

The final presentation was by Sarah Chanda on women’s rights in India. She went right to the bottom line to say the problem is that India like many other societies is based on patriarchy. She is an activist for women’s rights.

We had lunch together at the hotel and then we went out for the afternoon. Our first stop, the community college that Joshy and her husband started They have 7 colleges for girls that are dropouts either due to poverty or orphaned. The girls are between 15-and 45 (women) – they are enrolled in a one year course…they offer six courses, tailoring, computer lab, primary school education training etc The site we visited currently has 162 students. You can find them at

We then broke into different groups. One group went to a leprosy colony, one group went to observe a street ministry and I went with 4 men to a ministry called The House of Destitution. 2 young Catholic women stared this org in 1992 feeding some hungry elderly homeless…now they run a residential house for elderly women who have been abandoned by their families or widowed and have no one to take care of them. They also run an after school program for children in the slum and feed them dinner. We prayed for some of the women. They were beautiful and so happy to see us. In the van on the way back to the hotel I began to emotionally process all I have seeing, hearing, smelling, touching. India is a very sensory place and coming from the U.S. it feels like an assault on all my senses. We were back for about one hour and then a group of us went back to Sparky’s for dinner.

Chennai – Day 4

Warning: I am too tired to edit this so am posting without proofing...

It is Friday evening and we just got back from dinner. A few of us went back to Sparky’s. We rode back in an auto-rickshaw which is an adventure all in itself. I am trying to stay on top of my journal but we don’t have much time. Everything is beginning to run together for me. I can barely think of what we did when. I will catch up on day 3 and day 5 tomorrow.

Thursday morning we debriefed the previous two days with Ray. We had seen Opportunity International (micro-finance), Compassion Intl. (children), Sparky’s. Ray asked, “what similarities did we see, what text does each model operate under, what would I have to learn to do what they do, what is the tool kit in this ministry?”

He talked about one of the organization's very narrow focus. The text to describe them would be Micah 6:8 and Ezek 16:21. When there is systemic evil you can’t just repent of it. You have to change the unjust laws. He compared this to the book of Ester. Ester replaced a pagan queen and accessed the power to change the plan of evil against the Israelites. And here is what I love about Ray, from there he talked about Purim. That many of us need to recover a ‘party theology’ especially when working with the poor and marginalized. Passover is when you celebrate deliverance from slavery or oppression. Purim (party) is when you celebrate in the midst of exile or when you can’t change the outside situation. Don’t you love that?
He spoke on Compassion Intl as a ‘cup of cold water’ ministry. He rehearsed the beginnings of World Vision. There is no one way to love a city.

Our first lecture of the morning was from Vasantha Raju Albert, Church Growth Association. He spoke on the creation of self help groups which are like cell churches all over the city. India has the second largest population in the world. 650 million people. 40% of the planet lives in two countries, India and China. Urban India is the equivalent of the entire US population. Albert believes the Church in India is stuck in tradition and will have to contextualize in order to get a hearing.
Ray followed up his talk with a story about meeting with a group of pastors in Cairo. Ray asked them to invent models and strategies that might work…they had many…then he had them identify what were the barriers that would keep them from innovating…ten barriers were identified…they were all from within the church.

The next lecture was Bishop Ezra of ECI (Evangelical Church of India). Bishop Ezra worked with Donald McGavaran and oversees a church planting organization. He presented their church planting and training model. The goal for ECI is to plant ten thousand churches by 2020 and one hundred thousand house churches in the next fifteen years to accommodate the expected house church explosion.

Our last lecture of the morning was from Ananda Ranjan Doss
Former Chief City Planner for Chennai. His lecture was titled, Chennai City Profile
And the politics of Planning. Profile – 62 million people
State – Tamil Nadu – An overview
Most organized state in India
256 engineering colleges in this state
1427 IT firms….08 million jobs projected

2nd most important city in IT
40% of the 8 million people in Chennai live in slums.
While this man was passionate and ‘charming’ to use the words of a friend in class, I could not understand him. He spoke very fast (he was passionate).
After lunch we visited Sify a leading Internet Provider in India and then on to the Art Lab.

I found the contrast between the first presenter that was convinced the Church in India is too traditional and will need to go the way of cell church/house churches in contrast with the second presenter who was very much into mega church (and house churches). Again we heard there is not one way to be the church.

Once again I am encouraged that we can agree there is not one way to do ministry. The church comes in many forms and manifestations and that is good. Even though I did not understand all of what Doss, the former City Planner said I understand the importance of being involved in the city. If we are going to exist to serve our community we have to know what is happening. I am fully convinced that as long as we have a facility in a community then we need to be the presence of Christ in that community.