Monthly Archives: May 2008

 

May

29

2008

Jared C. Wilson|11:45 pm CT

Prayer Request

Popping back in to ask for prayers for one of my best friends (and Element’s technical director), John. He’s going in tomorrow morning for a biopsy.

May the God of all healing make the results negative.

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May

28

2008

Jared C. Wilson|9:23 pm CT

Happy Birthday, Macy!

Our eldest princess turns 7 today. She loves her family, music, art, and best of all, Jesus. Her mother and I are just as proud of her as we can be.

Wow. Time is going by way too fast. This is what Macy looked like in 2003, the year I started blogging:

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May

27

2008

Jared C. Wilson|10:52 pm CT

Indiana Jonesing

Pre-kids, I was an insatiable film buff. I was my university paper’s film critic for three years, and I published film criticism in academic journals. But I think that last time I wrote an actual full-length movie review was back when I was writing for Cinema Veritas, WORLD Magazine’s film blog (which doesn’t even exist any more).
After a long hiatus, I felt inspired today.
Last night I went with some Element peeps to catch the new Indiana Jones flick. My review is here.

Have you seen it yet? What’d you think?

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May

27

2008

Jared C. Wilson|3:29 pm CT

It’s the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel Fine

I spoke about the “end times” and the rapture and all that at Element last Sunday night. It was part of our Coffee Shop Theology series, in which topics/questions were submitted and voted on by our community. It’s been a long time since I spent any energy exploring end times stuff, but in my younger days it greatly animated me. The Thinklings themselves sort of started as a discussion group for a book called The Sign by Robert Van Kampen, about the so-called “pre-wrath rapture” of the church.

But I’ve long been burnt out on that whole scene. You know how new Calvinists enter the cage phase? I went through a rapture cage phase, the time after I abandoned pretribulationism and became absolutely geeked out on what I was learning.

As the old Calvinist joke’s punchline goes, “Whew. Glad that’s over.”

I’ll tell you what I’m thankful for: I’m thankful that the end times began when Jesus cried out “It is finished” from the cross, that his bodily resurrection was a down payment on my future, and that someday I will be changed. That’s a gospel-driven end times. That’s an end times that excites me like no number of charts and diagrams and newspaper-wielding speculations ever could.

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May

27

2008

Jared C. Wilson|3:05 pm CT

Monking Around

The iMonk weighs in on Missional Street Cred, and it’s a fantastic post, this part especially:

There are three kinds of credibility that evangelicals should examine very closely these days. Those are the credibility that comes from your web presence, your conference presence and your ability to get published.

These three things do not mean you know what you are doing on the ground, that you have any cred when it comes to building missional community or that anyone should listen to you. They don’t mean you are telling the truth or should even be speaking.

They mean you have a platform. That’s it. Beyond that, someone should look deeper.

I get emails all the time from dudes asking me for advice and/or input on all kinds of things related to churches and ministry, and while I do my best to respond (because, clearly, I have an opinion on just about everything), I always try to provide the credibility caveat. “This is what my ministry looks like, this is how long we’ve been doing it. I’m not an expert, I’m still figuring this stuff out, blah blah blah.”

Having a blog, even a well written one full of strong and clear opinions, doesn’t make anyone an expert.

In addition, the things that Michael is urging at this post (“Look deeper”) appears to me to be the very thing Mark Driscoll was touching on. The comments of Driscoll’s that have received some negative, if muted, reaction strike me as saying essentially the same thing: A church guy having a blog/book/platform doesn’t mean he’s having ministry effectiveness. And of course you can define effectiveness any way you want (numeric growth, conversions/baptisms, spiritual health, etc), but again, however you define it, a strong and widely disseminated voice isn’t a substitute for any of them. Unless having a widely read blog or book or getting conference gigs is considered ministry effectiveness; and let’s be honest, it’s considered at least part of it by a large segment of evangelicalism.

In other iMonk news, he’s shutting the doors on The Internet Monk site soon. ‘Twill be a sad day, but I’m looking forward to his new online venture: Jesus Shaped Spirituality.

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May

27

2008

Jared C. Wilson|2:30 pm CT

There Will Be (Bad) Blood

In which a church planter says to a former pastor, “I! Drink! Your! Milkshake!”

Sorry, couldn’t resist. :-)

Seen this yet?

Some not so random thoughts:

1. Again, if you treat your church like a business, you will treat other churches like your competition.
Similarly, if you treat congregants like property, you’ll think they’re being stolen if they leave.

2. It’s credibility straining to me that Young isn’t acknowledging that the very system of doing church he’s a proponent of and a part of is very largely responsible for the thing he’s decrying.

3. If a large group of people left my church and all went to one place, it would seem to me it would be cause for reflection. Am I doing something wrong? Are they not being fed or led? Are they not growing here? If they aren’t, I can’t blame them or anybody else for their leaving. I should blame myself. If that’s not the case, then their leaving is a good thing. Why would you want disgruntled, divisive people to stay?

4. This sort of problem is why many churches today insert non-compete clauses in departing pastors’ contracts.

5. If your church is ginormous, why not plant some churches? Wouldn’t that help curb the “pirate” problem? Then you’re being pro-active and positive and a part of a new work, rather than fearful and reactionary and always trying to make sure nobody breaks rank.

6. I imagine that most of these alleged pirates are young guys with young families. Their wives have close friendships in the town, their children are invested in schools. That a well established pastor of a huge church would tell this guy he has to uproot his life and family and go sufficiently far away just so the big man won’t feel threatened seems, at the least, not pastoral. Church planting is already a tough row to hoe and is a tremendous stress on families. I couldn’t blame a guy for wanting to stay in a town he’s already put roots down in.
Certainly leaving town would be a great courtesy, and planting in towns that need churches is good gospel strategy, but I don’t think a planter has to leave town, especially if he’d only be doing so to make his former boss happy.

7. I don’t doubt there are some ministers who fit the description of “pirates” being criticized here. Divisive. Derisive. Guys who really do split churches by sowing discord and disgruntlement. I just don’t think most are like that. I think most church planters these days are either:
a) a part of the same machine the pastors upset with them are a part of (in which case, in my best Vanilla Ice voice I want to say, “Hate the game, not the playa”), or
b) pastors disillusioned with the machine and interested in starting a different sort of church.

8. I think it’s curious that my former church’s former pastor liked Young’s statements so much, given that he didn’t really move out of town to start his new church. (I’m referring to remarks he made on his blog, which I won’t link to.) But maybe he thinks that’s different because he didn’t leave so much as was fired, so the rules don’t apply. Don’t know.

What do you think of this thing?
Do you think if a pastor wants to leave a church to plant a new church he has to leave town?
I tend to think that if a significant portion of a church would leave to follow him if he planted in town, they aren’t really “there” to begin with. Unless you follow Young’s logic that all the blame lay with the “pirate pastor” for sowing division.

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May

23

2008

Jared C. Wilson|3:18 pm CT

Five For Friday: Weird Movies I Loved When I Was a Kid

Never underestimate the power of nostalgia.

Here are five weird flicks that hardly anyone remembers but that enthralled my childhood self:

1. The Monster Squad
This one just came out on DVD and hundreds of thirty year old nerds rejoiced.

2. The Quest
No, not the Jean Claude Van Damme movie, although this one is just as bad. It’s Henry Thomas in some weird Australian movie about a legendary lake monster (that — spoiler alert — turns out to be an old bulldozer or something affected by magnetic forces in the area). Yeah. It’s awesome.

3. The Explorers
Ethan Hawke. River Phoenix. Anyone remember this? It made me want to build a space ship in my garage.

4. “The Red Room Riddle”
This was an ABC Saturday “O.G. Readmore” afternoon movie that scared the bejeebers out of me. I’ve actually caught portions of it on YouTube.

5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
This is the 1978 remake with Donald Sutherland. Super creepy. I just rented this from NetFlix recently to do some reminiscing and it still freaks me out.

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May

23

2008

Jared C. Wilson|2:43 pm CT

Missional Motive, Impact, Effectiveness

Bill Kinnon asks the million dollar question:

I confess that I’m really not interested in hearing theories anymore. I want to know how the missonal profundities emanating from the particular guru are applied in their own lives – right now. Not last year, last century or last millenium. But. Right now.

“Where are you plugged into a local expression of a missional community? How does that impact what you are sharing with us?”

Jesus lived what he taught the disciples. We should have no less expectation of those who want to disciple us.

On a similar note, just as I’d weaned myself off of my addiction to Mark Driscoll he apparently goes and says something really good and provocative:

And all the nonsense of emerging, and Emergent, and new monastic communities, and, you know, all of these various kinds of ridiculous conversations — I’ll tell you as one on the inside, they don’t have converts. The silly little myth, the naked emperor is this: they will tell you it’s all about being in culture to reach lost people, and they’re not.

A few folks are bristling at those remarks, and I admit I don’t have the context for them, but I think he may be on to something. In fact, I read David Fitch’s good and helpful rebuttal and don’t find it much of a rebuttal at all, but a clarification that is nicely compatible with what Mark appears to be saying.

Mark Driscoll is saying: “Lots of people, frequently the most vocal people, are all talk.”

I read David Fitch saying: “Yes, but . . .”

That’s how I’m reading them, anyway, and I think they’re both right.

Lots of folks in the missional conversation (whatever that is) are just conversing. But many of them are not.

One of the great resonances for me in the missional approach to Christian community is the acknowledgment that the work is an investment, that it trusts the Spirit’s role in bearing fruit though the hard work of patient but diligent discipleship.

Go and read Fitch’s five points in the post linked above. It’s good and helpful stuff, and it is addressing what he calls “the modernist desire to measure success” in specific, honest ways.
I will say that I think the issue that Driscoll raises is a valid one, that the question Bill Kinnon is asking is a necessary one. “We hear what you’re saying, Missional People. What are you doing?”

Fitch’s proposed stats (“5-10 years to nourish a missional community into a true functioning existence,” for instance) are sobering. But then, another one of the resonances of the missional approach for me at least is that it bids me give up the tyranny of “results” and simply respond to God’s call to be faithful — faithful as a disciple and faithful as a pastor.
It’s our job to be faithful and the Spirit’s job to be fruitful.

Here’s my encouragement to anybody tracking with this:
In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says “Love never fails.” I don’t believe this means that if you love someone you will always succeed in getting what you want from them or in changing them for the better (or whatever). I believe it means that simply loving them (selflessly and sacrificially, as the passage outlines) is a success in and of itself. Love is never a waste, never a failure.
Similarly, if you are obeying God’s call upon your life, if you are leading your church or ministry into a fulfillment of Scripture’s parameters for it, that in itself is success. If you are proclaiming Christ in word and deed, if you are serving and submitting, you are succeeding.

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May

22

2008

Jared C. Wilson|12:55 pm CT

No Words

No blogging today.

Pray for Steven Curtis Chapman’s family.

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May

21

2008

Jared C. Wilson|2:17 pm CT

The Brilliance of Jesus

Oh, now here is something we tend to overlook or, if we even consider, fail to invest in: that is that Jesus, being God in the flesh, was the smartest man who ever lived. Does Jesus ever show up on anybody’s list of the greatest thinkers of history? Gurus, perhaps. Sages, maybe. The world may think him “wise” in some Confucian sense. We think of him as an idealist, as an enlightened man, as a revolutionary. But generally speaking, we also tend to regard him as naïve or simple. Like Friedrich Nietzshce, we tend to think, “If he had lived to my age he would have repudiated his doctrine.”

The world does not regard Jesus as savvy or practical, and if we within the Church will be honest with ourselves, we must admit that our frequent failures to obey his commands stem essentially from our practical disbelief that he could really be right about the way to think and act. But if we really believe Jesus was who he said he was, we know we have recorded in Scripture and at our reading convenience, the greatest human mind of all time.

How vast is the wisdom of Christ? As vast as the resources of almighty God. Revisit that exciting post-resurrection scene from the road to Emmaus in Luke’s Gospel and remind yourself how all-encompassing Jesus’ knowledge is (and how all-illuminating our knowledge of Jesus can be).

Jesus comes on these guys unawares and basically reveals the Bible to them. He illuminates Scripture to them. He answers their questions in such a fulfilling way that they say their hearts burned while he explained it to them.

Christians, Jesus’ knowledge imparted to us is not just head knowledge, but a godly wisdom of the sort that should be our constant resource and inspiration and guide through all of life. When Jesus gives us the Sermon on the Mount, he’s not just giving us a list of things to do, but an invitation to real life as Holy Spirit-enlightened persons. His commands are not just calls to right behavior, but calls to embrace a quality of the heart that leads to a pattern of life that burns with real knowledge from God. We call this real knowledge “truth.”

Jesus was absolutely brilliant, and yet we don’t refer to or access that brilliance with much regularity, do we? We tend to make our own decisions, utilize our own reason, and then ask God to okay it, confirm it, bless it.

We are great at compartmentalizing our lives, which is merely an extension of our implicit belief that Jesus’ knowledge is for our “spiritual life” but that our “everyday life” requires a more modern knowledge, a more “realistic” knowledge. Street smarts, perhaps. Dallas Willard writes:

The world has succeeded in opposing intelligence to goodness . . . And today any attempt to combine spirituality or moral purity with great intelligence causes widespread pangs of “cognitive dissonance.” Mother Theresa, no more than Jesus, is thought of as smart — nice, of course, but not really smart. “Smart” means good at managing how life “really” is.

Most of us have to get into the habit of thinking of Jesus as competent in all areas of our life, but we can’t settle at Jesus’ mere competence. We must embrace Jesus’ all-surpassing brilliance. That is where Jesus’ intelligence really shines through for us – he’s not just a storehouse of facts or data; he is the wellspring of all truth. Jesus the Man didn’t just teach and live the truth, he was, as he said himself, the Truth itself.

We have to get past an anxiety-prone existence in which we acknowledge Jesus’ moral perfection and good teaching and miraculous power, but perversely, not to the extent that we think him “in touch” with what we are really going through. In one of the great ironies of our modern evangelical subculture, we are very big on “making” the Christian faith practical and “relevant,” yet by and large we go on living our lives as if Jesus had nothing relevant to bear upon what we do and say, who we date or marry, what sort of jobs we take, what sort of families we raise, where we spend our time and who we spend it with.

We’re cool with Jesus being good and nice, but we’re hesitant to live as if he is omniscient as well.

This is a condensed version of an excerpt from the chapter called “Jesus the Man” in my book The Unvarnished Jesus, which is currently being shopped to publishers.

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