Sunday, October 29, 2006


I wonder if I got in early on the "Emerging Movement", and then proceeded to miss the connections to the larger church.

During my seminary days I also attended and worked at Dunwoody UMC in Atlanta, GA. We had a young adult group there, with about 15 regular students. When I walked in the door they were working their way through the book by Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline. What I remember of this book (I've since read it two more times) is that many of the practices that the early church took to heart: the inward disciplines, the outward disciplines, and the corporate disciplines.

Isn't this the call the emerging church movement is making: reclaim the traditions of old to reform our faith experience? The cry of the emergent movement seems to be, "We aren't getting spiritually fed with the current church, what are the deeper practices we can experience?"

As such I was brought to a new awakening of the power of those deep practices when our youth group had a recent Wednesday night program that called for prayer stations as a part of the curriculum series we have been exploring (Combos for Youth Groups). This is the first and only time when working with the youth that we have carried something into multiple weeks, as there was not enough time for the youth to all participate that night. What's more they wanted their friends to experience the prayer path, even though they had not been there that week, and so begged to let the friend go through when they came the following weeks to youth group.

From my time at the School of Congregational Development I was also brought to awareness that maybe it is time at Del Rosa UMC to consider a second service. This is not to be a copycat of the service we have, but something new, that would bring in those from the outside. I have been considering something that would have multiple elements. I want to set a day that would be best for outreach to occur in this community. Then I want to offer a variety of entrances to the church experience - from prayer paths, to concerts, to testimonies, to traditional services, to community debates/forums. This would enable the community to connect to us in series of manners, but may not provide the ongoing depth that may be required. Now it is time for the leg-work to determine if this is the appropriate venue to approach the community.

All of this to say that the "Emergent Movement" seeks to be doing two things:
1) Re-connecting to the ancient practices of the church for personal development
2) Re-connecting to the communities in which they find themselves, as a way of bringing forth the glory of God in that place.

Time to emerge into the possibilities


Friday, October 27, 2006

School of Congregational Development Redux

We had a recent reunion for those 150 of us who were at the school of congregational development from the California-Pacific Annual Conference.

These are my notes as taken during the session.


School of Congregational Development Reunion

Began with music

Jonathan Lee gave a video presentation welcome, as he is in Chicago for the Willow Creek school.

Craig Brown brought greetings from the Bishop; we had a conference delegation of about 150 people at the SCD; our agenda today will include dialogue and conversation groups with particular persons in their areas of expertise.

Brian Parcel gave us the academy dates for 2007

-March 16, 17 Richard Southern and Robert Norton: Cracking Your Congregation’s Code; discovering and developing your congregation’s DNA. To Be held in the Ontario area.

-October 12, 13 Brian McLaren; Emergent Church; in the Burbank area.

-Scholarships are available for churches who are on equitable comp and those with attendance under 50.

-For more information

Adjourn to 90 minute learning groups with ongoing Google groups.

-Worship Design

-Congregational Visions and Mission

-Understanding the Mission Field

-Discipleship Systems

-Leadership Development

-Engaging in Mission

Please take with you to these groups one question in mind: What is the one question you need answered for your setting?

Vision and Mission Group with Jim Powell

-Story of the school at Mt. Pisgah UMC in GA. The school board of powerful people and the 1000 students. The Jr High youth went on a retreat from the school over the summer. During the retreat the youth pastor went to the retreat and during his sharing time offered an altar call, while the principal/superintendent of the school was telling the youth that they could not go, and telling the youth pastor that this was inappropriate for the setting. It all hit the fan when they returned home. The school board sided with the principal/superintendent and the church council sided with the youth pastor. The school was a part of the church, not an adjunct mission of the church. During the fight that ensued the question became about what the vision and mission of the church was. As such the lawyers went to court and the end result was the school board, consisting of such power players as Jeff Foxworthy, John Smoltz, the VP of Cocacola, and others were all summarily fired. The church lost over 150 families and 3000 members in the fallout, but recommitted itself to the mission of the church to proclaim Jesus Christ, and has since recovered all those lost families and members in their numbers with a very successful school.

The question for us becomes one of the same: What will we live or die for as a church?

Is the vision cast by God in your congregation, or by an individual with an agenda?

The unspoken vision versus the vision made during a “Saturday Morning Retreat” versus the one God has laid out.

Eg. Del Rosa’s unspoken vision is “We are family”

The vision created during a retreat is:

“The Del Rosa United Methodist Church is a living, growing community of faithful members of the body of Christ. We are a fellowship of active and supportive persons who minister to one another, our community, and our world. We are an inter-active, dynamic and Christ-centered congregation who are dedicated to nurturing, educating, and caring for others in Christian love and faith.”

If one does decide to do a “Visioning Retreat” it is helpful to do two things:

1) bring in the outside consultant for the event

2) go in with no prescribed outcomes

My questions of self for such a time of visioning are:

1) How do I get out of the way of the process?

2) Where do I need to step into the process?

3) Is it time to recast the vision for Del Rosa?

Once you have a vision in place reflect everything the church does back to the vision, and the mission. Either it will hold together or it will dissemble. The challenge comes when the program does not reflect the mission. There are two alternatives then, that the program needs to fall away, or the vision needs to be recast.

Some definitions:

VISION – The Prophecy that tells where we are going

MISSION – How we get to the prophetic vision

(Some have noted that varieties of authors sometimes interchange the two. The reality is that you must have the where and the how.)

Each church can and should be different in how gifts of the Spirit are manifest.

How often should we reflect on the vision?

-one church does this every ad council meeting at the end.

-another church does it every other ad council meeting, and focuses on a particular area of the church

If someone has an idea for the program of the church it might be helpful to do two things:

1) reflect it back to the mission and vision of the church

2) ensure they have a prayer/partner/passion for the program

Be wary of using models for mission and vision from outside the church. Ensure the model is a biblical model. Additionally, if self-perpetuation is the goal of the vision, then the vision is flawed.

How have you done visioning?

-Del Rosa UMC has used this process:

1) We did five nights of visioning questions and roundtable discussions over three months at the beginning of the new pastorate

2) We gathered the old vision from the archives, and ultimately re-used it

3) We spent time looking at demographics from the area (Percept Study was helpful for this purpose)

4) We tried some things to address the stated needs of the congregation, and met with resistance, helping us to identify that the mission and vision of the church was not current or practical for our purposes

5) We began a series of questions to determine vital interests, and areas of compassion (Similar to tools presented in the Southern and Norton book, Cracking your Congregation’s Code.

6) We began the Covenant for Vital Ministry Congregational Assessment

7) We intend to take all of this information we have gathered back to the church body, after narrowing the purposes with the “Visioning Our Future Team”.

8) We will then need to reflect all of our programs and ideas for programs back to the mission and vision of the church.

With the understanding that only a Biblical Vision can work for the church to be faithful, then it might be helpful to discover some of the Biblical Visions for the church.

-One shared is the Acts 2 church.

-question for the group: Is this the only vision for the church that is biblical? What others might be available?

Suggested that not everyone who enters our church doors may find our church suitable for them. In that regard you may find it helpful to do some follow-up.

-The group has requested Brian Parcel share with us his response card that he sends out three to four months after someone has not come back to the church.

-Develop a catalog of other churches in your area with their strengths. One way to accumulate that information is with the help of calls and letters to the other churches, saying ‘We’d like to advertise your church in our congregation.” Once getting through the skepticism, by means of ensuring the purpose of the questions as one to get every person interested in a church home to a church home, it may begin to take shape.

Also for the edification of all:

-How often do you preach on the mission and vision of the church?

Recognize that those who enter the church are asking one question:

-Is my life going to change because I am a part of this congregation?


Craig Kennet Miller came forward and shared with us from a powerpoint presentation on the L3 Leadership Incubator and the Church Vitality Indicator

He suggested that we shape ministry as though the congregation is a set of college students, rotating every so often in and out of the setting you provide.

Showed a video of “The Church and the Grocery Store” (Available with the L3 materials as a DVD)

This video depicted a grocery store as it changed with the times and the people of the neighborhoods, while the church remained steadfast in what it looked like, did and presented to the community, with some significant disdain for the church on behalf of the narrator.

Some discussion and powerpoint followed, with those powerpoint slides handed out at the reunion. Some copies are available, and I can send them to you if you need them.

The final point of the session from Craig was that if your church is successful and the three or four other churches around you are not (Methodist, denominational or other) then you are still failing.

Reunion concluded with some announcements by Cedrick Bridgeforth and a blessing.


Sunday, October 22, 2006


Did you ever just want to laugh at the nature of "your church"?

Do things just seem to be incomprehensible?

Thanks to The Church You Know it all becomes clear. Check out the videos.

hat tip Winston


This morning I went trawling through the blogosphere. (please note that trawling is not a mistaken form of trolling, but instead the more promising act of fishing through the deep waters of blogs, where trolling is going into the blogosphere to start fights and be nasty)

While sifting through the updates on various personal items of folks I fell upon Andy Bryan's blog. He mentioned some valuable information about what the church might be doing to serve the world better. This was especially helpful in light of today's text from Mark 10:35-45 which reminds us that to be great in the kingdom of heaven, one must be the servant of all.

While preparing to addmy own comments to Andy's blog I found someone else who proclaimed to be from the "Left Coast" and a GenXGirlRev. I wondered if I knew such a person, and found her to be a colleague in the ministry here in Cal-Pac, which then led me on to another blogger in Cal-Pac. It seems the "Left Coast", for being such a technology based economy has taken a little time in catching up in using these great tools. A belated welcome to Molly and Erika, and to JT who has been in my frame of reference for a while, but an unbidden welcome has been hanging for too long.

Thanks for adding your voices to the conversations.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Public Poll

Greetings all,
Our Disciple Bible Study Group is just completing the Jesus In The Gospels series. The consensus is that we would like to continue to have a study. The flip side is that we have done all of the Disciple Studies, Christian Believer and Companions in Christ, and several of the group would like to have something that doesn't require the same commitment level, and allows for people to come in and join us at any time during the studies.

The two studies that seem to have stand alone sessions are NOOMA and KERYGMA. These both come well-recommended, but I want to know if there are other similar types of studies that you all might recommend.

Thanks in advance,

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Christian Educators Fellowship just concluded a great Conference at the Lake Junaluska Assembly grounds, North Carolina, of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.

This was a great event featuring connections of the Pan-Methodist family, Dr. David Otto of Centenary College in Louisiana, outstanding workshops and speakers, including several members of the General Board of Discipleship family.

Oneof the outcomes of this event was that I was named to the 2008 design team and so now I have a host of new adventures ahead. The next location is Albuquerque, NM October 24-27, 2008. I am very excited about this opportunity, and hope to help find suitable speakers and topics related to the Conference, which is going to be paired with the Preaching from the Center Conference.

CEF bears the theme "Christian Education for the 7th Generation: Blessed to be a Blessing."

One of the things I found interesting was the similarity of logos for CEF and The Emergent Village. They are both symbols of the leaf, recognizing new growth, and there is the reality that they both come from the trunk and branches, which bear a long history, the 7th Generation, and the historical church.

It is going to be important to recognize the seven generations that have come before and the seven generations after we are done, seeking ways to connect to both.

There is a story of many of the Native American tribes which provides a space in the tribal council for a person who will only voice the concerns of the 7th Generation to come.

What a vital response to the world, to find the people who will speak for those who have not yet come. How do we prepare our preachers, teachers, educators, and those who would change the church, sustain the church, and remember the church, by being faithful to those who have come before, those who serve now and those who are yet to come?