One of the greatest things I get to do is leading the Leadership and Global Perspectives D.Min for George Fox Seminary.
Here are some photos from last September when all my students came to London. Next September we are in Cape Town.
This is the photo-album for the Leadership and Emerging Culture (LEC) Doctor of Ministry (DMin) track with an emphasis in Leadership and Global Perspectives led by Dr. Jason Clark at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon, USA.
- Location: London, UK
- George Fox Evangelical Seminary
- Leadership and Global Perspectives Doctor of Ministry Program
- Lead mentor: Dr. Jason Clark
- 1314 school year
- Sept. 24 - Oct. 2, 2013
- LGP3-4 Cohorts
- tag: dminlgp
I find myself regularly repeating a phrase I heard from my friend Jim Henderson - We must stop comparing our best with their worst.
Garrick Roegner one of my students reading Bebbington, pointed me to this article by Laura Turner, the daughter of american historian Mark Noll. (BTW you can read all my students blogging about their reading at http://dminlgp.com).
In her article, 'The Gift of Being Evangelical', Laura Turner tells the story of her being brought up Evangelical and what a gift it has been to her.
As I read it, I thought how it so wonderfully embodied that phrase - We must stop comparing our best with their worst.
I love my Church and my church movement. There I said it. Again.
I just got back from an amazing week, last week, with my tribe - our annual national leaders conference. My church had a huge film night party Saturday night and then had a commissioning service this morning for a new church plant.
More than ever I realise how much I love my church, and my wider church family and the church itself more broadly. And more than ever I feel how that sentiment is at odds with our ‘cynical age that tends to celebrate anti-institutional suspicion’ (see the recent Comment Magazine).
I have reposted below something I wrote a few years ago, about that juxtaposition of cynicism about church and loving church. I find myself convinced of what I wrote then more than ever now, with my recent experiences.
I sometimes wonder if at present that kind of statement (I love my church) puts you up there with the ‘crazies’. Kind of like saying Margaret Thatcher was a warm gentle person, or that Tony Blair’s faith helped his political policy making.
I’ve written before that it currently seems much more ‘authentic’ to leave/criticise/doubt/be bored with church. Any confession of a high view of church, and love of church immediately paints you as an institutionalized reactionary conservative, blind to the problems of church.
I’m not talking about the idea of church, were we can all affirm the imagining of a better church. I’m talking about the church as it has existed and will continue to to in history.
The church messed up by you and me.
There is a naive sentimentalism about church, that is dangerous and leaves the church unable to change, with it’s fingers in it’s ears to any critique. But there is also a bilious cynicism about church, that finds it’s ongoing expression in a pathological idealised post-church narrative. And lots of stuff in between.
My location on the emerging church discussion, doesn’t come from being bored with church (I didn’t grow up in church), a dislike of worship aesthetics (there is much I don’t like), or the loss of faith in a post-modern world (I’ve nearly lost mine a few times).
It comes from a love of the church.
Church saved me. It introduced Jesus to me. It challenged me to hand my life, my basis for living and being over to Jesus, and to explore that with other Christians.
It brought healing to my life, through loving relationships, the presence of Jesus, examples of what it meant to live as a human being and as a father and husband (without alcohol and violence), with a new family of wonderful relationships.
It encouraged me to learn and grow and find out God’s plans for my life, and to try to locate that in the scheme of eternity and God’s kingdom.
It got in my face about the need to attend to my character, and take the pain of my past to Jesus.
And yes it has bored me, frustrated me, and been hopelessly out of step with my world so many times. And more than that it has regularly hurt me, abused me, tried my faith, and caused to me to doubt and question.
And yet I love and believe in it even more than ever.
So here are some of my thoughts as to why I liked it so much. If you are going to respond in the comments please make sure a) you read the article and b) actually refer to it before making claims about it :-)
Any form of Christianity that wants Jesus, radically pursuing him is in danger of something due to that pursuit. The mediums and experiences of our culture in pursuing Jesus can become something we love more than the Jesus that got us into our modes of expression in the first place.
In other words we can love the culture of our Cathedral architecture and choral music, more than the Jesus that birthed those contextual engagements in following Jesus. We can love the size of our mega church, numbers of people, programs and resources, more than the Jesus we pursued in the first place that led to those radical cultural expressions.
And a warning from the author, owning his own generation and context. The things he values and enjoys about his cultural expressions of Christianity - the thing he loves the most, that he and his friends think is amazing about the ways they are radically expressing their faith in a changing culture can get become something to love instead of the Jesus that gave rise to those expressions in the first place.
He doesn’t criticise the desire to be radical, or the modes within his own church life that he engages with- he affirms them clearly, but wants to stand back and make sure he and his peers don’t fall fowl of a problem that can affect us all; preferring our modes of worship, and culture of faith instead of the ongoing real costs of following Jesus.
In short, don’t mistake the ways we like following Jesus, for following Jesus. He took aim at his own faith and context, honestly and openly, instead of criticizing others.
Now that is ‘brilliant’.
Stanley Hauerwas: Being a Christian Should Scare the Hell Out of Us
I got to attend the Jamie Smith event hosted by Theos at Westminster Central Hall, London.
Jamie was superb as ever, great material and wonderful interaction with people over questions and conversations.
His first session was a great summary of his recent work - how we are formed and shape through what we love not more than what we think with our heads.
The second session was some new material from him on understanding the secular - equally brilliant.
What are the practices of a missional people? - my editorial for Journal of Missional Practice vol. 3
I was asked to be the guest editor for the third Volume of the Journal of Missional Practice. That volume is now online and is free to view here.
My editorial review of the Journal is here. I provide an overview of this volume of the journal, and critique of the key articles in it. The keynote article is by Alan Roxburgh.
Take it for a spin and let me know what you think.
My #Verse2014 and hope for this new year: Galatians 2:20 http://jason.so/gal2-20 what’s yours?
Imagine the nativity if Facebook existed 2,000 years ago
I’ve been asked to write a short article for the Evangelical Alliance UK magazine, Idea.
So for any of you reading this, and before I write the article, if someone asked you ‘what’s the point of church?’, what would you say to them?
Now open for booking: Two Theos Events with James K.A. Smith
Christian Education and Formation in a Secular Age
and The Secular is Haunted
Thursday 16th January 2014, Central Hall Westminster
Come and join the Theos team for two events with renowned philosopher and theologian James K. A. Smith in January 2014. Looking at three of his areas of expertise, Christian formation, secularism and postmodernity, this is a rare opportunity to engage in person with the author of Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning,and Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works,and Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology.
These events are open to all, so please circulate this invitation to friends and colleagues.
Details and booking information below. In order to cover costs, we are charging a small entry fee of £8 for each event.
Event 1: Christian Education and Formation in a Secular Age
3.00pm-5.00pm at Central Hall, Westminster
Tea and coffee served on arrival
Aimed primarily at Christian educationalists and church leaders, but open to all, this session will explore how formation works in a 21st century context, whether in schools, universities churches or beyond.
Click here to book a place at this event. Tickets are £8.
Event 2: The Secular is Haunted
6.30pm-8.30pm at Central Hall, Westminster
Drinks reception on arrival. Lecture will start at 7.15pm.
Why our world is more complicated than the new atheists would have you believe.
If we are “secular” does that mean we no longer believe? Is a “secular” age synonymous with atheism? Does the loss of transcendence mean we are left in a flattened, “rational” world? In this talk, drawing on philosophy, literature, and poetry, as well as his upcoming book on Charles Taylor, James K.A. Smith will offer a very different account of our “secular” age - not as non-religious or atheistic, but as an age of believing otherwise.
Click here to book a place at this event. Tickets are £8.
There is an ongoing trend of an emerging post-charismatic group f Christians. Partly I think as a response to the cultural excess and burnout of many charismatic traditions.
I think that burnout has often arisen from a focus on what Holy Spirit does in terms of the dramatic, gifts, power, and manifestations etc, with too little understanding of who the Holy Spirit is, and the work He was sent to do by the Father.
How the Holy Spirit is a person in relationship with the Father and the Son, with His work within creation, to transform us and creation in power, is something we mustn’t lose sight of. Who the Holy Spirit is, is much bigger than taxonomies and checklists of spiritual experiences.
When I planted my current church in 1997, I embraced virtual officing and I have had a mobile phone since 1993. I still remember my first blackberry and the wonder of push emails 24/7.
Now addictions to technology are a serious issue, and maybe my use doesn’t border on an addiction (you’d have to ask my wife). But I have some serious technology habits and compulsions.
I have tried fighting them, the daily habit of rising and reaching for my phone. After turning off my alarm, I check my emails, read my various feeds and updates. I realise that this habit sets up my day in ways I don’t want. I kid myself that I can do this every day and still get around to what I need to do. And it doesn’t work, and no matter how hard I try, I still reach for that phone each morning!
So I’ve tried something else the last few weeks, I’ve embraced that habit and addiction, and fed it differently, and it has revolutionised my mornings and life.
I started with setting up an account with lift.do. I put into there, my daily habits I want to attend to. For me those are prayer, reading my bible, reading something inspiring on leadership, memorising scripture and exercise.
So now when I reach for my phone, I have lift.do greet me, and see those habits that I need to tick off in order to start my day.
So instead of reading my email, I now compulsively do my other habits and compulsively tick them off on my lift.do app.
Then I’ve fed my addition and habit even more. I’m reading the bible through with www.bible.com reading plan in the free You Version app. I’m memorising bible passages by using the Nav Press topical memory system available on android and iPhone. More things to tick, and complete on my phone.
But the outcome is not a sense of ticking things on my phone, it’s that my life has become full of the habits and practices I’ve wanted for so long.
I’ve used one practice and habit to help me leverage new habits into my life.