Theology & Practice

Why We Care About Mark Driscoll

A couple days ago, I wrote a blog post about Mark Driscoll. No big deal. In nearly ten years of blogging, I’ve written something like 1,200 posts, and a handful of them have mentioned Mark – some in a positive way, and others not so much. But this one was different. It hit a nerve with some people. Well over ten percent of the page views that I’ve gotten in the past 28 months have come in the past three days since that post went live.* I feel a bit dirty right now. Like I need a shower. I just got out of the shower, though, and I still feel dirty. I don’t regret anything I wrote – I stand by all of it. Mark Driscoll is a very gifted communicator. He’s funny, he’s culturally savvy, he has a quick mind, he takes theology very seriously. Though this may shock […]

Breaking News: Mark Driscoll Repents

In the past few weeks, I’ve seen what many many many people have seen on Facebook news feeds – way too much of Mark Driscoll. First the hype about his new book about sex, marriage, and sex (which I have not read). Then about his insults toward the maybe-godly-but-definitely-wimpy preachers of the UK for not being famous enough. Then about the church discipline process enacted upon some members who weren’t willing to repent enough to be accepted back into fellowship after voluntarily confessing sin. Just moments ago, I finally read something that I, and many others have eagerly been waiting for . . . a sincere word of repentance from Mark Driscoll, as delivered from the pulpit at Mars Hill Church. Yes, really. Read it yourself: I believe that humility is the great omission and failure in my eleven years of preaching. I believe that this is my greatest oversight […]

Saying Goodbye to Off the Map

My friend Jim Henderson has posted the news that Off the Map, a project he started with some friends a dozen years ago, is going to walk off into the sunset. OTM hosted a number of events that were gathering places for a wide range of people over the years. The conferences were a great mix of the usual emerging church celebrities, and people I had never heard of before. One thing I’ve admired about Jim since the time I met him is his ability to identify people who are good thinkers and practitioners, but who have gone unnoticed by others. He “finds” these people, and just sticks a microphone in their hands . . . sometimes without asking permission! For all the conferences and events I’ve attended over the past ten years, Off the Map was far and away my favorite place to just hang out with people. There […]

The Emerging Church – A Movement Worth Talking About

This post is part 2 of my thoughts on Why The Emerging Church Still Matters. I won’t recap part 1 here, other than to say that despite the fading prominence of the emerging church in conference topics, blog posts, and common church conversations, I still think it’s worth talking about. Growing up in USAmerican evangelicalism, one of the running jokes in churches was that ‘the church’ was also 10-20 years behind cultural trends. Music, fashion, politics, and other topics would pop up in church circles well after they’d gone stale everywhere else. I’d like to suggest that the emerging church actually represents not just a “catching up with culture,” but a bit of a reversal of the game. Without attempting a full history of the movement, let me just suggest some of the hallmarks of the emerging church thus far: It’s a movement made up primarily of no-name people, who […]

Why the Emerging Church Still Matters (part 1)

In my last post, I gave a brief review of an excellent book, and I made the statement that I’m not ready to jump off the emerging church bandwagon. I still have my areas of ambivalence, and those are probably worth a few posts on their own. But I do think that, while the emerging church may not be the flavor of the month with the hipsters any more, to pronounce the death of it would be premature. First, a word of clarification. When I use the term emerging church, I do so in a broad, inclusive sense. There was a time when one of our buzzwords was “conversations,” and I liked the fact that a wide variety of voices were heard – including (especially?) the voices of those I disagreed with. The way I see it, if you want to talk about the emerging church, congratulations, you’re a member […]

The Emerging Church – Does Anyone Still Care?

This post is for all my readers who still care about the Emerging Church . . . I hope both of you enjoy it. But seriously, folks, I’ve got some thoughts. Over the past few months, I’ve seen a number of blog posts, tweets, and Facebook status updates along the lines of “I used to affiliate with the emerging church, but I’m not so sure I do any more.” Granted, most of them are much more cleverly worded, but it would seem that the thrift stores in many U.S. cities will soon be receiving higher than normal donations of tea light holders, dark-rimmed glasses, English flat caps, and Celtic cross wall hangings. The bandwagon is getting a little lonely. As someone who has run in these circles for over ten years now, and has at various times felt a bit of ambivalence about my own involvement, I can understand the […]

A Christian Nation?

While an increasing number of USAmerican Christians would be comfortable with the notion of calling the US a “Christian nation” – primarily because of the separation of church and state, and the relative lack of Christian morality at work in the culture – we are known around the world as just that.  In conservative evangelical Christian circles, there is a lot made of patriotism blended with religious practice. And “we” (not unlike other “Christian” nations around the world) blend our nationalism in such a way that assumes that we hold a special status with God. People think that because our forefathers were mostly Christian, and prepared our founding documents with God in mind, we should hold a “most favored nation” position before God.* With that in mind, it’s been extremely interesting to spend time in Ethiopia, home of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church (EOTC). (The photo for this post is […]

The Challenge of Africa

For the past several days, I have had the privilege of joining a group of students studying leadership in global perspectives.  They come from a variety of backgrounds – both nationally and vocationally. It’s been a wonderful experience thus far, and one that has challenged our comfort levels, our categories of understanding, and how we interact with our home contexts. So far, our time has been in Nairobi, Kenya, but we’ll be heading to Ethiopia soon. One of the things we’ve done is spend time in a slum called Mathare. It’s not the biggest slum in Nairobi, but it is home to about 800,000 people. I’ve had previous experiences in slums here in Nairobi, in Dominican Republic, and in India (including the one on display in Slumdog Millionaire), so I was somewhat prepared for what I’d see. It’s pretty jarring, though – seeing children with little or no clothing, running […]

Answering Questions with Better Questions

As I prepare myself for starting work on a PhD, I do so with a range of emotions. Some days I have the confidence of lion, knowing that I’m up for the intellectual challenge, the persistence through frustration, and the occasional need to outlast boredom with the research process. Some days I very seriously question whether I have anything of value to offer the academic world, and wonder if I’m about to embark upon the grandest form of missing the point I’ve ever been a part of. Some days I simply get a little nervous about my ability to answer questions. For me, questions are a big deal. Perhaps the biggest deal of them all. After living more than half of my adult life with the distinct impression that it was my job to find and discover the “right” answers to all of life’s important questions, I stumbled my way […]

Review: The Outsider Interviews

I just finished a quick read through The Outsider Interviews, by Jim Henderson, Todd Hunter, and Craig Spinks.* It’s billed as a “DVB,” meaning that it’s a book and a DVD together. The DVD has a large number of video clips that are referenced throughout the chapters of the book. I would guess that if this were to be published a year or two from now, the iPad and Kindle versions of the book would integrate the video clips straight into the text. While I read about half of the book away from a TV or computer, I was able to read the other half while sitting next to my computer, and followed the cues to watch the clips. The content of the DVB was largely driven off of the authors’ interaction with material presented in the book unChristian, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. That book presents a lot […]