In Retrospect...

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, February 27, 2006 at 12:15 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at*

My goal and dream for this blog is that people will be spurred on and encouraged in their own spiritual journeys towards Christ as they follow the chronicle of but one facet of my own journey. I long for this to be a place where real life relationships are cultivated from things worked through together here. I long to challenge and be challenged in a healthy way, realizing that sometimes involves disagreement. I long to journey along side other followers of Christ as we are transformed into His likeness on this planet. However, last Wednesday's post and the conversation(s) that followed have made me wonder some things about that dream.

Is it really possible for the questions and thoughts that I wrestle with on my journey to be communicated clearly and be conducive to those who are in quite a different place in theirs? On the other hand, might it be a good thing for feathers to be ruffled, thought to be provoked, and different paths ventured down? Then again, this still is a wretched venue void of tone and all forms of non-verbal communication, hence sometimes leading to gross misunderstandings-- even among those whom I'm closest to in the real world.

I'd really like hope desperately long for some feedback regarding this issue. Until I come to some conclusions regarding the benefits and health of this place, I think I'll remain silent here for a while.

Musings on Church Manifestations

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 8:02 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at*

Ok. So this is one of those posts that I would really like some feedback on.

*Note: Some thoughts here are quite raw and unprocessed, some are more developed--so take them for what you want. Hopefully, they'll merely spur us all on to further thought...*

I am constantly thinking of and meditating on how the Church assimilates itself into the community. For 100's of years, that has been for it [the Church] to gather into a building once, twice, three times, or more, during a given week to join in a variety of functions.

The result of this structure? In most cases, misplaced dependencies on both the church building itself and the very act of gathering there; a highly programmed, robotic, and compartmentalized "faith"; organizations that reflect the appearance of fortune 500 companies rather than communities of faith; an atmosphere that enables (and nearly demands) a lack of authenticity with those we claim to be unified with--undermining the very claim itself.

There are pro's to the current structure, yes, but I personally feel the con's far outweigh them.

The opposite extreme is to abandon all structures and institution to view our entire lives as "church". It is, as one friend has described it, "to do [be] church with everyone, everywhere, all the time". In this line of thinking, or manifestation if you will, we recognize that the Kingdom of God is bigger than any kingdom (which is what many "churches" of the current structure seem to be) that men can create. It is a life free of petty competition regarding "how many people come to my church vs. how many go to yours". A life where value is placed on a few strong relationships instead of 1,000 shallow ones. A life where there is no "leader", but the connected individuals journey together into the mysteries of God and learn from each other.

Obviously, there are pro's and con's to this structure as well. (Not that I feel it is even remotely possible to come to a conclusion based on pro's and con's...)

Then there are "communities of faith" who can be described as "emerging churches"; or churches in emerging culture, if you prefer. As I think on many of these churches structures, they seem not all that different from the current structure. The differences, however, are significant and I agree with them wholeheartedly. Some believe it is merely a style difference. Nothing could be further from the truth. The style is sometimes different only as a result of a difference in thought and mind. These communities do truly long to be formed into a connected community that exists outside the four walls of a building, yet can still gather there regularly to join in worship.

The risk? We are clearly a society and a world in the middle of a paradigm shift. We are still so close in proximity to the current institutional structure (not to mention that many of us in emerging communities grew up in "the institution"), that the danger of once again becoming dependent on the collective gathering together remains ever-present.

As you can see, I don't quite know where I fall on the spectrum. I do know I fall somewhere in between the gross over-simplification of emerging communities and the "church all the time, everywhere, with everyone" ideas. To which one of those do I personally lean further towards? I do not know at the present.

Who knows. Maybe what it boils down to is 10,000 little individual passions and convictions that are relative to each community's unique location and situation. Maybe its not. Its definitely not something that we'll settle here in this post, but I look forward to wrestling [in a healthy way] over how the Church manifests itself for a long time to come. So please join me in my gratitude and respect of God's mystery and creativity.

So as I mentioned at the beginning of this long post (sorry, but I keep most of 'em short), I'd love to see some civil conversation from those of you who fall in all points on the proverbial spectrum.

Time For an Update

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, February 16, 2006 at 3:01 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at*

Just wanted to let all who care (if there be any, lol) that I've done some updating over on the sidebar. New categories and links can be found including an in progress category of communities of faith (that have websites/blogs). So there ya go.

Oh, by the way, I don't post unless I have something to say. As a result, sometimes posting is sporadic, sometimes there are multiple posts per day. It just depends on how many thoughts I can actually grab ahold of and process throughout the course of the day. Oh well, the curse of ADD...

Marvelous Light

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 7:06 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at*

Here's a song by Charlie Hall that I was getting in to this morning on the way to work. The people in the vehicles beside around me probably thought I was a weirdo. Oh well, I guess they were right:

Because its so hard to get the feel of a song just by the lyrics, you can listen to sample in .wma format:

Verse 1
I once was fatherless,
a stranger with no hope;
Your kindness wakened me,
Awakened me, from my sleep

Verse 2
Your love it beckons deeply,
a call to come and die.
By grace now I will come
And take this life, take your life.

Sin has lost it's power,
death has lost it's sting.
From the grave you've risen

Into marvelous light I'm running,
Out of darkness, out of shame.
By the cross you are the truth,
You are the life, you are the way

Verse 3
My dead heart now is beating,
My deepest stains now clean.
Your breath fills up my lungs.
Now I'm free. now I'm free!

Lift my hands and spin around,
See the light that i have found.
Oh the marvelous light
Marvelous light

Lift my hands and spin
See the light within...

Has anyone ever noticed that the "worship" songs we sing don't necessarily seem to line up with how we live our so-called "Christian" lives? This is a song about freedom, the absence of shame and guilt, the doing-away-with of what separates us from Christ, the marvelous light and life we find in Jesus, and much more. So how does that reflect our Sunday to Sunday Christianity?

Reflecting on Alabama Church Fires

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, February 08, 2006 at 7:47 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at*

*Update: Whoops, I fixed the link to the post over at Emergent Southeast. It should be fine now.

I posted some reflections this morning over at the Emergent Southeast blog. I posted there instead of here because that is a blog created by John O'Keefe, creator of and lead pastor of 247 Connection, devoted to inspiring community and conversation of things emerging in the Southeastern USA.

Feel free to check it out over there.

Sorry Kid, No Admitance to DCA...

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, February 06, 2006 at 1:02 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at*

Wow, what an incredibly sad decision from my alma mater!! As noted by Brittney at Nashville is Talking:

"There is an interesting story in the City Paper about Donelson Christian Academy refusing to admit a candidate for enrollment based on the fact that the child's parents are openly gay.

[Begin NCP content] Donelson Christian Academy, a local private Christian school, has denied a child admission on the grounds that the child is from a homosexual family.

Last year, John Barnby and his partner turned in an application to DCA for their son to begin kindergarten next fall. According to Barnby, they were warmly received at the open house last November and came away with a "“good feeling"” about the school. A few weeks ago, he received a call from Danny Kellum, the headmaster of DCA.

The headmaster was curious about the child having two male parents.

"“He stumbled over his words and directly asked if we were gay parents. I responded that we are a gay family and very interested in our son receiving a quality education at a faith-based school,"” Barnby said.

According to Barnby, Kellum told him that his home life is an abomination against God and that if Barnby'’s son was to attend DCA, he would be taught that he comes from a sinful family and subject to the ultimate punishment from God. Kellum went on to say that he had family members who used to be gay but have repented their sinful ways and given their life to God, Barnby said.

He then informed Barnby that the child'’s application would not be accepted. [End NCP content]

Obviously this private school has the right to discriminate against this applicant, but I have to say I think this child will be much better off at another school. The parents say they'd like a private, faith-based education for their child, and I really hope they'll be able to find just that. But if the child was going to be told that his parents will be going to hell on a regular basis, I hope his parents are happy he was rejected."

My first comment over at NiT was as follows:

"Is this child's parents living a sinful life as NCP quoted Dr. Kellum as saying? Sure. But so are the parents who are controlled, consumed, and mastered by their love for food resulting in morbid obesity.

By the same standard, the school might ought to consider that children of overweight parents not be admitted as well. It irritates me greatly how we Christians pick out the "bad" sins to harp on redundantly, when all sin is sin.

Furthermore, the message of the cross is not condemnation, but that you can be set free from the bondage of sin through the grace of Christ. I think this decission is counter-productive to the goal that the school truly does strive towards--that people may come to know the love of Christ.

*Note: I tried GREATLY to cage the anger that has welled up inside me at the reading of this post as not to let it pour forth freely in this comment...sorry if I failed."
Wow. I really have nothing else to say at the moment...

"So What Now? Uh, I Guess We'll Go to Church..."

posted by Jeffrey on Sunday, February 05, 2006 at 4:08 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at*

Perhaps that is what went through the minds of the disciples shortly following Jesus' ascension into Heaven. Well actually, they wouldn't have used the phrase "go to church" they would have probably said something more like, "gather at the temple". At any rate, I've been thinking about the possibility of that conversation for several months now, and a conversation I had Saturday morning rekindled the somewhat dormant flame of that idea.

I wonder if our 21st century dependency on the weekly corporate worship gathering (or worship service, as you may call it) is nothing more than 12 Jewish guys lack of creativity and thought regarding what it means to now be the Church. What if the systems that shortly followed his ascension were in no way what Jesus had in mind for us? What if God had a more holistic idea and plan for us as the Church? What if there is more to this disciple's life that we live than to study stories of how God communicated with and moved in other people's lives and to depend on weekly "feedings" as we congregate in close proximity with (but not necessarily in unity with) other believers?

I realize these questions may not be a place you choose, or even need, to go on your spiritual journey right now, but it's just where I am at the moment...

Church Methodology Discussions Blow Up Nashville Blogosphere

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 at 2:46 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at*

Since yesterday, the Nashville blogosphere has been lit up by various discussions of the seeker friendly/driven/etc church methodology. It all started with Dan the Baptist's post. Then, Brittney from NiT highlighted his post. After about 20 comments on Dan's post from yesterday, Katherine Coble (guest blogging at NiT today) highlighted some other posts spawned from Dan's. Those posts include thoughts from Big Orange Michael, Harry Monroe, and a post by Katherine herself on her personal blog.

Many of these posts contain in excess of 20 comments (some are quite lengthy, sorry bout that, lol) and are worth the read.

I'd love to go on in more detail, but take my word for it, it'll be worth your time to browse through those comments for yourself.