Charles Strohmer is a great commentator on many events. He carries wisdom and insight, and has written an article about the murder of Bhutto that I found very helpful. Connect to it here and to his wider site at: www.charlesstrohmer.com.
I enclose a few further reflections on the shifts in the corporate world:
In the proactive organisation as systems develop we are taught to ‘communicate’ across departments… and often lose the ability to talk to each other
In the proactive organisation the goal is to fix the system when it is not working.
In the proactive orgnaisation:
So the need to define who is in and who is out becomes paramount in such closed systems. And normally anything outside the closed set is viewed with suspicion and dangerous. It is what develops within that is of value.
To keep a focus and cohesiveness company talks centre around the company being ‘one big family’.
And marking the times we are in the author of the book writes:
‘While they were busy… something new was happening. The economy grew and new job creation plowed right ahead, more than keeping up with the losses. But the new jobs were coming from small organisations, increasingly headed by women. I think there is a message here.’
So what is the Lord doing while we are busy with the plans for our survival?
Here are a few random reflections on the shifts in the corporate world (influenced by a Christmas gift book that I finished on the flight to San Francisco… I will reveal the title in due course). I read the book with interest and could not help but see the parallels to the church world.
It raises many questions, but if the Spirit of God is at work in the world(*) then I would fully anticipate that we are in a time of global change. So it might be right to expect a level of shift greater than the level that took place at the Reformation.
The book talks of the shift from controlling chaos to understanding that chaos and order are not enemies nor to be understood as opposites, but that they have to flow together. The best under the old (‘Newtonian’) model would be the proactive organisation.
In the ‘best’ of the proactive organisation:
Meanwhile in the (emerging?) interactive orgnisation:
Tomorrow – unless I ‘surf’ a few more days… a few more comments
(*)A good and challenging theological distinction is to talk of the Spirit at work in all of Creation, but the Christological Spirit being at work redemptively within the Christian community: thus connecting creation with redemption but also distinguishing between the two strands.
For those who have either read The Forgotten Ways or who are interested Alan Hirsch has just posted some frequently asked questions. Well worth reading, for example, he begins with ecclesiology is the most culturally fluid doctrine.
Here is the link: Q&A with Hirsch
Greg Boyd is an unusual scholar: he sits in the stream of open theology (Pinnock, et al.), he holds to a gap theory between Gen 1:1 and 1:2 (I thought only a few conservatives held to this?), is very influenced by anabaptism and this latter aspect comes through in this writing.
The book is written in the US context, but is applicable wider than that. His basic thesis is that the kingdom of God cannot be confused with the kingdom of this world. That there are better and worse kingdoms on earth, but the kingdom of God is of a different order all-together. He challenges the myth of ‘taking America (substitute UK, etc.) back for God’. He says that these nations have never been a nation under God.
The kingdoms of the earth use a power down method and legislation; the kingdom of God releases a power under and the winning of the hearts. He calls the church away from judgementalism and centring on such issues as ‘gay marriage’; he challenges the use of military power, and how damaging that is when it is christianised.
The book is well written and needs to be taken seriously. It will save a lot of misunderstanding, and help clairify a better approach to issues of power. I read a while back a comment by NT Wright about the demonisation of our ‘enemies’. He said that when we draw a line between them and us we will always go wrong. The line of good / evil is not between us, but runs through us and through those that oppose us.
Finally, with respect to Boyd’s book what does need to be thought through is how we engage with powers, or in my current langauge: how we occupy the gates. If the kingdoms of this world are not the kingdom of God (and this includes the ‘best’ of them) then how do we work for the kingdom of God to influence socieity in such a way that the kingdom of the world that we live within is shaped positively… so that it is one of the better non-kingdom of heaven kingdoms of earth!!!
There are always books coming out on the market. I recently read and endorsed a book by Nancy Charley called being church. Written by someone who is on the ground seeking fresh possibilities for church. Stuart Murray wrote of it:
I found the book accessible and inviting… insightful [and offering] a really helpful counter-balance (in style and contenct) to the many books written by men. Check it out on Nancy’s blog: or at www.lulu.com
Another book by a woman on the prophetic is Chris Larkin’s Living a Prophetic Lifestyle and published by New Wine Press.
Steve Lowton is working on a second book tying together his own spiritual journeys with the many wals that have taken place. I am sure it will be a resource for many. You can get his Journeys of the Heart and Mind at the online shop on this site – as also is the first DVD on Eschatology.
Finally almost finished Greg Boyd’s The Myth of a Christian Nation – will enclose some further comments in a few days as this one is very key.
GOOD NEWS…. I have been working for some time on a number of issues of how we can achieve more while not doing more…. One of the main areas where I have been frustrated was in the area of what we termed Company of Prophetic People (COPP) simply due to busyness.
Most of you know that the desire behind this was to help play a part in developing those with prophetic gifting so that they could grow and then have opportunity to journey with others – hence the idea of a company. It would involve teaching, mentoring and activation of gift. The hope was also to connect with the wider rising grass-roots movements in the land and beyond.
Now it looks as if there is a very creative way forward: I entered into discussion with Chris Meredith (based in Leeds) about the possibility of him shaping this – working from the basis of what I laid, but developing it according to his gifts, vision and relationships. I would then continue to have an involvement. At this point of time we a re ready to begin with a very fresh approach.
First to offer to an area the possibility of anything ranging from a one-off day (for example a Saturday from 10.00am – 6.00pm), to a set of evenings (e.g., one evening a month / every other month for 4 sessions). The examples I give are only examples and this could be shaped as one wished.
Then once these days / events are completed this might be all that is required, or it might then lead to something beyond [where there is an ongoing involvement by some or all who have participated in these shorter events]. Although we will put more flesh to the ‘beyond’ it is anticipated that will involve various levels of development such as:
The idea is to enable those who are involved in an ongoing company so that the teaching, mentoring and activation can be taken further.
Our hopes are that by the Spring we can have some of those days up and running, and perhaps by 09 to have ongoing companies in different parts of the nation running then.
Alongside the companies as suggested my hope would be that we could also develop some roundtables for those who have been through COPP. Alongside these possible UK roundtables, I am also interested in trying to develop something that could serve to connect rising prophetic voices in different parts of Europe. These are some of the thoughts that are being developed.
Here is a short interview with Stuart Lindsell on one point he made recently concerning ‘Emerging Missional Communities’. He indicated that ‘there was no group / club for people to join who had come to faith’, but rather that a true emc would seek to release the transforming life outward rather than draw people to a centre. Just part of an ongoing exploration.
Just a few short notes on this very sunny Sunday morning:
A video link:
If you are interested in an interesting video debate / converstaion between Richard Dawkins (one of whose books is: The God Delusion) and Alister McGrath there is a very good video at google. My respect for both went up after watching the video. It is found here: video link.
A kingdom book:
I am currently reading a very straightforward but excellent book on the Kingdom, called Kingdom Come by Allen Mitsuo Wakabayashi. Working among students he is presenting the gospel in a (w)holistic context of the kingdom. I will give a little excerpt from the book on sin and the Gospel as he suggests the idea of personal guilt does not connect with too many in the post-modern world (and that it is only one element within Scritpure) but that an appeal to the brokenness of all of creation is a good foundation. This is what people intutively connect with and what the Bible presents as the results of sin. Genesis 3-11 outlining the universal brokenness resulting from the event in the Garden:
In terms of evangelism, this intuitive feeling that there is somethign wrong with life is a question that is just begging to be answered… they are conscious of how broken life is. The brokenness of life is a near-daily experience… When sin is reframed in terms of a lifestyle attitude that disregards God, people see and understand their own guilt.
Personally I am still writing on the gates – re-wrote chapter 1 (again) last night!! Now chapter 2… Off tomorrow to visit Carlos and Mayra Ramirez in Valencia… have to wait till February to send my passport in to the Brazilian embassy for a visa application as they need it for 5 working days… to the USA on 27th December.
I am reading Scot McKnight’s “A coummunity called atonement” and thoroughly enjoyed it. His ability to take the various metaphors for the atonement and weave them together is very good, and he talks of atonement as being identification for incorporation.
Toward the close of the book he talks about the activity (or better mode of being) of the community that has experienced the work of the atonement. His chapter on ‘Atonement as Missional Practice: Missional’ is very rich. He critiques the Eastern, Western and Protestant church as rooting the reason for the church in an attractional mode of being church, but the NT, he suggests, offers an incarnational or missional approach to being church.
Instead of simply summoning folks to the church once or twice a week, the God of the New testament sends the (previously gathered) church into the world to witness to God’s saving presence with the summons to invite others into that saving presence. In the history of the church, the missional approach was swallowed up by the attractional model…
The quote might be too radical for some, not radical enough for others, but it points a direction…. away from doing evangelism (and I use the word ‘do’ intentionally) to being involved in God’s mission. A quote from Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger is worth pondering:
They do not believe in evangelistic strategies, other than the pursuit to be like Jesus in his interactions with others. They do not target people or have an agenda but rather seek to love all those whom God brings to them. They do not hope for a belief change for their conversation partners as much as a life change. Because of their high level of engagement with other cultures, the sacred/ secular slit is overcome as they practice the kingdom in their midst, in community.
At Christmas we remember that it is the missio dei that comes to the fore: As the Father sent the Son…
I am currently (and this is a euphemism for very slowly) writing on occupying the gates of society, so I plan (slowly) to post my thoughts as I develop each section here…. Chapter 1 is a dynamic chapter that is definitely life changing, or maybe not…. it at least it carries a few thought that go like this:
Chapter 1: A shape for transformation
Three basic elements need to be in place:
Listened to some great points last night on elements that help define emerging missional communities (emc’s)… so some food for thought and exploration:
1. EMC: don’t do mission they are mission. They are involved in redeeming creation, breaking down the sacred / secular divide, becoming agents of change.
2. EMC: they take Jesus as their model and are counter cultural. They have to answer the question as to what it means to be authentic Christian community.
3. EMC: they are a subversive community, not willing to supply a religious service, not looking to bring people into something, but are within a (wider) community releasing a transforming life.
4. EMC: they are a connected community and discover new ways of being together. Life happens (a good bumper sticker!!!), so they are made up of relational networks not structures.
5. EMC: they are made up of both apprentices and also ambassadors. Always learning what it means to be a subject of the king and always representing a kingdom.
6. EMC: they are prophetic communities, pointing forward, reaching after new expressions that model the coming age.
I thought point 3 was very key for me. How to see the emc (ok – church, if you insist, under a different name) as embedded in the community. So this is true movement, not growing through more people recognisably joining, but through the impact of the DNA of the emc spreading out. The kingdom is advancing but there is no centre it is advancing from.
Food for thought….