Saturday, July 31, 2004

Blog Tag

I was thinking about the number of people who read my blog, and realized there aren't many. That is ok because this is an outlet for me and my thoughts, but I figured there must be others who don't get much traffic, so to increase traffic, I played a game. The rules are simple:

  • Starting with a friends blog, I read the most recent post.
  • Next, I note the date of posting and the number of the month on the calendar (January=1, August=8, etc..)
  • After I read the post, I go to the persons blog role and count down the number = to the month and go to that blog.
  • There are three circumstances here to adjust for 1) broken links, 2) no blog role 3) short blog role. The solution for 1 is go to the next available link; for 2, return to the previous page and select the blog 1 space earlier on the blog role, then count the appropriate number on their blog role; for 3) when you reach the end go back to the top and keep counting.
  • The game ends when you come back to a previously visited blog.

Where my game took me today:

Give it a shot people probably appreciate the traffic

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Six Days or not Six Days?
I attended a creationist presentation today where he made a compelling argument that the decline of the church is a direct result of a loss of scriptural authority brought about by compromising the literal six day creation.  He argued that by allowing ages of time to be represented in the six days, one loses the battle with the secularist view that the Bible is a collection of stories and an unreliable history by giving credibility to the scientific view that permeates society.  He furthered the argument by noting that more often than not, churches teach the Bible as stories, not as foundational. 
Personally, I hold a narrative view of scripture and believe that the whole of the Bible must be considered when making judgments on the meaning of texts, but my view does not completely exclude the propositional nature of scripture.  I practice my Christianity draped in conservatism, but wearing liberal goggles.  I allow many different ideas and theologies into the filter and, as you can read here, I wade through them mentally and prayerfully.  i compare them to scripture, and judge them based on the truth I learn in the Bible, and when all else fails, I err on the side of conservatism.  How about you?  How do you develop your personal theologies, and what do you think six days or not?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Shadetree Anthropology

I was just contemplating the call I believe God placed on my life, and how much a missional mind set in and changed my perspective.  Two years ago, I didn't know the word missional.  I heard it for the first time while talking to Brian Seay and Don Vanderslice, the pastors of Mosaic Church in Austin, about my ministry style.  I explained that I used a New King James Bible to preach from when I was in Fillmore, because the culture of the Mormon church only accepts the KJV.  I used the NKJV because it was familiar enough to allow for a dialogue without turning someone away.  Brian then stated something that kind of asked and explained that my actions were missional, so I asked what that was and he told me.  Actually, what Brian did for me that day was give me a name to put on a theory of ministry I already held.
Mosaic also introduced me to the idea of emerging culture ministries.  I had never been exposed to the emerging church, and had only been recently exposed to the idea of post modernism because a friend of mine studied pomo-ism for his DMin project which he shared with me. The pomo stuff resonated with me because I knew that I didn't fit the traditional church mold.  I'm to fat and scary looking, and I have always been drawn to the marginal in society.  I think differently than the trad mindset, and because of these things there have been many who questioned my call.  Oh well, I'm different.  In fact I usually say that had I not become a Christian, I would have been a thugish biker type (I love leathers and motorcycles, I started riding when I was 5). 
So just a few years into the journey of emerging culture/missional ministry, I sit here contemplating my next move.  Do I go and study cross-cultural ministry, or do I go and do cross-cultural ministry, or do I do both in either situation.  The latter is probably my answer.  To serve a culture, I must study the culture, and wherever I go, I will be active in a ministry.  Which brings me to the title of this entry, Shadetree Anthropologists.  As we carry on this conversation about emerging culture, and become immersed in the culture of the tribe God calls us to serve, Are we playing anthropologist?  Merriam Webster defines anthropology this way:

1 : the science of human beings; especially : the study of human beings and their ancestors through time and space and in relation to physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture

2 : theology dealing with the origin, nature, and destiny of human beings 

Don't we have to be shadetree anthropologists to effectively minister missionally.  If so, would one be well served to study anthropology given the opportunity?  

Honestly, I had never asked these questions until today when I started mulling over the culture in Fillmore.  When I first moved there, I was open minded, but didn't know the culture.  I have an opportunity, if I return, to properly prepare a ministry that reaches out to that culture.  Even as an outsider non-Mormon in a small Mormon town, there is potential because I have ties to their tribe.  I have relationships with many, and actually, I still bank in Fillmore.  So, I may have an opportunity to hone my shadetree anthropology.  What do I do

Monday, July 26, 2004

Stellar News!
I still have a job. I talked to work this afternoon.  Everything is cleared up!  Praise God.  I also found out that there is some serious potential for income between now and August 23 when school starts.  I go in the morning to see about delivering phone books + normal work (that may just take care of  financial situation #2 before the deadline) + my wife may be keeping a few kids early in August (150/week for two weeks) + 1 last months pay from the church and a love offering they are taking up to send us off.  I guess God is working things out the way he wants them.  I apprecite the prayers everyone.  Keep it up.

Oh the Possibilities
Well, here is more info in the Fillmore situation.  When the pastor took over a year ago, the church had a consistent core attending.  He then set about thinning the flock.  In a year and a month, he thinned it to 3 people.  He told the DOM he was resigning in three weeks (two weeks now), and recommended selling the property and closing the church.  Andy, the DOM, said he was going to try to keep it going and asked for an old church role to which the pastor responded by saying the people that were there when he first came were evil and one couldn't build a church with them.
Adios, pastor!  I happen to know these people, and they are not evil.  In fact, we built a rather close-knit fellowship with them.  What they are is a fellowship of largely immature believers who need a shepherd.  The good news is several have been contacted and said when the pastor is gone, they'll be back.  They may have to call it Phoenix Church or Resurrection Fellowship. "Up from the grave we arose" can be the theme song.  The bad news is that a year ago the church had roughly 15,000 in the bank.  Now, no one knows for sure.  We do know that he has tried to sell one of the church mobile homes to a man, and that scares people. 
So why does this leave me with possibilities?  Because it is entirely possible that I could end up there again.  In fact, if they called and offered me the position, I would probably go there instead of seminary.  Why?  These people mean a lot to me, and more importantly, this is the community I feel called to.  When I'm through with school, the plan has always been to go back to Utah and help start a Christian school in Fillmore.  That's the vision God gave me when I first visited there.  A mission school to train missionaries in a cross-cultural setting to be missional in all their attitude and service.  No more forcing the "Bible Belt" culture on the non-Bible Belt tribes in America.  Well, we shall see where God leads.  However, as a side note, last time I was set and ready to go back to school in Texas, and my financial aid had cleared and everything was fine with my world... I heard of a church called Fillmore Baptist Church for the first time and in a month, was seving as its pastor.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Another Log on the Fire...
I'm not one to complain, usually, and I'm not going to whine and complain now.  What I am going to do is throw more wood on the prayer list fire.  A few things came up today that directly impact my family.
  1. Praise God, I had a wonderful tip day at work and God has filled financial need one.
  2. I was told that as of Monday morning, I have no job, completely confusing me because there is still financial need two.  The reason I have no job as of Monday is that I supposedly failed an MVR for the company.  I have never failed an MVR.  I carry a CDL and my license depends on my driving record.  In fact, the only tickets I have had in the past six years were for expired tags and inspection, and both were forgiven when I showed proof that I had them.  A bogus excuse at best, but I think my DO is determined to get rid of me.
  3. I found out today that the pastor who replaced me at Fillmore Baptist Church has run off all but two people in the church and resigned.  He told the DOM that he was leaving in a few weeks, and recommended selling the property.  This is difficult for me for several resaons:1) That was my first pastorate, and I love the people and community so much that ultimately Fillmore is where I want to be.  2) The church has been part of that community since the 70's when Vietnamese immigrants requested a mission from the SBC, and this joker killed it in less than a year.  3) FBC is one of only 2 evangelical churches in the town; one of only 3 non-Mormon churches in the town.  4) In July of 2002 when I left it had a membership of over 60 and an average attendance in the mid-twenties to thirties.  There was talk of and support for sponsoring a church plant in the future, and we had just built a new sanctuary that was getting the church attention in town. 5) We had an excellent raport with the community, and were actively sought by community leaders for our participation,and now all of that is gone.  This saddens me.  However, there is a bright side.  There is now an opportunity for someone to do a ministry designed around the indigenous culture.  The church buildings are in place (2 trailers and a sanctuary), and the people are there.  Now if God would just provide the right person....and they would listen...