Thinking Out Loud

February 12, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Snake Handling Church Disclaimer

Here’s this week’s collection, with the hope that you’ll be my Valinktine.  Click anything below and you’ll find yourself at PARSE, the link list’s exclusive official owners and operators! (Or just click now, it’s easier to read there.)

After winning the silver medal in linking at the 2008 Bloglympics, Paul Wilkinson settled into a quiet life of writing at Thinking Out Loud.

Burning Church

If you watch all four parts of the documentary about Burning Man linked above, you discover that all photographs taken at the event become part of a commons that photographers agree to share. It’s part of an overall philosophy that guides the event and why there’s no photo credit here.

April 13, 2013

Book Review: The Faith of Leap

The Faith of LeapI am a huge fan of missional church planters Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, and even though The Faith of Leap isn’t a new title, I asked our friends at Graf-Martin (a book publicity agency) if they could track one down for me

There is a particular paragraph that I wish I had marked because Michael and Alan say it so much better, but essentially the message of this book is that local church congregations can move beyond simply gathering once a week to sing songs and listen to a sermon; and can actually team together in partnership to accomplish greater things.  This life of risk they call liminality, and the result is the church moves from community to communitas.

Late in the book, they also suggest that every person in every church can follow the command to “go” because “go” might mean “go deeper” into the heart of the neighborhood where that church is located. Either way, the book is a call to adventure; a call to churches to take a leap of faith driven by possessing the faith of leap.

…I mentioned that I was reading this to a local pastor who noted that Hirsch and Frost repeat a lot of material from book to book. This is true here, they do quote previous works frequently. However, I would recommend this book for anyone who has never read their material before, it is absolutely certain to challenge pastors, church leaders, and people like you and me.

May 2, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Maybe the guy who took this picture has a dirty mind, but I suspect he wasn't the only one who wasn't getting the message the Baptist church hoped for. Overall, I think these changeable letter signs do more harm than good.

Wednesday is here again.

  • Forget the 2012 Olympics; here’s the lineup for the UK’s Greenbelt 2012.
  • Also across the pond: An Anglican vicar quit the Church of England and took half his congregation with him… to St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, about 500 yards up the street.  Which brings us to…
  • Canada’s national newspaper columnist and talk-show host Michael Coren has a follow-up to Why Catholics Are Right, the new book’s title is Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity. Which leads naturally to…
  • Elizabeth Esther is raising her kids with a denominational salad bar of church experiences.  “…by exposing our children to all forms of Christianity, we were giving them a better appreciation for the bigness of God’s love and God’s family.”
  • Just weeks before he was about to graduate, founder of “Do Right BJU,” Christopher Peterman was expelled from Bob Jones University, after the university made a public statement that no students would be expelled for the protest.
  • Here’s the first of two links to blogger friend Jon Rising: This deals with saxophonist and former President Bill Clinton’s affection for praise and worship music, a curiosity Jon’s been tracking for years.
  • The second link to Word and Spirit is also political: With an election dawning in the land of the free and the home of the brave, people are busy re-circulating those Is Barack Obama a Christian? emails. Jon points you toward sources for answers.
  • “You wouldn’t update the language in Shakespeare, so why would you want to change the language in the Bible?” Eddie Arthur spots the obvious flaw in that logic.
  • Also at Kouya Chronicle, a link to this summary of the “Translators’ Preface” to the 1611 KJV. Sample: “It is an embarrassment (or should be) to King James-only advocates because it contains statements from the translators that are in direct opposition to the KJV-only position. It is most unfortunate that this pref­ace is no longer included in modern copies of the KJV.”  More on this here and here.
  • If you want to review a men’s ministry title, ask the former chaplain to the Toronto Blue Jays. David Fisher reviews Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, An Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship. Summary: “This book journals a new style of discipleship, not your typical ’12 Steps to Mentoring a Man for Christ’ format, but one where two guys decide to get down and dirty and restore an old Triumph Spitfire.”
  • A member of the Schuller family turns up on the platform of the Crystal Cathedral on Sunday; the choir is back to 60 members, and Kay Warren was the guest speaker. It’s deja vu all over again.
  • Street Evangelist Leon Brown deals with the three most common objections to the gospel. [Via Zach, who saw it on Thabiti … it’s like a Tumblr reblogging!]
  • The project we’re doing this month on YouTube involves posting obscure music that is of historical interest to the history of contemporary Christian music.  We found this one already there, but badly in need of more visits: From the era of Andraé Crouch, here’s Bili Thedford’s classic song Miracles.
  • And speaking of YouTube, you can’t do any better for some quick quotations from top speakers — including Francis Chan and Michael Frost — than this collection from The Verge Network‘s recent conference. Of course, they’re teasers to encourage sales of the conference DVDs.
  • From the Saturday links at iMonk: Need prayer, but just don’t have the time to park your car, walk into the church, kneel down and seek the Lord? No problem. This Florida church has the solution for you — Drive-thru prayer.
  • Also from Jeff’s Saturday Ramblings:  A Brazilian actor paid the ultimate price while playing the role of Judas during the Passion Play.
  • Remember the connection between Colton Burpo in the book Heaven is for Real and a young girl’s paintings of Jesus? Here’s a four-minute updated profile of artist Akiane Kramarik.

This one is better than the one at the top of today's post, but who exactly is it directed toward? If you're already a member, you already know this, that's probably where most of the parking spaces lie. But if you're visiting, should you walk around to the front?

May 5, 2009

Tuesday Links: Life in Blogland


Lots to see in the blogosphere today:

  • Jeff at Losing My Religion is celebrating a birthday today (5/5) and this week has a great, lengthy interview with Michael Frost, missional church guru and co-author (with Alan Hirsch) of the book ReJesus.
  • Video book promos on YouTube are somewhat mandatory these days if you have a new release; and Tony Morgan‘s gives an excellent preview of his book Killing Cockroaches without any hype.  (HT: Church Relevance blog)
  • If you want to re-write the definitive standard for an over-the-top church website, the one for Evangel Cathedral should do it.  (HT: Pragmatic Electric blog.  Be sure to check out his Apr. 25 post, If Jesus Returns Tonight, Who Will Feed Your Pets?  It contains a vital link to Post Rapture Pets.)
  • Jim Upchurch has renamed his blog, Christ: His Work and His Word.   Last weekend he wrote an excellent devotional piece, What if You Knew How and When You Would Die?
  • Quoted on Bob Hyatt’s blog:  “In a faster world, maybe we need a slower church.” ~ Leighton Ford
  • Two entire chapters of Hebrews.   Totally memorized.    Shared with passion by Ryan Ferguson.    Takes eleven minutes.   Google Video link here.   (HT: Tony Miano’s blog, Lawman Chronicles)
  • Finally, on the lighter side; Michael Tait isn’t the newest member of Newsboys after all, as the blog Backseat Writer makes visibly clear in this post.   That’s it for today’s links.
  • Almost every time I do links like this, I always include a link to my unpublished book The Pornography Effect: Understanding for the Wives, Mothers, Daughters, Sisters and Girlfriends, because every day there’s someone new who needs to read it.   It’s online and it’s free to read.
  • Since you asked, I’m currently reading The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight (Zondervan) and the revised — 14 years later — edition of The King James Only Controversy by James White (Bethany House).   Both deal with the Bible and how we both read and translate it, so I don’t mind reading the two books at once.   If you want to make it a hat-trick, you’d have to add How To Choose a Bible Translation For All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss (Zondervan).
  • Today’s cartoon is from ASBO Jesus.  Now with over 700 thought-provoking, intriguing, controversial and sometimes frustrating cartoons served.   Never a dull moment at that cartoon blog.   (It’s Brit-speak for Anti-Social Behavior Order.)
  • Since this post is a potpourri already, the survey, which follows, is from Christianity Today and reflects that readers of its various websites have a rather secularized view of how we all got here.  If you’re going to comment on something here, this would be the one.
    Christianity Today Poll
    What best describes your view of the origins of creation?
    Young-earth creationism

    Old-earth creationism

    Theistic evolution

    Naturalistic evolution

    I don’t know

    None of the above


    Total Votes: 4153

January 22, 2009

The Re-Launching of WWJD: Frost and Hirsch

…The WWJD campaign invited us to imagine how Jesus would respond to the cultural and religious issues of our day.  However, this question tended to become captive to a religious pietism that limited the issue to private morality and then further trivialized into an international campaign that focused almost entirely on the sexual ethics of young adult Christians.   This is unfortunate, because WWJD has in it the capacity to become a global movement that takes the claims that Jesus makes over all of life seriously indeed.   We would like to relaunch the campaign but this time keeping the borader issues in mind as well.   What would Jesus do in the consumptive world in which we live?   How would he respond to the environmental crisis?  What would Jesus do with the banal depravities of reality television?  What would Jesus do with our money and our resources in a world of poverty and in need of grace of grace and rejesus1mercy.   …The lordship of Jesus cannot be limited to personal piety and must extend to all issues common to human experience.   WWJD must extend to the issues of economics, environment, and politics if we are to truly unlock the world-renewing power inherent in the question.

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch in ReJesus – A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church, © 2009 Hendrickson (USA) and Strand (Australia), p. 47

January 17, 2009

A New Use For That Empty Choir Loft

rejesusI’m just a few page into Re Jesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch.   In the first chapter a story is related from Charles Sheldon’s classic, In His Steps, concerning a homeless man who sits outside the church listening to people singing as to how they are giving their lives to Jesus, and can’t reconcile this with why they are doing nothing for the poor.

“It seems to me that there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out.”

Hirsch and Frost take this in a different direction; but what struck me was the idea that this guy in Sheldon’s story was listening in on the service and thereby holding the people accountable for what they were singing.

The thought then occurred to me that perhaps we ought to allow more ‘eavesdropping’ to go on by the community at large.   What if we invited a handful of people from the broader culture to sit in on our meetings; not just the marginalized, but also business and civic leaders and working class folk who don’t believe.   We’d tell them that the purpose is not to convert them, but we want them, by their very presence, to hold us accountable.

pulpit03In fact rather than have them sit on the sidelines or sit at the back, why not put them on the platform, facing the congregation, where they would best be able to observe us at worship.

Then the idea struck me, why not get 20 or 30 such people on a weekly basis, and put them in the choir loft. I’m thinking of those  evangelical churches in particular, constructed post WWII up to the turn of the century, where the choir faces directly at the audience, the very place where worship teams have rendered the choir loft redundant.* Your neighbors, co-workers, unchurched relatives, fellow students, etc.   They could just sit there while we sang, prayed and read our Bibles.   It’s Jim and Caspar Go To Church on steriods.

Would that give our worship and witness more authenticity?  How would we worship differently with the world not only looking in, but looking right at us; locking their eyes with our own; inside our too-often members-only club?

Jus’ thinkin’ out loud.


*But I’ll settle for that large collection of chairs in the picture, also common to churches of that era; but rendered equally redundant by the move towards participants sitting with the audience until it’s time for their part. Finding the picture I actually wanted proved difficult, since most churches post pictures of their building exterior, not the inner chambers.

Personal postscript to above:  The church I attended in my teens in Toronto had such a large platform party that one of the pastors would come on to the stage about 15 minutes before the service started and count them, to make sure they had exactly the right number.    We decided his titles should be, “Minister of Chairs.”   But alas, I digress.   This is about accountability.

The book, Re Jesus is published in paperback by Hendrickson.

December 16, 2008

ReJesus – Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch Examine the Connection of Missional Church to Jesus

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:59 pm

rejesusI was first introduced to Michael Frost when a number of Canadian Youth For Christ staff members returned extatic from a National Staff Convention.   I was later loaned a set of audio CDs from that conference which resonated with myself and others.  Finally, someone was articulating what many of us were unable to put into words.   The term, “missional church,” would enter the larger vocabulary later on.

I got to hear Michael in person at an inter-church conference put on in Peterborough, Ontario by a group called Church in the City, which is also an initiative of Youth For Christ.   Finally, the local YFC chapter where I live invited Michael to our town for a three day event.     For a guy from Australia, he sure spends a lot of time in Canada, and he never seems to pick the warm weather months.

Alan Hirsch is less familiar to some of us.   He coauthored with Frost the book, The Shaping of Things to Come which is sort of a Future Shock for Evangelicals and Charismatics.   Their combined effort is rich in philosophy and ideas, and finds its readership among both academics and those who find themselves longing for “something else” when it comes to that which we call church.

So I was surprised yesterday to learn that a new work from both authors is just around the corner.   Blogger Jamie Arpin-Ricci scores an interview with Michael Frost at his blog, A Living Alternative.   Connect here to learn about the new book, ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church, officially publishing in January by Hendrickson.

Publisher Marketing: ReJesus asks the following questions: What ongoing role does Jesus the Messiah play in shaping the ethos and self understanding of the movement that originated in him?  How is the Christian religion informed and shaped by the Jesus that we meet in the Gospels?  How do we assess the continuity required between the life and example of Jesus and the subsequent religion called Christianity? In how many ways do we domesticate the radical Revolutionary in order to sustain our religion and religiosity?  How can a rediscovery of Jesus renew our discipleship, the Christian community, and the ongoing mission of the church?

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