Thinking Out Loud

April 24, 2017

Reunion: The Relationship God Wants Us to Have

Book Review: (re)Union: The Good News of Jesus for Seekers, Saints, and Sinners by Bruxy Cavey

You’ve got a friend who you’d like to see cross the line of faith. You want to sit down and be able to answer all their questions in a casual, non-threatening manner. Problem is, there’s aspects of your Christian pilgrimage that have left you less than articulate on various core doctrines. If only you had another friend who could join you at the coffee shop to make Christianity make sense. 

Enter Bruxy Cavey [KAY-vee] teaching pastor at The Meeting House, an alternative, multi-site congregation in the greater Toronto area described as both “church for people who aren’t into church,” and also as “Canada’s fastest growing church network.” It’s been a decade since his 2007 title with NavPress, The End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus.  Since then he’s become more strongly alligned with his tribe, the Brethren in Christ and more identified with pacifist denominations which clearly are a minority in the United States.

Ten years later, that irreligious message of Jesus turns up in Bruxy’s “The Gospel in 30 Words” which forms the core of the book. 

Thinking of the parable of the landowner he writes

…But notice why people are thrown off.  It’s not because God is a miser or a tyrant, and not because he is too demanding or judgemental.  People get upset because he is too kind!  Jesus seems to be saying that God is so loving, so gracious, so generous that if you put him into a human context, he would appear crazy with kindness.

If you are a very religious person who has worked long and hard to achieve some sort of spiritual reward, you could be scandalized by this irrational grace.  If you are a religious leader stewarding a system that teaches people to work for their heavenly reward, this teaching might seem threatening, because it undermines your current system of salvation.  This is exactly what happened with Jesus: the religious leaders of his day became so threatened by his message of grace that they eventually plotted to have him executed. (pp 175-176) 

What happens when your friend in the coffee shop hears this irreligious message? I think it’s disarming; it breaks down their defenses. Ideally, it leads to a turning to Christ. 

Since we don’t have that other friend to articulate all this for us, there’s this book. But reading it and studying the language used can make the rest of us better able to share not only our testimony, but an understanding of the doctrinal puzzle pieces which fit together to form the larger theological picture; by which I mean, the pieces which matter; this is a book which refuses to be distracted. 

If you prefer more established methodology, the book includes a summary of The Four Spiritual Laws, The Bridge to Life, Steps to Peace with God and The Roman Road, but Bruxy would argue that “each of these outlines shares a common flaw: they are woefully fragmentary, reductionist and incomplete.” Most “focus primarily on salvation from sin as the central message of the gospel. This is certainly an important aspect… But if you’re going to be a student of the good news, then you need to know and will want to share the whole message.”

The book is equal parts basic Christian doctrine and apologetics, the latter in the sense of being able to explain the plan and purpose of God to the secularist. There’s something like a “sinner’s prayer” at the end, but there’s also a “seeker’s prayer” for those close, but not ready to cross the line of faith. The book releases in a few days fittingly from Herald Press, a Mennonite publishing company. 

 

 

 

 

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January 31, 2015

Faith Itself is Not a Destination

Bruxy Cavey:

“We treat faith in our culture much like a painting that you hang on the wall. It’s something you go and look at. Look at my faith. Faith is a beautiful thing. But biblically faith is a connecting concept to connect you with something else. It’s not an end point destination that you stare at but it’s something you stare through. In other words, faith is more like a window that you install in a wall, not a painting you hang on a wall. It is something designed to help you see through the wall or whatever barrier is there to see … the outside of your particular world.”


~Bruxy Cavey, author of The End of Religion and Teaching Pastor of The Meeting House, an eightteen-site church in Ontario, Canada from the series Get Over Yourself, part six, December 13, 2009

July 3, 2014

Learn Systematic Theology Conveniently at Home

We Believe - Bruxy - The Meeting House

No, it’s not an advertisement for a new book or a DVD series, and there’s no 800-number to call…

Starting in Canada, and now in the U.S, people are getting to know the unique Bible teacher with the unusual name, Bruxy Cavey. The Meeting House is Canada’s largest multi-site church, closing in on 20 locations, and Bruxy teaches at various Bible colleges.

This summer, he’s borrowing from a series he did at such a college over the winter, and is helping his people to understand the basics of systematic theology. As he makes clear in the first session, this is not apologetics.

  1. Go to http://www.themeetinghouse.com/teaching/sermon-archives/we-believe
  2. From the drop-down menu choose the week you wish to view or listen to (obviously, starting with Week 1 is suggested)

 

June 29, 2014

The Theology We Never Knew

Theology - Bruxy - Slide 1

If you’ve been in church your whole life or have walked with Jesus for a number of years, you may feel you’ve got the basics down, but your eyes glaze over when people start using big words.  For the summer, Bruxy Cavey, teaching pastor of The Meeting House family of churches in Greater Toronto is doing a series to introduce you to the basics.  To watch — there are also audio options — do the following:

  1. Go to http://www.themeetinghouse.com/teaching/sermon-archives/
  2. Click on the “We Believe” sermon series graphic
  3. From the drop-down menu choose the week you wish to view or listen to (obviously, starting with Week 1 is suggested)
  4. Wait for the page to load and then you have a couple audio/video options

As Bruxy reminds people in Week 1, this is not an apologetics series. Rather, this is to show how the pieces of a systematic theology fit together.

To help the overview slides (above and below) make sense, begin reading each of the ten “ologies” with the phrase, “Because Jesus is Lord…”

Theology - Bruxy - Slide 2

 

April 29, 2014

Book Review: God Enters Stage Left

 

God Enters Stage Left - Tim Day

I hesitated to do a review of this book on this page, since access to this title might be somewhat limited for most of you, but considering I’m reading parts of it for the second time, and especially consider the book’s backstory, I think it’s important enough to cover here.

God Enters Stage Left is written by Tim Day, the senior pastor of The Meeting House, Canada’s fastest-growing church, approaching twenty multi-site locations, probably best known for its teaching pastor, Bruxy Cavey. Meeting House is a “church for people who aren’t into church;” and is known for presenting the “irreligious message” brought by Jesus.

The book does what has become a trend lately, taking the Bible as a single story and aiming to present the “story arc” of its 66 individual books in a unified, cohesive way.

Tim DayThere are several things I found unique to this book.

First, the book comes out of the church’s environment, so everything is written with the non-churched, not-Bible-literate reader in mind. The pass-along potential here is huge (see fourth point.)

Second, the book doesn’t attempt to deal with each and every aspect of the Biblical narrative. Some items — especially Genesis — receive a much longer treatment than you’d expect, especially considering the Biblical “play” is reduced to six acts.

Third, Tim Day has this unusual thing which ambushes the reader unexpectedly at various junctures: He asks the reader very personal questions as to how this story intersects with their story. Have you ever read a book review that started asking you questions? (Like that!)

Finally, the way the church is distributing this is as unusual as the book itself. The church offers it on a pay-what-you-can donation basis with proceeds going to the church’s “audacious” ministry project goals. On the unSeminary Podcast with Rich Birch, Tim explains the how the book fits into the church’s overall vision, and also how your church could produce a custom edition with your pastor’s forward and your church name on the front and back.

Rich – …A friend of mine, Ben Stroup, talks about how books really are the new business cards. People see them as, if you want to kind of understand, in the marketplace, if you want to understand what we do, here’s a book. Rather than just ‘here’s a business card.’ … Why not charge for them? Let’s loop back on that. Why not actually say it $5 or $10?

Tim – Couple things. I just found that I couldn’t think of a good enough reason to charge for them. I just basically came down to and said, ‘If this is going to create a hiccup, a little bit of a barrier, something when someone might say, ‘I only have $20 in my wallet, and it’s $5 a book, I’ve got five people I want to invite, who do I need to cut off that list?’ I thought, ‘why am I doing that? It just didn’t make sense.’ If we just give them away to everyone, and people want to chip in, and it would kind of be a community experience, I couldn’t think of a downside to it … We have two churches now, they are dialoging on how they want to do it. They are two churches of about 1500, 2500 in size and they want to get the books and do the same thing with them where they just give them out. ‘Can we just buy a whole boat load of them at printing cost.’ And we may personalize them where the pastor writes the foreword. And we strip off any sort of our church brand. And the church just gives them away in their community. I think if I would have had that charge thing, all sorts of those conversations would have just stopped. And to be honest with you, I think the day of the pastor who somehow wrote something that turned him into a millionaire, I think that day has probably come and gone. It doesn’t sit super well. I just don’t think it sits well with the average person out in the street. So the conversation of ‘You are just giving this away? You are not making any money? You don’t make anything? Nothing?’

Rich – Zip, zero, zilch you mean?

Tim – It’s good news to people. That becomes good news that there is a message more important and it doesn’t need to be a part of my economy. And I love it! It just has made me happy!

Rich – Absolutely. Now the thing I, ’cause I know there’s some pastors probably thinking, that’s a great idea. I’m encouraged that you are working with some other churches, how do we repackage this. Even that, I think it’s incredibly gracious to say we want to work with another church. ‘You take the book, put your foreword on it, strip our branding from it, we just want the message to go out?’ Is that what you are saying, fundamentally with those other churches?

Tim – Oh ya. Like I said I will remove any reference to The Meeting House from inside. You write the foreword and you put your brand on the back of it.

Back to the book itself, this is transformative material. Most Christians are simply not articulate when it comes to describing the Bible’s story arc. A first step before giving the book away would be for people to read it for themselves.  As the book’s cover states, the Bible’s big story has a big plot twist, and many smaller ones as well.

It’s a story no human could make up.

[Download an ePUB version of God Enters Stage Left for FREE]

July 28, 2013

Megachurch Pastor Practices Vulnerability

Filed under: Church, ministry — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:11 am

Bruxy Cavey Bus

You can choose to go to a church of 10,000 – 20,000 people and never actually have a conversation with the person who teaches you each Sunday. In the modern megachurch, lead pastors don’t do weddings, don’t do funerals, and if you ask to meet for counseling, you are passed on to someone else on church staff.

Which is probably why I was so impressed when NavPress author — The End of Religion —  and teaching pastor of The Meeting House in Oakville (west Toronto) Bruxy Cavey, Tweeted this while walking through Canada’s largest city last Sunday night:

Hanging out on Queen St downtown Toronto. Any Meeting Housers in the area wanna grab a drink & a chat? Text or call me.

I don’t know what kind of response he got — he has 7,100 followers — but I do appreciate his willingness to connect with the people of his tribe totally spontaneously. And I admire the vulnerability in throwing the invitation open to anybody, even that guy who always wants to engage in a long and tedious conversation. (And sometimes, in other contexts, I think I may have actually been that guy.)

Learn more about one of Canada’s most cutting-edge churches at The Meeting House and Bruxy’s blog.

May 22, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Rescued

Welcome to yet another installment of “Let’s see what everybody else is doing online.” Actually there are some really strong links here this week, you won’t be disappointed, but I think both guys in the above cartoon are going to be.

  • Our lead link this week isn’t lighter fare. The Dictionary of Christianese worked hard to provide you with the meaning of all things kairos, such as kairos time, kairos season, kairos opportunity and kairos moment.
  • Todd Rhoades invites you to play: Who Said It? Oprah or Osteen? Before peeking at the answers, why not phone a friend or use this as a small group icebreaker.
  • Jamie the Very Worst Fundraiser admits that some of the pictures — and descriptive language — you see in missionary letters may not be entirely representative of what is taking place on the mission field. Partner with someone to read this. 
  • The church once known as the Crystal Cathedral will be renamed Christ Cathedral, while the people who once worshiped at the Crystal Cathedral will gather under the name Shepherd’s Grove.
  • The Christian teen whose song Clouds recently reached 3 million YouTube views, Zach Sobiech, died Monday surrounded by family at his home in Lakeland, Minnesota. He was 18.  
  • As of last night, Oklahoma pastor Craig Groeschel reported that 71 families from Lifechurch had lost their homes.
  • At Parchment and Pen, perhaps the reason many adolescents and young adults have faith collapses is because they aren’t properly conditioned on dealing with doubts. Must reading for Christian parents. 
  • Also for parents: If you’re wondering what to do with your teens (or tweens) over the summer, you won’t be after reading this list.
  • Catholic readers should note that there are some rosaries on the market that aren’t exactly kosher.  William Tapley guides you to spotting the iffy prayer beads.
  • This just in: “No man whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may enter the Lord’s assembly.” Actually, it’s in Deuteronomy. A must-read for guys.
  • A music therapist at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville gets kids to write songs, and then gets the songs recorded by the city’s best. A seven minute documentary; keep the tissues handy. (Love what the kid said who had a song covered by Amy Grant!)
  • Pastors’ Corner: What if your weekend sermon was more like a TED Talk? Could you deliver the same content in 18 minutes or less? 
  • So in a debate of house churches over traditional churches who wins?  This article includes discussion of The Meeting House in Canada which reflects the best of both.  (Be sure to continue to page two.)
  • Graphic of he week: A conversation at the atheist’s car garage.
  • Top selling Christian music in the UK this week is the band Rend Collective Experiment, according to a new music chart service there.
  • …And graphics for your Facebook or Tumblr each week at Happy Monday at The Master’s Table.
  • The subject of the Soul Surfer book and movie after losing an arm to a shark while surfing, Bethany Hamilton is getting married.
  • My video upload this week for Searchlight Books — sponsor of our Christian classics collection — was a scratchy 45-rpm single of Roger McDuff (the gospel music guy) doing Jesus is a Soul Man circa 1969. To get on this YouTube channel, the songs have to not be previously uploaded.
  • Baptist book publisher Broadman and Holman aka B&H wants to stop publishing fiction in 2014 unless the book in question can have a tie-in with Lifeway curriculum product or other brand merchandise.
  • Ron Fournier aka Tehophilus Monk has a short excerpt from the book Why Priests? by Gary Wills which calls into question the entire concept of priests in the ecclesiastic hierarchy.
  • We can’t do it by ourselves. Sometimes we need Outside Help. Classic pop/rock some of you might remember from Johnny Rivers.
  • Not enough links for ya this week? Dave Dunham’s got another 15 for you at Pastor Dave Online
  • During the week between link lists, I invite you to join my somewhat miniscule band of Twitter followers.
  • The lower graphic this week is from an article at the youth ministry blog Learning My Lines.

Teenager's Brain

June 24, 2012

When Our Words and Our Words Contradict

Bruxy Cavey is the teaching pastor at The Meeting House, Canada’s largest multi-site church centered on a location in Oakville, just west of Toronto. The Meeting House has developed an affinity with Woodland Hills Community Church in Minneapolis, where Greg Boyd is the pastor, and there have been a couple of pulpit exchanges recently, including this one, where Bruxy was at Woodland Hills completing a two-part series that Greg started on the Anabaptist tradition that has influenced both churches.

In the Q&A time there was a question about church and state and the homosexual marriage issue. The question is on the video at the WH website, but the answer posted here was from a different service, and I found this audio transcript (there’s no video) more direct. Basically, Bruxy is saying that as Christ-followers, we bring a general response that leaves gay people feeling excluded from the church, but when the cameras are rolling, the sound bite on the evening news is an affirmation of God’s love for all mankind.

The disconnect between the sound bite and everything else we say is something Bruxy believes we have, at the very least, got backwards.

Sermons: Bruxy Cavey, The Meeting House, Oakville, Canada
Sermons: Greg Boyd, Woodland Hills

October 14, 2011

Solving the Arminian / Calvinist Maze

Bruxy Cavey -- Here in Canada we grow our pastors a little different

Bruxy Cavey is a Canadian pastor of The Meeting House, Canada’s largest multi-site church.  After growing up Pentecostal (Arminian) for years he pastored a Baptist church that was more or less Calvinist, and was really drawn to the academics of the systematic theology.  But then, he discovered the Anabaptists (Arminian again.) 

If Cavey sounds like a theological chameleon, I’m sure he’ll forgive you for that accusation.  But now he wants to help his church understand the difference and has launched a series, Chosen and Choosing.  As I type this, the video for week one is up, but only the audio for week two has been uploaded.  I’ve decided to wait for the video for that one, but enjoyed his approach to week one, and regardless of which side of the doctrinal fence you lean to, you have to admire the way he turned the whole debate around in the last 3-4 minutes of week one.  I never thought you could give an invitation after a doctrinal debate, but he did!

Catch the series here.  And don’t forget the series, One Church, which we mentioned in the summer is also online. Bruxy invited people from various Christian denominations to ‘make their pitch’ over the summer with some interesting results. [Click further down the 2011 series tabs.]

…For those of you who weary of this particular debate, there’s always this.


Appendix [from the notes from Week One]:

AUGUSTINIAN (CALVINIST): We will not choose God unless he chooses to make us choose him. Without me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

PALAGIAN (FUNCTIONAL): We are free to choose God or not. Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

SEMI-PALAGIAN (ARMINIAN): God frees everyone to choose. When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to myself. (John 12:32)

ANABAPTIST (BRETHREN IN CHRIST): God works with our infirmed will to help us ask, seek, and knock. I believe; help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)

Quotes:

He chose us, not because we believed, but that we might believe.
— Augustine, Predestination of the Saints

By free will one shapes one’s own life.
— Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994)

Free-will without God’s grace is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bondslave of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good.
— Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will

If it is not in the power of every man to keep what is commanded, all the exhortations in the Scriptures… are of necessity useless.
— Erasmus, Diatribe Concerning Free Will

When the will is enchained as the slave of sin, it cannot make a movement towards goodness, far less steadily pursue it.
— John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

All unregenerate persons have freedom of will, and a capability of resisting the Holy Spirit… and of not opening to Him who knocks at the door of the heart; and these things they can actually do.
— Jacob Arminius, Certain Articles to Be Diligently Examined and Weighed: Because some Controversy Has Arisen Concerning Them among Even Those Who Profess the Reformed Religion

God having placed good and evil in our power, has given us full freedom of choice.
— Chrysostom, De proditione Judaeorum

God is the initiator and principal actor in salvation, and we should never think salvation originated with us. God, however, has given humanity a sense of freedom and requires us to make a choice.
— Gerald Borchert, New American Commentary on John

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.
— Jesus

May 16, 2010

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Two of my favorite pastors together in the same service!

Bruxy Cavey

Today we drove to Oakville, Ontario where Bruxy Cavey, teaching pastor of The Meeting House — Canada’s largest and fastest growing church movement —  welcomed Greg Boyd, senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in Minneapolis.    It was the sixth and final week of a series on the New Testament message of pacifism.

Early in the message Boyd stated — and Bruxy, not knowing this, repeated it to me in a conversation between services — that of all that megachurches in North America, he only knows of two that are taking the time to highlight what The Meeting House and Woodland Hills see as a prominent them in scripture.

What neither said, but what is implicit in the comment, is that most North American churches subscribe to what is generally called “Just War” theory; or perhaps “Just War” theology.

Bruxy devoted week five to considering the objections people have to this, those “But What About…?” questions that led him to call the message “But What About? Sunday.”   He often records an appendix to the sermons called “The Drive Home” and in this instance the supplement was actually longer than the sermon itself.    You can find the series online by going to The Meeting House and clicking on “Teaching” and then clicking on the series “Inglorious Pastors.”  (Yeah, they really called it that.)   You’ll see the “Drive Home” messages available there as well for listening live or downloading.

Greg Boyd

Boyd was in excellent form, and didn’t seem to miss a beat — or lack any energy — moving from the platform to handling individual questions  between the three services.   The audio portion of this morning’s teaching is also already uploaded, and a quick scan of the nearly two decades of sermons archived at the Woodland Hills site may help you find messages where he’s covered this back at home.

I got to shake Boyd’s hand tell him I was one of his “podrishioners,” his term for people who are part of the church’s vast podcast family.   Then I added — since Bruxy was standing nearby — that I was also one of Bruxy’s “podrishioners” as well.

I wish both of them well in proclaiming this aspect of Jesus’ teachings that is relatively absent from our churches; it’s gotta feel like swimming upstream sometimes.

…For my local readers, after leaving TMH, we drove across almost the entire stretch of Dundas Street, cutting through a variety of ethnic neighborhoods in Toronto, considered one of the world’s most diverse cities.   We ended up at Gerrard and Coxwell in an area specializing in Indian and Pakistani food, making somewhat random choices from a menu we didn’t fully comprehend and enjoying it all not knowing exactly what it all was.

Starting on Friday (5/21) you can catch a one-hour radio interview with Boyd and Cavey broadcast on Saturday (5/15)  on the Drew Marshall Show.

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