Saturday, October 31, 2009

Missional Monday: Editability vs Accountability

Do you live in a world of accountants or editors? Are you yourself an accountant or an editor? I’m not talking in the sense of actual professions, but rather in your relationships, in how you understand others, and in your community.

Joe Myers, in Organic Community, speaks of the difference between accountability and edit-ability: the former looks for mistakes and problems while the latter looks for goodness and improvement. Here is the quick and dirty as Myers breaks it down:
- accountability relationships are bilt on the understanding that people are primarily bad and sinful.
- edit-ability relationships are built on the understanding that people are good, made in the image of God.

- the accountabilty partner looks for mistakes and keeps an account.
- the editor looks for trengths and makes suggestions for imporvemnet.

- the accountability partner initiates accountability discussions on a regular schedule or on whatever schedule that accountability partner deems necessary for proper recording.
- in a relationship of edit-ability, one person brings requests for help to the other on an as-needed basis.

- the accountability partner tries to help by creating more structures, rules, and regulations.
- the editor makes suggestions but leaves the major reworking wih the individual.

- the accountability partner is often drawn from a limited resource pool (e.g. someone within the individual’s organized small group).
- the editor is a person of one’s own choosing, in whatever spher of life would be helpful.

- the accountability partner tries to get the individual to cooperate with and conform to certain standards and expectations (a prescriptive pattern).
- the editor allows one to resource oneslef in whatever ways are healthy (a descriptive pattern).

- the accountability partner emphasizes and inadvertently reinforces the negative behavior by concentrating on it.
- an editor celebrates the journey of wholeness.

- the accountability partner holds the power.
- the project--health or wholeness--holds the power.
Now for the most part, I really like the way he construes this, speaking of the accountability relationship as one of cooperation according to a master plan as opposed to edit-ability as a relationship of collaboration according to an organic order.

But I must say, that while great in theory, often life is not so clear cut. There needs to be a connections relationships of accountability to root out sin and relationships of edit-ability to foster grace and the gifts of the Spirit. While one portion of my theology says that humans are created good in the image of God, another part of my theology (and most of my experience) says the Fall messed everything up, so I can’t whole-sale affirm editorial understanding of relationships. However, as Myers says, “when presented with th option, most peole prefer an author-editor relationship over a client-accountant relationship.” And certainly this is true, and a needed corrective to such evangelical spirituality which merely focuses on sin-management. So let us recover this edit-ability where we celebrate God’s grace in each other, but let us not abdicate the responsibility of legitimate accountability

The Lost Tools of Learning

"We let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects. We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of "subjects"; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spellbinder, we have the impudence to be astonished. We dole out lip-service to the importance of education, lip service and, just occasionally, a little grant of money; we postpone the school-leaving age, and plan to build bigger and better schools; the teachers slave conscientiously in and out of school hours; and yet, as I believe, all this devoted effort is largely frustrated, because we have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal job of it.” (Dorothy L. Sayers, "The Lost Tools of Learning")
Children are taught various subjects (history, literature, science, arts), but not how to deal with subjects. They are not taught the tools of learning, or organizing, or criticizing a subject, but the facts of a subject from an authority. These lost tool are basic grammar (rules of a subject), logic (rules argumentation of a subject), and rhetoric (rules for articulating and debating a subject). The are taught the basics of reading words, but not of reading for arguments, for biases, for implications, for spurious reasoning.

Dorothy Sayers wrote the above over 50 years ago, but are we, and our children, not still worse off? They know words but not the power of words, nor how to articulate the Word, and are left vulnerable.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Missional Mondays: On being a Pre-Evangelical

It used to be in vogue to be post-evangelical. And to some extent I can understand this. People understand evangelicals often according to those who speak the loudest while at the same time defining it the narrowest. For those who became post-evangelical it was a protest of sorts about an all too limited theology and all too shallow view of society. This conversation continues still now with Rob Bell, and there with Scot McKight, and over here with Tony Jones.

For many it seemed like post-evangelicals had lost the truth, lost the way, lost the life which comes with modern Christianity. But these post-evangelicals always claimed they were working their way back to the way, truth, and life of Christ, and his Gospel, the euangelion. But then Robert Webber helped us to back off a bit and to think about pragmatic and younger evangelicals. And now people just busy themselves with out-maneuvering each other with historical and biblical investigation about what being evangelical really means.

For me, since I’ve been at Marquette, a catholic university, I have just returned to calling myself an evangelical (it always make me laugh when the student here ask about my evangelical religion). Perhaps I like the scandal it makes when people who used to be evangelicals find out that I still consider myself one (they are often now either disillusioned with the church, or have turned into Anglicans…One post-evangelical, now Anabaptist, philosophy student audibly guffawed during when he found out it was still an evangelical!).

But, I think I’m going to make a change. I would like to think of myself as a Pre-Evangelical, as one who is waiting for these little turf wars to die down, one waiting for a re-birth of the truly Evangelical. I’m want to be a Pre-Evangelical, not as one trying to get behind a fundamentalist/liberal divide or the modernist debates of the 1920’s, or recover some authentic 19th-Century religiosity, but one looking forward to a glorious dawn, one could even say the return, the parousia, toward which the Evangel points and proclaims.

I claim to be a Pre-Evangelical because the Gospel has yet to totally take root, to fully transform me. As John tells us, "what we will be has not yet been made known," but because I am being made into the image of Christ, who is The Evangelical, we know that "when he appears, we shall be like him" (1 John 3:2) and only then will I be able to claim to be an Evangelical.

So who will join me? Let's start a movement, a revolution, of Pre-Evangelicals. But let it not be through publishing contracts or conference circuits, let it not be through blogs and tweeds, let it not be through doctrinal emphases or identity markers, but let us Pre-Evangelicals live, proclaims, follow, give, die, and rise again with Christ the Evangelical. Let us not argue over being a post-Evangelical, but living into the Gospel as something before us that leads us on.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Christian Radio Redeemed!

I can't believe it, but it is true. One line from one song has temporarily redeemed Christian radio for me: "Late have I loved you."

Yes, that is right.
There is a song played on KLOV which references St. Augustine's Confessions. Here is the full excerpt for Augustine.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you. You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
The song was written by Matt Maher, who is known for composing "Your Grace is Enough" which was made popular by Chris Tomlin. Now this song that I heard, Alive Again, is basically structured around this excerpt, which is read on the feast day of Saint Augustine.

Oh, did I mention that Matt Maher is Catholic.
Yes! A song that was written as a reflection from the reading on the feast day of Saint Augustine is now at TOP 20 song on KLOV. Incredible! Christian Radio can be redeemed.

Here are all the lyrics, not sentimental or poorly crafted, well written and drawing from the ancient traditions of the church.

Alive Again

I woke up in darkness 
Surrounded by silence 

Oh where, oh where have I gone? 

I woke to reality Losing its grip on me 

Oh where, where have I gone? 

'Cause I can see the light 
 Before I see the sunrise

You called and You shouted 

Broke through my deafness 

Now I'm breathing in and breathing out 

I'm alive again 

You shattered my darkness 

Washed away my blindness 

Now I'm breathing in and breathing out

I'm alive again 

Late have I loved You ,
You waited for me, I searched for You 

What took me so long? 

I was looking outside 
As if Love would ever want to hide 

I'm finding I was wrong

 'Cause I feel the wind 
 Before it hits my skin 

You called and You shouted 

Broke through my deafness 

Now I'm breathing in and breathing out

I'm alive again 

You shattered my darkness 

Washed away my blindness 

Now I'm breathing in and breathing out 

I'm alive again

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Missional Monday: 10 People Not To Have In A Church Plant...

Here is a list of 10 personality types that destroy all the energy of planning and planting churches (and even the energy of an existing church). The opposite to these are based in deep faith and relational maturity, something I'll be posting on later (and if I was artistic I would made fun little drawings of the people).

So, the top 10 people not to have in a church plant...

1) Mr. Dream-Killer
"Come on, let's be realistic!"
"Don't you realize what facts are?"

2) Ms. Nay-Sayer
"That just doesn't make sense."
"That would never work."

3) Ms. Air-Talker
(to no one in particular, to everyone in general)
"I really wish this meeting could start on time."
-(translation: you are wasting my time and I don't like it.)
"At least I did what I was supposed to do."
-(translation: I'm the most responsible one here but no one appreciates me.)

4) Mr. Been-There (or Mrs. Done-That)
"We tried that once in the '90s, but..."
"People used to always think that, but..."

5) Ms. Reminds Me Of
"Once when I was 12 I saw a cat and..."
(then 7 minutes later)
"Oh yeah, that was like the time when I..."

6) Mr. Pouter
(with arms folded)
"...oh just forget it!"
(looking out the window)
"... you just don't understand."

7) Mr. Doer
(squirming in his chair)
"Are we still talking about this?"
"Are we done here? Can we move on?"

8) Ms. US Weekly (or if a man, Mr. Gus-ip)
(after the meeting)
"Did you know that X said...?"
"Could you believe X when Y said Z?!? OMG!!!"

9) Mr. Stereo(type)
"You always say that!"
"You sound just like..."

10) Mr. Bulldozer
"That is all well and good, but I think..."
"Really? It is more that obvious that..."

So, who do you think is missing?