Thursday, January 21, 2010

96. Book Notes by David Mays

This guy is a Maven - Archivist extraordinaire. He has an enormous list of books on his web sites that he has done summaries on, saving you a lot of time and maybe even some money. The best thing about it? ITS ALL FREE!!!! He even has an email list where he will send you his latest summaries of the books he is reading...FOR FREE!!!!! Check out his Site. His primary focus of book reading and summaries is Leadership, Management and Change.

I have been thinking about doing something like this for a long time. I am so glad I found some one else who is doing it. (This sort of lets me off the hook :) Very cool!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

95. The Drama of Doctrine

I must admit, when I first saw this title I could not help but but think of all the needless drama that swirls around frivolous doctrinal discussions. I will spare concrete examples so as not to get my self in trouble here, but I think we all know the needless time that can be devoted to arguing and scrabbling over doctrinal minutia and details. I have typically seen doctrine play a detached, dysfunctional and even damaging role in a lot of churches. For most people, doctrine ends up being more of a theory than a vehicle and tool to engage the world.

Vanhoozer offers us a redemptive model of doctrine. He re-frames it around the concept of Dramaturgy. This word is a bit technical, but it is a very cool concept AND practice. Dramaturgy is the art of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage. Some dramatists combine writing and dramaturgy when creating a drama. Others work with a specialist, called a dramaturg, to adapt a work for the stage. Vanhoozer says that doctrine and theology should play a similar role in the Christian community. It should help us re-present the story of Jesus to the world. He offers these 5 suggestions for the role theology and doctrine should play in the community of Jesus.

Celebrating - Theology and doctrine should lead us to celebrate who God is and his activity in the world.

Coping - Theology and Doctrine should give us the tools to cope with the evil, injustice and unnecessary chaos of the world.

Criticizing - Theology and Doctrine should play a critical function in helping us discern between what is good and what is evil. It helps us pinpoint what promotes shalom, and what damages shalom in God's economy

Communicating - Theology and Doctrine should point us towards models, paradigms, metaphors and linguistic expressions that help us communicate who God is and what he is up to in the world. It gives us a way of speaking about the gospel.

Continuing - Theology and Doctrine, if it is sound and healthy, become the vehicles that allow us to continue the story of Jesus. It becomes the framework that gives structure to, and channels our energy.

Vanhoozer says that theology and doctrine, rather than being about theory, it should about Theater. It shold lead us onto the stage of the world and help us figure out our role in the story as we both speak and re-enact the story of Jesus in the world. Doctrine should be closely linked with Drama.

This has a lot of application to the apostolic as the primary vehicle for calling new communities into existence is the gospel, a story. But it is not just a spoken gospel, although the gospel was meant to be spoken! It is also about re-enacting the story of Jesus. Apostolic ministry is a lot like the  Dramaturgy. Apostles help new (or existing if they are Petrine) communities to learn how to find their role in the drama, and re-enact the story on their local stage with both words and actions, using the script-ures as their primary guide. It is not enough to indoctrinate people in the old sense of the term. Doctrine must be connected to practice. It must lead to an ethos. The literal meaning of doctrine is teaching.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

94. Jesus in the Drama of Salvation Quote

 Man, this dude took a while to drop a jewel in this book, but he finally came through half way through the book. Listen to this piece on the resurrection and culture.

"In accordance with Girards theory of the sacred, cultures were regularly erected over the graves of the slain victims, as they presuppose that the society has reached an inner peace, which spontaneously sets itself up by means of the violent driving out and sacralization. The grave, which covers up the corpse , thus becomes on the one hand the symbol of that great process of veiling on which every society is based, and on the other the first clearly defined cultural sign, because with it the distinction between sacred and profane is symbolically pinned down: Culture always starts form the grave. The grave is always the first human memorial, which has to be erected over the victim  who has been driven out, the first, most elementary, most fundamental layer of cultural signs. No culture without a grave, no grave without culture. If the sealed grave is really the great symbol of the sacred cultures, insofar as they cover something over, then it is more than an accidental detail that the accounts of Easter in the gospels begin with the narration of the opened grave, in which there is no longer a corpse to be found. ... In a violent conflict, the murdered corpse is the emperical sign there from the very beginning, that there has been a victim and that some one else was the victor. Talk of an Easter victory can not therefore lightly pass by this sign....the opened grave has, against the background of Girards theory, an important symbolic meaning. It shows that the new beginning constituted by Easter reaches so deep that the ultimate foundations of human culture itself, until now veiled, are laid bare" p. 129-130

Another sign pointing us to the fact that we have not even begun to understand the riches and wisdom and depth of the gospel. The incarnation, Ministry, Death, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus are saturated with the mystery of God and the concrete ....everything. WOW! is all I have to say.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

93. Competition...Good or Bad?

Competition has a always been a two edged sword to me. I am a very competitive person and I love a good challenge. Especially if it falls within the areas of my skill sets or expertise. I have been reading a cool book called Flow: The psychology of optimal experience and it has a really cool section about competition that I dont think I have ever heard any one explain the way he does. Competition can be a cut throat activity where winning is the only goal. This kind of competition borders on being only about us, what people think about us, or more importantly, what we end up deducing about ourselves if we either win or lose. Competition will always put us into the orbit of the "self", but the self is not the enemy. It is how the self interfaces with others, or with the environment, or even how the self interacts with the self.

We have all played games with people who were so intent on winning that the game was not any fun at all. Their competitive spirit sucked out any joy, or personal satisfaction that the game was designed to facilitate, and it became an intensely personal agenda, saturated in ego and insecurity. The outcome of the game merged with their own sense of personal identity, and on a micro level, their own personal destiny. They saw the results of the competition as a commentary on their own person, their own value and competence.

Mihaly makes a really cool observation about competition and how it can contribute or detract from our sense of enjoyment.

"In many ways, competition is a quick way of developing complexity: "He who wrestles with us", wrote Edmund Burke, "strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper." The challenges of competition can be stimulating and enjoyable. But when beating the opponent takes precedence in the mind over performing as well as possible, enjoyment tends to disappear. Competition is enjoyable only when it is a means to perfect one's skills; when it becomes an end in itself, it ceases to be fun."

There are many applications to the wisdom poured out here from Mihaly, but since I am thinking about apostolic leadership now a days, I will allow this piece throw a new shade of light into that area.

Apostles typically have dominant personalities. They have a strong sense of drive and adventure, and thrive in the midst of a challenge. Apostles are definitely prone to competition. Paul is real clear in II Corinthians 10 that he is not into competition, comparing himself with other apostles and their ministries and credentials. My college basketball coach would often tell us when we were competing against a team that all of knew were better than us "We are not competing against this team. We are competing against the game of basketball. Our goal to night is to be the best basketball players we can be" When he said this, it always took the pressure off of us and allowed us to focus on the skill of playing basketball, not the other team.

Apostolic ministry finds its metrics in the gospel, in the cross and resurrection. We are not in competition with other apostles, their ministries and their success and influence. Apostles are called by God, which means they answer to God, and not the standards of some one elses ministry. Competition implies an opponent, and our opponent is the great enemy and the powers of the present evil age. (Galatians 1:4) There is a definite skill set to be learned and perfected in apostolic ministry, but we are not competing in a tournament against other apostles. While there will always be false apostles, apostles are on the same team, though they occupy different locations on the field, different territories as Paul would say in II Cor 10. Apostolic ministry has its ups and downs, but these should arise from two kingdoms colliding, not from a misplaced focus of competition.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

92. NT Wright on Social Media from Kennon

This continues my reflections on social media. As always, NT Wright is highly reflective on issues and how they relate to relationships and spirituality.

NT Wright on Blogging/Social Media from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

91. Social Media Venn Diagram

I must say, this is quite creative, and yet so painfully true. Social media can easily be the next addiction on the horizon. Who knows how or when we will be able to measure what these social media tools have done to alter the way we humans interact.

You can get a t-shirt of it right here.

90. The Two Structures of God's Redemptive Mission by Winter

This article by Winter was a ground breaking article, especially seeing it was written in 1973! It is a good read and is a major step forward in legitimizing the apostolic function in relation to the localized forms of organization that often characterize the church when it is led primarily by ST's.

Friday, January 08, 2010

89.James Choung 4 Circles

I kind of like this presentation from James Choung. It hits a few of the models of atonement, but leaves out the penal-substitution model, which I am not too excited about these days actually :) I think we need to explore and emphasize other models of the atonement, and dive deeper into Christus Victor for example. Can you tell me what model of atonement this guy is alluding to with his presentation? If no, then you probably are only familiar with the penal-substitution model.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

88. Template of a Missional Community from Mark 2

Spent a good bit of time meditating on Mark 2 this past month. This is what I came up with.

Four people: Missional communities can be large or small, but they function well in small bands of people. The power of small.

Paralytic: People are unable to make it to Jesus on their own. It takes a community effort, which is contrary to the hero myth of evangelism that it is a one person show. When a small community is involved, it diffuses the needs of the person among the group, lightening the load that would typically fall on one person. "Paralyzed" people are people with strongholds, they are high maintenance. This means one person is not dynamic enough to transport them to Jesus. They need multiple connections for the journey. 

They Uncovered the Roof: Innovation and creativity. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. These four friends created an innovative strategy to get their friend to Jesus. It did not include the crowd or the conventional entrance. They bypassed all of this. They were unconventional, yet highly successful. 

When they had broken through: Innovative strategies take time. Digging through a roof was no easy task, but they were determined to see their friend come to Jesus. In time, a breakthrough will happen.

They let down the bed: Working with "paralyzed" people sets you up for co-dependent relationships. They were willing to let go of their friend once he made it to Jesus. Their role was to get him to the healer. They stayed on the roof, a healthy distance, while Jesus did his work.

Arise, Take up your bed: If you have been paralyzed, the last thing you want to do is carry your mat around. It is the symbol of your hurt and disappointment. Why did Jesus want him to carry his mat? From the paralytics stand point, it showed his mastery over a situation that once mastered him. But you know eventually someone was going to ask him "Why are you carrying that mat around?" Being transparent about our past is what gives us the opportunity to share about what Jesus has done for us. 

Go to your house: Jesus did not extract him from his setting. He sent him back into his oikos, his relational hub, to be a living testimony of what Jesus could do. 

We never saw anything like this: Jesus has the power to transform people in amazing ways. But you have to wonder if part of  their amazement included the innovative and passionate ways in which that small, missional community got him to Jesus. Jesus has the ability to not only transform people, but also our strategies of getting people to him.

87. Ambiguity Tolerance

Whenever you are involved in innovative work, you will be confronted with ambiguity. It is what most people call the "Fuzzy Front End" of innovation. It is a stage when things are not well defined, there are not a lot of answers, and the future seems blurry. Ambiguity tolerance means you have some level of tolerance for this phase. Innovative type people usually have a high degree of ambiguity tolerance because there is no way you will make it past the initial phases of innovation without embracing ambiguity. In fact, the most creative and innovative people have a high ambiguity tolerance. They are able to starve their need to impose structure and delay closure.

Wilkinson has written a really cool book on this called Ambiguity Advantage. In the book he says there are 4 modes of Leadership:

  1. Mode One - Technical Leadership. These leaders usually deal with ambiguity by denial or creating their own certainty. They are also more dictatorial and are very risk averse by nature.
  2. Mode Two - Cooperative Leadership. The aim of mode two leaders is to disambiguate uncertainty and to build teams around them to mitigate risk.
  3. Mode Three - Collaborative Leadership. Mode three leaders have a tendency towards consensual methods of leadership. They prefer to work towards aligning team members values and getting agreement. Their approach to ambiguity is for the group to examine it.
  4. Mode Four - Generative Leadership. These leaders use ambiguity to find opportunity. They tend to be inveterate learners and innovators.
Apostolic ministry is saturated with ambiguity. Because it is a frontier based ministry, it will always lack definitive maps and algorithms that give all of us that needed comfort of predictability. Apostolic leaders are generative because they are able to embrace ambiguous environments and scenarios and use this fuzzy dynamic to generate solutions and strategies for starting new communities of the gospel.


It's always cool when you find an entire site dedicated to innovation. That is exactly what CRINID is. It is not super exhaustive, but it does have a really good section on books to scan through about innovation and creativity.