Sunday, November 28, 2010

135 Three prophets weigh in on social justice, economics, politics and courage

I have to admit, I love Cornell West!!!! He is so well read and so insightful. But what I really love about him, is that he is so down to earth and in touch with reality. He may visit the ivory tower, but he is quick to jump out of that tower and redeploy his understanding towards the margins. These three people do exactly what prophets are supposed to do....provoke empathy for the margins, unveil unjust structures, and move us towards a hopeful imagination, and therefore actions. This video is quite a display of prophetic discourse.

Watch the full episode. See more Bill Moyers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

134. New Frontiers

I ran across this video from Levi's on you tube. It points us to the frontiers that are all around us.

It takes a missional impulse to move into the frontiers that are all around us. What is your frontier?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

133. Thawing out the "organic freeze."

I know when we first transitioned into meeting in homes it was a bit awkward. We all had the weird feel going on because all of us were used to doing church the conventional way. One of things that developed over time was what I call the "organic freeze." This is when no one wants to take the initiative in the group for fear of being "the leader" or imposing their agenda on the group. That was a phase we all sort of unknowingly went through. In other words, we did not know we were going through it at the time, and it only is apparent in hind sight.

I have run a cross what I consider a goldmine of a book on group dynamics called Paradoxes of Group Life. This is just one of the jewels in the book as it relates to power in groups. "One develops power as one empowers others. Taking the power that is available and using it often creates a vacuum, because it is experienced as depriving others of a sacred commodity. As a result, power taking is resisted. Individuals often refuse to accept or exercise the power that is available to them in a group simply to avoid the accusation of having stolen it form someone else or having gained it at others expense. Yet the very avoidance of taking and using the available power makes individuals in a group, and ultimately the group as a whole, feel powerless. The feelings of powerlessness create an even greater wish for power, making it even harder for anyone to seize it, because the feeling of deprivation is correspondingly larger, and the resistance grows. On the other hand, if one takes the available power and uses it to empower others, the total amount of group and individual power increases. Taking power when it is dangerous to do so and then acting to empower others defuses the terror and breaks the cycle…So the work of those who have or create power is to create the conditions in which others can move toward their own empowerment." This is so valuable to people who are "frozen" in the organic mode of "no leadership equals no hierarchy." Power is a deep topic, but I think these guys shed some important light on the nature of group dynamics, leadership and taking the initiative. I have found that in groups where people have experienced spiritual abuse, heavy handed, authoritarian leadership styles, that going through a period of totally egalitarian interactions where no one has an agenda for the group and no one dares to impose any kind of structure can be a good thing. But staying in that mode is way too detrimental to the life of the group. If you are not careful, your time together as a group will end up looking like a Quaker meeting. Everyone being silent, looking at each other until someone is supposedly "prompted" by something or someone."

I healthy scripture to move a group in this phase is I Peter 4:10-11. 
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

132. Network Gatherings

We had another Network Gathering last night. Once a month both of our house churches come together to meet as a larger group. We talked a while back about what we thought those larger gatherings should facilitate. Here is a list of things we came up with.

1. Social Networking: Because we gather typically as groups of 8-15 weekly, we need that larger social time to hang out and socialize. A group of 8-15 people does not have enough "resources" to address every need in the community.
2. Comradery: Getting together in a larger setting gives you the feeling that you are part of something bigger, that you are not alone in this.
3. Cross Pollinating: We need to be exposed to what is going on in the other house church(es) so we can learn from them and their journeys.
4. Synergy: Sort of like comradery, but we can feed off each others highs and momentum. It is sort the transfer of energy between us. This will most often happens when we tell stories of what God is doing in us and our house churches.
5. Momentum: This is sort of like synergy, but momentum is really a product of synergy. When you feel energized, it gives you the capacity to move forward at a greater speed and force than before.
6. Celebration: We like to sing as a larger community, and singing in a group of 12 sometimes just isn't an uplifting experience.
7. Raising Vision: Casting Vision is a time when we raise our awareness of what God can do through us. Not necessarily trying to get people to follow a particular pathway or do a particular ministry, but more fundamental, but raising our awareness of God presence, his power, and his provision.

Grant did an awesome job of challenging us to make "God room" and look to do things that could only happen if God was a part of it. This led into a discussion of faith, uncertainty, trust and confidence. We all listened to a song by the old school group, A Capella that sang Ephesians 3:20-21. It was stirring for me as I thought about how God has done so many amazing things in my life personally, and in the lives of people and churches that I have been around. He is the God of the now, the present, and his power is available to us.

The cool thing was we all wrote down some things we would like to see God do through us and our church in the city here. It was so cool to hear what was stirring around in every ones hearts. This was a mile marker for us I think because we put things out on the table that we are basically feeling called to do. We all speak out of our giftings and passions, so while we were talking about this kind of thing, I got to see a little deeper into the giftings that are present in each of the people who shared.

We capped it off by watching a video with the song "God of this city" playing in the back ground Grant went around town and took pictures of peoples houses in the group, their street signs, starbucks, the public square, APSU etc. It raised my vision and reminded me that God can use anyone, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. Here is the song.