Archive for July, 2007

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Where did we find you? Or did you find us?

July 30, 2007

In my recent journey to Chicago and the midwest emergent conference I had an objective.   I am sure some attendees at that event could see the drool streaming from my mouth as I surveyed the crowd.   Planter prospects!   Here is a whole group of starters!   Sure, they do all kind of wear the same uniform (flip flops etc.) but that’s ok.     What counts is that they are dreamers and doers.   I dove into the crowd and posted a message really expecting to find prospects for new start plans in Michigan.     No such luck.  I quickly discovered that these folks are inbedded in ministries such that they are not looking for work.   Most good people aren’t.   

There are immediate opportunities for planters in the Great Lakes Region.   We network with seminaries, job listings and agencies to find names.   Fact are this is a very limited search method.   I am often amazed at the power of the informal network.      I am also encouraged at the open attitude in the RCA.    Outsiders (I count myself as one) are encouraged to join.   The commissioned pastor track is working (Jeff Elzinga is our first CP church planter and is doing great work in Robinson Twp!) such that the door is open for new pathways into ministry.    In some cases new leaders are growing up from within (this one really depends on the attitude of the senior minister who is not threatened by new gifted leaders).    So lend a hand if you can….   Our planter network is growing and perhaps you know a name that we could help connect to an opportunity.     Seems that those leaders who waiting for a chance to plant have come forward and been deployed.    Now we are facing a need for the next wave.   Here is the prayer……..Leaders…Lord give us leaders!   

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CHECK IN FROM VERGAS MINNESOTA

July 26, 2007

Vacation….aaaaahhhhh.   The day began with a trip to Walworth Cemetary where my father was laid to rest a year ago.    Serenity there in the middle of a wheat field boardered by lakes and shelter belts of maple trees.   From there we hit the Vergas bait shop and then the lake.   Three pike and a rock bass later I grabbed my suit and went for a swim.     I look forward to this week all year long.    With no family in Michigan other than my kids I take real joy in being surrounded by them for a week in the land of my birth.    Vergas is a town of 250 or so.   The talk is all about fishing and farming.   We stay up late and play cards savoring a dinner of fish and fried potatoes.    It feels like the Sabbath I have been skipping and it feels really good.

I take along some reading for these weeks….it just looks good alongside my bed.    I am rereading The Shaping of Things to Come and my latest National Geographic along with some Leslie Newbigin.     Ministry types often fail at the balance thing….so this week I work at bringing a correction.   Tomorrow I swim across the lake (always do it once a year) and then we go skiing one more time.    The books will have to wait…..and they will.    Next week we will be back with the battery charged and a reminder not to skip Sabbath.    Yes.  

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NAME DROPPING AT MIDWEST EMERGENT…

July 21, 2007

Back…Saturday am with Hemant Mehta author of I SOLD MY SOUL ON EBAY.   Several “overt atheists” like Hemant are trolling the event.   Interesting…they are the only ones not wearing flip flops.  Hemant is actually in a tie and shirt tucked in style.   Hummmm.

Hemant is talking about his experience in visiting churches.   He liked churches where there the preacher told good stories that challenged him to live better.   Not excited about churches that did heavy bible teaching.   He kept calling himself a “friendly atheist” and thought some churches were friendly and helpful.   Others seemed angry or upset.    He reported one pastor invited Hemant on stage and was very open and not threatened.   Another church featured a faith healer….that really wacked him out.  

On deck…Spencer Burke from theooze.   Spencer is talking to anyone who will listen about his  conference in October in the Bahamas.   He is like doing a sales pitch comparing a similar experience in OC at twice the price.    Go with Spencer and you can hang with Brennan Manning and NT Wright…heavyweights for sure…but the Bahama thing feels a bit self indulgent in this strong missional culture.   Maybe this is adding in the cross cultural thing.   Hummmm      Other luminaries are sprinkled around the crowd…..Doug Pagitt….Tony Jones.    I talked with some average Joe church people who are here to check this thing out.   They are really taken by the vision of the movement…but not so much so by the name dropping.     OK….more buzz below on prior blog entry.

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A BRIEF REPORT FROM MIDWEST EMERGENT in CHICAGO

July 20, 2007

After a miserable night sleep in the local Motel 6 where a half dozen hockey teams are also bunking for the weekend I slid into my seat at the Midwest Emergent Conference in Rolling Meadows.    About 200 people in flip flops (noisy when they all get up to leave).    I really feel out of place with my lace ups.  

Tony Jones launched the day on the subject….what is missional and what is emergent.    Missional, he reported, is that designation that goes with any congregation that is tired of talking endlessly about staff changes or carpet or programs for kids or the pastors last lousy message…and the one before that!    Emergent took a bit longer to describe.    His approach was through the dialectical method of Hegel who proposed the thesis, antithesis, synthesis sequence.    Like the disciples who wanted to build temples to commemorate the transfiguration of Jesus, denominations have been building systems and order as a way of capturing their essence in time and space.    But Jesus did not respond to Peters proposal and according to Tony he would not have much to say about our systems either.   The Kingdom is unfolding in a way that cannot be contained by these systems.   The dialectic has made liberal/conservative or other such polarities pointless.   What is emerging is more real…or is paying attention to the questions and concerns that Jesus is answering.    Hummmm.   

OK…..now some thoughts from John Armstrong who spent time talking about the emergent movement.   Armstrong is a friendly critic and bright bulb from Wheaton College.  His thoughts landed on some positive contributions of emergent…(pushing the missional conversation forward in our north American context and emphasis on the kingdom over the church)….and some criticisms…(a bit too unaware of how this movement is not saying anything new, read Barth or Brunner of 50 years ago, emergent movement can be a bit proud and self absorbed).    Most importantly he encouraged us not to be smug or faddish about our work.    Courageous work is good…proud is not.    Armstrong was not wearing flip flops. ..and people seemed to like him!   Thank you Jesus!

So I am trying to decide if I should actually buy flip flops.   For some reason they just don’t work with my anatomy but at some point I may need to accomodate.   Dirty word!

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CHURCH MULTIPLICATION TEAM UPDATE…Dates…Events…What’s up!

July 18, 2007

The CMT for the Great Lakes Region met last Monday and here is a rundown of the buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…….

* North Grand Rapids is still seeking a church planter.    If you know a person who they should know about contact bingebretson@rcagl.org or Rick Tigchon at Rockford Reformed.    Meanwhile, pray for this need.

* Holland is hopping!   Two years ago we were praying about new starts in Holland.   Now we see fruit through Beechwood, Christ Memorial while First and others are exploring.   Jeff Elzinga is moving forward in Robinson Twp too!  

* The prospects of a development officer to assist in building the funding base for planting in the Region continues to grow.   Soon we will be interviewing prospective people.  Names to yours truly!

* On the horizon are several key dates….GREENHOUSE simple church conference November 16-18….THRIVE October 29-November 2…SAN ANTONIO national planting event January 24-26.   

* Church Multiplication Service is an a new agency forming out of Beechwood to serve the planting movement….more on this as things develop.

*How are we recruiting new planters….what can be done to get the Great Lakes Region on the map for planting with young emerging leaders.   More on this as we make progress with communications efforts. 

 There you have it….a very brief summary of things….much between the lines….more to come for sure!

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Reaching 90 year old women for Jesus

July 12, 2007

So Adam Potgiesser has been stuck in my head for the last 24 hours on account of a story he shared with me.    His plant, New Community in Lawton, bought potted plants to put on the doorstep of evey home in town this spring (I can just hear the Lawton jokes firing off!).    Well that created a fairly positive buzz around town and they scored some good points with the locals.   But here is the best part…one elderly woman upon receiving the plant and the note attached (“This plant is just a little sign of how God loves you”) let the tears flow in the presence of the person making the drop and reportedly said, “God loves me?!”.      So I picked on Adam about the new target audience for his ministry….and then was reminded of that simple principle…go with where God is moving.    Good going Adam…we imagine you’ll have plenty of grandmothers to rock the babies in the nursery!  

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Welcome Toby Gruppen!

July 9, 2007

It’s always fun to see the planter tribe expand…so here we go again!   Toby is planting with Christ Memorial on the north side of Holland.   He has had a very effective ministry in Zeeland for the last few years in developing a youth ministry center that has grown…and grown!   Now a new chapter for Toby as he winds up an intership this summer and then takes steps toward the new start.    Pray for him…send him a note…(pray@i2k.com).   Slide over crew…..and make room for new start number 22!