Category Archives: emerging church

Are You A Christian Hipster?

I got this from mondaymorninginsight.com.  I think I scored about a 70% that I am a Christian hipster.

Are you a ‘Christian Hipster’?  Do you consider yourself a ‘cool’ Christian?  See if you qualify…

Do you like?

  • Christian hipsters like music, movies, and books that are well-respected by their respective artistic communities—Christian or not.
  • They love books like Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider, God’s Politics by Jim Wallis, and The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.
  • They tend to be fans of any number of the following authors: Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, John Howard Yoder, Walter Brueggemann, N.T. Wright, Brennan Manning, Eugene Peterson, Anne Lamott, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Henri Nouwen, Soren Kierkegaard, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Annie Dillard, Marilynne Robison, Chuck Klosterman, David Sedaris, or anything ancient and/or philosophically important.
  • Christian hipsters love thinking and acting Catholic, even if they are thoroughly Protestant. They love the Pope, liturgy, incense, lectio divina, Lent, and timeless phrases like “Thanks be to God” or “Peace of Christ be with you.”
  • They enjoy Eastern Orthodox churches and mysterious iconography, and they love the elaborate cathedrals of Europe (even if they are too museum-like for hipster tastes).
  • Christian hipsters also love taking communion with real Port, and they don’t mind common cups.
  • They love poetry readings, worshipping with candles, and smoking pipes while talking about God. Some of them like smoking a lot of different things.
  • Christian hipsters love breaking the taboos that used to be taboo for Christians. They love piercings, dressing a little goth, getting lots of tattoos (the Christian Tattoo Association now lists more than 100 member shops), carrying flasks and smoking cloves.
  • A lot of them love skateboarding and surfing, and many of them play in bands.
  • They tend to get jobs working for churches, parachurch organizations, non-profits, or the government.
  • They are, on the whole, a little more sincere and idealistic than their secular hipster counterparts.

Do you dislike?

  • megachurches
  • altar calls
  • door-to-door evangelism.
  • They don’t really like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart or youth pastors who talk too much about Braveheart.
  • In general, they tend not to like Mel Gibson and have come to really dislike The Passion for being overly bloody and maybe a little sadistic.
  • They don’t like people like Pat Robertson, who on The 700 Club famously said that America should “take Hugo Chavez out”; and they don’t particularly like The 700 Club either, except to make fun of it.
  • They don’t like evangelical leaders who get too involved in politics, such as James Dobson or Jerry Falwell, who once said of terrorists that America should “blow them all away in the name of the Lord.”
  • They don’t like TBN, PAX, or Joel Osteen. They do have a wry fondness for Benny Hinn, however.
  • Christian hipsters tend not to like contemporary Christian music (CCM), or Christian films (except ironically), or any non-book item sold at Family Christian Stores.
  • They hate warehouse churches or churches with American flags on stage, or churches with any flag on stage, really.
  • They prefer “Christ follower” to “Christian” and can’t stand the phrases “soul winning” or “non-denominational,” and they could do without weird and awkward evangelistic methods including (but not limited to): sock puppets, ventriloquism, mimes, sign language, “beach evangelism,” and modern dance.
  • Surprisingly, they don’t really have that big of a problem with old school evangelists like Billy Graham and Billy Sunday and kind of love the really wild ones like Aimee Semple McPherson.
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Take Off the Veil!

I was always awed by the story of Moses and how he spent so much time in the presence of God that his face ‘shone’ with the radiance of God when he came down from Mt. Sinai…so much so that he had to put on a veil to allow others to be in his presence. When I was a young Christian, I would imagine coming out of my prayer closet and people gasping because I was shining with God’s presence.  Shockingly, that never happened.  What happened more often was me struggling to spend 10 minutes in prayer and feeling so guilty and ‘unspiritual’ for being such a prayer weakling…anyway, that’s for another post.

But, as I was reading II Corinthians the other day, I realized that I COMPLETELY missed the point of the veil of Moses.  I was always under the impression that Moses put the veil on because his face was so shiny and everyone was like “Hey Moses, you’re too shiny…cover that thing up!!”  But, in actuality, he put the veil on for an entirely different reason and I think this should speak to us today.

II Corinthians 3:13 says “We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.”  Did you catch that?  All I have to say is WOW!  When I read this passage of scripture recently, God immediatly spoke to my heart and put a longing in my heart that has been missing for a long, long time.  It isn’t a longing for more relevance, more Bible knowledge or church growth.  He placed a burning desire in my soul for HIS GLORY!

There was a day when ALL I wanted was to be in His presence…to hear His voice…to “reflect God’s glory and to be transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory!”  I would go into church services with such an intense hunger for God that it didn’t matter what songs were sung, what the pastor preached or if there was anyone there except for me and God.  I was hungry for more of Jesus in my life and no one could stop me from pressing into His presence.  I was literally radiating with His glory!

But somewhere along the way, that glory began to fade.  I don’t know why Moses’ glory faded…maybe he stopped seeking God like he did before or the cares of life crept in or he just got sick and tired of the whiny Isrealites.  But, something caused that glory to fade and it happened to me.  I can’t pin point why.  Maybe I got too busy or I wanted to be more “respectable” or maybe all the stuff that I was doing ‘for’ God replaced my passion to just be ‘with’ Him.  Whatever the case, that glory faded and just like Moses, I tried to cover it up with a veil.  A veil of busyness, ministry, relevance or anything else that took my mind off the fact that my shine was gone.

I think we’re there as a church in this nation.  We were birthed in the upper room with tongues of fire and the manifest power of God but our glory has faded and the veil has appeared.  A veil of church growth…church marketing…high impact worship…postmodern preaching…seeker sensitive/simple church/G12/emerging church/all the other church growth stuff.  Dont’ get me wrong…I don’t think any of these things are wrong in and of themselves.  But, when we substitute these things for God’s glory we become like Moses, walking around with a decorative veil that covers up the fading power of God in our midst!

NOTHING is more effective than God’s power!  NOTHING is more relevant than God’s Spirit!  NOTHING will cause the church to grow more than a community of people changing this world with unveiled faces that reflects HIS glory!!  I don’t know what it is but I have become ravenously hungry for His glory and I want the same for the church.  When we seek His glory once again, marketing, church growth, methods and ministry will take their proper place and be more effective than we could ever imagine!

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“The Furious Longing of God”–my review

Let me start off by saying that I love all of the Brennan Manning’s books that I’ve read so far…all 2 of them. Last year, I was at the the bargain book store and came across “The Importance of Being Foolish” and it blew me away! I love his writing style and the story behind his life is incredibly inspiring to me, especially in this time in my life. So, needless to say, I was extremely excited to be able to read his newest book, “The Furious Longing of God” and offer a review here.

The title kind of threw me off because coming from a Pentecostal, holiness or Hell background, the only time I heard the words “fury” and “God” used in the same sentence was when some red faced pastor was referring to the furious wrath of God on sinners. Never, ever did I hear a sermon preached on the idea that God ravenously searches for me, longs to be with me and furiously love me with an everlasting love!

I could say a lot of things but that is the essence of this book…God loves you…period, end of sentence. Manning spends 131 pages driving in the point that “I am my Beloved’s and His desire is for me.” (Song of Solomon 7:10) We, in the church, have become adept at a lot of things…worship/preaching/marketing/programs….but we seem to have forgotten that “the only thing that matters is the faith that expresses itself in love.“(p.88) Manning so eloquently argues that if we could get back to the simple, innocent idea of “Jesus loves me, this I know” and allow that love to engulf us, we could get back to the job of changing the world.

I want to end the review with this quote from the book: “The wild, unrestricted love of God is not simply an inspiring idea. When it imposes itself on mind and heart with the stark reality of ontological truth, it determines why and at what time you get up in the morning, how you pass your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, and who you hang with; it affects what breaks your heart, what amazes you, and what makes your heart happy.” Wow! I highly recommend this short but extremely powerful book!

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It’s Time for a Full System Restore!

jesus-che

The spontaneous expansion of the Church reduced to its element is a very simple thing. It asks for no elaborate organization, no large finances, no great numbers of paid missionaries. In its beginning it may be the work of one man and that of a man neither learned in the things of this world nor rich in the wealth of this world. What is necessary is faith. What is needed is the kind of faith which unites a man to Christ, sets him on fire!” (Roland Allen from “The Compulsion of the Spirit”)

According to World Christian Encyclopedia, there are over 33,000 Christian denominations across the world (and this was as of 1988). Let me put that another way…THIRTY THREE THOUSAND!! Wikipedia defines a denomination as “a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition and identity.” So, within the ‘body of Christ’, there are 33,000 groups of people that call themselves followers of Christ but disagree with each other on what it means to follow Christ. Is this really what Jesus meant when He referred to His church? Is this really what Jesus wanted for His movement? Let me give a description of a subgroup within a religion and see if we can identify with them:

–they are very sincere in their belief system

–they are an extremely zealous and passionate group

–they are meticulous tithers and give beyond what is required of them

–they uphold a strong moral code–they are very decent people

–they believe in the full authority of the scriptures and value the traditions handed down to them

–they are committed to prayer and often pray in public

–they believe in the messiah with all of their hearts

You may be saying ‘Amen Troy, that sounds like a great group of people.” Well, the group that I just described was actually a group called the Pharisees! The Pharisees are unfairly painted as rabid Christ haters who were cheaters and religious bigots. But in actuality, the Pharisees were kind people…generous people…devout people. Yet, these were the people who were responsible for putting Jesus on the cross! These fine, upright, devoted religious people (people not unlike us) were hell bent on murdering Jesus! God founded the Jewish religion based on faith in Him and an expectation of the Messiah that He would send. But the Pharisees were the ugly result of a highly coercive and controlling religion that had lost sight of it’s existence…they lost contact with it’s founder and they MISSED their Messiah who was right there in their midst! (see “Re-Jesus” by Frost/Hirsch for more on this)

I fear that the church in America is in the same boat as the Pharisees. We’re upright, good, moral people who don’t cuss, chew or run with those that do. But, if Jesus were walking around in Anytown, USA, I highly doubt He would be welcome in most of our churches. We would label Him as one of those emerging trouble makers or a compromiser because He hung out with those flaming homosexuals or a liberal because He talks about grace all the time. Jesus would not fit in most of the churches in our nation!

It’s time to recalibrate! It’s time to realize that our “operating system” has been badly corrupted by the garbage of this world and perform a full system restore. When my computer got jacked up by some virus, I restored it to a point in time when it was not corrupted…a time when the hard drive was pure and clean and uncluttered. It’s time to take our movement back! Making little changes here or there will not bring the changes that are desperately needed. We need to realize that we’ve been corrupted and doing more of the same old same old is just adding new programs on top of a corrupted system. Let’s do a system restore to a time when things were pure, unadulterated and undefiled by the patterns of this world.

Will this make us uncomfortable? YES! Will it change the way we see the world? YES! Will church cease to exist in it’s present form? PROBABLY! But, a revolution doesn’t try to make things better…it takes the present oppressive establishment and turns it on it’s head and demands change! This revolution will begin when men and women of God take this radical, life altering movement and give it back to it’s founder and repent of the mess that we’ve made of it!



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Homeless Wisdom

For the past couple of months, I have been driving a van for the local homeless shelter and it has really been an enjoyable experience so far. Basically, I pick up a van load of people from the shelter and take them to town, drop them off at the court house and they go their separate ways from there. During the course of our trips, I have the opportunity to engage in conversation with various people who find themselves homeless at the moment and this has been extremely eye opening but also VERY surprising! Take today for example:

A guy named Mike was sitting in the passenger seat next to me and as I usually do, I tried to strike up a conversation. During the friendly banter, he asked if I was volunteering from a church group in the area and I let him know that we were kind of just doing this on our own, but we are attending a church in the area. I asked him if he went to church and he said “nah, I think most of the churches around here are apostate!” Immediately, my curiosity was piqued! I realized how biased I was because I did not expect a homeless guy to know what the word ‘apostate’ meant, nonetheless use it in the correct context. So, I prodded him further by asking him what he meant by that. What he said next hit me in the gut like a ton of bricks.

“Well, most of the churches that I go to seem to be more worried about how their service looks rather than who they’re serving. I love the book of Acts and my favorite part is when it says that they were ‘all together, in one mind and one accord and they sold everything they had and helped each other’. To me, this is true Christianity and I just don’t see it in many churches around here.”

WOW!!! I really couldn’t respond…I think I muttered “wow Mike, I agree with you 100%!” I’ve said those things a million times but when I heard it come from someone who is DIRECTLY impacted by our selfishness and preoccupation with things that do not matter, it cut me to the heart. Here is a man who has gone to the church looking for that same community, love and compassion that he read about in the first church but instead he continually found “churches” that were more concerned with being blessed instead of being a blessing. We have co-opted the gospel of the Kingdom for the American dream and it has rendered us inconsequential to the very people we are supposed to be reaching. Mike looked at the church in the book of Acts and the church of America and sees NO RESEMBLANCE!

I hear the word “relevance” tossed around a lot today in church circles. It’s been used to describe music style, preaching content and overall atmosphere in a worship service. But the truth is that none of those things will make us ‘relevant’ to emerging generations. The one thing that will make us completely and totally relevant is COMPASSION but we are entirely irrelevant when it comes to that. I’m of the opinion that we need to totally deconstruct what a true, Biblical “church” is really composed of. If we’re not striving to eliminate poverty, meet practical needs and pursue justice in our communities, then we are NOT a church…we are a glorified Elk’s club that is concerned more with membership than discipleship.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry…Mike fired me up today! He helped to strengthen my resolve that there is something seriously wrong with the way we are trying to be the church and I want to help be a part of the change…for Mike’s sake.

****Update on Mike from this story****

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My Calloused Hands

A few months ago, I began to get these weird looking blisters and rash-looking things on my hands. It started off small and almost unnoticeable but as the days went on, it got worse and worse. By about the third week, they got extremely red and puffy and it looked like I had dipped my hands into some sort of chemical that was peeling away the skin. I had no clue what was causing this…I wondered if I was having an allergic reaction or maybe I did come into contact with some chemical. So, I decided to apply some intensive care lotion to my hands, hoping things would get better…and it did, for a few days. So, I stopped thinking about them and worrying about what was causing this reaction.

About 2 months later, the peeling and rash came back with a vengeance. Except now, the ends of all my fingers were extremely calloused and hard. When I went to touch something, I couldn’t feel it with the tips of my fingers. One night, as I was sitting there staring at my hands, the thought ran through my mind “oh crap, maybe I have leprosy!” After frantically searching the internet for hours, I found that there hasn’t been a case of leprosy in the United States for a few decades, so I was probably safe. Thankfully, the mystery condition did go away but I never discovered what the true problem was, I just know that I didn’t have leprosy because my fingers are still attached to my hands! As I look back, I think God allowed this to happen to show me something important about His hands.

As the church, we are supposed to be the hands of Christ here in this world. We are called to heal, pick up, reconcile, feed, clothe and love this world in which we live. Unfortunately, the church at large is experiencing an alarming hand disorder. We gather into our comfortable church buildings, sing our clever worship songs (that are mostly about us) and pay our dues to God. Then, we go home and never allow the gospel of God’s kingdom to penetrate our hearts, never mind the world around us. Over time, signs began to appear that something was wrong. Attendance began to decline, tithes began to plummet, people began to be just ‘not interested’ in what we had to say anymore. But instead of recognizing it as the emergency that it was, we decided to put some lotion on it. We jazzed up our services with cool power point presentations, began to ‘perform’ worship in rock and roll style and began to use hip, fresh words like ‘community’ and ‘post modern’ to describe our new stuff (don’t forget about the candles!) This worked for a little bit. Attendance increased, tithes went back up and people got excited about coming to church again.

But as the months and years went on, the lotion began to wear off and it has become obvious that the ‘hand condition’ never went away…we just covered it up for a while. Now, it has become ten times worse and a new condition has sprung up. When we read in God’s Word about serving and loving the “least of these”, we feel convicted and determine to ‘reach out’ more. We organize outreaches to the local soup kitchen, we rake a few yards in the neighborhood, we raise money for some poor orphans somewhere over in Africa. But, something is wrong. We know that this should make us feel better and that this should make God super proud of us, but it doesn’t. In fact, we have discovered that we just don’t feel ANYTHING anymore. We have become calloused and unfeeling to the world around us and it’s just getting worse.

Now that we’re aware of how leprous we have become, no amount of cool, hip, postmodern worship services will make us happy. The pastor could preach a 15 point message with video clips and points all starting with the letter C, but it still doesn’t fill the void that has been created within us. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY! Matthew 25 sounds a warning siren to the American church that we have become calloused and leprous and no church consulting experts or fresher services or snappier titles will heal us. Only when we come to Him with repentant hearts and our calloused hands will we find the healing we so long for and finally become God‘s hands reaching out to a world looking for something real.

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Jesus Is SO Annoying!!!

Jesus lives next door. He’s an eight year old girl and her three year old brother. The Son of Man looks like those starving Ethiopian children. He only gets breakfast and lunch at school, when he makes it. His mama is a crack whore. Nobody knows where his daddy is. I heard his mama lets her “johns” do things to him. Poor King of Kings.

Jesus is two houses down and has six children. Now he’s pregnant with the seventh. I don’t know if he hasn’t figured out what birth control is, or what, but how does he expect his husband to feed all those babies on that salary? and you know with all those kids the Lord of Lords can’t work. That means hardworking taxpayers’ money has to go for Christs’ food stamps. He needs to get fixed!

The Lord is a crazy man-paranoid schizophrenic. If he doesn’t take his medication he walks up and down the street cussing and spitting on everybody he passes. He’s homeless. Nobody knows where his family is-if he’s got one. Digs out of the trash cans for food. Somebody ought to get him off the street.

Jesus is nothing but a nuisance. I’m starting to see the Son of God everywhere I go. He’s always crying or begging or looking pitiful. Why doesn’t He pull Himself up by His bootstraps? This is America, makes me so mad. He’s ruining our neighborhood. Somebody ought to do something about him. Somebody.

*excerpted from Ragamuffin Diva

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