It’s funny how a look back helps you understand what has happened in your life. That’s why I love blogging. A blog is a good record of the past year. Here’s my favorite 10 posts from the blog this past year, with comments and some resolutions for the coming year. Thanks to everyone who commented, everyone who sent me private notes of encouragement, everyone who read the blog.
1.) The Attractional Basis of Neo-Reformed Church Plants YES OR NO?: or Don’t try this at home if you live in the secularized North (Jan 2011) I admit I have a strong ambivalence to Reformed theology in many of its forms (I am a holiness anabaptist – what can I say). Neo-Reformed friends, please don’t hold it against me. I view my engagements as pushes for theological development and unity. In this post, I “accuse” my Neo-Reformed friends of founding churches based on a theology which is inherently Christendom (i..e attractionally based). There are elements in it which work against a missionary strategy. Next year I resolve to love my Neo-Reformed brothers (and sisters if there are any – “wink wink”) more generously and pick my fights with them with the Kingdom (only) in mind
2.) “God Used You to Destroy my World Today”: The Sign of a Good Sermon? (Feb 2011) I have a problem with people “enjoying the sermon.” I think its the wrong response. There’s some issues there that really run deep for me. I’d prefer people come up to the preacher and say, “nice sermon, God used you to destroy my world today.” Read this post and tell me if you agree. I resolve to preach for disruption as much as for encouragement in the year to come.
3.) Three Compelling (Theological) Questions – for the Shaping of the Local Church into Mission. (Feb 2011) I believe every leader/pastor should be able to answer three questions (Scripture, Gospel, Kingdom) for their context and lead their church in practicing life into these three realities. How we answer these three questions, and how we lead in the practice of their reality, determines the shape of a people into God’s Mission. I resolve to work as hard as ever on my teaching at Northern Semimary with this in mind.
4.) Rob Bell’s Frenzy: Why We Need Other Ways to Do Theology and Some Other Off-The-Cuff Observations (Mar 2011) I still think what happened around the publishing of Rob Bell’s Love Wins had much more to teach us about the state of church life in America than anything pastor Bell actually said in the book. As a result, I purpose to derive my writing/theology out of concrete real life ministry and letting God do with it what He will.
5.) When We Form Our Lives Around What We Are Against – Announcing “The End of Evangelicalism?” (Mar 2011) This theme has become a dominant one for me in my speaking in 2011. It has illumined so much of my work this year. Although I am in process of writing a much more popular book for January 2013 release, this year’s speaking/presenting has birthed another book to immediately follow. I resolve to doing my work as much as possible out of what I am for, not what I am against (even if the substance is “against” doing theology by what we are against which is technically a double negative and therefore a positive 🙂 )
6.) 5 Excuses Seminarians make for NOT Getting A (“Real”) Job (May 2011) I continue to push for a new paradym of ministry for the 21st century. The continued dissipation of Christendom in the West demands it. This is why I continue to write posts like this. I resolve to keep encouraging and learning from practicioners about new paradyms of ministry got the West.
7.) STOP FUNDING CHURCH PLANTS and Start Funding Missionaries: A Plea to Denominations (June 2011). Uh, this idea was simple but it resounded across the blogosphere. I take no credit here for being original, just a provacateur. This post led to this and then to this. I resolve to keep involved with organizations that promote mission in the neighborhoods.
8.) There’s A “Good Tired” and a “Bad Tired” (July 2011) I coach church planters alot. So every once in a while I jot down a reflection from that context. These are the more “pastoral” posts on the blog. They’re rare (and kinda personal). Maybe I should do more. This post received alot of positive e-mail. Thanks! In 2012, I resolve to live within a Good Tired and put aside the Bad Tired.
9.) The Incarnation: Some Clarifications on An Abused Term: Post #2 Marcus Borg and Brian McLaren (August 2011) I am supposed to be a theologian. And yet I don’t do alot of theology on this blog. The hits on this blog go way down when I explore the deeper theological issues of a current issue. Nonetheless, I resolve to do more of it. This post was one of a series on the incarnation. I continue to think the key missional ideas of Missio Dei, Incarnation, and Witness need much more theological work if they are to make sense in the practice of our everyday lives as the people of God.
10.) Tim Keller’s “Gospel Ecosystem”: 3 Dangers In a Noble Idea Again Again, , in this post, I reveal my misgivings with the Neo-Reformed tendencies towards engaging culture (I tend to see their approach as elitest). Here’s an example of my take with a nod to the always compelling and intellectually gifted pastor Tim Keller. I resolve to keep generous and open conversations going like this one with my Neo-Reformed bros and sisters.
Honorable Mention: My post on Church Planter as Mythic Hero: 5 Reasons Not To Go This Route (Sept 2011) gathered alot of hits. I continue to think this approach to church planting is a waste of time. It might gather a bunch of disaaffected Christians from other churches. But the chance for real mission wanes with these dynamics. I resolve to keep asking questions about the how’s and why’s of church planting. And my post on “We Are Broken”: Overcoming the ideology that stymies the church’s encounter with the LGBTQ Community signals that I resolve to to delve into this topic more in 2011, because I believe it is a test case for how the church shall be reshaped for engaging the hurting/excluded peoples of post Christendom.
Blessings on the New Year.