Ultimately the controversy stems from the fact that Bell is raising core questions about issues that are central to the Christian faith. Â He has posed the questions in ways that have led some to conclude that Bell is promoting something called Universalism; a doctrine where everyone gets saved, no matter what. Â Again, these are all assumptions because none of his critics have actually read the book yet. Â The only worthwhile critique I’ve read so far is Greg Boyd’s, namely because he actuallyÂ has read the book. Â (As a side note, as an Anabaptist, it’s worth paying attention to Boyd partly because he’s grown very close to Mennonites in recent years, even flirting with the idea of joining MCUSA.) (more…)
It seems to be assumed that the way we can build a movement in our society is by wring books, building platforms, and then touring around using our amassed social capital to woo large numbers of people to being a part of the movement. This often, it seems to me, leads to a sort of coopted radical space where folks never have to go beyond the figure head who is leading the movement.
As more and more Christians in the US begin to wake up to the radical message, the question of “So what next?” becomes more and more important. Though Mark names Pete Rollins as the inspiration for his post, he just as easily could be talking about Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson Hart-Groves, the authors of the New Monasticism movement. It seems that every couple of months, I see a new book out from Jonathan or Shane. I’m sure they are all quite good, but I’m not convinced they are pushing the envelope much beyond Irresistible Revolution, a book that clearly reached a new evangelical audience with a message of radical, Jesus-centered Christianity. Many new Christian Peacemaker Teams recruits continue to tell me Shane’s first book was the where they first heard about CPT.
So, you say that social change isn’t about writing books and touring (or blogging for that matter)? Then what is it about?? (more…)
To quote one of my favorite Sesame Street characters of my early years:
“Hello, Everybodeeeee!” (gotta love Grover).
I’ve just been given the privilege to be a contributor here on YAR and it was suggested that I give a bit of an intro so y’all know who it is writing this stuff.
For what it’s worth, concerning my denominational “pedigree”, I was born and raised in the Mennonite denomination.Â At that time, the churches I went to were the MC churches (as opposed to GC).Â My life started in Puerto Rico as the second son of two mission minded people.Â My parents got their start in PR in Voluntary Service and spent 10 years there all told.Â So, culturally speaking, while I’m German Mennonite by descent, my preferred flavor of church is a little less traditional.
I’m not sure how “young” I am.Â I’m 36 years old.Â But I guess I’m “young” in that I’m not stuck in the Mennonite/Anabaptist “church as usual” mentality.Â We need to start thinking about what it means to BE the church and not just GO to church.Â Life in the “church” is so much more than Sunday morning and the “church” is so much more than the institution that runs that Sunday morning service.Â “Church” is who we are every day and should define what we then do every day.Â If Sunday morning “go-to-meeting” should go away, the church will still be the church. (more…)
People have asked me if I grew up in the country or in town.Â Well, kinda.Â I technically lived within the city limits of Goessel but I could see a wheat field from my back yard.Â In addition, while Goessel was an official town (signified by it’s own telephone prefix and a post office) the booming Mennonite metropolis of roughly 500 people isn’t exactly what I’d call “urban”.Â Being the biggest football player, not only in my high school but my entire league, I followed the natural progression and went to Bethel College in North Newton, Ks to play ball.Â Eventually I wound up with a Bible and Religion degree.Â After college I worked for Buhler Mennonite Church as a youth pastor as I began studies at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary Great Plains Extension (AMBS).Â After four years at Buhler I finished up my degree at the AMBS main campus in Elkhart, In.Â This last spring my wonderful, and patient, wife and I moved to Harper, Ks where I now work at Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church as the solo pastor.Â Even though Harper is three times the size of my hometown (1,500 people) living here would still place us firmly in the rural category.Â My wife works as a nurse at the local hospital which has a whopping 25 beds and an emergency room that is literally has a sign “ring bell for service”.Â We’re not quite in the middle of nowhere, but we can see it from where we live.
That being said, if you have never been to the prairies to witness the great expansive and dynamic sky, then you are really missing out.Â One can hardly question the awesome power of God watching a massive thunderhead develop in the hot summer evening.Â With beauty comes power.Â These storms that give life through their rain and are so beautiful to watch from a distance are also the same ones that have been known to destroy entire towns. (more…)
New Heaven, New Earth: Anarchism and Christianity Beyond Empire
August 14 & 15, 2009
2509 Harvard Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38112
This year’s anarchism and Christianity conference, hosted by Jesus Radicals, will look squarely at the economic and ecological crisis facing the globe, and point to signs of hope for creativity, for alternative living, for radical sharing, for faithfulness, for a new way of being. We are living in a karios moment that will either break us or compel us to finally strive for a new, sane way of life. The question we face at this pivotal time is not if our empires will fall apart, but when they will fall–and how will we face it? We hope you will join the conversation. (more…)
It would be unfair to label Saint Sebastian’s Independant Catholic Church a “gay church”. But it’d be unfair not to mention that, perhaps, they are very into the gay happenings in Baltimore and minister to the gay community. While I am sure that Pastor Flaherty would be disheartened to think that Saint Sebastians is only a church for the queer community, the community at large would probably reference it as “The gay church”. I find this sort of thing unfortunate.
I wound up here by means of an Emergent Village book group that meets in Baltimore. I met Assisting Priest Joan Stiles, a bleached blonde short-haired middle aged woman, while discussing Claiborne’s book Jesus for President. The group discussed much and varied in theological belief tremendously. Disagreement’s abounded. Surprisingly, no one argued. I learned about Joan, her Catholic past, her current priesthood and thought, surely, if there was anyone I would disagree with it was female priest at a pro-gay church. But Joan, like much of the world, was full of surprises. I found myself captivated with her outlook on our faith, her impression of God, her passion for Biblical authority.
A few months later the Reverend Flaherty, the Priest at Joan’s church, even came to the emergent church meetup group. A tall man, who dwarfs me, with long fingers, he strikes me as the sort of person who is easy to get along with. Perhaps that same young idealism that runs in all young people’s blood still runs in his. I found him quiet, questioning, firm in his convictions yet willing to hear others out. It’s hard to not like him. (more…)
For the past 4 weeks I was rotating at Christiana Care Hospital in Newark, DE.Â During that time I was able to reconnect with a high school friend of mine who lives in the area.Â He & his wife introduced me to a group of people with Anabaptist roots/connections/interests who have been meeting together informally and hope to start a church of sorts given the lack of a Mennonite church in their area (that’s not in Wilmington and/or in a “conservative” conference).
Anyway, last Monday I joined them for dinner & fellowship and learned of their interest in finding more participants and connecting with other congregations in the area (and in the Lancaster and Atlantic Coast Conferences) as they pursue organizing more formally as a church.Â The person who has been the catalyst of the group is Scott Calkins – a former U.S. Marine turned Anabaptist who lives with his wife in Elkton, MD.Â For anyone interested, they have a website & blog at the following links:
Is Christian unity in the public square an important goal to work toward? Here at seminary there are many people thinking about denominationalism as a theological issue/concern. I went to a conference to think about some of these issues. It was called Envision 08 (www.ev08.org) I helped out with a workshop on Sexuality and Faith. There were many young evangelical Christians who are freeing themselves from the grip of right wing politics there. The conversation was familiar to an Anabaptist like me, but it was like watching people hear the Good News for the first time. Everyone was so excited that faith meant more than rigid rules, hierarchy, and supporting the U.S.A.
The Declaration below, coming from “Envision: the Gospel, Politics, and the Future” at Princeton University June 8-10, 2008, began with an online dialogue of approximately 100 participants on June 2 about religion, social change, and politics. On June 8, a diverse panel of scholars discussed the results of the dialogue.
After attending the conference and hearing reports about the conversations that occurred throughout many aspects of the conference, the panel met and created the declaration. You can sign it if you want. (more…)
In follow up to my earlier post, the following is what I presented this past weekend at the Believers Church Conference (Believers Church includes Baptists, Penticostals, Mennonites, Brethren, etc…adult baptizers). I was the the young adult representative on a panel discussing mission and evangelism in light of denominationalism and congregationalism in the Believers church in our time. My answer is based on a personal theology of mission and recent reading as well as conversations I have had with young adults in the Mennonite church.
Question: “How do young adults desire to engage in the church’s ministry of mission and evangelism? Where do you see possibilities and problems in the church’s approach to mission in our day? Provide illustrations.
The question asked assumes that mission and evangelism exist as departments or branches owned by the church. We know that ultimately mission and evangelism belong to God and so every Christian should naturally engage the world with mission and evangelism through the way they live. The church then is a group of Christians who gather together for mutual encouragement and building up and worship of God. Therefore mission is at the heart of this group of Christians called the church. The church does not design, select, and control mission and evangelism unless the church is purely viewed as a structural organization. If the church is viewed as a body of believers living in the way of Christ, then Christians of all ages, young adult, middle-aged adult, baby adult and old adult, are part of this body and together they engage the world with mission and evangelism because it is integral to who they are as individuals and as a larger body that God has called, is calling and will continue to call. (more…)
This is an expanded version of my review that first appeared on As of Yet Untitled. Available here with exclusive additional quotes from the book!
To put it simply, Tom Sine’s The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Timeis an encyclopedia of the new movement in the Evangelical church in Australia, Canada, Britain and the United States.
I received a review copy of The New Conspirators: just before leaving for Vietnam a month and a half ago. I carried the book with me through 3 long train journeys, fully intending to read it on each one. Then, quite unexpectedly I found myself with a large amount of time in a clinic room while my traveling companion recovered from a collapse due to altitude sickness.
We were in the mountain village of Sapa (see photos). A fog hung over the region the whole day, broken occasionally by rain. Indigenous people were the main clients of the medical facility and their colorful woven clothing gave the place a distinctly exotic feel. I found the setting infused my reading of The New Conpirators with a certain immediacy. His chapter on “Coming Home” stood out to me in particular. (more…)
Not everyone can or wants to go to every conference. This is a summary of a recent conference. I think sharing the info that we learn at conferences is important.
The “Everything Must Change” tour came to Goshen College on May 9-10. This seminar was lead by renowned evangelical leader in the emerging Christian church movement, Brian McLaren. His focus for the event was addressing the following questions: “What are the world’s top global crises?” and “What does the message of Jesus say to those crises?”
Early on in the seminar, McLaren related a story in which he was leading youth worship as a young adult. He asked the youth to help him create a list of the major concerns at their churches. Issues such as whether or not to have guitars as part of worship music were brought up. He then asked the youth to help him create a list of the issues that they considered the most pressing global concerns, and issues like nuclear disarmament and famine came up. A startling difference was apparent between the two lists. Just like he suggested in the narrative of his story, McLaren instigated a call for a breaking down of the secular/sacred divide and for the Church to be deeply involved in the issues on the second list, the global list. Those of us who attended the seminar were treated to and challenged by a multi-dimensional, mixed media approach to exploring how to understand and deal with interconnected global crisis issues of planet, poverty, and peacemaking. The fourth major crisis McLaren introduced was “purpose”. He explained the latter concept in his assertion that “the biggest problem in the world is the way that we think about the biggest problems in the world.” (more…)
Back in September, Tom Sine emailed me asking if members of YAR could read over the manuscript for The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time. I emailed it out to regular contributors and invited feedback. The book looks at four streams of new Christian Expression – emerging, missional, mosaic and monastic. We’ll have a review of the book here on YAR coming soon.
Today, I got an email from Tom with the following request:
Christine and I have been invited to keynote at the Mennonite Conference for North America in July. We would like to share bit of what you and your compatriots in the network are doing. Could you send me concrete examples of projects you are involved with? Could you also send me any creative examples of younger Anabaptists who are creating new expressions of church, community, advocacy, celebration and mission? We want to put older Mennos in touch with what you and other younger leaders are doing.
Admin’s note: This is the introductory post for our new submergent category. Posts in this category also automatically appear on submergent.org under “Submergent Friends” as part of the wider submergent conversation.
About a year ago, as a known fan of emergent style communities and a young staff member of Franconia Mennonite Conference, I was asked to be a part of a newly developing conversation and relationship between Mennonite Church USA and Emergent Village. The hope was to find a way to connect Emergent churches who were discovering they had an Anabaptist theology with an Anabaptist denomination that could help those congregations find their identity in Anabaptism . . . a few months later, “Submergent” emerged. Submergent is not a project of either Mennonite Church USA or Emergent Village; it is an idea sparked from people who met at this original conversation that is becoming a connecting community.
The name “submergent” is intended to reflect the essence of the 500-year-old Anabaptist movement and the newly budding Emerging Church movement. Both yearn for a faith that reflects the vitally prophetic impulse that sparked when Jesus began his movement 2000 years ago, he called his followers to a radical way of peace . . . a way of loving enemies . . . a way of embracing the outsider . . . a way of forgiveness and transformation and reconciliation.
As it states on our website, submergent.org, “We affirm the spirit of the early Anabaptists as we emerge into a new way of being and doing church. Both Anabaptism and the Emerging Church traffic in subversion. We embrace a counter-cultural identity as we seek to be faithful to Jesus Christ in the shadow of the Empire. We are Submergent.” (more…)
I wanted to share this project that we started as a Sunday school class as a way to get to know other young adults in the area across denominations. Out of this project we hope to develop a website in our area for local young adults to list events and network better. I’d challenge other young adults groups to consider doing something similar as way of connecting with your local community by joining forces with other Christian brother and sisters. (more…)