Saturday, August 30, 2008

Don't it always seem to go...

that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

Watching this video celebrating 25 years of Vineyard USA warmed the cockles of my heart and brought a tear to my eye. Although I believe (hope) God has moved me on into a different stream of Christ's church I will always have a soft spot for the Vineyard movement of churches. They are part of me. I still hold to the values mentioned in this clip and I believe they are so important for the church. I am praying that I will be able to 'take the best and go' (to use WImber's phrase) as I move into ministry in the good 'ole c of e.

Vineyard USA 25th Anniversary from Vineyard USA on Vimeo.

How gracious and humble is Ken Guliksen in this clip?

ht: Steve Gee

Friday, August 29, 2008

Emergent and Mark Driscoll

One of the fascinating parts of The New Christians by Tony Jones has been the portrayal of the journey of Mark Driscoll from being one of the founding members of the Emergent group to being D.A. Carson in a hoodie and jeans.
Now I guess there is no love lost between Tony Jones and Mark Driscoll, and I wonder if Jones could have been a little more gracious in what he writes about Driscoll, but what do I know.

Driscoll was, Jones writes, one of a dozen young leaders who gathered near Colorado Springs in1997 to discuss ministry to Generation Xers. Part way through the weekend, Brad Cecil gave an impromptu presentation about the postmodern turn (This presentation has now been turned into a powerpoint presentation). Driscoll was apparently one of the ones who "got it", and began to establish who else in the gathered group "got it". They began to search the country for other young leaders who "got it".

Tony Jones apparently joined the group about a year later. He describes his initial meeting with them, and here is where things seem to start to sour with Mark Driscoll. At one point in the conversation, Jones came out with the statement "The Bible is propaganda!". The way he describes it, it just popped out of his mouth, much to his own surprise. Now what he meant was that the propaganda "has a point and a purpose", that "It doesn't claim to be objective. It's trying to convince someone of something. It's trying to get people to join a cause, to join a movement." and that's what the Bible is. This is pretty obvious really but 'propaganda' is of course a provocative way of putting it as it is usually associated with deceitful methods used by nasty regimes. Jones records the response -

'Particularly torqued at my insouciance was Mark Driscoll, the fireplug sitting to Brad's left. The guy has an uncommonly sharp mind - and a tongue to match. (The story of his conversion, the rapid growth in membership at his church, and his subsequent disavowal of all things emergent is well documented in his own books.) Mark definitely did not appreciate my take on the sacred text of Christianity, and he let that be known.' (p45)

Jones describes the development of the group and Driscoll pops up again a few pages later -

'Meanwhile, things with Mark Driscoll had become uncomfortable. Sitting on a panel at a Seattle event in 1999, he vehemently stated that women should not be pastors. Everyone else in the room was dumbfounded, since he was breaking an assumed consensus in the group. He was also becoming known as the "foul-mouthed preacher" (he was apparently the "Cussing pastor" in Don Miller's Blue Like Jazz) When Brad Cecil invited Mark to guest preach at Axxes Church in Arlington, he explained to Mark that unlike Seattle, swearing from the pulpit in Texas just wouldn't fly, and he asked Mark to please keep his language clean. Mark used the F-word in the first sentance.

The young emergents were gaining a reputation as arrogant, foul-mouthed, and angry young preachers, very much as a result of Driscoll's outbursts. This resulted in a couple of meetings and conference calls, an attempt to quell his vituperations. But nothing worked. Driscoll's increasingly conservative theology and his unrepentant attitude led to an eventual distancing from the rest of the group. By 2003, he was publicly denouncing his former fellows.' (p48)

So here it sounds like Driscoll was ousted from the group for his increasingly conservative views (especially on women) and because of his potty mouth. I haven't read Driscoll's version of events, but I hear it is more like he distanced himself from Emergent for their increasingly "unorthodox" views. Which version is true? Both of course. Let's not be so naive to think we can have one version of The Truth :)

The last mention of Driscoll in 'The New Christians' is connected to the story of The Church of the Apostles in Seattle. Wondering how long COTA can be sustained, Jones writes -

'These are people who have obviously witnessed the tearing apart of many churches. And what's more, they live in the shadow of an eight-hundred-pound gorilla: Mars Hill Fellowship, an emerging church pastored by the self-described "Bible-thumping fundamentalist" Mark Driscoll. Mark and Mars Hill come up in almost every conversation I have at COTA. Driscoll himself has distanced himself from "emergent" and claimed the title "emerging" for Mars Hill. He gets a lot of press, has a column in the Seattle newspaper, and has a rising profile nationwide. But the very attributes of emergent Christianity - humility regarding interpretation, nonpropositional appreciation for truth - Driscoll rejects outright. He's not-so-subtedly criticized Karen (Ward) for replacing the proclamation of doctrine with finger painting. With Driscoll's three-thousand-member megachurch claiming "emerging" status, the Cotans understandable wonder about the future of the emergent tribe.' (p207)

I'm not sure what to make of this. I can understand Jones standing up for a small emergent community in the shadow of a megachurch. This is a common problem. But does it not sound a little bit like sour grapes and well, a bit personal. Should Jones rise above this in grace and humility? (Easy for me to say, I haven't been publicly denounced by Driscoll) (yet :) )

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The New Christians - Tony Jones

I picked this up at Greenbelt and have been really enjoying it. It's a highly personal account (there is no other kind, he would say) of the development of the Emergent section of the emerging church. It is fairly US-centric, although it does acknowledge that there are emerging churches in other parts of the world. It's a very readable mix of personal story, sociological analysis, theology and stories of other emergent people. My only complaint so far is that it does that annoying thing of putting text that is already in the text in a box, for marketing purposes I guess. I'm sure postmodern people can cope with a book that doesn't have gimmicky text boxes and other pictures littered throughout the text.

I haven't read much that I have disagreed with so far. Jones paints a picture of the american church and political scene in terms of left and right and suggests that emergent hovers somewhere above the middle. He is clearly a post if not anti-foundationalist, but I have not yet gathered just how thoroughly postmodern his epistemology is and how he avoids the charge of relativism. In other words, what aspects of postmodernity does he critique and on what basis.

Every now and then there is a 'dispatch', which is a (dare I say) proposition of what emergent folk represent. I thought I might blog through some of these, along with some other highlights/reflections. Read Tall Skinny Kiwi's review.

Glory Boy

As William was praising the Lord at Greenbelt, the anointing on him was visible. Move over Bentley, there's a new kid in town.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


A few weeks ago I started running. I was inspired by my sister who intends to run the Duchy marathon in Cornwall next year. I went out with her while I was down there and did a couple of miles and really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd give it a bash as a way of keeping fit and shifting a bit of weight. The first couple of times I went out in Bristol, I did about 20 minutes. I had stitch, I was out of breath, and I pulled a calf muscle (largely due to the crappy old trainers I was wearing). Undeterred, I invested in some new running shoes, and these made a lot of difference.

I've now been out about a dozen times, gradually increasing my time and distance, and I've joined a club on Tuesday nights. The calf was a bit tight for a while but seems to be better now. Last night felt really good. At the beginner's club at upandrunning we did 8 lots of 4 minutes with 1 minute walking in between. At the end of this I still had some energy so I ran home - another 8 minutes, making a total of about 40 minutes running, and a distance of just under 5 miles.

Being a nerd, I plot out my routes on walkjogrun and keep scrupulous records in a spreadsheet. So far I've been out 12 times, ran 35.32 miles, in 5.18 hours, with an average speed of 6.67 miles per hour (approx.). And having an addictive personality, I really miss the run on my rest days, which is bizzare, but it's good to have a healthy addiction for a change.

I'm not sure whether I'll end up doing a marathon, but I'll at least aim for a half, maybe in Bath or somewhere. In the meantime I may do a 5K or two. Let's see how long the craze lasts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Back from a cracking weekend at Greenbelt, with the Barnes, the Swales, and the Johns.
Check out some of the photos on flickr.
It was fantastic to hang out with friends, and meet new people, and I loved the eclectic mix of music, arts and challenging talks. Some of the highlights for me include seeing Michael Franti and Spearhead on Friday night, singing the Lord's prayer with Brian McClaren, (He blogs about his Greenbelt experience here) hearing Tall Skinny Kiwi speak about emerging church and about mission (blogging) in the 1024 window, beer and hymns in the 'Jesus Arms', meeting Jon Birch, and only later realising that he is ASBO Jesus (There is an interview with him here), and discovering the amazing Shlomo. All in all, an inspiring (and knackering) weekend.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mark Driscoll Kicks His Own Ass

'Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, took a dramatic stand against girly men at a Pastor’s Conference in Houston last week.

The conference, called “re:tool and re:load,” previously billed as “jesus 2.0,” featured speakers from around the country with the stated focus of “Making the Gospel and Missiology Relevant to Post Modern Culture.” Speaking at the last session of the conference, Driscoll focused his three-and-a-half-hour talk on the need for pastors to be more alpha.

“The problem with our churches today is that the lead pastor is some sissy boy who wears cardigan sweaters, has The Carpenters dialed in on his iPod, gets his hair cut at a salon instead of a barber shop, hasn’t been to an Ultimate Fighting match, works out on an elliptical machine instead of going to isolated regions of Russia like in Rocky IV in order to harvest lumber with his teeth, and generally swishes around like Jack from Three’s Company whenever Mr. Roper was around.”'

read the whole thing at The Wittenburg Door


update: NB - Please note - this is a SATIRE. It is made up. It has come to my attention that some folk thought these quotes were real!

the following excerpt should make this clear -
In Houston, Driscoll was intent on making absolutely clear that he is in favor of masculinity. At the 2 hour, 15 minute mark, he invited five pastors from the audience to take the stage, put his hands behind his back, stuck out his chin, and said, “Hit me with your best shot. Go on. I won’t hit you back. I want to show everyone what this is all about.” When none of the five took a swing, Driscoll had them escorted from the building and proceeded to hit himself five times.

“This is what being a pastor is about, guys. If you can’t handle it, go back to teaching yoga or playing My Little Pony with the other girls.”