Archive for 2007

Resources for Ancient Spirituality

July 19th, 2007 No comments

Coal to Liquid

July 6th, 2007 No comments

A friend of mine works with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and has forwarded this flyer about the Coal to Liquid process which is currently before Kentucky’s legistlature (except of course the House has already adjurned, so the issue may be moot). Since we have discussed the Christian responce to the environment before, I thought this may be of interest to you.

Coal to Liquid Flyer

Categories: Politics, Random Tags: ,

More thoughts on questions

July 6th, 2007 No comments

The modern church has dedicated itself to finding and offering answers when at times I think the question as a whole needs to be revised, or added to.  To overly compartmentalize: Baptists are asking “how is a person saved” [or at times, simply “how do I keep from going to hell”].  Mega churches are asking “How do we reach the most people” [or at times, simply “how can we get more people in our doors”].  Traditional liberals are asking “How can we be agents of social change” [or at times, “how can we make everyone feel good about themselves”].

***obviously I am being a bit simplistic and perhaps a tad cynical, but you get the point***

The problem is that Methodists (and mainline churches in general) aren’t really sure what question to ask.  All of the above questions have merit, but none of them seem to ring entirely true.  So then, what question(s) should we be asking?  I tend to think a good way to determine that is to look at Jesus.  Throughout his life he gave a few examples of “mission statements” which really point to the questions he was asking.  For example:  “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly” -or- “I have come to seek and save the lost” -or- “to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  If you put all that together, I think Jesus was asking “How do I bring about the Kingdom of God?

So what happens when our churches start asking this as the primary question?  I think all of the above get answered!  We begin to understand the gospel as something holistic that keeps in tension salvation for the here and now as well as salvation for eternity.  I think it inseparably links discipleship with the ministry of reconciliation.  I think it moves us from an individual understanding of Christianity and salvation into a communal understanding of it.  It also forces us to be an centrifugal church: the dominate force is out from the center.  The only time Jesus asked people to come to him was to a.) minister to them or b.) help him minister to others.

The look and feel and atmosphere of our churches is a direct reflection of the questions they are primarily asking.  There has been tons of research into systems theory and the bulk of it tells us that systems always produce what they were designed to produce.  The problem is they are not always designed like we think they are.

The future of your church and my church, and honestly most of Methodism, is going to be determined by how we understand the role of the church.  I love the question that Rob Bell poses:  If your church were removed from your neighborhood, would anyone besides members notice?  Wow, how is that for convicting.  What is also illustrates is that besides the need to revise our questions, we must also revise our metrics – those things by which we measure the success of the church.

At many churches the numbers we look at are Sunday worship, offering, conversions, and attendance at various other programs.  Don’t get me wrong, those are important because it does show the breadth of our reach, but tell me, does it really measure how well we are bringing about the Kingdom?  The shift to postmodern thinking focuses more on qualitative data than quantitative data.  That is frustrating to those of us entrenched in modernity; however, I can’t help but believe it leads to a better understanding of the impact of a church.  Brian McLaren talks about the need to count conversations rather than conversions.  I think that too is a bit simplistic, but it really forces us to look at things differently.

I believe the church will thrive when it is released from confines of Sunday-centrism.  My wife and I are investigating some intentional community options with other couples (similar to Simple Way in Philly and Communality in Lexington).  Where we stand now, I feel called to go here because I believe it is where I can best minister to the community.  Obviously not everyone can take the step of selling their home to live in a neighborhood with the expressed desire to change “the forgotten places of the Empire” (12 Marks of new monasticism language).  However, I hope that our churches can allow this to be a part of their ministry.  That is what I am struggling with now.  I am ready to sell everything I have to be with the poor and marginalized, I just hope that I can do that because I am Christian connected to the Methodist church rather than in spite of the fact.

We all have lots of questions to ask and I am afraid it is going to lead us to some uncomfortable places.  I however have come to the place where I can no longer go about church as usual.

Let me know your thoughts.


Categories: Faith, Thoughts Tags: ,

What Questions are you asking?

June 17th, 2007 No comments

I had the opportunity to present at a session of the Kentucky Annual Conference of Methodism this past week. During one of our lunch break out sessions, I was a part of a conversation on “Emerging Ministries.” With our denomination in its fourth decade (!!) of decline, people are worried about the future and the near complete lack of 20-30 year olds shows there is reason for concern.

So what is the answer? I will submit to you this: We need to be less concerned about the answers until we start asking the right questions. That is where I believe the emerging church holds promise: not with answers, but with questions.

If church ask the question “How do we get 20 and 30 somethings into our doors?” I believe we will fail miserable. Instead, we should inquire “What questions are these new generations asking?” This generation is no longer primarily asking “How do I get to heaven when I die?” or “What church is best for me?” Instead, we find a generation who is asking things like:question.jpg

  • What does salvation look like here on earth?
  • How can we experience holistic worship and restoration?
  • What does it mean to pray ‘Thy Kingdom come?’
  • Where can I find authentic community?

These questions are more than just a shift in focus, they are a shift in thinking. This postmodern generation now thinks narratively in a non-lineal fashion and approaches issues holistically. Spiritual restoration cannot happen apart from physical and emotional restoration.

To say these things is not to deny the importance of other’s questions. I am convinced that disagreements in the church are less about different answers once we realize the questions we each are asking.

Categories: Faith, Thoughts Tags:


March 26th, 2007 No comments

Make Contact – Make a Difference

March 25th, 2007 No comments
Categories: Faith, Politics Tags: ,

Fair Trade Chocolate in the US

March 25th, 2007 No comments

Check out all the US Fair Trade Chocolate sellers at:

Categories: Faith, Politics Tags: ,

Human Trafficking

March 20th, 2007 No comments

A definition:

“Trafficking in human beings” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Article 3 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (Palmero Protocol)

The scale of human trafficking

Men, women and children are trafficked within their own countries and across international borders. Trafficking affects every continent and most countries.

Due to the hidden and illegal nature of human trafficking, gathering statistics on the scale of the problem is a complex and difficult task. There are no reliable national or international estimates as to the extent of trafficking. Figures are usually counted in the countries that people are trafficked into and often fail to include those who are trafficked within their own national borders. The following statistics may represent an underestimation of trafficking, but are the most credible and frequently quoted.

  • At least 12.3 million people are victims of forced labour worldwide. Of these 2.4 million are as a result of human trafficking. A global alliance against forced labor, International Labour Organisation, 2005
  • 600,000-800,000 men, women and children trafficked across international borders each year. Approximately 80 per cent are women and girls. Up to 50% are minors. US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2005
  • An estimated 1.2 million children trafficked each year. UNICEF UK Child Trafficking Information sheet, January 2003
  • The majority of trafficked victims arguably come from the poorest countries and poorest strata of the national population. A global alliance against forced labor, International Labour Organisation, 2005
  • Trafficking is the fastest growing means by which people are caught in the trap of slavery. Anti-Slavery
  • Human trafficking is the third largest source of income for organised crime, exceeded only by arms and drugs trafficking. UN office on drugs and crime
  • It is the fastest growing form of international crime, already generating 7 billion dollars per year in criminal proceeds. There are even reports that some trafficking groups are switching their cargo from drugs to human beings, in a search of high profits at lower risk. UN office on drugs and crime
  • People are trafficked into prostitution, begging, forced labour, military service, domestic service, forced illegal adoption, forced marriage etc.
  • Types of recruitment; include abduction, false agreement with parents, sold by parents, runaways, travel with family, orphans sold from street or institutions.


BG-ONE: Voices For Justice // Update

March 19th, 2007 No comments

We held our first organizational meeting for the upcoming BG-ONE event at Broadway UMC and things seem to be coming together nicely. We have decided to label this event as “Voices For Justice” and will work with the theme “Come Together.” While the overall focus is injustice, there will be some elements addressing racial reconciliation. Additionally we will be partnering with the official One Campaign in a more official way.

A Mission Statement has been developed for our work: We seek to educate our community about local and global injustice, encourage our community to take action that will change this injustice, and build a community of activists united to make injustice history. Beyond raising awareness, we are also seeking to raise money to donate to local and global aid organizations including financing part of Kaleidoscope’s trip to New Orleans.

Schedule: We will meet on Wednesdays starting March 28 and will run until April 25. The actual event will be at 6:00 at Broadway UMC (1323 Melrose St). The April 25 date will be a rehearsal at Broadway and we will set up and practice the afternoon of the 28th.

Involvement: The primary artistic elements will be coming from the students in Kaleidoscope. We will be teaching classes in Hip Hop, Poetry, Art and Band. The technical arts will be handled primarily by adults and outside of the Wednesday sessions.

How can you help? Once again we will need your support and your assistance.

If you are available, we would love to have you join us on Wednesday nights to help and participate with the classes. Even if you don’t have a particular “skill set” we would love to have you connect with the students. Additionally, we need help with the technical arts aspect of the event (Rick?? Ron??). That would include videography as well as editing and compiling elements.

If you bring special talents or passions to the table, we would love to include that. Last time we found that some of the most successful elements were those that were not planned, but that were incorporated along the way. We are wanting to include more outside involvement in this event that can take place outside of the Wednesday Night gatherings. Specifically we talked about including artistic pieces from the community and various congregations around Bowling Green. We will need people to coordinate the art sale as well organize and lead setting up environment and displays at the church.
We have a rough outline of what the event will look like. Of course this is open to change and will evolve.

  • Prelude / Intro (Video)
  • Opening
  • Call to Worship
  • 8 Goals Video
  • ONE (hip-hop performance)
  • Racial Reconciliation Creative Piece
  • Dialogical Sermon
  • Making the Band Original Piece
  • Offering (Man on the Street Interview??)
  • “Waiting on the World to Change”
  • Conclusion (Communion?)
  • Closing Performance – Come Together

Please contact Ben Kickert or Gary Hook if you have questions.

BG-ONE // Voices Against Poverty

March 7th, 2007 No comments

Organizational Meeting Tonight!!

Hey folks, we will be meeting at Broadway UMC to discuss upcoming plans for our upcoming Voices Against Poverty Showcase. We will meet in the Video Cafe at Broadway. You can get directions here.

We will be continuing with the focus on the ONE campaign and the Millennium Development Goals, but the theme this time will be “Come Together.”

The preparation sessions will run from March 28 through April 25 with the showcase on April 28th at Broadway. We are in need of people to help organize and lead. If you receive this email it is because you either were involved in the first U2charist or you are a part of Emergent-BG. Either way we would love your help. Please feel free to forward this to anyone else who would like to be involved.

If you have questions I encourage you attend this organizational meeting on Wednesday or to contact Gary Hook or Ben Kickert. We will be sure to keep you posted on developments.