While we are still working on a logo and graphic design, we thought you might like to know our new name, and why.
We really want to be a group of people who Love Well by investing in our community. We feel very sent to this area, the zipcode is 27519. But, we don’t just want to show up and tell them things. Or, present our faith by coercion and conversion. We want to go serve. To be there. To do what needs to be done. To Love Well.
We really want to be a group of people who Live Differently by finding creative ways to share the healing power of God with our friends. There is a great story told in the gospels about five friends, four of whom bring their paralyzed friend to be healed by Jesus. Unfortunately the doorway to the house is too crowded, so in 5:19, they get creative and lower him down in front of Jesus by digging a hole in the roof. The Church has really crowded its own doors lately with rituals that have no impact, language that makes no sense and attitudes that no one can tolerate. We want a church where we can bring our friends to encounter Jesus, even if we have to be creative about it. The story says that Jesus “sees their faith” and heals the man. Faith is apparently not just a head or heart thing. Our faith changes the way we act. We Live Differently.
If this sounds like the type of person you want to be or the type of church you are longing for, we would love to have you on the team. Feel free to email us: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call anytime: 919-335-6936.
Mentally, when we have an experience, we put the notes from that experience in a box. When our brain has enough experiences stored in a box, it is called an assumption. All of the assumptions we have allow us to go through life wisely, without being surpassed by every encounter or paralyzed by every interaction. This is the way our brains work.
For instance, if every brown-haired person we meet is mean to us, we eventually have enough experiences with this that we form an assumption about brown-haired people. That way, when we run into a brown-haired person on the street, we can prepare ourself for the ensuing harassment.
The same is true with church. When you just read that word “church” your brain, in a millisecond, went to a box in your brain labeled church and told you what a “church” is or does. If we are going to do church in a new way, if we are going to reach out to people who are not currently being reached, then we have to unpack that box. We need to pull our our assumptions, evaluate them, and then repack the box. Some things will not go back in. Some new things will be added.
What are your assumptions about church? What things in your box need unpacking?
This video is making quite an impact, both in terms of views on YouTube and the amount of buzz in the blogosphere. Why? Because, it resonates with two groups of people: those who have a deep desire to follow Jesus un-encumbered, and those who have been wounded by/remain skeptical of the Church. This is the culture in which we live.
While watching this video for the first time, I vacillated between raised-eyebrows-excitement, and pit-in-the-stomach-anger. Yes, anger. In fact, I am not alone in having said reaction. Bethke’s critique of “religion” is a critique of the church and those called to order it. While he might say “Don’t get me wrong, love the church,” his words are clearly directed at it/us. And that hurts…a lot. But, this is not all bad.
Jesus stood in direct contrast to much of the “religion” of his day, this is true; however, ‘abolish’ is maybe over-stating it since Jesus also claimed to embody, to fulfill, to BE the Law (religious rules). Most of the conflict did not come from Jesus, but arose when those in charge responded to his words out of that pit-in-the-stomach-anger rather than with a willingness to listen and change. I don’t think that Bethke is Jesus, but I do think he has something worth listening to—a prophetic word for the church, or at the very least a prophetic posture towards the culture we are called to love. It is a word for us as leaders of local churches to un-encumber people’s longing for deep discipleship, and a word that will hopefully ease some of the skepticism that blindly hurls rocks rather than glaring through the fog of organized religion to see some of its real beauty.
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The real bummer of the whole thing is that those who represent the Church have responded to Bethke like they responded to Jesus—defensively—rather than coming to terms with why this video has resinated with so many people. In so doing, we merely prove his point. I believe the question is, are we willing to heed his words and change, or are we content to defend the things that are maintaing the divide between the Church and those to whom we are called to minister?
When I was born, I had a few name possibilities; one was Paul. Now, Paul is a great name…except when it is paired with my last name, Barrow. Paul Barrow. When you say it too quickly, it sounds an awful lot like Pall Bearer. That would have been annoying. Owen Wheel-Barrow was bad enough.
We think a lot about how we name our kids. We don’t want them to be ridiculed. We want their name to be strong. We want it to mean something. We want it to connect them to their ancestors, their family. There is a lot in a name. In fact, for that reason, God is always changing people’s names in the Bible. New life=new name. New purpose=new name. New direction=new name.
We want a good name for our new faith community. There have been quite a few names circulating, most of them humorous…but, now is the time to get serious. Do you have a name you think would be good? Comment below, and put it on the table. Can’t wait to see what we come up with!
I get this question a lot. People are interested in how plans are coming for the new faith community (nfc) that we will plant in 2012. Mostly, the question is followed up with some form of inquiry as to the location or the name. And, when I say that we are not sure yet, there are puzzled looks accompanied by slightly disappointed sound effects. The fact of the matter is that all of these things are secondary to the point/purpose/vision of the place—the raison d’être, we might say.
It’s not that we cannot answer the question—”what is the point of the church.” Jesus gave us a pretty straight forward answer to that. But sometimes we become so narrowly focused on the way we do church, that we are unable to imagine any possibilities outside of that box. This tendency births new churches that fail to emulate the good stuff and fail to innovate the bad stuff. As I have said before, if we are not doing the same things that the church has always done, we fail to be the church…and yet, if we are doing them in the same way, we fail to be the church.
Let’s face it, our churches are perfectly designed to attract the people who are currently a part of our church. If we hope to reach the other 60-some percent, then we cannot accomplish that goal by doing the same things in the same way. Still, we don’t want to sacrifice the meat of Jesus’ message and mission.
So, back to the question—”what’s the plan?” Well, without the specifics you are looking for, here is an answer: (more…)
1 John 4 is all about love. It is mentioned a mere 13 times from verse 7 to 12. But, this passage has a particular aim, and it is not to talk ABOUT love in the realm of theory. It is to implore us to MAKE LOVE REAL.
John is not interested in discussing whether love is patient or kind, here; he just wants you to love somebody. Do it. Love that is only discussed is not real love. Love that is not given and received is only theory.
Then it goes on to say that you should make love real like God makes it real. And when God really wants to make his love for us real, he chooses to make a covenant. A covenant is a promise made in a time of strength to hold us accountable in times of weakness. Unfortunately, most of us engage with one another through contracts rather than covenants. A contract is a quid pro quo agreement—this for that. Party A agrees to give Party B something and vice versa. We make these agreements to protect ourselves from one another, so that if the other party fails to uphold its part of the agreement, we are free to go. That agreement becomes null and void, we are no longer bound.
But a covenant is different. A covenant stands in the middle so that when one of us falls down on our promises—as we are all bound to do at some point—the covenant is there to hold us accountable and call us back to one another. And it is no wonder God uses covenants as a way to make his love real. I mean, throughout the whole story of scripture—from the first covenant to the very last covenant—we are always falling down on our end of the deal. Yet, God comes back to the table time and time again. He refuses to leave us. Even when our love fails and we turn away, he continues to seek us out and offer more and more of himself—that is called grace.
The height of this love, the pinnacle of this grace is shown to us in Jesus—God offering himself fully to bring us back to the table once more. And to be frank, death on a cross is not a theoretical love. That’s commitment. That is real love.
What I wonder is, how do I make this kind of love real in my every-day life? And, how can we be a church that makes God’s love real to people? Not just something we talk about and understand, but something we do so consistently that even though no one has ever seen God face to face, when they are with or near us, its like they have seen him.
We all have those things in life that we are supposed to do. And then, we have those things that need to get done. A lot of times, those two categories overlap. Luckily for me, they all count as ministry, so even when they don’t overlap, I am technically safe.
To do the things we are supposed to do is a sacrifice. I always get caught up in the “need to.” Someone called that the “tyranny of the urgent.” What I discovered this week was not just that the “need to” prevents me from doing what I am supposed to do, but that it can actually rob me of the joy of serving.
I was a part of a group required to serve the hurricane victims–a required “supposed to.” I did not want to do it, at all. Now, before you hate me, let me just say that cutting wood for a day was preventing me from visiting the sick, teaching a Bible study and writing a sermon. So, it was a big trade-off, especially when you know how poorly I chop wood.
I chopped with an angry vengeance all day rather than sawing with a spirit of grace. I let the urgent–the “need to”–steal from me the gift that God was ready to give. And, it wasn’t until I washed all of the sawdust out of my hair and stretched out in the bed with all of my joints cricking and cracking that I was able to name that. ”Required service” seems oxymoronic, but it is, in fact, just what I needed.
How have you let (the really good) things you “need to” do get in the way of (the really good) thing you are supposed to do?
At the beginning of 2011, the Methodist Church in North Carolina began considering a new church start in the West Cary area. It is a location that has been and will continue to have massive population growth. It is also an area with a great opportunity to reach out to a population that is done with Church. Believing in the Faith Community Strategy of Apex UMC and recognizing the crucial nature of this particular plant, they asked us to consider the possibility of launching a new campus.
Our season for launching is October 2012. This will give us a chance–as a church–to make sure the transition is in order, and give us plenty of time to plan well. Part of this planning involves breaking-down our current understanding of how church is done, and rebuilding a different kind of church.
As far as location, we are currently exploring options on or near highway 55 north of Highhouse and south of 540. We also believe that by transplanting committed disciples from our other Faith Communities, we can really make a huge impact quickly.
Other than that, we don’t have much more info to share at this time. This site will be updated as we have new information beginning in late October 2011, and will eventually find its own site. Until then, we always welcome your earnest prayer as this is a very scary endeavor. If you are a disciple willing to be a part of this new venture, email us and let us know.
This summer I took a group of college students down to Haiti.
This was my second trip, but my first post-earthquake experience. To answer the #1 question I get: yes, it is better than it was, but no, you cannot really tell that much of a difference. The “tent cities” are dwindling, though that doesn’t mean that people are necessarily getting houses back, rubble piles are shrinking and new buildings (with rebar) are going up–so it is getting better, slowly. Still, not much has changed–Haitians are still faithful, still resilient, and still family. In fact, I don’t think anything could really change that.
We tend to think of success in terms of what creature comforts we posses. By that standard…well, really that is not even a fair standard. I was going to say that they will never succeed, but their metric for success is just so different from ours, that to us it often looks like they are not even TRYING to succeed. And, maybe that is the beauty of Haiti.
Watching the college students process Haiti was interesting. They wavered from angry at the haitians to heartbroken for the haitians, to hopeful. It was a week full of processing. Haiti can be frustrating for the very reason that they don’t appear to be trying. But, in the midst of that frustration, we recognize that they actually value the things we wish we valued–family, faith, simplicity.
Isn’t it interesting that we fight to posses what they have already?
To read about some of the work we did, and see a few pictures click on more–> (more…)
My life is full of intersections. God’s story of redemption, liberation and forgiveness crisscrosses my story. Sometimes these intersections are easy to name in the moment, while other times they only appear as I move away from them. Either way, they are the moments and memories that help me explain who God is.
Long before Aquinas and Brueggemann and Kant sat on my shelf, I knew who God was because of these stories. While all of these fine fellows have helped me refine my language and steer clear of good old-fashion-heretic-burnings, when people ask me questions about God, they don’t really want to hear me rattle off some quaint theological phrases. What they are really asking is “Who is God to you?”
And they are asking you that same question. So pick up a copy of St. Augustine’s Confessions and dive in if you want to—its great stuff. But know your story, your beautiful story. And by all means share it.