Urban Exile: Gran Torino

I read this article this morning because I am always interested to see what people have to say about Michigan and Detroit. Usually it’s some sort of comedic piece or a good chuckle at the ineptitude of the city’s political structure. However, this morning when I read this Out of Ur post on Gran Torino I was moved. You see, it’s not everyday that you see a snapshot of Detrtoit that points to the racial and the spiritual. But, here we do. I have worked in and around the city of Detroit for four years. My first three and a half took place on the college campuses and for the last six months I have been in the suburbs working at Grace Chapel, EPC. In my time here I have been amazed by what is happening in and around our city. Many people look at 8 Mile and Telegraph, those grand dividers as the keys to what’s going on here. The reality...
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Connector Churches

I read this today and thought that the nine traits listed in Ed’s book are really insightful. What do you think?http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/edstetzer/ Creating Deeper CommunityChurches that are effective at attracting and developing young adults place a high value on moving people into a healthy small group system. Young adults are trying to connect and will make a lasting connection wherever they can find belonging. Making a Difference through ServiceChurches that are transforming young adults value leading people to serve through volunteerism. More than being pampered, young adults want to be part of something bigger than themselves and are looking to be part of an organization where they can make a difference through acts of service. Experiencing WorshipChurches that are engaging young adults are providing worship environments that reflect their culture while also revering and revealing God. More than looking for a good performance, young adults desire to connect with a vertical experience of worship. Leveraging TechnologyChurches that are reaching young adults are willing to communicate...
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Stepping out…

So, I have begun thinking about “programming” in the church. It’s something that I have been wrestling with for a while and my thoughts are beginning to clarify a bit more. I studied some pretty large chunks of Acts this winter and spring. Something that really hit me was how “out there” the first and second generation Christians were (Paul is a second generation, let that one sink in for a moment).They met together and ate food. They worshiped out in the open at the Temple. There was no real distinction in their mind of anything sacred or secular. There certainly did not appear to be any kind of “holy huddle” going on in the early church. There was rhythm to their life.They broke bread, they served, they remembered the Lord, and they sat under the teaching of the leaders. They did all this in a culture that was just as pluralistic as ours. They did this in a culture...
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The Forgotten Ways, Part 8

It’s hard to imagine a few weeks ago when I sat down with my friend Doug at the Bean and he encouraged me to read Allelon.org’s blogs about the missional church that it would have led to a month of thinking more deeply about what it means to be the church. The next day I walked into the library at Michigan Theological Seminary and grabbed a little book called The Forgotten Ways. This is post eight, the last chapter of the book: Communitas, not Community.I think that the opening quote from Paulo Coelho is best summary of the chapter where he says, “The ship is safest when it is in port. But that’s not what ships were made for.”The quote says it all. In recent times there has been an emphasis on “community”. This emphasis has always highlighted the church being a safe place, a retreat from the world. The metaphor of a hospital has been used. The community was...
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The Forgotten Ways, Part 7

As I sit here at home I have just finished the book! So we are on the home stretch with only a couple of posts on The Forgotten Ways remain. This chapter was one that I was not particularly looking forward to. As a result it took a while to chew through it. However, it turns out that “Organic Systems” are actually pretty cool things! Who knew?I think that the best way to understand the concept of “Organic Systems” in Hirsch’s mindset is to think about a spiderweb. The whole web is connected to itself. There are multiple nodes and lines. The whole thing is interconnected. This is what an organic system is all about.Consider our body. There are multiple little systems like the nervous system, skeletal system, or epidermal system, but each one by itself does not a body make. They all come together and create a body. This is what the church ought to look like.The church, Hirsch...
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The Forgotten Ways, Part 2

As it turns out chapter 2 is all about the role of Christendom and institutional Christianity. Who knew? So, again I will outline the chapter and then give you my thoughts on it.Hirsch begins by arguing that the natural way of things is to default back to that which is comfortable and known. He quotes the great philosopher Bono from U2, “stuck in a moment and now [we] can’t get out of it”. Whenever we seek to try something new we invariably default back to what has proven to work.This is especially true in Christendom where the institutional concept of what it means to be a Christian is so deeply ingrained in our minds and limits our imaginations.Therefore, the way that change can come about is by not simply adjusting the programs but stepping into the very heart of what it means to be the church. Hirsch provides a great illustration, that of the the computer. It goes like this:...
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The Forgotten Ways, Part 1a

So, I realized that there was one other thing running through my mind from the introduction and first chapter. Hirsch begins to make a distinction between Christianity and Christendom. This is what he calls the difference between institution and organic growth.The thing that caught my mind was the role of the institutional church. Doug and I were talking about this on Wednesday at the Bean and then reading Hirsch some thoughts began to crystallize. This idea of the institution is pretty powerful. Around 310ish is when the Church went from underground to large and in charge so to speak. Then something happened — an institution was born.I run in some different parts of the Christian sub-culture and one in particular is a large parachurch organization. A favorite phrase is, “a movement becomes a monument overnight”. I think that there is some truth to this. Almost that fast the underground church became an institution. The faith that was demonstrated by a crucified and...
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The Forgotten Ways, Part 1

I have a direction for this blog which is exciting. This summer I am interning at my local church. Currently our church is going through a transition from a “come and see” model to a “go and tell” model. Our pastor and has been encouraging our elders to consider deeply what it means to be the Church. In the midst of this transition I am coming alongside Doug (my pastor) and seeking to learn what it means to be a pastor and in so doing I am learning what it means to be missional.Therefore, I am reading the text, Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch. What I am going to do is take a few posts and summarize each chapter and then write a bit about what is running through my head as a result.The introduction and first chapter Hirsch sets the stage for what he desires to talk about in the text. I need to go out of order in...
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