Friday, 11 April 2008

Some notes on hopeful directions, foundations and practices

This is for those of you that (like me) are looking for ways to navigate as, in (or even out of!) a flawed and struggling church in post-christendom.

The excerpt is from a book called "The secret of the strength: What would anabaptists tell this generation?"


"I am the way and the truth and the life."

To the Protestants, the Bible was the manifesto, an end in itself. Once they
reached an agreement on how to "properly" interpret it, they revered it and treated it with gallant devotion.

They preached and persecuted and fought mighty wars in defense of the Bible and its doctrines.
To the Anabaptists, the Bible was simply the book that took them to Christ.

The Protestants found the "key" to Bible interpretation in the epistles of Paul.
But the Anabaptists found it in Christ and his Sermon on the Mount.

The Protestants saw in Paul a great theologian, the expositor of the doctrines of faith and grace. The Anabaptists saw in Paul a man who forsook everything to become a "fool for Christ's sake." They found community with him in his martyr's death.

The Protestants lived to obey their authorities. They spoke much about "Godordained authority" and held their princes and church leaders in highest esteem.
The Anabaptists lived to obey Christ.

The Protestants worked en masse and waited until "everyone was ready" to make
changes in religious practice.
The Anabaptists did, on first opportunity, what they thought Christ wanted them to do. If no one else joined them, they did it alone.

The Protestants followed a logical course. Theologians, princes and educators planned what to do in a way that made sense.
The Anabaptists followed Christ without making plans. That did not make sense. But it was the secret of their great strength.

And it led them . . .


Many of the convictions, offices and practices of the church that we hold in high esteem, perform and find solace in are seriously hampering it´s witness.

How do we "get it right"?

We might find some good help from those radical christian groups during the christendom-era who never won the popular vote. One such group was the anabaptists who in its genesis rediscovered healthy practices of discipleship that the reformers failed (or dared not?) to find. (Eventually, hampered by persecution, the anabaptists scattered).

I recommend those of you who do give a damn about "church" and it´s place in contemporary society to read this compelling book by Peter Hoover! Available as a pdf-file here.

And why not read Frank Violas and George Barnas "Pagan Christianity" to take a serious look at the real historical foundations for some current practices of the contemporary church and ask your self the question - Is this the way to do it?

For a primer on the issue of being "church" in post-christendom, and in investigating hopeful ways of "doing it", I suggest you read "Church after christendom" by Stuart Murray.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Right and wrong

This post by Graham on the Leaving Münster blog connects in an interresting way to my previous post on laying foundations/planting a church, and the core values connected to this practice.

He´s actually writing the post out of a re-examination on the issue of restorationism provoked by a reading of "Pagan Christianity", by Frank Viola and George Barna. (A book I´m looking forward to reading myself!)

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

A paraphrase...

Here´s a long one for you!

Recently this post (from United in Copenhagen), on churchplanting strategies and leadership, appeared on the blog for the leadership and church growth conference hosted by United . Some good stuff there. Some that culturally just wrooms past me...

And so to the churchplanting and leadership post...

Without any undue disrespect for my fellows in the faith, and without saing that their choice of methodology for "doing church" is necessarily one to disband completely, I want to leave this paraphrase here in order to, let´s say, highlight an other way of building "from scratch". One that is equally rooted in the gospel story i think!

Here we go! (and remember: This is a paraphrase, so read the original post first!)


Starting a new fellowship often means: Big vision, lots of enthusiasm and low budget. There are so many things you need to invest in: Paying hostel rooms for homeless people, buying clothes and food for them and paying staff to ride around in cars dispersing the stuff three days a week. You might even need to rent some facilities where we can store up some of the stuff, and eventually hold meetings in.

We have learnt that caring for the needy (among ourselves and in the city) is high priority!

Here are some practical tips on how to start building up a thriving ministry for the poor in your churchplant from day one.

  1. Divide the total amount of monthly income that you have within the core group, and divide it in to slices.(after rent, food and other running costs are accounted for.) Of the "cake" that is left give: 50% directly to the needy (including renting storage facilities), 35% to other mission-initiatives (local and global), 15% to staff/personell costs and 10% for miscellanious costs or, possibly, savings.
  2. Have a board of advisers to help you set and decide what in any given situation should be the minimum % given directly to the poor and to missional work. (50% is just my advice here. The church of the first two centuries roughly spent some 70-90% of their income directly on the poor!)
  3. If you pay staff: Pay well, but never fall into the trap of clericalism that so seriously have distorted the ministry of the church in christendom. (Meaning: Never, unless necessary, have full-time staff. Have people work bi-vocationally so that you can invest your money straight in to the poor and missions. Your way of spending money and how you disperse the "ministry" into everybodys hands and feet has to mirrior a holistic view of how the church can express the "good news".)
  4. Who should you put on salary first? A more open question than many may think it is at first. If you put someone on salary, my suggestion is that it does not necessarily have to be a "senior pastor" or the leader of the team. It could just as well be the peeps working the closest to the poor, or the ones with the largest home (= can fit your gatherings and supply food). It could be a youth worker or someone setting time apart visiting the elderly in your neighbourhood. Talk it through, mine the gospels for guidance, pray and be creative!
  5. Never hire people fulltime unless your missions work or your ministry among the needy eventually requires it! We all "do the stuff". Paying people to comit to a ministry can release creativity and time to do great things, but can just as easily turn people into "experts" thus detering others from regarding themselves as being in "full-time ministry"... which we actually are, everybody, all the time.
  6. Take care of the needy! I say it again ´cos it does you no harm to hear it again: Take care of the needy! And take care of those who work the hardest for the kingdom among you, whoever they are and during whatever season in your life as a community it may be! Treat them, and each other, as if they are precious family too you - which they are! It´s hard to succeed in living the life of discipleship without a family/deep relations, so make sure that you care for each other!

Well, this is where the paraphrase ends!

In no way do I suggest that this is "the way" of doing it (It is, at best, a rough draft!). I´m not claiming that this is "the truth" on this particular bit of laying foundations for a new church but, as I wrote earlier, it is equally rooted in the gospel story! I agree that there are many ways of "doing church" that are valid given the context they are in, but at the same time we must be open for critique!

My position for this particular criticism (in the shape of paraphrase) is not one of clerical power or one based on a theological or ecclesiological splitting of hairs, but rather a humble and slightly uncertain one from the margins. No one needs to listen to me! I am not part of a rapidly growing or "successful" church, rather one struggling in many ways to find out what it actually means to be followers of Jesus together. I have experienced the struggle of being a church leader in a "new church", relating on a personal level to people we may describe as needy and have had some real battles in trying to grapple how I, my family and our church community can connect and serve everyone in our surrounding commuity, especially the poor and needy. I have done this without carrying a salary (bi-vocationally), and have found this a great experience of growing towards a holistic view of "ministry" and church leadership. So it is possible...

I have to acknowledge, of course, that much of the above probably is true for anyone doing church, but the text that I chose to criticize here, in my humble opinion, lacks some essentials in expressing that reality. A reality any church, anywhere is called to represent - The kingdom of God where the poor, the needy and the socially disadvantaged are due for great attention, financially as well as any other way.

What are your thoughts on this?

Monday, 17 March 2008

So this is happening

Well here´s how it´s going to be!

As of today I have two blogs.

This one remains, but more rarely updated.
The other one, in swedish, will be my main outlet. Welcome there!

As for increasing my activity (as I hoped to do) I´ll have to admit that under current circumstances I won´t have time for more activity than a couple of posts/month, at least for a while longer.
Things are happening in life (and I´ll get back to what is happening in future posts!) that will take up energy and time for the rest of spring.

Thanks everyone for helping me out by voting and suggesting!

Monday, 28 January 2008

A brief update and a reminder

I have pledged to fast from blogging until early march, and only break this temporarily to remind any reader to vote on the issues raised in this earlier post. Please do!

I´ll just use this space to also mention some reviews of our latest Plunge album "Refreshingly Addictive".

Both of them are from All About Jazz and written by Budd Kopman and Eyal Hareuveni respectively.

Israeli Hareuveni in particular seems to have been caught by some "deeper and more mysterious terrains" that the music seems to venture into, and draws some interresting spiritual parallels only possible due to his own cultural and religious heritage?