Monday, April 28, 2008
What I most value in my Lutheran heritage these days are the things that I think are assets for effective mission to postmodern North America.
1. The centrality of grace. I can't imagine mission making any sense without that a priori.
2. Minimalism. Lutheran theology can be as ornate as anyone's, but I think that at it's heart the "Lutheran impulse" is towards minimalism. The Solas steer in that direction. The concept of adiaphora parses essentials from non-essentials, which is minimalistic. "The canon within the canon" has this feel too. What this means to me is that Lutheranism has a leanness in it's DNA, and the leaner it gets the more portable it becomes, and that is an asset for moving out far and fast in mission.
3. Mystery. Again, Lutheran theology can be extremely Modern and rationalistic, working to explain everything and tie up every loose end so that it all "make sense." But Lutheran DNA has a lot of mystery encoded in it that just doesn't get expressed as much these days. We readily talk in terms of "both/and," "already/not yet" and the simul of being both saint and sinner. You could even bring in things like Two Kingdom theology and the Law/Gospel dynamic itself. What I see in all this is an embrace of things that exceed human understanding - mystery. An that, I believe, is what makes Lutheranism a natural fit for the emerging postmodern conversation which is critical for missional effectiveness.
4. The priesthood of all believers. The amount of freedom this affords us in ordering congregational and worship life is truly exhilarating and almost totally uncapitalized on (among Lutherans). This is what has opened the door wide for me - as a Lutheran - to embrace the house church movement which has enormous potential as a missional strategy. Luther himself actually proposed HCs as the preferred mode of Christian community. You can find that on my website here. "Mutual conversation and consolation of the saints," a very close also-ran for sacramental status, so I hear, also comes in here.
5. The Bible is not the Word of God, Jesus is. That may not be the way it's usually put, but it get's the point across. Someone else already mentioned the idea of the Bible as the rough cradle in which we meet the Christ child. That way of engaging scripture is HUGE to me, and especially so, again, for mission into postmodernity.
Friday, April 11, 2008
"Todd is forming Three is Enough Groups as an antidote to the massive image problem currently ascribed to Christians and Christianity. This unfortunate viewpoint stymies most attempts at evangelism. TiE Groups have a double meaning: they are three friends or colleagues doing three simple and humble activities together (reading, praying and serving others). Functioning in members’ most natural places of community – the workplace, school, or at the local coffee shop. TiE Groups will go on the Journey Inward of spiritual transformation and the Journey Outward of serving others. Spiritual transformation into Christlikeness has always been the true goal of Christian faith—now it is utterly strategic. TiE rescues evangelism out of the program category and relocates it back in the natural context of spiritual formation."
Monday, April 7, 2008
Todd Hunter - former President of the National Association of Vineyard Churches and former CEO of Alpha USA - is launching a new ministry to focus on spiritual transformation and evangelism.
The details are still pretty sketchy at this point so It's not yet clear what his "Three Is Enough" groups will look like. It may be a reference to the idea that three people is enough for a powerful spiritual community, or that having three things to focus on in a small group is enough.
Here are a couple of excerpts from the e-mail I received announcing this. (The whole message is pasted below.)
- Hunter has a passion for evangelism but is convinced that Christianity in America has a massive image problem that stymies most attempts at evangelism.
- Christianity needs to be re-practiced in order to help make followers of Jesus in this generation.
- Three Is Enough Groups..... are designed to show people how to undo un-Christian faith by showing them that heaven is not the goal of Christianity - it is simply the destination. Being the servant - otherly people of God - is the goal.
- Hunter will encourage churches and lay leaders to begin forming Three Is Enough Groups to help individuals pray, grow and serve.
Apparently, this is going to be rolled out at the Conversational Evangelism Conference coming up May 16-17 in Lakeville, MN. I happen to be going to that so I'll be able to report back on it here.
This new endeavor is being launched through Off The Map, an excellent group led by Jim Henderson that has done some pretty innovative things around evangelism, notably the E-bay Atheist and Jim and Casper Go to Church. I've been very impressed by these folks!
You heard it first here! Stay tuned.
(Full content of original e-mail, sent from Jim Henderson at Off the Map:)
Todd Hunter Transitions
Many of you are Todd Hunter fans and have been following his progress since his leadership of The Vineyard. Todd has been actively seeking to support organizations that are missional and evangelistic. His passion is spiritual formation for everyday people. He has been a leader in rescuing evangelism out of the program category and re locating it inside spiritual formation.
Todd has recently decided to launch his own movement called Three is Enough. You will be hearing much more about this over the next couple of years. Off The Map is proud to have the opportunity to support Todd’s new vision and partner with him to communicate it through writings, media and events.
Three Is Enough Groups – Spirituality For the Sake of Others
Todd Hunter, former CEO of Alpha USA, launches new ministry to focus on spiritual transformation
Boise, ID, April 2, 2008
Effective April 1, Todd Hunter (51) transitioned from his role of National Director at Alpha USA to launch a new ministry focused on helping pastors and lay leaders reach a generation that has become disenfranchised from the church.
Under the new non-profit, Society for Kingdom Living, Hunter will develop his writing, speaking and professional activities in the areas of conversational evangelism and the 21st century church. Hunter has a passion for evangelism but is convinced that Christianity in America has a massive image problem that stymies most attempts at evangelism. With the basic premise that Christianity needs to be re-practiced in order to help make followers of Jesus in this generation, he is developing resources and events that include writing a series of three books, the first to be published by InterVarsity Press, developing conferences, and teaching at key seminaries.
His first major conference to be held in Minneapolis on May 16-17 features conversational evangelism pioneers Mark Mittleberg, Becky Pippert, Dan Kimball and Garry Poole and Rick Richardson. Hunter has asked Jim Henderson and Off The Map to produce these conferences.
Hunter will begin this ministry by teaching and consulting on Three Is Enough Groups. These groups are designed to show people how to undo un-Christian faith by showing them that heaven is not the goal of Christianity - it is simply the destination. Being the servant - otherly people of God - is the goal.
Through his writing and teaching, Hunter will encourage churches and lay leaders to begin forming Three Is Enough Groups to help individuals pray, grow and serve. Keeping the groups small and focused insures that evangelism can happen anywhere, in the midst of people’s busy lives. Meeting in their most natural places of community – the workplace, school, or at the local coffee shop - Three Is Enough Groups will go on the Journey Inward of spiritual transformation and the Journey Outward of serving others. This will be done through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the sake of others - the least, the last and the missing.
Hunter will continue to be a consultant to Alpha USA and will remain on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. He will have an active role in promoting Alpha, teaching on Alpha’s practices, building relationships and advising the organization on strategy.