Sunday, January 21, 2007

Living in the "now"

As I get older (notice I did not say more mature) I am still discovering characteristics about myself. Oh sure, they are not new, they were always there, but I never realized how influential they were in my life or how others do not necessarily have the same viewpoints.

One such characteristic is that I live in the "now". Oh sure, I can plan for the future and even set goals. In fact, part of my calling in life is to always be thinking of the future and how to change things for the better when we get there. But as a person I am very much in the present tense. The past? What's that? In fact, I can't even judge time that has past. When I recall an event that happened in the recent past, I usually can't tell without a calendar whether or not it was a month ago, two months ago or half a year. Seriously, that is not an easy thing for me to do.

At first I thought this was a memory problem. But the truth is, my memory of what took place is complete, it is how long ago it took place that is lost. The tracking of time's passage is not easy for me.

Of note is the fact that I journal every day. I have stacks of completed journals tucked away in my office. But I never read them unless I am specifically trying to track something down. How silly is that? I miss out on some of the best value in journalling. But I am so in the moment that I am more concerned with writing today's entry then reading any of yesterday's. I tell myself that some day in the future I should plan a whole weekend to read past journals and see what God has done...but of course that is something for the future and I never really go there much either.

Relationships are also affected by this characteristic. The people I am with in the moment are so real and special to me, but if we are apart for a while I am not good at keeping in touch with them. I think that may hurt people because we are so close in the now and then distant later. But I have to say, they are still just as special in my heart and mind, and when we are together in the now again, for my part, we will not be any less connected.

I am sure this characteristic has benefits, but I am also aware that it has its dark side.

What is really hitting me hard, though, is how much it is entrenched in who I am and how hard it is for me to be anything else. I am in the present and cannot be in the future or the past. The present is where I will stay.

If I can live for Jesus in the present, then I guess I will also live for him in the future. If I can love my wife and kids in the present, I am pretty much assured I will love them in the future as well. Living in the past does not promise such rewards, at least I don't think it does, I wouldn't actually know...I've never been there (or if I ever was...I don't remember it).

Monday, January 15, 2007

Reggie is the man!

I spent the weekend in South Carolina with Reggie McNeal and a couple hundred Southern Baptist staff pastors and their wives. Reggie is great! I am so glad that he is able to come to our conference at the end of the month. His thoughts and heart are so much like all of our CMA family. During the conference he spoke about changes that are rapidly coming on the church landscape and told the audience that they would all have to choose whether or not they are with the move of God or going to continue obsolete and on the sidelines.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Organic Church Movements Conference

Our Organic Church Movements Conference (January 26-28th, 2007 in Long Beach, CA) is coming together remarkably well.
The conference is at The Grand Event Center in Long Beach CA and includes most meals. The price is $200 ($150 if you are part of CMA) Below is the tentative schedule for the entire weekend. The main sessions are shaping up like this: Friday night (6-10 PM including a full served dinner at 6 PM)
· Neil Cole (author of Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens and Cultivating a Life for God) will speak on: "Why didn't I take the Blue Pill: Speaking Candidly about the Dark side of Organic Church"
· Reggie McNeal (author of Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church, Revolution in Leadership: Training Apostles for Tomorrows Church, A Work of the Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders, and Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders) will speak about: "Qualities of a Missional Leader"
Saturday Morning (8 Am - 11:45 includes a continental breakfast early and a buffet lunch)
· Alan Hirsch (co-author of The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church, and author of the newly released Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church) will speak on: "Jesus made me do it. "
· Ori Brafman (co-author of The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations) "Starfish Organizations: the unstoppable power of decentralized movements"
Sunday Afternoon (1-4 PM includes a buffet lunch before)
· Felicity Dale (author of An Army of Ordinary People, Getting Started, and co-author of Simply Church) will speak on: "Mobilizing the other half of the army: Women in leadership roles"
· Wolfgang Simson (author of Houses That Change the World) will speak on: "Thinking prophetically and acting apostolically"
I am, frankly more excited about the workshops that are offered than anything else...
We have tried to come up with the type of conference that we would want to go to, and to learn the things that we would have a driving desire to learn. Then we set out and asked the best people we could find if they'd be willing to come at their own expense and do a workshop. Lo and behold this is who God has blessed us with...pretty cool. Our ambition is a conference aimed at our own practitioners who are out in the field doing the work and needing to learn from each other. It is more upper division courses for the practitioners rather than lower division introductory courses that so many conferences do so well (including our own Greenhouse events). Y'know, as I get older I am finding that one of my own greatest resources is not within me (not my mind, my skills or my chiseled good looks…joke!) but the friends whom I have come to know well from all around the world. This conference is the fruit of having good friends! I am always thinking, "Wow, I wish all my friends could benefit from knowing all my other friends...the way that I have." This is my attempt to make that happen! At the conference, we are working hard to strike an uncharacteristic balance of being a quality/programmatic presentation with a relational/organic experience...I hope we do well with this (it is not easy). That is why we have the meals and some experiential worship stuff around the tables as well as the worship music and some talking heads. It’s all a grand experiment! Here is the way the breakouts will work. There will be four sessions total, two sets back to back each time. After some prayer and some group thinking here is the way the breakouts will be laid out: Sat Round One (12 noon-1:45):
· Alan Hirsch: forgotten Ways: apostolic church planting movements, Part 1
· Neil Cole: Breaking Free from the Institutional Mindset
· Dezi Baker: Transformation of a town: a case study of organic, incarnational impact on an entire town
· Richard Flemming: Marketplace Movements
Sat Round Two (2:15-4PM):
· Wolfgang Simson: Organic Church Finances, Part 1
· Tony Dale: How to hear and discern real prophecy
· Panel Discussion: Transitioning conventional churches to organic churches (four models)
· Carol Davis: The GlobaLocal Church Having an impact on the world from the very start
There will be nothing planned Saturday evening. Everyone is to go out together and enjoy one another's company in smaller groups. Sun Round One (8 AM-9:45):
· Alan Hirsch: Forgotten Ways: apostolic church planting movements, Part 2
· Jaeson Ma: Campus Organic Church Movements
· Panel discussion on Organic Church in the Black community
Sun Round Two (10:15-12 noon):
· Wolfgang Simson: Organic Church Finances, Part 2
· Brad Fieldhouse and Eric Swanson: Transforming Cities from the grass roots
· Debra Hirsch: Organic church and the tough questions of ministry in the gay community.
Wow, these are some of the hottest topics for today and tomorrow, and the speakers each have their own authority from experience. Sprinkled throughout the conference we will have music performed from artists in the movement. A resource table will also be up and running throughout with some of the newest and most profound resources available for organic church movements.
Now that’s a conference I would go to.

A start

I have resisted blogging for some time now, but have finally jumped in. I have no guarantees that I will be faithful to this communication medium but I will give it a try. All I hope is that I will be able to articlulate things that get people thinking. Coming up with a name for my blog was a challenge. It came down to two choices: Cole-slaw (shreded cabbage..."Cole" means cabbage) or Charred-Cole. Since Coleslaw has a more organic connotation I went that way.