The Blessing of Doubt

All Saints Church will continue our Holy Week contemplation with an interactive prayer time this Good Friday, March 30th, from 6-8pm. You are invited to come and meditate on the last hours of Jesus’ life. There are stations around the auditorium that focus on an aspect of the suffering and death of Jesus, the prayer walk ends with the Holy Supper. You are welcome to stay for the entire time or enough time to walk through the stations.

On Easter Sunday, April 1st,  we will celebrate the Resurrection of Christ at our 10 am gathering. We will look at John 20:24-31, and learn from Doubting Thomas. This text is about as April Fool’s as you can get. Thomas is a disciple, and he is known as doubting Thomas. Historically, Thomas has been vilified by Christians because of his doubts expressed in these verses. Many scholars differ with this assumption and instead present Thomas ‘a realist, a person who evaluated the situation on the basis of what he could perceive. Thomas is not merely a pathetic doubter. He is a paradigm of many believing people who are capable of great possibilities as well as hesitations in faith.’

Check out All Saints website for more information.

Sunday March 11, 2018

This Sunday we are looking at a controversial text in Colossians (3:18-4:1), the traditional view of this would be ‘rules for Christian households.’ I would like to look at this through the lens of unity. In every relationship and role we have, we need to seek unity. This applies equally to husbands, wives, children, employers, employees, and so on.  I believe this text can perhaps help us be advocates for the various movements that are happening across America. As a Christ follower, I want my voice to be in the mix, not as an outlier or a marginalized kind of thinker.

Let’s see where this goes and spark conversations with friends and family. See you Sunday at 10am.

Ready, set, HOME!

It really feels like the last week of this initial phase in my studies. It was a very rigorous week as I had to present my topic to the faculty and then answer their questions and critiques. This is part of the process, the further along I go, the tougher the scholars will be as they probe and pick at my work to make sure it will contribute to knowledge.

I look forward to being home. I miss my Sue and the family so much. I miss my All Saints family also. I look forward to preaching on November 5th. I am so grateful for the guest speakers that did such a wonderful job while I was in Oxford. Thank you Andi, Joe, Ray, Bob, and Brendan. A great gift you all are to the community of All Saints.

I have been journaling my experience here; it has also helped me expound on ideas and narrow my focus. Here is a snippet of my journal from last week:

I am fractured in many different places emotionally, psychologically, and physically. I naturally go to self doubt when faced with a big challenge. I also look around for ways to balance it by looking for others words and ideas rather than contemplating the word, my soul, and the Spirit of God. I want to believe that I have the ability, intelligence, and power of the Spirit to navigate this…So, God I ask…help me with my unbelief. I need discipline, grit, and the belief that God is directing me everyday. I believe this project will have repercussions that impact the Kingdom of God in ways that are far beyond my imagination, and it will create conversation and new forms that can impact the urban church in cities all over the world.

I am ready to continue this work. See you next Sunday!

A study break in the Cotswolds

It has been a long week, so much to take in but good progress on my research question. So today, I was invited out to the Cotswolds with some friends. The Cotswolds are what inspired Tolkein to call the Hobbits home, The Shire. It is lovely. Here are a few pictures:

The above is St. Mary’s Church

So many views like this, a passageway off the main street into a little neighborhood. 

So, now it’s back to the books tomorrow. The process of landing on a research question is becoming more clear everyday. It is a such a daunting process, but the reward will be worth it….in 5 or 6 years. I am grateful and humbled that I get to do this.

I look forward to getting home. I get to preach at All Saints on November 5…’remember, remember the fifth of November’…wait, wrong context. I’ll be back later this week.

Do technology and religion belong together?

As I begin the arduous journey of writing a theses, I am pulled in so many different directions. At the time of this writing, I am interested in technology and the kind of community that can come from it. In other words, can technology  provide the interaction, intimacy, and ultimately discipleship relationships that are necessary in Christian community? The American church has suffered greatly with a lack of discipleship and deep community; the end result of this project has to be way toward depth and intimacy.
As cities increase in density, and housing prices soar, the church must have a solution for those who are unable to “keep up with the joneses.” The fact is, churches are needed in cities and neighborhoods, an issue for these churches is sustainability financially, culturally, and theologically. This has become an issue for most churches that reside in cities like Seattle, NYC, Chicago, and LA, to name a few. Another issue facing churches is the transient nature of most urban people. In a city like Seattle, where many people come to pad their resume, the likelihood of a long term stay or the feeling of calling Seattle ‘home’ is generally unlikely. A few reasons for this is the lack of affordability and the American dream of owning a home with a yard and white picket fence. In a city like seattle, single family homes are becoming a snapshot of another time and era. The next step for a young family is to move outside of the city and raise their family. This, then, makes churches in urban centers usually smaller and unable to afford the soaring costs associated with city life.
Can technology be an answer? Can the use of social media foster the community and sustainability that is needed for urban churches to remain present in the neighborhood it is serving? Is technology able to create biblical fellowship that produces and fosters the same intimacies that happen in person to person encounters?

Red Pill or Blue Pill?

I know, I know, you’ve seen the movie and this is nothing new. Well, I am gaining a whole new appreciation for the metaphor. In this endeavor to study for, and get a PhD, the temptation to take the blue pill is real. (I’m only a week in!). Take the blue pill, go home, and everything stays the same. However, the red pill is all about how deep the rabbit hole goes. I must say the desire to search, uncover, pry open, and discover is much more appealing. The rabbit hole is deep, and I want to know how deep it goes.

The research on technology and faith is uncovering some very interesting research. For instance, church leaders using the internet to keep connections, and keep up with relationships has become common place (from 78% in 2000, to 98% in 2014. Barna Research). The exciting part of technology is the ability to create religious experience and connect people to Christ. This ‘new media’ is being used more and more. I look forward to exploring what that could mean for a church like ours in a city like Seattle.

I’m off to get a glass of water, I need to take a pill….

Technology and Community

I grabbed an excerpt from my writing journal this week. This is only beginning thoughts, but I’d like to give it a go and see what questions or comments you may have.

As I begin the arduous task of writing a thesis, I am flooded with so many different directions. At the time of this writing, I am interested in technology and the possibilities of community that can be developed from it. In other words, is technology able to provide the interaction, intimacy and ultimately, discipleship relationships that are necessary in Christian community? The American church has suffered greatly with regard to discipleship and deep community, the end result of this project has to be way toward depth and intimacy. I am curious to know if technology can provide such an experience. Is technology an answer? Can the use of social media foster the community and sustainability that is needed for Urban churches to remain present in the neighborhood it is serving? Is technology able to create biblical fellowship that produces and fosters the same intimacies that happen in person to person encounters? 

Down the rabbit hole I go.

Download

The first two days have been nothing short of a dump truck backing up to my brain and burying me in information, systems, processes, and learning new research platforms. A huge highlight was receiving my Bodleian library card which allows me access to 10 million volumes and access to one of the world’s greatest libraries. I will be in one of 28 libraries in the Oxford University system everyday (except Sunday) until I come back to the States. (Below: Bodleian Radcliffe Camera – The Radcliffe Camera is a building of Oxford University, designed by James Gibbs in neo-classical style and built in 1737–49 to house the Radcliffe Science Library)

I am eager to refine my research and really dig deep into my interest. Currently, I have been reading on technology and community. My takeaway, at this early stage, is the need for the Church of Jesus Christ to embrace and understand technology in ways that are useful and able to connect people in deeper contexts. A question, one of many, I am considering is this: can humans foster the same kind of intimate connections using technology as they can meeting in a physical space? Again, this is one of many and it is very rudimentary.

If you have thoughts, opinions, or resources I should check out, let me know.

I’ll be on later in the week.

+8 hours

I am all set to begin research induction school tomorrow. I will spend the next 30 days refining and narrowing my research focus to determine the question(s) and/or problem (s) I will want to address. This, as I understand, is quite grueling. I am looking forward to acquiring my Bodleian Library card that will give me access to one of the world’s greatest libraries. I will be spending many hours there, which is something I will really enjoy; a room full of books. #nerd

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” – C.S. Lewis

And so it begins…

Beginning PhD studies in Oxford U.K. this month. I am both anxious to do the research and a bit intimidated by the task. I am researching how the church can work to shape the culture in an urban neighborhood in which it exists, and how can it do so for the common good of the community using both digital media and traditional forms to gather people in the hope of transformation?

My first mission is to get a good coffee mug! Anyone have a recommendation for coffee in Oxford?

I will be updating my blog during my time in Oxford. Please drop in and say hi!