2009 March

Leonard Sweetisms

Posted by | Misc, Notes | One Comment

I made a quick trip to my hometown of Peoria to my former church, Riverside Community Church for their Related Leaders seminar with Leonard Sweet.

Len is an author, futurist, and all around incredible thinker in the church world. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know him as a friend and have always been challenged when I’ve had the chance to converse with him or hear him lecture.
His talk was called A Gutenberg Church in a Google World. I’ll write a brief synopsis of what I got from what he was saying and round it out with some quotes. If you know me well you know I can be a bit of a manic note-taker.

The Gutenberg Church represents the world and culture pre-1973 (the year the cell phone was invented). The Gutenberg world was impacted by a technology called the printed press. The printed press gave us access to the Bible and opened the door to the birth of an individualistic culture. At one time, books were considered the most anti-social technologies ever invented. Thought and reason, logic and argument were all key in the Gutenberg world.
The Gutenberg mind is very “left brain” dominated. It’s logical and linear. It’s organized, categorized and sequential.
In the Gutenberg world the book was the delivery system for learning.
But we aren’t in a Gutenberg world anymore, we are in a Google world.
The Google world is “right brain” dominated and is all about beauty, meaning, experience and community. The Google world has taken the individualistic culture created by the Gutenberg world and turned it into narcissism. [For more on the left brain vs right brain thing, check out Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind.]
The modern church is the result of the Gutenberg world. We learned to do church and ministry through the context of the Gutenberg mindset.
While churches are growing what we are really witnessing is the “Wal-Martization” of churches. Smaller churches are closing and megachurches are growing, but the megachurches are just the smaller churches under a bigger roof. We’ve “built it” and “they have come”, but the people coming aren’t new disciples. Things like the seeker-sensitive movement did a great job of getting crowds but a did a terrible job of making disciples.
Today the church is one of the only places still trying to reach people with words. Today’s marketers don’t spend time or energy trying to sell you with products or words. They use images and stories to sell experiences.

So why in the Church are we still using words instead of story… arguments instead of metaphor? (Why do we memorize Bible verses instead of Bible stories?)

With advances in technology, we are seeing a new way of living, moving and being. A question that the Church MUST answer is “how are we going to incarnate the Gospel in this new world?”
Our words and our mission statements don’t connect with our culture. Instead of spending time on crafting mission statements, we should spend time considering what image or metaphor we are going to present to people.
Building an attractional church isn’t about attracting people to the Church, but to Christ. But too often we don’t trust Jesus is going to drawl people to Himself so we invent and draw on our own ideas to get people there. What we need to do, instead, is find new ways to lift Him up. He’s the main drawl.
The Gutenberg way of doing things in a Google world will render the church irrelevant and obsolete. We MUST change.
Misc One-Liners
  • The Church should be one of the most creative, imaginative places on earth.
  • Holiness is not isolation, it’s insulation.
  • God is up to something and the question we need to answer is, “Do we know God well enough to know what He’s up to?”
  • Churches don’t need mission statements, we already have one. It’s called the Great Commission.
  • One of the worst things that could ever be said about someone is that they were in the presence of greatness and they didn’t recognize it.
  • Pilate was the first postmodernist. He looked in the eyes of Truth and asked what truth was.
  • As the book was the delivery system in the Gutenberg world, the cell phone (mobile technology) is the delivery system for faith and learning in the Google world.
  • Praise music is not meant to be performed but participated in.
  • Illustrate points, animate experiences.
  • In Medieval times, the Church saved arts; in the Google world, the arts may save the Church.
  • It’s not our job to make the Word of God “alive to people” – it’s already the living Word of God. Our job is to help people come alive to what is already living.
  • Image is everything. Jesus Christ is the image of God. How do we lift up the image of Christ to the world?
  • Every Starbucks is an indictment against the church – they’ve created the Third Place that the Church should be.
  • A missions trip is not something you take, it should be your entire life.
  • Oftentimes God is more at work in the world than He is in the Church.  Too often we get in the way of what God is doing when we get into what we are doing instead of what God is doing.
  • The Church should be a place where you come so you can GO.
  • 2/3 of the Word of God is “go.”
  • Our goal should never be numbers or converts, but making disciples.
  • All of our methods of defining a “successful” church are based on consumption standards.
  • The one thing we don’t like to say about Christian leadership is that we are not the leader – Jesus is.
  • Leadership is not a role, it’s an activity.
  • We were made for a mission to be on mission.
  • Many churches need to re-invent and re-conceive themselves.

Final thoughts: While this is all a bit scattered, I think the message is clear. The world is changing while the church has remained the same, and we’re beginning to see the devastating results as the younger, Google generation is moving away from the church. This isn’t about being relevant, hip or cool… it’s about incarnating the Gospel in a culture that is looking for beauty, truth and meaning. Our job is to translate the Gospel in a language that is connecting and to provide experiences for people to encounter the Living Christ.

I’m a Christian Hipster

Posted by | Just For Fun | 5 Comments

A friend forwarded me a link to this blogpost from Brett McCracken (who has now been added to my GoogleReader). It’s incredible and I’ve come to the conclusion I’m a Christian hipster. I’ve bolded everything that’s true of me. This is funny and very telling of many of us.


Are You a Christian Hipster?

As you know, I’m writing a book about Christian hipsters and “cool
Christianity.” It’s coming along, but many people have asked me: what
exactly is a Christian hipster? Am I one? Are you one?

Well, first of all: it’s just a funny label, and we all know that
hipsters hate labels. So if you are still reading this post, eager to
know what it all means, chances are you are not a Christian hipster. Or
maybe you are, and you’re just intrigued by the whole thing (like I
am!). In any case, the following is an excerpt from the last chapter I
completed (Ch. 5: “Christian Hipsters Today”), and perhaps it will give
you a bit of a better sense as to what Christian hipsters are all about…

Christian Hipster Likes and Dislikes (By No Means Exhaustive… Just a Sampling)

Things they don’t like:
Christian hipsters don’t like megachurches, altar calls, and door-to-door evangelism. They don’t really like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart or youth pastors who talk too much about Braveheart. In general, they tend not to like Mel Gibson and have come to really dislike The Passion for being overly bloody and maybe a little sadistic. They don’t like people like Pat Robertson, who on The 700 Club famously said that America should “take Hugo Chavez out”; and they don’t particularly like The 700 Club
either, except to make fun of it. They don’t like evangelical leaders
who get too involved in politics, such as James Dobson or Jerry
, who once said of terrorists that America should “blow them all
away in the name of the Lord.” They don’t like TBN, PAX, or Joel
. They do have a wry fondness for Benny Hinn, however.

Christian hipsters tend not to like contemporary Christian music
(CCM), or Christian films (except ironically), or any non-book item
sold at Family Christian Stores
. They hate warehouse churches
or churches with American flags on stage, or churches with any flag on
, really. They prefer “Christ follower” to “Christian” and can’t
stand the phrases “soul winning” or “non-denominational,” and they
could do without weird and awkward evangelistic methods including (but
not limited to): sock puppets, ventriloquism, mimes, sign language,
“beach evangelism,” and modern dance
. Surprisingly, they don’t really
have that big of a problem with old school evangelists like Billy
and Billy Sunday and kind of love the really wild ones like
Aimee Semple McPherson.

Things they like:
Christian hipsters like music, movies, and books that are
well-respected by their respective artistic communities—Christian or
They love books like Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider, God’s Politics by Jim Wallis, and The Imitation of Christ by
Thomas a Kempis. They tend to be fans of any number of the following
authors: Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton,
John Howard Yoder, Walter Brueggemann, N.T. Wright, Brennan Manning,
Eugene Peterson, Anne Lamott, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Henri
, Soren Kierkegaard, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Annie Dillard,
Marilynne Robison, Chuck Klosterman, David Sedaris, or anything ancient
and/or philosophically important.

Christian hipsters love thinking and acting Catholic, even if they
are thoroughly Protestant. They love the Pope, liturgy, incense, lectio
divina, Lent, and timeless phrases like “Thanks be to God” or “Peace of
Christ be with you.” They enjoy Eastern Orthodox churches and
mysterious iconography, and they love the elaborate cathedrals of
Europe (even if they are too museum-like for hipster tastes). Christian
hipsters also love taking communion with real Port, and they don’t mind
common cups
. They love poetry readings, worshipping with candles, and
smoking pipes while talking about God. Some of them like smoking a lot
of different things

Christian hipsters love breaking the taboos that used to be taboo
for Christians. They love piercings, dressing a little goth, getting
lots of tattoos (the Christian Tattoo Association now lists more than
100 member shops), carrying flasks and smoking cloves. A lot of them
love skateboarding and surfing, and many of them play in bands. They
tend to get jobs working for churches, parachurch organizations,
non-profits, or the government. They are, on the whole, a little more
sincere and idealistic than their secular hipster counterparts.

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