Archive - October, 2009

Sunday Funday: A Little Too Much Magnesium

Lesson: Don’t make homemade fireworks.

Jesus Lovers: A New Breed


Two early morning tweets caught my attention today:

Tweet #1

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Tweet #2

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Now, what do these tweets tells us? These are two men (the Tims) whom I respect and while these statements may have been made “on the fly,” I think there’s wisdom (or is it twisdom?) packed into both.

First off, Tim is addressing the conservative media darling, Glenn Beck, directly. If you’re not familiar with Beck, the gist of his arguments end with Glenn calling those who disagree with him “an idiot” or some derivative thereof. This is what Tim is a addressing and I think he’s spot on. I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly “all ears” after someone insults my intelligence. Maybe it’s just me.

Secondly, we have another Tim addressing the tendency for right-leaning Christians to demonize (yes, demonize) President Obama. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize recently and, apparently, there are some vocal believers in Jesus who believe this will summon the end-of-days. I fail to see the connection. But Tim says what a lot of us are thinking: “Please, dear Lord, let the loonies stay at home with this one. We don’t need another PR nightmare!” I hear the sting of embarrassment in Tim’s words and I’m right there with him.

What do both of these statements tell us? They tell us that Christ lovers and sick and tired of being pegged. We’re weary for being known as the “people who hate gays.” We’re weary of being known for what we’re against instead of what we’re for. We’re weary of being pegged as one particular political party, for sure, to the point where younger believers are picking the opposite party just to make a statement.

We’ve made the mistake of making the main thing (Jesus) not the main thing while making not the main thing (anything but Jesus) the main thing. A new breed seems to be rising that tells the world: “I am with Jesus. Identify me that way. Nothing else.”

So Tims, my hat goes off to you. Brilliant. Keep challenging the status quo. Keep letting the unpredictable Spirit breathe through you. Keep thinking differently.

Too Beautifully Bizarre to Not Share

So what are you waiting for? Go out there and create.

Amoebas, Rome and Gary Hamel


Gary Hamel is at it again.

Just when you think you get settled into a discernible and predictable routine (read: rut) for your church, organization or business Gary comes and drops a bomb like this one.

What are some of the inertial forces that have prevented churches from  reinventing themselves in ways that might make them more relevant to a post-modern world? A partial list would include:

  • Long-serving denominational leaders who have little experience with non-traditional models of worship and outreach.
  • A matrix of top-down policies that  limits the scope for local experimentation.
  • Training programs (seminaries) that  perpetuate a traditional view of religious observance and ministerial  roles.
  • Promotion criteria for church pastors  that reward conformance to traditional practices.
  • And a straightjacket of implicit  beliefs around how you “do church.”   For example:
    • Church  happens in church.
    • Preaching is the most effective way of imparting religious  wisdom.
    • Pastors lead in church while parishioners remain (mostly) passive.
    • The  church service follows a strict template:  greet, sing, read, pray, preach,  bless, dismiss (repeat weekly).
    • Believers, rather than curious skeptics, are the church’s primary  constituency.
    • Going  to church is the primary manifestation of a spiritual life.
    • Church  is a lecture not a discussion.

If organized religion has become less relevant, it’s not because churches have held fast to their creedal beliefs—it’s because they’ve held fast to their conventional structures, programs, roles and routines. The problem with organized religion  isn’t religion, but organization. In the first and second centuries, the Christian church was communal, organic and unstructured—a lot like the Web is today.

No matter how you may feel about what Gary is saying here, there is an element of truth in his words. He almost sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.

The reality is that most people have an innate awareness that there is more to them than the flesh-and-bone reality we walk around in everyday. We know that there’s something intangible behind the four walls of our earthen vessels, we just can’t fully describe it. Simply put, we are spiritual and we know it.

What Gary is saying is that the Church has so bought into a brick-and-mortar, top-down hierarchy that it’s actually repelling people from having their spiritual needs met in the Church. That’s not good.

Seminaries have begun to make the jump between old and new. Just ask Rockbridge Seminary. I’ve been experimenting with the idea of open-source sermons thanks to Gary. When will the organizational structures inside the church begin to adopt change?

What if our churches took on more “amoeba-like,”loosely-organized yet highly-potent structure of the Web? What if we “loosened the reigns” of Roman power structures and adopted a “controlled chaos” inside of our churches? Surely other people besides the clergy have something valuable to contribute not just to the local church, but to the local church structure?

Gary Hamel inspires me. He’s a “well-seasoned” leader who’s taking the last quarter of his career to invest in new leaders and new leadership methods–for the marketplace and for the ministry. I respect him for that because, Lord knows, we need voices like his.

The Future, Conan?

conanOne of my favorite skits from “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” was In the Year 2000. Conan would bring a guest out and they would go through ridiculous predictions of what would happen “in the year 2000.”

Of course, what made this skit pure comedic brilliance was the fact that Conan and crew continued to do the skit after the year 2000 came and went. The skit was ridiculous to begin with–the sheer disregard for chronological accuracy only added to the lunacy.

There’s another reason I liked the skit that had nothing to do with the year: It centered on the future. The FUTURE. As in, “the place that we’re not in right now but exists somewhere in the time-space continuum.”

That’s why I loved this article. It deals with futurists–as in, “people who get paid to play with the future.” Fast Company’s Jamais Cascio shows us how you to can forecast the future for yourself, your family, your business or organization.

Here’s a quick list on how to become a futurist:

Asking the question. This is not a broad question. It should focus on some kind of narrow concern. You also must ask how far ahead you want to be thinking (he says between 5-15 years, with 10 being optimal because changes are likely, but not overwhelming).

Scanning the world. This one is about gathering information. Find other perspectives, even ones you might disagree with – most future thinking is collaborative.

Mapping the possibilities. There is no one future. Trying to figure out “the” future is always a mistake; it’s much more productive to think about an array of possible outcomes. Remember that the futures you come up with will almost certainly be wrong–the goal is to be wrong in a way that offers insights into present choices.”

Asking the next question. What happens then? How do these impact myself and others?

Thinking it through. Ask yourself how you get from today to the futures you’ve laid out. What kinds of choices, what kinds of changes do you need to make now to lead to the outcomes you’d prefer? What can you do to avoid the futures you don’t want to see? Often one of the key insights from many futures projects is the simple realization that the future is in our hands–that our choices matter.”

How does this strategy sit with you when you think about the future? Do you have a strategy to see what you want to have happen actually come to pass? Do you consider yourself a futurist?

Share. Before you know it, it will be … the year 2000!

Thanks for Keeping the Lights On!

981372736_74e2d99d8f_b is a labor of love–for those of us in front of and behind the scenes. Nevertheless, it’s still labor and labor takes work.

Would you kindly consider visiting and/or patronizing the following websites? The people behind them are helping keep the lights on in the BeDeviant household. Thank you sponsors!

  • MemberHub: Great people. Great product. Ever needed to get a bunch of people on the same page? Try it the 21st century way–online. MemberHub will hook you up.
  • Puffy Shirt: Faith. Technology. Life. A great social commentary site based off of the “puffy shirt” episode on Seinfeld. What’s not to love there?
  • Collision Media: All too often church websites are really bad. Collision makes this happen less often. Does your website need help? Collision.
  • Twubs: What can I say? We love Twubs. And we actually use the site! Twubs needs to be experienced, suffice to say you will find anything you ever wanted to know on a given Twitter topic on Twubs.
  • Rockbridge Seminary: Combining two of my loves–theological education and online community. Don’t want to move to go to seminary? Now you don’t have to!
  • Ministry 2: A great conference taking place in a few days–unpacking the use of web in ministry. Get educated!
  • Deviant T’s: Sport your deviance. Grab a Deviant T and where it proudly
  • You! Would you like to join the sponsor family? We have a few slots open if you’d like to reach our growing and influential community.

Thanks again to all of these wonderful people. We could not do this without you!

Top 5 Posts of the Week!

Here’s a recap of the top five posts from this past week. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by the site, check out these posts and get up-to-date. These got the most traffic on the site, were shared the most, and had the most comments.

  1. Happy Deviant Day! This was a blast. We even gave some free loot. Maybe join us next time for #DeviantDay?
  2. What Used to be True: We’re living in a different time where science and faith are no longer bitter enemies. Check out the evolution, if you will, of this conflict and where it seems to be headed.
  3. Tornado Hits Near ELCA Assembly Hall: This controversial post continues to be one of the highest trafficked posts we’ve ever written. Find out what some people think a tornado in downtown Minneapolis meant for Lutherans.
  4. Content is Only Great if People Read it: Got something to say? Great. So does everyone else. (And everyone thinks their stuff is the best.) Find out what makes great content truly “great.” Hint: It’s got something to do with people reading it!
  5. Is ‘No Sex Before Marriage’ a Realistic Expectation? Too often, Christians make blanket rules about certain situations that end up causing more harm than good. Is “no sex before marriage” one of them?

So there they are, your top 5 posts of the week! Recap, refresh, re-read, re-tweet!

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