this week’s roundup (march 26)

Good friends from college, Clint Twedt-Ball and his brother Courtney Ball have been doing great ministry in Cedar Rapids with their organization, Matthew 25. A recent article in Faith and Leadership, tells of their Block-by-Block program.

Rocky Supinger over at offers some interesting thoughts on Jeff Jarvis’ book, What Would Google Do?. You will find Supinger’s thoughts in three parts: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. A couple key points he makes:

Churches model themselves after other forms of organization. They always have and they always will. The earliest Christian congregations were modeled after synagogues of the day. Most churches in North America today are reflections either of mid-20th century civic organizations or late 20th century business and and self-help and leadership movements. These models affect everything. Worship, education, polity, dress, outreach, marketing: everything churches do reflects models borrowed from other sectors of society.

I frequently am required to chase off skateboarders from the church property for insurance and liability reasons. Yet are these skaters not simply using the church as a platform for what they want to do, which is not just skate but also hang out and connect with one another? To protect ourselves, we have to chase them away; doing so may actually be causing us harm.

Communities aren’t waiting around for permission from churches to do their thing; we ignore the great stuff they’re doing at our peril, because, if Google is right, helping them helps us.

The church knows the lesson, but we are still having trouble living into it. The logic of “build it and they will come” no longer applies – we need to go to where the people are – bringing Jesus into the neighborhoods like Clint and Courtney are, or to the skater kids hanging out in the parking lot. I’ll confess that even I can preach & blog on it but still have trouble doing it, but that’s where we need to be, and we need to keep challenging, supporting, and encouraging one another to get there.

I don’t know the history behind the statement, but over a Sojourners there is a Covenant for Civility that is simple, Biblically-rooted, and speaks to the need for real conversation both in and out of the Church, instead of the shouting and self-aggrandizement that so often takes place. There is certainly a need for it on the macro level, but I also wonder about the micro-level of congregational life – could it be a covenant for Bible studies of controversial issues or even for committee work? (Maybe with slight adaptation). On a related note, I found out that Chuck Colson, who has signed the Covenant, has said that it doesn’t apply to Glen Beck, because Beck is a Mormon.

I’ve added Donald Miller’s blog to my feed reader and found it to be filled with all kinds of good stuff. This week, you can read about Nella’s Beautiful Story, a powerful reminder that life doesn’t always go according to (our) plans, but God’s grace has a way of brining light into the darkness and love is the most powerful force on all. He also writes on Changing Negative Character Traits and Letting Go of Cynicism (and, yes, Amy, I know you will find that a little ironic given my cynical attitude over the past week).

I couldn’t help but read Miller’s post on cynicism, without thinking about Conan O’Brien’s parting words, “Please don’t be cynical, it’s one of my least favorite traits… if you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen.”

Music for the week is by the Eels… you might remember them for their mid-90s song “Novocaine for the Soul.” I actually remember first hearing Mark Everett’s music on Rob Michael’s “All Alternative Friday Night” show on KDMG – though, I can’t remember the specific song that made me first think “Hey, this guy is really cool” (my guess is it was either “Hello Cruel World” or maybe “Fitting in with the Misfits” off A Man Called E). I haven’t done a great job of keeping up with the band over the years, but I did pick up Hombre Lobo a few months back and enjoyed it. The song and video, both, are worth taking a peek at:

eels |MTV Music