so beautiful by leonard sweet


i finished so beautiful: divine design for life and the church by leonard sweet yesterday. i have mixed feelings concerning sweet’s writing. he makes some incredible points but he does it by making tons of one line statements that vary from cheesy to brilliant. for example he states that when we de-story something we in essence destroy it. i would usually dismiss an author who writes in such a manner BUT sweet makes some incredible points.

sweet structures the book around the mri concept that he has discussed at other points. sweet says that the dna of the church is m.r.i. (missional, relational, incarnational). this again is one of those things that drives me crazy and attracts me at the same time. i can stand lots of cute little acronym’s and dr. sweet uses them all the time. for example the opposite of the mri church is the apc church (attractional, propositional, colonial). the book is full of these little things.

yet sweet’s writing has a great deal of depth to it. the acronyms that would typically drive me nuts hit the mark instead. i love what he says on the church being missional, relational and incarnational at its core. he hammers this home chapter upon chapter. this is why i enjoyed reading “so beautiful,” it is why i have enjoyed reading several of sweet’s previous works, and it is why i will read his future works also. in some ways i think saying “i don’t like his writing style” is part of the highest compliments i can give dr. sweet. this is because i read his works in spite of his style. i read his writing because his point are so good that it doesn’t matter that i don’t enjoy the way he makes them.

it’s a good read and i would recommend it.

they like JESUS but not the church

they like JESUS tuesday i finished dan kimball’s book “they like JESUS but not the church: insights from emerging generations." this is not a new book. it’s not old either but it’s not brand new (written in 2007). i bought it a couple of years ago and it has sat on a book case waiting for me to read it. i wish i had picked it up earlier because it was an excellent read.

no, it’s not a book of statistical research. it is based on his conversations with people who like JESUS but not the church that he met in public and became friends with. these conversations form the “data” that he analyses through out the book.

yes, you could dismiss “they like JESUS but not the church” because of the fact that it is not based on statistical information. you could say to yourself that since it isn’t statistically based it doesn’t fit your situation. i think you would be wrong to do so.

for me kimball’s book is more meaningful because the points of the book came out of kimball’s discussion with friends he had made. i think that was really the point of the book … CHRISTians, especially ministers, desperately need to get out of our buildings and subculture and make friends with non-JESUS followers. kimball lived this out in the manner that he wrote the book and in the manner that he ministers. he lived it out by having people who like JESUS but not the church over to his home for supper, going over to their home for supper, spending time with people where they are rather than expecting them to come to some religious building, and most importantly LISTENING to people who like JESUS but not the church.

it’s a good read.

planning with eric


i thought i would share with you guys what it looks like when eric and i discuss and plan for a tapestry gathering. the above image is our discussion of what to do the week before easter. it all makes sense now, right?

The Tangible KingdomSIDE NOTE – i finished “the tangible kingdom ” yesterday and therefore i thought i  would mention a few of the things i really liked about the book. this is a pretty dang good book that i believe many in the church need to hear. in many ways it merely repeated the same things that i had been reading and interacting with in other sources and communities but i think halter and smay do an excellent job of connecting real stories with the theory and theology behind what they are saying. i was really pleased that several friends recommended the book to me with the phrase “i was reminded of tapestry while reading this book.” that’s a nice thing to hear.

i think the book was well worth the read if for nothing else other than attractional and incarnational approached to evangelism i blogged about earlier and their 4 aspects to living incarnationally, which are: leaving, listening, living among, loving without strings. these 4 chapters are worth the read by themselves. if the church universal would do those four things more we wouldn’t be known for buildings and places but rather for being involved in people’s lives and GOD making a difference.

i also loved the fact that they were open about people sometimes screwing up. why do we often expect people who aren’t CHRISTians to act like followers of CHRIST? just because someone is involved in a church doesn’t mean they are CHRISTian. we should expect stupid and even sinful things to happen within CHRISTian communities because these are supposed to be groups where screwed up people can come and be loved. once someone becomes a follower of CHRIST we should expect them to strive to be more like CHRIST but that still doesn’t mean that everything is going to be perfect. if anything it means that even more of our errors and rebellion are going to come out in public as we attempt to move closer to CHRIST. of course, we would rather just hide everything. too bad.

till we have faces


oh how i love c.s. lewis. noah’s middle name comes from “the great one” – i even tried to convince pamela that clive would have been a good first name since it is a sansom family name but she wouldn’t go for it. i think pamela expresses my thoughts best when she says that she hates reading anything by lewis because she feels like highlighting the entire book (well i agree with her except for the “hate” part – every line being amazing is why i love reading lewis).

till we have faces anyhow i used the drive to my atlanta workshop to listen to an unabridged recording of “till we have faces ” – i thought it might be dangerous to actually read a hardback while driving. 😉 this is my absolute favorite of lewis’s fiction. it is a retelling of the myth of cupid and psyche. while it is definitely one of lewis’s least theologically blatant books it has some serious depth to it when you read it with the eyes of faith. i actually quoted from it today when emailing a friend. that’s what i love about lewis’s writing – his works connect so perfectly with real human emotion, needs, and struggles.

some of the last lines of the book blow me away every time i read them. orual’s last words are..

i ended my first book with the words “no answer.” i now know, lord, why you utter no answer. you are yourself the answer. before your face questions die away. what other answer would suffice? only words, words to be led out to battle against other words. long did i hate you, long did i fear you. i might —

goosebumps! i’ve read the book 7 or 8 times and each time near the end of the book i get excited about reading those words.

lewis is the man! you need to read this book. go get a copy now!

current reading

for some reason my “now reading” plugin is no longer working with my wordpress install. therefore i’ll just post about what i am reading until i find a plugin that works for me (if you have a recommendation i’ll gladly take it). so here goes the recent and current ones:

  • surprised by hope” by n.t. wright – i love n.t. wright’s way of thinking about things. this work is a great way of refocusing CHRISTians on the resurrection or as wright puts it “life after, life after death. wright does a great job of explaining why the resurrection should direct who CHRISTians are in the present age. “surprised” was so good that i’ll probably read wright’s “the resurrection of the SON of GOD” even though it is a mammoth book.
  • the brief and frightening reign of phil” by george saunders – a quick and fun read. very kurt vonnegut-esque. an interesting parable of how fear can be used to manipulate people into doing things they would never normally agree to.
  • JESUS for president” by shane claiborne & chris haw- i finished this book 11 days short of a year but it didn’t take that long because of it being boring. it was quite good. the design and typography is unlike much i’ve seen (reminded me of “house of leaves“). absolutely amazing book on living in the kingdom versus living in the empire. “J4p” is claiborne’s most blatant and powerful argument yet for CHRISTian pacifism. i think my favorite part is claiborne’s discussion concerning “building the kingdom.” you’ll hear this phrase around many different ministries. it’s pretty egotistical to think that we can “build the kingdom” for GOD. we get to work “with” HIM as HE establishes HIS kingdom, we don’t build it for HIM.
  • currently reading – “omnivore’s dilemma” – i’m 3/4’s through and i think this will be one of those books that changes the way i live. “the jungle” started freaking me out concerning “industrialized meat” and this book has pushed me even further down this path. pam and i have already discussed moving towards grass fed beef and chicken and now thanks to michael pollan we are going to start making the jump. don’t worry mom and dad we aren’t becoming hippies and joining a commune – yet. 🙂
  • currently reading – “pagan CHRISTianity: exploring the roots of our church practices” by frank viola and george barna – i’m probably 1/3 through this book. not sure how i feel about it yet. i think viola and barna raise some reall good and important points but make some very dubious assumptions concerning those points. in particular i think they often confuse extra-biblical with unbiblical. i’m not far enough into the book yet to really make a good call on the book so we’ll see what happens as i get further into it.

i should finish the “omnivore’s dilemma” tomorrow or thursday and then will start reading shane hipps’ “flickering pixels: how technology shapes your faith.” i really enjoyed what hipps said at Q so i am pretty excited about reading this.

SIDE NOTE – i watched “taken” with the boys tonight and my word! it’s an awesome action flick. interesting story and tons of action.

SIDE SIDE NOTE – the nba playoffs are amazing this year.

launch: starting a new church from scratch

i’m not much on following formulas which is why liked “launch” by nelson searcy and kerrick thomas. i just finished it after a long “on again / off again” reading of it. the book is a good resource on planting churches. there was a wealth of what not to do and what to do within it’s pages. thankfully it walked the fine line of offering helpful advice without jumping into the egotistical mindset of telling you that you should plant the church in just this manner. i like it when people acts as guides rather than experts. i am presently using and will continue to use a good bit of what i read within “launch.” if you believe GOD my be calling you to plant a church the book is well worth your time.

my run for the day
distance – 2.5 miles
time – 28:03
pace – 11/14/mile
weather – 21º/windy & icy