12 Witnesses

Let these stones be a witness to what we have done here this day.

Why is it?

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Why is it that after a prolonged absence, we feel the need to explain where we’ve been to the odd half dozen or so folks who still check in from time to time?  Really, most of the traffic (I still get some, can you believe it?) comes from search engines that are funneling folks to specific articles I’ve written in years past.  A few still hit my home page, lately to find my last article from October 31, 2011.  Yes.  8 months ago.

It almost begs an explanation, though I recognize that I’ve already published several over the last couple of years.  The only thing to do is ignore it or come clean.  Never one to miss an opportunity to over share, let’s go with coming clean.

Several things have conspired to to keep me from writing.  Among them

1) Discovering an emptiness in the topics of political observation within the SBC.  Old news and no reason for further comment.

2) Busy-ness within the responsibilities of the Pastorate that kept me from managing this blog and my church responsibilities.  I was new to the pastorate in 2006 and new to my church as well.  It takes a while to become fluent with the minutiae of any job and I had plenty on my plate.  Add to that the changes that we were working through and I was tired of writing.

3) (This is the coming clean part…) I had several church members that were frequenting my blog, often misconstruing or just misunderstanding what I had written (sometimes years before) and then repeating their misconstruction/misunderstanding to others at the church.  It’s no secret that change is rarely embraced readily by all and we had all our plates could handle moving through ours.  When some were adding the misinformation coming from others claiming this blog as the source, it just wasn’t worth it.  So I quit writing to remove a source of misunderstanding.

I should add that I am not accusing everyone from my church who read my blog of misrepresenting me to garner political support within our church.  I think that was actually quite rare.  Nevertheless, any stream of misunderstanding that can be removed, should be.  I prioritized the church over this blog and I doubt anyone would second guess that decision.

So what’s changed? Several things!

I’ve had a personal spiritual growth like I’ve never experienced before.  Call it a Gospel Awakening.  I’m sure we’ll get to that in the near future.  For now, simply consider that God, in His mercy, considered it His pleasure to crush me in order to shape me in an image more like His Son.  For this, I am grateful.  Honestly, “grateful” doesn’t cover it.  Even for an aspiring writer, I have no words for how I feel about this.  I consider it worth everything.  More later.

The church has come to a place of peace.  We still have some issues and we honestly need to move forward in some areas, which means change.  Small ones, but still…  Nevertheless, Earlier this year, God wrought a situation that allowed us to finally air our heart in a loving way.  It has brought a tremendous peace on the church and we gather together without fear of dissension breaking out.  We are praying for Spiritual Awakening and have been since the Spring.  We are beginning to see the fruits of it and have enjoyed God moving among us significantly over the last couple of months.

With my life and the church in the throws of burgeoning renewal, the desire to write as presented itself once more.

And since I’m paying good money to host this blog, I thought I would be a better steward of that opportunity.

If you’d like to subscribe to an email notification, there is a box at the top right to let you do that.  Every time I write a new article, it will let you know and should give you a preview of what’s here.

Could it be?

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Has it really been 2 1/2 weeks since I last posted? And that just a video link?

Hmm…

Well, I haven’t lost my passion for writing.  Far from it.  I really miss it.

But I have been consumed with a fascinating task – that of leading my church through a major transition.

I plan on blogging this as well – particularly the specifics of the form to which we aspire – since I think it will be relevant for the majority of those who still drop in on this blog.

The transition?  From a Sunday School/Program primary structure to a Small Group/Corporate Worship primary structure.  Which is to say that we will still have some Sunday School and some programs, but they will be secondary in the self perception, intentionality and processes of who we are.  We are looking to change our DNA.

This is opposed, you might surmise, to simply adding Small Groups as yet another program to the church in hopes that this program will be the one that revitalizes a flailing church.

Well, again, I’m going to blogging about that in the future, and it is my great passion to do so, but I haven’t had the time.  My energies have been dissipated in the various tasks involved in actually doing that thing.

PS – You could pray for us.  It is difficult to accomplish such a change and we are laboring to do a great work.  Thanks!

Rundown of the UU conference

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For great info, you can follow the twitter feeds of: Marty Duren, Micah Fries, Trevin Wax and me.

For blogs of the full content, be sure to check out Trevin Wax and Steve Weaver.

Ed Stetzer and the Future of Denominations

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Could you tell that I’ve lost my passion for live blogging?  I’d forgotten to even write about Ed until this morning. :)

But I do have several things to offer.

First, Trevin Wax is here and is ready to challenge Timmy Brister for champ of the live blog.  Here are his notes on Ed’s presentation.

Also, here is a link to the tweets I put up at the MissioScapes twitter feed.

Finally, I’d like to summarize my reaction to Ed’s super fast talking.

The gist of it all was that, yes, we will have denominations, but what they will look like has yet to be determined. Nevertheless, churches naturally will find each other and will work together if they have a passion for the Great Commission.

Still, there are benefits and burdens that go along with denominations. The burdens center around our tendency to focus on the mechanisms of our cooperation rather than our common calling.

The benefits are many and, quite frankly, are both obvious and listed in the above links.

What most struck me about the message was the forceful tone he took calling for cooperation.  This might not surprise you, but what might surprise you is that, at one point, Ed suggested that if certain people can’t get along with the rest of us, insist on attempting to run everyone else out or force us to conform, then THEY should leave the convention.

The people about whom he was speaking were obvious to the engaged SBC observer and even to the more disengaged former SBC blogger, like myself.

In terms of pointed rhetoric, Ed was somewhere between his usual provocativity and Marty Duren from back in the old days.  On the SBC spectrum of “lighting it up,” if Micah Fries is a 1 (humbly opinioned) and Ben Cole is a 10 (Shock & Awe), Ed normally resides in the middle at a happy 5.  I’d have to say that last night, Ed jumped up to 8 on a few occasions, which was kind of fun.

Especially because I agreed with him.

Had he been talking more about me (and he did from time to time) I might not have enjoyed it as much.

GCR Task Force Listening Luncheon Today

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Yep, I’m going.

I’m not sure if I’ll bother live blogging, but I might tweet.

If you are interested follow my twitter or the MissioScapes twitter feeds.

I’ll probably write a post event perspective for later in the week.

So I’ve decided to be a blogger

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For those of you still checking in faithfully over the last, what? Three weeks? You deserve to know what’s been going on.

I’ve been busy.

I know.  Life’s busy and if you’re going to be hosting your own site, then you owe it to the good folks who have come to depend on the sage advice, probing questions and stupid videos that you post to actually dispense these things.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Sorry.

I actually faced a bit of a dilemma with the whole situation.  I’ve been so busy with pastoring and then my personal life (had you heard I’ve taken up cycling?) and then my family’s personal lives (I’m now the chauffeur for … never mind.  If you know, you know and if you don’t, I don’t think I’m allowed to elaborate on the blog) that I have been too exhausted to write in the evenings when I typically craft my blog posts.

I considered shutting it down.

Some of you have heard that I have agreed to be an editor/contributor to a group blog called MissioScapes with some of the usual suspects.  In fact, my initial article dropped there last week.

I thought that my occasional post there my tide over my writing jones. Scratch the itch. But then, no. I don’t think it will.

Then, I thought I might start an entirely new blog.  An anonymous cycling blog from the eyes of a newbie cyclist.  So much uncovered territory.  So many obvious and yet unassaulted targets in the cycling community.  You have no idea.  I’m not even talking about the Lycra, either.

Still might do that, but then, maybe not.

If I’m too tired to write about the established aspects of my life, what makes me think an anonymous and yet unread cycling blog would drive me to shake off the web of slumber and expose the spandex clad, two wheeled, helmeted, free wheeling crowd to an audience that doesn’t even exist?

No.

The writing’s the thing.  It’s not the subject of the blog.  Do I want to write, and if so, will I set aside time to do it?

Yes.

I have decided that this is worth that and, frankly, it is you who have shown me that I should.

You’ve not said a word.  No notes. No comments.  No email.

But you’ve come back.  Daily for over a month with barely a word from me beyond unfulfilled promises of posts to come, you still drop in and read what I have not written.

Thanks.

And since you’ve apparently cared what I have to not say, I think you’ll be immenantly more interested in the things that I hope to say, so…

I’ve decided to be a blogger.

By that I mean not just the random thought or question but something interesting – or at least something I think is interesting – more than once a week.

There you have it.

Sorry, for the impromptu time off.  Thanks for sticking around.  See you soon.

The Great Commission Resurgence, MissioScapes and Partnering with the Unholy

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Right now, over at MissioScapes, you can read an article from Marty Duren that is the beginning of a series entitled, “If we were the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.” It’s Marty being Marty on the SBC and I know some of you have missed that stuff. My article will be there in a few weeks.  There are a few scheduled to drop between now and then, but all will be worth your while, I think.

Oh, and please remember that the MissioScapes blog is ideological, not political, and not focused on the SBC.  Rather, since the SBC has made the move to further its ability to fulfill the Missio Dei, it seems that we are focused on the same things at the moment.  No, I don’t think we are always focused on the same things as the SBC, if that question crossed your mind.

Not to ignore my postings here at 12 Witnesses, I’ll be dropping an article this week about Christians intentionally partnering with the unholy.

I hope to pique your interest by saying that I think we should do it.  Alot.

New Missional Cooperative Blog or Let’s Get the Band Back Together

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So a few weeks ago, as I was at my in-law’s house about to head with them to a family reunion vacation for the week, I got a call from Alan Cross.

He started with the line, “I’m trying to get the band back together.”

Flattered that he thought me essential, but wary of being drawn back into a political melee, I was initially non-commital.  I told him I was happy trying to advance the Kingdom from my church and blogging my ideas of the Missio Dei (Mission of God) from 12 Witnesses.  I was not going back “there.”

It was a longer conversation than just that, but I ranted about the foolishness of some and the impure motives of others alongside the personal regrets that I had for my own follies.

Patiently allowing me to disgorge all my emotions, when I was done, Alan simply agreed and said that everyone pretty much felt the same way.

So I said I was “open” to the idea.

Shortly thereafter, during a video conference, Todd Littleton argued that we were Southern Baptists and that, unless we were willing to walk away completely from the SBC, then we had an obligation to stay engaged – at least ideologically.  After all, we are sending part of the tithes and offerings of our church members to the SBC.  We at least owe it to our churches to stay connected.

I had to agree.

Therefore, Paul and Todd Littleton, Marty Duren, David Phillips, John Elam, Alan Cross and I agreed to launch MissioScapes.com where we address the Missio Dei from a Southern Baptist context in several expressions (from rural to urban), but also with an eye toward things beyond our denomination.

It launched today, and we hope to bring you some great ideas alongside some that just won’t fly, but all of which we hope will spur you to think about fulfilling God’s mission to our world.  You’ll be reading interviews, book reviews and original articles from the the 7 editors and beyond.

Just for clarification, this effort is ideological and not political.  We will be addressing SBC related issues, among other things, but nobody needs or wants “a seat at the table” and we have no intention of sponsoring motions or resolutions.  Nor do we have any intent of being drawn into petty side discussions with those that do desire to dwell in the world of political mechanizations.

Oh, and 12 Witnesses is going nowhere.  I’ll still be posting here in the same vein that I have for the last couple of years and there may even be an occasion when I’ll post an article in both places.

I hope to see you around.

Where have you been?

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Got a few questions recently about why I haven’t posted much.  Couple of reasons…

I went on vacation.  I came back from vacation tired (it was one of those where you come back less rested but also less stressed) to a pile of work, a three day plumbing project and the accusation from the youth group that my new full beard makes me look like Billy Mays.

It’s almost enough to make me shave, but Bonnie says, “It’s sexy,” and after 16 years of marriage, I take seriously anything that elicits such a response.

Anyway, I’ll have to give you the story on my toilet sometime, but I just don’t have the time to do that today.  It’s a long day with much to do.

See you soon.

No more comment security code

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I’ve had the comment security code in my comment field for a loooong time.  At one point it served to keep spam generating programs from commenting on my posts.  I think I can let other programs work behind the scenes to accomplish that now.

Why now?

Because I just had a brilliant piece of writing eaten by the exact same code on another blog.  Something that have neither the time nor inclination to attempt to duplicate…

And it caused me to think that others who might like to comment on this blog might have had the same thing happen to them.

And since I want discussion on this blog, things that might inhibit discussion should go.

So it has, at least for now.  We’ll see how it works.

I hope this will encourage more opinions in the future.

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Update

Ok.  Less that 24 hours and three spam messages.

Security code is back in.  Sorry.

For those who have had comments swallowed by a message that says you have an invalid security code, only to hit the back button and have your comment gone forever…

The only way around this that I have found is to make sure you highlight and copy your comment before submitting it.  I know it is a hoop through which to jump and one easily forgotten, but I fear I have no other suggestions.

Sorry.

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