Friday, September 22, 2017

The 501(C)(3) of Christ | Hack the Ministry

A friend tells me he is intrigued by Hack the Ministry and the conversations around it. I reply: 
I’m intrigued too. 
With no disrespect to my friends with jobs provided by some instance of the church, I, and a growing number of friends and acquaintances scattered over the earth, are finding greater success connecting with “Nones” now that we think of ourselves as some version of “Dones”.  
It doesn’t take much sociological or spiritual imagination to see that — in many places — the way we’ve been doing church is ending (or at the very least trending) badly and has been for a long time. I saw it when I still took my paycheck from a church. I think most people do; and this is the drive behind some brilliant innovation and passionate outreach and service generated by church leaders. It’s also what drives programs that looked much better on paper than in practice. 
As outreaching and open as I was — you can ask anyone  = - )  — I had to give up my church business card before I began to grasp this. On reflection, this should be no surprise. As Sinclair Lewis used to say, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.  
Years later, when I became available to friends and neighbors on Sunday mornings, I found they became available to me pretty much any time. It’s as if my getting a car and “going to church” was a barrier to entry for engagement with some of the most spiritually open-and-interested people in my community — not to mention some of my most religiously suspicious, damaged, and abused friends and neighbors. The absence any power differential makes every conversation straight across. My surrender of religious authority made way for a sober assessment of spiritual authenticity. The stories I tell about my life, alongside my daily spiritual practices, stand or fall on their own… they ring true, or not… stories and practices reinforce each other, or they don’t. 
Clearly, I’m not alone in this. And without suggesting that anyone should stop going to church, or leave their job in the church, or disavow church; I do mean to be clear that there is a life of engaged Christian practice outside the norms and structures of the 501(C)(3) of Christ. 
All this is wrapped up, for me, in this conversation about hacking the ministry. And I find myself feeling real anticipation about what others bring to the table — to correct, affirm, recalibrate, or help me reimagine what I’ve been thinking and doing.

Wherever you are on the continuum, If you’re intrigued too, I hope you’ll take the day to be with us in Seattle for Hack the Ministry 

— it’s Thursday, October 12, 2017 

— we’ll gather from 10 am to 10 pm at Ballard Homestead 

tickets are $49 — or you can bring two friends, at a total cost of $99 for the three of you — lunch and dinner are included

— out-of-towners seem to be leaning toward Hampton Inn and Suites, Northgate


Selective Outrage | Selective Grace


I keep wondering what churches would be like if they were as gracious - and patient - with everyone as they are with the greedy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Peers | Mentors | Sages | Hacking the Ministry

Peers, Mentors + Sages — both inside + outside the orbit of organized churchgoing — people who have decided not to fear each other + not to hold each other in contempt, are gathering for a deep conversation about pioneers + mapmakers who are showing us how to hack the ministry to serve the world as it is + as it is becoming. 
HacktheMinistry.com | October 12 | Seattle | 10am - 10pm

video

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hack the Ministry | 10.12.17 | Seattle

A one-day gathering for people who identify with Jesus + aren’t so sure about the future of churchgoing.


Monday, September 04, 2017

Dear Mr. President | The message Barack Obama left in the Oval Office for Donald Trump

There’s a tradition of outgoing US presidents leaving handwritten notes to their successors on Inauguration Day. CNN obtained a copy of the letter from Barack Obama to Donald Trump — one imagines a mobile phone pic — from someone to whom Mr. Trump showed it. It is, I think, quite remarkable, compared with notes left by George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

Dear Mr. President - 
Congratulations on a remarkable run. Millions have placed their hopes in you, and allof us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.
This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don't know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful. Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.
First, we've both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It's up to us to do everything we can (to) build more ladders of success for every child and family that's willing to work hard.
Second, American leadership in this world really is indispensable. It's up to us, through action and example, to sustain the international order that's expanded steadily since the end of the Cold War, and upon which our own wealth and safety depend.
Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions -- like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties -- that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it's up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.
And finally, take time, in the rush of events and responsibilities, for friends and family. They'll get you through the inevitable rough patches.
Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can.
Good luck and Godspeed,
BO

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What he said — Jesus + The Nashville Statement


Father James Martin — Jesuit priest, editor at large for America Magazine, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage and Building a Bridge,  consultor to the Vatican Secretariat for Communication​, and former chaplain to the Colbert Nation — responded to The Nashville Statement - so-called because it was ratified in the city

The Nashville Statement centers on 14 affirmations and denials; Martin repeated the pattern in a series of seven tweets, recreated here.

James Martin SJ @JamesMartinSJ  Aug 30 
Re #NashvilleStatement: 
I affirm: That God loves all LGBT people. 
I deny: That Jesus wants us to insult, judge or further marginalize them.
James Martin SJ @JamesMartinSJ  Aug 30 
I affirm: That all of us are in need of conversion. 
I deny: That LGBT people should be in any way singled out as the chief or only sinners
James Martin SJ @JamesMartinSJ  Aug 30 
I affirm: That when Jesus encountered people on the margins he led with welcome not condemnation. 
I deny: That Jesus wants any more judging.
James Martin SJ @JamesMartinSJ  Aug 30 
I affirm: That LGBT people are, by virtue of baptism, full members of the church. 
I deny: That God wants them to feel that they don't belong
James Martin SJ @JamesMartinSJ  Aug 30 
I affirm: That LGBT people have been made to feel like dirt by many churches. 
I deny: That Jesus wants us to add to their immense suffering.
James Martin SJ @JamesMartinSJ  Aug 30 
I affirm: That LGBT people are some of the holiest people I know. 
I deny: That Jesus wants us to judge others, when he clealrly forbade it.
James Martin SJ @JamesMartinSJ  Aug 30 
I affirm that the Father loves LGBT people, the Son calls them and the Holy Spirit guides them. 
I deny nothing about God's love for them.
What he said. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

I got your respect right here…. Raising Adults



[This week, Verlyn Giles, an extraordinary coach and human being, was inducted into the Leon High School Football Hall of Fame in Tallahassee Florida. Here’s what I wrote in Raising Adults about how Verlyn and a few other remarkable adults shaped my life back in the day.]
When I was a boy, my uncle, Bryant Kendall, my coach, Verlyn Giles, my high school principal, Robert Stevens, a youth worker named Shuford Davis, a campus worker named Bob Norwood, and more teachers than I can count. They listened to me and took my ideas seriously. They asked good questions. They talked straight. They gave me training and responsibility. My uncle helped me learn to mow lawns before my parents allowed me to touch anything with a motor at home. I had teachers who encouraged me to think outside the box and helped me learn to sort my thoughts and express them directly and economically. Verlyn Giles helped me learn to think and communicate under pressure and taught me to value ingenuity and skill over brute force. Bob Norwood asked questions that encouraged me choose between good and better. Shuford Davis engaged with me even though I was not part of his youth group, asking questions that caused me to address spirituality with my mind as well as my heart.
    Respect isn’t empty-headed acceptance of any and all behavior. Respect grows from the acknowledgment that all of us are in process. We’ve learnedeverything we know so far, and we have quite a bit more to learn before we’re done.
    Respect acknowledges that what’s obvious to one person may not be a bit obvious to someone else. And that’s a very good place to begin the conversation.

And isn’t that what life is all about, the ability to go around back and come up inside other people’s heads to look out at the damned fool miracle and say: oh so that’s how you see it!? Well, now, I must remember that.

—Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine, William Morrow, 2001, page xiii

    Shaming is a monologue. Respect is a dialogue. The surest way for me to show respect is to ask honest questions and listen carefully until, whether or not we agree, the other person is pretty sure I truly understand.

— from Raising Adults by Jim Hancock

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Growth of US Hate Groups from 2000 to 2017

A two-minute overview of the growth of hate groups in the US from from 2000 to mid-2017, courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center and The Atlantic.



The Atlantic writes:

According to research by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups has been increasing rapidly since 2000. Heidi Beirich, director of the Center’s Intelligence Project, links the rise in recruitment to the 2000 census that predicted whites would be a minority by 2042. Beirich says there’s been another spike following the election of Donald Trump, particularly among alt-right organizations who have attached themselves directly to the current president. In an interview filmed at the 2017 Aspen Ideas Festival, Beirich says that Trump’s limited commentary on hate crimes shows his lack of concern.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Silence in the Kitchen | a fragment from Raising Adults




Kids have an amazing capacity to learn new tricks. They don’t allow themselves to get very cold or hungry or lost more than once without pretty good reasons.

    One very good reason, of course, is to get under the skin of a parent who is a hijacker.

    When, on frosty mornings, I see kids on their way to school without their jackets, I imagine the sort of conversations that occurred on their way out the door. For example….

Interior. Morning. Kitchen. An eleven year old boy runs a piece of bread around the rim of a jelly jar and chews thoughtfully, having decided toast is too much trouble.  
From another room we hear an adult voice: Are you wearing your jacket? 
There is silence in the kitchen. The adult speaks louder: Are you WEARING your JACKET! 
The boy speaks, his mouth full of bread: Snot Cold! 
Adult: What? I said, are you wearing your jacket? 
Silence in the kitchen. After a moment the adult hollers: ANSWER ME! 
The boy glances up at the clock. Indeed, he is not cold at this moment. He is, however, tired of being yelled at from another room—though he is not about to venture from the relative safety of the kitchen, at least not voluntarily, to find out what the hollering is about. In an instant the boy decides he will placate the one in the other room but, for reasons he hardly understands, he will not satisfy her. His voice rises with the patronizing tone he will use again some fifty years in the future to explain to his mother why she must eat her strained vegetables: Mom, it’s too hot to wear my jacket in here. Don’t worry about it.
With that, the boy dips his finger in the jelly, rubs it on another piece of bread which he folds neatly in half, walks past his jacket and out the door into the cold, clear day of his youth.

BUY RAISING ADULTS

SUBSCRIBE TO FRAGMENTS FROM RAISING ADULTS

Monday, July 17, 2017

Miracles | (Someone Special)

This is who we are.


Cause + Effect | I learned it from you! OK?

The line between actions and consequences is severely blurred for a lot of kids because, by and large, they don’t understand the general principle of cause and effect.

    They don’t understand cause and effect because the adults in their lives constantly come behind them to fix things when they screw up.

    This problem is complicated by idle threats and equally idle promises.

    An example: The promise, If you’ll be good boy (whatever that means) at the store, I’ll buy you a treat, is easily lost in the excuse: It’s too close to dinner; you’ll spoil your appetite.

    Not fair! Sure, we have to be concerned for a kid’s nutritional well-being. So we’d better take care to not make idle promises in exchange for compliant behavior.

    All right, that’s it! One more word out of you and we’re going straight home!

    Really? You’re going to load everybody back onto the bus and go straight home? I’m not saying you shouldn’t do exactly that if it fits the situation. But please don’t threaten to do it if you know you can’t live with the consequences of following through.

    If I say: Stop nagging! You kids are killing me! I should have the decency to die the next time one of them nags. Otherwise, it’s just an idle promise.

    More to the point, our children falter in learning the connection between cause and effect when, not wanting them to experience pain, many of us are quick to rescue them from the consequences of their failures and wrongdoing.

    When they’re young we easily replace a toy carelessly lost or broken in anger and shield them from the cost of their actions. Time passes and we drop what we’re doing to deliver an item thoughtlessly left behind so a middle-schooler won’t suffer a loss of face or miss a meal or fail to turn in a paper on time. Still later, we cover a negligently overdrawn checking account or pay a traffic ticket and insurance increase resulting from a moving violation, or hire a lawyer to rescue our beloved failure from a ruined life.

    And they resent us for it. Maybe not in the moment, but soon and forever until we make things right.

— from Raising Adults by Jim Hancock

BROWSE FRAGMENTS FROM RAISING ADULTS

SUBSCRIBE TO FRAGMENTS FROM RAISING ADULTS

BUY RAISING ADULTS

Sunday, July 16, 2017

in-betweenness | this is who we are

Not fully child, not fully adult....
Adolescents can [glimpse their in-betweenness] by looking in the full-length mirror on back of the bathroom door. The opaque glance and the pimples. The fancy new nakedness they're all dressed up in with no place to go. The eyes full of secrets they have a strong hunch everybody is on to. The shadowed brow. Being not quite a child and not quite a grown-up either is hard work, and they look it. Living in two worlds at once is no picnic.  One of the worlds, of course, is innocence, self-forgetfulness, openness, playing for fun. The other is experience, self-consciousness, guardedness, playing for keeps. Some of us go on straddling them both for years.
.... 
We become fully and undividedly human, I suppose, when we discover that the ultimate prudence is a kind of holy recklessness, and our passion for having finds peace in our passion for giving, and playing for keeps is itself the greatest fun. Once this has happened and our adolescence is behind us at last, the delight of the child and the sagacity of the Supreme Court justice are largely indistinguishable. 
– Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark,  p. 2