30 July 2006

Happy blogiversary to me

I really should have noted this at the beginning of the month, but oh well - it's still July. This month marks my one-year anniversary of "serious" blogging. As you can tell from the "Archives" links to the left, this blog goes back to May of 2003, but before July 2005 I was very sporadic and lazy about it. In fact, I didn't post at all the previous month, June of 2005. That was typical. But one year ago this month, I decided to make blogging an intentional practice, and try to blog at least once a week. Since then, it's become a springboard for online community like I never would have dreamed. Blogging, and reading and commenting on others' blogs, connects me with close "real world" friends I see weekly as well as with with folks I've never met in person who live as far away as Canada, South Africa, and Malaysia. It's cool, boys and girls!

So, happy blogiversary to me. It's also my birthday (for a few more minutes). It was a good, full day - typical of my days of late. Ministry, worship, fellowship, serving the local community, feeding pets, paying bills, doing laundry, learning about the trials and travails of mutant superheros. My life is good. Tomorrow I have to go to the job I get paid to do, which will be less good, but still nothing to complain about. Thanks, God. I don't deserve it.

27 July 2006

What about the information?

Third post in one day! But as you can tell, I'm basically in "advertising other folks' good stuff" mode, as opposed to providing much of anything original. There's lots going on right now with me, some of which I even get paid to do. :-) Some time soon I'll engage in actual creative thought.

Anyway, The Blind Beggar pointed me at an excellent, if hasty, post that's thinking through the changing value of an "information"-based gospel. Check it out. I think this is part of the answer to a question I've been asked: How is being "missional" different from what the evangelical churches have been doing all along (vis-a-vis "evangelism")?

A parable of Light and Mystery

Jamie Arpin-Ricci, ever a source of worthwhile reflections, has posted a very lovely parable on his blog, (e)mergent Voyageurs. I think you might enjoy reading it. It's the sort of thing that I could see being turned into a short dramatic play, and even used in a worship context or as a discussion-starter. Then again, you may think that it's unduly critical of tall men in robes. :-) Anyway, I think it's cool.

"The Story We Find Ourselves In" Conference

I lifted this verbatim from the blog of my friends at the DC Emergent Cohort. I didn't think they'd mind. I've already registered for the conference described below. I expect to worship God, make friends, and learn a lot. If you can make the time, join us!

Conference: The Story We Find Ourselves In

Curious about the emerging church, where we came from and where we are going?
Explore the exciting heritage of Protestantism in America with us in September.

Speakers include: Brian McLaren, Estrelda Alexander, Scott Kisker, Diana Butler Bass, Doug Strong, Tim Keel, Don Dayton and Ron White.

September 18-21, 2006 at Cedar Ridge Community Church
Highlights include a Love feast, a Camp Meeting in a historic outdoor tabernacle, and Emerging Worship featuring Harp 46
Rates, Registration and Conference information available at http://www.wesleysem.edu/mci/story/default.asp
Register Now!
Questions? Contact Sara Sheppard at ssheppard@wesleyseminary.edu

26 July 2006

Faith without foundations

I ran across an interesting column for The Weekly Standard on the CBS News web site. (This seems slightly odd to me - what do CBS and TWS have to do with each other? - but the news business makes strange bedfellows, I suppose.) In the piece, Jim rakes both liberal denominations and (more briefly) the Emerging Church over the coals for, in his words, "substitut[ing] sentiments for facts, passions for authority, and subjectivity for reason." In many ways, it's the same old rant that both liberal mainliners and emerging folk have been hearing for years, but at the same time - you know, maybe he does have a point. Maybe his critique outlines a potential danger zone as opposed to a present reality (I would say that this is largely the case for the Emerging Church, but perhaps less so for the liberal mainline denominations), but in either case it's probably a critique we need to listen to and pray about, even if it seems like we've heard it all before. (I say this as a card-carrying member - so to speak - of both types of "foundationless" faith communities.)

Anyway, if you're interested, give it a read and let me know if you think he's got anything to say to us.

Video for Alan Roxburgh's new book, The Sky is Falling

Here we go with a first for the RAT blog (never noticed the acronym before?): video! I've entered the YouTube era. This is sort of an ad for the new book by Alan Roxburgh, published by Allelon and called The Sky is Falling: Leaders Lost in Transition. I've heard Alan speak and read some of his writings, and though this particular book falls into the "I own it, but it still hasn't made it to the front of my reading queue" category, he is definitely one of the foremost hearts, brains, and voices in equipping missional Christian leaders. So, check it out: video on my blog! And if you've wondered whether the sky is falling on the church world you once knew, I suspect you'd find this book insightful.

25 July 2006

The jig is up

Whew - this is sort of a relief, actually. We can all dispense with the act. Fast Company is on to us. And they have some advice for dealing with reality of the situation, too. It's worth a read. (HT: Bob Carlton at The Corner.)

20 July 2006

Video B-aaaaargh-ainville

Aaagh! I have to get this song out of my head. Perhaps by transcribing the lyrics here, I can cast it into the blogosphere and out of my brain, like Jesus with the Gerasene piggies. (Mark 5:1-20)

(In case you haven't figured it out yet, this is going to be an unusually silly post. But I really do need to get this song out of my head before my lovely wife duct tapes my mouth shut.)

This song may take you back (as it does me) to a bygone era, known as the late 20th century. An era when movies were viewed on a form of magnetic tape that needed to be rewound. An era when something called a "smoking section" could be found in some reputable - yes, reputable! - establishments. An era before TiVo.

So here we go.

"Video Bargainville" by Moxy Früvous

I have a college pal who
says we can pay one price for two
Just ask for "Roger"
At Video Bargainville....

We can take a trip down to the corner
It's not too far
'Specially in the car
There's a friendly store
With nice decor
And lots of posters on the door

Once past the counter and the newsstand
With a free bag of popcorn in your hand
Now you're ready for the world
No, not the band
But a fine selection in video...

Don't be too confused
By the little reviews
On the back of the box
Just pick up the boxes
All the boxes you can use

It's the hippity-hoppinest videos in the land
Maybe something foreign
Maybe something panned
Maybe something formerly banned

Perhaps it's something you can watch with friends
Or something that inevitably lends
Itself to shapely curves and bends
Of exploited women and their friends

Maybe it's New York, New York
With Liza Minelli and Mickey Rourke
No, that's not right - it was Robert DeNiro
Everyone's favorite video...

I have a college pal who
says we can pay one price for two
Just ask for "Roger"
At Video Bargainville....

So contrary to the desperate sign
Most patrons always "Please rewind!"
And the clerks don't mind
They're very kind
The only stickler has resigned

There's a courteous smoking section in the back
Behind the bulging exercise video rack
And if you're tired you can hit the sack
With the trendy new Ben Hur disco...double...pack.

I have a college pal who
says we can pay one price for two
Just ask for "Roger"
At Video Bargainville....

Once we had a friend
Was too extravagant
Was not a Bargainville fan
Pissed off the video man!

Soon you'll be able to program your own TV
So we ask you to heed this final plea
Before it's all gone, you should rent more
And enjoy video bargains...

I have a college pal who
says we can pay one price for two
Just ask for "Roger"
At Video Bargainville....

I have a college pal who
says we can pay one price for two
Just ask for "Roger"
At Video Bargainville....

So, before that bygone era done gone by, did you heed the Frü-lads' final plea? Did you? Well, I hope so, 'cause it's too flippin' late now, innit? We now return you to your digitally pre-recorded entertainment.

15 July 2006

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society

Hey, you know that book I've been raving about, by the late English missionary and bishop Lesslie Newbigin, called The Gospel in a Pluralist Society? Well, Prof. Scot McKnight (on whose blog you can always find good things) tipped me off to the fact that Drew Moser over at Rural Praxis has begun a series on the book. It looks like it'll be kind of like the series I'm doing on The Continuing Conversion of the Church, only far more skillful - whereas I'm only managing a dense summary of the book, Drew seems to be achieving a readable commentary.

If you're interested in a lot of the issues facing the Christian church in a 21st century, pluralistic, postmodern society - including issues of truth (absolute? relative? culturally conditioned?), the particularity of Jesus, mission, interfaith relations, engaging the cultures, etc. - then you really ought to read this book. If you don't have time to read the book - or don't want to do it on my say-so - then you should check out Drew's series.

13 July 2006

The Continuing Conversion of the Church (5)

Oooo-kay - I admit that the delay between installments of this series is getting a bit ridiculous. When it's done, I'll do a summary post with links to each chapter.

Chapter Five of CCotC, entitled "The Challenge of Reductionism", begins like this:

The risk of translatability is that sinful humans are its agents. The witnesses are always very ambiguous saints. They (we) never divorce themselves from the desire to bring this powerful and radical gospel under control. That means that in the process of translation, complex forms of reduction also take place.

What does Guder mean by "reduction" and "reductionism", and what consequences does this have for followers of Jesus and their attempts to participate in God's mission?

  • The nature of the church's mission mandate is to be, do, and say Christ's witness. "This ministry of witness is carried out by frail and forgiven humans, whom God chooses, forms into missional communities, and sends." The church, made up of these frail, forgiven humans, "reduces the gospel as it translates it in its witness." This reduction is "as unavoidable as [that which] occurs in the translating of texts from one language to another." Reduction occurs in the translation of the Bible, and even in the translation of God's revelation into human language and culture by the Biblical authors themselves. However, Christians "need not fear that the witness is thus rendered irrelevant, or that relativism reigns."
  • "When such reductions, which inevitably occur, are made absolute and then defended as normative truth, then we confront the problem [that Guder calls] 'reductionism.'" Guder's "thesis is that our particular Western reductionisms are the greatest challenge that the North Atlantic churches face when they seek to develop a theology of evangelistic ministry." "The reductionism we struggle with is related to our attempts to reduce the gospel, to bring it under control, to render it intellectually respectable, or to make it serve another agenda than God's purposes. Therefore, we cannot move contructively towards the formulation of a theology of evangelistic ministry without addressing...this reductionism.... To be faithful witnesses, we...must also be penitent witnesses, receiving the gift of conversion from God's Spirit."
  • The history of reductionism begins very early in the Christian story. "First, the early church reduced its understanding of its own calling and allowed itself to become one more religion in the multiplicity of religions present in the first century," becoming "preoccupied with what distinguished it from others." "Second, this fundamental reduction was linked with the church's transition from a movement to an institution." Third, "growing antipathy between Christians and Jews...resulted in a pervasive reductionism of the gospel with regard to our rootedness in Israel and the Old Covenant, and the importance of the Jewishness of Jesus and the early church." "In very subtle ways, salvation became more and more focused upon the individual, and...the person's life after death."
  • Guder recounts in detail a "spectrum of reductions" associated with the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine and the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Empire. These include: 1) a shift "from the event character of the gospel to the formulation of a defined faith system"; 2) a redefinition of eschatology from an anticipation of a future coming of the kingdom on earth to a conviction that the work of Christ on earth was complete in the establishment of the church, as "the future tense of God's kingdom came to be understood as the eternity that awaited the Christian after death"; and 3) a movement away from "the Biblical understanding of calling to witness and mission" and toward "the struggle to gain and keep salvation." The church began to make it its business to control, mediate, and manage this salvation on behalf of individual Christians.
  • With the Reformation and the dawn of the "modern" age - with its centrality of scientific rationalism - many of these reductionisms remained unquestioned. In the Reformers' emphasis on our dependence upon God's grace, the central question remained that of "personal salvation, how one became sure of it, what one did about it, and how the church related to" it. "The 'individualization' and 'ecclesiasticization' of salvation...was not fundamentally questioned." "[T]he context of Christendom remained as the guarantor and protector of Christianity as the dominant religious force in society," and mission was not a major emphasis of the Reformers. With the Enlightenment stress on the "autonomy of human reason", the emphasis on the salvation of the individual only intensified. "Contemporary approaches to evangelism, with their emphasis upon method, program, results, and measurement, are a further consequence of the victory of Enlightenment thinking, even in those parts of the church which disavow Enlightened theology."

So where are we today?

Now...the church that is to proclaim the gospel appears to have become unsure of itself and incapable of persuasive witness. There are many reasons that so many Christians and Christian groups have become skeptical about evangelism, but high among them is the inability to formulate a gospel that can break through the individualization and privitization of religion. Moralistic reductions ("we are going to bring about God's kingdom on earth") have little credibility after one century of Christian social activism with minimal results.... Those groups that practice aggressive evangelism are, upon closer examination, also proclaiming a very reductionist gospel. While they claim to be opposing the secularizing and diluting tendencies of modern humanistic skepticism, they too often define the gospel in terms of happiness and evangelize for success, counting upon their mastery of method to produce results.

It sounds like we've got ourselves in a bit of a mess, and Guder's next chapter explores further "The Reduction of Salvation and Mission" and the consequences of this mess for our missional calling. But don't worry; after that he moves on to "Implications" and the beginning of a way forward for the Church. More to come....


Bam, bam, bam with the spice weasel! (Don't ask.) If it weren't after midnight, it would be a three-post day. Ah well.

So, a parting shot (for now) from the most esteemed Lesslie Newbigin. It's from the final paragraph of his Gospel in a Pluralist Society:

It may well be that for some decades, while churches grow rapidly in other parts of the world, Christians in Europe [or certain denominations in the U.S.?] may continue to be a small and even shrinking minority. If this should be so, it must be seen as an example of that pruning which is promised to the Church in order that it may bear more fruit (John 15:1ff). When that happens it is painful. But Jesus assures us, "My Father is the gardener." He knows what he is doing, and we can trust him. Such experience is a summons to self-searching, to repentance, and to fresh commitment. It is not an occasion for anxiety. God is faithful, and he will complete what he has begun.

So once again, thank you, Bishop Newbigin. Let's have confidence in the gospel and confidence in God. Let's do our best, as individuals, small groups, congregations, seminaries, parachurch organizations, judicatories, denominations - whatever shape the Body of Christ is taking in us - to discern our vocation in God's mission and to live out that calling in faithfulness to the triune God for the good of the world. But I think there's something we should not do. We should not attempt to enact some pantomime of missional faithfulness out of anxiety - because we're afraid that the institutional structures that support us will shrink and crumble. And we shouldn't encourage others to do that either. Missional faithfulness is not an imperative for the Episcopal Church (for example) because we're shrinking numerically. Missional faithfulness is an imperative for the Episcopal Church because we are followers of Jesus - of the one who did not falter in his own mission though it led him to the Cross, and who made it crystal clear that to follow him is to walk that same path of courageous, limitless love.

Let's look at this from a different perspective. I almost titled this post "fear-based evangelism". I dare you to show me a liberal mainline Christian who thinks evangelism based on eliciting fear of hell is an acceptable practice. But is it any more faithful to the gospel to suddenly get the "evangelism" bug because of a different kind of fear - fear not for your neighbor's eternal security, but for your own security in this life, whether that security takes the form of material support from an endangered religious institution, or the less tangible support of familiar liturgy and comfortable ecclesial structure?

That's why I grumble about programs like the "20/20 Vision" initiative in the Episcopal Church, with its goal to double average Sunday attendance in Episcopal churches by the year 2020. We do need to do the things that are being associated with that Vision - good, creative ideas for blessing the world and inviting and forming new disciples - but we need to do them because Jesus did them, and commanded us to do them - not because we're shrinking and we fear that we must do something to reverse the current numerical trend. If we attempt to do the right things for the wrong reasons - out of fear, instead of out of confidence in the gospel and its Author, then I'm afraid our efforts don't stand an ice cube's chance in that place we liberal mainliners don't like to talk about. Confidence in the gospel is the only thing that will make these efforts succeed; acting out of fear will make us smell like frauds and weasels.

Maybe God will use anxiety about numbers as the opportunity to work in the heart of some folks and continue the work of conversion. I don't know. I certainly don't want to try to place limits on God. But I just feel that we would do better to shut up about numbers and redirect all our efforts to fanning people's passion for the work of the kingdom - loving neighbors, blessing the world, radically welcoming all to the table. God may work in our hearts through fear, but I know God works in our hearts through love. That's something, I think, in which we can have confidence.

12 July 2006

Jesus Christ, survey star

Wow, I'm just a bloggin' machine these past few days. Maybe it'll make up for the drought that preceded it....

My man Bowie Snodgrass, of the Episcopal Church's Office of Communication, has tipped me off that there's a new survey on the EpiscopalChurch.org web site, and the topic is none other than our Lord himself. I don't think it's meant to be for Episcopalians only, so why not fill it out? Go on, BrickMensch, you're on a survey kick - and I promise there are no questions about the Christus Victor theory of atonement. ;-)

Anyway, if you're interested in at least checking it out, here's the survey.

UPDATE: Bowie Snodgrass has graciously informed me that she is not, in fact, a man - mine or anyone else's. Oops. Sorry, Bowie! Making assumptions is dumb.


Thanks to J. Derek Harbin, priest at Church of the Beloved in Charlotte, NC, for this quote from Karen Ward, the church planter for Church of the Apostles in Seattle, Washington. (That's Karen on the right.) Derek says, "Believing that the word 'evangelism' is forever colored by the negative cultural images associated with it, she encourages her church community to live as postevangelists." Here's Karen:

I no longer believe in evangelism. To be postevangelism is to live our lives in Christ without a strategy but with the compassion and the servant posture of Jesus Christ. We do not do evangelism or have a mission. The Holy Spirit is the evangelist, and the mission belongs to God. What we do is simply live our lives publicly as a community in the way of Jesus Christ, and when people inquire as to why we live this way, we share with them an account of the hope within us. We are to love one another, and that creates its own attraction.

What do y'all think of that? I think it's spot-on, but to my mainline (and emerging?) friends who may be reluctant to ever be overt about their faith, I would draw attention to the phrases "live our lives publicly as a community in the way of Jesus Christ" and "when people inquire...we share with them an account of the hope within us." We still need to be witnesses of the gospel, even if we are "postevangelism."

11 July 2006

"For the sake of those who are not members"

I had to share this quote from Lesslie Newbigin's The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, which I'm just about finished reading. The book is a classic that I really can't recommend highly enough. Here's the quote (from pp. 232-233):

If the gospel is to challenge the public life of our society, if Christians are to occupy the "high ground" which they vacated in the noontime of "modernity", it will not be by forming a Christian political party, or by aggressive propaganda campaigns. Once again it has to be said that there can be no going back to the "Contantinian" era. It will only be by movements that begin with the local congregation in which the reality of the new creation is present, known, and experienced, and from which men and women will go into every sector of public life to claim it for Christ, to unmask the illusions which have remained hidden and to expose all areas of public life to the illumination of the gospel. But that will only happen as and when local congregations renounce an introverted concern for their own life, and recognize that they exist for the sake of those who are not members, as sign, instrument, and foretaste of God's redeeming grace for the whole life of society.

A few pages later, Newbigin mentions a survey that was conducted in Bangalore, India, which revealed that the majority of lay members felt that the clergy were too involved in business outside the congregation, while the majority of clergy felt that they were not involved enough. I'm not trying to make anything of the lay/clergy dichotomy here (plenty of clergy are inwardly focused, while plenty of lay people are outwardly focused). But I think when you get right down to it, when folks ask "what is this word 'missional' supposed to mean", this is the ultimate in-a-nutshell bottom line: does the church exist for the sake of its members, or for the sake of those who are not members? Obviously, the answer is "both", but the "mission" of a "missional church" (again, in a nutshell) is to move that balance ever further toward "those who are not members". The only way to do this is to form "members" into disciples of Jesus Christ who are committed to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. It sounds so easy.... ;-)

"With God, all things are possible."

10 July 2006

Marriage as sacrament

Jamie Arpin-Ricci has a wonderful post on sacraments and eschatology, and my favorite part is this brief paragraph on marriage:

In the last ten years, as this sacramental view began to mature in my life, I came to understand why many of the ancient traditions view marriage as a sacrament (Note, I am referring to marraige, not just the wedding). The love between spouses is used frequently in Scripture as a parallel for God's love for His people. While I once believed that God was simply using a convenient parallel in this regards, but I have come to believe that marriage was formed to reflect that pre-existing, eternal Love- that this Truth is so central and important that it has been written into the fabric of Creation itself.

Really, really good, true stuff. Thanks, Jamie!

09 July 2006

Missional language from an Episcopal Church standing committee - woo-hoo!

Hoo-ha! I'm excited. Before I tell you why, I want to briefly direct your attention to a wonderful quote from a book which both Fr. Rick and Sivin Kit are reading and blogging about - which inevitably means that I'm going to have to bump it up in my "to read" queue. The quote also serves as a brief introduction to the sort of thinking that I'm so excited about. Here it is, from Sivin's blog (HT: Brother Maynard):
God is about a big purpose in and for the whole of creation. The church has been called into life to be both the means of this mission and a foretaste of where God is inviting all creation to go. Just as its Lord is a mission-shaped God, so the community of God's people exists, not for themselves but for the sake of the work. Mission is therefore not a program or project some people in the church do from time to time (as in "mission trip", "mission budget" and so on); the church's very nature is to be God's missionary people. We use the word missional to mark this big difference. Mission is not about a project or a budget, or a one-off event somewhere; it's not even about sending missionaries. A missional church is a community of God's people who live into the imagination that they are, by their very nature, God's missionary people living as a demonstration of what God plans to do in and for all of creation in Jesus Christ. ~ Alan J. Roxburgh & Fred Romanuk, The Missional Leader, p.XV
So, it's easy to think that much of the Episcopal Church, generally, is a long way from this missional ideal. And sometimes I do think that. Any maybe much of it is. But then Rick+ pointed me at a document from the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church. It's the Convention report of the Standing Commission on Domestic Mission and Evangelism. If you're interested in signs of missional life in either TEC in specific or in "liberal mainline" denominations in general, you might want to read the whole thing, but here are some quotes:

Mission means translating the gospel into the people’s vernacular. Whether it be English in the 16th century, Dinka and Xhosa in the 19th century, or contemporary music in the 21st century, the Christ who is the Word made flesh must be made known again and again in the language of the people. Younger generations speak the language of contemporary music, culture, art, and film. The Church must translate the eternal gospel message into that language.

The Commission recognizes two different traditions of mission that exist in our church. One emphasizes evangelism and the other one emphasizes social justice. The SCDME states unequivocally there is no conflict between these imperatives. Those who would be faithful to Scripture and to the life and witness of Jesus Christ must obey both.

The present time of controversy is not the time for schism, but an opportunity to embody the oneness of the Body of Christ. This is the very moment to show we are one by our love.

We make disciples by loving one another. This is how we can follow the two imperatives: the Great Commandment—love God and our neighbor … and the Great Commission—make disciples.

Mission means Reconciliation: Reaching out to the Other

Jesus teaches us to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters before offering our gifts to God (Matthew 5:23-24). Both reconciliation with the Other and reconciliation with God are gifts of grace that we are called to live out concretely in our daily lives.

God’s mission of reconciliation means our Church is not just about us. God’s mission of reconciliation calls us to leave behind comfortable communities where people look, sound, act and dress like us, to turn away from our circle of friends at coffee hour and to seek the outsider. In our rapidly shrinking and wonderfully multicultural world, the Church is called to be the presence and agent of God’s reconciling love in the world—urgent, dynamic and sacrificing.

We call on every bishop, priest, deacon and layperson in the Episcopal Church to take personal responsibility, embrace this vision, and do the work of ministry. Together, we must form and re-form our congregations and local faith communities to be agents of God’s reconciling work in a world that is changing before our very eyes. We must turn ourselves inside-out.
Then they take the Bishops to task for not driving missional reform. Yee-hah!

The Resolutions (included in the document) are great and very much worth reading. You might particularly want to check out A037, "Evangelism".

This document is not without (what I would perceive as) flaws. There's an implication that all of this is in service to the "20/20 Vision" goal of doubling the average Sunday attendance (ASA) of TEC by the year 2020. This (as I've stated previously) bugs the bejeebers out of me. The point is not that we must grow as an institutional church, and therefore I guess we'd better think missionally 'cause that's the only way we can grow and not shrink down to nothing. Hogwash! The point is that, as followers of Jesus, we must participate in the missio Dei! If that leads to the numeric growth of our institution, then yippee! But that's a secondary goal, at best.

The funny thing is that I think the folks on the Standing Commission grok this, but I suspect they're holding "church growth" out there like a carrot that the rank-and-file (including the rank-and-file in the House of Bishops) might "get", while they won't necessarily "get" the missional imperative to transform our communities in service to God's mission. If I'm right, I don't think I agree with that strategy. I think we've got to do the hard work of inviting transformation on every level of the church, not settling for "Come on, can't you please just act missional - for the sake of your pension??"

Sorry, that may have been a bit too cynical. The other thing that bugged me (to a much lesser extent) was the apparent assumption, in the discussion of church planting, that church planting means church building. Who said a church needs a building? It's not just nondenominational emerging churches that do without them - perfectly good Episcopal Churches (like this one and this one) do too.

But don't let me give you the impression that I'm down on the Standing Commission on Domestic Mission and Evangelism - like I said at the beginning, I'm really excited to see this kind of stuff coming out of General Convention. My biggest problem with it is that nobody knows about it. This - and our embrace of the Millennium Development Goals - should be the biggest story coming out of GenCon. Every diocese and parish should be getting excited about this stuff. I know that's too much to hope for, but at least I know that Fr. Rick intends to give this a high profile at Church of the Holy Comforter.

Yeah! You go, SCDME! :-D