Archives for category: missional

I discovered the work of Plant With Purpose (formerly known as Floresta) through The Ecclesia Collective here in San Diego. I was hooked by the question on the flier advertising a seminar they were leading: What is the connection between deforestation and poverty? For me, the question went a step further: What does any of this have to do with loving & serving people, and participating in the mission of God in the world?

Tending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God’s People by Scott Sabin, executive director of Plant With Purpose, addresses these questions in a way environmental-laypeople like myself can understand and relate to.  Eden is filled with engaging stories from Plant With Purpose’s work around the world, and from Scott’s own experience. I was happy to receive a review copy of Eden as part of the Plant With Purpose blog tour, which includes many thoughtful perspectives from across the blogosphere.

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In The Next Evangelicalism, Soong-Chan Rah identifies consumerism as one of the Western cultural captors of the church. If you’ve been around church for awhile, you’re probably familiar with the idea of “church shopping.” Church shoppers ask many of the same questions when taking a trip to the mall or choosing a church:

What style am I looking for? What’s the lowest price I can pay? Do I want the convenience, and predictability, of a nationwide big-box retailer? Maybe I’ll check out that hipster boutique?

And, even for those who are not shopping around, the primary question is not What can I give? but, rather, What can I gain? As my friend Jason Coker points out in a recent post, The Mega-Freeloader Church:

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Win a free copy of Finding the Groove: Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith by Robert Gelinas.

I highly recommend this book (you can read my review of Finding the Groove here).  Even if you are not a fan of jazz, Groove’s stories, quotes, and insights about life and the Kingdom of God are engaging and helpful.  Groove encourages all of us to compose a more creative, jazz-shaped faith.

As Scot McKnight said in his recent review:

There are very few books like this one — in fact, there is none. I really liked this book, and I will return to it over and over as the image shapes my own thinking.

Let’s have this contest run through this Friday, May 8th at 3:00 PST. [Our winners of the free copies of Finding the Groove are Daniel Li and Dave Ingland. Congrats!] Leave a comment here or send me a message on Twitter ( describing why music is meaningful to you — could be a favorite song and why you love it, a formative experience, etc. — and how it connects you to the life and Kingdom of God.  I’d love to hear your stories and the soundtrack of your life — I’ll choose a winner from one of the responses!

In The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time, Tom Sine paints a picture of the Kingdom of God that is simultaneously very big and very small, in order to help us reimagine our life, faith, church and mission. Sine ties together big ideas such as economics, globalization, politics, wealth, poverty, eschatology, and missiology with real stories of mustard seed conspirators around the world.

Conspirators moves through five conversations as Sine describes “God’s quiet conspiracy and how we can be much more a part of it.”  These conversations introduce us to:

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Robert Gelinas, lead pastor and resident jazz theologian of Colorado Community Church, uses wonderful & evocative imagery from the world of jazz (think John Coltrane and Miles Davis, not Kenny G) in Finding the Groove to help us dream of the Kingdom of God in fresh ways.  Even for non-jazz fans, Groove’s stories & quotes (e.g., Coltrane’s search for the sound of God) are engaging and helpful in composing a vibrant, jazz-shaped faith.

In Groove, Robert builds on the jazz keynotes of syncopation, improvisation, and call & response to inform and give life to our theology, ecclesiology, hermeneutics, mission, and praxis — no small task!  In many ways, Groove is a book for the church — Robert’s thoughts about ensemble community in chapter five are prophetic and powerful — but it is more than a “how-to” workbook.  Groove‘s helped me reconsider the role of tension and suffering in life and community; instead of trying to minimize those things, learning to see them, instead, as means to creativity and engaging life as it really is.

One particular passage stands out for its resonance in pastoral leadership (p.155):

In a jazz ensemble, the drummer is the timekeeper. He sits obscurely in the back, ever keeping the beat, driving the tempo, and signaling time changes. His job is to keep time in a way that sets the others free. He listens and responds to the moments and in the process keeps time for all.  He has the worst seat in the house. Think about it; as he sits in the back all he sees are the backsides of his fellow musicians.  It’s not a great place to see, but it’s a great place to serve

The essence of jazz is listening.

Even if you’ve never listened to Kind of Blue or have no idea who Billie Holiday is, I definitely recommend Finding the Groove.  Sometimes, it is precisely the act of crossing into unfamiliar territory that stirs creativity and imagination.

Glad to be here at The Idea Camp again this morning…

We shared a great moment while we were singing together; Charles Lee built off a recent blog post and asked us not to get derailed — all of the great innovation, ideating and collaboration that come out of this conference must be laid down at Jesus’ feet.  We sang the bridge to the well-known song Hosanna a few times to express this surrender to God:

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Here at NewSong in Irvine – just had a great lunch with Laurence Tom, Dawn Carter, Dave Ingland and Idea Camp web guru Daniel Li and starting the first main session of The Idea Camp!

The ethos of the Idea Camp is collaboration, friendship and innovation.  We just watched a short film, Benched, about ways we can practically benefit and bless our neighborhoods.  Charles Lee is interviewing Jeff Shinabarger about dreaming for our communities and then acting on those dreams.  For example, Gift Card Giver took about two years to decide if it was going to be worth pursuing (which, it turns out, it was!).

Questions are coming in already via text — “Did you get any pushback from the city when planning for the benched project?”  Response, “Sometimes you ask for permission, sometimes for forgiveness!”  But since they’ve launched out, there haven’t been any problems.

More to come!