Archive for October, 2008

Disputation, Harmony or Both?

Posted in leadership, personal development, theology on October 31, 2008 by velocityvortx

While this day might have us reviewing the disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, maybe it serves our purposes better to take a look at what some present day Luthers talked about in Wittenberg while celebrating the anniversary of the Reformation. Disputation, harmony, or both?


Let’s look at some of what Christian Schwartz and Mark Batterson talked about at the r(e)formation on October 30th.



Schwartz stressed the fact that not only individuals, but churches should leave their comfort zones in order to explore more of the identities of God that we do not know, are less comfortable with, and sometimes even simply “distrust”. Using his Three Colors research, he emphasized leaving the mode in which we feel comfortable – towards the area of spirituality where we may feel real uncomfortable. The reason for this, states Schwartz, is simple: it causes us to understand others, to learn more about who God is, to grow spiritually and to stretch our spiritual muscles, so to speak.

Three Colors offers practical tools to help you identify your starting point and experience the revolutionary power of God’s unconventional love in your life. Three Colors describes the three fundamental dimensions of God’s love that every believer can reflect in his or her life: justice, truth and grace. Depending on your starting point, your personal growth path may be very different to someone else’s.



Mark starts with a R.T. Kendall quote. “The greatest opposition to what God is doing today comes from those who were on the cutting edge of what God was doing yesterday”. Topic headers were deconstruction, reconstruction, and contextual intelligence. Here’s part of the deconstruction and construction conversation.

Things Batterson sees in Deconstruction

  1. Calling us back into the marketplace—build bridges back to our culture
  2. We need to get back to our Primal Mission—A18 Initiative
  3. Get back to Spirit-Led endeavors—Peel away some of the institutional layers, Wild Goose
  4. Get back to High-Octane Truth—we need to be a voice of truth in a politically correct, relativistic society
  5. Get back to Hands-On servanthood—we need to own Christlike causes, Convoy of Hope, Thailand Team, AIDS Colony

Far-side simplicity- that is where you end up!


Brain stimulation depends on task familiarization. Novelty stimulates the right-brain. Familiarity stimulates the left-brain. Longitudinal studies show that the average person experiences a shift from right to left over the course of their lifetime. The center of cognitive gravity shifts from right to left.

The bottom line is this. As we age, one of two things will happen: either memory will overtake imagination or imagination will overtake memory. We can do ministry out of memory or ministry out of imagination.




Posted in leadership, personal development, theology on October 30, 2008 by velocityvortx

Ron was up for 90 minutes yesterday at the r(e)formation on the topic of From Information to Transformation: Toward a Spirituality of Seeing. This is but a small piece of the conversation.

Ron began the conversation describing trends and historical patterns that support why the church has landed where we are right now and the opportunities this offers for engaging spiritual formation in new and old ways.  

Ron compared the ways of faith development pre-Reformation and what changed after the Reformation. Prior to the Reformation, there were at least four ways of experiencing faith development and spirituality. It was only after the Reformation that a focus and assent was given to tenets of belief, doctrine, dogma, scripture.  It wasn’t a dominant developmental piece for most Christians before the Reformation: this information focus (horizontal bandwidth acquisition)  was secondary to the other formative foci. Ron detailed some of the root problems stemming from a textual addiction, a love affair with propositions, and a scientific worldview….an information obsession.


After providing this historical sketch, Ron challenged the group with what it would mean to reframe spiritual formation as human formation. He went on to explain how the human formation conversation embraces not only horizontal bandwidth acquisition but also VERTICAL DEVELOPMENT.  Vertical development is about how we make meaning of our lives and how we view and perceive great amounts of complexity, tension, and ambiguity.


This vertical development moves the modern spiritual formation as INFORMING (usually biblically and doctrinally) to an Awareness and Seeing, where we follow Jesus into a bigger world, into a larger frame, into an more encompassing envelope of reality… the kingdom of God.


Jesus over and over again emphasizes seeing rather than knowing. Being and awareness seem to take precedence over acquiring knowledge or a growing database of information.  So then Ron invites this idea and way forward as we think about spiritual formation and our present models.

A spirituality of seeing and awareness.

When we start with Seeing…we are starting with a different sort of knowledge.  It is awareness type knowledge. This requires a fundamental shift in the way we know.       


1.  New Spiritual Patterns and Practices or resurrection of old ones will be put in place to help our seeing and awareness…patterns and practices for the express purpose of seeing like Jesus sees


2.  Sensing and emotion are restored to the process of formation


3.  We will learn to handle information in new ways that moves it from cognitive acquisition to a vehicle and first step in the transforming process.


4.  Awareness will be key to creating compelling love for each other and those outside of faith.


I mentioned before that this is just a soundbite of the conversation.

Back with you tomorrow!  


Here is Ron in Wittenberg with Mark Batterson and Chris Seay.  I think the guy in the back wanted in on the picture but nobody seemed to be seeing or aware…come on, that was a bit funny.  Don’t worry folks… Ron will be back next week!!!

Barna’s 9

Posted in leadership, theology on October 29, 2008 by velocityvortx

Looks like George Barna, renowned sociologist and researcher, started the r(e)formation off with a bang or 9 of them to be exact. Here they are…the 9 key observations challenging the church of our time.

1.  Leadership is shifting from the old to the new.

2.  Church leadership is moving from the US to other nations.

3.  The stranglehold of old institutions is dying.

4.  God is amassing resources within the US church for it to partner with the world.

5.  God is expanding the ways in which faith can be experienced and expressed.

6.  Faith is becoming a controversial part of every life dimension.

7.  God is stirring interest in the powerless.

8.  God is shrinking the world through technology.

9.  God is allowing a heightened friction between faiths.

Wow…each one worthy of probing and perhaps we can get the details on a couple later.  No. 9 has me very curious.  What’s hitting you as you read through that list?    

Here’s a bit more on the leadership piece…

Barna describes a radical change in church leadership.  Research in the area of church leadership shows a dramatic decline in the “known” leaders, or the “gurus” of the spiritual world. Where around 7 out of every 10 Americans know exactly who Billy Graham is (and other spiritual influencers of the more modern age), there is a dramatic decline in the awareness and knowledge of other ‘well known’ spiritual leaders.  Barna also conveyed that charismatic leadership is a thing of the past. He described people connect with others – in relations – rather than with the “guru”.  

Tomorrow… a bit of the terrain that Ron covered.  

For additional details click here

It’s ON!

Posted in leadership, personal development, theology on October 28, 2008 by velocityvortx
The r(e)formation conversation is ON!  Ron, along with other Christian visionaries, is in Berlin to talk, to listen, to dream.  This band of futurists, including Leonard Sweet, Alan Hirsch, Mark Batterson, Chris Seay, George Barna, Younglae Kim (South Korea), Wolfgang Simson (Germany) and many others will make their way from Berlin to Wittenberg traveling at autobahn speed but slowing down long enough to humbly and openly discuss the path of spiritual formation, theological frameworks, cultural shifts and next steps for the Church …how to continue the work of Christ on earth in this context.  And we get to join the journey!!!
Over the next couple of days this blog will provide you an update on what is happening at the r(e)formation…topics, speakers, etc.   Ron leads the conversation tomorrow night (which is early afternoon here on the east coast) and he will be facilitating a conversation on moving spiritual formation from an informational model to a more awareness/seeing/sensing model. Keep Ron and all of the participants in your thoughts and prayers.
A couple of other conversation titles that have my attention already:
A Jesus Kind of Human
From a Market- to a Kingdom-shaped Church
From Let’s Tong with the Bible to ReOrientation thru the Bible
“Long gone are the days that the church is at the center of the world’s attention. In the new post-modern, post-Christian era, the church must reclaim its servant role. And also start to do it in small, big new ways. Wittenberg is about finding the church’s role again…about a small group of concerned, beyond-the-box thinkers from all over the globe that will sit together, walk together and journey together for a few days to dream new dreams about God’s people in the world” writes Stephan Joubert, echurch contributor. Some of the best work of the Church has taken place when we have been on the fringes of the world’s attention.  We’ll see…seeing…that’s a good start!

For additional details  click here. 
nancy carpenter…I assist ron 

Quiet Mind

Posted in leadership, personal development, theology on October 24, 2008 by velocityvortx

I have been challenged in my thinking over the last several years by Thomas Keating and those that have followed in his footsteps.


John Main, Thomas Merton, and Keating are responsible for bringing to the forefront, to a much wider audience, the practice of meditation.  While Main’s version is much more of focus meditation that creates a certain kind of benefit, Keating is much more concerned with release/surrender meditation that brings a sense of quiet center.  The former is more kataphatic, using images, words and imagination while the latter more apophatic, intentionally letting go of images and entering into a vast stillness. 


The value of Keating’s contribution is for us to realize that we have little if any taxonomy or strategy for helping people encounter the reality of the “Be still and know that I am God” of Psalm 46.  I have asked pastor after pastor, numerous small group and spiritual formation pastors, how they help their people actually DO Psalm 46.10 and I have yet to find even one that has an answer.  This isn’t an indictment as much as it is an observation that we are big on action, small on being, high on energy and imagination, low on presence and emergence.  We love active mind, and know little of quiet mind.  While both are important and serve key functions, I have lacked far more of the latter in my life. 


The role of apophatic type approaches is critical to a genuinely post Guttenberg, post informational approach to spirituality and spiritual formation.