Sunday, June 30, 2002

As my wife and I were talking in the waning moments of consciousness late last night, I realized that in this world of many voices - some prophetic, some historical - that each is truly unique, and most are worth sharing . . . as long as they are honest. I find in this world of blogging that I'm stimulated by other writers and have the temptation to just rewrite what they have already written . . . but I hold back.

I think I have something called PIC - postmodern inferiority complex. I think and live my life within a certain framework and thought process, which most people these days refer to as postmodernism (even though I'm tiring of the term). But I serve within a ministry context of modernity. I want badly to change it, and regularly contribute my efforts toward change, but it is oh-so-slow. Usually I find myself dreaming of a better, fairer land where I can plant my Spirit Farm and be happy all my days - "Maybe then I'll really be able to join the postmodern club," I tell myself. Then I wake up to reality and face the fact that God has me where he wants me (at least for now), and he knows better than I do where I am to serve.

So my voice is a transitional voice. I still listen to and subscribe to the voices of the future. I still work around the voices of the past. These voices speak different languages. I guess what I really am is a translator, for now anyway. I hope to be more and more of a language teacher in the days ahead.

That's all

posted by Steve at 6:33 AM
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Saturday, June 29, 2002

I miss my sunrises.

For the better part of the last six years I've had a regular practice of rising very early in the morning to have some quiet, personal, alone time with God. I read my Bible, I write, I pray, I read a book that stimulates my spirit, I take photos of the outrageously cool sunrises that God puts together where I live. Due in part to my schedule, and in part to my laziness, I haven't had an early morning session in many weeks. I've still spent time with God in prayer, scripture, and personal worship, but not in the early hours. Not coincidentally (as far as I'm concerned), I've had a much harder time focusing, staying strong in my vision, discerning the Holy Spirit, and ministering to others. I was asked by a friend this week if he had done something to offend me, because he has perceived that I have been distant, shallow, sarcastic, and overall a bit cranky toward him specifically, and people in general. Ouch.

Believe me, I don't love the thought of recommitting myself to 4:00 and 4:30 morning wake-up calls from my alarm clock, but for me, that's what works. I'm not a morning person - frankly I'm barely a person that early - but God stirs me in a way then that he doesn't at other times of the day. God is worth the effort, even if I have to work a little harder to meet him. He valued me to go to great effort to establish a relationship with me . . . this isn't much compared to that.

That's all

posted by Steve at 12:16 PM
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Friday, June 28, 2002

Just read a funny blog post about Jesus of Lakeview. It got me thinking about the many misguided ways in which we attempt to represent Jesus to a world that doesn't quite get it yet. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, jargon, music, books. Most of us do this in superficial ways so that we won't actually ever have to say with our own words, "I am a follower of Jesus." It's so much easier to hand someone a CD and hope they don't throw it away after listening to how awful the music is before they get a chance to hear the lyrics.

At various points in my life, I've been guilty of all of the above ways of "communicating my faith," and none of them has ever produced for me a legitimate conversation that has caused someone to rethink the way they do life. I had some great talks with my former neighbor while we were pouring concrete for a retaining wall, though . . . and I think I was wearing a San Diego Padres t-shirt.

That's all

posted by Steve at 9:26 AM
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Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Yesterday I called a local campus ministry guy, Milton, to get some information on a Collegiate Summit he's doing next month in San Diego. I had briefly met him once before, and his wife twice before. Nice folks - been in the college ministry thing a long time. Anyway, after chatting for a few minutes on the phone and exchanging our respective histories in working with college/young adult ministry, Milt asked me if I'd consider speaking at one of the general sessions at the summit. It'll be with non-freshman college students, and is supposed to be something about living life as a Jesus follower on a college campus. Sounds wide open to me . . . and something I'd like to do. This might be a good testing ground for some ideas for my church sign campaign (see my post from 6/13).

I also had an engergizing talk with my pastor (friend, boss, neighbor) about my ordination process. He liked the game plan I had synthesized from some other sources, and even asked my permission to generalize it in order to make it the ongoing standard for ordination of all elders in our church. Now I get to dig in and make it happen!

posted by Steve at 6:05 AM
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Haven't posted for a few days here . . . a bit of a roller coaser of a few days.

Sunday was a first-hand experience of what Paul rails against in I Corinthians - one of those days where "your meetings do more harm than good." People sticking their noses where they don't belong, making political maneuvers, and generally just being arrogant and self-centered. Grrrr. This is why the modern church is failing. This is why I want nothing to do with it.

Monday I was seriously in a funk all day as I reflected on the travesty that I had lived through the day before. Fortunately, that evening I had a meeting with my corps of volunteers in student ministry and got a chance to paint a wild-eyed vision for how church could be if we ever fully owned our role as missionaries in this world. It's a vision not for the next one or four years (as student ministry vision tends to be), but forty years. As I spoke with passion, people caught little glimpses and got energized by it, which encouraged me, given that most of my volunteers will be long dead in forty years. We went on to talk about more immediately practical things, but I sensed a lingering excitement. After the pathetic meeting Sunday night, I needed a meeting that good.

On Tuesday morning in staff prayer, I shared briefly about the Monday meeting, and the vision that I had painted. Although I had shared this once before with the pastor, he seemed to latch on to it more, and asked me to write him a three paragraph e-mail outlining my vision. Instead, I wrote a four page document, which may have the makings of a pretty decent article. We'll see if it ever gets published!

posted by Steve at 5:49 AM
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Sunday, June 23, 2002

Momentum . . . a difficult thing to master. It goes beyond having a great idea and starting well. Keeping things in motion takes skill and consistent effort. Keeping something moving is still easier than restarting something that isn't moving at all.

Even things that are clearly moving in a bad direction are often easier to redirect toward a better place than starting up a dead object.

That's all.

posted by Steve at 9:48 AM
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Friday, June 21, 2002

We in the community of faith are temporal beings, who often take ourselves far too seriously. We mistakenly think that our lot in life is to carefully plot out each step and make sure we don’t blow it, or else life won’t turn out just right.

Kingdom reality demands that we stop looking at our feet as we walk, and look far ahead – farther ahead than we could ever hope to travel by foot, by automobile, or by airplane. When we look far enough down the road, life becomes less stressful, and our movement becomes much more free. We can breathe again. We live our lives as though we've already arrived.

posted by Steve at 7:57 AM
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Thursday, June 20, 2002

I met Jason Evans at Seed Stories last month. Cool guy doing house church ministry. I like him a lot. Why? Mostly because of the fact that since I met him, I've read some of his writing on next-wave and his blog, and have enjoyed it. What impresses me more than this, though, is that even in an open dialogue environment in which his thoughts would have been challenging and productive, he never thought so highly of himself that he needed to dominate the conversation. He was content to participate occasionally with his words, but consistently with his open listening. Good man.

posted by Steve at 1:16 PM
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Thoughts about community . . . 1. I don't always recognize it when I experience it - often because I'm so caught up in it that I don't try to create it. 2. It always sounds sweeter and smilier than it ever could be in reality. 3. No matter how frequently I experience it, I want more of it, with more people. 4. Sometimes the best approach to stimulating community is to sock someone in the nose**, then tearfully ask for forgiveness. Once you've both had a good cry, then a good laugh over it, you often have community. In a sense that's shallow, but recent experience has born that out.

**Disclaimer . . . no actual fellow community members were harmed in the writing of this blog through the application of fists to noses

posted by Steve at 9:09 AM
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Thursday, June 13, 2002

I passed it again on the road today . . . that new sign that the old church put out front. The one they are always changing to say stupid things like "God reads knee-mail" or some of those sayings from the famous "God" billboard campaign a few years ago. I wish one of the churches in town would just come right out and tell the truth one of these days . . . "It's a good thing God loves us, because we don't usually love each other" or "Having trouble sleeping? We can help!"

If I ever had my own church sign, I'd put random things on it like "Have you heard P.O.D.? Those guys rock!!" or "Why won't those telemarketers just leave us alone?" or "I hope the Chargers don't move to Los Angeles. That would be lame." If anybody out there has some good ideas for my sign, please e-mail me: maybe I'll start a blog with a list.

posted by Steve at 8:56 AM
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I love how God can give clarity to the mind and heart of a sincere person of faith. I especially love how this can happen through a biblical passage that has been read over and over, and then boom, there's an answer!

One of the exciting things about being alive now and ministering in this world of change is that "we" get to make things happen with a new set of rules, with a new set of values, and a new theology. We don't have to conform to old structures, even though we are at complete liberty to steal the good stuff from those structures we're abandoning. We ourselves don't have a clue what this thing we might refer to as postmodern ministry is going to look like in ten years, five years, or even two years. All we know is that something big is happening before our very eyes.

Wow! What insight! What depth! What profundity! Ummm, not really . . . my time with God this morning had me reading and meditating on Hebrews 11:8-10. Abraham's faith is celebrated because he trusted God enough to pick up everything he had and go live as a stranger in a strange land (even though that land was his by promise of God). He and his son and grandson lived in that land in tents, not buildings. Why would he live in tents instead of houses? ". . . he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God."

That's a great challenge to me and the emerging generation (what I like to call eGen, because I'm lazy). We don't - and shouldn't - look to the standard structures for God's promise. The truth is, we can't design a new system that will work, so why even try? Let's look for the place God has promised us - the city of which he is the architect and builder. That sounds like the kind of city that the gates of hell can't stand against.

That's all.

posted by Steve at 6:48 AM
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Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Just joined the postmodern theology discussion group.

posted by Steve at 3:36 PM
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My wife is at a conference in Orange County this week, so I went up and visited her for a day. We don't have HBO at home, so we turned it on at the hotel to see if there was a good movie on - nope. However, there was this documentary on: American Standoff: America Undercover. It's about the Teamsters Union and their struggle for strength. As the story unfolded (we didn't see the whole thing), some of the union members and leaders talk candidly about their problems - people abandoning the cause when they don't see immediate results, political infighting, lack of trust of leadership, concern for their well-being, fear that their cause might not be worth the struggle. At one point I turned to my wife and said, "This sounds exactly like the church these days." I'd like to see the show again to confirm that thought process.

So much of the time we in the church personalize and spiritualize experiences that are part of the human condition within our culture. We think that our problems are the church's fault or a leader's fault or something that is unique to our situation, when in reality we need to be checking our own hearts. At some points we will find that yes, it is the church's fault or a leader's fault, but more frequently, I think, we'll find that we share a large responsibility and it's just more comfortable to point the finger elsewhere and retreat into a "poor me" game.

posted by Steve at 12:00 PM
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Just discovered a cool online mag, Relevant.

posted by Steve at 10:18 AM
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Friday, June 07, 2002

I just read a great article on theooze by Jordan Cooper. He talks about the whole church website thing and the importance of having a good one. Otherwise it's like having a brochure you produced five years ago - how true. But I think the more important point he makes is that the church has to be willing to be honest: "If you aren't ready to allow people to say whatever they want to say about you, you aren't ready to have a website yet."

The biggest problem I see with this is that in order to have a great website, you either need a staff web designer/developer or a whole lot of money. Most churches have neither.

posted by Steve at 9:33 AM
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Wednesday, June 05, 2002

I wish my church's website looked half as good as the sites described in this story.

posted by Steve at 6:23 PM
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Tuesday, June 04, 2002

I just spent some time on ginkworld. Cool site.

I've decided I need to get more connected with my true community. I'll need to change the nature of this blog, though. Less head-case stuff, and more half-baked opinions that I can challenge myself and others with. I'll start linking to other sites more . . . like a couple of good articles I just read on ginkworld. The first is edgy - something I've been mocked for. The second is enlightening to the modernist church culture . . . and offensive to it.

That's all

posted by Steve at 1:17 PM
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Monday, June 03, 2002

This is from an e-mail my lovely wife, Michelle wrote me this morning . . .

"There are some real things you need to accomplish at [the church]. I think the largest and most important is your ordination. That is really where you need to focus your energy . . . By the end of the month you need to have an agreed upon document to follow through this process. Then you need to set your sights on fully completing that process by the end of the year. I really feel strongly about this course of action for you. You need to make that your number one priority for this month and be strong and firm . . . about this timeline."

posted by Steve at 1:47 PM
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In my last blog, I failed to mention that even though I seem to be moving in a distinctly different direction than the church, I am still excited for the church and happy to help them on their journey. I really do believe that they could experience growth and vitality in the very near future, and I'm happy to be along for the ride. I just don't see it as a ride I'll be a part of long term.

posted by Steve at 8:34 AM
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Sunday, June 02, 2002

It seems like a line has been drawn in the sand. My present church will do better to continue pursuing its current direction of ministry to a modern crowd in various states of transition to the postmodern. I, however, am hopelessly lost to the modern church, and therefore, will be of only limited value to my current place of ministry. I will help them in their transitional thoughts, but it's doubtful that I will do much beyond that. We are moving along different wavelengths - sometimes the paths will cross, but usually not. While they help transition people away from modernity, I will need to pursue a more distictly postmodern direction. I will do this without apology, realizing all the while that there will likely be a parting of ways soon. This is an uncomfortable thought because of my love for them, but it is inevitable.

posted by Steve at 10:41 PM
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It has been deeply meaningful to me in the past few weeks to see my wife become increasingly enthusiastic about the direction God has been leading me over the past year. It's not that she is more excited about me or my potential that means a lot, but that she is catching the vision for herself. It's good to have an advocate like that - a thoughtful and intelligent person who is on the same team.

posted by Steve at 5:26 AM
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Saturday, June 01, 2002

I don’t know the source of it, by I am feeling pressure. Pressure to stay in the game and play well by the rules. That pressure comes mostly from others who perhaps have the sense that I am more a part of the game than I actually am. However, I have my own internal pressure that makes me feel conflicted and confused. That pressure is to stand strong in my “loyal opposition” - my desire to move strongly in new directions with new results. I don’t want to sell out. I have a small fear, though, that I won’t be able to recognize it if I do sell out – that I’ll just wake up one realizing that I’ve bought into and committed myself to a system other than that which God had me set up for. I need more faith and more discernment to make wise decisions and choices. I need to talk less and listen more.

posted by Steve at 7:03 AM
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spirit farmer data

I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me:

seattle spots

victrola coffee
zoka coffee
university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard

sites i visit

off the map
nt wright

a few of the blogs in the feedreader

jason evans
joe boyd
kevin rains
alan creech
chris marshall
bill bean
eugene cho
jordon cooper
dwight friesen
john chandler
amy palmer
ryan bolger
rudy carrasco
ryan sharp
sings in the sunshine
rick bennett
scot mcknight
karen ward
alan hirsch
dan kimball
petey crowder

i'm reading it

colossians remixed
africa unchained

i finished reading it - 2007

generation me
jesus and the restoration of israel
god's continent
globalizing theology
gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
signs in contemporary culture
hit the bullseye
the politics of jesus
readings in christian ethics
toward old testament ethics
the kite runner
principles of conduct
velvet elvis
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
the starfish and the spider
a perfect mess
the world cafe
the new faces of christianity
leaving church
journeying in faith
the creed
transforming mission
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
personal knowledge

states i've spent time: 2007

british columbia
oh yeah, denmark, too

i wrote it

managing conflict in the 'new world'
music review: over the rhine
film review: bonhoeffer
music review: fighting jacks
film review: the passion of the christ
how reality tv changes lives
the best tv article you've ever read
corks & caps: a wine lover's story of change
america's idols
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic

i blogged it

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