Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Yahoooooo, Michelle and I saw The Two Towers last night. Wow, what a great job they did - amazing, really. Peter Jackson and company absolutely nailed the character of Gollum/Smeagol - I truly can't imagine how they could have done better.

So many things going through my feeble mind about the movie right about now. I think I need to keep processing before I go spoutin' off, though.

posted by Steve at 1:56 PM
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Monday, December 30, 2002

December 30, 2002

YEMEN. Three of our IMB personnel were killed and another wounded on Monday, Dec. 30, when a lone gunman attacked a Baptist hospital in Jibla, Yemen. Hospital administrator Bill Koehn, purchasing agent Kathy Gariety, and physician Martha Myers were killed and pharmacist Don Caswell was injured in the early morning attack. A 35-year-old man surrendered to hospital security personnel and was taken into custody. "We are devastated by this news," said board spokesman Larry Cox. "We are moving quickly to assist family members. We're grateful God spared the lives of others and pray that His spirit will meet the needs of everyone touched by this crisis." As news of the attack spread, the streets outside were filled with local residents, said Kaye Rock, another Southern Baptist worker at the hospital. "People here loved these people so much," Rock said. The murders won't deter Americans at the hospital from their ministry, Rock said. "We can't let someone with a gun make us afraid to do what God wants us to do. We're asking people to pray that these deaths will not be a senseless waste, but that God will complete all He has intended here and that He will be glorified."

Thank you so much for being on call and instantly responsive to this need and all urgent prayer requests.

posted by Steve at 2:17 PM
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Hoooweee, it's been awhile since I blogged. I guess that's o.k., with the holidays and all. The past week has been pretty quiet actually. Michelle and I had a good, fairly typical Christmas - her parents throw a big party every Christmas Eve (I'm usually late because of our Christmas Eve service at church). Lots of friends that we don't see much throughout the year. Laughed a lot. Enjoyed hanging out. On Christmas day we went to my sister's place for more family fun. Watching the nephews enjoy the excitement of Christmas is a hoot. My four year old nephew, Evan, is getting pretty funny to watch and listen to.

The day after Christmas, we went to see Catch Me If You Can. Pretty fun film. The rest of the weekend was just cleaning the house and hanging out being quiet. Michelle and I had some good conversations (uncomfortable at times, but good) over coffee . . . coffee brewed with the new super-deluxe Cuisinart® Grind & Brew Thermal™ 10-Cup Automatic Coffeemaker that Michelle's folks gave us for Christmas. What will they think of next?

posted by Steve at 1:45 PM
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Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Merry Christmas everyone!

posted by Steve at 2:12 PM
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Monday, December 23, 2002

Michelle and I had a "fun" conversation the other day. It was about some of the good ministry ideas and perspectives that I've put into effect at the church . . . and have totally bombed. I'm not being sarcastic when I say they're good ministry ideas and perspectives - it's just that they weren't right for this church. Few things that I think of or about are - it's almost comical, really. I'm realizing more and more, though that I am really the one that is out of step. So many good hearted people that I love deeply, and I'd never want to hurt any of them, but ultimately if I stay here I will end up hurting them - it's me who needs to go. When I do go, it will be a celebration for all of us, and not because we're ridding ourselves of each other. It will be a sweet parting of ways enlightened by new avenues and opportunities for faith and growth for each of us.

posted by Steve at 12:56 PM
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Michelle and I had the great pleasure of going to the Matthew's House Christmas Connection last night. It was really cool - a great feast, meaningful worship, and a mini mural got painted which was awesome. People were encouraged to bring a gift to give to the King of Kings, and each gift that was shared was special. I had only met a few of the people before, but we felt embraced and loved in a wonderful way. A few people shared that they have been praying for us, which was really encouraging. I love being a part of the Church, and being able to unite with complete strangers almost instantly because of our citizenship in the Kingdom.

posted by Steve at 12:22 PM
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Sunday, December 22, 2002

Seems like some of the postmodern deconstructionist thinking has come full circle for some people out there, and the notion of blogging is being questioned. I've read people challenging their own reasons for blogging, challenging others' reasons for blogging, defending the credibility of blogging, etc. Deconstructing all this stuff is good and helps distill motives and values . . . as long as people are actually willing to be deeply honest with themselves.

I read a post a few months back from one of the hottest new bloggers on the block lamenting that his daily hit count had dropped from about 1,200 per day to only about 500 per day. Poor guy. If his motive is to get as many hits as possible, then perhaps he should consider some marketing strategies.

I read another post the other day from someone forecasting that the end may be near for his blog. I guess it bores him. Fine, I guess. Except for the fact that he has argued very effectively and consistently for the communal nature of the blogging world. If it is legitimate community, is it good to pull the plug? Perhaps he's feeling the pressure of all the people out there that look to him daily for his new thoughts and links. I get that (not from personal experience, mind you), but when you've promoted blogging and defended blogging and helped to define some of the possibilities of blogging, it may be important to ask about the nature of responsibility that you now have because of it. You don't have to be tied to it indefinitely, but try posting only once a day or every other day instead of fifteen times a day.

Let this be very clear - I'm not trying to get on a soap box, because I have a LOT of screwed up thoughts and motives myself. And if I'm as honest about motives as I am challenging others to be, then I have to admit that one of the reasons I'm taking others to task is in order to deconstruct my own inner blogger.

Do I want people to read my blog? My initial response is that I don't really care much. O.k., so why don't I just open up my word processor and keep a journal there? Why do I feel the need to have a public site to gush into? Because, yes, I do want others to read. I'm not looking for a daily hit count that exceeds the number of dollars I make in a month. Heck, I'd be happy with a hit count that exceeded the number of dollars it takes to buy a ticket to an NFL game. I would think I'm famous . . . and then I'd start feeling pressure and want to stop blogging. Actually, my desire for others to read is to get some help sorting out my thoughts and questions and opinions on some things. The more, the merrier. If I want more hits (and I'm not sure that I really do), then I'll work harder to generate thoughts worth reading. If I want to start more conversations in the blogosphere, then I'll start pushing more buttons or telling more jokes or spending more time daily posting links.

One of the primary motives for my blog is to force myself to do some thinking "out loud." When I have random thoughts rattling around in my brain, I usually lack the discipline to articulate them in a way that leads me anywhere. This is my domain for articulation. I wish I had other outlets for this - other safe places, but God has me in a context where many of my thoughts and opinions would so offend people that it would be divisive. It's good to learn to control my mouth . . . but I also need an outlet to say things like "We need to take the American flag out of our church's sanctuary" and "Our church choir sucks" and "My home group is the only aspect of my present experience of church that remotely resembles real community."

More thoughts later. Until now, please join me in my new campaign to make Spirit Famer the hot new blogger on the block. Thank you for your support.

posted by Steve at 6:39 AM
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Wednesday, December 18, 2002

This is the last week of my senior pastor's sabbatical, so things may begin to loosen up a little in my schedule . . . except for the fact that the next couple of weeks are holiday weeks, and those are always a bit off in terms of consistency. I'm not sure what "it" is, but something seems to have broken through in me in the past couple of weeks. My head is in a better place, I'm making wiser choices, I'm more hopeful and relaxed in certain ways. I can't say I'm significantly aware of the fact that it's Christmas time though, because I feel like I'm kinda going through the motions, with the exception of writing the Advent reflections for our weekly candle lightings. I guess if I'm only aware of a little bit, that's the right stuff to be aware of.

I'll say this about these days of sabbatical for my friend: thanks to his down time, now I feel like I need some. I doubt I'll get any around here, but no worries, I'll be on a cruise ship in a few weeks. It won't be all play, but it won't be all work, either. I just hope the whole cruise ship illness epidemic is over.

I read the first chapter of The Divine Conspiracy this morning . . . slowly. Good stuff. I can tell already that this is the kind of book I'll need to come back to every so often for a fresh take and a renewed perspective.

posted by Steve at 10:40 AM
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Tuesday, December 17, 2002

I just had to be like everybody else . . .

. . . so I went and got a copy of The Younger Evangelicals by Robert Webber. I also got a copy of what I've heard is an absolute classic, but something I've never read - The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. I also tried to buy a Thomas Merton book, but sadly the Christian bookstore folks gave me a dazed look when I asked where the Thomas Merton section was . . . never heard of him. Ouch!! If I were Alan Creech, I'd be steamin' mad right now!

posted by Steve at 4:18 PM
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Sunday, December 15, 2002

Had a good time visiting some good friends yesterday. Steve and Christina are way cool people . . . lots of fun to hang with. We don't get to see them much because they live up in Temecula, about an hour north of us. We ate Mexican food, had coffee, and watched The Nightmare Before Christmas. They couldn't believe I had never seen it, so they went and grabbed it out of their enourmous DVD collection. I'm a big Danny Elfman fan (I was an Oingo Boingo geek in high school), so I loved the music. Anyhoo, one of the coolest parts of the day was that Steve and Christina trusted me enough to let me drive their awesome new Mini Cooper - it rocked!

posted by Steve at 9:04 AM
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Saturday, December 14, 2002

O.k., I'll admit it . . .

I'm getting a little jealous. The Allelon gathering in Idaho in January sounds like it's gonna be a really great gathering . . . but I doubt I'll get to go. A few things stand in my way. First - I'll just have returned from the Acts 29 bootcamp, so getting time off might be a little sticky. Second - money for a plane ticket and expenses. Third - oh yea, I haven't been invited, and it's kind of an invite-only deal. Oh well.

posted by Steve at 11:09 AM
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My wife's boss . . .

I had a good conversation with Michelle this morning over our Saturday coffee. We were talking about church stuff and life. In terms of a church planting direction goes, I think we're both settled that this is very likely what our future holds. When and how that will start is not as clear. As we were talking, I continued to touch on some of my difficulties in knowing which "stream" of church experience is best for me at this point. I operate from the starting point that church must represent who we are as a body of Christ followers, and not as a set of behavioral norms, i.e. whether we meet weekly in a home together or we meet in this large building in the middle of town together. I honestly like many aspects of both house church life and larger corporate church life.

The question that always comes up for me, though, is how do I go about inviting someone like Michelle's boss into a transforming conversation . . . and do so without coming across as selling him something. He's a really cool guy - very intelligent, savvy, hip, funny, and genuine. The obvious answer is to just live a "real" life alongside him, yada, yada, yada. But whether I start a house church (or a network of house churches) or a larger corporate worship-based community church, at some point, I'll want to somewhat overtly invite him to join the journey. How will that happen? I think that's where the question of format comes in. What are people likely to be most responsive to? Some people like spending time with friends in a bar with a band playing every Friday night. Some people like to just hang out at home playing cards or watching videos together. My questions continue, but it may ultimately evolve into "becoming all things to all people in order that some might be saved."

posted by Steve at 10:58 AM
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Wednesday, December 11, 2002

This article over at next-wave is stirring up quite a mess in the blogosphere. My take? Funny stuff. My take on the "dialogue" in response to the article? LIGHTEN UP, PEOPLE!! If we turn into a humorless band of geeks who are unwilling to accept critique, we will prove ourselves to be the reactionary unoriginal whiners we've been accused of. Let's quit taking ourselves so seriously and move forward.

I've noticed that some of us "postmoderns" are often smug and look down our collective nose at fellow members of the body of Christ. I am guilty of this and ashamed of my pride.

posted by Steve at 7:06 AM
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Monday, December 09, 2002

O.k., gotta make this quick. I'm being led to go on a hiking trail up a mountain that overlooks my house. I'll be doing some planning and writing up there.

My lunch with Todd Hunter on Friday was a mellow, good time. That guy is a real encourager - so open to others and really really honest. And man, he's smart too!

He asked me to share my story with him and as I talked, he'd stop me to ask clarifying questions that often led to rabbit trail discussions that he's done some serious thinking about. Eventually he just asked me why I wanted to meet with him. I told him I was looking for some help in knowing the right questions to be asking at this point in my thinking about church planting. So we talked for awhile about those questions. For now, though, he just encouraged me to ask and thoroughly answer the simple question of "Why?" What is it about my experience of church, life, Jesus, non-believers, that causes me to think in these terms? He told me to focus on bringing in the emotional aspects of my thought life - what makes me mad about church right now, what fires me up about my vision, what frustrates me, etc. Very simple questions, but crucially important for me to articulate at this point.

We had a little discussion about the whole entrepeneurial personality thing too. He kinda snubbed the notion that one must have entrepeneurial drive to "succeed" at church planting. Especially in the emerging culture. He said, "Now, if you are trying to go plant a mega-church, then yes, I'd agree that you need to be pretty entrepeneurial." Fortunately, a mega-church doesn't appeal to me in the least.

We also talked a little about Acts 29 Network, and the bootcamp that Michelle and I are going to in January. He said the same thing that several others have said to me about them (including an Acts 29 pastor) . . . they seem like pretty good people, as long as you don't mind them being pretty adamant about their Reformed theology. Point well taken. At this point, I am willing to listen and filter through the Reformed stuff for the sake of getting a picture of the Acts 29 vision for church planting. I respect them for being so intentionally theological in their approach . . . even if I may not line up with their theology to the letter. After talking to Todd and hearing about what Allelon is doing, I'm thinking that I might find better long-term company with that network, but that part comes later . . . much later.

See there? Famous last words - "O.k., gotta make this quick."

posted by Steve at 9:52 AM
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Thursday, December 05, 2002

posted by Steve at 10:42 PM
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Tomorrow I'm driving to Orange County to have lunch with Todd Hunter. I first met and interacted with Todd earlier this year at Seed Stories. I feel honored that he would take the time to spend with me. I hope to hear more about what he's got cookin' with the Allelon thang. Maybe I'll have some interesting things to blog about later.

posted by Steve at 3:21 PM
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A few more thoughts on being an entrepeneur . . .

+Alan commented on my post from the other day about rethinking the whole deal of being a lead pastor, and a one man show, etc. A hearty amen to that. I don't want to close myself off from the potential benefit of these assessments that will tell me whether or not I have the "right" personality makeup to plant a church successfully, but I have a feeling that the benefits will be of a different nature than the bootcamp folks may intend.

It is almost comical to me that whether or not I'm entrepeneurial should have anything to do with the success of a church plant. If I do plant a church, I really hope it looks a lot more like Ben & Jerry's than Microsoft. When Ben & Jerry's first started out, it was within the environment of a dairy co-op in Vermont. I mean, heck - just the name Ben AND Jerry's shows you that it wasn't a one man show. And then there's Microsoft . . . the cult of Bill Gates' personality. I know I don't have the personality to do that . . . for which I am eternally grateful.

posted by Steve at 3:12 PM
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Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Spirit Farmer goes Cross-Cultural . . .

Click here to see me speaking in togues. Not bad for a Baptist, eh?

Some tool that's probably been available for years, but I just didn't know it.

posted by Steve at 4:30 PM
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Last night I took a career interests inventory that is aimed at determining an "Entrepreneurial Attributes Scale" (EAS) score. I was asked to take it as a part of the preparation for the church planting bootcamp that Michelle and I are going to with Acts29. I did some graduate work in psychology, so I'm pretty familiar with these inventories, and they're usually really interesting to me.

The results of the inventory confirmed what I have always said about myself. My EAS score was 30. What's that mean? Well, it means I rank in the 2nd percentile for being similar to business professionals with entrepeneurial attributes. People have often asked me if I ever wanted to be a Sr. Pastor in a church, and I've always told them, "I don't think I'm entrepeneurial enough to be a Sr. Pastor."

So what the heck am I doing thinking about church planting??? There are a few possible answers to that. One is that maybe I shouldn't be thinking about it! Another is that I may be in a better position to plant a church because I'm not entrepeneurial enough for it - first, because I don't want it to ever be said that a church succeeded or failed because of my abilities - God has to be the driving force and energy behind everything, not me; and second, because the community I want to be a part of is about the community itself, and not simply the dynamic attributes (or lack thereof) of its pastor. That's actually one of my bigger beefs with what the church has become in North America - it's too much like a business in the way it operates structurally, financially, in its marketing, and its vision.

Another answer is that maybe I don't need to be the lead pastor of a church plant. I would be happy to join others in their journey in such a way that it also becomes my (and our) journey.

I understand why these assessments are helpful tools for church planting processes, so I'm glad to submit to them, but it'll be interesting to see how these inventories are incorporated into the bootcamp.

posted by Steve at 8:42 AM
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Monday, December 02, 2002

Hey, I just learned that Doug Pagitt started a blog. He works with Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis. Cool guy. Good thinker. Organic (but not necessarily in the house church sense).

posted by Steve at 1:37 PM
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spirit farmer data

I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at SpiritFarmer.com. 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: spiritfarmer@gmail.com

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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