Friday, May 30, 2003

In the CD player: Live, Birds of Pray

posted by Steve at 9:13 AM
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Thursday, May 29, 2003

I had a good time at a meeting yesterday - a bunch of church planters from my denomination who are working in the San Diego area. I had been looking forward to meeting Evan from Coastlands Church in Pacific Beach, and was not disappointed. He's got a cool vibe and loves his place in life. The other person I had looked forward to meeting is Linda Bergquist - she is from the San Francisco area, and works for the denomination up there. After following a link to the ReImagine site I found on Jason Evans' blog, I wanted to ask Linda if she was familiar with the Equilibrium event they have planned for October. Silly me . . . she's one of the facilitators. As it is currently set up, it looks like there's a little overlap issue with Soularize in Boston, though. Decisions, decisions . . .

posted by Steve at 12:44 PM
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Monday, May 26, 2003

Kinda tired right now . . . tiring holiday weekend here. Good stuff mostly, but definitely tiring. On Saturday I felt the need to outdo myself from last weekend (I waxed my truck), so I went after some weeds. Now, you have to realize that our house sits on an acre and a half, which must mean I have something close to an acre worth of weeds. And when I say weeds, I'm talking about beasts that are taller than I am. Yea, so between my weed whacker and my father-in-law's line trimmer, I knocked out a good bit, but whew!!

Yesterday we visited some close friends of ours up in Temecula, about an hour north of us. We had dinner, celebrated a birthday, and went to see Reloaded. Our friends didn't like the movie so very much, but I think I did.

Just got home a few minutes ago from being on top of an extension ladder at the in-laws. Just a little sattelite TV repair work. Before that, we hung out at the Evans place for a little BBQ fun. Actually, it was a lot of BBQ fun. Their community of faith is really cool - good folks who know how to enjoy God and one another in the middle of their lives.

posted by Steve at 4:51 PM
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Friday, May 23, 2003

While at the gym today, I read two different pieces of literature that seemed to flow together nicely. They are in tension with one another - one speaking of how fake men can be in our world, and the other speaking of the problem of too much transparency.

Piece of literature #1:
How about sports? A few years ago I volunteered to coach for my son's baseball team. There was a mandatory meeting that all coaches needed to attend before the season, to pick up equipment and listen to a "briefing." Our recreation department brought in a retired professional pitcher, a local boy, to give us all a pep talk. The posing that went on was incredible. Here's a bunch of balding dads with beer bellies sort of swaggering around, talking about their own baseball days, throwing out comments about pro players like they knew them personally, and spitting (I kid you not). Their "attitude" (that's a tame word for it) was so thick I needed waders. It was the biggest bunch of posers I've ever met . . . outside of church.

That same sort of thing goes on Sunday mornings, its just a different set of rules. Dave runs into Bob in the church lobby. Both are wearing their happy faces, though neither is happy at all. "Hey, Bob, how are ya?" Bob is actually furious at his wife and ready to leave her, but he says, "Great, just great, Dave. The Lord is good!" Dave, on the other hand, hasn't believed in the goodness of God for years, ever since his daughter was killed. "Yep - God is good, all the time. I"m just so glad to be here, praising the Lord."

Piece of literature #2:
I remember reading No One Here Gets Out Alive when I was in tenth grade, and that made me want to write. I have always, since I was fouteen years old, written things in my journals, and have always been very protective of things that I put down on paper. I have a hard time committing my personal feelings and my deepest, darkest secrets to a place where someone will be able to obtain them . . .

. . . I think the modern, contemporary treatment of rock stars on MTV and the voyeuristic world of Reality TV are a great threat to anyone who wants to retain any sort of value throughout history. My whole life, I have tried to steer clear from "behind the scenes" things. They take away from the power of what you do. If you start explaining your tricks, then you are a !@#$%^ magician. I'm watching all these other people piss away what could be great works of art by going on
Cribs. You can be legendary for not doing anything because of this voyeuristic culture that we live in. You can be famous for "surviving" something, or for marrying a millionaire, or for being a victim of a crime. It's a strange time that we are in now.

The first item came from Wild At Heart, by John Eldredge.

The second item came from an article called "The Dead Rock Star", published in the May 15, 2003 edition of Rolling Stone. It was written by Marilyn Manson.

posted by Steve at 3:12 PM
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Thursday, May 22, 2003

I guess I never spent enough time in the whole bar scene trying to pick up chicks . . .

I've been wrestling with my thoughts about evangelism lately. I really prefer a non-linear approach to discipleship (which includes pre-conversion experiences). But the part I seem to really suck at is meeting new friends that I can invite to join me as I follow Jesus.

Perfect example: I was headed for a coffee shop the other day, and I had myself all psyched up to just talk to whoever it was that I was sitting near - just talk, not "sell" anything to. So I walk in behind this college student looking dude (the backpack and monstrous "History of Art" textbook were my big clues . . . oh yea, and the coffee shop is across the street from a state university) and he sets his stuff down at a table, then gets in line to order. I'm thinking, "Oh yea, here it is - this guy would rather talk to me than read about art history," so I set my stuff down at the table next to his and I go to order. I had my opening lines all mapped out - "Art history, huh?" or "How do you think God feels about you looking at all those paintings of naked women?" or "Have you heard of the four spiritual laws?" It was gonna be great! (By the way, this is a pretty good illustration of why I had to go to church to meet my wife). O.k., o.k., I know you're all on the edge of your computer desk chairs waiting to see what happened. Well, actually nothing happened at all. By the time I got my coffee and went back to my table, the dude had picked up his backpack and art book and moved to the opposite side of the shop . . . I guess he did want to read about art history! Go figure.

Maybe I need to join a bowling league or something.

posted by Steve at 8:01 AM
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Tuesday, May 20, 2003

The basic principle of lectio divina is that bible reading is a personal encounter with God, a communion which resembles (though different from) the communion of the Eucharist. This goes against what has prevailed in our Church for some centuries: the text was seen as containing a message - doctrinal or moral - and once we got the message, the text had achieved its purpose. In lectio divina, we love the text, linger over it, read it over and over, let it remain with us.

from Lectio Divina - Sacred Reading, A Method of Bible Reflection
by Michel de Verteuil

posted by Steve at 7:13 AM
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Sunday, May 18, 2003

Yesterday, Michelle and I went to the first of four weddings we'll be going to over the next several weeks (no funerals planned as yet). It was held at our old church, and naturally, lots of our friends were there, all anxious to hear how things are going for us. That's cool. But while we were there, it happened again . . . several times, in fact. I was asked if I had gone to the Billy Graham thing that was in San Diego last weekend. When I tell people that no, I didn't go, I get these blank stares back at me - not hostile, mind you, but definitely a little perplexed. Kind of like the look I would get if I was ever discovered to not be reciting the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag (but that's another post).

I don't have anything against Billy Graham - I think he's been faithful in many ways, and has certainly had a large impact. I'm just thinking that his kind of impact is dying away. It's not my cup of tea.

posted by Steve at 5:04 PM
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Friday, May 16, 2003

My head's still crunching away, agitated at this meeting I had the other day with a local pastor, who had planted a church eleven or twelve years ago in one of the 188 or so suburbs of San Diego. The meeting was not my idea, but I'm always willing to listen to some advice and get pointers from people who have been where I'm going. I'm beginning to rethink that openness. I almost feel guilty about having met with this guy - mainly because he's very busy, and it was an almost total waste of time for me, and I'm sure he'd say the same. We spoke different languages. His advice to me was along the lines of how big I'm going to have to grow my church in order to have enough programs for people. At one point, he started talking about the consumer culture that's all around us, and I thought we might be coming to a place where we could agree on something . . . but then he said, "Because it's such a consumer culture, we have to give people what they're expecting - programs." Somehow I think I kept my eyeballs from rolling back into my head, but it was hard. His church is getting ready to spend three million dollars . . . on a parking structure.

posted by Steve at 6:20 AM
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Wednesday, May 14, 2003

It's a busy week around here, for which I'm thankful. I've worked hard to keep myself busy since I've started the whole "being my own boss" thing. It's important to me that I not sit around too much. There is much work to be done for the new community.

Yesterday I got a chance to meet with a guy who does campus ministry at Cal State San Marcos. He was telling me about some of his good old days doing campus ministry at San Diego State University, UCLA and USC. He also served our denom. out in Nashvegas. There's a ton of wisdom there. And one of the things I most appreciate is that after working within our denomination for a long, long career, he still has a brain, he hasn't sold out to the machine, and he's still agitated at the right things. There may be hope for me yet.

After my meeting there, I cruised up to Orange County and hung out for a while with one of the lead pastors at South County United. Cool dude. They're doing a house church network thing, but with a very Orange County attitude - a little more slick and polished. It'll be interested to watch this group.

In other news, I'm beginning to get a bit of clarity on the physical location of our new community. My leadings to a location seem to be driven by the right things so far, so I think that's a good thing.

posted by Steve at 6:18 AM
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Friday, May 09, 2003

More thoughts on The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church . . . (this book is infecting me to the core)

In developing a mentality toward starting new communities of faith, we are not here to develop, adhere to, or promote a system or organization. We are here solely because we have experienced a fundamental and radical change personally. The change has brought hope into our lives. The change has brought security into our lives. The change has brought depth into our lives. The change has refreshed us in surprising, but profound ways.

We do not worship a creed, we worship a Creator. Our creed may hold importance to us, but only as an explanation of our experience. What creed could capture or compete with our personal knowledge of Jesus - the One who died to bring life to us, and free us from the law of sin and death.

We do not focus on format, because it ultimately does not matter. We focus on a person. Because of this, we can worship at all times and in all places.

When we come together, it is not for our sake alone, but for God. Yes, it is very good for us as well, and yes we do enjoy ourselves when we gather. But we are not the focus.

These thoughts are in response to Roland Allen's writing regarding our fear for doctrinal soundness when it comes to a spontaneous outbreak of the gospel. We (the power holders) worry and fret over whether something screwy will get taught by new believers because they're new believers. Oh yea, that's faith for ya! I have so much repenting to do, it rips me to shreds.

posted by Steve at 3:57 PM
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After a very long run of sporadic reading of Lesslie Newbigin's The Gospel and Pluralist Society, I finally finished yesterday. I should read it again. It's very insightful in so many ways. It's got some tedious parts, and some parts that are a bit heavy on the philosophy side, but hey, a little challenging reading never hurt anyone, right?

posted by Steve at 6:06 AM
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Thursday, May 08, 2003

I've been reading The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church by Roland Allen this morning. It is really messing with me in a good way. It talks about how foolish we have been in our missions efforts, and the degree to which we've hindered the spread of the gospel and the Church by many of our misguided efforts at helping. It is also an indictment of how we do church at home. We have generationally taught "our people" that they are incapable of teaching themselves and others without the outside "help" of trained and qualified teachers. In some corners "trained and qualified" means seminary, in others, it simply refers to a significant number of theological books read, or at least a substantial number of years of faith. Whenever we hear of a spontaneous outbreak of the gospel among the untrained and unqualified, we rush to the scene in order to encourage them by infusing a trained and qualified teacher or several. But by doing so we kill the fire of the Spirit by making the untrained and unqualified dependent upon "us" to provide for their needs (never realizing that it was the Holy Spirit that was providing for their needs just fine before we arrived on the scene). I think "we" have meant well, but we have failed to realize the implications of our efforts.

There's a lot more to chew on there. I'm gonna go keep reading now. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this stuff later - in particular how this stuff impacts my own role as a church planter. Thanks to Todd Hunter for turning me on to this book via his blog. Oh, and if you're interested in reading the book yourself, it's available as a pdf file [here]

posted by Steve at 7:29 AM
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Wednesday, May 07, 2003

My mom rocks . . .

I just got off the phone with one of my biggest heroes in life - my mom. She called to let me know she passed her written exam for the California Marriage & Family Therapist licensing process. It took her four hours. That, and 3,000 hours worth of counseling internship, a Master's degree, and a Bachelor's degree. She started all of these things after she turned 50. I'm proud of her for showing me how to learn and keep learning throughout life. Now all she has to do is sit for some oral exams, under the gun of the Board of Behavioral Science Examiners. She'll kick butt.

posted by Steve at 2:19 PM
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Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Cinco de Mayo yesterday, and I had breakfast at a Mexican restaurant with a casual friend. O.k., I'll admit it - I had breakfast there, but I had eggs and toast, and not the good Mexican food like Machaca or Chorizo. My friend is on staff with a ministry affiliated with Campus Crusade. It's kind of strange talking with him, because on one hand he says all the things you'd expect from a Campus Crusade guy - affectionate references to the "Four Spiritual Laws" and stuff like that - but on the other hand, he has a deep life passion for Jesus and for discipleship that expresses itself in some non-standard ways (at least by Campus Crusade standards). His specific ministry thrust is in helping churches develop discipleship, but not just as another program.

As we talked, I heard myself responding to something he said - "Discipleship isn't one of the things we do, it is the thing." Granted, discipleship is a term that carries a lot of baggage with it (just keep in mind who I was talking to), but really I've been chewing on that simple statement ever since. Not that it's profound or anything, but it's a captivating thought to me. All of our worship, discipline, learning, service to others, prayer, steps of faith - all of them are a part of just following Jesus. Nobody ever worshipped, served, prayed, or expressed more faith than Jesus. If I build my life around following him, I am a disciple. Oh, and then there's the thing about bringing others along for the ride. Discipleship - mine and others' - that's where my role in the Kingdom begins and ends. It's where movement is created.

posted by Steve at 7:26 AM
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Sunday, May 04, 2003

Got up this morning - Sunday morning - and didn't have a church to go to. Actually, that's not really true, but it did feel weird there for a while. Michelle and I went to a purpose driven type church out in Del Mar - mostly because I have a meeting later this week with the pastor. Then we went driving around for a while in the hills east of Del Mar, where they're building like, a gazillion new houses - most of which cost a little more than the gross national product of Thailand. Pretty depressing, really . . . but I won't go there today.

posted by Steve at 6:11 PM
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Thursday, May 01, 2003

Just a curious little aside . . .

I've noticed that several of the widely read, regularly posting bloggers out there have slowed their pace significantly over the past couple of weeks.

posted by Steve at 8:28 AM
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I have no clever way to begin this post. My life feels the same today as any other day so far, but I know I've entered a whole new reality. I'm no longer on staff with the "old" church, and now I begin following Jesus in a different sort of way.

I'm not sure I have the ability (or desire) to articulate the nostalgic/melancholy feelings I've got in walking away from the place I've called home for the past twelve years. So many good times and memories are there. Many painful ones too. I got a great gift there, though, that I get to keep - Michelle - they knew I needed her way more than they did, so they let me take here with me. I'm pretty pleased about that.

So instead of processing what I feel today, I'll just tell a little story that came out of the weekly prayer group of pastors that I've been a part of for the better part of two years now. Last week, through a strange twist of "divine appointments" we had a couple of new guys in the group. The group has always been pretty open to whoever in terms of denomination and doctrinal expressions - we're all some version of evangelical (whatever the heck that means anymore). Anyway, one of the new guys was asked to tell his story a little bit since nobody knew him, and as it turns out, he's part of the Matthew's House family of simple/organic/house churches. In fact, the specific church he is a part of meets in the home of a friend of mine. A couple of the pastors in the group have some baggage about house church people based on past interactions with them, so they quizzed this guy a little bit, and he spoke very well. He was honest about some of the negative aspects of the house church movement, but he shared about the fresh move of God's spirit within that arena of the Church. I was excited to make a new friend that day, and I'll be calling him to meet for coffee soon.

Yesterday the prayer group met once again, but it was smaller than usual - made up of the usual cast of characters there. One of the guys with some bad encounters with house church folks had seen the connection I had with the "new guy" from last week, so he started asking me if I'm going to plant house churches. I told him that some form of that was a possibility, and we had a good talk about it. When we got to the prayer time, I was very pleased to see the way God moved in our hearts. Five of us there - all a part of the "institutional church" - praying for the success of the house church movement, and for God to open up channels of dialogue, support, and cooperation between the house churches and the institutional churches in our area. I have no idea how the Father wants to lead us, but I keep getting little glimpses that show that many in the San Diego area are realizing that He's still in the captain's chair, and that's exactly how it needs to be.

posted by Steve at 8:17 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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