Friday, April 29, 2005

How cool is this? I just found out that this very blog is ranked #18 on Google . . . that is, for people searching for "Kumbya sheet music." Awesome. All my dreams are coming true.

posted by Steve at 9:05 AM
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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Healing for Palmer - check it out, get involved.

posted by Steve at 8:56 AM
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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More thoughts on doing church on multiple levels concurrently . . .

Chris Smith left a good comment (but for some odd reason it didn't tally the comment counter so check that out here and add your thoughts as you like. Anyway, he brought up something that has been rattling around in my head a little: "My one concern is the lack of commitment. I think it is possible to have deep commitments to both groups . . ."

I may have poorly worded the part of not committing to either what's going on in the home or what's going on in the church we may attend for corporate worship gatherings. As it turns out, I'm glad about the poor wording because it forced me into revisiting what I'm really trying to work through. I am definitely big on committing to people - wherever they may gather. Being with people in a real way is the point of all this. I'm more hesitant when it comes to committing to the form.

When Michelle and I were talking about this stuff, we came to a question that goes something like this: What if all, or at least most, of the people gathering in the home were gathering with the same church body for worship and that church wanted to recognize it as a more or less official group of the church (sort of like a home/small/cell group)? While I don't have any interest in this becoming an issue of territory that I feel a defensiveness about, I also have mixed feelings about something organic being co-opted by something less so.

I don't have the time at the moment to flesh this out more or poke it around myself, but that leaves room for you, my friends. Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

posted by Steve at 8:33 AM
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Monday, April 25, 2005

Yesterday was a good day 'round here . . . but we didn't happen to "go to" church. Michelle and I each spent time with people we share faith with, but we did so in a different context than a gathering of people who follow Jesus who do their gathering for the specific purpose of worshipping together. It's actually only the second Sunday since we moved here that I wasn't at such a gathering. That's o.k.

But what we did yesterday may have been a step toward something that we've sort of been kicking around a little bit lately. Ever since we began our church/theological shift, or deconstruction, or whatever, we have been influenced by and have come to admire the ideals of the house/simple/organic church scene. And yet it's been a difficult one for us to fully embrace. I won't go into all the things we love vs. all the things we love less about our fellow followers who organize in that way. I'll just say that on a pragmatic level, something hasn't clicked with us, and that o.k. The other side of the coin is that we have had increasingly greater difficulty embracing more commonly organized churches - the kinds you see who meet in large buildings that they own and the kinds you see who rent space for their gatherings (schools, community centers, coffee shops, etc.). I won't go into all the things we love vs. all the things we love less about our fellow followers who organize in that way either. I'll leave it at this - there are things about both streams (as well as some of the hybrids of the two we've seen) that we identify with, but we have trouble embracing either form at this point.

The unstated "rules" seem to be that a legitimate follower of Jesus needs to commit to one of those streams in order to be dialed into true community. I understand the value of those rules, but something still doesn't click. It may be that we have become the kinds of "consumers" of church that we've railed against for the past few years - the kind that go shopping for the best worship or the best teaching or the most fragrant incense or the best coffee or the best pot lucks. I don't think so, but I'm willing to be challenged in that way.

So what we've begun experimenting with is the thought that maybe we could participate in both streams without formalizing a commitment to either. Here's what that might look like: we develop a weekly or bi-weekly gathering of followers and friends who just hang out and have dinner together. This gathering would be intentional in the areas of encouragement and sharing life stories, and unintentional, but welcoming in the areas of prayer, common reading and/or study of scripture, and communion. Meanwhile, we also regularly participate in the gatherings of a church or churches for the specific purpose of prayer, learning, and giving. Practically speaking, I tend to think that we'd end up being more personally committed to the people in the "dinner club" than the church/churches we attend, but that's neither here nor there to me right now. Some of fellow diners might be more comfortable formalizing their commitment to a regular church, and some might not even bothering attending at all. Both sets of friends would be encouraged to worship God and learn from him in all aspects of life.

Am I talking about planting a church without planting a church? Maybe, maybe not. Again, just some thoughts we're kicking around. I'm open to discussion of the value and problem areas of this approach. Shoot me an e-mail or comment if you care.

posted by Steve at 5:10 AM
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Saturday, April 16, 2005

O.k., this is a brilliant response to some nonsense, which I've already grumbled about. Andrew Jones introduced me to the world of blogging . . . and as a result, I've been introduced to many friends who have been my true community as I've painfully rethought what my faith is all about.

posted by Steve at 3:23 PM
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Monday, April 11, 2005

Interesting weekend around here. Super busy, but productive, fulfilling, and helpful. Michelle and I got to hang out and talk with our next door neighbor yesterday, while watching our dogs play (as long as you consider 25mph collisions, rolling in dirt and pine needles, and then jumping up on us play). Pretty wacky stuff, but it turns out that we know some similar folks. I'll elaborate another time. For now, it's good to be getting to know some new friends. In a couple weeks I get to help out with a landscape project they're working on, so I'm looking forward to that.

Last night, Michelle and I spent time with the Quest community of faith. Good times. This was our first chance to hang out and worship with a simple community since moving here.

We still don't know the ultimate reason we were supposed to move up here from SoCal, but more and more we're sure that we did the right thing and we are supposed to be here. We know that we might not ever know the why, but we're enjoying the where. We miss family and friends a lot, but even that has been a good experience of growth.

Peace to you this week.

posted by Steve at 8:18 AM
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Friday, April 08, 2005

O.k., seems like there's more and more talk going 'round about the whole leadership thing - particularly church leadership. Two things are striking me as ironic here . . .
1. We're engaging this important topic during the same week as an important church leader's death is being mourned by many millions around the world. How do events in the global Church impact our current discussion, even though many of us are in a different stream?
2. In the midst of all our critical talk about the focus we place on leaders, it looks like we're still focusing on the leaders. Is it possible that in order to regain proper balance in our leaders we need to actually spend more time talking about, and especially with the people we lead?

posted by Steve at 8:25 AM
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Monday, April 04, 2005

About nine or ten years ago Michelle and I took a vacation and ended up for a day or so in Napa Valley, California. Until that time, I wasn't much of a wine drinker. But after a couple of stops in at the wineries, we began to explore the world of wine. We're still complete novices, but we have developed in our tastes and can appreciate some well made wine. It's been a lot of fun, but unfortunately, the more refined we become in our tastes, the more expensive this hobby becomes - partly because we drink it more frequently, and partly because we no longer like the cheaper wines that used to satisfy us just fine.

A funny thing has happened in the wine industry since we began our enjoyment of it. Like just about every other industry I can think of, wine production has been significantly altered by technological advancement. One thing in particular that has begun to shift is in the sealing of wine bottles. It used to be that all decent wine was sealed with a cork. Duh. Only the cheap stuff that tasted like kerosene was sealed with a screw cap. We used to joke about the bums on the street corner with their cheap screw capped wine bottles. Well, as it turns out, the good 'ol screw cap has come upon a time of redemption.

Indeed, it is the cork that has become the target of attack for many enophiles. With corked wine bottles, there is always some degree to which a few bottles are spoiled, or "corked", because an air-tight seal has not been created. This causes wine that tastes more like vinegar. As you can imagine, this doesn't set well with people who have just paid good money for good wine. Especially if it is an expensive and/or old wine that may have been anticipated for years.

Enter the screw cap. Consistently good, air tight seal. And now some higher end wine makers have made the "bold" move to produce screw capped wines. Fewer and fewer people are arguing in favor of the superiority of corks when it comes to preserving the intended flavors of the wine. So why is it bold to make the change? And why are the vast majority of wines sold still sealed with cork?

Resistance to change.

Wine makers know that a whole culture has developed around wine corks. If you go to Brookstone you'll find that some of the hottest gifts they sell are wine opening kits, in other words, fancy corkscrews. If you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant and order a bottle of wine, you'll find that there is a whole etiquette around the ordering, presentation, inspection, opening, and tasting of the wine. I've watched rookie waiters with beads of sweat on their foreheads hoping to open the bottles well without breaking the corks.

With screw caps, everything changes . . . everything except for the wine, that is (oh yeah, that is the important part). I must admit, as someone who enjoys the experience of wine, the screw cap phenomenon does take a little getting used to. A couple of weeks ago, Michelle and I had dinner at an Italian restaurant, and ordered a bottle of wine. When the waiter came back and presented it for inspection, everything looked fine, and so he unwrapped the foil at the top of the bottle, and with a turn of the wrist unscrewed the cap. I joked with him that he had very good technique, but I could tell that even he felt a little awkward about it.

And so it has come to be, that what we used to joke about as a mark of inferiority has now become a mark of distinction. Soon enough the culture will change, and we'll begin to notice that our corkscrews are gathering dust. Waiters in fining dining establishments will have some snappy new way of cranking the caps.

But again, the important thing - the thing driving the change is that what's under the caps will be more consistently good than it is now. People will realize that their cultural hang-ups about the format on the outside are just that. Wine snobs will still be wine snobs.

So in wine terms, is the emerging church thing simply a change in format - one that improves the consistency, but doesn't fundamentally alter what's inside? Just something I was thinking about.

By the way, I haven't seen Sideways . . . but I do like Pinot Noir. Also, our new home is exactly 2.2 miles from Wine Enthusiast's Winery of the Year for 2004. And across the street from that is another good winery. And next door to that is a fine place for some good beer.

posted by Steve at 1:13 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 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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