Sunday, April 30, 2006

Telling the good story . . . Kingdom evangelism 101

As I was preparing a final project for one of my classes last week, I reviewed some notes I had taken from lectures by Todd Hunter. I don't want to quote or paraphrase here, lest I misquote or poorly phrase what he said, but just in quickly reading through that stuff, I got all worked up and excited about the grand story that we're a part of. Unfortunately, it's a story that doesn't go back far enough for so many of us. We talk about the good news of Jesus as though the reason that it's good is that we've been redeemed from sin and get to live life eternal. Yep, that's pretty good . . . but not good enough. WhachutalkinboutWillis?

You see, the better version of the good story we live is that God (being eternal and all) predated this thing we call sin. He predated the need for redemption. And life was good back then - like really really good. That part of the story is where the Kingdom stuff comes in and makes all the rest of the story make sense. If we are captivated by that, then our restoration to the Kingdom life becomes more than simply "all the crap that Jesus fixed when he died for our sins." God's intentionality from the beginning of time is what got worked out in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ . . . this story of ours didn't start with the Fall. As we recalibrate life around that eternal kind of story, it necessarily changes our view of evangelism and discipleship as separate things. When you marry those things together, your goal becomes life transformation into Christ-likeness, and not simply getting into heaven after you die.

Allow that richness to penetrate and enliven you this day.

Peace friends.

posted by Steve at 5:19 AM
link | 2 comments

Thursday, April 27, 2006

What the emerging church is all about . . . or at least what it's not

Andrew Jones linked me to a podcast (actually it's broken up into three) of a debate between Doug Pagitt and Bob Dewaay regarding the emerging church, which I went and listened to (sans iPod, mind you).

It revealed something I found interesting. Pagitt spoke from a fairly generic perspective and, I thought, did a good job of talking about the emerging church "movement" as a whole. In his responses, though, Dewaay kept firing open Pagitt's books and reading quotes that he found troubling, and going on to say why. Several times, Pagitt had to clarify that those quotes were his own, and not necessarily representative of the emerging church, even though he's a "member" of it. It brought to mind D.A. Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (as did an e-mail conversation I had the other day with a new friend). In his arguments critical of the emerging church, he kept pointing the the writings of a select few people.

This thing that some of us are a part of had better not be about personalities at the end of the day. Sure, when the visible "leaders" of the movement write books and blogs and speak at conferences, it's easy to point and say, "Hah! That's what you guys all believe." I get that. But what the critics need to understand is that this thing is as theologically and practically diverse as the church being that many are emerging from. As the printing presses pump out the books that chart the course of the movement, we're seeing that diversity play out on our shelves.

Communicating with those who came before us in a respectful way, but sometimes it's frustratingly slow, because we have to continue saying, "Just because so and so wrote such and such in a book, doesn't mean she/he speaks for the emerging church." Are those voices popular (in a big fish/small pond sort of way)? Sure. Have many been influenced by them? Sure. But the emerging church is working itself out at the ground level. That's why it's important to continue defining what it means to be truly missional (and not just some watered down version of mission minded). Interestingly enough, it's also why we shouldn't sit around talking/blogging about it too much (as I'm doing here) before we go find ways of working this stuff out.

Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, and Mark Driscoll have no ability to speak for you where you're working, doing life. You can agree or disagree all you want, and feel free to be as influenced by them as you want, but when you're out there working this stuff out where you live, you don't ask yourself, "What would [fill in the blank] say/do?" I hope not, anyway. It's not about the personalitites, it's about the Kingdom come. That changes everything, and thus, why the emerging church feels the need to change things. We're responding to getting our collective bell rung by the Holy Spirit. Don't miss the point people!

Wherever you may find yourself in this mix, stay on point and get driven by the Spirit. Read, write, surf, comment all you want. But get on with the Kingdom stuff, o.k.? Speaking of which, I'm gonna go do that now.

Peace to you all.

posted by Steve at 5:56 AM
link | 2 comments

Monday, April 24, 2006

One of those days when the why gets answered . . .

Last week, I cranked on the denom again . . . this is very difficult to stay away from at times, mind you. I just like to avoid it because, well, it seems to be as effective as what my dog, Maui, is doing - she's got some sort of seasonal allergies going on, and scratches and chews on all parts of her body that she can reach. Complaining about the denom is just like that - at the end of the day, I'm only more irritated and I have less hair. Last week I also mentioned that there are some pretty good reasons to stay connected. This past weekend counts. I got to participate in a regional spring conference. The college students there were hungry for God, and willing to go prove it with lives of service to others. Since December, our network of campus ministries has sent over 200 students to the Gulf Coast for hurricane relief work. This summer, lots more will fan out across the nation and world to follow Jesus in sacrificial ways. That rocks. Being a part of a denomination that is mission-minded helps these students connect to opportunities. There is probably a lot more complaining still left in me, but come on - let me enjoy the moment, would ya?

posted by Steve at 8:11 AM
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Earth Day is Saturday

I just took this Ecological Footprint quiz . . . and my results depress me. Want a reality check? Go take your own quiz.

posted by Steve at 4:43 PM
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Monday, April 17, 2006

I just had a great church marketing idea . . .

You know how lots of churches bought out entire movie theaters to bring people to see The Passion of the Christ? And you know how lots of churches bought out entire movie theaters to bring people to see The Chronicles of Narnia? I'm wondering how many churches would be willing to buy out entire movie theaters to bring people to see The Da Vinci Code when it comes out May 19. . . whadya think? I'll spring for the mass-mail postcards and doorknob hangy things if you wanna spring for the movie tickets.

posted by Steve at 9:46 AM
link | 2 comments

One of those days where I find myself asking why . . .

I don't want to get into it too deep, but my denom is a wreck. The president of one of the denom's missions agencies is being targeted in what looks like a thinly veiled political power play. This morning, the president the other primary denominational missions agency resigned under pressure after some questionable leadership decisions (nothing scandalous that I've heard of, but not exactly wise either). That, and I've seen first hand some of the scarier stuff of what the future leaders of the denom may look like recently. I've been on the fringes for a few years now, and this stuff really threatens to push me over the edge.

I've still got some darn good reasons to stay, and I've got no plans to bail out just yet . . . but for crying out loud . . . I'll just stop before the profanity in my brain leaks out through my fingers.

posted by Steve at 8:11 AM
link | 2 comments

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Greetings from America, by James Leonard

Michelle and I are very pleased to own and enjoy a series of three paintings by California abstract artist James Leonard. Here's a little taste of what we get to look at daily:

This morning I Googled him to look at some of his other work . . . but found a different artist named James Leonard. While poking around, looking at this guy's work, I found this:

It caught my eye, so I took a closer look here. Go there and click around on the image to rotate it . . . it changes. Awesome.

posted by Steve at 6:55 AM
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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tee hee

I spent some gift certificate money over at Amazon today (sorry Bill . . .). By the end of the day, I had my confirmation that my order shipped - which contains an N.T. Wright book . . . aaaaaand this one.

posted by Steve at 8:06 PM
link | 1 comments

Monday, April 10, 2006

Monday already . . . April already

Wow, I can't believe the blur the past several weeks have been. It honestly seems like February 1st was last week. Time to catch up with reality, I guess. Especially given that the next four weeks are looking like more of the same.

The weekend was busy, but super good. It started Friday night, with dinner out with the neighbors (who may now be named), Jeremy and Daniele. I'm so stoked to share life with them. Ryan and Holly came back for another visit, and gave a stellar showing Saturday night at the Purple Door. Quality people, quality art. Seriously, if you haven't checked out their music, you gotta. Challenging, haunting, gut-wrenching passion. It's critical of illegitimate systems of power, and yet it's hopeful with an embrace of the Kingdom realities that make that hope worth while.

At the concert, we were also graced with the presence of the now internationally famous super-guru Jim Henderson. Really really good to see him again and hear about all the craziness going on as Off The Map blows up in a huge way. Jim's a hero. I already can't wait for this November's edition of the Generous Orthodoxy event . . . of course, at this rate, I won't have to wait too long - it'll be November before I wake up next.

Anyway, lots of thoughts rattling around in my head these days. Thoughts about the role of art and artists in our lives, thoughts about community connectivity, thoughts about the fact that it's Passion Week. This week always produces a weird and confusing blend of somber, dull pain, and eager, giddy excitement. Meanwhile, I'm outta my head busy, so I'll just get crankin' on some work.

Peace to you.

posted by Steve at 10:49 AM
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"See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey" . . . or was that an elephant?

Terrific op-ed article on the political plays that try make Jesus out to be a partisan.
Some may think that removing Jesus from politics would mean removing morality from politics. They think we would all be better off if we took up the slogan "What would Jesus do?"

That is not a question his disciples ask in the Gospels. They never knew what Jesus was going to do next. He could round on Peter and call him "Satan." He could refuse to receive his mother when she asked to see him. He might tell his followers that they are unworthy of him if they do not hate their mother and their father. He might kill pigs by the hundreds. He might whip people out of church precincts.

HT: Jordon Cooper and Karen Ward

posted by Steve at 10:23 AM
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Sunday, April 09, 2006

A new addition to the SpiritFarmer family

After living in the Northwest, away from her horses, for over a year now, Michelle was able to buy a horse this weekend. This here is Redford - he's a ten year old thoroughbred . . . 17.2 hands . . . which basically means he's pretty big. Anyway, I'm excited for Michelle - she experiences life in a totally cool way when she's working with horses. It's kind of an expensive "hobby," but at least I can feel better about some of my book buying binges now. I'll post more on some of the things I'm looking forward to myself in the weeks ahead.

posted by Steve at 3:17 PM
link | 1 comments

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ryan Bolger dreams about a new kind of seminary education

Perhaps the seminary might contract with a community on a subscription basis, train their people in the skills they need, e.g. one person takes a preaching class, another takes community formation, another Greek…In a sense, we allow community degrees. Churches or networks pay by community – their community contracts with the seminary so that their community will have access to their resources –

In a very real sense, the community receives the M.Div. rather than the clergy…

Read more here

posted by Steve at 7:11 PM
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The most important city in the world?

Wow - this article on the emerging juggernaut that is Dubai is shocking. Looks like the United Arab Emirates may not even need oil to produce their wealth. They've found an even more valuable asset . . . consumeristic Western greed. This, of course, will feed their own Middle Eastern greed, but it sure is savvy.
Dubai is set to become "not the modern centre of the Arab world but, more than that, the Arab centre of the modern world."

posted by Steve at 8:00 AM
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

About that concert at the Purple Door

Here's the announcement we sent out earlier this week . . .

The Purple Door proudly presents

LIVE in concert:

The Cobalt Season

Saturday, April 8
Free Admission

“The Cobalt Season emerges as a voice of hope and clarity amidst an apathetic consumer-driven society. Deconstructing the American Dream and all it's cronies (American religion, nationalism, corporatism, etc.), Ryan Lee Sharp paints impressions of a better way, a better day.

“Sometimes with large brush strokes, sometimes with fine lines, Ryan and Holly Sharp (and whoever might be joining them that evening) create a live experience that isn't soon forgotten. From infuriating you to giving you hope, from deconstructing to reconstructing, you will remember your encounter with The Cobalt Season.

“Indie Folk Rock with a Social Conscience. Story-Driven Song with Soul.”

Hear samples of their music here

Come join us at the Purple Door for this great evening. We’ll brew some coffee, have some snacks, and enjoy hanging out.

For more information, e-mail Steve Lewis


posted by Steve at 7:18 PM
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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

New Orleans pics

Here are a couple pictures of the work we did in New Orleans:

The living room of a house before we started work:

And that same room after we were done (from a different angle):

For more pictures, go here

posted by Steve at 2:49 PM
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Hurray for house guests

Ryan and Holly Sharp are staying with me and Michelle for a couple of days. We got to have dinner with them and our neighbors (who must not be named) last night. Good times. Talked about the modernistic skeletons in our closets, the Kingdom reigning mentality that helped us escape, and a few ideas of making a way forward. I'm looking forward to more talks and laughs. And then Saturday night, they're doing a house concert for us over at the Purple Door. You should come.

posted by Steve at 6:04 AM
link | 1 comments

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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