Friday, October 26, 2007

inter::mission rolls on

In the middle of a busy week, where much of my time has been spent thinking about the fires in SoCal, our work with inter::mission here in Seattle moves on. We had another one of our teach-ins last night. One of our staffers, Lindsay, threw down on some Poppy Seed Chicken for dinner - outstanding! Our student from Turkey made some yummy Turkish coffee, too. Then my good friend, Ed Park, pastor of Sanctuary Church, led us in a conversation about spiritual formation and mission. He really nailed it. He tied the dynamics of formation into the theology of mission in a way that was holistic and real. Quite honestly, it was very helpful to me personally, on the same level as Dallas Willard in some ways. Ed has been doing missional, relational, and incarnational church planting in the city for a while now, and it's evident. If I could just get him blogging . . .

The community of students living at The Purple Door is really becoming a great group. We've been blessed with a remarkably diverse group. One student from Turkey, one from (East) Germany, one from China. One of our students has lived in multiple countries, growing up in a family engaged in medical missions. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to be doing dishes in the kitchen after dinner's over, and hearing the laughter of students enjoying relationship late into the evening . . . despite having heavy school workloads. I know staying up late and being social are sort of par for the course for college students, but they're doing this stuff within the context of spiritual depth and connectedness. The school year is young, but I'm really pleased with how good it's gotten already. More good times to come.

Our next teach-in will be November 8. Mike Gunn, pastor of Harambee Church in Renton, WA will be leading us in a conversation about mission and culture. I'm really looking forward to that.

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posted by Steve at 10:08 AM
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

SoCal fire, pt. 4

I wasn't able to pay close attention to news updates yesterday as I had the previous couple of days. The fires continue, but the weather has begun a more helpful turn, so hopefully that will give the firefighters an edge. Nothing new to report on our immediate family and friends. Everyone is safe and sound, and as far as we know, they're all back home . . . which is more than can be said for a lot of others, in particular, those who have lost their homes.

O.k., time for a rant or two.

In the national as well as local (San Diego) news coverage of this event, over and over, I have heard little off-hand comparisons of this situation with the hurricane Katrina disaster. Perhaps its the scale of evacuations, perhaps its the fact that many evacueess are at a major stadium. Whatever the case, with my one lone voice in the blogosphere, all I can say is this: PLEASE STOP. These situations are most definitely not the same. There are a ton of reasons why.

First, the evacuation is different because a huge number of people have had family and friends within the same region to stay with. There was a ton of traffic, but not for hundreds of miles in every direction, like with Katrina. Second, given that San Diego went through this just four years ago, people are extremely well rehearsed for this, and the relief work was done in an impressively organized way . . . which, by the way, is markedly different than the last go round. City/county officials know how to run the show without merely hoping that FEMA can handle everything. Third (this is the one that may open a can of worms), the economic realities of most of the people affected by these two scenarios couldn't be more different. Many of the areas devastated by Katrina were the poorest areas of the city . . . which was already a very poor city, mind you. In San Diego, the damage done by the fires has primarily been done in upper middle class to wealthy areas. I don't say this in any way to take compassion away from the people who have lost homes to fire - it's an intensely difficult thing for them, and I hurt for them. Having lived through a little piece of this myself, I know it's going to be hard, but the difference in economic starting places is different. Trust me, I'm also well aware that some poorer folks have lost their homes - no insensitivity to them intended. My point is not class warfare here, but to say that San Diego wildfires and Hurricane Katrina are just not the same.

For the record, my San Diego and fire disaster credentials are already on record, and I've been to New Orleans twice since Katrina, so I'm not completely ignorant (perhaps unintelligent, but not ignorant).

Jason and Brooke, and their housemates in San Diego are part of a really great effort to aid the migrant workers who have been displaced by the fires. Dangit, I love those people. Michelle mentioned to me just a minute ago that 1/3 of California's avocado trees were lost in the fires - think for a minute about the people that work those groves, and pick those delicious guacamole gems. That makes me actually very disturbed at reading this story this morning. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Sorry to be cranky this morning. I just want to think and pray with a clear head about these things, and help others who don't know the situation to do the same.

UPDATE, 10:10am - Now I'm really pissed. Read Jason's latest update on his family's efforts to support the migrant worker volunteers. Speechless.

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posted by Steve at 6:39 AM
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SoCal fire, pt. 3

I actually don't have any news to report regarding my immediate family or friends right now - fires are still raging, but things seem to be settling a bit. The weather is improving - less wind, more humidity.

The main thing I wanted to note here is on a little different level. Despite my consistent venting and whining about my denomination, it is times like these that make me more satisfied. I was watching the San Diego news online this morning, and they were talking about the Qualcomm Stadium evacuation center, where thousands are being housed. They specifically noted the fact that my denom was there with its mobile kitchens, feeding lots and lots of people. I know from seeing them in action firsthand in New Orleans that they wear some butt-ugly yellow t-shirts, but when I see those things on TV, I'm glad that I get to be a part of that. Good work folks - keep rocking.

Other churches and friends are, of course, also doing good work. But if I'm gonna whine about the denom, I need to also give equal time to the good stuff.

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posted by Steve at 8:48 AM
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SoCal fire, pt. 2

Being so far away from family and friends in the fire affected areas in San Diego is hard - not as hard as being there, mind you, but hard. This situation is astonishing. The fire moved so fast. Michelle's folks are doing o.k. - they decided to wait it out in their house, and seem to be in a sliver of land that the fire burned around . . . probably due to the fact that it all burned just a few years ago, and there wasn't as much fuel.

We've been watching a San Diego TV station that's been streaming their coverage online. That helps.

Keep praying.

UPDATE 8:50am: A large mountain about half a mile to the north of Michelle's folks may be catching fire. This mountain didn't burn in 2003, so lots of old brush there. They're watching it closely, and may evacuate.

UPDATE 5:15pm: Michelle's parents got a reverse 911 call at around 2pm telling them to evacuate. As of around 3:45pm, they hadn't left yet. My sister, brother-in-law, and their kids had to evacuate yesterday, but were allowed to go back home this afternoon.

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posted by Steve at 7:38 AM
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Monday, October 22, 2007

SoCal on fire . . . again

Four years ago (almost to the day, actually), Southern California was on fire. Michelle and I came very close to losing our home - we had charred land to within 20 feet of our front porch. Unfortunately, Michelle's folks had a different outcome. Their home of 30 years was burned. They spent the next two years rebuilding. And now, the fire's back. They haven't evacuated just yet, but the fire is getting closer. Heavy winds are expected to drive this fire for at least the next two days. By the time this is over, many people will have lost their homes. Pray for the safety of people who are leaving, and for the safety of the firefighters and police.

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posted by Steve at 12:25 PM
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Prayer for Dan Kimball

Others around the blogosphere have mentioned this already, but here I add my prayers for peace to Dan Kimball and his family. Dan is one of my classmates, and well known all around the emerging church. Dan's father had a fall last week and hit his head. He died today. Married over 50 years. Devastating to all. Pray for Dan and his family.

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posted by Steve at 7:25 PM
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Friday, October 12, 2007

inter::mission update

Those of you who know me, or have been tracking with this blog over the past couple of years know that much of my work has involved building a thing we're calling inter::mission. It's a dream that began before I was hired into my position, so I don't take credit for it, except that I've had the fun of giving vision and some structure to it. I won't go through everything that's involved (you can learn more about it on the inter::mission website if you want). Basically, it's a live-in experience for students (and a few non-students) which attempts to re-orient life around our identity in the Kingdom of God, and our joining with God in mission.

About two years ago I began work on this thing, and have been working to build it ever since. It's morphed a few times from its original form, but we officially kicked the thing off a little more than two weeks ago. One of the things it involves is a weekly "family meal" on Thursday nights. We eat together, hang out together, and talk about life together. On alternating weeks, following the family meal, we have teach-ins around Kingdom and mission. My goal is to primarily utilize guest speakers for these teach-ins. In Seattle, we have access to so many innovative, catalytic, super smart people who are actually practitioners, so we're able to make this happen.

Last night, we were honored with a visit from Karen Ward, Abbess of Church of the Apostles, as our first outside speaker/conversation leader. She talked a bit through the history and ethos of COTA, and about urban monasticism in their context. It was a really good time for the students. Definitely stimulating and challenging. She talked about the way they approach their neighborhood, Fremont, with the mentality that their whole zip code "belongs" to the church/parish, and how it's the role of the members of the church to serve and minister to the church, regardless of belief, lifestyle, affiliation, or status. Good stuff. Karen is such a humble, kind, and warm person, but with focus, creativity, and the best kind of leadership skill.

The past couple of years, and especially the past few months have been such a busy, maddening sprint to get this dream fleshed out and ready to go. And trust me, we're far from embodying a ton of what we have in mind. We're a small, quiet bunch right now, and continuing to add students to the mix little by little. But last night, as I sat and listened to Karen, and looked around the room, I got the sense that yes, this thing is really happening. It was one of those beautiful moments that wasn't self-satisfaction, but thankfulness for God's blessing and gifts. I'm really glad I got to be a part of this, and watch it develop. I'm even more glad that I get to continue helping nurture it and be a part of it.

Our vision for inter::mission is to help liberate young adults to experientially own their missional vocation. This is where we begin.

I've blogged recently about how easy it is to get caught up in the negative side of critique - especially those who are in any way affiliated with the emerging church vibe. There's a role for it, but talk is cheap if we're not actually paying attention to building a better way forward. For as long as God gives it to me, inter::mission is my humble contribution.

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posted by Steve at 6:45 AM
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Liberalism Gone Crazy in a Major Denomination

Over the past ten to fifteen years, my denomination has engaged in a discussion of how to read the Bible. This has produced a "victory" for those who favor a view of inerrancy. The Bible is literally God's word, and is completely without error. Meanwhile, those who take even a slightly moderated view of this position are described as liberals and borderline wack-jobs.

Among many issues that these liberals get taken to task on is a sense in which they approach scripture with an agenda in their back pockets, and read those agendas into the texts in order to get them to say whatever they want them to say.

Given the "victory" of the biblical "conservatives" over their left-leaning conversation partners, imagine my surprise at reading a report regarding a poll recently taken by one of the denomination's agencies. An outside polling group was contracted to take a survey of our views regarding the use of alcohol. I won't waste time listing all the questions and responses here, but when asked to respond to the statement, "Scripture indicates that people should never drink," a full 41% of pastors agreed. Come again? 41%. Ummmm, where exactly did they get that?? I must have a bunch of copies of the Lutheran Bible or something, because none of the ones I've read say that.

My point here is that in the middle of our fight to save the Bible, we've gotten so conservative that we've turned liberal. People have approached scripture with an agenda in their back pockets, and chosen to believe that the texts say what they want them to say.

Look, we all do this to some degree. For example, some use "grace" texts in order to go on with selfish, greedy ways without remorse because the sin's already covered. But 41%? Of pastors? I just wonder what kind of uproar there would be if 41% of pastors in my denom were found to have a biblical position opposed to the war in Iraq. Or if 41% believed that scripture teaches that women should be ordained.

So perhaps my denomination is more liberal than I thought. No wonder I was beginning to feel a little more comfortable around here.

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posted by Steve at 9:25 AM
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Friday, October 05, 2007

Campus Ministry in Middle America

Is Missouri considered part of the Bible belt? Not sure. It's Midwest-y, and I thought pretty conservative. Anyway, if I were to ask anyone familiar with college campus religious life what the top campus religious organizations at a college in Missouri, what responses would I get? Campus Crusade for Christ? InterVarsity Christian Fellowship? Well, apparently, at Missouri State University in, well, Missouri, the 2nd largest campus religious organization is . . . wait for it . . . The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Indeed. If you haven't heard of them, or their noodly appendaged object of worship, they've been around for a couple years now. But apparently, they've gotten some traction in the heartland. Interesting stuff. You can check out their Facebook Group here.

HT: onegoodmove

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posted by Steve at 2:18 PM
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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Free Burma

Free Burma!


posted by Steve at 5:00 AM
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Monday, October 01, 2007

Left Behind Video Games: Sue The Evildoers

Justin Baeder is being threatened with a lawsuit by the makers of the abominable Left Behind video games. I'd laugh if I weren't so stunned by the silliness. Read Justin's version of things here.

posted by Steve at 5:44 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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