Church Planting

Journeying in the Story of the Edge – Pt. #2 - In the Beginning: The Birth of a Movement

House ChurchThe Edge family of Home Churches and intentional communities didn’t start with the concept of Home Church at all. It began with a desire for more. More of what Jesus taught. More of what the disciples seen and heard and couldn’t stop talking about. More relationship and less corporation. More exploration and less risk management. More experience and less talk. More power and less excuses. In short, I guess we just wanted more of what Jesus promised and modeled for us. We began as “East Edge”, one of the regional ministries of Centre Street Church. We would have started on our own, but the Lord opened the door to work together with an established church, and we interpreted it as the Lords will, and his provision for a strong start. We dreamed and discerned and prayed for a number of months, and officially began in September of 2006.

This was a time of great excitement, as four small tribes of about 15 people each began gathering in homes in the communities of Rundle, Marlborough Park, Taradale, and Harvest Hills around the city of Calgary. Living rooms came alive, and tables were often brimming with fantastic potlucks and conversations. Joy and a strong sense of family were experienced in these gatherings as people congregated, lifting their voices in worship over the music of many instruments, and deeply felt led by the Spirit in the movement they were beginning. During the journey, the Lord used authors such as Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, Michael Frost, and Hugh Halter to guide and inspire us.

In the years that followed, East Edge would experience several challenges with the experience of loss due to those moving away, death, and various emotional challenges. However, the movement was also growing, and spreading. The “East” in the name had to be dropped because “The Edge” was moving out. New Home Churches were started, but existing Home Churches and communities were also embraced and adopted, such as Expressions in the SE of Calgary in 2012. In 2013, the first Home Church outside of Calgary was started in Medicine Hat by original “East Edgers”, Dave and Angie Noelle, and a major thrust was initiated into the South Asian community led by David Benjamin. In the last couple of years, The Edge has found partnership with House Churches in Vancouver, Vernon, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and a movement of HC’s in Cuba.

Throughout the movement we felt a sense of spiritual growth and expression. There has always been a feeling of continuity as we gathered in our leadership retreats, which is where a lot of the inspiration and vision has been developed. The Edge has really begun to embrace a culture of discipleship and investing in people. With our own publishing of ‘Imitating Jesus’, we are beginning to embrace the rhythms of Investing, Involving, and Inspiring those we are connected with. The Edge has always desired to be a community built on the foundation of loving God, loving people, and making disciples – by simply living Jesus’ life within the lives of others. This has been our dream and vision from the beginning.

Reflections on the Early Church and The Edge Home Churches Today – Pt. #6 - Conclusions for Thought

Edge Logo on WhiteWritten with the understanding of mission in word and life, Bevans and Schroeder state, “If to be church is to be in mission, to be in mission is to be responsive to the demands of the gospel in particular contexts, to be continually ‘reinventing’ itself as it struggles with and approaches new situations, new peoples, new cultures and new questions. The existence of Christianity seems always to be linked to its expansion beyond itself, across generational and cultural boundaries.”[1]

The house church movement is not anything new in the landscape of church models. I remember sitting with a good friend as he told me of his time in missional house tribes during the 1970’s and ‘80’s. Yet, the expression of these small intimate tribes must still find renewal as time passes and the context in which the gospel lives transforms with the present culture.

As Paul shares, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) What the early church movement teaches the followers of Jesus today is that Christ-like discipleship is not about finding unity in what doctrine you clench, or in what denomination you find membership, or what church you belong. Christ-like discipleship is about letting go of any preconceived identity you might have of yourself, dying that he might live in you, being reborn into the complete wonder of an adventure that will unit you to the mission of reconciling all things (2 Cor. 5:16-21) to the reign of almighty God and his Kingdom. Using Bevans and Schroeder’s words, “In this way Christianity offers the world nothing less than a new conception of humanity.”[2] A humanity we can call, the Church.

[1] Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004). Pg. #31.

[2] Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004). Pg. #98.

Reflections on the Early Church and The Edge Home Churches Today – Pt. #5 - Measures of Success

Empty asphalt road towards cloud and signs symbolizing success a Before turning to what measures of success the early church had I think it wise to also recognize maybe some of its failures as David Bosch articulated; the first of which being that, “Jesus had no intention of founding a new religion.”[1] It wasn’t until several centuries later that Christianity would become an officially recognized institution or religion. Jesus was more interested in creating a movement that transcended all institutions from the sacred to the secular parts of every believer’s life and the community they were a part of.

Although many in our movement still carry the baggage of the institutionalized church, we try to focus ourselves away from these old paradigms, holding our beliefs in openness while reconciling the gospel as we encounter Jesus in the everyday. In this way, we embrace and develop relationships with neighbors and organizations that are not always from a Christian belief and yet are part of our community, neighborhood, and greater parish tribe. This places us in gathering environments such as the Body, Soul, & Spirit Expo, the Calgary Centre for Global Community, and the New Canadian Friendship Centre.

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A second failure Bosch notes is, “[The Church] ceased to be a movement and turned into an institution.”[2] While recognizing the need for a skeleton in which the body can grow around, the church cannot become bonded to the institutional legalism of its doctrine. A Christian movement is defined when the members of such beliefs can transcend them into the whole of creation and maintain a centered focus to the reign of Christ. The Edge, while fostering its tribal communities, works at recognizing their placements within the neighborhoods they are a part of as the localities and neighborhoods to which they are called to serve. We are blessed to be a blessing to our neighbors and live the life of Jesus amidst the greater community around them!

Bosch’s last failure that he identified with is that, “[The Church] proved unable, in the long run, to make Jews feel at home.”[3] Within The Edge, I see this in two ways; on the one hand, we embrace ethnic and cultural diversity extremely well with First Nation, Indian, Bhutanese, and Chinese tribes within our movement. But, much like the first century church, we struggle to find a constructive relationship with traditional and/or large church models. We need to work at reconciling our understandings of God’s work being in all forms of church, including those in large and traditional settings. The quantification of numbers is not what is important, big or small, and yet the quality and/or weight of voice speaking from such communities must be held in equity between each other. Still, I wonder if success has a quantifying difference between the two?

Diversity in the EdgeSecondly even in the midst of our diversity in contextual, cultural, and affiliational demographics; we must not let these diversities dichotomize or polarize our movement so that each solely views itself at the exclusion of all others and/or is unable to permeate the crossing into and overlapping of each others relational movements. The Edge must work at the unification of each other’s movements as part of the mission of living the life of Jesus in the lives of others.

As we consider the measures in which the early church considered marks of success, Bevans and Schroeder seemed to identify three particular signs. The first is, “There number was increasing daily (Acts 2:47)”. While as a house church movement, The Edge does not consider numbers to be a full measure and expression of success, we recognize a desire to see people coming to know Jesus for the first time while entering a deep and life long relationship with him in discipleship. However, we are more concerned with a more quality-focused commitment then we are with mass quantity of followers committing. This does not dismiss however, the need to grow through investing, involving, and inspiring new disciples who will also be living the life of Jesus within the lives of others.

Secondly they identify that, “they enjoyed an intense and happy community life (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35)”. As I shared earlier in the introduction, many in our tribes consider each other as brothers and sisters while recognizing the church as a family unit. We often meet and talk outside of the planned gatherings. Intimacy and developing a communal culture of joy amidst tribal living is second nature to The Edge movement! We naturally become an organic unit for inclusivity.

Lastly, they observe that, “they enjoyed the esteem of many in Jerusalem (Acts 5:12-16).”[4] It is difficult out of humility to speak of the affirmations to our tribes’ presence but, in many neighborhoods, our friends and neighbors deeply appreciate the ways we have served and connected with them. Often as we enter community spaces we are greeted by name and even embraced with hugs and appreciations for our being there. We take the understanding seriously that if our tribes were to disappear in our respective community’s, our neighbors should miss us.

[1] Bosch, David Jacobus. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1991). Pg. #51.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid. Pg. #52.

[4] Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004). Pg. #17.

Reflections on the Early Church and The Edge Home Churches Today – Pt. #4 - Catechisms and Schools of Discipleship

Discipleship"Election needs to be seen as a doctrine of mission, not a calculus for the arithmetic of salvation. If we are to speak of being chosen, of being among God’s elect, it is to say that, like Abraham, we are chosen for the sake of God’s plan that the nations of the world come to enjoy the blessing of Abraham (which is exactly how Paul describes the effect of God’s redemption of Israel through Christ in Gal. 3:14)." ~ Christopher Wright

It is this focus on discipleship that distinctly sets the early church apart from many other eras in its history. Learning from Jesus and the way he disciples, the early church recognized that, “people matter more than rules and rituals.”[1] The catechism to which the church was to pass on, according to Jesus’ words in Matt. 28:18-20, was not meant to be simply a head knowledge or academic exercise, but a life transformational experience. As David Bosch states, “Again the difference between the disciples of Jesus and the talmidim of the Jewish teachers is striking. To follow Jesus does not mean passing on his teachings or becoming the faithful custodians of his insights, but to be his ‘witnesses.’”[2] This was often expressed through a personal exclusively committed covenant between the believer and God.

Within each tribe’s expression of their rhythms, the practice of covenants varies and has different forms. While some tribes take it more seriously then others, some find there practice both in the verbal and unwritten sense, while others break them down and write personalized covenants with God as a Rule of Life commitment. Expressions (my tribe) practice a (I)Living Covenant following our rhythms of Invitational, Incarnational, and Inspirational Living; yet, recognizing the diversity in each of our personal lives, each of these rhythms are open to the interpretation and level of commitment by each member. As we practice them personally, we also witness to one another communally in our gatherings how we each have experienced them over the week. In this way, discipleship takes on both an individual personal walk as well as a communal tribal movement of accountability.

While feeling greatly challenged by this practice of discipleship, it has impacted us in some great growth and richness in our relationship with God and others. Success in mission is a question to which we ponder and yet we find encouragement by turning to the example of the early church as they experienced in a relational model and not institutional.

[1] Bosch, David Jacobus. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1991). Pg. #36.

[2] Ibid. Pg. #39.

An Open Letter To My Friends: Exposing the Elephant in the Room

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Silence.

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." - James 1:19-20

Silence. It is a theme which has filled my life right now. Not the kind of silence where everything around me is quiet but rather the opposite. I have grown silent and for me, it is becoming stifling. It is difficult to write, to dream, to share my thoughts with others, and to speak in public spaces.

As a boy I can remember it being told to me, "If you don't have anything nice to say then you shouldn't say anything at all." In a lot of ways I can agree but at what point does it become unhealthy for a person? When is silence no longer good for me; even if I am struggling with the inner wrestlings of unease, frustration, anguish and that which is considered not good?

No; silence is not working out for me any longer. It is over taking me, drowning me in its deafening noise, and killing my spirit. I need to get it out. I need to expel it from my thoughts so that I might better defeat its grasps.

The things you read here may not always be right and they certainly may not always sound good. I just hope you can extend me some grace as I try to put this out so that I can possibly leave it behind.

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Vision Casting and the Things of Dreams

"For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words... For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear." - Ecclesiastes 5:3, 7

Not long after graduating from Alberta Bible College with my Bachelors Degree in Theology I began asking myself the question; what is my mission in ministry and how can I tie a number of our past projects around an actual vision? I found myself drawn to the story in Matthew 16:13-20 when Jesus and his disciples where passing through Caesarea Philippi.

Jesus, while passing by the shops in the streets, turns to his disciples and says, "Who do the people say that I am?" Their answers vary from a teacher, a moralist, a prophet, and a healer. But he then turns the question around to being very personal in nature as he says again to them, "Who do you say that I am?" What a fascinating and telling question for Jesus to ask! I imagine the surprise as his disciples are taken back by the question. Jesus doesn't care so much what the people think of him. He wants to know what his followers think of him, and more I think to the point; what they personally think of him. Peter's answer hits the nail right on the head, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Meditating on that crux in the question it seemed to me that Jesus' words were transcendent over time. It wasn't just a question for his followers in Caesarea Philippi. It is a question he continues to ask me and each one of us here today. Who do we say Jesus is? The expressions and answers which we give being worked out not only in our statements and words, but also the actions and lives we live out day to day.

This was a vision I could follow; this was a dream which took over my heart. Seeking expressions of Jesus as Lord in Life and Community. The birth of Expressions.

It was my hope that Expressions could be a community of groups which not only found and built bridges between our culture and the gospel through unique and dynamic ways but that it could also be a place where everyone could grow in leadership through the distinctive callings and gifts Christ's Spirit placed in each of our lives. The movement of Expressions would not be confined by the traditional avenues of Sunday morning church practices alone but also find new ways to revealing the gospel and the Kingdom of God in all things and in all places.

I shared this vision with our home church community and with the elders. In discussion they seemed concerned over a few issues with Missional Theology but were intrigued and wanted to see more in the way of these groups taking shape.

Over the next two years I developed a number of groups including Re:Genesis, God at the Movies, Expressions of Compassion, Conversations in ESL, Mars Hill Adventure, Adorations, H2O: A Journey of Faith, and a number of community events such as the Grey Cup of Coffee Event and the Super Bowl of Chili. It's not an exhaustive list of everything we did over the next few years as there were other events but, it is the staple of who we were. I loved every minute of it and felt as though I was living a dream!

Supporting these ministries solely on our own though, I soon realized that I could not keep up this pace while supporting my family and looking after my own personal health. I needed the support of other leadership and those who would dream, aid, advocate, be a voice, build along, and journey with me. So I again turned to the elders in our home community.

A bombshell was dropped. They explained they could not support us as we were seen as an "outside identity" and not really a part of the church.

Feeling Sold Into Slavery

"Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver" - Gen. 37:26-28

An outside identity. I felt so alone and unwanted by the elders and leadership in the church. We had been a part of the church community for over 8 years and yet we were still considered an outside identity. Still, the words seemed foreign to me and stung deeply. I found it harder and harder to sit in the back during worship and hold back the tears from filling my eyes, and rolling down my checks. I couldn't do it any longer and turning to Bonnie I said, "I can't go back to that church anymore and simply sit in the seats while passing in tithes. There has to be something more."

I felt as though I was being sold into slavery by my brothers. We left. It hurt doing so as we have so many friends and spiritual family there. We still do. I just couldn't seem to go anymore without the pain of those words cutting deeper and deeper into my heart. I only hope they can understand and find forgiveness.

Exposing the Elephant in the Room

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." - James 5:16

Over the last year and a half we have continued with a number of our groups in Expressions on our own while struggling to maintain a balance with health, time, and finances. In trying to support a number of our groups as well as our own needs; a few years back I took up a job in the local Home Depot. It wasn't meant to be a long term job as I had hoped to find a place soon on staff in a church community and it wasn't much in the way of financial support but, it helped with things and enabled me to continue with some of our groups in the house. It has been hard though as it leaves little time for personal health needs and times for rest or family gatherings.

In the last few months I have taken a few personal leadership classes as well as evaluational courses. They've been difficult. Not in the intellectual sense but rather because their forcing me to look internally at some things which are glaringly confronting me. They always seem to start with the question, "If you can sum up who you are in one brief sentence, who are you?" Searching for an answer this small voice I've been hearing over the last year creeps up inside of me:

  • "You are a joke!"
  • "You are not a pastor nor will you ever be one."
  • "You are useless and pathetic."
  • "You are the running joke of the pastor community."
  • "All the times that people have said that you are great at speaking, teaching, leading, ect... They are only being polite and don't really mean it."

They are statements which leave me with the questions:

  • What is wrong with me?
  • Is it because I am in a wheelchair?
  • Is it because Bonnie and I do not have any or cannot bear any children?
  • Is it because I do not have enough education or a Seminary Masters Degree?

Call it burn out, a broken heart, or call it something else; I don't know. What ever it is; it has robbed me of my self confidence entirely. The more I wrestle with this elephant which has invaded the space I call my personal identity; the more I realize that I am facing a deep depression within myself and I don't know how to defeat it. This depression has slowly eroded my ability to dream and find hope for the future. I don't know if I have any meaning in my life and if I am of any significance or for any purpose.

This must change...

Repentance and a Desire for Reconstitution

"In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!"

Psalm 31:1-2

This must change. I honestly do not know how, but I know it must.

"We need to learn the difference between the convictions of the Holy Spirit and the accusations of Satan!" Those where the words Scott Weatherford spoke from the front of a church Bonnie and I had gone to after I felt a deep need to be in worship with a community we had not been a part of before. I'm not sure why the words stuck with me but I just seemed to keep playing them over and over in my head. Perhaps God was speaking to me.

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Looking back I can realize that this voice that has been speaking to me seems far more accusational in nature then it does a convictional calling to walk in righteousness. I don't think this excuses the impact of the failure in human leadership within my story and yet I realize my struggle is one which is internally a true battle not against flesh and blood, "but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Eph. 6:12) I only pray God might restore my strength, redeem my confidence, and reconstitute  the person he wants me to be in leadership and life.

Over the past few weeks I've felt called to commit to some personal steps. I don't know where they might take me but, I'd like to share them with you.

  • I've begun reading through the Psalms. David was a man after God's own heart and I pray for nothing less then that for myself.
  • I have a deep desire to find a home church which would encourage and help me grow not only spiritually but in leadership and ministry. This might redefine Expressions, and it may not. I leave that in God's hands as it is in His Kingdom that I serve.
  • I have cut my hours back at work in the Home Depot. This will make things a little tighter in the budget but, I need the time to focus on my personal health and to search out where God may be leading me.

As I mentioned earlier, I realize that things must change and I'm not quite entirely sure how. I only hope that these steps might help and as I take them, Jesus might show me and guide me to the next steps in the journey he wants me to take. If I can borrow Thomas Merton's prayer, "My Lord God, I have no idea where I'm going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you."

I thank you all for your prayers and for the words you might share with me.

Living for Potential (Audio) - My Message at CCCF

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship on Sunday January 2nd, 2011 about Living for Potential while focusing on Matthew 5:48. Although feeling a little rusty, here is what I shared...

[audio=http://justwondering.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/living-for-potential.mp3]

[slideshare id=6510883&doc=livingforpotential-110110164658-phpapp01]

To Save a Life - Youth Event

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Expressions Statement of Faith - Any Thoughts?

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This is a first draft to Expressions Statement of Faith. I would love to hear any constructive feed back from my tribe and readers! Purpose/Mission

The Purpose and Mission for all of our members is Seeking Expressions of Jesus as Lord in Life and Community (Matt. 16:13-20). This mission is accomplished as we take the gospel message of Jesus into the relevant and daily life experiences we encounter both individually and as a community (Matt. 28:16-20).

Beliefs and Statement of Faith

  • We believe in one God in three persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Eph. 4:4-6; John 4:24; John 10:30)
  • We believe God is the creator of all that there is seen and not seen, understood and mysterious, questioned and answered. (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 42:5; John 1:3; Acts 17:24;26)
  • We believe in one Lordship over all things, places, contexts, and people through Jesus Christ as the son of God. (Matt. 16:16; John 1:14; 10:30; 14:6-7; Col. 1:18)
  • We believe Jesus suffered and died for our sins as he was crucified on the cross, that three days afterwards he was resurrected in body, that he ascended into heaven, and that he lives eternally at God’s right side. (Mark 16:19; John 20:17; Acts 1:9; Rom. 4:24b-25)
  • We believe that all people can find redemption, forgiveness, and righteousness through holistically enacted faith in Jesus Christ. (John 3:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9-10; James 2:18)
  • We believe that the Bible is the whole and complete Word of God meant to equip, teach, and inspire all followers of its reading. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
  • We believe in the unity of one church under Christ Jesus through Biblical Christian practices. (John 17:20-21)
  • We believe that all followers of Jesus are blessed and gifted according to the good works Christ calls them too through his Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:4; Gal. 5:22-24)
  • We believe in the full immersion baptism of all who hold these beliefs to be true as a physical commitment and representation of God’s grace before all his followers. (Acts 2:38; 41; 16: 31-33; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21)

Values

We each acknowledge ourselves being within our own unique contexts, experiences, history, and relationships but are united by Expressions Mission and Five Interlocking Values. As such we seek community by balancing a holistic practice of all said values within our faith and in everything we do.

Passionate SpiritualitySpiritual Reading (Scripture); Spiritual Speaking; Spiritual Breathing; and Spiritual Acting

Radical DiscipleshipInvitational Living; Incarnational Living; Infusional Living; Inspirational Living (Please See (i)Living Covenant)

Authentic CommunityHospitality; Unconditional Acceptance; Intentionality; Relevant

Transformational MissionRecognize a Need; Collaborate; Acknowledge a Kingdom Relevance; Take Action

Holistic StewardshipPeople; Wealth/Materials; the Environment

Further Thoughts of Christian Plodding and the Dangers of Consumeristic Church

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It seems in the past few years I have been confronted by a growing dichotomy which seems to be taking shape within our Christian Church. Set up between two frontlines the Missional and Emergent tribes seem to call for radical reformation while the more streamline and orthodox seem to take this as a personal attack claiming these thoughts as being a loss of accountability at best and at worst, borderline heresy. So which is it and where do we find God at work within it all? Most importantly… where does politics give way to Kingdom love? Not that long ago a friend of mine quoted Kevin Deyoung from a blog post called ‘The Glory of Plodding’. He said, “What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church — a multitude of faithful, risk taking plodders.” What an inspiring deliberation and yet I wonder; can you be a faithful, risk taking plodder without running the risk of cultural revolutionary reactions?

The Apostle Peter was a plodder too and while he stood before thousands of people he spoke from his heart, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17) Much like Peter perhaps the plodders of our time have a dream in uncharted waters; and our visionaries are leading us towards a revolution – one which is counter cultural not counter Christological!

The dangers of consumeristic church are most definitely rooted in a lack of commitment and the spiritual cannibalistic practices of “what’s in it for me?” My fear is that this reality has become not just individualistic in practice but also corporately expressed through the ideological expectations of set ecclesiological mandates. Let’s face it, Christian accountability is something which is centered not on maintaining an existing ecclesiology but upon the commitment to the missionary plodding of sending all of Christ’s followers into the world united with an impassioned vision for God’s Kingdom drawing near to every fabric of life.

So what of love for God’s Kingdom? Richard Neuhaus once said, “It is easy to think that we love an abstract, spiritualized, de-historicized Church just as it is easy to love abstract, spiritualized, de-historicized people. In truth to love abstractions is not to love at all; it is but a sentimental attachment to our own whimsies.

In truth I can say I love God’s Kingdom but in so doing I am in love with God’s people; in all places, forms, traditions, and diversities. To not recognize the riches of this virtue brings heed to Jesus’ warning that, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.” (Matt. 11:17)

Does the dichotomy between Missional/Emergent and Main Stream Church demand revolutionary mentality? I do not know but, in the words of Martin Luther King I’ve been hearing a lot lately… “I have a dream today!” Maybe the church itself should spend some time dreaming too.

I Believe in the Enigma of Expressions

"Where were you when Crosby scored the golden goal?" That was the question I woke up to this past Monday morning as I sat there sipping my hot coffee and watching the Global Morning News. Like 85% of the rest of Canada I was sitting on the edge of my seat in front of the TV praying for a miracle! As I watched the highlights one more time the theme song of "I Believe" crept into my thoughts and I began to wonder, just what is it that I believe in? Over the past few weeks Canada has been swept away in a spirit of national and global pride, of communal unity, and the celebration of gifted success in athleticism. But that belief also came in the form of unique and diverse accomplishments of greatness.

As a follower of Jesus I believe faith is united through the crux that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah and Lord over all of life and creation (John 3:16-17). But I also believe that this enigma is expressed through each individuals passions, gifts, and talents as they grow in relationship with Jesus (Matt. 16:15-19). I suppose that is where the story of Expressions Community begins and why I follow a mission of Seeking Expressions of Jesus as Lord in Life and Community.

This mission has led and continues to lead Bonnie and I through some amazing Expressions of Jesus such as our Re:Genesis group which offers support and inspiration to those who face challenges in life. Re:Genesis is meant to inspire people who face many challenges; and not necessarily just physical examples either but all trials in existence, to find a sense of new life and values which encourage us with purpose and significance in God’s calling.

God at the Movies has found Expressions of belief and truth in today’s parables and silver screens. I laughed as my friend Mike who is not a follower of Jesus (yet) began to grow in faith as he said to me, “Going to watch a movie and talk with my friends at Expressions just didn’t seem like going to church!” I couldn’t help but see the paraphrase in Jesus’ words to his disciples (Matt. 13:10-17).

Expressions has also led us to take on many transformational missions such as Conversations in ESL and Expressions of Compassion at the Mustard Seed each month. I am particularly looking forward to our Adventures in Mars Hill mission this April as we lead a group down to the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo to share about a Kingdom which makes the unknown God known to those who are seeking the truth (Acts 17:23). We did this last September 2008 and were blown away by the miracles we experienced. We were touched after receiving a letter from Perry who we had developed a friendship with while at the Expo as she wrote, “You were the unplanned special gift that will hold a sacred place in my heart when I think of my Calgary trip. The light and radiance you two send out into the world is like a magnetic veil of pure unconditional love.”

The mysteries of belief are not always an easy road to travel as even Jesus said, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matt. 7:14) I count myself blessed and privileged to be one of those who finds himself in the midst of expressing that enigma of belief. Perhaps you are asking too “Who do I say Jesus is?”, “What is it that I believe?”, and “How do I express that belief?” Perhaps we can explore that enigma together and what it means to follow Jesus as Lord in Life and Community. Perhaps together we can find Expressions of Jesus – www.expressionscommunity.org.