Friday, February 02, 2007

Tomorrow the church I am currently attending is beginning their series on Brian McLaren's book, The Secret Message of Jesus. The pastor has stated that this is "the most important and exciting book she has read in many years"...and...believes the message and the discussions which will follow each sermon/reflections will "transform the congregation, and clarify its ministry as it faces the challenges of the future"...I am excited about this unique opportunity. I have attended church for many years but this is the first time I can ever remember a pastor using a book outside of the Bible as a resource to preach from the pulpit for such an extended time. It will be interesting to see how this develops and evolves over the next four months but I admire the pastor's willingness to take the risk. Not too many pastors I have ever met would be willing to go out on this kind of a limb....I am particularly looking forward to the discussion group which will follow the sermon each week to discuss the book and the sermon. I love discussion groups and the most exhilarating discussion group I have ever been involved in was the one that discussed Mclaren's book A New Kind of Christian back in 2002. Last night I went back and read some of the discussions and exchanges that took place during that time. It was exhilarating and inspiring to read the various exchanges between lay people like myself, pastors,homemakers, and ministry leaders from around the country...and...as I now reflect on the various individuals and their contributions I can't help from feeling a bit sentimental and all warm and fuzzy inside. I not only loved the exchange of ideas that took place but many of these people have become long time cyberspace com padres who I continue to read and interact with from time to time...and...are dear to my heart... There is Dave, Mr. Pomoxian himself, Julie "Unplugged"...I still am not sure what why she goes by unplugged?...because.... she writes with such clarity, depth and passion I can't believe she isn't plugged into something, if not, an around the clock caffeine machine....Than there is Stratopastor Russ, from Texas...I forgive you Russ for being from Texas...and...Denny, and Chris, and Tim from Mississippi, and last but not least...Big Tony...from the Bay area....Tony and I actually met a couple of times and I really appreciated his brutal honestly and his unwavering commitment to tell it like he felt. Tony was a construction worker by trade who did not grow up in the Christian subculture and had no education beyond high school as far as I knew, but over the years he had educated himself to the point where he could hang in there with the best of them and his unorthodox style made for some great conversation. I don't know what Tony is up to these days...but...I miss him and the childlike attitude he had about his faith....In the weeks to come I am going to try to post some of my own thoughts on the various chapters for my blog and I'll try to keep up the best I can but I have a history of becoming distracted from time to time, just to let you know. I don't anticipate a repeat performance of the church discussion group because life doesn't work that way but I am excited to interact and get to know some new folks and I look forward to the opportunity to express my own ideas and feelings on God, Christianity, and what it means, at least to one person, to be a Christian in the early years of the 21st century....

2 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

Looking forward to your thoughts on the book and the discussion group.

Dave said...

Yeah, that NKOC discussion group really took off there for awhile, didn't it? I think it was that group, even moreso than Faithmaps, that inspired me to start my own list, which continues to this day, much more active than NKOC, which I guess makes sense since McLaren has written four books or more since NKOC came out. Still, NKOC seems to have made a big impact on a lot of people. I'm not as aware of SMOJ leaving the same impression on others, though like Bob I'm looking forward to your reports of where the discussion group goes. Maybe it's because McLaren is a familiar voice, not a novelty anymore, that SMOJ didn't seem as "outside the box" as NKOC did to me when I first read it. Or maybe it's because I've seen other voices inside evangelicalism make similar points in an even more provocative way - e.g. Shane Claiborne's "Irresistable Revolution" which has been our family's after-dinner devotional reading for the past few months.