Elite Eight – Day 1

We are in the final week of March Madness! Make your final votes count.

Today’s elite eight match ups are four of Jay’s most favorite speakers and writers. How greatly is his heart torn to have chose between them!

The Professors

1 – Walter Brueggemann
Speaking on Isaiah 42:15-16 “You see, the song is a subversive song as is the new reality. The new song never describes the world the way it is now. The new song imagines how the world will be in God’s good time to come. The new song is a protest against the way the world is now. The new song is a refusal to accept the present world as it is, a refusal to believe this is right or that the present will last. The church is always at its most daring and risking and dangerous and free when it sings a new song. Because then it sings that the power of the gospel will not let the world finally stay as it is.”

Vs.

2 – Elaine Heath – The Mystic Way of Evangelism
“Christian mysticism is not essentially about private, inner, ecstatic experiences. Rather, Christian mysticism is about the revealing of deep spiritual truth to the worshipping community through the agency of the mystics, those who have been radically and incarnationally transformed by the Holy Spirit. Supernatural experiences such as visions and ecstasies are neither incontrovertible proof of mysticism nor the real substance of mysticism. Instead, the Christian mystic is one who has attained a radical degree of holy transformation at the deepest and most originary levels of being. The outcome of genuine Christian mysticism is missional action in the world. Mysticism, in other words, always results in greater love of God and neighbor.”

 

Youth Ministry Voices

1 – Kenda Creasy Dean
“The issue is not whether young people can read the Bible (they can). The real issue is . . . well, really, why would they want to? What have they seen in the church that would suggest that the Bible is a source of power and wonder? When have they seen their parents derive life and joy from reading scripture?” 

Vs.

3- Andrew Root
““Youth ministry is not about getting things accomplished – only the act of God can bring about the transformation we seek. Youth ministry is about participating deeply in young people’s lives as we await, together in suffering & joy, the coming of God.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last Day of the Sweet 16

The Writers

3 – Lisa Sharon Harper – Left, Right, & Christ
“Justice is the image of God flourishing on earth. Justice is all humanity having the liberty to exercise God’s kind of dominion. Justice is right relationship between men and women, humanity and the rest of creation, all of creation and life, and humanity and the systems that govern us. Justice is present when these relationships are as they should be.”

Vs.

2 – Tony Jones – Did God Kill Jesus?
“To whom should we listen? The loudest voices? The most educated? The formerly marginalized? The formerly powerful? Those with the most retweets? Those who have traditionally spoken for God are now looked at with distrust by many people, and with good reason. Too often they’ve used their Christian platform for political and military gain. They’ve forgotten that the story of God, exemplified in Jesus, is an abdication of power. It’s a story of self-limitation and humility. It’s a story lived in solidarity with those at the margins. To whom should we listen? To Jesus on the cross.” 

 

Church Voices

3 – Jim Wallis
“Two of the greatest hungers in our world today are the hunger for spirituality and the hunger for social change. The connection between the two is the one the world is waiting for, especially the new generation. And the first hunger will empower the second.”

Vs.

2 – Amy Butler
“Consider: Jesus says, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.”  In Jesus’ day, use of the left hand was only for unclean tasks; you’d only use your right hand in polite company.  If you want to hit someone, you used your right hand.  And if you wanted to hit someone to degrade them, you’d use a backhand blow.  Walter Wink says “The backhand was not a blow to injure, but to insult, humiliate, degrade.  It was not administered to an equal, but to an inferior.  Masters backhanded slaves; husbands, wives; parents, children; Romans, Jews.  The whole point of the blow was to force someone out of line back into place.” So—stay with me here—if someone hit you like that on the right cheek and you turned your left cheek awaiting another hit, the person hitting you would be forced to use a fist, not a backhanded slap.  But only equals fought with fists.  By turning the cheek you were saying to your oppressor: I am a person, too.  I am the same as you.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sweet 16 – Day 3

The Professors

6 – Amy Oden – God’s Welcome
“We have food to share with a world that is hungry, even famished. Spiritual wanderers—those spiritually starved and denied—show up at our doors, not because they like our buildings or even because they like us, but because they are hungry. Hungry for forgiveness, for rest and peace. Hungry for mercy and grace. Hungry to explore and grow. Hungry for the good news of new life, of abundant life. Hungry for God to do a new thing.”

Vs.

2 – Elaine Heath – A Mystic Way of Evangelism
“The church in the night is being called to own and renounce its threefold syncretistic attachment to sexism, racism, and classism. These attachments have wounded the church and have caused the church to wound the world for far too long. Painful self-reflection, repentance, and much theological work are needed to retrieve the egalitarian ethos of the gospel. As the church is healed from this damaging threefold wound, it will regain the moral authority it needs to speak to a world hurtling toward chaos. Delivered of its demonic attachment to oppressive power, the church will find its God-given conscience toward all living things that have suffered under the centripetal force of domination. The earth and all its creatures will once again become primary foci of the good news, that God is redeeming not just fallen humans but the whole of creation.”

 

Youth Ministry Voices

1 – Kenda Creasy Dean – Almost Christian
“Mission is not a trip or a youth activity, a silent cousin to evangelism, or an optional model of youth ministry. Mission is the business that congregations are in. Christ views young people as participants in God’s mission rather than as targets of ours.” 

Vs.

4 – Brian Kirk – Missional Youth Ministry
“Somehow we become convinced that no matter what other good we might accomplish, our success in  youth ministry has everything to do with how many teenagers walk in the door on Sunday or Wednesday nights. Yet it’s this sort of ear that stifles ministry and keeps us from introducing teens to a truly radical faith that has the power to transform lives.”

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sweet 16 Day 2

The Writers

1 – Rachel Held Evans – Searching for Sunday
“I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask.”

Vs.

5 – John Wesley
“One great reason why the rich in general have so little sympathy for the poor is because they so seldom visit them. Hence it is that one part of the world does not know what the other suffers. Many of them do not know, because they do not care to know: they keep out of the way of knowing it – and then plead their voluntary ignorance as an excuse for their hardness of heart.” 

 

Church Voices

8 – Jonathan Aigner – Ponder Anew blog
Because, friends, true worship doesn’t meet our felt needs, it awakens us to the needs of the community around us. It is so disruptive that we cannot continue with our lives as planned. Something in us must change, so that we can be the change we want to see. We need to say, “Enough!” How much longer can we sit around and watch the jesusy show? How much longer can we arrogantly stand around and croon “My chains are gone!” while fellow image-bearers are being tackled, bound, and shot dead right in our backyards?  Can we really continue to inebriate ourselves on the wine of consumeristic Christianity, and ignore the silent tears of our neighbors? When will we realize that only through rich, gospel-centered corporate prayer, can we become God’s prayer for an ugly world? It is to our own sin and shame that we continue worship like there’s no one around but me and Jesus. There’s a big, ugly world out there. Now let’s worship like it.”

Vs.

4 – Nadia Bolz Weber – Accidental Saints
“There are many reasons to steer clear of  Christianity. No question. I fully understand why people make that choice. Christianity has survived some unspeakable abominations: the Crusades, clergy sex-scandals, papal corruption, televangelist scams, and clown ministry. But it will survive us, too. It will survive our mistakes and pride and exclusion of others. I believe that the power of  Christianity — the thing that made the very first disciples drop their nets and walk away from everything they knew, the thing that caused Mary Magdalene to return to the tomb and then announce the resurrection of Christ, the thing that the early Christians martyred themselves for, and the thing that keeps me in the Jesus business (or, what my Episcopal priest friend Paul calls “working for the company”) — is something that cannot be killed. The power of unbounded mercy, of what we call The Gospel, cannot be destroyed by corruption and toothy TV preachers. Because in the end, there is still Jesus.” 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sweet 16 – Day 1

Over the next four days we will have the sweet 16. Make sure you vote!

The Professors

1 – Walter Brueggemann – A Way Other Than Our Own
Speaking on Psalm 23:6 “God’s friendliness and kindness will run after me and chase me down, grab me and hold me. The verb ‘follow’ is a powerful active verb. We are being chased by God’s powerful love. We run from it. We try to escape it. We fear that goodness, because then we are no longer in control. We do not trust such a generosity, and we think our own best efforts are better than God’s mercy. Lent is a time to quit running, to let ourselves be caught and embraced in love, like a sheep with safe pasture, like a traveler offered rich and unexpected food. Our life is not willed by God to be an endless anxiety. It is, rather, meant to be an an embrace, but that entails being caught by God.

Vs.

5 – James Cone – God of the Oppressed
“The Christian community, therefore, is that community that freely becomes oppressed, because they know that Jesus himself has defined humanity’s liberation in the context of what happens to the little ones. Christians join the cause of the oppressed in the fight for justice not because of some philosophical principle of “the Good” or because of a religious feeling of sympathy for people in prison. Sympathy does not change the structures of injustice. The authentic identity of Christians with the poor is found in the claim which the Jesus-encounter lays upon their own life-style, a claim that connects the word “Christian” with the liberation of the poor. Christians fight not for humanity in general but for themselves and out of their love for concrete human beings.”

Youth Ministry Leaders

3 – Andrew Root – Taking Theology to Youth Ministry
“I content that at its core youth ministry is about participating in God’s own action. The purpose of youth ministry is to invite both young and old to participate in God’s action. Youth ministry, like all ministry, seeks in humility to be swept up into God’s own action, and therefore to participate in God’s activity in our world. Youth ministry is no different from any other ministry in finding its very center in God’s own act…In the end, youth ministry is every bit as theological as every other form of ministry, because its core isn’t games and skits but the action of God. What makes it distinct from other ministries is its particular focus on the actions of God with and for young people.”

Vs.

2 – Mark Yaconelli – Contemplative Youth Ministry
“What would it mean if the goal of our ministries was simply to be prayerfully present to young people – to allow them to be fully themselves? Could we trust that our presence is enough? How would we treat youth if we weren’t trying to convince them of the importance of the faith, the worthiness of Jesus, the necessity of the church? What would happen if we sought to minister to young people through our ears, through our presence, through silent prayer and an open heart? What would such radical acceptance evoke in young people? Contemplative youth ministry is about deepening our presence to both God and young people. And though this time is grounded in prayer and openness to God, the fruit of this time is our increasing ability to be present – open and available – in all our relationships.”

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March Madness Update

Hey everyone,

Awesome job on the voting so far!!! A quick update about March Madness. I am out of town the next few days (getting ready for an awesome UMC youth conference that will be happening in a couple of years) and so in order to help make the match ups the best they can be, we are going to take a few days off this week. The Sweet 16 will pick by up this Thursday and run through Sunday!

Keep up the great reading and voting!

Jay

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March Madness – Last Day of Round 1!

Here are the last match ups for round 1. Who will make it to the sweet 16?!

The Writers

1 – Rachel Held Evans
“If you are looking for verses with which to support slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to abolish slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to oppress women, you will find them. If you are looking for for verses with which to liberate or honor women, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to promote peace, you will find them. If you are looking for an out-dated, irrelevant ancient text, you will find it. If you are looking for truth, believe me, you will find it. This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not “what does it say?”, but “what am I looking for?” I suspect Jesus knew this when he said, “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” If you want to do violence in this world, you will always find the weapons. If you want to heal, you will always find the balm.”

Vs.

8 – William Willimon
“That many ministers base their ministry on models of leadership uncritically borrowed from the latest fads in businesses leadership or therapeutic practices is yet another testimony to our failure to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, thus radically changing the world.”

Church Voices

7 – Dan Kimball
“In emerging worship the sermon is more of an invitation to Kingdom living rather than focused on the five steps for this or that wrapped up with clean applicaiton points. Sermons are applicable by their nature if we’re speaking about Kingdom living as a disciple, but the emerging approach to sermons is telling the story of God and inviting others into that story instead of outlining propositional principles out of the Bible and turning them into sermon application points.”

Vs.

2- Amy Butler
“And now we find ourselves living in a political climate where every single day we are hearing of policies that exploit and destroy those who are weak, vulnerable, and different.  And the message of the gospel—that we claim to follow—will not allow for us to stay silent.Perhaps, with me, you are feeling the witness and presence of so many who have gone before us, even in this place, and asking similar questions to those of my friend: “What do we do with fear?  That keeps me up at night.  I am wondering what my limits will be—how will we get through this?”Here’s what we will do: we will do what Jesus’ first followers and every faithful follower since then has done.  We will feel ourselves overcome by fear, but we will then fix our gaze on Jesus alone and allow our fear to be overcome by faith.  And then we’ll turn and walk down the mountain into the darkness of Lent, toward the reality of the cross, and in the way that leads toward life.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March Madness – Round 1 Day 7

The Professors

4 – Denise Hopkins – Journey Through the Psalms
“All the feelings that mark our struggle for faith from day to day appear in the Psalter. Psalm language grasps for us the many facets of God and our relationship to God, whom we experience as both present and absent. Psalms allows us to be honest and whole before God as we express our faith in good times and bad and every time in between. A journey through the psalms is the journey of the life of faith.”

Vs.

5 – James Cone – The Cross and The Lynching Tree
“The cross can heal and hurt; it can be empowering and liberating but also enslaving and oppressive. There is no one way in which the cross can be interpreted. I offer my reflections because I believe that the cross placed alongside the lynching tree can help us to see Jesus in America in a new light, and thereby empower people who claim to follow him to take a stand against white supremacy and every kind of injustice.”

Youth Ministry Voices

6 – Kara Powell
“After all, we try hard as parents, but ultimately it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to build deep faith in our kids. (I hope you sighed in relief after you read that sentence. I did after I wrote it.) Because God is the one who ultimately sticks with us and our kids, we can trust him to walk with our families no matter what we face.”

Vs.

3 – Andrew Root – Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry
“Ministry, then, is not about “using” relationships to get individuals to accept a “third thing,” whether that be conservative politics, moral behaviors or even the gospel message. Rather, ministry is about connection, one to another, about sharing in suffering and joy, about persons meeting persons with no pretense or secret motives. It is about shared life, confessing Christ not outside the relationship but within it. This, I learned, was living the gospel.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March Madness Round 1 – Day 6

The Writers

6 – Richard Rohr
“Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else. We often given a bogus version of the Gospel, some fast-food religion, without any deep transformation of the self; and the result has been the spiritual disaster of “Christian” countries that tend to be as consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, class conscious, and addictive as everybody else-and often more so, I’m afraid.”

Vs.

3 – Lisa Sharon Harper
“JESUS REMINDS the Samaritan woman at the well that she was created for living water—she, the rejected one, was created for water that brings God’s healing, God’s acceptance, God’s wholeness. She was created for God’s peace between ethnic groups. She was created for God’s peace between genders. She was not created for the wilderness. She was created for places where living water springs from the earth and waters everything and everyone in its path. This hardened woman was created to be loved, and to love.”

The Church Voices

4 – Nadia Bolz-Weber
“Singing in the midst of evil is what it means to be disciples. Like Mary Magdalene, the reason we stand and weep and listen for Jesus is because we, like Mary, are bearers of resurrection, we are made new. On the third day, Jesus rose again, and we do not need to be afraid. To sing to God amidst sorrow is to defiantly proclaim, like Mary Magdalene did to the apostles, and like my friend Don did at Dylan Klebold’s funeral, that death is not the final word. To defiantly say, once again, that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it. And so, evil be damned, because even as we go to the grave, we still make our song alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.”

Vs.

5 – Phyllis Tickle
When asked ‘What other characteristics of the emerging church might make some people uncomfortable?’ Tickle responded: The emergence citizen is deeply allergic to real estate. You are no longer nimble once you own something, and emergence citizens believe in transience. Their thinking is, ‘Just because we are all together in this community right now doesn’t mean we will not be led by the Spirit to scatter like a milk pod bursting and going and planting others, and if we own real estate, we can’t do that’”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March Madness – Round 1 – Day 5

Youth Ministry Voices

1) Kenda Creasy Dean – Practicing Passion
“Youth ministry must invite young people into communities the practice passion – not just any passion, but God’s passion – through acts of worship and witness that invite us to love foolishly and to suffer love’s consequences as we seek after God’s own heart. So this is where we begin: with a passionate God, and with young people searching for passionate love, hoping against hope that their search is not in vain.”

Vs.

8) Robert Dykstra – Counseling Troubled Youth
“For counselor and young person alike, the pastoral relationships become one not only of revealing oneself to one another, but of awaiting revelation of oneself from the other, and finally, from God.”

The Professors

7 – Doug Powe
“In communion, we not only share the loaf, but also the cup. In many liturgies we say the cup represents the blood of Christ shed for us. Some express concern that the image of blood connotes violence; yet it is the bloodshed in recent incidents around our country that has renewed the interest in racial dialogue. The juxtaposition of the cup representing salvation and the desire to save lives from further bloodshed should not be lost on us. This juxtaposition is troubling. As Christians, we are the ones who should see with new eyes because Jesus’s blood was shed. We should be true bearers of the cup of salvation bringing healing to hurt and pain.To be bearers of salvation, we must be willing to enter into conversations where we hear the pain others are experiencing. Avoiding these conversations means we are empty salvation bearers. It means we are not fully living out what it means to partake of the cup from Jesus. As often as we partake of the cup, it should remind us of our calling to be bearers of salvation even when it makes us uncomfortable.”

Vs.

2 – Elaine Heath
“Let’s be honest, the Lord Jesus Christ would not get ordained in the United Methodist Church if he were to come and carry out his earthly work today. For one thing he couldn’t get through the process in the 3 years of ministry before his crucifixion. And even if he could, his insistence in being the Light of the World would be seen as exclusive by some boards of ordained ministry, and his friendships with women would scandalize others. The bishop would not like his homelessness. His poverty would make a Master of Divinity degree impossible. You see what I mean. The business of following Jesus is going to sometimes mean that foxes have hols and birds have nests but we have nowhere to lay our head in the ordination process. My suspicion is that if enough new Methodists are stubborn about staying in the church but radical about following Jesus, with or without ordination, with or without financial renumeration for their ministry, they will bring about systemic change.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment