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Cardinal O’Malley: ‘If I were founding a Church, I’d love to have women priests’

Cardinal_OMalley-140x156I was in Boston for three days last weekend working in a number of exciting missional-ecumenical contexts. Boston is best known, in terms of its Christian leadership, for the work of Cardinal Sean O’Malley. I pray for Cardinal O’Malley, a leader who represents Pope Francis and his vision as well as any American leader in the Catholic Church. Let me explain some of what I mean by sharing about my recent experience in Boston.

On Sunday evening (November 16) I met with twelve ecumenical leaders from the city. Included among those at the table were some wonderful folks such as the leader of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the newly appointed dean of the Orthodox Cathedral, the evangelical catalyst for overseeing the joint efforts of ten seminaries in the greater Boston area, a lay leader in the office of ecumenism for Cardinal O’Malley and various religious leaders, both clergy and non-clergy. We were Catholic, Orthodox, charismatic, evangelical, mainline Protestant. We were Asian, white, black and hispanic. We were male and female, young and old. It was quite a

In Search of Deep Faith

3774I had the joy of meeting Dr. Jim Belcher some years ago when he pastored Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California. I cultivated a growing relationship with Jim, and his family, and spoke several times to his congregation. I was loved and honored and thus retain great memories of those days where Jim and I shared ministry together. Jim eventually wrote a great book that many of you have read – Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional (InterVarsity, 2009). If you have not read this book it is a must for a balanced and deeply thoughtful treatment about our present moment and how to think and live missionally and intentionally. I was able to contribute a very small part of my life to serving Jim in the making of this fine book, a book which received two awards in 2010: The Christianity Today Book Award winner and the Golden Canon Leadership Book Award. Again, if you haven’t read it then I profoundly commend Deep Church to you.

Now Jim has written a second

My Ministry in Charlotte – The ACT3/CityONE Partnership

97Charlotte, North Carolina, has been rightly called the “City of Churches.” I was surprised to learn that there are more churches in Charlotte, as least per capita, than in any other city in the U.S. However, despite the religious influence in this great Southern city, young adults in their 20′s & 30′s are mostly absent from local faith communities. This is not just true in Charlotte but in all of our large American cities, where the majority of our people, and especially the overwhelming majority of young adults, live today.

Because of these demographics, and thus this obvious mission field, several local churches coming together as ONE can reach young adults in their 20′s and 30′s more effectively than one particular church, including large megachurches. I have seen this for myself by sharing in the ministry of PhoenixONE over the last two years. Now I get to share in this collaborative effort through the mission of CharlotteONE. This Saturday (October 5) I will begin my publish ministry in Charlotte with our ACT3 Unity Factor Forum. You can register

A Modest Post-Denominational Proposal

georgebioRev. George Byron Koch (Coke) is my friend. In fact, he is my very good friend. As my lead blog post for this week I am publishing a document that George recently sent to me to get my feedback. I now share it with you to get your feedback and to show you how two missional-ecumenists think about the church in these challenging and exciting times.

Fr. George Koch has been the pastor of Resurrection Church, West Chicago (IL), since June of 1994. George received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics in 1968 from Elmhurst College. While in college he was active in the Civil Rights Movement, wrote a newspaper column, hosted a series of local radio programs and led a band called “The Establishment.” After a time in the recording and film industry George founded a venture-funded national software company which led, in 1990, to him becoming senior vice-president for the Oracle Corporation. But George was restless for radical service to God through the mission of the church as a called and trained minister of the gospel.

Ethnography – Developing the Pastoral Skill of Mission

monkimage.phpYesterday, I noted that Dr. Robert Price, associate professor of evangelism and urban ministry at Northern Seminary in Lombard (IL), says, “Ethnography is the pastoral skill of mission. Leaders need to be ‘participant observers,’ to get inside the story of the context, from whence we proclaim the gospel.” When I read this quote it grabbed my interest and then made me pause and ask, “What is ethnography?”

Ethnography is a qualitative form of research aimed at exploring cultural phenomena. The resulting field study, or a case report, reflects the knowledge and the system of meanings in the lives of a cultural group. Ethnography is a means by which we can represent graphically, and in writing, the culture of a particular people. It is rooted in empirical data gathered from human societies and cultures and is rooted in the discipline of anthropology. It has become popular in the social sciences in general, and in sociology and communication studies more specifically. It is the outgrowth of what we call the “soft sciences.” The goal of ethnography is to reflexively respond

Why Ecumenism Matters to Missional Church

imagesThe difficulties in the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Dialogue lie in the area of “instrumentality.” Catholics maintain that elements of teaching and ecclesial practice must be held in common before there can be “full communion.” Sister Lorelei Fuchs examines the central idea of church as koinonia from the perspective of both Methodism and the Catholic Church. She follows the line of thinking that I have seen bear fruit from first hand observation, namely that we need a model of the church that embraces both unity and diversity. Sister Lorelei challenges this Methodist-Catholic dialogue to move forward by dealing with unresolved issues in a way that embraces a unity and diversity paradigm.

My good friend Jeffrey Gros, a leading Catholic ecumenist who has had a critical role in working with evangelicals, examines several critical ecumenical texts in the book Celebrating a Century of Ecumenism: The Fruits of One Hundred Years. Jeff says that “an exchange of theological views [is needed] in order to increase mutual understanding and to discover what theological ground they hold in common.”

For me this is the bottom

The Rise of Ecumenism and Why It Matters

images-3A little over 100 years ago the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh (1910) was a prophetic foretaste of a century-plus renewal of Christian ecumenism, a renewal that has proved to be quite substantial on many different levels. If the truth is told I believe we have made more progress than the participants at the famous Edinburgh Conference imagined at the time. I also believe the last century is a prelude to what is to come in the decades ahead.

We must begin by stating the obvious–full visible unity between the various Christian churches and denominations has not been realized. Nevertheless, Catholics, Protestants and the Orthodox have all found ways to reach new levels of understanding and mutual respect. Christians in the global Anglican Communion, to cite but one example, have made significant contributions as a via media (middle way). Even a growing number of voices within the Free Church communions have joined this dialogue. One could say that a rapprochement has been reached that would not have been seriously thought possible at Edinburgh.

The World Council of Churches (WCC),

The "god of American belief" Has Failed Us – Now What?

images-2America did not need an established church (i.e., a state church wedded to public practice) because the everyday habits of Americans assumed the establishment of the Christian church. This assumption has become our biggest problem since the Millennials have come of age. This new generation no longer assumes the church or the public role of religion. They are spiritual questers but not religious in the normal American sense. This is why I meet more and more people my own age (55+) who say, with great emotion and sadness, “I love Jesus very much but I no longer pay any attention to the church. It simply doesn’t seem relevant to my faith journey.”

As a result of significant historical developments Americans continue to have an abiding belief in this god. The god they believe in is really the god of American thought and imagination. This god does not require much of American believers nor does he/she/it connect people deeply to community, thus to anything like the (visible) church. Stanley Hauerwas adds, “To know or worship that god does not

The Missional Perspective and Its Meaning for the Church in North America

A_Missional_PerspectiveA theology of the church that confesses the Christian community to be missio Dei (mission of God) means that the church is much more than a voluntary association of members joined by various means and methods. It is – “the household of God” – the place where Christ dwells by the Spirit with his people upon the earth. When this understanding of the church is rightly grasped the church can never settle for the role of chaplain to society or the vendor of religious goods and services. It certainly cannot exist to serve the consumer’s needs by recruiting potential members.

Missional theology, when correctly understood as a way of seeing the church missio Dei, sees the church as an alternative community that witnesses corporately by living as the new community in the power of the Spirit. The church exists for others, not for itself. It is mission before it even thinks about “doing” mission. Read that sentence again. We have thought of mission as something the church does for many centuries. A fundamental difference between missional thinking

Theology and Missional Church: How Shall We Respond to Our Seismic Culture Shifts?

imagesTheology is vitally important. To listen to many progressively oriented voices these days you’d  think that theology really doesn’t really matter, only love for our neighbors. Christians who are serious about the once-for-all revealed faith must understand that this is a false contrast. Both theology and love matter. Indeed, they matter profoundly. Good theology will actually help you to understand what love is and then how to properly love God and others. Good theology fuels the fire of true love in action.

I am inclined to believe that a major problem at this point is a false contrast between the word theology and the biblical idea of true love. Some believe that theology is not important because theology is, to their way of thinking, only about being right in one’s views regarding various truths. But sound theology is really about humbly submitting both our mind and heart to the living God. The living and true God has revealed himself in Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). To reject theology altogether is a colossal mistake.


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