Tag Archives: deep church

deep church youth ministry

if you’re a youth worker and you don’t subscribe to the fuller youth institute‘s free e-journal, then you are seriously missing out or living in a cave.

this week’s e-journal had a link to an interview kara powell conducted with jim belcher, author of deep church (my review of this great book). i’m friends with both kara and jim, and worked with the two of them on a church staff a decade ago (and started a church service with them). so it was fun to hear them chatting. but i’m posting this on my blog, because the last 1/3 (or even 1/4) of the interview is where it seriously gets good, particularly for youth workers. jim says some really profound things about what we should be focusing on in youth ministry (based on his research for his book). i still recommend the book; but i highly recommend you take 5 or 7 minutes to listen to the last 1/3 of this interview (just fire it up, then click to the 2/3 point, if you don’t have time for the whole thing).

deep church

deepchurch1Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional, by Jim Belcher

15 years ago, i started working at lake avenue church in pasadena. and after a few years there, i was part of a team of people (including kara powell and jim belcher) who started an alternative worship service called “the warehouse“, which is — amazingly — still happening at that church. jim was the pastor of the young adult ministry at the church. man, we used to have the best arguments. i mean (at least in hindsight), the kind of arguments where both people are better for having had them. jim played a big role in shaping my thinking about preaching, and my practice. and we went at it on various theological issues also (jim was certainly the token calvinist on that team).

now, all these years later, jim is the senior pastor of a presbyterian church in newport beach, california. we’ve gotten together a few times in the past few years, and i’ve really enjoyed the connection. he really is an interesting guy (and deeply thoughtful, with a seminary degree from fuller, and a ph.d. in politics from georgetown). and now that he’s a senior pastor in the presby world, he often finds he’s “too emerging” for the presbys, and “too reformed” for many in the emerging church world.

in that space, jim set out to write a book that would be a “third way” between emerging and reformed (he says between emerging and traditional). i had a chance to read the manuscript — the book is scheduled to come out this fall — and was skeptical, as much as i like jim and know how smart he is, that it was going to be another unfair slam on the emerging church.

but i was wrong. jim has written the most fair and affectionate critique of the emerging church yet published (especially from someone with a reformed theological perspective). he’s honest about how he approaches his inquiry; he really did his homework (including conversations — it’s frustrating how many critical authors never even speak to those they’re critiquing); and he really does like many of the values and practices of the emerging church. so, with one foot in reformed history, and one foot in emerging church world, deep church is a great read. it’s a great read for non-reformed types in the emerging church, because it’s a fair and thoughtful critique. and it’s a great read for more traditional or reformed types, because it doesn’t construct straw men to make its case.

here’s the official endorsement i wrote for the book:

Many have written critiques of the emerging church; and some have attempted “third way” books that have attempted to describe a possible best-of-both path between traditional and emerging mindsets and practices. But I think Jim Belcher’s book is the first to be truly gracious to both of these oft contentious perspectives, suggesting a fair and honest critique of both. Belcher has clearly done his homework, and lives — as a lead pastor of a church plant — with one foot in the reformed, traditional camp, and one foot in the emerging church. This is a great read for any who are tired of straw man arguments and polarization.

monday morning update, march 16, 2009

the weekend that was: my weekend was mostly re-entry from a week out. i’d been up at forest home camp, NE of LA, all week. the second half of that week was a personal silent retreat, which went through early saturday morning. that morning, i drove back to san diego, straight to my church, where i was part of a parent training morning. our junior high pastor (christina) and high school pastor (brian) talked about what they’re trying to accomplish in the youth ministries, then i talked about adolescence and youth culture from a macro level. i was followed by our church’s teaching pastor (who also happened to be my boss 20 years ago at a church in omaha!), who talked specifically about parenting teenagers. it was a great morning, and i really enjoyed it; but it was a weird way to come off three days of total silence!

saturday afternoon, jeannie and i had a wonderful time of getting caught up and talking about life. one of the things i decided on my silent retreat is that i’ve been watching too much tv lately. the stress of my season was been a little bit of a perfect storm when combined with a television season with so many shows i like to watch. but i’ve been escaping a bit too much. and, with “kings” just starting — which looks like a show i’m going to add to my intake — i’m making a tough choice (for me, it’s tough) to cut four 1-hour shows:
celebrity apprentice
amazing race
hell’s kitchen

i’ve enjoyed all of these, so this is hard; but i think it’s best for me, and certainly better for my marriage and family. in full disclosure, the shows i’m still recording are:
american idol (which we watch as a family)
lost (which, like 24, jeannie and i both watch)
heroes (which i watch with liesl)
the office and 30 rock

saturday night, jeannie and max and i went over to our friends’, joe and beth slevcove, primarily so max could spend some time with their brand new son, akian (the russian word for “ocean”), because they’ve asked max to be akian’s “god brother”. max is taking this all very seriously, and it’s really wonderful to watch.

sunday morning was church, then a few do-dads around the house; followed by a nice catch-up with my friend, john. in the evening, all four of us (me, jeannie, max and liesl) were back at beth and joe slevcove’s for the baby shower for akian. really nice time.

where i am at the moment: at my desk, at ys, in san diego. good to be here.

on my to-do list this week: full week, but no travel. it feels a little bit stressful, though, as i have a lot of things coming to a head right now.

procrastinating about: well, taxes (like i said). i realized i missed a magazine column deadline last week, so i gotsta get that done. i have more revisions coming for the middle school ministry book, and i know i could be working on those now (but i’m waiting for someone to tell me i have to do them, which certainly qualifies as procrastination!).

book i’m in the midst of: woo-hoo! i finished 5 books since last week:
the know it all
are you there, vodka? it’s me chelsea
deep church
the world is flat
same kind of different as me

and i almost finished losing my faculties: a teacher’s story (which is a great non-fiction piece by brendan halpin). not sure what i’ll read next.

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: really didn’t listen to anything this week!

next trip: a week from today i fly to grand rapids for a 24 hour trip to zondervan. but, otherwise, nothing major ’til my spring break trip with my daughter to paris, in a few weeks!

how i’m feeling about this week: hmm. not sure. lots on my plate, which feels a bit weighty. but i’m glad to be here all week.