Category Archives: emerging church

the best of 2008: favorite ysmarko posts

this is my final post in this ‘best of 2008’ series. as i looked back over my blogging from 2008, these were my favorite posts:

organizational thinking, part 2
horton hears a who and the culture of fear
my stake in the ground on male pronouns for god

ys stuff:
pittsburgh nywc, monday morning
the outrage, the injustice, the unfairness

youth ministry:
ah, 6th grade boys
my top youth ministry website picks

personal stuff:
things learned from my life on the rails
poser week
world youth day update, days 3 and 4
on worshipping as an other
great children’s song

most read (meaning, highest traffic; not necessarily my favorites):
so, the ys obama book
band name meme
worst christmas nativities
my stake in the ground on male pronouns for god

funny stuff:
cornel west and david crowder: twins seperated at birth?
one sentence true stories
small world awkwardness

also in this series:
the best books of 2008
the best tv and movies of 2008
the best music of 2008
the best blogs of 2008
the best family moments of 2008
the best ministry moments of 2008

the best of 2008: blogs

i have about 70 feeds in my bloglines these days, and normally check it a couple times a day (in addition to many more blogs i check in on from time to time). but, as is true with many blog readers, i don’t really read every post on all of them. i skim, and see if the posts catches my attention. if i find that i’m only skimming all the time, i remove them from my bloglines. so, the 70 (which are somewhat represented by this list, though i’ve updated it a bit since that time) are those that capture my interest most often.

that said, these are the handful that i have found myself consistently reading this year:

the emergent village blog. steve knight does an amazing job of gathering guest bloggers, and aggregating and reporting on stuff all around the emerging church world.

mark riddle’s blog. mark is really coming into his own as a thought leader in youth ministry.

ypulse. often more than i can digest, ypulse still provides a steady stream of excellent connections to media, marketing and research pertaining to teenagers.

fyi blog. the fuller youth institute’s re-formatted blog consistently has more research-based, meaty reflections on youth ministry than any other source on the internet.

adam mclane and the ys blog. both blogs are by ys staffer adam mclane. adam has done a great job of pulling in great content on the ys blog, and share a lot of his own stirrings on his own blog.

stuff christians like. jon acuff regularly has me chuckling.

neatorama. often overwhelming in quantity, neatorama is still my best source for fun and weird stuff on the internet. i finally added neatorama to my blog reader after heidi turner kept sending me stuff from it that i would repost.

indexed. jessica hagy simple 3×5 card drawings are often funny and often insightful.

my son max’s blog. max doesn’t post often, but i love it when he does.

also in this series of posts:
the best of 2008: books
– still to come: the best of 2008: music, tv & movies, family moments, ministry moments, and ysmarko posts

the best of 2008: books

i’m planning on posting 7 “best of 2008” posts, on books, music, tv & movies, ministry moments, family stuff, blogs, and ysmarko posts. i only have two written so far, though, so time will see if i get them ready to go live daily, as i plan.

i read about 45 books in 2008 (give or take). scanning back over them, these are the ones that really stood out as exceptional books, imho. i read books in plenty of other categories (youth ministry, general fiction, general non-fiction), and enjoyed many of them. the links are to my reviews of the books.

young adult fiction
donorboy, by brendan halpin
feed, by m.t. anderson
Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature, by Robin Brande
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

spiritual memoir
sin boldly, by cathleen falsani
my beautiful idol, by pete gall

the great emergence, by phyllis tickle
the blue parakeet, by scot mcknight
the new christians, by tony jones

general fun
the book of general ignorance, by John Mitchinson and John Lloyd

christian fiction
christ the lord: the road to cana, by anne rice
my name is russell fink, by michael snyder

next up: best blogs of 2008

meet the new emergent national coordinators

there’s a hilarious and wonderfully true little bit of subversive wackiness floating around blogland and youtubeland. since emergent village restructure recently to more toward a more grass-roots, organic future (part of which included the end of tony jones’ role as the ‘official’ national coordinator), a handful of people have been posting videos declaring themselves the new national coordinator. while this is all tongue-in-cheek, in a way, the message is: we are all the national coordinator, and nothing will happen if we don’t do it. it’s fantastic ownership, and awesomely fun.

here are a few of the videos:

joshua case, who i think got this whole thing going:

troy bronsink, who pulls it off even with a broken mic on his computer:

steve knight, short and sweet:

michael toy, who coins three fantastic new words, stringing them together to say “we are missiony in a jesish trajex”:

adam walker-cleaveland, who talks about “being in the ‘post-jonesian era'”:

john o-hara, who thanks adam walker-cleaveland for passing the torch:

i’m sure there will be more. i hope so!

finding jesus on facebook

interesting article in the new york times about how people are using facebook and podcasts to find churches. nothing earth-shattering or overly insightful, but worth a quick read.

here are a couple ‘graphs:

It is not just from the pulpit that churches are finding new ways to attract younger worshipers. Some have created profiles or groups on Facebook or MySpace, as well as on specifically Christian networking Web sites, like, to encourage young people to stay connected to Jesus. Larger, wealthier churches build and maintain their own sites, offering video clips and podcasts of sermons, blogs, church ads and the ability to donate electronically.

Those seeking a place to worship say they use the online tools to preview a church. At one service, Mr. Searcy asked how many first-time attendees had listened to a podcast before deciding to try out the Journey — half the audience raised their hands.

(ht to ypulse)

ryan sharp’s wack dream

ryan sharp is the brilliant songwriter and voice of the cobalt season. he sent me this incredibly random email recently, describing a dream he’d just woken up from. with his permission, i post it here for your laughter (or psychological evaluation):

Dude, I just woke up from the weirdest dream.

I was at this bar and was watching someone perform. As I left, I remember that you’re with me and it’s almost morning. We’re in a shady part of town. I decide that it’s time to head home, but you offer me a ride. Something happens where I figure out that you’re actually chasing me, so I start running, terrified. I mean seriously. It was so weird.

We must run for 5-10 minutes, dodging cars, jumping fences and all. FInally you tackle me. You tell me that you’re helping transition this church in San Diego and really need me to be the worship guy. You’re adamant and desperate. It’s really weird.

You then tell me that this was the reason you responded to my email. So, it’s now morning and you and I walk to the church. It’s an older building. I don’t recognize it. But once inside, we enter what appears to be a cry room. Some guy comes in and asks for you to come to a meeting downstairs. You leave. He tells me that his dream for this room is to be a room where women can put on their makeup. “They should be able to do that,” he says.

Then I wake up. And am so groggy. That was a wack dream.

my current blogroll

time for a blogroll update!

here’s what i’ve got in my bloglines these days. i try to keep it paired down — i just don’t have time to read hundreds of blogs every day. but these are the ones i look at at least once a day. there are dozens of others – particularly youth ministry blogs – that i check in on from time to time, but aren’t listed here.

the categories are somewhat arbitrary – they’re just what work for me!

emerging church
zach lind
jonny baker
lilly lewin
emergent village
steven shields / faithmaps
mark scandrette
doug pagitt
andrew jones
tony jones
dan kimball

junior high summit (these are the peeps i meet with once a year for the ‘jh pastors summit’ – they’re buddies of mine, and i welcome their thinking about young teen ministry to push and pull my own thoughts.)
christian dashiell
jason raitz
nate rice
kurt johnston
johnny scott
andy jack
sean meade
brooklyn lindsey

Youth ministry (this is a tough category for me, because there are SO many wonderful youth ministry blogs. i read dozens and dozens more than this on an occasional basis. but these are the handful i find the most thoughtful and challenging, or, frankly, are just friends of mine in youth ministry that i want to stay current with.)
blair bertrand
chris folmsbee
tash mcgill
mark riddle
mike king
sam harvey
martin saunders
will penner
ypulse (ypulse isn’t a youth ministry blog, actually. it’s the blog of anastasia goodstein, who has her finger on the pulse of youth culture and marketing like no other. i have this in my ‘youth ministry’ category because i always find things that make me think about youth ministry.)

Journey (my church)
brian berry (the high school pastor, and CORE team member)
josh treece (the former middle school guy)
todd tolson (the community guy, and long-ago middle school pastor)
ian and christina robertson (christina is our middle school pastor, ian is a co-worker of mine at ys)
riptide blog (the middle school ministry, of which i am a volunteer)
ed noble (teaching pastor, and friend of 20 years)
rod kaya (worship dude)
encounter blog (high school ministry blog, more important to me now that my daughter is in the group)

scot mcknight
seth barnes
think christian
naked pastor
asbo jesus

ys staff
renee altson (former ys staffer — but still part of the ys staff family)
mindi godfrey
jen and jay howver
alex roller (alex hasn’t actually worked at ys for a while — but i still think of him as part of us.)
adam mclane
ys open book
ys blog

dave barry
the wittenburg blog
stuff christians like

Music & media (this is an absurd category. how can i lump together david crowder and dwight schrute’s ficticious blog? sorry, david.)
david crowder
dwight schrute
matt maher

bob carlton
mark dowds
paul chambers
indexed (the pithy little 3×5 thoughts of jessica hagy)
max (max, my son, isn’t posting often, but they’re fun when he does.)

the great emergence

The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why, by phyllis tickle.

in a recent video post by doug pagitt, he talks about the relationship between the terms “emergence”, “emerging church”, and “emergent” (or emergent village). the emerging church, as many have come to use the term, is a subset of a greater shift that has been happening in our culture for the last couple hundred years. the emerging church is, one might say, the ecclesiological implications (or at least the discussion of those implications) of the grander shift taking place in our broader mindset, both in academia and in the popular conscience.

phyllis tickle engages this discussion at both levels — giving us much of the historical reasons for, and milemarkers of, this greater emergence. she weaves a discussion of the emerging church throughout. but this is not a book about emergent village; and, to be fair, tickle writes about the emerging church in the broadest terms possible, including vineyard churches and calvary chapels as indicative of the shift.

i heard phyllis give a talk on this content at one of our national youth workers conventions last fall. it was stunning. it blew people away, to the extent that she received a long and loud standing ovation that showed a level of respect for both who she is and what she said. of course, she really ticked a few people off also, which one should expect from any hearty discussion of change in front of a large and diverse audience. but for me, and many others present, it was one of the most memorable talks i’ve heard in years, and has shaped my thinking and discussions since. knowing that this book was coming, i’ve been extremely eager to read it, and was thrilled to get my hands on a pre-pub copy of the manuscript (the book releases in october, though amazon seems to have it in stock already).

tickle is a recovering academic, and this is no lightweight book of observations and anecdotes: it’s a sweeping analysis of sociological, cultural and religious shifts. tickle contends that the church seems to transition through massive changes about every 500 years, as a result of changing worldviews in the culture at large. she posits that we’re a good ways into one of these epochal hinge-points; and following the language of “the great schism” and “the great reformation” for the last two hinge-points, uses “the great emergence” for this shift (though the term is not, as she acknowledges, hers).

because the book is a cultural analysis, and not a theological treatise, there’s not much to anger anti-emergent people in this book. they might not agree with the cultural analysis, i suppose; and tickle’s pro-emergence leaning (clearly, she sees this shift as positive, not neutral or negative) isn’t masked. so some might choose to be dismissive on that count (we all have our biases). but the case is well made — we’re clearly not a part of the same worldviews that existed prior to darwin, scientific discoveries of relativity, postmodern language deconstruction, and a variety of other factors that have (in tickles language) so severely pocked the cable of meaning that connects our religious thought and practice to its mooring.

truly, the great emergence is one of the most important books written, to date, on the shifts happening in the american (and worldwide) church — particularly protestantism, but all of christianity also. it’s must-reading for anyone who desires to be an active participant in the shaping of the church today, whether at a local level, or at broader levels of discussion and practice.

i’m smarter because of this book. i understand more. i am better equipped to both enter into dialogue about the church today, as well as to live out my calling as a practitioner of the church of jesus christ in the real world.

related posts:
reaction to phyllis tickle’s talk at the nywc
terry mattingly writes about phyllis tickle’s nywc talk

simon hall

simon hall is the leader of a wonderful emerging church* in leeds, UK (*alt. worship, as they call it there), called revive, and a significant part of great change that’s happening in the changing church in england. i’m sure he’ll be at greenbelt this weekend (wish i was!), leading worship or seminars, or drinking tea outside the tiny tea tent. probably all three of those.

a dozen year ago or more, jeannie and i took a trip to denmark, where i spoke at a camp, and simon brought his young worship band to lead the music (the band was fronted by then-14 or 15 year-old corrinne bailey rae). we became fast friends with simon, and have stayed in touch over the years (he visited our home in san diego a year or two ago). we have always annoyed him by singing the old SNL mike myers kid-in-a-bathtub bit: “hello, my name is simon, and i like to do drawrings…”

as part of packing for our move, jeannie and i were going through old boxes of photos stashed away in our garage, winnowing down the stack to a fourth of its size. and i came across this pic of me and simon. our hosts at the camp had taken us all out, one day, for a sail on a nearby lake, on a huge old boat.

don’t you love simon’s femme pose, and my dorky closed-eyed wonder? don’t even know what i’m holding — a danish sea-worthy cup of coffee??