Shameful Ignorance: Tony Jones & Christianity Today #CTshame

I’m not the cartoonist that David Hayward is, so I have to steal. David posted a ‘toon today with tips on how to silence a dog (or a person) in response to Christianity Today‘s Shame-a-Thon TwitterChat, about which I knew nothing until I read David’s post. But the record is there, so everyone can go back and read at least some of what was said.

The television show M*A*S*H was a sometimes biting commentary on the Vietnam war, but was set in Korea about 2 decades earlier. They never mentioned Vietnam and could defend against accusations of attacking US government policy with that. But nobody was fooled, and it was impossible not to make the connection. I can’t say for certain that CT’s Twitter chat was sparked by the growing swell of online chatter about the Tony Jones situation, but it’s impossible not to connect the dots if you know they’re there.

Narcissists in the Pulpit

Marionette Doll So I’ve been dragged back into blogging for a little, but some of these thoughts have been percolating for some time now. Yesterday while I was writing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as it relates to the Tony Jones situation with his divorce and the Emergent Village leadership at the time, Kathy Escobar was writing a thing or two about narcissism (+ church). Kathy is someone whose blog I used to really enjoy back when I was regularly reading emerging/missional blogs, and I’m so glad to see she’s still blogging — especially given the insight she’s shared about NPD.

The History & Future of (Consumerist) Christian Theology

shapevine-video-still This afternoon I watched the online video of a roundtable with Brian McLaren, John Franke, Scot McKnight, Darrell Guder, and Tim Keel hosted by Lance Ford. (Recorded October or November 2008, currently on the front page at; sorry no direct archive link.) This group represents quite an exceptional emerging/missional brain trust, and the conversation is a good one from which one can pick bits to ponder almost at will. Here’s a bit of conversation that stuck out for me:

Inverting the Leadership Pyramid


Vineet Nayar in a Harvard Business publication says It’s Time to Invert the Management Pyramid, which Ryan Bolger follows up by saying We Must Invert the Pastor Pyramid. I’m not really very big on chasing down business strategies to apply to the church, but it’s always striking to notice how all the really good organizational ideas that the churches adopt are ones which the business realm has had a grasp on for a decade or more. With this in mind, whether one takes the result as a prescription or not, it is instructive to take note when the business realm begins to find fault with their old organizational method and begins imagining or suggesting an alternative structure. The Harvard article states,

The Narratives of Leadership

sgtribes.jpg I know I already quoted from the book, but it’s a good one. Page 27:

Senator Bill Bradley defines a movement as having three elements:

  1. A narrative that tells a story about who we are and the future we’re trying to build
  2. A connection between and among the leader and the tribe
  3. Something to do–the fewer limits, the better

Too often organizations fail to do anything but the third.

Tribal leaders are able to envision a future and create a narrative to live into, by which others can one day arrive at the imagined future — or at least come nearer to it. As they pass on that narrative, others, perhaps their children, come even nearer. Narratives are important… we realize too little how much they already shape us. The fact is, most of us don’t even realize that we live according to an existing narrative.

An Analogy on Authority

blueparakeet.jpg I recently finished Scot McKnight’s latest release, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. I have a habit of noticing ideas and examples that may be tangental to the author’s point but which I still make a point of applying in a slightly different context — as I did yesterday. And here comes another one, on authority.

Maybe another analogy will point us in the right direction. My relationship to the president and provost and dean of my university, North Park University, might be called a relationship of authority. David Parkyn, our president, Joseph Jones, our provost, and Charles Peterson, our dean, are in one sense authority figures. They have more authority than I do–and they should have. Frankly, knowing the kind of life an administrator is called to live, I am quite happy to cede that authority to them. Actually, I’m not ceding anything to them. They are given authority by the board of trustees, and my responsibility is to acknowledge their authority. However you look at it, they have a kind of authority I don’t.

Jesus & Leadership: A Study in Failure?

the_king.jpg Last summer, I asked if Jesus was a failure as a visionary Leader. I think I mostly made my point, but there will remain some who are unconvinced, I’m sure. To suggest anything wrong with the way our Lord did things is a serious breach of Christian etiquette, perhaps enough to get one run out of town on a rail. But there it is. I left it alone for a while, thinking maybe I’d write further on it at some point, but never did. This spring, Ruth Tucker posted a “provocative” piece on Acknowledging Jesus as a Failed Leader, which received a fair bit of blogosphere linkage. I had hoped to resume this dialogue sooner, but Tucker’s post disappeared for some time, reappearing online just recently. She may be even more provocative than I was:

3 Leadership Lessons from John 3

popeye.jpg I’ve actually been meaning to post this for quite some time now, but I’ve been reminded of it again and am finally getting around to it. I have in my 20-year-old NIV Study Bible on page 1599 a 3″x4″ Post-it Note affixed overtop of the notes on the bottom of the page. It contains three bullet-points referring to a text on that page, with a few brief notes about each one. The note represents advice at-the-ready that I could share with a group for anywhere from 5 minutes perhaps up to full sermon length. It always seemed a good idea to have something at the ready, and it is a bit of advice that I shared with leaders and leaders-in-training and people in ministry training or prophetic ministry. And now here it is on the blog. I say there are three lessons, but really it’s a single lesson in three points, designed to remind us who we are and put us in our place.