Buy Me A Latte'

Thanks to Makeesha Fisher and her blog "Swinging From The Vine" for this great idea. If you like my blog or a particular post, click the link below and "Buy Me A Latte'". When I looked around for the code for this one, I discovered it is a Wordpress plugin originally started as "Buy Me A Beer". Makeesha (who might not be the first) converted this to "Buy Me A Latte'". So I stole the idea from her. Check out her blog at Thanks Makeesha!

ATV Trip

Here I am in all my glory! What an awesome trip. We went to Coos Bay on Friday, Winchester Bay on Saturday, and had a blast. Six guys on ATVs riding the dunes. Hill climbing, trail riding... and of course JUMPS!

Here I am with our Lead Pastor Steve Brooke out on the beach relaxing after a ride. I am offering the cameraman a Mountain Dew of course!

Is It In You?

The Gatorade tag line... "Is It In You?" reminds me of Colossians 3:16.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Is it in you?

Leave Joel Osteen Alone, RIGHT NOW! I mean it!

He's a human!

OK, sorry for the Chris Crocker reference, but it sure seems like everyone is piling on Joel Osteen. OK, I take that back. I'm not sorry for the Chris Crocker reference. That video was hilarious!

Anyway, back to my point. Everywhere I turn people are bashing poor Joel. Mark Driscoll practically did a whole sermon on him. I say stick to preaching about Jesus and quit maligning others. The media LOVES it when we argue amongst each other. Thanks Mark.

First, I think the people who accuse Joel of spreading a health and wealth prosperity gospel are really not listening closely. You have to read a LOT into what he says if you want to throw him into the same pot with the word of faith types like Kenneth Copeland and others. His positive message is VERY mild and not full of a bunch of empty "sow a seed and reap a hundredfold" promises. In fact, he never solicits money on television. Let me say that again. He never solicits money on television.

Second, why does every preacher have to be a deal closer? Joel has a sinner's prayer at the end of every broadcast, but why should he have to? To combat accusations that his messages aren't strong enough? Again I say, "So What?" His teachings are not false. They are not wrong. But for some people they are incomplete. Some would say he is not preaching the whole truth. Well I disagree with the assumption that an incomplete gospel is a false gospel. Is there a shortage of preachers in America willing to teach that Jesus is the only way and that you must accept him as Lord in order to get to heaven? Joel is part of a kingdom of priests. He does not stand alone. His message is heard in concert with thousands of other preachers and pastors every week all over this country. God is not sitting by helplessly watching people go to hell because Joel Osteen taught them a watered down message. That is absurd.

Larry King tried to get him to say that people of other faiths are going to hell. Joel was not willing to say that, and of course the critics piled on. Some people LOVE to say who they think is going to hell. It's a sport. Erwin McManus has said that some Christians see hell as a "value added". It's as if it makes them feel good to point fingers and condemn other people to hell. Hey, that's what being a Christian is all about, right? Avoiding hell?? (No.) I agree with Erwin. I HATE that there has to be a hell. I wish there wasn't a hell. So why would I categorically condemn a billion people to burn there in eternity on national television? Like that would make one bit of difference? Come on. All it would do is appease Christian fundamentalists and further alienate Muslims. Good call Joel.

Let me be clear. I am not saying that the gospel is unimportant. I'm just saying leave Joel Osteen alone. He is teaching 47,000 people a week how to live more like Christ. He values orthopraxy over orthodoxy. What do you think God values more?

Library Posters

This is a series of three posters I saw at my local library the other day...

Awww, isnt Dakota cute? And what an appropriate book for someone her age. She even starred in the movie.

Here is Margaret Cho holding a book about an innocent man on death row. She has an interest in the case and has cited it in her writings.

And here is Denzel holding Green Eggs and Ham.

What does this communicate to you? I have to admit that the thing I thought when I saw these three posters together was "There they go keeping the black man down again! How come they gave him the Dr. Seuss book?"

Oh Denzel, what a Stepin Fetchit grin you have.

Portland Emergent Cohort

Here are the details for the newly formed Emergent Cohort in Portland. I hope to see you there!

What: Portland Emergent Learning Community (Cohort)

Where: Bella Espresso - The Meriwether West, 3550 SW River Parkway, Portland, OR 97239

When: First Tuesdays, 2pm - 4pm (November 6, December 4, etc.)

Topic: Emergent Diversity (or lack thereof); escaping the bowels of the white patriarchy!

Future Topics?? You come, you call it!

Here is some additional information from Emergent Village:

What are Emergent Cohorts?
One of the dreams of Emergent Village for the next several years is the development of local/regional learning communities in strategic locations around the country, which we call cohorts . We hope to do this because:

* We are eager to identify and assist a new generation of leaders.
* We desire to promote and enhance the local participation and the grassroots nature of the emerging church conversation.
* We hope to encourage and continue this kind of theological dialogue in many different strategic locations.
* We hope to utilize these cohorts through the hosting of local/regional mini-conferences.

What is a learning community?
While being a place of connection and support, an Emergent learning community (cohort) is primarily a place of communal exploration, theological and professional reflection, honest connection, and strategic collaboration. These learning communities are geared toward post-critical, constructive conversation, rather than deconstructive rants about the current state of the Church.

Why learning communities?
Local (Intrinsic)
* To enhance the local participation and the grassroots nature of the emerging church conversation.
* To generate new forms/ideas of the Church.

National (Extrinsic)
* To identify/support a new generation of leaders.
* To host regional gatherings.

How will learning communities function within Emergent?
Within the four emphases of Emergent (Explore, Belong, Resource, Communicate), cohorts have one foot firmly planted in "Belong" with the other foot dipping into "Resource" and "Explore." Learning communities are primary space for belonging to Emergent on the local, face to face level. Beyond the books they have read or the conferences they have attended, cohorts are places where people can gather who desire to continue this conversation. Yet, the effects of these learning communities will be felt within the areas of Resource and Explore. Our hope is that these local learning communities would begin to hold larger regional events (Resource), which might showcase some of what they are reflecting upon (Explore). These types of exchanges will create a transfer of ideas from the local to national level, and will also assist in identifying and raising up a new generation of leaders.

Emergent Village Gathering Review

I thought I would post a few more thoughts on the recent Emergent Gathering. Here are the Conversations that I attended:

5pm What the bleep are we here for??? w/Mark and Damien: a broad discussion about what's emerging in the world, how it's affecting us, and how our tribe fits into this story.

This was a fairly interesting Conversation. It was my first introduction to Mark Scandrette who I very much enjoyed. My main take away was that there are many who are disgruntled with the institutional church (duh!). I made a pitch for church planting as the bridge between the IC and emerging communities. There was a good comment about the high failure rate of church plants, which started discussion about the definition of failure. What I have seen and heard over the years is that church plants "succeed" or "fail" based on leadership. Any discussion about church planting statistics has to involve a discussion of leadership. However, I failed to make that point at the Conversation! :-)

10am The Multi-Job Pastor w/Doug P.: A discussion about $, jobs, and pastoring in the local community. Other options than the full-time pastor? What are the real-life implications of this?

I arrived pretty late to this Conversation. In fact, I missed most of it. But my gut tells me that the more that the "church" moves in the direction of organic missional communities, the less likely it is that the traditional role of FT Pastor will continue to exist. Small, loosely organized groups focused on relationships and community do not usually generate finances on a scale that can support traditional church notions of Property, Personnel, and Programs (PPP). So it seems to me a foregone conclusion that bi-vocational pastoring is going to play a larger role in the future.

3:30pm Experiencing God Holistically: beyond trinity w/ Michael Toy

This was a fascinating discussion. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Michael and hearing his thoughts on the trinity. He had a very interesting point of view regarding the trinity as a sort of vending machine (I am paraphrasing from memory, please forgive me Michael!) where each "person" is a dispenser of particular items. For example, if you want forgiveness, you ask Jesus. If you want healing, you ask the Holy Spirit. If you want protection, you ask the Father. I agree with Michael to a large extent on this point. It seems a bit contrived, but unfortunately we often do approach God as this compartmentalized entity where each part gives us different things, instead of having a holistic "oneness" approach.

10am Utopianism, Isolation, and Communities of Justice w/Mike Clawson: Discuss what emergent engagement with politics and justice should or could look like in coming days.

I definitely enjoyed meeting Mike as well. In the past I have been very careful to avoid being explicit about my political views, at least in regard to party affiliation. I have usually found that once someone thinks they know your political views, then they feel comfortable dismissing your views in general if they happen to disagree with your party affiliation. For example, if someone is a democrat, then perhaps you would not be willing to truly listen to their views on poverty or welfare because you would assume they are just spouting democrat rhetoric. Even if their views are valid. Politics is such a divisive topic. And this conversation was essentially dominated by fairly liberal points of view, but it turned into some very lively debate and discussion with the conservatives in the group. Of course, much of the content revolved around Iraq ("It's the war, stupid!"). It reminded me of a classic song by The Clash...

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble.
And if I stay it will be double.
So come on and let me know.

1:30pm Emergent Women's Discussion:

I loved this discussion perhaps most of all. This is an area where I have definitely been shifting over the last several years. It was amazing to listen in on a group of women discuss their experience as second class citizens in church. I heard so many stories of how the church had hurt them by making them feel that they had less to offer than men. Leslie, an Episcopal priest who was part of the discussion, made a comment regarding her recent participation in a Doctoral program at George Fox University as being "trapped in the bowels of the patriarchy". It was such a good comment, because I think there is so much unconcious and unintended discrimination against women in the church that we don't even realize because we are trapped by it. Being an Episcopal priest I think helped Leslie see it better, because she is not usually surrounded by such blatant male dominance.

3:30pm Art Walk w/Damien: Visit Santa Fe Art Museums...

I had a great time on the Art Walk. Santa Fe is AMAZING! Some of the galleries there are world class. I just recently read an article about the Top 10 streets in America for art, and Santa E is on the list. We got there a little late, so I didn't get a chance to see all the galleries, but what I did see was wonderful. I think the Santa Fe arts district is a slight step above anything we have here in the Portland area. Don't get me wrong, I love Portland arts, but Santa Fe was something special. If you get a chance, you should definitely make a trip!

Ok, those are my thoughts for now. I am in the midst of a spiritual journey regarding public prayer and will be posting on that when I have some clarity. Right now it's a big muddle of conflicting views in my head. Stay tuned!

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church
*Sent via BlackBerry

Ron Paul 2008

I usually avoid combining religion and politics. But I have been following Ron Paul for many months now, and its starting to look like he may have a shot. Ron Paul is pro-peace and pro-life. Watch the video below to learn more about this fascinating Republican candidate.

Grand Canyon

We left the Emergent Gathering last night around 11pm and drove overnight to the Grand Canyon. I will post a few pictures when I get home. It was incredible. I did not expect to be so surprised by the sheer magnitude of it. In a word... Grand.

Emergent was grand as well. I had such a great time, made many new friends, and I can't wait to go again next year. Its quite a forum of forward thinking and artistry. To listen in on the heart and mind of emerging peoples from many walks of life... Heartfelt and convicting discussion on diversity, prejudice, inclusiveness, equity, justice, politics, and practical jesus-centric intentionality toward those issues. Wow.

Like everything in life, we take the good with the bad. There was talk of the "enemies" of emergent. The cries of heresy. The attacks. I am WAY more interested in partnering and learning than dividing and disrespecting. "Can't we all just get along?" Does everyone have to be a deal closer? Know what I mean??

Anyway, we're on our way to Sin City. I have never been outside of the airport in Las Vegas, so I expect to have a good time and see some sights before heading home. I miss my wife. I miss my kids.

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church
*Sent via BlackBerry

Emergent Gathering

Hello from Glorieta, New Mexico!

The Gathering has been a lot of fun, the conversations have been meaningful and fulfilling. It has been good to develop new relationships with like minded (and not so) people from around the country. I should have gone to this a long time ago. I am about to head to the "Utopianism, Isolation, and Communities of Justice" conversation this morning.

Yesterday I participated in a conversation where I was able to share some of my frustrations with public prayer, and there was a group of people who actually "got it"... That our prayers together as christians so often turn into a round robin of personal theological treatises and a "who can sound more holy" contest. It was so refreshing to get an authentic response from people who have the same frustrations, as opposed to the pat christian counseling answer I so often get in other circles.

Anyway, I'm having a great time. Steve and Greg and I are hanging out and talking deeply and genuinely growing closer. Mission accomplished.

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church
*Sent via BlackBerry