Sunday, February 25, 2007

Where is the Church?

I thought I would finally start my series on the church.

But first I want to explain a couple of things. (You can skip the next two paragraphs, if you want and go straight to the post)

First about blogging in general. I have only been at this for about a year and a half or so. I have seen bloggers come and go. I've seen people become very successful and some not so much. I started out blogging as sort of a notepad for writing my thesis in graduate school. But it soon turned into a place to write about whatever. I enjoyed it and I was surprised when I actually begin to make blogger friends. I started thinking about how to increase readership and how to write for my audience. So, blogging became a way to make a name for myself. I quickly learned that blogging for that reason was very self serving for me. I put it down for awhile. Then, with my new job, I really had to decide in what direction my blog was needing to go. After moving here, I really never thought how I could use this blog. So, I just sort of floated along hoping to not loose all the readers.

Then, after language school, I had time to ponder in what new direction I wanted to take the blog. I have decided to TRY and focus on ideologies of Christianity. I hope that is broad enough to allow me freedom to blog, yet narrow enough to bring some focus. So, whatever things I am trying to get work through, one might find it here

Which leads me to the real content of this post.

I have been thinking for some time (maybe 2 to 3 years) the ways "church" is being redesigned. I first got interested in this when I read some stuff by Leonard Sweet (Aqua Church and SoulTsunami). I had never heard this before, and it seemed refreshing. I even ran into a couple of people more versed on "this," who helped me see some of the importance. During seminary, you hear ad naseum about postmodernism and emerging church (these terms may need defining, but that may have to wait). Then, I started having some questions about the movement, and at the same time seeing major problems in the "traditional" movement. I put it on a back burner until just before Thanksgiving of last year, when I had to read Jake Colson's awful book. (So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore). That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I decided I had to figure this out. I just want to add that this book is NOT what made me bring a back burner idea to the front. It really was the last straw. I do not recommend this book because it is so poorly written. But if you want to read it, go for it, for I will be using it as a guide as I critique and ask questions concerning this "new way of thinking about church." (BTW I will probably be using a ton of Christan-ese in these posts, so if you are reading this and are not Christian, you might be left out. However, you are still welcome here and still welcome to comment and ask questions.)

Now, I have not figured it out. Not even really understood it that well. But to comfort most of you, I am not going through an ecclesiastical crisis. I still believe as mostly as I always have with some tweaking here and there. However, depending on what side of fence you will be falling, you will agree and disagree with me throughout the entire series. So, let's talk and try to figure out this thing called the church.

I am a teacher by trade, and the only way I know to get a discussion started is to ask a question.

Where is the church?

I've had a lot of thoughts about where to begin this series. But today offered one solution. My wife and I had planned to go to what has been labeled a "traditional" church. That is one where people meet and there is a set formula for worship, usually songs of praise, prayer, and preaching, and possible fellowship. (This is an oversimplification. I realize that.) But that church was meeting in another town, so we decided to go the beach. The sun came out for about 15 to 20 minutes, and we got out and was in amazement of God's creation. When it began raining, we got in the car and read some scripture and prayed.

So, did we really have church? Can church happen at the beach? Was this the temple of God today?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Reflections of 2006

I know this is a little late for reflections on 2006, but better late than never, huh?

On Dec 31, 2005, Lady R and I arrived to our new home in France. Why are we here? We work here! What do we do? A French person would never ask so much information. hahaha

These are a few things I learned in 2006.

  • Arrived sick as a dog
  • started full fledge language school almost immediately
  • neighbors met us
  • mass adjustments quickly
  • Do not start language school as soon as you get off the plane. It will be too much, unless you are still in tourist mode. We got off the plane in culture shock.
  • God has got to show up, otherwise we are dead.
  • He confirmed our move and that he approved
  • He GAVE us French friends right off. They were our "people of good-will"


  • Cold
  • Friendships developed
  • Every day counts


  • Friends are so important in keeping head above water. We had our first friends visit.
  • Getting out into the community by ourselves. Gives you a great amount of confidence although it is scary as heck.


  • Our 1st out of country experience. When we came back and could see advances in language.


  • My favorite month in France. Nothing gets done and there are a ton of holidays.


  • One semester down
  • Stress level at max. Feeling it. Wonder if I will crack under it.
  • Cultural shock almost unbearable
  • RELEASE. 1st trip ever to UK, where they speak English and where things are not as foreign as France. Much needed holiday. When you are under stress, you have to decompress. Breaks are not sin, they are obligatoire.
  • God carries you a lot more than you realize


  • Ended Vacation. Could tell a lot of stress had been relieved.
  • Need breaks
  • Beginning of the end of culture shock, entering cultural stress
  • Dreaded starting summer school. pleasantly surprised and found it the best part of my formal French learning.
  • HOTest ever!!! Winter may last 49 weeks out of the year, but 3 weeks there will be an inferno.


  • Dealing with allergies and hospitals. French hospitals can be good or bad, just depends on which one you get. God has to be with you thru sickness or you won't make it.
  • Driving School. The actually school itself was not near as bad as I thought. Learning to drive in France worse than had expected. Expectations can cause misery or bring fulfillment.
  • No French School. Heck yeah!!!
  • Major conflict with co-workers. Worse I think ever. Had to preach on Phil 4:2-3. My, how God has ways of getting you his messsage. Resolution and reconciliation are big in the lives of believers.
  • If God does not do it, it won't get done. He gives peace in the storm.


  • School starts again. On a modified program.
  • More driving
  • increased stress
  • more hospital visits
  • development of stomach/intestinal problems due to stress
  • French language school and France not my cup of tea, but God is faithful to us the faithless. If he is in control, we must trust him thru thick and thin.


  • 1st prayer team visit. Freinds from the States. Oh how I miss USA, but can see how I have integrated some also.
  • Encouraged by their visit and others.
  • Can see the light at the end of the tunnel. First trip to Quimper. What a feeling to see the "fields" in and aorund the area.


  • Trip to Loire Valley. Not a vacation, but the invitation alone means we have broken into the family links. Only God could do that.
  • Realize how little and how bad my French really is. A small valley in regards to the language.
  • Team metting and house hunting. God WILL provide. Encouraged everytime I hear a team mate speaking Welsh or Irish.


  • END OF Formal FRENCH SCHOOL. There could be nothing better that. The end of a thing is much betetr than the beginning. Isn't that in the Bible somewhere?
  • TCF. Official test of French knowledge. Pretty stressful. but I had to remember it was not all together testing me but the school. In my opinion the school failed. I however passed. God is good and helps us with speaking French. This is how I know God is here working behind the scenes (because of all the French speakers, He has to be here otherwise how could they all learn to speak this language). =)
  • 2nd vacation to Ireland. oh happy day. Another country where at least English is spoken (sometimes, but not everywhere--we heard plenty of Irish. You just have to know where to look. Encouraged in that the same will be true with our second language)
  • Refreshed
  • Ready for next season of job. God does give good gifts

And for those who want to know how Jan 2007 has started off. It could not have been better. We moved to the Nortwest part of France. We were given a small budget to outfit our house. That money is still being stretched further than we ever could imagine. It is absolutely beautiful here. We have met a couple of people on our street. One British couple. They are strange in their own right. Our lanlords are also British so that makes renting less stressful. We had to attend a meeting in Germany that went exceptionally well. I came back with a lot of stuff to think about. I feel God can make this a success, but He has got to do it. I can't. We have met some French Christians, rare as they are, they seem nice. May we continue to grow spiritually in order to offer people more than another program, may they and we find LIFE ABUNDANTLY!