Monthly Archives: July 2010

Gone Fishing

One of my favorite memories from my childhood was going fishing with my dad.  Today I had the opportunity to revisit those memories as we took our Hillside and Fairfield court community members to Three Lakes Park.  We had several groups who spread out across the park, some played on the playground, some hung out in the air conditioned aquarium, and a few of us brave souls headed down to the lake to fish.  The fishing group was led by two professionals, Mrs. Mildred (pictured here) and Mrs. Janie. Our team also included a first time fisherman, Samantha, and the rest of us amateurs.  While it would have been nice to have pulled a real fish out of that lake instead of sticks and trash, I did catch a glimpse of something divine in our time together.

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Filed under missional church, Stories from the Street, Theology

Missional Insights from “The Externally Focused Quest”

In my post titled “A Search for Kingdom Churches”, I share some of my frustrations with the institutional church along with a list of characteristics of what I call “Kingdom Churches.”  As I shared in a post earlier this month, Eric Swanson, whose writing was instrumental in launching me on my journey from the suburbs to the inner city, graciously endorsed my book. So when I saw that Swanson just co-authored a new book with Rick Rusaw called “The Externally Focused Quest: Becoming the Best Church FOR the Community”, I could not wait to read it.  Swanson gave me hope that that “kingdom churches” are out there.

Swanson writes, “The word kingdom is mentioned 152 times in the New Testament and 116 times in the Gospels.  By contrast, the word church is mentioned just three times in the Gospels – all in the book of Matthew.”  Swanson defines the Kingdom of God as, “any place over which God has operative dominion…Anytime we are involved in making this world more reflective of the place that God will ultimately make it in the coming kingdom, we are involved in kingdom work…The four echoes [of the kingdom] are the longing for justice, the quest for spirituality, the hunger for relationships, and the delight in beauty.”  Swanson goes on to give many examples of churches that are doing this kind of kingdom work.

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Filed under missional church

A Disturbing Reality

I was really shook up today when two kids ages 5 and 6 came to the rec center in Hillside court during our gathering looking for a free lunch…no mom…no older sibling.  Unfortunately,  they missed the free lunch by 10 minutes and I had no food.  I had to watch them head off into one of the most violent neighborhoods in Richmond hungry and alone. I am still troubled by the image of them turning the corner and me loosing sight of them.I thought about loading them up and taking them to McDonalds but thankfully realized that snatching kids up off the street was not such a good idea.

So what would you have done?  What do I do with that haunting image?

One thing I know is that I am going to stash some snacks in my car…that is the least I can do.  I thought about following them home but I have to admit that I am not comfortable walking alone in Hillside court.  Other suggestions?

Sad thing is that this is a common occurrence and it did not even phase my resident teammates. Last summer we saw the same four boys ranging in age from 2 to 5 in the streets every day all day and never saw a parent.  I hope I never look at babies wandering alone in the streets of any community and say “That’s normal” but I have to admit that it is all to common.  Please pray for these children and for their parents where ever they may be.


Filed under Stories from the Street, Urban Ministry

Congratulations to Karen Stanley

In my book, From the Sanctuary to the Streets, I share how the ministry of Embrace Richmond was enhanced through our collaborative relationship with CARITAS, the largest shelter in Richmond, and The Healing Place, a 198 bed residential recovery program.  Karen Stanley, the Executive Director of both CARITAS and The Healing Place, has become both a mentor and a friend to me.  She graciously shares a portion of the CARITAS history and vision in my book.  However, Karen’s passion for collaboration is not limited to Embrace Richmond, it is a way of doing business for Karen.

Karen Stanley was received the YWCA 2010 Outstanding Women Award in Human Relations and the Better Housing Coalition 2010 Groundbreakers Award for Creative Collaboration. For both awards, Karen is recognized for her creativity, commitment and leadership in joining community organizations in collaborative efforts to solve the challenges of men, women and children facing homelessness.

Karen has graciously offered to collaborate with Embrace Richmond on the promotion and distribution of my book by offering From the Sanctuary to the Streets, for sale through the CARITAS Furniture Bank.  The proceeds from the sale of the book will go to benefit both Embrace Richmond and the CARITAS Furniture Bank.  Books can be purchased at 1125 E. Commerce Road, Richmond Va.  So stop by the furniture bank for your copy and support two great local non-profit agencies.

I am so thankful to Karen for her on-going support of Embrace and for her unfailing commitment to strengthen the homeless services system here in Richmond.

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Filed under Book Related, Leadership

Book Now Available on Amazon and Locally in Richmond and Central Texas

Still haven’t purchased a copy of From the Sanctuary to the Streets?  Now you have no excuse!  The book is now listed on Amazon and available through the CARITAS Furniture Bank here in Richmond (1125 E. Commerce Road) and at Stitch America 10X Team in Burnet, Tx (104 West Polk (Hwy 29)) for those of you in central Texas.

Proceeds from books purchased from the CARITAS Furniture bank benefit both Embrace Richmond and CARITAS.  Proceeds from books purchased in Burnet from Stitch America benefit Embrace Richmond.

Thank you to all of you who have already purchased the book.  Your comments, support and encouragement have been invaluable.  I would greatly appreciate having all of you write a review on the Amazon site.  It would really help potential readers get a feel for the book.

If you know of any business or book stores who would be willing to sale the book, please let me know.  I have not had the time to go out to book stores yet and would love any referrals or suggestions you can make.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Insights from Double-wide

In her book Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide? (Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV), Karen Spears Zacharias unpacks the myth of the prosperity gospel with humor and sobering stories of how this “Santa Claus” vision of God who rewards the “good” little boys and girls has corrupted our theology.

In my book From the Sanctuary to the Streets, I share from my own perspective how this kind of teaching is being used to exploit the poor in our city.  However, Zacharias reveals how this same thinking has contaminated even mainline theology with less obvious strands of the same false teaching showing up in all our theologies.  Zacharias states “If a person’s worldview presupposes this so-called “truth” – that whatever good fortune comes our way is a result of our own calling it forth – then the corollary has to be true as well, doesn’t it?  That any bad thing that comes our way is our own dang fault. It’s a perfect theology for people with means.  We convince ourselves that we deserve prosperity because we’ve worked hard for it.  We deserve it because of our faithfulness to God. We teach our children that we have earned God’s good favor and that’s why we’re so rich, so healthy, so pretty, so smart, and so free to do as we doggone please.”

I love this Merton quote shared by Zacharias, “It is easy enough to tell the poor to accept their poverty as God’s will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and a roof over your head and no worry about the rent.  But if you want them to believe you – try to share some of their poverty and see if you can accept it as God’s will for yourself!”

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Filed under Theology, Unity Works Reading, Urban Ministry