Category Archives: Top Post’s of All Time

2010 Top 10

Drum roll please…the top ten post of 2010 are as follows:

#10 – The Irony of Being Called a Socialist

#9 – Making Sense of the Senseless

#8 – Panhandlers: To give or not to give?

#7 – Racial Reconciliation in Richmond Virginia?

#6 – Jesus Brought Sweet Potatoes

#5 – Healing the Wounds of the Bible Belt

#4 – Handouts Do Not Equal Social Justice

#3 – Religionless Christianity: Finding God Outside the Institutional Church

#2 – Has the Light Gone Out?

#1 – Ministering to the Minister: Reflections from the Teresa Lewis Vigil

I have really enjoyed writing these posts but my favorite part of blogging is reading your comments.   Thank you for sharing your ideas, insights, frustrations, hopes and dreams with me this past year.  Looking forward to what 2011!

Happy New Year!

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Filed under Personal Reflection, Top Post's of All Time

The Shadow of My Blog: Unintended Consequences

I love my blog.  I love that I have a place to wrestle with some of the hard parts of doing ministry. I have received countless comments, emails, and messages affirming me as a writer and a blogger.  However, this week, it was brought to my attention that there is a shadow side to blogging; the shadow of unintended consequences.

This realization came to me at three levels.  The first and most embarrassing level is the level of “unintended ping-backs.”   Earlier this month, I wrote a somewhat controversial post, “Ouch, that hurt!” in which I admitted that seeking unity of the body is hard and painful.  In that post I shared that I was not sure it was even a realistic or achievable goal.  I wrote this particular post after a rather heated conversation with someone who is a bit further to the right of the theological spectrum.  I wrote the post at a time when I was still angry, hurt, and disillusioned.  I wrote it as a lament; lamenting that my dreams of unity have not been achieved.  I wrote it as a confession; confessing that I am not strong enough, wise enough, or committed enough to live out this part of the vision.  I wrote it as a technologically challenged person, not realizing that when I created the link to the vision statement o f Embrace Richmond, I was also creating a “ping-back” which showed up in the “comments” on the “About Us” page of my non-profit.

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Filed under Book Related, Personal Reflection, Top Post's of All Time

Ouch…that hurt!

I relate to Rachel Held Evans statement “The truth is, it’s easier for me to love my neighbors to the left than my neighbors to the right.”, which she confessed in her blog post titled “Big Tent, Small Town.” Rachel is part of a church plant called, The Mission, and she writes:

“Our hope is that as we continue to serve our neighbors The Mission will become a safe place for those who don’t always fit in at the church around the corner—doubters, dreamers, artists, misfits, gays and lesbians, divorcees, the lonely and the disenchanted. In addition, we want our little faith community to grow into a true picture of the Kingdom, which belongs to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, and the humble, and which is made up of people of all different ethnicities, political persuasions, and theological positions. From my perspective, serving and loving the people in the margins is the easy part, for I am a bit of a misfit myself. The hard part is serving and loving those who are critical of our efforts, those who say our tent is a little too big for the Bible Belt. It is inevitable that as we seek partner with other churches in our area, we will run into the very attitudes and approaches that left many of us wounded. I find myself getting all defensive when local Christians question my commitment to my faith.”

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Filed under Theology, Top Post's of All Time, Urban Ministry

Religionless Christianity: Finding God Outside the Institutional Church

Recently a friend of mine shared concern over the fact that her children, who are in their forties, love Christ and live by Christian principals but have little interest in being a part of the institutional church.

I read this quote this week over at Emerging Mummy which speaks to why some Christians have left the church,

As we all know, this is the world 2.0, meaning that it is interactive and we are the people formerly known as the audience, viewing our individual voices and stories as equal and valuable.  Also, as Bill Kinnon said, we are also the people formerly known as the congregation:

“We are The People formerly known as The Congregation. We have not stopped loving the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nor do we avoid “the assembling of the saints.” We just don’t assemble under your supposed leadership. We meet in coffee shops, around dinner tables, in the parks and on the streets. We connect virtually across space and time – engaged in generative conversations – teaching and being taught.

We live amongst our neighbors, in their homes and they in ours. We laugh and cry and really live – without the need to have you teach us how. – by reading your ridiculous books or listening to your supercilious CDs or podcasts.”

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Filed under missional church, Theology, Top Post's of All Time, Urban Ministry

A Search for Kingdom Churches

Every day I drive past church parking lots and admire the church buses and vans that sit collecting dust while we attempt to address the transportation crisis in our city. Across this city, congregations gather for meals that resemble a feast as I watch my urban friends scrap together a meager meal so that they can enjoy the same kind of table fellowship.  I read church bulletins about the upcoming missions trips and the thousands of dollars being raised to help send members to the other side of the world for a one week experience while our local urban missionaries fail to find the support and encouragement they need to transform our own backyard.  We currently have four desks crammed into one office and two team members per desk while many inner city churches sit empty all week.  I get letters from churches asking for funds to support their next mega-building campaign while I watch families become homeless because they do not have the $200 they need to maintain their housing.  When we approach churches about using what should be God’s resources to advance God’s Kingdom or care for God’s children, we hear the following:

“We can’t use our van to help you take inner city kids to the park because of “liability” issues.”

“We can’t host your fellowship event because our people are just too busy.”

“Members of our church really like going away to foreign countries to do missions.”

“Our policy is to only use our building for “church-sponsored” activities.”

“We only provide financial support for “members” who are in crisis.”

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Filed under missional church, Stories from the Street, Top Post's of All Time, Urban Ministry

My Hero Kristen Grace – From a Walker to Dancing Shoes

When Kristen Grace McCaig was born we all knew she was special.  Her dark brown eyes soaked in the world with a curious sparkle.  Sadly at a day old, she began a pattern that would continue for the next twelve years of her life.  That pattern of countless trips to the hospital and doctors offices with bizarre ailments resulted in only confusion and concern but no diagnoses.  Day 1 it was blood in the stool.  Age 6 months to 18 months it was “failure to thrive.”  She was tested for everything under the sun but no one could figure out why she was so small.  At age four they told us she would not reach five feet tall as they continued to poke and test her for every genetic disorder imaginable.

At age seven she could not draw a straight line and writing her own name was an agonizing experience.  She was diagnosed with visual motor integration dysfunction which is basically a fancy way of saying she could not write well.  There was a kind of disconnect between her mind and her hands but no one could explain why.  While she was excelling academically, she continued to fight her body.  In PE, she was the slowest child and her PE teacher noticed motor planning issues in her inability to string activities together like the other children.

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Filed under Personal Reflection, Theology, Top Post's of All Time

Healing the Wounds of the Bible Belt

I grew up un-churched in the heart of the Bible belt.  I become a Christian in my late twenties after a series of miscarriages launched me on a spiritual journey.  Even though I have been a part of the local church for more than 15 years, I still approach the church with the eyes of an outsider and a heart for those who, for whatever reason, have not found a home within the walls of the church.  I am particularly drawn to those who feel unwelcome and judged by the church.

I think this sensitivity toward the outcast is the result of a traumatic event that occurred in 1977 when I was only ten years old.  Douglas Miiller was my favorite uncle, we called him “funny Doug”.  He always had a way of making me laugh.  I will never forget getting my first bicycle.  I could not figure out how to ride it so my uncle Doug decided to show me.  He looked so funny on that tiny bike with his knees up around his shoulders.  He went riding down our drive way, lost control and crashed my brand new bike into a tree…that was not so funny.  Thankfully Uncle Doug was fine but the impact bent the front tire of my bike.  My uncle, whom I know was not a wealthy man, immediately went out and purchased me an even better bike, this one had a basket on the front and ribbons on the handle bars.  I loved my uncle Doug.

Sadly, as a young man, Douglas Miiller was drafted into the army and has served a tour of duty in Vietnam.  He never talked about his days in the army but I overheard the adults saying that “it messed him up.”  I never really knew what they meant but in 1977, when he decided to end his life, this part of his past seemed to be the key to understanding why he had lived such a tortured life.  I also gleaned from my keen ability to ease drop on adult conversations, that my uncle had a drinking problem which only contributed to his pain.

He was the first person I can remember losing to death.  Dealing with death is never easy, especially for a ten year old, but adding suicide to that equation makes it even more difficult.  As I mentioned, my family did not attend church so the only images of God available to me were those shared by family and friends who claimed to be Christians.  I will never forget hearing the words, “Your uncle is going to go to hell for what he did.”, spoken by a child I thought was my friend.  This was the message the Church gave me during my time of grief.  These words wounded me so deeply that it was more than twenty years before I was willing to step foot in a church.

My call to create safe spaces for spiritual seekers grows out of this very early wounding by the messages of judgment that I heard as a child.  In my book, “From the Sanctuary to the Streets”, I have captured the stories of many people, who like my Uncle Doug, never found a home in the church walls but whose lives have enriched my own.  My prayer is that my book will bring honor to the lives of those who feel shut out, judged and cast off.  For those are the very people Jesus chose to identify with and spend time with.  It is in the presence of the “least of these” where I have seen the real “Church” come alive.

I know that my experience is unique.  Millions of people find hope, comfort and healing within the walls of the institutional church, so please do not think I am being critical of the local church.  My prayer is that through the stories of those who do not feel welcome in the church with walls, pulpits and steeples, we will begin to see that the Church Universal is far bigger than the structures built by human hands.  It exists in the very people who seek to be Christ in the world and in the faces of those Christ identified with in Matthew 25; those who hunger and thirst, the stranger, the sick and those who are imprisoned.

How has your early experiences with church shaped your faith?  What images of God do you think your children have been taught?  What images of God do we show the world through our words and actions?

I choose the image of the Vietnam memorial for this post to honor both those who have died in battle this memorial day weekend, but also those whom like my uncle had their lives shattered by war.  The lasting effects of the horrors of war continue on for generations.  In some ways, I myself am a victim both through the loss of my uncle and the effects that my uncle’s suicide had on my family, in particular my father who lost his youngest brother.

I pray for peace for all the families across the world who suffer due to war and I lift up a prayer for peace for all the nations.  May your memorial day be peaceful and blessed.

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Filed under Book Related, missional church, Personal Reflection, Theology, Top Post's of All Time, Urban Ministry