Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Website

This blog has now moved to my new website:

New Website

This blog has now moved to my new website:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mars Hill Start Date

This past Sunday was my first official Sunday as a Teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI. I got a chance to kick off the season of Lent. Rob and I will be preaching through the book of Jonah. If you want to follow along you can download the podcast here.

For more on how this transition from Trinity to Mars Hill all came about, you can listen to the sermon I preached on it here.

My family and I are still living in Arizona until we finalize the sale of a house and make the big move to the cold, dark, snowy wonderland of West Michigan. If all goes according to plan, this should happen sometime around the end of April (just missing the Phoenix heat, and Grand Rapids winter).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ever Changing, Never Changing

Just returned from speaking at Catalyst in Atlanta. It was a great experience and a wonderful crowd. They were surprisingly responsive to a very challenging message. At the request of the organizers I spoke about how "the medium is the message," (surprise) and I challenged the prevailing notion that "the methods change but the message stays the same."

The point of the talk was not to stop the innovation of methods. Instead it was to advocate for the renewal of both our methods and our message.

When Jesus told us that new wine must be poured into new wineskins, we miss the fact that both the wine and the wineskins are new, both the container and the content, both the medium and the message are new.

The methods and the message change. This is not an opinion or a theological assumption, this is simply Biblical fact. The scriptures clearly teach a message that grows, expands, refocuses, and evolves.

The message of judgement to the nation of Israel is not the same as the message of comfort to the exiled Jews in Babylon. They are not inconsistent, but they are not the same. The message of exclusive blessing to an ethnic group with the promise of land is not the same message as the universal blessing of heaven for those who believe. Not inconsistent, but definitely different.

In one sense the Gospel changes; however, the Gospel also remains unchanged. In other words:

The ever-changing message never changes.

The things that don't change? The fact that Love wins, Forgiveness works, Grace is free, and Peace is possible. These things have never changed and will never change. This is in the DNA of the Gospel.

So perhaps Jesus was right when he said the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that will grow into a grand tree. A tree always changes yet stays the same. A Mustard tree will never become an orange tree, in that sense it never changes. But a Mustard tree will grow new limbs, more leaves, and provide more shade, in that sense it always changes.

With each new context the gospel must grow to address challenges and issues that never existed before. And with the growth of each new leaf reaching higher and wider, the roots grow deeper.

There are diamonds that reside deep in the rock of scripture that have yet to be discovered. As the Gospel grows they will be uncovered.

This is cause for hope not fear.

Maybe we should become gardeners of the gospel rather than guards.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

National Youth Workers Convention

National Youth Workers Convention

I'll be in LA on September 25th speaking at the National Youth Workers Convention. Stop by if you're in the area.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Three Bodies

I recently returned from the Poets, Prophets, and Preachers conference. It was a fantastic experience. Rob did an amazing job of setting an elegant table for some really stimulating presentations. Pete Rollins and I were invited to join him, which was an honor and a joy. I loved meeting Pete. I only wish we had had more time together.

I gave two talks there - one entitled "How Technology Shapes the Sermon," and another entitled "You Are the Medium." This second presentation was new material I had never presented publicly. As a result, it generated a few questions.

This post is intended to offer some clarification.

In this presentation I argued that we as people are the most powerful medium that God could have chosen to convey God's message to the world. I then proceeded to examine the medium of the human being. One simple way to think about it, but not the only way, is that the human being is comprised of three parts or "bodies." The same way the element of H20 has three aspects (ice, water, and vapor), the human being could be thought of as having three aspects.

I call them:

1) The Physical Body: The part of us comprised of physical cells, which can be measured scientifically and apprehended through the five senses.

2) The Energetic Body: The part of us comprised of emotions, thoughts, desires, etc. These things have an energetic quality to them, they are very real but not easily measured or confirmed by scientific inquiry or the five senses.

3) The Essential Body: This is the deepest part of ourselves, the part that shares the same essence as Christ (Romans 8:11; John 17:22-23; Luke 17:21 to name only a few), and the part of us that is always and already at rest in the open stillness of God's Kingdom of grace, wisdom, compassion, and peace. This is the part of us that is easily and often forgotten. As a consequence, it is most feared and least understood.

In the simplest terms this division corresponds with the Biblical language that describes the same thing:
Physical = Body (soma)
Energetic = Soul (psyche)
Essential = Spirit (pneuma)

I deliberately chose not to use the Biblical language as it is poorly distinguished in the Christian imagination. Most people don't see a difference between "soul" and "spirit." And yet, as best I can tell, the Bible seems to think there is one.

So I intentionally played with new language to help us approach the concept with fresh eyes. While most people expressed deep appreciation, the risk was that my unfamiliar language may lead some to conclude that this is akin to New Age philosophy. Whatever the result, my hope was to rupture our assumptions and open our imaginations while remaining firmly grounded within the Biblical tradition.

In the end, whether one agrees with these divisions or language is of little consequence to me. Mostly, I hope we will come to see the extraordinary gift and powerful medium that you are for God in the world. That is one of the lessons of the incarnation. God prefers using our bodies, our beings. This is not about what you know, what you say, or even what you believe. It's about who you are.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poets, Prophets, and Preachers

I'll be speaking at this conference put on by Rob Bell July 5-7 of this year. Pete Rollins will also be there. These are both superb thinkers, I'm delighted to get a chance to present but equally thrilled to sit in the audience and be enlightened. I've never met Pete, I'm looking forward to it. If you're remotely interested in helping resuscitate the very tired art form of preaching this is a must.

Rob will do about six sessions, I'll be doing these two:

How Technology Shapes the Sermon: the art of preaching evolves with every new technological innovation in a culture. do you know what is being done and undone by our technologies?

You Are the Medium: an exploration of the human being as God's ultimate medium for his message. if the medium is the message, and you as a person are the medium, then what does that say about the message?

I will also be preaching at Mars Hill on the two Sundays that bookend the event (July 5 and 13). A very full, but exciting week. What better excuse is there to flee the misery of Phoenix in July.

Q Conference Austin

I just returned from speaking at Q in Austin, TX. As always it was a first class event. Gabe Lyons never ceases to amaze me in his ability to bring together such a fascinating and eclectic mix of leaders, thinkers, and participants. One minute I'm in a conversation with George P. Bush (nephew to W, son of Jeb) and the next I meet Ted Haggard and his wife. It was a thoroughly stimulating and expanding experience.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Virtual Community" Again

This was originally written for in response to Scott McKnight's critique of the video interview I did at the National Pastor's Convention. Anne Jackson also offered her insights on the issue here.

Scott et. al, thanks for all your comments and push back. Always appreciated.

Clearly we’re playing with semantics here. I don’t say that dismissively. Semantics matter—some times more than other times. I’ll let others judge whether it matters here. It may be that we agree after all.

First, my language in the video was less nuanced than it might have been in written form. That is my tendency in a spontaneous oral interview. I will try to be more precise here.

When I say that “virtual community” is not “community,” that does not mean it has no value. As I indicated in the interview, I know that all kinds of deeply meaningful connections and interactions happen online all the time. I have experienced them myself. Some may want to call this “community.” Fair enough. I just don’t call it “community.” That is not intended to dismiss or demean any one’s experience online.

I play with semantics in an effort to help us see that “virtual community” and “unmediated community” are not interchangeable things. In my opinion, one is actually better than the other. The reason is that "virtual community" occurs primarily on one frequency of the human experience. It is mostly a disembodied, and largely cognitive, connection. This is not a bad thing, it’s just not as valuable as unmediated community, which involves the entire range of the human experience—physical, non-verbal, intuitive sense, subtle energies, visual cues, acoustic tones, etc. These are extremely powerful things that should not be quickly dismissed as "nice but not necessary."

Most of us see these ingredients as essential for healthy marriage and parenting. It’s the reason no one extols the virtues of online parenting or the value of sex with your spouse in a chat room rather than a bedroom. The same is true of community. For me, community is a sacred and powerful institution, and I prefer to treat it in the same spirit as marriage or parenting.

Another way of saying this is that virtual community is like playing the guitar with one string. You can make music; it’s just not as interesting or as good as music on a guitar with six strings.

To observe that “real” community is worth more than “virtual” community may seem rather obvious to some and thus not worth stating. However, there is a growing legion of young people who can scarcely tell the difference. A subsequent rift is emerging between parents and teens because of this very issue. It will only become more complex in the years to come. We gloss over this distinction at our own risk. I hope that putting words to these things is actually freeing for us.

Finally, I’m not against virtual community anymore than I'm against the wind and the tides; I’m just concerned that too many of us grant it virtues it does not possess. This undo esteem can undermine the profound and lasting impact of an incarnated and embodied Gospel.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Virtual Community"

Shane Hipps and Zach Lind Discuss Virtual Community. from Zach Lind on Vimeo.

Last week at the National Pastors Convention in San Diego Shane Hipps sat down for a brief conversation with Christianity Today to discuss the concept of "virtual community." You can view the video here. As a result of this clip there have been several folks who've pushed back on Shane's point that virtual community is not authentic community but provides only a fraction of what face to face community provides. You can read discussions on the clip here, here, here, and here. So the video above is Shane's response and clarification of his original point expressed on the Christianity Today clip.

If you haven't checked out Shane's new book, Flickering PIxels, to uncover more on this subject, check it out here.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Launch

Last Sunday we did a launch for my new book, Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith at Trinity. Zondervan, my publisher, was kind enough to give me a couple hundred extra author copies which we're donating to the church. We still have some left, so if you're an attender/member/visitor, please come by and pick up a free copy this Sunday. There is a suggested donation of $10, all proceeds go to support the ministry of the church. But don't let money be an issue. I'll be available for signing.

I'm also speaking at the National Pastor's Convention this week, February 10-13 in San Diego. This will be the official launch for the book. Among other things, I'll be doing a couple of seminars. More on those here. I'll also be doing a book signing. If you're going to be there stop by and say hello.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Archive Episode #11: Missing the Power Point part 1

Zach and I talk about how PowerPoint is a misunderstood medium. You can get the episode here for free.

The links as promised in the episode:
1) The Gettysburg Address in original form.
2) The Gettysburg Address done as a PowerPoint. Hilarious.

Great moments in PowerPoint.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Flickering Pixels

My new book is out this month.  It is the story of how our technologies shape us in unexpected ways without our permission or knowledge.  Available now at Amazon and other retailers.

For those who read my first book, the Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, some of the themes will be familiar.  However in my speaking and travels, I heard a chorus of voices hungry to know how the connections made there applied to the rest of us, not just church leaders.  About a third of Flickering Pixels draws material from the Hidden Power but is significantly rewritten for a general reading audience.  The remaining two thirds of Flickering Pixels is new material focussed on broader issues of life and faith.  Hope you enjoy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Traveling to EMU

I'll be the keynote speaker for The School of Leadership Training put on by Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg Virginia January 19th-22nd. I'll also be doing a public presentation on Tuesday the 20th at 7pm. Stop by if you're in the area.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two Episodes This Week

We are continuing to release archive episodes of the podcast with our new free podcast feed. We've been posting one episode per week but this week we're in the Christmas spirit and are releasing two casts. If you haven't subscribed to the new feed, click here to get the goodies.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Free Archive Episodes

In addition to our newly released "lost" episodes, we are now beginning to post some selections from our old podcasts for free. If you haven't updated your Third Way Faith podcast feed, click here and get up do date. This doesn't mean we won't have new material. We'll post some new episodes as we go.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Third Way Faith Episodes

Greetings all,

As you may have noticed, Shane and I haven't been podcasting at all lately. I've been busy on the road and Shane has been busy pastoring at Trinity Mennonite Church. But as luck would have it, we found some lost episodes deep in the dusty vault in the Third Way Faith secret lair. We've posted three new episodes on a new podcast feed so click here to update your iTunes with the new feed. These episodes are free so no subscription fee is required!

In these three episodes we discussed politics and faith and how the two relate. We figured that it would be timely to get these out now as we are all trying to make sense of being faithful Christians during this election season.



Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fermi Podcast

Gabe Lyons recently interviewed me for his Fermi Project podcast. There's also a link there to an essay I wrote for them called "Our Nomadic Existence."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lost in Translation

On a recent comment Russell asks:
I can imagine that there's a huge leap between Porsche culture and Mennonite culture, but does any of what they do still stick with you and inspire you today?
This is one of my most frequently asked questions. So I thought I would answer it here. In short the answer is no.

I try my best not to translate any of the things I learned from advertising into the world of spirituality, faith, church, etc. The reason is simple. Advertising is fundamentally a form of coercion. Granted it is a playful manipulation that most people enjoy when it's done well. (See below)

It's fun and funny, can't be that harmful. Nonetheless, the primary task of my previous life was to try and highjack your imagination, brand your brain with a Porsche logo, and then feed you opinions you thought were your own. I can't think of a method more opposed to the process of deepening and evolving the spiritual life. So I'm very aware of intentionally not translating or using these methods.

In my experience, the best thing I can do to lead people spiritually is to show them love. At the heart of love is making space, honoring the free will of the other. This requires that I intentionally divest myself of their outcomes, decisions, and conclusions. Sounds counter-intuitive, but then again, most things in the life of faith are. When someone senses that I need them to grow to validate myself, it usually hinders their growth. When they sense that I love them and have no need for them to take my advice, they're more free to do so if they choose. This I've found to be the most fertile soil for spiritual evolution. And it is diametrically opposed to the tasks of advertising and marketing, which are driven entirely by outcomes.