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Does God Write in Code? (Post From 2009)

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Mukyokai: 5 Characteristics of the Church

Mukyokai (the non-church movment in Japan), was begun by Kanzo Uchimura. Kanzo Uchimura’s theological views were very similar to that of the reformers. He affirmed divine revelation, justification by faith, and especially the priesthood of all believers. Yet in terms of ecclesiology, he believed the reformers did not go far enough. His desire was to investigate the true nature of ekklesia. What characteristics did his work reveal?

Invisible
“Faith in Christ is what brings the church into existence; therefore the church should be just as invisible as is faith. The church as the essential ‘ecclesia’ cannot be seen by human eyes, since it is the gathering of a spiritual body.”

Organic
The Church as “the body” of Christ was a central idea in Uchimura’s ecclesiology. “The organic gathering in the spiritual ‘koinonia’ is the centrality of the true Church.” For Uchimura, the Church is forever being created and destroyed – it is a dynamic entity.

Bottom Up
For Uchimura the church begins with a …

Digital Anima and Digital Animus

Digital Anima: The expression "art imitates life," was not coined in reference to CGI, but it may as well have been. When I saw the recent Star Wars film "Rogue One." I was able to fully enjoy a prequel to a film that was nearly 40 year old - with seamless visual continuity. How amazing is that? In the good old days, if you wanted to do something like this, you would simply ask an actor play a younger version of themselves. That's what Harrison Ford did in The Temple of Doom (the Indiana Jones sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark). And it worked out pretty well, because there were only 3 years between the two films. If the time lag between films is too great however, or if an actor is no longer willing or able to reprise a role - well then, re-casting was really your only option.
With recasting invariably comes comparison, disappointment, and visual discontinuity that makes a sequel less than perfect. This happens a lot on television. The recasting of Darr…

Sociometrics: Mapping your Congregation

A number of years ago I was introduced to Jacob Moreno's concept of  "sociometrics." The idea that a few simple questions can produce a map of the social network of a classroom (or a church,) gave me an idea.
I took he concept of a Spiritual Gifts test and re-engineered it so that you were not answering questions about yourself, but about other people in your church.
Traditional spiritual gifts tests suffer from a number of problems that make them unreliable.
First, because traditional tests ask the individual about themselves, they tend to suffer from what is called  confirmation bias. In other words, when people encounter questions like, "Do you like helping people in need?" they are inclined to answer based on what they thing good Christians OUGHT be say.
Second, there is the problem of personal preference for some gifts over others. Someone might say, "It'd be really cool to have the gift of prophecy." And then choose to skew their answers…

Christianity 3.0 - Sketching the Outlines of the New Reformation

In a previous post I revisited a talk given by Douglas Rushkoff in 2004, titled "RenaissanceProspects."  Building on his identification of the digital age as a "New Renaissance," I suggested that since the first Renaissance was accompanied by Reformation, a new Digital Renaissance could also bring about a New Reformation?

I would like to sketch out some of my thoughts on what I believe this New Reformation will involve, and what I want to be the focal points of this blog.

Just as the Old Reformation The New Reformation Gave Everyone a Bible Gives Us Greater Access to Historical Context Emphasized the Individual Interpreter Reintroduces Interpretive Communities Increased Political EntanglementOpens The Door to Political Disentanglement Gave Us Congregationalism Organic Organizational Structures

Enhanced Contextual Understanding: Putting the Bible in the hands of every believer was an important step towards liberating individuals from the sometimes abusive control of the insti…

Dunbar's Number: Is There an Ideal Church Size?

No one builds a tower without first counting the cost - well, except for us. If our picture of church is anything like family - then being big comes at a price.

I recently read an article about Francis Chan - and realized that his story is the perfect place to begin this post.
Francis Chan started Cornerstone in 1994, in his living room with just 30 people. It grew quickly. Within 2 months the church had 100 people. By the year 2000, Chan's congregation had grown to 1600. At its height Cornerstone had as many as 5000 people attending. By all outward appearances, his Church was a huge success, but in 2011 he decided to step down as pastor of the church he had founded - and start over.
In a recent talk he gave at Facebook headquarters, Chan explained why he did it. Part of the reason, he said, was discomfort with changes he noticed in himself. Pride over the success of his book "Crazy Love," and the attention that had drawn to him. Seeing his face on a magazine, or enteri…

Bible Pirates of the Reformation: Semper Reformanda and Linus' Law

In his essay - The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Eric Raymond compares two different software development models.
The Cathedral (closed-source model,) is a huge edifice of code, carefully constructed by an individual programmer, or a small group of them, working in isolation.

The Bazaar (open-source model,) is a great babbling crowd of differing approaches and agendas, out of which a coherent and stable system seems to miraculously emerge.

A former skeptic of the Open Source model, Raymond became convinced of the strength of this model because of the quality of the Linux operating system.

"The fact that this bazaar style seemed to work, and work well, came as a distinct shock. As I learned my way around, I worked hard not just at individual projects, but also at trying to understand why the Linux world not only didn’t fly apart in confusion but seemed to go from strength to strength at a speed barely imaginable to cathedral-builders." 
.  Perhaps his best known observation from his…