Walking in Circles, Part 2 – Believe

In my last post I shared some thoughts behind the first part of my message series at New Denver Church, Walking in Circles. In this post I’d like to wrap things up by sharing a little about part two. This series was so much fun for me to share, because it is a message which has been shaped within the context of my own life. I was excited to share these ideas about life and what it means to follow Jesus on a daily basis, because they have been so helpful and beneficial to me over the last couple years. Read more

Walking in Circles, Part 1 – Repent

One of the things I get to do as part of my responsibilities at New Denver Church is teaching in our Sunday services. One of the things I love about teaching is the process of learning it forces me to go through. I believe that you should not stand before people to teach something unless it is something God has shown or taught you first. Before I ever give a message to others I must first give it to myself. So it occurred to me this week that this site is a great place to share what I learn during the weeks that I teach. And I can’t think of a better place to start than the series I’m currently teaching through. Read more

Back Online

At the end of last year I had an experience that led me to begin 2012 by unplugging from some of the technology that saturates my life (read about that decision here). I decided (arbitrarily) to unplug for a week and then evaluate my experience. That week ended yesterday so I’m still processing my reflections from that time, but here are some initial thoughts as I re-connect to my digital world.

  1. Unplugging was more difficult than I expected.
    It was more difficult than I expected to decide where I would draw the line around “unplugging.” I decided to try and unplug within the context of a normal week of life and work, and I quickly learned that it was impossible to do my work as a pastor and completely disconnect. I spent hours last week on my computer answering emails, researching for and writing my message for last Sunday at New Denver Church, answering phone calls and responding to text messages. Since I couldn’t fully disconnect, I just decided to eliminate the non-essentials. I didn’t interact with any social media (specifically for me no Facebook or Twitter), no games (not on my iPhone, iPad, or most temptingly, my new XBox 360), no web surfing, no blog reading, and I tried to eliminate television unless watching something with someone in my family. Short of leaving my everyday life and work to pursue a completely disconnected experience (which I would like to do at some point) I think this was about the best I could do at unplugging.
  2. Unplugging was easier than I expected.
    The things I gave up I didn’t really miss as much as I thought I would. This was encouraging to me. You never really know how strong a hold things or experiences have on you until you try to give them up. In part, this is the great benefit of practicing the discipline of fasting. We let go of good and permissible things that God has given for our enjoyment as a way of keeping ourselves from making lesser things into more ultimate things. I recognize the power that technology has to draw my attention and affection, and I think I will probably always live somewhere on the continuum between “healthy and appropriate use” and “unhealthy and inappropriate abuse.” It’s good to find myself somewhere on the positive side of that continuum.
  3. Social media is mostly a one-sided conversation for me.
    During my hiatus from social media, I was curious to see what, if anything, I missed from the experience. I was surprised that what I missed more than anything was the feeling of sharing my thoughts, observations and experiences to “someone.” As an extrovert I realize that often my thoughts aren’t even real for me until I say them out loud. Social media is a way to do that. So while I guess I hope people will read and interact with what I say, the interaction was not what I missed most. What I missed most was having a way to express myself and feel heard, whether someone actually reads what I say or not.
  4. My family appreciated the effort.
    One of the main reasons I wanted to disconnect from part of my digital life was that I have seen how it can affect my focus and attention on the people in my embodied life. I’m not sure those words (digital vs embodied) are the best way to describe the experience of my life, but I prefer that paradigm better than others (e.g. virtual vs. real). The point is that as much as I try to multi-task or to have my attention focused into my digital and my embodied world, I don’t do it well. It has often created frustration for Kate (and to a lesser degree my kids) when my focus is into my digital world (staring at my phone, computer, iPad, etc) instead of on them. Kate mentioned on a couple occasions how she appreciated this exercise.
  5. Distractions are found in all forms of “technology.”
    One interesting discovery was that even if I take away my technological distractions (phone, computer, television) there are lower forms of technology that I still used to distract myself. For example, I took my son Andrew to lunch last week, and I took a magazine with me. While no one would probably refer to a magazine as a piece of “technology” it served as a distraction for me. I could have chosen to simply sit and watch Andrew play or to just sit and think. Instead I chose to sit and read. This disconnected me from my embodied world and connected me to a print world. So the dangers of distraction aren’t limited to shiny tech gadgets.

There’s more than I could say about the experience, but I’ll close by saying that I found this to be a very worthwhile exercise. So I’ll close with a question for you as you read this. Is there anything good but lesser thing in your life that you may be making an ultimate thing? Maybe it’s time to take a break to find out what you might learn by paying more attention to your embodied world.


** Image from Flickr user kozumel, used under Creative Commons license.


The day after Christmas I made a dreadful decision. I agreed to take my kids to a mall here in Denver so that they could go to the Lego store to buy something with the money that they got for Christmas from relatives. Big mistake. As I was driving the fifteen minutes it takes to get from my house to the mall, I reached down to grab my iPhone from my pocket for some tunes for the ride, and it wasn’t there. After double checking my jacket pockets, it was confirmed that I had forgotten my phone at home. I was already about ten minutes from home, and the thought crossed my mind to turn around and go get my phone. But I decided that was silly. I would be spending the day unplugged.

When we got to the mall my worst fears were realized. It was a complete madhouse. I have never seen that many people at a mall in my life. Seriously. Every road was jammed. Every parking spot was full. Every parking-lot aisle was backed up three to four cars deep as people were “trolling” for parking spots. I reached for my phone to call the store where we were heading to find out if they even had the item we came after. Oh yeah, no phone today.

After circling the parking lot without success for thirty minutes I heard the words from our back seat that every parent dreads in situations like this: “Daddy, I have to go potty.” It was Andrew, my four-year-old. “Okay, just hold it for a few minutes. Daddy will get a parking spot soon.” Fifteen minutes later Andrew was crying, and we still hadn’t found a parking place. I made a split-second decision. Passing the main entrance to the mall (in bumper-to-bumper traffic) I opened the door and instructed my seven-year-old son, Ethan, to take his brother inside to the bathroom and told him exactly where to wait for me inside. I headed straight for the valet parking line. At this point seven dollars seemed like a small price to pay to retrieve my two boys who were somewhere in the middle of the mall madness. As I dropped off my car, I began praying that the boys made it to the bathroom okay, that they weren’t scared, and that they’d be right where I told them to be. I was speed walking to where I told Ethan to meet me, and as I walked my hand slipped to my pocket. Oh yeah, no phone today. I continued to pray. I opened the door to the mall and immediately saw my boys, exactly where I told them to wait. I prayed again, thanking God for this small but oh-so-important answered prayer.

The mall was as insane inside as it was outside. Every seat in the food court was full, and people huddled in corners to eat. Madness, total madness. We made it to our destination, the Lego store, to find that, sure enough, they did not have the one thing we came after. After finding a suitable substitute (what four-year old is willing to wait?) we headed out. I had promised the boys lunch at Chick-Fil-A, but the food court was still packed so I decided we’d just head to a different location as far away from this mall as we could get. As we walked out through the food court, I reached down to snap a pic with Instagram and tweet it. Oh yeah, no phone today.

We finally made it out of the mall parking lot (another prayer of thanks was offered) and headed to Chick-Fil-A. We finished lunch, and the boys headed to the play area. This is a familiar ritual for me with my boys – fast food lunch followed by play time for them and some time to read, browse the web, and surf social networks for me. I reached for my pocket. Oh yeah, no phone today. For the first time in a while, I had a chance to just sit. And to think.

As I thought about my day, I noticed that more than my phone was missing from the day. A lot of my usual anxiousness and frustration was gone. I was more patient with my boys than I usually am. Given the unusually stressful nature of my day that was surprising. As I thought about it, I thanked God for that extra measure of grace, but I also began to wonder what else was different. I realized that I was fully present in every moment of that day without any distractions or diversions.

As a person who has spent much of his life working with technology (both as a vocation and an avocation), I spend a lot of time “plugged in.” But as a pastor, I’ve also thought a lot about how technology influences us. I am grateful in this regard to a pastor from Michigan named Shane Hipps. Shane wrote a great book a few years back that I highly recommend entitled Flickering Pixels which is an excellent exploration of the unintended consequences of media and technology. If reading a book on the topic seems too large a task and you’d prefer something shorter (which is true for most of us…technology, the internet specifically, did that to us) there’s a great article on Shane’s blog that should get you thinking.

I love technology, but I realize that using it as frequently as I do has unintended consequences. The best way that I’ve found to combat these consequences is to unplug – to fast from technology. It’s been a while since I’ve done this, and my experience at the mall made me realize it’s time to do it again. So I’m going to spend the first week of 2012 “unplugged.” No Twitter. No Facebook. No web surfing. No non-work-related email. I’ll probably still carry my phone in order to be available in my role as a pastor, but I intend to use it as little as possible. I want to create some silence and thought margin, some room to listen.

I’ll be back in a week – hopefully with more to say than if I hadn’t taken this break.

Beyond the Formulas, Part 4 – Learning to Walk

In my last post I talked about how we begin moving beyond seeing the Bible as our “handbook for life” by looking at some times in Jesus’ own life when he seemed to intentionally disobey the laws found in Scripture in order to obey them. Jesus’ explanation was that “he only did what he saw the Father doing.” Following the Father was how the Son knew how to fulfill the law by breaking the law. One of the challenges for me of reading the four Gospels (the books recounting the events of Jesus’ life) is knowing what things Jesus did that I am to do as his follower and what things he did simply because, well, he’s Jesus. Sometimes we jump too quickly to something Jesus did and assume that as his followers, living two thousand years later, we’re to do the exact same thing. Or conversely, we read something Jesus did and quickly assume, “Well of course he did that – he’s Jesus! That doesn’t mean we’re able or supposed to do the same thing!” This is where some context begins to help.

One of the first and most helpful principles you learn when studying the Bible is that context determines meaning. You can’t just rip a verse out of context and expect it to make any sense. The same is true for the things Jesus said and did. He said those things to a specific group of people, in a specific place, at a specific time, for a specific reason. To make those things generally applicable is an error. Likewise to assume that they’re not generally applicable is also unwise. Instead we zoom out and read the surrounding verses to understand how that verse makes sense within the story of which it is a part. We read those verses within the chapter or section of the book of which it is a part. We understand that section as a part of the whole book, which has its own place both in history and within the overall story of Scripture.

So applying that to Jesus breaking the laws in order to fulfill them, we need to look at what he taught his followers. Then what did they in turn teach their followers? Then, how have followers of Jesus understood this for two thousand years? Then, with those things in mind, we still have the work of deciding what that means for us, here, now.

What I have described is a fairly linear, rational, intellectual approach to understanding how to live as a follower of Jesus. This is good. At least it is a good place to start. But as I’ve been describing in this series, it is not enough. You cannot simply live by the rules and principles found in Scripture forever. At some point that approach begins to break down.

So Jesus knew how to truly fulfill the law (even if it meant breaking the rules) by, in his words, only doing what he saw the Father doing. Apparently Jesus was so intimately connected with the Father that this informed what he did. So when you watched what Jesus did – how he lived, how he treated people, all that he did and didn’t do – you were watching what God would do if he were walking around as a human being. Because that’s who Jesus is, God with skin on. So what about us? This isn’t something we can do…is it? Well, Jesus seemed to think that it was.

Toward the end of his life, Jesus made a promise. His promise was that it was now part of the plan that he go away – he would no longer be physically present with his followers to show them how to live. But he was sending someone who would show them how to live:

7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you…12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:7, 12-15)

Jesus promises to send the Spirit of God to guide his followers in his absence. The Spirit will receive from Jesus what he will make known to Jesus’ followers. In his last words to his followers, Jesus gave them this command:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus calls his followers to go and to make disciples (literally, “followers”) and to baptize them into this reality of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He doesn’t invite them to follow a rule book or to live according to a set of precepts or principles. He calls his followers to make more followers who will all live in a dynamic, living connected relationship to the Father by the Son through the Spirit.

In my next post we’ll take a look at how Paul describes this life – learning to walk with the Spirit. I’ll share some of my own struggles to understand what that means and how God is teaching me to do this more and more.



**Images from Flickr user loop_oh used under Creative Commons license

Beyond the Formulas, Part 3 – Breaking the Rules

In my last post in this series I talked about moving beyond seeing the Bible as our “handbook for life” and embracing it for what it is – a collection of stories, poetry, and wisdom that tells us a story. The Bible tells us the story of God and his interactions with people throughout time. I mentioned it then but it’s worth mentioning again that the book The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight does an excellent job of looking at all the incorrect ways we read scripture and argues for reading it as God’s grand narrative. As we read the stories of Scripture we gain insight to our own story. We find where our stories, our lives, can align to be part of God’s story. One such story I want to take a look at in this post comes from Mark 2.

Throughout the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – the four books which tell the story of Jesus’ life) we see Jesus regularly encountering resistance from the religious experts of his day. These men were the foremost expert of what the Hebrew Bible (what we know as the Old Testament) had to say and how to apply it to life. These men had taken the handbook paradigm to the extreme. They were so zealous to live by the laws of Scripture that they had added a long list of additional rules of their own. There was only one problem: they had lost sight of the purpose of the law. More accurately, they had lost touch with the one who had created the laws in the first place. Jesus knew that (obviously, since we believe he was actually God, the one who wrote the laws) and he pointed it out to them.

Beginning in Mark 2:23, Mark relates a story about Jesus’ interactions with the religious leaders around the rules and laws associated with the Sabbath. In Exodus God gave Israel strict instructions about their work week. They were to work six days, and then they were to rest on the seventh day – the Sabbath day. The practice of Sabbath was core to Israel’s identity. But somewhere along the way they forgot why God gave them that instruction. It just became a rule to be followed. Enter Jesus.

The story begins when Jesus’ followers, his disciples, picked some heads of grain and ate them while walking through a field on the Sabbath. The religious leaders confronted Jesus and asked why he allowed his disciples to “work” on the Sabbath. Now it seems a bit of a stretch to say that by picking some kernels of grain Jesus’ friends were working, but that’s how the religious leaders of Jesus’ time saw it. Jesus points out their error when he tells them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” He took them back to the intent of the law. He re-introduced them to a God who desired that there would be a rhythm of work and rest in their lives. He did this, not to have them to serve a law but to have the law serve them. Sometimes the rules should be broken. When? When following the rule undermines or contradicts its intent. To make this point perfectly clear, the next story Mark tells is of Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath (an act taken as “work” once again by the religious leaders) to show that sometimes the rules are made to be broken.

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
Dalai Lama XIV

So how do you know when to break the rules? Well first, you have to know the rules. That means knowing the Scriptures and what God has to say about what is good and bad, right and wrong. But just knowing the rules isn’t enough. You have to know the maker of the rules. John gives an account in his gospel about Jesus healing on the Sabbath, and in his account he records Jesus’ answer to how he knew when to break the rules.

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
John 5:19

So what does this mean for us? First it means we should always be studying and learning more about what the Scripture says. But that is not enough. We should also be looking for what the Father is doing, even if it threatens the way we’ve always thought about the rules.

I’ll talk more about that in my next post.

Tech Notes

I’m a geek – have been most of my life (read my story here at my other site if you’re curious how I became a geek). I don’t even try to deny that. I’m just fascinated by technology (computers in particular) and am always reading about cool new gadgets, programs, web sites, and the like. It seems like people are often coming to me and saying, “Hey have you seen this site?” or “What do you know about [insert techie gadget here] that’s supposed to be coming out soon?” So as a part of making this the place I process out loud and share things with others, it just seemed right to begin sharing some of the things that are capturing my attention here. So in no particular order, here’s the first installment of Tech Notes – news and notes of all things geek in my world:

  • Pinterest.com – I’m pretty late to the party on this one it seems, but I blame the fact that I’m a guy. This new invitation-only social networking site (let me know if you want an invitation) where you can “pin” things from the web you find interesting seems to have a pretty heavily female audience to date. The whole idea is that you find something you find interesting on the web (a recipe, arts and crafts ideas, decorating ideas, etc) and you “pin it” on your page. I’m still getting the hang of it, but it seems to have a lot of momentum. Which probably means Google or Facebook will buy it soon. 🙂 Kudos to my buddy Dan Snyder for this one.
  • Pepperplate.com – My friend Jason Malec shared this one with me. It’s a website where you can add recipes (by clipping them from websites like foodnetwork.com or by adding your own recipes manually), create a menu plan for the week, and it will then generate a shopping list for you. This solves the problem of getting to the end of the day and saying, “What should we have for dinner?” and then having to figure out what you need, go to the store, and buy it. With a little planning Pepperplate helps you avoid that ordeal. One of the things I love is when technology integrates well – particularly between computers and mobile devices. This is where Pepperplate is strong. You add your recipes, decide when you want to make them, and it will generate a shopping list for you that you can then access through your (free) Pepperplate iPhone app. I haven’t really put this one into practice yet (I’m still collecting recipes to use) but am excited about the possibilities.
  • Klout.com – Ever since I read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell years ago, I’ve been fascinated by how people influence one another. Why do trends start? Why do some bands get popular and others don’t even get noticed? Behind all the decisions we make is a network of people who influence us, people who connect us, and people who persuade us. Social networking makes it possible to observe and analyze these trends and see who influences whom. That’s where Klout.com comes in. Just connect Klout to your social network and it will give you a score of your influence – analyzing all your social network connections and who you motivate to action (to click on a link, to retweet a post on Twitter, to like something on Facebook, etc). Interesting stuff.

Beyond the Formulas, Part 2 – Where’s the Handbook?

When I was growing up I often heard pastors and people at church say, “the Bible is like your handbook for life.” It was meant to be an encouragement to people to read the Bible, which is great. Unfortunately it was, and still is, a terrible paradigm to approach reading the scriptures. Websters describes a handbook this way:

handbook |ˈhan(d)ˌbo͝ok|
a book giving information such as facts on a particular subject or instructions for operating a machine.

I don’t know who first thought it was a good idea to start thinking about the Bible this way, but I’m guessing it’s probably a post-industrial revolution idea. In a world where we are surrounded by machines and their associated handbooks, it is tempting to think about life in a very process-oriented sort of way – to see it as a very big, very complicated machine – and to see the Bible as the operating manual for life. The problem is, the Bible just doesn’t cooperate with that paradigm. The Bible is a very complex book. In fact, it’s not a book at all. It’s a collection of books – sixty-six in all – written by over forty authors across thousands of years of time. It is narrative. It is poetry. It is correspondence. Even when it is proverbial and seems to be giving “how-to” directions about life it isn’t that straightforward. Here’s an example.

We’ve all had someone say something foolish to you before. Maybe it was that drunk guy sitting in front of you at a football game. Maybe it was someone being rude in line at the grocery store. So how do you respond? Well, let’s go to the handbook:

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” Proverbs 26:4

Okay, so I just shouldn’t say anything to that person who spouts off at me, right? Well, maybe – maybe not. Look at the next verse:

“Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:5

So wait. I thought I wasn’t supposed to answer. So according to this verse I am supposed to let him know he said something foolish or he will simply continue thinking how he acts is okay. So which is it? Do I answer or not?

In my previous post I mentioned that my counselor/spiritual-director Denise pointed out to me not long ago that I was trying to live by the precepts and principles of Scripture – to understand the formulas to solve the problems of life, but that paradigm of life was breaking down for me. She said something interesting, “You can’t pre-decide how you’re going to act in a particular situation. To do so is not to be fully present in that moment. More importantly it means not being present with God in that moment.”

Knowing and understanding the truth of Scripture is important. It is vital. It is necessary for following God. But it is not enough. Knowing Scripture is not the same thing as knowing God. The Bible is not a handbook; it is God’s revelation to man – the story of his relationship with man throughout history. Knowing the Bible helps us to know God, but it is not the same as knowing God himself.

In my next post, I’ll take a look at a story from Jesus’ life that provides some insight into the difference between following God and just following the rules.

Follow up thought:
If you’re interested in reading more about how we think about the Bible, a book that was very influential for me was The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight.


Beyond the Formulas, Part 1

When I was in high school one of my worst subjects was math. So it makes complete sense that when I went to college I decided to major in engineering…with a minor in mathematics. Actually, looking back it makes no sense. But that’s what I did, and those five years (it takes longer to finish when you have to take some classes more than once) were very formative for me (brutally difficult, but formative). Although I use almost none of that engineering and mathematics education on a day-to-day basis, I find find that in a lot of ways that educational experience shapes the way I think. Studying engineering taught me to think. It taught me how to break down and solve problems using a logical, rational approach.

Earlier this year I started meeting with a counselor/spiritual director named Denise. My time with her has been life-giving in a variety of ways. She has the uncanny ability to integrate the best of psychology with sound theology to bring insight to the mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of life. She has helped me process and understand parts of my life journey and their impact on who I am, and she has opened up new insights on the journey that still lies ahead. In one of my first meetings with Denise she made the comment that she thought I might be entering “the second half of life.” Having just turned 40, I didn’t like the sound of this.

Denise went on to explain that life is divided into two halves. The first half of life is about figuring out essential questions of life:

  • What am I to do?
  • Who will go with me in life?
  • What gives my life significance?

From the perspective of Christian faith, the first half of life is about developing a sense of who we are in relationship with God. Rules, precepts, and principles are important in the first half of life. We learn and discover the formulas that serve us in solving the problems we face in life. The first half of life is significant. It is essential. It is formative. But apparently, it is an incomplete view of life.

“Wholly unprepared, we embark upon the second half of life… we take the step into the afternoon of life; worse still we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve as before. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning – for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.” Carl Jung

At some point the formulas break down. What worked to help you make sense of life in the first half is incomplete. What Denise observed in me was the tension of seeing my formulas break down. Does this mean that what I learned in the first half is wrong? Does that make the rules wrong? Does that make God’s rules and laws wrong? Not wrong but incomplete.

In my next post I’ll share how first-half thinking began failing me and some of the faltering steps I’m taking into the second half.

A New Paradigm

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to participate in a group led by my friend Ben Sternke. I’ve gotten to know Ben over the last couple years through our participation in the Ecclesia Church Network. One of the things I’ve loved most about being part of Ecclesia is that there are people who push me to think and explore life and ministry in new directions. All my years at North Point were amazing and formative, and during that time I learned from a lot of like-minded churches. But when we moved to Denver to start New Denver Church, I learned quickly that I had been living and learning in a somewhat insulated environment. I think it’s a natural phenomenon to gravitate to people and organizations that are more similar. The great benefit of that is that you share the same problems and challenges and can help one another find solutions. The down side is that it can be a limitation to learning, because within that circle of like-mindedness you sometimes aren’t challenged by people who think differently or look at issues from a vastly different perspective. And as much as we learned working at a large, suburban mega-church in the south, we quickly figured out that we weren’t really prepared for the challenges of starting an urban church from nothing in the west.

We were drawn to Ecclesia because it is a church network that is not predicated on praxis (there are many different forms of church from more traditional expressions to radically de-centralized house church networks) nor on doctrine (historic orthodox Christianity as expressed in the creeds are all that bind us) but instead our relationships and a commitment to a shared mission.

After we joined Ecclesia one of the first things we noticed was the passion of people within the network to the concept of discipleship – learning what it means to follow Jesus in the context of everyday life. In conversations I kept hearing about the work of Mike Breen and 3D Ministries. In particular a lot of churches in Ecclesia were using “huddles” – 3DM’s term for discipleship-focused small groups. I bought Mike’s book Building a Discipling Culture and read it. It made sense, but I still didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. It seemed too simple. So at Ecclesia’s national gathering in Washinton DC this past spring, I was talking to Ben – trying to understand more about what made huddles different from any other small group system out there (and I’ve seen my fair share). Ben just said, “It’s hard to explain – you just need to be in a group.” Fortunately Ben apparently had that conversation with several other folks, because he decided to start a phone huddle for some of us in Ecclesia churches who wanted to learn more about them. So in March Ben started the group.

I’ll share more about this group and how it impacted me and how it’s still impacting my life and ministry in future posts, but to start I want to share a significant paradigm shift that came at our first meeting. It is the foundational assumption behind 3DM’s paradigm for discipleship, and it is this: God is already in the process of discipling you. Your task is to find out what he is trying to teach you and how to respond. Sounds simple I know, but as it would turn out the implications for me were pretty massive.