The Weekend Wanderer: 30 November 2019

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

Screen Shot 2019-11-26 at 1.36.36 PM“The First Christian” – Some Christians, in an effort to avoid what can become an overemphasized Mariology, downplay the role of Mary in our faith. Luke’s telling of the gospel story, however, highlights Mary as an ideal picture of true Christian discipleship that all of us should look to as an example. The preeminent prayer of the life surrendered to God comes from Mary’s lips: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). Jennifer Powell McNutt and Amy Beverage Peeler’s article, “The First Christian,” offers a moving exploration of Mary as Christian exemplar.


Missional“Futurist Church Series :: Where is ‘Missional’ 10 Years after the ‘Conversation’ Peaked?” – The past ten to twenty years of church ministry conversation seems to have been dominated by the word “missional.” Sometimes, it seems, “missional” has become more of a buzzword than a word of substance, but it is still an important theme in the ministry of the church in a post-Christian era.  This interesting interview brings together five important voices in the early missional movement: Alan Hirsch, Michael Frost, David Fitch, Brad Brisco, and Jeff Vanderstelt.


advent-playlist_v2-01“An Advent Playlist” – Music is one of the most powerful means for engaging in both cognitive and non-cognitive worship and spiritual formation. At one level, our conscious mind intellectually engages with the words and beauty of music. At another level, our spirit engages non-cognitively with the emotive swells of music and find that songs linger in our memory and heart beyond mere intellectual consideration of it. As we prepare for Advent, I was glad to stumble upon this curated playlist on Spotify for Advent by Victoria Emily Jones from the Art & Theology blog. There was much here that I wasn’t familiar with, which is a gift at this time of year.


Fred Rogers“Mr. Rogers was a televangelist to toddlers” – When I graduated from high school, I participated in a recognition banquet where each student had to name one of their heroes. I said “Mr. Rogers,” which was partly a joke but partly truth. I appreciated how Fred Rogers’ faith had shaped his life toward public witness. With all the appreciation of Rogers’ life and influence in recent years, and in the form of two recent movies, Daniel Burke’s article at CNN is a welcome testimony to a Christian life lived as a public witness toward the love and hope found in God.


_109823848_gettyimages-1135630791“Egyptian woman ‘wins court battle’ over unequal inheritance laws” – There is a lot of discussion these days about faith and the public square, with most of the examples coming from Western society. We often ask not only “how should Christian faith interact with politics?”, but “can Christian faith really make a difference in the public discourse?” Here is a quite different example from Egypt, where Coptic Christianity collided with Islamic Sharia Law in relation to legality of gender equity for inheritance. “A Coptic Christian woman in Egypt says she has won a legal battle to receive the same inheritance as her brothers. Under the Islamic Sharia inheritance laws the country mainly relies on, female heirs inherit half that of male relatives. Huda Nasrallah, 40, brought the case to test the legality of the statute. The human rights lawyer built her case around Christian doctrine of equal inheritance. Two courts had earlier ruled against her based on Sharia. Sharia has been used in personal status law regardless of an individual’s religion, and this verdict could set a precedent.”


Music: Handel’s Messiah” by Jenny & Tyler from Christmas Stories.

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

Putting Our Safety on the Back Burner

When I heard Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman’s story yesterday about winning the Pulitzer Prize for their investigative reporting in Philadelphia, I couldn’t stop listening. It was just a fascinating story.

But here is the one statement that hit me like a ton of bricks. They were talking about the risks involved with walking the streets and knocking on doors for interviews as ethnic and social minorities, and Barbara Laker said this:

we kind of went with this no matter what and put … our safety on the back burner.

Here are two women who are willing to go to great lengths for the sake of their story. They are willing to meet people, cross boundaries, risk retaliation from police, and more for the sake of their larger purpose.

Okay, so here is the rub. If these women are willing to risk so much for this story, how much are we willing to risk for the greatest story? Sometimes, I fear that I’m far too safe with my Christianity. It’s hard not to. Our culture encourages us to think about long-term and short-term security.

But as Alan Hirsch says, “The closer we get to Jesus, the more He challenges our middle-class sensibilities.”

So, are we willing to put our safety on the back burner, and risk it all for the sake of God’s larger kingdom purposes?

How have you been risky in your pursuit of Jesus?

Summary of #Exponential 2010 Notes

This is a summary page through which you can access all of my note-posts on Exponential 2010. This was an outstanding conference for me, and that’s coming from someone who is not a big conference guy.

Alan Hirsch and Ed Stetzer interview (#Exponential 2010)

During the third plenary session of Exponential 2010, Dave Ferguson of New Thing network interviewed Alan Hirsch (Forge America and Shapevine) and Ed Stetzer (Lifeway Research). Here are two great leaders in the missional church movement who see things through different lenses. While these are simply notes I took while listening, I hope there are some nuggets in here that make it worth a read.


  • Proposed metrics in forthcoming book: Are lives being changed? Are churches being changed? And, therefore, are changed people changing the world around them.
  • What can we measure and what should we measure?
  • Measuring conversions, baptisms
  • Measuring how people are growing, maturing, living mission-shaped lives?


  • This is important because how we measure something shows what we value
  • How do we measure discipleship? Is it converts?
  • Can we measure whether people in the church have relationship with people outside the church?


  • We can measure discipleship through people’s engagement with small groups or service ministries


  • Another metric could be whether people who are leading are modeling what they are asking people to do…developing relationships with those outside the church


  • Right, “you cannot lead what you do not live”


  • New book Untamed implies that we’ve domesticated our lives, our discipleship, and our idea of God. Forthcoming book on how these ideas apply to the church. The notion of adventure and risk – Abraham leaving Ur – is almost completely lacking from our theology, our lives, and our view of the church. We view God and church as a very static experience.
  • “The closer we get to Jesus, the more He challenges our middle-class sensibilities.”
  • “If we’re not hanging out with iffy people, then we are not becoming like Jesus.”
  • Engaging with people is to take a risk. C. S. Lewis says that love is basically a risk. ‘The only place where you can be safe from the risk of love is hell.’


  • In study of 7,000 churches, examples of risky churches move past passive, spectator Christianity to “active, disciple-focused Christianity”
  • Too often, we think that the pews = the stands, the stage = the action/game; this is not the way it should be


  • First, we need to allow ourselves to be risk-takers. I chose to do something more stupid or risky every year. We have to risk failure to be a stake-holder.
  • Secondly, you cannot lead where you do not go; you cannot teach what you do not know. We have to be participants in our own knowledge.


  • “If you want to change the world, plant change-agent churches.”


  • Take a few risks. Experiment with church planting.


  • We don’t have the power to do this on our own. What we need is new power that comes from the power of God living in us, changing us, changing our church, and through us, changing the world.

[This is part of a series of note-posts from the Exponential 2010 conference.]