Wednesday, December 06, 2006


The screening Sunday night was good. Probably about 80 people in the audience including three area pastors and an elder from another area church that I know were there.

Pastor Hopkins of United Methodist Church started the evening by telling the audience a story that he had told me a week or two earlier... it goes something like this... "I saw six films at the Virginia Film Festival. Five of them I liked. Rebellion of Thought wasn't one of them. But Rebellion of Thought was the one I couldn't get out of my head!"

He went home that Saturday night and tore up the sermon he had written for next morning and started over. He told me later that he didn't sleep a wink that night. That's how much the film impacted him.

Following the screening Sunday night we had much discussion... great, tough questions and I did my best to answer them, admitting that I myself don't have the answers, that I'm just a man on a journey and this is the view I'm granted along the way.

After the show Leslie and Josh did some on-camera interviews with people leaving... An atheist asked, "why do you need God at all if you are going to go outside the church?" I wish I could have been there to respond to her...

First, I would have said that I rely more on God outside the traditional church than I ever did inside. But more importantly, I would have said that we are not trying to go "outside the the church." Part of what we are about is trying to do is get the church to get outside of the church. Meaning to get believers to truly begin living their faith in the streets outside the walls of the church where it can have an impact of a post-modern culture!

I don't know if "fun was had by all" at the screening but I do know that it seems that many people are hungry for the dialogue that this film promotes... now let's see if we can get broader distribution... in the mean time, if you would like to arrange a screening in your area, please contact us.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


For anyone who couldn't get a ticket to the premiere of Rebellion of Thought I'm happy to announce that the next screening will be December 3rd right here in Charlottesville. It will be a FREE event and open to the public.

A local pastor happened to be in attendance at the Virginia Film Festival screening and unbeknownst to him he had the most bizarre connection to a film that I've ever heard. I won't give his story away, because he will probably share it that evening, but I will tell you that you won't want to miss it. It's so amazingly, unbelievable that we've decided to interview him for inclusion as promo material and as a possible bonus segment on the DVD.

Anyhow, he has graciously invited us to screen Rebellion of Thought at the Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church. He called me the other day and told me that this film has rocked him. He can't get it out of his mind. He preached on it the week after he saw it. He told me that he doesn't agree with everything in the film but that the conversation is so important that he wants his congregation to be a part of the dialogue.

Please join us for the film with a disussion to follow...

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006 at 7pm
Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church
750 Hinton Avenue
Charlottesville, Virginia

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


We have successfully premiered another film. Rebellion of Thought screened Saturday at the Virginia Film Festival to a sold out crowd. Nervous, anxious and exhausted, Brad and I arrived in time to mix and mingle a bit prior to the screening. We and the team had worked 18 hour days the entire week prior, which culminated with an all night editing race to prep the film for its premiere. With less than an hour of sleep on the editing room floor and another 45 minutes on the carpet of the soundstage I thought I might literally fall asleep during the showing, but fortunately the adrenaline kicked in and got me through it.

The moderator announced the screening, the lights dimmed, the crowd settled in and the Paladin Media Group logo took over the screen... and then for the next 75 minutes the crowd was forced to “drink from a fire hose” in the non-stop assault of the heart, soul and mind that is Rebellion of Thought.

It was an interesting mix of a crowd, including friends, family, old professors, colleagues and strangers. I’ve always thought Rebellion of Thought is a very difficult film to watch, because it is a talking-head picture about a rather esoteric subject. Plus, it’s non-stop with very little room to digest the material during the film. It’s like no film I’ve ever seen in that regard.
Anyhow, the 75 minute screening passed quickly and the credits started to roll. That’s when I noticed that no one moved. Not one person stood to make their way to the exit in the entire theatre. An eerie feeling was in the room as everyone stared at the screen and watched the credits while Will Musser’s music pushed them along. Finally the film faded to black and the Paladin logo signified the very end at which point a rather awkward applause broke out. I imagine people probably uncertain to clap because they liked the film but didn’t agree with everything it promotes or perhaps just glad to have survived the experience. Regardless, it was over and time for the most bizarre Q&A I’ve ever been a part of. This was followed by close to an hour of conversations with a host of people who came down front to talk. Obviously, it is an engaging film about a topic that people want to discuss.

Following the screening Brad and I took our parents, my family, James (our editor), Leslie, (our office manager) and her husband Jimmy to the LimeLeaf restaurant for a celebratory dinner. Great memories were made as we concluded this great premiere.

FYI... yesterday I received an email from the program director of the RiverRun International Film Festival. She was in the audience on Saturday and she requested a screener for consideration at their fest next spring in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We’ll keep you posted.

Monday, October 30, 2006


It's Monday afternoon - not unlike the usual Monday at work, catching up on all the Monday things that have to be done, but different in the sense that a huge burden has been lifted from our shoulders.

Rebellion of Thought has shown publicly for the first time!

Last week was a flurry of activity as we scurried to pull together all the pieces that would make Rebellion of Thought a compelling film. Three editors, James Burgess, Matt Uncapher, and Josh Mcgonigle labored through the night, literally, time and time again to cut and cut some more as we refined the look. Our office manager, Leslie Wood, held the project together by making sure we ate occasionally and had ample supplies of editor fuel - Red Bull, Coke, water, chocolate, mixed nuts, and various and sundry assorted munchies.

All this was confounded by the Brothers Williamson's mutual decision to completely recut the film in a different sequence on Monday, five days before the screening. But despite all the barriers, the technical breakdowns, the discouragment and criticism that we seemed to encounter in spades, we managed to put together a pretty convincing piece by 9 am Saturday morning. The relief was evident as we started dumping the film to tape, since Matt, Kent and I had been up since the morning of the previous day. By noon the film was on tape, and ready for transfer to the cinema for the screening.

Kent and I caught a quick catnap while others tested the film and the projector at the theater. We woke up groggy, but dressed in our best filmmaker uniforms, and raced to the Regal theater on the Mall in Charlottesville.

The theater was packed, a sell out crowd, and the greetings of a few friends we recognized help ease the strain of waiting for the titles to roll. A moderator introduced the film, and then the house lights went down, as the first frames marched across the big screen.

It is hard to describe the emotion of the next 75 minutes. This being our second film, we felt like old hands at dealing with the butterflies that accompany the public presentation of any creative effort. But it was only a few minutes into the film when I realized that I couldn't believe that it was ME up on the screen, and that I was actually saying the things I was saying. I could only sigh and wait for the tarring and feathering.

But suffice it to say that the presentation was a success by almost any measure. Our team had done a wonderful job pulling video, audio, and the musical score of Will Musser together into a piece that exceeded even my expectations for the week we had to refine it. It looked great, sounded better, and carried a message that touched almost everyone in the audience.

Only one person left during the screening, many stayed for the half-hour question and answer period after, and enough stayed after the Q&A that it took 45 minutes to get through all the personal discussion. And the most significant thing, of all the questions that we dealt with during the evening, there was only one of a technical nature. Almost without exception the discussions that followed were about the content, which was what Kent and I had hoped for from the beginning.

We still have tons of work to do to complete the film, finish the bonus features, and put the DVD together, so if you didn't see it Saturday, you'll probably have to wait until the spring for the DVD, or at least for a while 'til it appears at a theater near you. Kent and I will be out promoting it, and if you ask nicely, maybe we can come by your way.

In the meantime, stay tuned here, and remember...

...a new conversation has begun.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


We learned yesterday that we'll be screening Rebellion of Thought to a packed house this Saturday at the Virginia Film Festival. This is great news, but it makes us all a little more nervous. Afterall, the film is still not complete!

James Burgess, our lead editor, arrives from Las Vegas today to help us wrap it up. The film is going through a "major overhaul," for lack of a better term. This, of course, might appear like a risky situation with only 4 days left to our premiere, but we move forward in confidence none-the-less.

James reported to us that the footage looks "fabulous" on the big screen. He showed a few clips last week during his presentation at the WYSIWYG conference in San Francisco.

In the mean time... 4 days to go... Brad arrived from Michigan on Sunday night and he, Josh, and I are burning the candle at both ends. Time to go make it happen!

FYI... depending on how the film plays on Saturday and how strong interest remains in seeing it, we may try to set up a follow up Charlottesville screening for those unable to get tickets for the fest. Let us know... your vote counts!

Friday, September 29, 2006


September 29th, 2006... Today at 9AM, tickets go on sale for Rebellion of Thought (and all the other festival films) at the Virginia Film Festival's website. Our screening is set for 4:30pm on Saturday, October 28th at the Regal cinema on Charlottesville's downtown mall. Tickets for Rebellion of Thought are $6. Buy yours early as seating is limited... we only have one screening at this festival.

Other films of note in this years lineup...

• The much talked about Jesus Camp
• Monty Python's Life of Brian
Iraq in Fragments (which Brad and I watched at Sundance this year)
• Robert Duvall in The Apostle
The Chronicles of Narnia
• Ingmar Bergman's 1957 classic The Seventh Seal
• Paul Wagner's God of a Second Chance
• Workshops by friend and former Regent University President Terry Lindvall (one called Hollywood, Teach Us to Pray)

Monday, September 04, 2006


Here's a news story from CBS 2 in Chicago... and the transcript below... also, for the record let me add that some try to place the group I'm part of squarely in the midst of the emerging church movement. Though there are plenty of simiarlities, there are also plenty of differences. This news story doesn't get into the theology aspect of the differences. It's also interesting to see the buzzwords "emerging church" in the mainstream news...

New Faithful Practice Away From Churches
Some Say 20 Million Participate In Emerging Church Movement

(CBS) CHICAGO Many theologians believe the Emerging Church Movement is the fastest growing group in Christianity. It has no national organization or coordination, so it's almost impossible to know just how big it is.

Some estimates say there are 20 million of these new faithful in the U.S. alone -- that's more than Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Mormons put together.

CBS 2's Antonio Mora investigates whether it is the next big thing in religion.

"You are who you are supposed to be in front of Christ. It's not fake," said Bonnie Mobley.

Mobley grew up Episcopalian. Her way of worshipping has changed dramatically.

Ashley Hodges is an Evangelical who got tired of feeling isolated at a mega-church.

"You really get to know each other and you grow together," Hodges said.

And Evangelical David Verdin wanted something more laid back.

"It's really simple and you don't have come in with this religious pompous attitude," Verdin said.

Now, they are all members of what�s called the Emerging Church Movement�an unconventional and unstructured road to religion.

Scot McKnight is a theologian at North Park University.

�They meet in coffee shops, homes, cafes, some of them in basements of churches, some of them in pubs, in bars. They meet in any spot that will house their kind of movement,� he said.

"I often joke that we are a disorganized religion as opposed to organized religion. There is an element of the Emerging Church Movement as a whole being a response to kinda the whole corporate CEO style of Christanity," said Pastor John Pennington of the Chicagoland Community Church.

The Emerging Church Movement is made up mostly of members of generations X and Y, but these soul-searchers feel like something out of the sixties, the decade that defined their baby boomer parents. Ironically, they're rebelling against the churches boomers fill every Sunday.

"The idea of the american dream of having a big bank account and large cars and houses isn't appealing,� said Geoff Hosclaw of the Life on the Vine Church.

"It's not about how I can have a better life or get more of what I want. It's about joining the historical mission of Jesus Christ in the world,� said David Fitch of Northern Seminary.

It�s a simple approach to Christianity that focuses on intimacy, relationships, and personal involvement in the community.

At one church, members actively participate in outreach programs for runaway teens and the homeless.

"It's really not a rebellion so much as it's just finding a new set of answers, a different way of being Christians,� said Pastor Mike Clawson of the Christus Community Church.

"I think it's a new reformation. I think it's a new way of looking at the Bible,� said Pastor Julie Clawson.

But is this church movement the future or a passing fad?

"I don't think it's simply a fad,� said McKnight. �I don't think it's the future of all Christians. I think it is a movement that will have an impact on all churches in the United States.�

"I hope it will fly because I think the church needs to evolve and it needs to change if it's going to survive," said Mike Clawson.

Many of the mega-churches have taken note of the emerging church movement. Willow Creek has long had small group ministries, but it has recently increased their focus on community involvement.

But many traditional religious leaders are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

House churches and cell churches have only thrived in the long run in places where religion is persecuted.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Here's a great quote we came upon while editing a portion of Rebellion of Thought from our interview with Gene Edward Veith (senior writer for World Magazine). It was in a section of the film that has been moved to the bonus features of the DVD, but I'm fairly confident we'll be able to find a home for it in the main film...

"People choose a church the same way they choose a major appliance. They look at the ones that meet their needs the best and that’s what they go with. They don’t even ask questions of “is this true? Is this what I need to hear?” It’s just “what I like.” And so they base their whole lives on that and turn themselves into post-modernists."

What are your thoughts? How did you select your church and if you had it to do over again would you do anything differently? Let us know...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rebellion of Thought... the edit

Just a quick post to let everyone know that the film currently is down to 1 hour and 55 minutes. This was a major reason for celebration for Brad and me last week (since we began with a film that was 12 hours and 15 minutes long). Andy Warhol may have been able to get away with a film of that length but obviously he wasn't dealing with such a heady topic as post-modernism and the role of the Church in pm culture.

For those that don't know, in 1964 Andy Warhol made an eight hour film called Empire where he pointed a camera at the Empire State Building and filmed from dusk into the middle of the night (there's a brief clip available at Media Art Net and an interesting blurb at New York Art).

Anyhow, it is still our goal to get the final edit down in the ballpark of 90 minutes. We have had to toss out entire sections we had previously edited, but fortunately in the world of DVD this means our "bonus features" will be jammed with great material that just didn't make the final cut. Most likely it will be a two disc set, but we'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 28, 2006


While editing a section of Rebellion of Thought called "Creating God In Our Own Image," I included this quote from our interview with Bruce Ellis Benson (Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wheaton College)...

"...we affirm as Christians that God does exists, and that our conception of God is not purely a kind of idolatrous conception of God. Now of course, there it gets a little difficult, because as Christians, I assume that our conception of God is probably never completely pure, that is to say, our conception of God is never completely free from idolatry. It's very easy for the conception of "Jesus, Lord of my life," to morph into, to change into, "Jesus, who is the granter of my desires." That's not a very big step, as it turns out, and indeed I assume that many of us live, in a sort of practical way so that Jesus is the granter of our desires, first and foremost, rather than the Lord and Master of our lives."

What are your thoughts on this concept of Christian idolatry? Please share them here...

Monday, July 17, 2006

REBELLION OF THOUGHT. . . needs your music!

We at the Paladin Media Group are currently on a quest for great music to help us create another award-winning soundtrack... this one for our current film Rebellion of Thought.

We are looking for fresh, up & coming and established solo acts, bands, instumentalists, orchestras, etc. from a wide variety of musical styles. We need music to help establish the feel of the film. We need background music for restaurants and a variety of locations. We need music to help push the film forward. We need music to help tell the story. Simply put, we need great music.

We start by auditioning as much music as possible. We listen to tracks again and again to find just the right one for each section of the film. Once these selections are made each musician will be notified as to which songs have been chosen for inclusion in the film. At this point a more formal contract will be issued to the selected musicians.

A section of the Rebellion of Thought DVD featuring & promoting your music from the film, bio, album artwork, contact information, weblink to your site, and email link. Inclusion in all press materials related to the film. On screen credit in the film and on the website. Copies of the completed DVD. And of course, bragging rights... if you're into that sort of thing.

Please mail a cd, bio, lyrics, contact info, and a brief letter signed by all copyright holders stating that you are the owner of the copyrighted material and have the authority to assign the synchronization rights for inclusion in this film and on the film's soundtrack to:

Paladin Media Group
Attn: Rebellion of Thought Music Quest
673 Berkmar Court
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Yesterday I received an email from Richard Herskowitz, the director of the Virginia Film Festival. He let me know a tentative screen time for Rebellion of Thought at this years fest. We are currently slated to have our world-premiere on Saturday, October 28th, 4pm at the Regal Cinema on the downtown mall in Charlottesville.

I've been editing a lot lately in order to prep the film for it's debut and I'm happy to report that the running time is currently 8 hours and 30 minutes! That's down from over 12 hours. Before you all panic, please note that by the premiere it will be around 90 minutes... at least that's the goal.

If you are a musician or if you know any musicians please send them the link to the Rebellion of Thought Music Quest. We are currently searching for all genres of music for possible inclusion within the film as we prep to create another award-winning soundtrack. The details are spelled out on the Rebellion of Thought site.

I will leave you with a still image from the film...

Even the untrained eye will notice Charlottesville's Regal Cinema in the background. I won't spoil it, but this particular scene has an unbelievable ending... you'll have to come to the premiere to discover how it all turns out.

In the mean time... edit, edit, edit...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Going to Church by Staying at Home

A recent Washington Post article by staff writers Michael Alison Chandler and Arianne Aryanpur...

Going to Church by Staying at Home - Clergy-Less Living Room Services Seen as a Growing Trend


MOMENTUM 06 - Friday, June 23rd and Saturday, June 24th at St. James Church, Newport Beach, CA

Don't miss this incredible two-day conference on the emerging church, worship, justice, the arts and missional life.

With: Mike Pilavachi, Todd Hunter, Brenton Brown, David Ruis, and several others.

A good friend of mine (Keith Giles) will be leading a couple of workshops, one on Compassion Ministry with the amazing Crissy Brooks (MIKA), and one on Missional Gospel "The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?".

Student Rates and Couples Rates just added.

Go online to learn more...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More On Gilley, The Church, The Truth

In his article, Gary Gilley comes down hard on the "emergent" church. First, let me state that some people call what we do "emergent" while others call it "micro church", some call it "home church", some "organic", some "cell", etc., etc. Our church has no name and perhaps this is part of the problem. If we had a name on a sign people could more easily put us in some type of spiritual box and then perhaps more easily dismiss us. We tell people over and over that we are not trying to do church... instead we are trying to be the church... we are truly attempting to live more as missionaries right here in America, than as "church-goers". Second, let me make it clear that I make no claims of being the mouthpiece for any of the previously mentioned groups. And third, allow me to state again that I have not "arrived". I will never again treat my faith as if it were the destination. The faith journey I am on is exactly that... a journey, and what I offer below are merely glimpses of what I've seen from the peaks and valleys of the trip.

By Gilley's description I would want to disassociate myself from anything "emergent" ASAP. At the same time I must admit that I feel he is selectively quoting the various authors (McLaren, Sweet, etc.) in an attempt to convince the reader that he has the correct interpretation of doctrine, truth, etc., etc., similar to how pastors from the modern era selectively dissect scripture in order to prove their points, promote their agendas, etc.

Gilley is dead-on when he writes, "Truth claims are held with suspicion within postmodernism..." There is no doubt that a post-modern culture rejects truth claims, but Gilley is dead-wrong when he says, "Something has to give and that something seems to be truth." (If you haven't read it yet, please read the entire article to get a better understanding of Gilley's perspective).

Like I stated in my previous post, the Christian message CAN'T change, and that message is THE Truth, and it is THE Truth that post-moderns, moderns, and non-believers throughout human history have rejected and will continue to reject.

I think that some of the confusion comes from the term "postmodern". What do we mean by that? Does Gilley mean the same thing when he writes "postmodern" that McLaren and Sweet mean? In the simplest sense of the word, postmodernism refers to what comes after modernism. It's like saying it's "post-3pm" for anything that comes after 3pm. It's a term that means everything and a term that means nothing. Someone along the way called the modern era, the "modern era". They could have simply called it the "post-medieval era." Even though it may actually be 11pm, the term "post-3pm" would still technically be correct due to it's catch-all nature. Postmodernism quickly became the buzzword because no term so easily defines the transition we are currently in from the modern era into a new era and until a better term comes along "postmodern" wins.

Now the trouble comes when we start applying this term "postmodern" as an adjective to modify a noun (i.e. "postmodern Christians"). If we are moving from modernism into a new era, which most everyone agrees we are (even though many will go kicking and screaming into this new era), then every Christian (good, bad, holy, sinner, sanctified, purified, backslidden, etc.) could be called "postmodern Christians", simply because that is the age in which we dwell. If by "postmodern Christian" it is meant "a Christian who has bought into postmodern thought" (i.e. the rejection of all truth) that would simply be an oxymoron. How could someone who rejects all truth claims, believe in THE Truth Claim of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection? I would imagine that if I had the chance to sit down with Dr. Gilley, we could agree on 99.9% of the core message of gospel... Christ was a real person and somehow, simultaneously he was the Son of God, he was born of a virgin, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, buried and somehow, miraculously rose from the grave, he sits today at the right hand of God the Father almighty and intercedes on our behalf, etc., etc., (sounds like some of the creeds our spiritual forefathers wrote as statements of their beliefs).

So the way I see it, the debate (and a necessary debate it is) is not about message, but rather comes down to methodology... If we as the Church (and the secular world around us) are entering a new era (posmodernity), would it be appropriate to adapt our methods (not our message), but our methods, in order to be salt & light to people who reject truth claims?

The method of my father used to teach me right from wrong was effective... simply put, it worked. But in the time from my childhood to that of my own children, the world under us has changed. My father never had to worry about what I might find on the Internet, simply because there was no Internet. He didn't have to worry about what my little eyes would see on 500 channels of TV, because we only had 3 channels. He didn't have to worry about me rejecting all truth claims, because it hadn't become so prevalent within our culture. His method of teaching right from wrong worked! All I need to do as a parent is modify his method to account for the changes that have occurred within the culture over the last generation. It would be foolish of me to tamper with the message, because it is still critical for my children to learn right from wrong. But I have no problem adapting the method to account for any cultural changes. And this is all we are proposing to the Church.

I believe an additional part of the confusion develops from the cultural definition of the word "church". We Americans are so accustomed to saying things like, "I'm going to church", "what church do you attend?", "I really like the pastor at the new mega church", etc. We know in our hearts that The Church is people and not structures, but our language betrays this idea. In reality, culturally speaking, the church is the building where the people gather. And unfortunately, as believers, we tend to define our faith experiences by the space in which they occur. What I and others are proposing as part of this "emerging, micro, cell, etc." phenomenon is a redefining of the word church within our greater culture. This adjustment to the word's definition would focus on the people and not the locale of their activities. Of course, to redefine a word is a near impossible task without an enormous marketing campaign, so instead of trying to convince the world that The Church is people and not structures, instead I will live that out and hopefully impact a few along the way. And as I and the thousands of others like me do just that, slowly we will impact the greater culture.

I know that all of this barely begins to scratch the surface of the debate... for some it will hopefully be something interesting to chew on... for others it may just be a waste of perfectly good blog space...

Until next time... vaya con Dios, Amigos!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Apologetics... of sorts

A few days ago I received this from a friend...


Came across this.

Trying to understand the Emerging Church Movement a little.

Any input?

This is the pastor that I grew up under. His affiliated with the same fellowship of churches that I am affiliated with.


Our gatherings are more ancient church (i.e. New Testament) than medieval (Catholic - as the article points out). We worship from house to house.

We are very concerned with method & message. I believe the method can and should change (like Paul - 1 Cor 9:19-23 NIV Message). We believe that the message CAN'T change (the author of the article hints at the fact that even the message will be flexible). Our message is that salvation is through Christ alone. Repent, be baptized, then become the hands, feet, voice, and heart of Christ wherever you are. We are about a 24/7 faith, not Sunday's & Wednesday nights.

What's interesting is that a good number of the critics of this movement (if you can call it a movement) happen to be dependent on the traditional church structure for their livelihood. I honestly feel that they may look at what we do as a threat. If what we do (and thousands of others like us) continues to grow and continues to pull people out of traditional church environments, their jobs could be at risk.

Our model has no overhead. We have no paid pastor, no mortgage, no building fund, etc. and one of the most freeing things has been the way we give our tithes & offerings. Each family prayerfully considers which ministry, missionary, poor family, evangelistic outreach, etc. that they believe God is asking them to support and then we give. 100% of the money goes. I don't believe there is another church model that can claim that. At the traditional church we left, 83% of the total money put in the plate ($2.5M annually) was spent inside the walls of the church (salaries, curriculum, programs, etc.). This left only .17¢ of every dollar for ministry outside of the church structure (community ministry, foreign missions, etc.).

I personally see this as signs of a self-centered church where people tend to be much more concerned about there own "spiritual growth" than in truly being the church in the community around them.

Please note that I have not arrived yet. In the past I have been accused of being a gnostic and of turning my back on the church. The truth is, many traditional church members and ministers don't understand what we are about. From a distance they will throw stones, but what's interesting is that when they talk to us or see us up close, they leave challenged to live a deeper faith. That alone could be reason enough for our existence... then I remember the people that are connecting to their Father in heaven and to each other and to their community through what we do and I'm reminded that we exist for many, many reasons.

I'll try and reply to more of the article later.



Thursday, April 27, 2006

Revelation at the Gates of Splendor

Reclining in my Lazy-Boy last night about 11 something, my late night reading was interrupted by a phone call from my 19 year old daughter that started off with the words "First, I'm OK." Now, if that doesn't get your adrenaline pumping, then you are either demised or not the parent of a 19 year old female.

Over the next few minutes her mother and I discovered that she was on her way to the Chapel at Taylor University in Indiana where she is a student. Her anguished voice told us that the students and staff were mustering there because word had just reached the campus of an horrific collision involving a semi-trailer and a Taylor University van. Students and staff returning from activities in Fort Wayne had been struck by a semi that crossed the median. Things weren't OK.

Four students and one staff member dead. Four others "life-flighted" to area hospitals.


She was off to pray and comfort with others and would call us with more information when it came her way.

So we sat and waited. Then we thought to call our friends and family members who would likely worry if they saw this on the morning news. Then we sat, lost in our own thoughts. We thought of the parents of the four other students from our neighborhood that were at Taylor. We thought of the parents of four students who would be getting unexpected visits from the State Police that evening. We prayed. We anguished over the common pain of parents who suffer their children's passing, grateful that we were spared. And in quiet communion with God, I thought.

How horrible for those involved. What pain for the survivors. I prayed for those families as my heart ached for them. I examined what we could do to help. I prayed some more.

I thought, what of the truck driver? He survived - 27 years old, in serious condition physically, and who knows what condition he will be in emotionally when he has to come to terms with his involvement in a collision that killed five and injured others. Something else struck me - what condition is he in spiritually? I realized that this was a question that I would not normally ask, and that alerted me. God holds my thoughts, too. Pay attention, I thought, to the whisperings of God.

Alone and injured, in a hospital far from his home in Michigan. I thought about how he would feel, accused, blamed, guilty at having survived, and probably receiving the anger of others. Could he find comfort and healing in his knowledge of a just and loving God? And something else struck me.

I thought of Nate Saint and Jim Elliot, two of the five missionaries murdered by Auca Indians in Ecuador, as they worked to share the Gospel fifty years ago. We knew nothing of the story that started as "Through Gates of Splendor", but we know now something of how it turned out. The horrible murder of those five on a sandbar in the jungles of Ecuador was the key that unlocked the hearts of many of those isolated indians, including the hearts of the murderers themselves. The story continues, quite unlike it began, as Auca indians, having been touched by God through those five, reach out to others around them. Their world is changed, because five missionaries died on the sandbar in the jungle.

I thought about those students and staff member that died last night. This morning I was told that they all professed a relationship with God that made their lives different, and made an impact on those around them. Who could imagine a God that would use the deaths of those that love Him to change the life of someone, maybe an injured truck driver, that didn't know Him?

Fifty years ago, nobody could have imagined a savage, war-fighting tribe of Ecuadorian indians would be taking the love of an all-powerful God to other isolated tribes. Fifty years from now, I pray we look back on yesterday in the same amazement and wonder, as we realize what the deaths of these five saints have changed.

I know they have changed me.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rebellion of Thought... the film

The Brothers Williamson's film Rebellion of Thought has been pre-selected to have it's world premiere at the 19th annual Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, October 26-29, 2006.

This gives us a deadline to get the picture completed and ready for the big screen. After over five years in the making it will be good to get this film in front of audiences and to let the debates begin. Since the film takes a critical look at the role of the Church in a post-modern world, we anticipate good discussions, healthy arguments, and only moderate tar & feathering.

Actually, the words of Christ come to mind as we prepare to screen Rebellion of Thought in my adopted hometown. "A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." It's a good thing Brad is from the faraway country of Michigan... or else there could be serious tar & feathering.

Keep your ears out as we chronicle the joys and challenges of getting the film completed and please let your friends know about the upcoming premiere... there's no place like Charlottesville in the fall!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

How will real life change happen in the context of our church?

Karen Williamson wrote:

I've been thinking. . . .

How will real life change happen in the context of our church?

Fact: It is God who changes people, and the Holy Spirit who somehow helps.
Fact: Frequently, the Holy Spirit uses people to help change people.
Fact: People have to want to change, and do certain things to facilitate change in their own lives. I cannot change someone else.
Fact: The Church is made up of wounded, sinful, hurting people who need a Savior, not only for salvation, but for healing and wholeness.

Theory: Real change is probably going happen in smaller, more intimate groups where honesty and accountability are safe and expected, rather than in a larger group setting.

Question: How will we structure our church gatherings so that everyone is encouraged to work on those parts of our lives that need real change, to seek support and prayer in our areas of need, and then to go and help others do the same all week long?

My own thinking: As we have grown, it has become easier to come in and out of our time together on Sunday being rather anonymous, not necessarily intentionally, and not because the hurts and struggles and needs do not exist, but . . . . just because. It probably isn't going to happen in a gathering of 50.

Some in our church body are connected with a core group where real life change is happening. The extroverts in our group will continue to speak up, and some have been open and honest in some of these ways. But a good number of our introverts may continue to show up just like they always did, going to and from church quietly, and not very honestly.

I'm not bringing this up as an issue of size, though that is an obvious consideration. But rather, whether large or small, how will we as a church communicate the expectation that we don't keep "doing church", even in a new and fresh way, without our being changed in the process? That this a place where we expect healing and growth to take place, because we are a bunch of wounded, hurting, and sinful people coming together before a benevolent, gracious, abundantly loving Father and Savior?

Any thoughts?