Category: Lost Book


Hi all:

I have moved my blog to my new website at www.christianpiatt.com. You can link to the blog directly from the home page, and there is an RSS feed you can pick up if you would like to subscribe.

Thanks for following, and hope to greet you at the new site!

Peace,
Christian Piatt

WHERE’S THE FAITH ?

New series of books tackles questions, issues that challenge young Christians

CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/JOHN JAQUES Pueblo author Christian Piatt talks about a series of books he is collaborating on with a variety of authors from throughout the country.

Have you ever questioned the believability of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ? Ever wondered why, if Mary conceived as a virgin, the Bible traces Christ’s lineage through Joseph?

Chances are you’ve pondered these questions and many others about the Bible or Jesus, but never discussed them with other Christians — and certainly never in church.

That’s what gave local author/editor Christian Piatt and partner Brandon Gilvin the idea for WTF (Where’s the Faith), a series of books that pose such questions to a wide variety of religious, agnostic, social justice and other leaders and thinkers — some of them well-known in religious and spiritual circles. The books are published by Chalice Press. Gilvin is the associate director of Week of Compassion, an international relief and aid ministry of the national Disciples of Christ organization, based in Kansas City, Mo.

The books are aimed primarily at young adults — a demographic that churches are struggling to hold onto as their congregations dwindle in all age brackets.

The first book in the series, “OH God, Oh GOD, OH GOD! Young Adults Speak Out About Sexuality and Christian Spirituality,” was released earlier this year and provides “honest and open dialogue about the beauty and gift of sexuality while understanding it in a mature way, including the risks and consequences” but without the moral and doctrinal overtones of most Christian books on the topic, Piatt said.

He and Gilvin edited the book, and Piatt contributed an essay about abortion.

Two more books, which address questions that many Christians ponder but rarely explore  in depth or among each other, will be published next year — the first, “Banned Questions about the Bible,” in February and the second, “Banned Questions about Jesus,” in August 2011.

All of the books “take a more emergent-church approach. There’s no focus on denominations or creeds so much as on content and providing a variety of information, including other sources to study, to help people make up their own minds. We’re trying to present multiple perspectives so people can choose for themselves. It’s about seeking your own understanding of various issues through prayerful seeking, and trusting that if you take the first step, God will meet you halfway and help you find the answers you’re seeking,” Piatt said.

“Churches are dying everywhere, and I believe it’s because there’s been a disconnect between the lives of most people and what they hear in church on Sunday.

“These books are intended to break down the taboo of ‘We don’t talk about that in church.’ In a healthy church, there should be no boundaries, no limitations about what is explored. We’re supposed to bring our whole, human selves to the church and to our faith.”

Another book due out this August, “Split Ticket: Independent Faith in a Time of Partisan Politics,” addresses the interconnectedness of faith and politics and explores how Christians can be part of the process without violating their faith or turning their backs on social justice issues and the political process for fear of conflict. Piatt is a contributor as well as co-editor of this volume.

“You People: Faith and Race,” will follow “Split Ticket.” All of the finished books are available through the Chalice Press website or its catalogs, at Amazon.com or through Piatt’s website. Some also are available by special order online from Barnes & Noble and smaller national booksellers, and all are stocked at Cokesbury Christian book stores nationwide. The works in progress will be as well after publication.

Piatt, who founded Pueblo’s Milagro Christian Church six years ago with his wife, Amy, who is pastor there, said the “Oh God” book already has sold more than 1,500 copies — to individuals and to churches that are using them in youth groups and young-adult book-study groups.

“The content is heavy enough that we wouldn’t recommend just throwing these books in a teen’s lap and saying ‘have at it.’ It needs to be navigated with the help of an adult leader,” Piatt said.

Despite brisk sales and many positive reviews in Christian and mainline publications, negative reaction from some conservative Christian groups has surfaced, too, Piatt said, but his response is always the same: “Why is it that sexuality can’t be discussed in the context of faith unless the whole focus is abstinence, which we all know doesn’t work?”

He gets few responses to that question, he said, and doesn’t worry about the criticism because “the people who react that way aren’t the target audience for our books.”

The same critics no doubt will see the “banned questions” books, and “Split Ticket,” as too frank and “not nice,” he predicts.

“But we believe it’s more important to be authentically relevant than it is to be nice. Jesus wasn’t always nice. He challenged the status quo and he didn’t tolerate injustice. He encouraged frank discussion about difficult issues. But some Christians can’t tolerate controversy or confrontation at all, and others only get involved — often in an angry, intolerant way — with all the things they are against.”

Piatt said he and his partner in the WTF series, and authors who contributed responses to questions or essays — despite their widely divergent religious beliefs — “all believe that our responsibility is to get actively involved in these things we’re afraid to talk about” so that younger Christians, especially, will be more inclined to form deeper commitments to their faith and to service than to abandon their church, or religion altogether. They can only do that if they’ve reached their own conclusions rather than having beliefs force-fed to them.

At the end of life, Piatt said, what will matter most is not how many souls someone has “saved” or how many foreign missions were conducted, or how big and beautiful the church is because believers were willing to give cash but not their time.

What Jesus will want to know of every individual, he said, is “What did you do for the poor, for the oppressed, for the imprisoned — for ‘the least among us’?”

Doing nothing, he said, only condones the suffering and injustices that humans inflict upon each other.

“Not getting engaged, not dealing with these issues, is not an option if you consider yourself a person of faith.”

For more information about the WTF series, upcoming books, or past titles by Piatt, go to: www.christianpiatt.com, which also provides links to videos of Piatt and some of the other authors and a link to his blog.

In a recent interview for a radio show about LOST, I was asked a lot about the coming end of the show, including who I thought the hero or heroes ultimately would be. Though I honestly hadn’t thought much about it, the person that we all tended to agree on surprised even me:

Hurley.

That’s right, the dude man. After I thought a little more about it, the long-shot idea began to make more sense. Thinking about the theme of redemption and transformation throughout the show, all the main characters have gone through major personal revelations, eschewing their spotty pasts for a second chance at a new life on the island. Some have done better than others with this second chance, but no one has been left unchanged.

Now, the most obvious choice for hero is Jack, who even has the Christlike name “Shephard” and is, by profession, a healer. But given the complexity of the show, I expect a curve-ball or two come the apocalyptic end. But the only one who has been good, more or less from start to finish is Hurley. And there’s one other key reason why I think he might be the one; he’s the only one who came to the island with thew apparent understanding that getting everything you think you want in life can actually be more of a curse than a blessing.

This theme of wish-fulfillment being a curse is getting stronger throughout the final season, partcularly with Smokey/Locke dangling carrots in front of folks like getting off the island or getting all the answers they ever wanted. Hell, he might as well have a forked tongue and slither on his belly.

But so far, he hasn’t tempted Hurley as I can recall, and neither has anyone else. He’s followed other people when he thinks it’s the right thing to do, but never out of persona self-interest.

So there it is. I’ve said it. It’s out there. tell me what a moron I am and why this can’t possibly be what’s coming. But my money, at least for now, is on Hurley.

The last of the five audio chapters of my new book, “PULLING THE GOALIE: My Lesson in how Babies are Made…Again,” that I produced is up on my podcast:

Click here to listen

You can also subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, Podcast Alley, Podbean and lots of other podcatcher systems. The full manuscript is on the desk of the Editor-in-Chief at a major publisher, so hopefully everyone will get to enjoy the full book in the near future. Until then, dig on the podcast, and stay tuned for more projects to come soon.

This chapter is about raising a boy genius. How in the world do you command respect from a little kid who is smarter than you are? Hell if I know. Listen anyway.

http://christianpiatt.podbean.com

You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or most other podcatcher sites. Just searhcmy last name, “Piatt.”

If you have not yet check out my new podcast, you can get directly to it at
http://christianpiatt.podbean.com/ or you can index it and subscribe in iTunes, podcast alley, podcast pickle and the like by searching “Piatt.”

Please spread the word to others who may enjoy this.

Thanks,

Christian

Here’s an article that was recently featured on the WorshipConnection website about nontraditional church governance.

 

When is a church not a church?

 

My wife, Amy, and I started Milagro Christian Church four and a half years ago in Pueblo. We began in our living room, gathering around our coffee table or huddling by the fire with a handful of friends, trying to imagine what this thing called “church” might look like some day. I remember one week when no one came other than us. After feeling sufficiently sorry for ourselves, I informed Amy that she was not allowed to preach only to me, so we prayed, took communion and went out to dinner.

 

Just recently, Milagro, which is Spanish for “miracle,” was recognized by our region as an official congregation in good standing. That our church is still around in itself is a miracle, though I still don’t quite know what it means to be an official congregation.

 

The region agreed that, since we were worshipping 60 to 80 people a week and showed many typical signs of viability, we should charter. This chartering thing is something I guess all churches have to go through to graduate from being little-baby-make-believe churches to big-kid churches. It was nice to be recognized by the region, though, and it was a good cause for celebration within the region, so why not? Let’s charter – even though we don’t really know what it means.

 

It turns out that, in order to charter in our denomination, you are supposed to have 100 members on your roles. The thing is that we don’t have members in our church, and thus, we have no roles. I don’t really even know what a role is, although it evokes images of some very dauntingly official-looking scroll or something. It sounds like something people should sign with a big, fancy feather.

 

Not us: no members, no roles.

 

The good thing is that the region was so happy about our success that they overlooked their old policies and chartered us anyway. So now we’re official, which is nice, but we pretty much went back to doing things the same way we were doing them before.

 

That’s not entirely true, actually. To date, we’ve prided ourselves in doing things a little bit differently. Our Board is entirely volunteer, open to all who choose to participate at any given meeting. We have no committees or chairs (we actually do have chairs to sit on, but not the type that run meetings), and we have operated thus far without bylaws, budgets and the like. We’ve survived on passion and faith, and so far it’s worked, more or less.

 

Granted, Amy has foregone a significant chunk of her salary package for the last couple of years, and there have been a few things that have slipped through the cracks. So after almost five years of blissful anarchy, we’ve actually begun to get organized. We still don’t have members or elected Board folks, but we do have a Board Chair, and she is gradually nudging us toward having a financial plan – dare I say (gag), a budget.

 

I understand the need for all of this, and one thing I have come to realize is our post-institutional, plenary rejection of the old models of governance and congregational structure have left us somewhat adrift, once we reached a certain size. Believe it or not, there’s actually a reason for all that structure!

 

Problem is, too often, the people in charge have no idea what that reason is any more.

 

Church growth expert and author George Bullard speaks often about the model of the van, with the four passengers – Programs (P), Vision (V), Management (M) and Relationships (R) – each competing for the driver’s seat. We started as a big “V” church, driven by little more than a dream of what we might be. From there, as we gained a little bit of momentum and people actually came, we added a healthy dose of “R” to the recipe. As we had more and more kids, and as people wanted to do more to reach out to the community, study scripture and spend time together socially, “P” asked to cut in.

 

Now, though we’ve held it at arm’s-length as long as we could, “M” is knocking at the door, asking – if not demanding – to be let in.

 

Too often, established churches allow “M” to stay in the driver’s seat, focusing on sustainability, budgets and keeping the lights on more than feeding on prayerful vision. However, vision, relationships and even programs lack some real teeth without strong management. In reacting against something we wanted to avoid, we actually were holding ourselves back.

 

So how do we let “M” into the circle of trust without it taking over? After all, “M” has a time-tested reputation for doing just that. Do I really want a worship committee (just typing the “C” word makes me a little nauseated) telling me how church should look and feel? Our “y’all come” approach to letting anyone who is willing to help out has served us well, at least up to now. But is it time for a change?

 

Bullard’s contention is not that progressive, post-institutional, emergent churches have to reject “M” outright; in fact, he stresses that good management is a critical part of a successful organization. It may not look exactly the same as it’s been done before, but ideally, it serves a necessary purpose.

 

At Milagro, we’ve agreed to let “M” play ball, but we’re clear on keeping him out of the driver’s seat. A couple of times, when we started to get big enough that Amy and I couldn’t talk to everyone after worship on Sunday, “R” reared its head and suggested that perhaps we were growing too fast. So far, “P” is too young to drive in our faith community, but I’m sure the day will come when she’ll try to grab the keys when we’re not looking.

 

The key to our long-term sustainability, effectiveness and congregational health is keeping Vision at the helm. Though the region may struggle to redefine what it means to be a congregation as churches continue to reinvent community, I’m confident that the logistics of what you call attendees, worshippers, members, committees or what have you is not what make a church a church.

 

A church can take on many wonderful forms, but when Vision takes a back seat, that’s when it really begins to look like something other than what it was created to be.    

 

My new podcast

I finally set up my own podcast. You can get to it at the site: http://christianpiatt.podbean.com/

or you can subscribe through iTunes, or check out the player below:

I posted the first audio chapter of my new book project, titled “Pulling the Goalie: My Lesson in How Babies Are Made…Again” a few days ago, and I just finished producing chapter two today.  You can check it out on my main MySpace Page in the audio player by going to www.myspace.com/damienstribe.

Check it out, share the link with others who might enjoy it, and let me know what you think.

Christian