Tag Archive: church 2.0


 

 

Here’s an interview I did recently with Zachary Bailes of the website, “Crazy Liberals…and Conservatives.” We talked about the State of the Christian Left and much that faces organized religion in a challenging century ahead.

Listen as I interview Christian Piatt author of Banned Questions About the Bible and forthcoming book Banned Questions About Jesus.We discuss the power of questions, progressive Christianity, and the need to share your narrative.
Listen. Enjoy. Engage. Respond.
Link to the original page and podcast:
**On another note you may purchase either volume at Chalice Press for 40% off through June 30, 2011. Use coupon code bannedqj. If this offer is extended you will be notified.

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A little more than twenty years ago, I walked out of a church for what I was pretty sure would be the last time. For a decade, I held to that assumption, but it turns out that God works, even among us heretics.

I’m not going to lean on the whole “everything happens for a reason” cliche because I don’t believe everything does happen for a reason. But the fact that I’m a presenter in Nashville at the New Evangelism Workshop (NEW) on Friday, July 8th and Saturday the 9th with my wife, Rev. Amy Piatt is enough to convince me that God can use nearly anything for good.

What’s most interesting to me is that my entire ministry has ended up being built upon those years I walked away from church. What once appeared to be my stumbling block is now the cornerstone. God is good, and God has a pretty sick sense of humor.

Anyway, if you’re going to be in or around Nashville, TN on July 8-9th, come check out what is sure to be an exciting two days of folks coming together in conversation to discuss and discern just how the church can be relevant in a 21st century world. We’ll be joined by folks like Bill Easum, Bill and Kris Tenny-Brittian, Heather Patriacca Tolleson, Geoffrey McClure Mitchell, Wayne Calhoun, Bill McConnell, Gary Straub, Dick Hamm and lots of others who will come together to share what they have learned about this common mission.

CLICK HERE FOR A FULL ROSTER OF PRESENTERS AND REGISTRATION INFO

As for Amy and me, we’re sticking to what we know best: teaching people how to learn from our mistakes. Seven years into a new church start, we’re alive, well and vibrant, but the road was rife with Strategic IEDs. If we can help others find a smoother path by sharing some from our host of screw-ups, far be it from us to let our egos interfere.

Also, if you’re part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and will be attending the General Assembly in Nashville following the NEW, come check out the groovy Missional Church learning track facilitated by Brian McLaren, Sharon Watkins, Amy, myself and others. We’ll talk about what “emerging church” or “missional church” actually mean, why they matter and what it means for our work as ministers. The setting will be dynamic, interactive and enriching, I’m sure.

CHECK OUT MORE ON THE MISSIONAL CHURCH LEARNING TRACK AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY HERE

Hope to see many of you there.
Peace,
Christian

Dig the video I created for Phillips Theological Seminary on the seminary experience condensed into less than 4 minutes. Groovy stop-motion and original score.

check out the video below and follow more to come at http://www.youtube.com/user/christianpiatt

We have folks ask us all the time what worship is like at Milagro. And although we usually podcast Amy’s sermons on the church podcast, we don’t usually record the whole service.

But since it was Easter, we decided to do the whole thing, edited down for time, and share it here:

http://christianpiatt.podbean.com

Let us know what you think, or better yet, come join us some Sunday morning.

For more about Milagro, visit www.milagrocc.org.

Peace,
Christian

God’s Power: Wrath or Restraint?
Smells Like Spirit
by Christian Piatt

(Originally printed in PULP)

When I was younger, there were many stories in the Bible that freaked me out. While the Sunday School classroom walls were covered with cute arks and animals walking two-by-two, the subtext is about an angry God exacting cataclysm on nearly every living . Is this really a kid’s story?

Then we have David killing Goliath with a rock, people being thrown into pits of lions, tossed into ovens … it’s enough to give a kid nightmares, especially if the lesson taken from the tales is “straighten up or God will make you dead meat.”

Two things happened as I got older, though, which helped me appreciate these stories rather than fear them. First, I began to understand Biblical narrative as metaphor, explaining basic truths about human nature rather than recording literal, historic facts. Second, I started recognizing something not pointed out in my youth: the restraint of power.

To me, the real message behind the flood story — incidentally, most world cultures have a similar story of their own — is about God holding back. First, God decides to wipe the whole slate clean and start all over. But mercy prevails and at least a few faithful are spared.

As far back as Adam and Eve, there are stories of people screwing up, despite the threat of dire consequence imparted by God, and then God backing off — changing the divine mind, if you will.

And so it goes, from Sodom and Gomorrah to Jonah and the Ninevites, someone’s always talking God into taking it easy on us humans. Now, I’m not one to believe that God’s actually that involved in daily life, doling out punishment like a high school principal. Actually, it’s we who to try to find reasons behind the bad things that happen to us. It makes it easier to swallow, after all, if we can convince ourselves that everything actually happens for a reason, rather than accepting the possibility that, sometimes, really bad stuff happens, even to really good people.

But back to the underlying theme in so many of these biblical stories. Like all metaphor, we have the opportunity to read any number of messages into them. For those intent on gleaning an image of an angry, vengeful God from the pages of Scripture, they most certainly will find it. I choose, however, to see a God of forgiveness and mercy.

Considering the example we’re presented with in the life and teachings of Jesus, it’s hard for me to conceive that someone who calls him- or herself a Christian would see anything else. At the heart of Jesus’ ministry was replacing a culture of vengeance and retribution with a new ethos of compassion, love and forgiveness.

So, if we’re called by the one who many claim embodies the wisdom of the Divine to be purveyors of compassionate mercy, why would we choose to conceive of a God whose essence is anything but the same?

Smells Like Spirit
Is faith hiding in the closet?
By Christian Piatt
(Originally published in PULP)

For a long time in American history, it’s been relatively taboo to admit you’re an atheist, or even an agnostic. In some ways, the bias favoring people of faith still holds. Imagine an atheist candidate for president trying to get nominated, much less elected, and the storm of controversy that would surround it.

Though some positions of political power may be out of reach for those who claim no faith, it has become more acceptable in recent years to admit agnosticism or even atheism. In fact, there’s even a bit of counter-culture hipness to confessing it.

While the relaxation of social strictures that allow people to speak freely about their faith – or lack of it – has opened up public dialogue in arguably healthy ways, the pendulum also has swung the other way, at least a bit. In a recent article on Salon.com, Ada Calhoun writes about an experience where a friend of hers caught her dressed up on the street on a Sunday morning, joking with her that she must be headed to church. She laughed it off and sheepishly continued on her way to Catholic Mass, too embarrassed to admit it to her friend.

“I’m not cheating on my husband, committing crimes or doing drugs,” says Calhoun. “But those are battles my cosmopolitan, progressive friends would understand. To them, my situation is far more sinister: I am the bane of their youth, the boogeyman of their politics, the very thing they left their small towns to escape. I am a Christian.”

Part of this is likely a normal social cycle, back and forth along the spectrum of the sacred and secular. However, Christianity in particular carries sufficient weight for the embarrassment these reticent faithful exhibit.

“Who wants to be lumped in with all the other Christians,” asks Calhoun, “especially the ones you see on TV protesting gay marriage, giving money to charlatans, and letting priests molest children? Andy Warhol went to Mass every Sunday, but not even his closest friends knew he was a devout Catholic until his death. I get that.”

So do I. As one who is seen both in our local community and in larger literary circles as a figurehead for postmodern Christianity, I spend as much time and energy responding to these negative connotations attached to my faith as I do speaking positively about what a community of faithful, committed to causes of service, compassion and social justice, can do to make the world a better place.

It’s important to understand how far and wide this disaffection for organized religion runs. There are huge groups of people who, though they study and practice the teachings of Jesus, choose not to call themselves Christians because of the baggage attached to the term. Instead, they prefer the term “Christ followers,” both because it is less encumbered with negativity, and also because it speaks of what they do, rather than define what group to which they belong.

There are lots of books on the subject too, such as “un-Christian,” by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, or “They Like Jesus but Not the Church,” by Dan Kimball. One common sentiment throughout these texts is that the image of God, or more specifically, Jesus, should not suffer because of the crap that humans do in their name.

Not surprisingly, there’s a healthy amount of blowback from the institution of church as well. While some faith communities see the writing on the wall and seek to learn from history’s lessons, others are building defenses still higher, lobbing verbal salvos from the other side.

Authors like Peter Rollins, who wrote “The Orthodox Heretic “and “How (Not) to Speak of God,” among others, have been labeled as brazen heretics, masquerading as Christ followers simply to further the mythical goal of reducing church to rubble.

Meanwhile, people like Ada Calhoun skulk in the shadows to practice their faith, worried that being associated with those with whom she strongly disagrees will be a social albatross around her neck. Though it will take much time and no small amount of effort, it’s my hope that Christians once again earn the respect and appreciation of the public, and that Calhoun and her peers can come out of the closet and be proud to openly call themselves “Christian.”

Parts one and two of my three-episode chat with Brandon Gilvin, my co-creator and co-editor of the WTF? (Where’s the Faith?) young adult books series are now posted. Episode one is about the context of Young Adult culture in today’s culture and a bit about how in the hell we were ever given the opportunity to create a book series together.

The focus in the third episode is on the first book in the series, coming out in February, 2010 (Chalice Press) called Oh God, Oh God, OH GOD about faith, sex, sexuality and embodiment among young adults.

We also talk about the challenges, fun and risks involved in producing a potentially “controversial” series of books.

Check out both podcast episodes, as well as all archived podcasts, by searching “PIATT” on iTunes and other podcatchers, or BY CLICKING HERE.

I traveled recently to Lee’s Summit, MO for an event where I was leading some workshops, speaking and such. On Sunday night, I got to close out the evening with a concert for a couple hundred very welcoming folks. It was probably the highlight of the weekend for me.

I love getting to share music and spoken word with people, and though some of the stuff I introduced may have been a new experience for many in attendance, they all seemed to have a good time.

Check out the podcast by searching my name on iTunes, playing it on the streaming audio player on my website (www.chrstianpiatt.com), or hit the link below to go directly to the podcast site.

http://www.christianpiatt.podbean.com

All episodes of the podcast, including the concert, are free. Let me know what you think.

Peace,
Christian

My first webinar (online workshop) on “how to use Facebook as a ministry tool) was great fun and well-received. since then I’ve gotten several requests to host this workshop again, so it’s back along with an exciting webinar on how to select a literary agent an, ultimately, how to get published!

If you want to learn more about the events, go to christianpiatt.com, or email me directly at cpiatt@christianpiatt.com.

CLICK ON THE EVENT TITLES BELOW TO REGISTER:

Using Facebook as a Ministry Tool
Wednesday, September 30th, 1pm (MST)

Learn the basics of “2.0″ social networking, how to set up a Facebook account, take a tour of Facebook and learn strategies for using it as a tool to connect with people throughout the week, beyond the walls.


From “Writer” to Agented and Published “Author”
(w/ Lit. Agent Anita Kushen)

Tuesday, October 6th, 11am (MST)

Join the conversation with Author Christian Piatt and Literary Agent Anita Kushen about what it takes to move your passion for writing to the next level. Learn valuable information like how to find and select a literary agent, and how to become a published author.