Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I'm an hour away from week three of six in The Stories of Genesis class at VCC. Tonight we nearly kill Isaac and venture into the dysfunction that is Jacob. I've always liked the stories of Genesis since I was a kid. They are jarring and vile and not what you would expect from the first book of the Bible. There is absolutely no way that I write Genesis if I am trying to create a religion. It creates a million questions and gives a few dozen answers.

This weekend we start a new four-week series on the Holy Spirit. I'm be teaching the first two weeks and Dave will wrap it up. Looking forward to it.

And knowing I run the risk of being overly repetitive, I want to extend another invitation to see The Road to Emmaus, PA on the big screen this Sunday. We'll be showing it at The Vineyard at 5:00 and 7:00 pm. There will be a Veggie Tales movie in another room for kids who may not be into documentaries. Admission is free. Hope to see you there. More information on the VCC site.

The Road to Emmaus, PA on imdb.
The Road to Emmaus, PA trailer on youtube.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Introducing Charlie...

So I promised my kids a dog when we moved to Ohio 15 months back. I figured I should follow through at some point.

Gone Campin'

Eli, the firstborn and heir to the Boyd dynasty, has been a WEBELO Scout for about two weeks now. So far it means that we have sold popcorn at the front door of the grocery store and...gone camping! We just returned from our first family camping trip. We have RV'ed before with the grandparents and slept in tents in the living room, but now the Boyds have legitimately camped. (If a bunch of cub scouts sleeping in the back 40 of a farm in suburbia is legitimate camping.)

It was a good time. So far it seems to me that scouting means spending a lot of time dealing with flags - unfolding them, setting them up, walking them around, saluting to them, burning them. That's right. We burned four Old Glories at cub scout camp. The den leader is some guy named Bill Ayers and he says it's cool, so...

Not really. Evidently, burning is the preferred way to discard an old flag. The ceremony felt very solemn and "religious" for lack of a better word. They read from a liturgical manual and "released the spirit of our friend (the flag) back into the spirit of our nation." Then the kids ripped each stripe off the flag which created a strange eucharistic-like brokenness and tangibility to it. I could hear the harping voice of theologian Stanley Hauerwas yelling into my ear, but I pushed him away. "Scout camp isn't the place, Stan," I told him. But before long we were onto s'mores, which holds much less epistemological tension for me. Though I'm not sure the sticky fingers are worth the payoff at the end.

It was cold and miserable throughout the night, but I had fully expected it to be and we all survived. I spent a hour or so this morning taking apart my borrowed tent...the same tent that I spent most of yesterday afternoon constructing. Which brings me to my conclusion: If you skip the flags and tents, Cub Scout camping trips would last about 90 minutes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

RTE, PA VCC Screening!

Mark your calenders! The Road to Emmaus, PA will be showing at The Vineyard on the Sunday November 2nd in two screenings at 5:00 and 7:00. We are getting a big screen for the auditorium and even popping some corn...should be a good time. It will kick off our new Holy Spirit series that weekend with an emphasis on what it means to hear from God. You can register for childcare at if you want.

More info on the film at or just click on the trailer on the right --->

Writing about Writing

I'm taking a break from writing a book to write on my blog. I spent two vacation days yesterday and today trying to make a dent in finishing my fairy tale. It has been hard to focus. I tend to romanticize writing and study breaks before they come, but then I remember that it takes me a full day to just prepare to be creative. I should have probably taken the entire week off and found some isolated monastery with no wifi. I've pushed through and have the plot more or less constructed now. That's not often how I like to write, but now at least I have a map to find the finish line. I did cross the 100 page mark this morning. That's an average of ten pages per year if you are doing the math out there. I wrote a 110 page screenplay in 30 days earlier this year to put it in perspective. This little book has grown up with me. You can actually see my formation from chapter to chapter. I've tried to go back and create a little more continuity, but it's still there.

I think I have distracted myself enough now...I'm ready to write the next chapter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Prom was cool.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Got 24:30 to kill?

Here's a youtube link from a talk by Dave Eggers at this year's TED conference. My friend Missy suggested it. It's over 24 minutes, so come back when you have some down time and cup of coffee. For you church leaders out there, I would love to hear your thoughts on Dave's story as it relates to the local church. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber

I've been thinking...

There's a lot of thinking involved in my wouldn't think so, but there is. When I am not in a meeting, I'm generally expected to sit around and think. I normally love this. I love new ideas. I like to write, create, etc. Maybe it is simply the time of year we are in, but my brain is overwhelmed with things I am supposed to be thinking about today. This blog post is really nothing but a therapeutic way to try to release some thoughts, so feel free to quit reading if you have anything better to do.

Last night we launched The Stories of Genesis class. I was surprised, quite honestly, at how well it worked out. I told the story of Genesis 1-11, complete with my disturbing theories of what Ham really did to the drunken Noah. That took about 40 minutes, then the students were able to process the stories at round tables for about 45 minutes. There seemed to be a genuine energy in the room. Now would be a good time to start thinking about Abraham's story for next week...but I'll just keep wasting time with you and talk about...

this weekend. I'm up to teach the third installment of In God We Trust. I'm where I often find myself a few days out...with simply too much to say. The message swims around in my head for weeks or months, sometimes taking form a week out, but often stubbornly waiting to reveal itself until the last minute. I want to dive into the idea that the job of the church is to be the church. I'm also being pulled toward the Zacchaeus story. I need to think more about that...

but, alas, I'm supposed to map out the December teaching series today. We know the weekly topics, but I'm normally the one tasked to dive into each week and write a paragraph or two. That's what I should be doing now, but after staring at a blank screen for thirty minutes, I've decided to waste your time, my precious blog reader.

Some good news about future fairy tale book has passed through the acquisition process at a publishing company. It needs some work, so I am taking vacation days next Tuesday and Wednesday to hole away and try to finish the project. I'm both nervous and excited about those two days. In the past, it has taken me a full 24 hours to de-fragment my brain when I take a study or writing break. I'm hoping that happens quickly so that I can push through and finish this project...I've been writing it for about ten years now as it is. It's time to finish it.

OK...I'm ready to work now. Thanks for listening. I'm off to think more...

Monday, October 13, 2008

One Screening Down...

We had a great premiere for The Road to Emmaus, PA down in Louisville. Thanks to those who came down. The next screening is at VCC on Sunday Nov. 2. It will show at 5 and 7 p.m. in the auditorium. More info is available at the church website.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Apology Part Two

I started to reply in the comment section to JR's comment to the "Apology" post below...It became so long that I decided to just post it here. Here are his questions with my response:

So given these historical realities, I have two questions.

First, why do you apologize for "the church" as a whole without recognizing those who sacrificed so much? You make the absolute blanket statement that "the church was silent", so do you think those who stood up against these horrible things do not count as "the church"? Why or why not?

Second, since you have taken on yourself to apologize on behalf of those who were sinful in their silence, or active participation, do you also accept the thanks on behalf of those who were obedient and worked against these evils? Why or why not?


Thanks for the response. I almost wrote something about this before I posted it. To be brief and honest, I wrote this when I was 25 years old and looking back I am struck by how little I knew back then. I was transforming from a middle American xerox'ed version of an evangelical kid to a Jesus follower searching for my own voice as a church planter in Las Vegas. The apology was very much a response to people in Las Vegas who were constantly telling me their frustrations with the church which ranged from historical perceptions/realities to personal pain and dysfunctions. Before the day I wrote this, my tactic was always to separate myself and my church from their issues with the church. i.e. if they were abused by a priest, then I would say "I'm sorry that happened to you, but we aren't Catholic, etc." or I'd put the blame on the individual priest and talk about how our church is structured to best prevent things like that from happening. If they brought up The Crusades, I'd rant with them about the corruption of the church "back then." The problem was that I was separating myself from my story in doing this. I'd quickly claim St. Francis or Mother Theresa, but I would deny notorious Christians and Christian movements throughout history.

(At this time in my life I was a young church planter with a church full of recent converts and seekers in their early twenties.)

I found it much more true (effective?) to apologize to those considering Christ for the sins of "my people" toward them. Most people in my church were ready to accept Jesus but not ready to be absorbed into the Christian story. That concerned me. I also learned to teach them to take ownership of the sins of our past even before they converted. At the very least, this set a specific tone in our young church.

The comment about the Holocaust and slavery were rooted in two real conversations that I had that year with an African American and a Jewish American. I knew even then of the stories of devout Christians in Hitler's Germany, including Eberhard Arnold and Karol Wojtyla who were heroes of mine...I also knew a little about the underground railroad in the years of American slavery. I know more about these things now, but I think my reaction would still be the same today. Some Christians did stand sheepishly by while people died. Many did not - many were martyred, but some took the easy way out. Some Christians were convinced slavery was evil, but elected to take no action because it would cost them politically or economically. Those sins should be repented of in our generation because of the wounds still festering in our nation.

So, your first question is spot on. If I were to write an apology today it would have come out differently. I was torn between editing/updating this one to match who I am and where the culture seems to be ten years later, but I decided to simply fix a few grammatical errors and let it stand as I frantically scribbled it in my prayer journal that morning a decade ago. The section you hi-lighted is one that I would edit, but not omit if I undertook the task.

If I were to rewrite it today, I would certainly also address issues of homophobia and islamophobia which have become more pronounced in the church since I wrote this. This particular year I'd probably apologize for those who have entwined the story of Jesus so tightly with their own political party that they have damaged the reputation the gospel. I might apologize for other things if I started scribbling again...maybe I should do that, but this is more of a statement of what I was truly sorry for ten years ago. Most of it holds up.

Your second question is one I have never been asked. It's interesting only to say that I've never found someone looking to be thankful to the "church" at large. I'm certainly more uncomfortable receiving thanks than I am offering an apology. At the risk of sounding trite, I suppose any thanksgiving should be somehow directed to God and not toward me or any other follower. Jesus constantly teaches us to repent and confess, but doesn't spend as much time teaching us how to receive praise...I would assume because that is reserved for God alone.

If the question is rooted more in how I view myself, then I'd want to clearly state that I didn't offer the apology as a "leader" of the church, but as a member. I feel like all of us can, and probably should, apologize to the world for the times we have failed the world. So, if I receive thanks for those heroic followers, I suppose I would do that also as a member, not a leader or self-appointed representative. If someone walked up to me and said, "You are a Christian and Mother Theresa's story changed my life. I just want to thank your people for what they have done for me." I suppose I would say, "You're welcome. But Mother Theresa herself would want you to know that it wasn't her story, but Jesus' story that changed your life." I guess that's how I'd deal with it.

Good questions...I'm going to watch football now!

Friday, October 10, 2008


I've had lots of requests to post the "apology" that I read this weekend at church. It's from a page in my prayer journal over ten years ago, dated 9-2-98:

I feel the need to ask for forgiveness, whether it is forgiveness from God, or from or from the millions of people who have been offended by the church I am unsure:

I need to ask forgiveness for the ongoing corruption of the church at large since the early days of the church, for I believe that it is a sin to use the church for personal or political gain.

I need to ask forgiveness for every boring church event, church service, or sermon since the creation of the church, for I believe that it is a sin to bore people with the good news of Jesus Christ.

I need to ask forgiveness for the silence of the European church during the Jewish holocaust, and of the American church during the years of slavery, for I believe that it is a sin for the church of God to sheepishly stand by while innocent people die.

I need to ask forgiveness for the subtle, unspoken belief that we created God in our own image as opposed to embracing our own created-ness, for I believe that it is a sin to deny the power, mystery, and miracle that is God.

I need to ask forgiveness for the weight of rules and legalism that has shackled the church, making it oppressively boring and guilt-centered, for I believe that it is a sin to deny people their freedom in Christ.

I need to ask forgiveness for every right wing political zealot who has ever advocated violence against innocent people in the name of Christ, for I believe that it is a sin to judge in the place of God.

I need to ask forgiveness for every sidewalk and soap-box preacher who has so much as cracked upon a Bible with anger or pride in his heart, for I believe that it is a sin to misrepresent the character of a loving God.

I need to ask forgiveness for every cult leader and extremist group leader who has ever led people astray in the name of Christ, for I believe that it is a sin to desire the position of Jesus as the head of the church.

I need to ask forgiveness for every preacher who has thought with his zipper, or his wallet, or his ego, for I believe that it is a sin to lead the church while consumed with unconfessed sin.

I need to ask forgiveness for the millions of men in the church who have somehow stretched the Word of God to validate their own sexist views, for I believe that it is a sin to dishonor a woman.

I need to ask forgiveness for the thousands of church splits and denominational factions that have ripped the body of Christ in every direction except heavenward, for I believe that it is a sin to bring disunity to the body of Christ.

I need to ask forgiveness for the thousands of churches who are set up as extravagant social clubs, for I believe that it is a sin to ignore the poor and hurting among you.

I need to ask forgiveness for every misspent dime that was ever placed in an offering basket, for I believe that it is a sin to waste an old lady’s tithe.

I need to ask forgiveness for the prostituting of the American church and the American minister to the American dream, for I believe that it is a sin for the church or her leaders to love money more than God.

I need to ask forgiveness for every self-centered, self-proclaimed “miracle worker” who has sold people counterfeit hope and light and fluffy theology for $19.95 plus shipping and handling, for I believe that it is a sin to spit in the face of God.

I need to ask forgiveness for every pastor or teacher who has ever stepped in front of their congregation without preparing or praying or confessing their sin, for I believe that the sin of the leader somehow mysteriously thwarts the growth of the local church.

I need to ask forgiveness for every sin of every priest, pastor, minister, reverend, teacher, elder, deacon, pope, nun, monk, missionary, Sunday school teacher, worship leader, apostle, prophet, and church member from the inception of the church until this very second, for I believe that sin is the problem with the church.

And lastly for me: For my sin - my pride, my anger, my laziness, my lack of faith, my lack of mercy, my over-analysis of life, my immaturity, my depraved heart that is bent to evil. Forgive me, if you can, for I am a sinner. Blame me and others like me for a messed up church that has done more than its share of evil deeds. Blame me if you have to, but don’t blame the church whom I love. The church is perfect in theory, perfect in origin and, sometimes, even perfect in practice. Our sin corrupts her, but she never folds. Our pride limits her growth, but she never dies. For, she is the Bride of Christ - perfect before him. She is the Body of Christ-his hands, his feet, and his tears. And she is the voice of hope in a hopeless world.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Film Festival Reminder!

For those of you in the Louisville area or you Cincy folks looking to take a two-hour Sunday drive to see a film this weekend, The Road to Emmaus, PA will premiere this Sunday, Oct. 12 at 3:45 p.m. at the Derby City Film Festival in downtown Louisville, KY. Just click on the festival site for directions.

We are also planning showing the film at VCC in Cincinnati on Sunday, November 2.

Here's the trailer on youtube:

Monday, October 06, 2008

On Being "Bailed Out"

I read the following at my church this weekend. Several people requested that I put it on my blog. It's a theological response to the bail out plan:

Ivan Illich was once asked, ‘What is the most revolutionary way to change society: Is it violent revolution or is it gradual reform?’ He gave a careful answer: ‘Neither. If you want to change society, then you must tell an alternative story.’

In a world where every thought of every person was only evil all the time, Noah told an alternative story and built a wooden freighter in his back yard in the middle of a drought. His story saved the world.

In a world where people worshiped rocks shaped like frogs and painted logs sticking out of the ground, Abraham told an alternative story of a personal God who speaks directly to people and births a new nation out of a geriatric barren woman’s womb.

In a world where his family rejected him, his boss’s wife framed him as a rapist and his friends forgot all about him, Joseph told an alternative story to the face of the most powerful man in the ancient world when he told the Pharaoh to trust the Living God, Yahweh, the only one powerful enough to truly bail out nations on the edge of economic collapse.

In a world where he and all of his countrymen were the slaves of a tyrant and a bounty was on his own head as a murderer, Moses told an alternative story to the face of his oppressor when he said, “You can’t have this nation anymore. We are God’s people and he’s been pretty clear this time. I just got back from a magic burning bush. This is what the Lord says, “You let my people go. They have a better story to tell than the one you are telling.”

In a world where the greatest leader of their nation had died and millions of families wandered as political refugees in the desert for four decades, Joshua told an alternative story as he slid his general’s sword into his scabbard and said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Our story is already written, Our story is God’s story and it is not a story that ends in defeat, but in victory.”

In a world where the good people of the world were being beaten and pillaged and raped by an evil nation, God sent a messenger to tell Gideon, a frightened weakling of a man, an alternative story. The angel said, “On your own you are nobody, Gideon, but with God you are a mighty warrior. Get up and trust God to bail his people out of this mess.”

In a world where two superpowers lined up opposite each other for war and the destiny of two real historical nations hanged in the balance, a shepherd teenager carrying a basket of bread for the soldiers was the only one brave enough to tell an alternative story. David said, “ I’m just a boy with a rock and he’s a giant with a spear, but I got a Living God and he worships a bronze plated goat. My story wins.”

In a world where everyone he knew was killed or taken captive to a foreign land – a world where he himself was a slave for his entire life, Daniel told an alternative story when he approached king after king, decade after decade and said, “There is only one Living God and He’s not your god, He’s mine. And He’s got a message for you – your story is temporary but his is eternal.” They put his friends in a fiery furnace and threw him to the lions, but in the alternative story fire’s not all that hot and hungry lion’s make wonderful house pets.

And then it happened.

The Alternative Story became flesh and he lived among us. The Alternative Story was with God in the beginning. The Alternative Story was God. He came to the people of the alternative story, but his people did not recognize their Author. They rejected the Alternative Story for a different story – one that seemed more reasonable and possible and palatable and safe. And when it came time to give the Alternative story a name, the peasant teenage girl who birthed him named him Jesus whish literally means “God Saves Us” or “God Rescues Us” or “God Bails Us Out.”

For three years God Bails Us Out taught us that the alternative story was breaking into humanity in a fresh, real and dangerously significant way. He came to let us know that on the day he left us, the very last chapter of humanity’s alternative story would begin. And we believed him. He asked us to trust him – to trust God. And we trusted him. He warned us that we can’t always trust the religious leaders or the politicians or the economists or the powerful militants, but we can always trust him.

Then he died. But not before giving death itself an alternative story. In our new story, death begets life, not the other way around. So though he died, he lives. And we have the same promise.

And the story continued.

Peter told an alternative story to the masses in Jerusalem and 3,000 believed in one day. They abandoned their old story for the new alternative Jesus story.

Paul told an alternative story to those farthest from God and they started little churches in most every town in the ancient world. Little churches that would spread like a good cancer all through the Roman Empire.

100 years later, Polycarp, the elderly pastor of the church in Smyrna, told an alternative story to those who burned him at the stake for his faith when he boldly said his last words – “86 years I have served him, how can I now deny my savior who bought me?”

A century or two later, an ex-slave named Patrick from Britian came back to his captors after escaping from Ireland and told an alternative story that lead to wildfire revival and free flowing green beer for centuries to come.

700 years after that, a wealthy snot-nosed son of a fashion designer named Francis told an alternative story when he rejected all his father’s wealth to start a movement of compassion and radical generosity in the village of Assisi.

Martin Luther told an alternative story when he questioned the corruption and materialism of the church at a time when thing like that could get a monk killed and in doing so he turned history on it’s head.

And on it goes from there: John Calvin to the Wesley Brothers to Martin Luther King Jr. to Billy Graham. Dozens of names you would recognize and millions of names you would not. They all boldly stood up in their time and place and told an alternative story of a God who bails out people and offers hope for the hopeless.

A generation ago, a man named John Wimber told an alternative story that the supernatural could happen naturally in the church, that worship could happen simply and God is still in the business of Kingdom expansion and doing the “Jesus stuff” today. That story launched what we call the Vineyard movement.

A few decades ago, Steve Sjogren and the founders of my church told an alternative story when they proclaimed that we would love our city in practical ways until every last soul in Cincinnati was touched by the love of God.

Dave Workman told an alternative story in our church two years ago when he said the unthinkable – that we would raise a bunch of money, but the money isn’t going to be spent on ourselves. We are going to spend it on the poor of our city, the next generation of our future and the practical needs of those people dying today in nation of Nigeria. That’s the story that got me out of southern California 14 months ago. I came here to tell the story that a church can, despite all of its weaknesses, be relentlessly focused on seeing the alternative story expand to the poor, the hurting, the lost, the far away and the near-by.

I came here for one reason: to tell an alternative story with you. This place isn’t perfect, not even close. But we’ve got a story to tell. And all I know is this: when God’s people end up in a time in history that seems difficult or scary or hard, we are to have but one reaction. We tell our story louder. We do not shrink back, but press forward. Only we hold the alternative story that the world needs. That’s what it means to be the church – to be engrafted into the story of God and Israel through Christ. To be a Christian is to join the alternative story. To follow Jesus is to say, “in god we trust” when we are tempted to trust anything or anyone else who tells a story different than ours.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

quote me on this one

I'm not a big quote guy. I tend to zone out when people quote something to me. I can like pithy sayings as much as the next guy, but they just aren't normally my thing. That said, I'm gonna share this quote with 6,000 of my closest friends this weekend. It's a quote from Ivan Illich recorded by Tim Costello on his website and then recorded in my buddy Neil Cole's book, Organic Church. So I'm not even sure who I'm really quoting, but here ya go:

Ivan Illich was once asked, ‘What is the most revolutionary way to change society: Is it violent revolution or is it gradual reform?’ He gave a careful answer: ‘Neither. If you want to change society, then you must tell an alternative story’, he concluded.

I think the gospel dwells in the truth in that quote.