Friday, March 30, 2007

up/rooted.north recap

A really diverse group gathered Wednesday evening to reflect on Brian McLaren’s lectures. The breadth of viewpoints and backgrounds made for a great conversation. Thanks to everyone who came out.

Dave Fitch spent some time re-presenting a piece of Brian McLaren’s lecture from earlier in the day that dealt with possible responses of the church to globalized capitalism. Dave outlined how historically the church has existed through several shifts in the world: (I wish I had a cool diagram like Mike, but you'll just have to imagine).

  1. In Medieval times, the church was the main power in the world, and states functioned within the realm of the church’s existence and power.
  2. In Modern times, the nation/state was the main power in the world, and the church functioned within the realm of the state’s power.
  3. In Postmodern times, the Theocapitalist Empire (McLaren’s term) is the main power in the world, and both the state and the church function within the realm of its power.

The Theocapitalist Empire represents, of course, multinational corporations who intentionally shape culture (particularly youth culture) and spend massive amounts of money and energy in politics. But it also represents the larger (and smaller) systems and subsystems of global capitalism that influence the world profoundly in terms of lifestyles, values, personal aspirations, family systems, international politics, and the list goes on and on.

The three negative responses of the church in such a setting according to McLaren are:

  1. Dominance-Empire: The church seeks to influence those in power or gain power. Think Dobson or Falwell in relation to the nation state, and all the corporate mimicking and emphasis on successful CEOs, efficiency, and size in relation to the Theocapitalist Empire.
  2. Revenge-Victimhood: Think terrorism. Shooting abortion doctors. You get the point.
  3. Isolation-Abandonment: The church isolates itself, abandoning the larger culture. (Isn’t it helpful to use all the same words in the definition? I thought that one seemed pretty self-explanatory.)

Our discussion tried to address our “Now what?” response to these ideas. We shared our impressions of our own churches, and discussed what a fourth, “Kingdom” alternative would look like in our own settings, living between dominance and isolation in the subverting way of life shown to us and enabled in us by Jesus. Through a lot of great conversation, I came away very aware of how much thoughtful and critical reflection is necessary to identify and address the shaping forces we find ourselves living within.

So I pass on the conversation to the rest of you. What negative response does your own church lean toward or struggle with? How can we resist the shaping forces of global capitalism in our own lives and the lives of those in our churches without seeking dominance, revenge or isolation? Perhaps as an entryway into that huge question, what do you identify as the shaping forces of capitalism in your life and the life of your church?

Because knowing is half the battle! (G.I. J-nevermind.)


Jon Berbaum
-up/rooted.north coordinator

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

up/rooted.west recap

We had a great discussion last night at up/rooted.west as we discussed the three major streams of the emerging church, as well as many other streams that are feeding in to the conversation. About 14 of our gathered at Giordanos in Glen Ellyn and feasted on deep dish pizza as we talked about worship, ministry and theology (among other things).

I spent much of the time explaining my model for understanding the emerging church movement (which I describe in more detail here). Essentially I describe three streams (borrowed, in part, from Ed Stetzer): the Relevants, the Reconstructionists, and the Re-Envisionists.

Relevants are primarily concerned with how we can make the church and the gospel more relevant to a postmodern culture. The focus is often on worship styles and interacting with pop culture. Key influencers have been people like Dan Kimball and Bob Webber - and they have helped lead emerging churches in to being very experimental, creative, artistic, and willing to reclaim ancient and liturgical worship practices as well.

Reconstructionists are more concerned with how to do church as a whole, not just the worship service. They are questioning the traditional methods and structures of institutional Christianity. Some, like Eddie Gibbs, seem more interested in reforming the current system; while others like Doug Pagitt are reinventing a whole new system. And on the far edge there are a lot of anti-institutional folks like Spencer Burke who want to disconnect from the system altogether. Watchwords of this stream are "organic", "authentic", "incarnational", and "holistic".

Re-Envisionists, in contrast to the previous two streams, aren't just interested in rethinking the methods, they want to rethink the message as well. This stream is focused on theological dialogue, and many are rediscovering a fuller gospel of the Kingdom of God. Missional church theology underlies much of this re-thinking, as does a generously orthodox approach that seeks to appreciate the diversity between different traditions of the Christian faith. Much of the theology of this stream has been pioneered by people like Lesslie Newbign and NT Wright, and has been popularized by Brian McLaren.

As I outlined these three basic streams, I was careful to point out that emerging people exist in some, and sometimes all of these streams, but there is no litmus test for how emerging one has to be to be included in the conversation - because it is, at heart, a conversation.

As we talked, many people in the group raised excellent questions: Do emerging Christians care about evangelism? (yes, but not in the way it's typically been practiced over the past half-century) What about the global church? (see What about ethnic diversity? (It's as much of a challenge for the emerging church as any other part of Christianity these days) Is the goal to reform existing churches or to start new emerging churches? (yes... both/and) What about women in the emerging church? (see Etc... We probably could have kept talking for a lot longer (and some did), but we cut off the conversation at 9pm so that people from further away could get home (we had visitors from as far away as Rockford and Homewood - near the Indiana border - in the other direction!) Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion!

Next month's up/rooted gathering will be a joint one (west-north-south) at Northern Seminary in Lombard on Monday, April 23 at 7pm. We will be hearing from Annie Gill-Bloyer from the ONE Campaign and Bread for the World. She'll be teaching us about global poverty and what we can do about it. This will be a very important gathering and I hope you will all plan to attend! We want to make a big deal about this one, and we could really use your help getting the word out, so please tell people at your churches, in your neighborhoods, at work, etc. Anyone is welcome... you don't have to be especially "emergent" to care about ending poverty. In a few weeks I'll send out a .pdf poster that you can put up at your local coffee shop too.

Thanks, see you then!

Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

P.S. Don't forget that up/rooted.north is meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) night at 7pm at Northern Seminary to recap and discuss Brian McLaren's lectures there from earlier in the day.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Human Trafficking & Chicago Green Festival

March 28 – Wednesday 12:30pm
“Human Trafficking and Forced Labor: Achievements and Challenges”

with Ms. A. Yasmine Rassam, vice president of foreign policy and international women's issues for the Independent Women's Forum. An attorney by training, Rassam concentrates on international and human rights law and foreign policy matters. In 2002, Rassam served as the director of the Human Rights Clinic in Tashkent, Uzbekistan for the American Bar Association’s Central and East European Law Initiative.

In 2004, as Director of Women’s Programs for the American Bar Association’s Iraq Initiative, she established the ABA office in Amman, Jordan and held several conferences on the status of women’s rights in Iraq for Iraqi NGOs, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and key members of the Iraqi government.

Most recently she co-authored a comprehensive study on the Status of Women’s Rights in Iraq for the American Bar Association’s Iraq Legal Development Project.

International Human Rights Law Institute
DePaul University College of Law, room 805
25 E. Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604


Chicago "Green Festival" - April 21 and 22
(from $ 5 to $ 10 admission each day)

Take in more than 300 exhibits in the nation’s largest eco-mall:
* Hear great, live local music.

See more than 150 dynamic speakers on 5 stages:
• Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
• Greg Palast, Armed Madhouse
• Paul Stamets, Fungi Perfecti
• Frances Moore LappĂ©, Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet
• Richard M. Daley, Chicago Mayor (Invited)
• Judy Wicks, White Dog Enterprises, Inc.
• David Korten, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
• Omar Freilla, Director of Green Worker Cooperatives


Lauren Winner speaking in Chicago

Author Lauren Winner will be the speaker for North Park Theological Seminary's David Nyvall Lectures to be held April 26. The lectures will be given at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. in Isaacson Chapel, and are free and open to the public.

Winner is the author of three acclaimed books, Girl Meets God, Mudhouse Sabbath, and, most recently, Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity. She spoke at the Evangelical Covenant Church's Midwinter Pastors Conference in February.

The former book editor for Beliefnet, she has appeared on PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, Publishers Weekly, and Christianity Today. Her essays have been included in The Best Christian Writing for 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.

Lauren Winner has degrees from Columbia and Cambridge universities and is currently at work on her doctorate on the history of American religion. She lives in Durham, N.C. with her husband, Griff Gatewood.

The David Nyvall Lectures were inaugurated at North Park Theological Seminary in 1951 in memory of the pioneer Swedish American educator who served the school both as teacher and president. The purpose of this lecture series, held each spring, is to stimulate interest in the interpretation of the Christian message for the contemporary world.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

N.T. Wright speaking at Mundelein Seminary

Hey up/rooted folks! If you're free this Friday N.T. Wright will be speaking on Sacramental Theology in Mundelein. The lectures are during the day: “Biblical Foundations for Sacramental Theology” at 10:15am and “Sacraments of the New Creation” at 1:15pm. The lectures are free, but registration is required.

Directions and such are all in the link. Blessings!

Jon Berbaum
-coordinator, up/rooted.north

up/rooted.west: What is the Emerging Church?

Don't forget, our next up/rooted.west gathering will be Monday, March 26 at 7pm at the Giordanos Pizza on Roosevelt Rd in Glen Ellyn. We will be discussing the question "What is the Emerging Church?" with a particular focus on the EC as a convergence of many different contemporary streams of faith. This will be a good conversation both for those who are new to the conversation and would like a clearer picture of what it's all about, as well as for those who have been around for a while now, but who would enjoy a chance to get "back to basics" and talk about what is really at the core of this movement - to remind ourselves why this is important and why we're a part of it. Maybe you'll even gain some fresh insights into the EC too!

If you'd like to read ahead, we'll be using my two recent articles as the catalyst for our discussion:

What is the Emerging Church?

The Converging Church

Hope to see you there!


-Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

(BTW, bring some money for pizza if you'd like to share a meal as we discuss.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Up.rooted/north meets "with" Brian McLaren

Up/rooted.north is meeting on Wednesday, March 28th at 7pm at Northern Seminary, which is, ironically, south. We will be gathering around the thoughts of Brian McLaren who is unable to be with us that evening.

But never fear! Earlier in the day McLaren is presenting at Northern’s Brady Lecture series. His topics are "Ancient Paths: How do we intergrate historic continuity with contemporary reality?" and "Contemporary Crises: How do we bring the ancient gospel to bear on today's global crises?" If you’d like to hear McLaren, go here to register. Deadline is March 23rd. Northern students go for free; all seminary/college students can go for $25. If you're interested, get in touch with Dave Fitch or me (

If you’d prefer something in the evening and something free, up/rooted.north is gathering for a summary of and response to McLaren’s lectures by Dave Fitch (pastor, professor, and author). We’ll use McLaren’s lectures and Dave’s presentation as a starting point for what is sure to be a lively and provocative discussion on the ancient/future and modern/postmodern tensions in the contemporary North American incarnation of the gospel.

Directions to Northern are here. Once you turn in to the campus, follow the road as it bends around to the right. You should end up in front of Kern Hall. Head upstairs and you’ll find us.

If you live in the north suburbs and you’d like to carpool to Northern, meet at Life on the Vine Church by 6:20pm. Those of you who live in the west and south, we’d love to have you join us. See you there.

Jon Berbaum

-coordinator, up/rooted.north

Friday, March 09, 2007

Where is the intersection of Urban and Emergent?

Yesterday I had an excellent conversation with Chris Brooks at the Caribou Coffee in Wheaton. Chris is the Pastor of Family Life at River City Community Church, an urban multi-ethnic faith community in inner-city Chicago.

He came to me with a difficult question: where is the intersection of the urban church and the emerging church? Do the two worlds intersect, and if so, why is it so hard to find much evidence of this intermingling on either side?

I suspect there are many answers. In large part it's probably because the emerging church conversation is so decentralized and amorphous. It only consists of what the participants bring to it, and thus far, not many of the participants have been from an indigenously urban context. (Though I suspect this needs some definition. For instance, both Wicker Park Grace and Church of Jesus Christ, Reconciler are indigenously urban emerging churches, and yet I'm not sure they're quite what Chris had in mind.) At any rate, this is a gap in the emerging church conversation that sorely needs to be filled, and I wonder if up/rooted can play some role in filling it.

So I'm throwing this out there for conversation, and I really want to encourage the readers of this blog to participate:

Have you seen intersections of the urban church with the emerging church? If so, where? What do they already share in common? How can each enrich the other? And what needs to be done to continue merging the two?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Worship With Imagination…and Sitar

Make sure to mark your calendars, because on Sunday evening, April 1 at 7:00pm, as a preview of their Re-Imagine Worship roll-out, Redeemer Church will be welcoming the musical group Aradhna. Aradhna means “worship” in the Hindi language, and the music we’ll be hearing consists primarily of bhajans (traditional devotional songs) addressed to Jesus.

Led by Chris Hale, an extraordinary musician who was raised by missionary parents in India and Nepal, Aradhna uses a sitar, guitar, and tabla (small Indian drum) to create an evocative and worshipful atmosphere. You can hear a sample of their music by going online at

Part concert, part multi-sensory worship experience, part sneak preview of Redeemer's new Sunday evening “emerging” worship gathering – this promises to be a very special evening. There is no admission charge, but a free will offering will be taken. Redeemer Lutheran Church is located at 1016 Gillick St., Park Ridge. For details and directions, call 847-823-3634 or visit them online at

Monday, March 05, 2007


Hey up/rooted!

We had a great time hanging out with Doug Pagitt last Tuesday evening at up/rooted.north. Thanks to all of you who attended and contributed to the discussion!

Doug began by leading us in a Body Prayer dealing with the idea of "re-creation", and then guided us into a discussion about "a bright, hopeful, optimistic vision for Christianity in our time." The central idea we explored is that there is no better time or place for full on Christian practice than right here and now - that the Kingdom of God is now!

BTW, Doug recorded the conversation and put it up on his podcast site. You can find and download it here.

For those of you interested, our next up/rooted.west gathering will be Monday, March 26 at 7pm at the Giordanos Pizza on Roosevelt Rd in Glen Ellyn. We will be discussing the question "What is the Emerging Church?" with a particular focus on the EC as a convergence of many different contemporary streams of faith. If you'd like to read ahead, we'll be using my two recent articles as the catalyst for our discussion:

What is the Emerging Church?

The Converging Church

Hope to see you there! (BTW, bring some money for pizza if you'd like to share a meal as we discuss.)


-Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator
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