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The Peace & Prosperity of Your City [My Renew Presentation]

This weekend, I spoke at the Renew Conference in Fresno, CA.

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Books That Informed This Presentation:

Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just

The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me: The Righteous Performance of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Seeking The Good For Your City…

This weekend I’m presenting at the Renew Conference in Fresno, CA. Jason Locke, the very capable preaching minister there, left the field wide open in terms of what I could present. That’s always a mixed bag. If you’re assigned a topic and flop, at least you can tell yourself you were put in a corner – which, my wife tells me, no one ever does to Baby. But I digress.

I’ve opted to talk about pastors and churches as community leaders for the common good. For two years I’ve served as a board member for the Peninsula Clery Network, most recently as President. Our goal is to connect clergy to one another and with civic and governmental officers and agencies. Surprisingly I have found that most Christian clergy have no imagination that their vocation connects with civic and community leadership. We do not see ourselves as community leaders. I can conceive of several reasons for this. Among them:

  • Most congregants just want their ministers to care for them and their needs. Anything else is a waste. “We’re paying you, Buddy.”
  • Ministers have a profound time crunch. In any week they have multiple public presentations, an organization to run, staff to oversee, visitation, and, ahem…blog post to write (late at night, of course).
  • Ministers have believed that the state actually wants separation of church and state. Trust me (and I’m in California), local, state, and federal municipalities are dying for congregations to take leadership in their communities. Don’t believe either the mainstream or conservative media hype about this. It’s just false!

Churches and clergypersons have been decentralized as community leaders and we did it to ourselves. Not to put too fine a point on it: We abandoned our cities to work in our churches and now both are in decline.

But it hasn’t always been this way.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is my hero. Though rightly remembered as a Civil Rights leader, King’s fundamental self-perception was that of a preacher. When King arrived as the boy-preacher at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, he did not come to start a movement; he came to preach. As a matter of fact, when he arrived he brought in hand a 39-Point plan to turnaround the congregation. In it were such revolutionary items as buying a new pulpit. What’s more, king saw himself as simply carrying on the family business. His father was a pastor, his grandfather was a pastor, and his great-grandfather was a pastor.

Continue Reading…

“The Holy Spirit orchestrates the events of our lives with the single aim of making us disciples of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is at work in our lives in subtle ways, ways we cannot often discern. But the Spirit is at work nonetheless.” – James Bryan Smith, The Good & Beautiful God



Join Me @ Renew

Join me February 10-12 at the Renew Conference at the College Church of Christ in Fresno, CA. I’ll be teaching a session about how local churches can become civil and community leaders for the sake of the common good.

Renew is a annual event aimed at renewing missional engagement in churches of Christ and beyond. The cost for the entire event is ONLY $15.

Go to the Renew website for more details and to register.

My September 11th

This Saturday, September 11th, as a member of Board of Directors for the Peninsula Clergy Network, I am joining clergy from across the Peninsula Bay Area for a ‘Day of Remembrance’, honoring those who suffered and died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Our program is simple, at the Redwood City Courthouse, we are providing a space for reflection, remembrance and prayer. There will be no speeches, no stumping, and, thank heavens, no books aflame.

There will be men and women there from every faith and creed. Why? Because only the twisted and insane rejoice in death, whichever faith they claim. I don’t believe our silent vigil this Saturday will change much, globally speaking. But I do believe that we can make a small statement about the things we share.

If you live in the area, please come out and join me. I’ll be manning the station from 8-9AM, this Saturday, September 11.

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