Posts Tagged 'Neue Ministry'

The Voice of the Psalms: Psalm 65

Here is an excerpt from a Psalm I rendered for The Voice project, Psalm 65:

1 Rapt silence and praise

Sweep through the Sacred City, O God

Competing to give voice(less) voice to Your goodness

Solemn vows uttered to You will now be performed

2You hear us in words and silence;

all humanity comes into Your presence.

3Crookedness and perversion overwhelm us!

But You forgive us and bring us integration,

Restoring as only You can.

4You invite us near, drawing us

Into Your courtyard – what an honor!

We feast ’til we’re full

on the goodness of Your house

Your sacred abode made manifest

Where heaven and earth kiss.

5You leave us breathless

in the wake of Your response;

God of liberation—You are the hope

of all ecologies, from far-flung

continents to life-giving oceans.

6 With creative energy You inaugurated mountains

Wrapped in strength You compelled

7Choppy seas,

Crashing waves

And cacophonous people

To sit in astonished silence.

8Those who inhabit the boundaries of the known

Are awed by Your enfolded clues,

Strong and subtle hints of Your indelible presence.

The portals of night and day gape to sing Your praises.

9You spend time on (Y)our good earth,

Watering and nourishing the networks of living.

God’s river, full of water,

All people full on the staff of life without exception—

Poured and mixed, living bread, kneaded by Your very hands.

10You are the gentle equalizer;

smoothing soil’s wrinkles,

Softening unbending earth

Generous showers

making holy the fruit of the ground…

…continued in The Voice of the Psalms!

What is The Voice, you ask? Here’s how I initially described it in a Relevant Magazine news snippet I wrote back in early 2006:

The newly-formed Ecclesia Bible Society is releasing a full-orbed narrative and artistic retelling of the Bible, beginning with the recently-released The Last Eyewitness and Songs from the Voice, Volume One.  The project, which began in April and will continue throughout the next five years, includes work from notable authors such as Phyllis Tickle, Tim Keel, Brian McLaren, Donald Miller, Lauren Winner, Phuc Luu, Allison Smythe, and Dieter Zander, as well as musicians and visual artists including Rob Pepper, Waterdeep, Derek Webb, Sara Groves and the Robbie Seay Band.

Project originator Chris Seay describes The Voice as a serious translation that allows the original biblical authors to speak in all their truth, beauty, and stylistic diversity.

The Ecclesia Bible Society feels like many traditional Bible translation committees have muted the original biblical authors’ unique voices. “The Chronicles of Narnia and Blue Like Jazz might sit as two bookends in my library,” said Seay.  “They’re among my favorite books.  But 100 years from now if a committee of translators tried to make CS Lewis‘s and Don Miller‘s voices sound the same on the page, you wouldn’t want to read either one.”  Even so, they’re still being careful.  “We have scholars on board as a vital part of The Voice project,” Seay said.  “But they’re following the creative lead instead of vice-versa.  They’re helping us navigate the linguistic roads, showing us the terrain so that we can avoid translational pot holes and ditches.”

Ultimately, Seay and The Voice contributors hope to resource the Christian community with “the full narrative force of Scripture, which for too long has been blunted by a ‘propositional’ grid.”

The Ecclesia Bible Society is not-for-profit, and all revenue generated will be dedicated to church planting and humanitarian initiatives.  Their stated goal is to embody God’s kingdom in voice and deed.

“What we long to do is retell the stories of Scripture, not only in truth but in beauty.  We hope that you fall in love with these stories anew.”

Other editions:

The Voice New Testament: Cloth & Leatherbound

The Voice New Testament: With Psalms & Proverbs (coming soon)

The Voice: Gospel of John – free download!

House Church: Ready for Prime Time? Frank Viola says ‘Yes!’

A decade ago, nearly to the month, I took my first plunge into the wild and untamed world of house churching – or, as it’s increasingly called today, ‘organic church.’ It took me over a year to fully trade in my sanctuary for a living room, but I was quite happy to leave doctrinal turf wars, membership classes, and monologue-style sermons behind. 10 years later, I’m more ambivalent. I still don’t miss theological in-fighting, bounded-set ‘in and out’ religion, and unreflective bible screeds, but I see a lot more that I appreciate and embrace across the ecclesiological spectrum. That said, I remain quite committed to organic church community as my community of practice – but specificity, for me, no longer equals exclusivity.

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That Was Then

10 years ago whenever I’d bring up ideas about open, participatory gatherings, clergy-less church, and taking the direct leadership of God in local fellowships seriously, people looked at me like I had a third eye growing out of my spleen, which was somehow visible through my T-shirt. Maybe it was just the small Southern town I grew up in, or perhaps the Baptist (Southern), Pentecostal (A/G), and Presbyterian (PCA) denominations I participated in just didn’t want to hear that the ordinary friend of Jesus has spiritual competency and drive. Me and the Quakers both, eh?

Friends & Family

2-3 years into my house church journey, I discovered the ‘emerging church conversation‘ before it was ever called that. (Back then it was postmodern Christianity, baby! Stranger Things Magazine, Next Wave, and The Ooze were the places to be. But then, I suppose the latter two still are, with some notable newcomers.) Finally, I thought. Some other Christians I could talk about this stuff with. And I was right. Be they Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist or anarchist, in the pomo xian conversation I found friends – which was just as important as finding family in house churching a few years prior. Family is vital for obvious reasons, but friends are crucial when you need to get out of the house and get some fresh air, you know? The problem was, I didn’t know how to introduce my friends to my family; my family’s great but they’re a little quirky, sometimes prone to navel-gazing and/or fundamentalist tendencies, what with the ‘let’s return to the first century church’ and all. And my friends are awesome but sometimes a bit pretentious, like they just pulled an all-nighter with a Thesaurus or something to impress their soy-latte drinking peers. So for the last 7 years or so, I’ve had Family and I’ve had Friends, but seldom the twain did meet.

Frankly Speaking

Enter my ‘family friend’ Frank Viola. I started reading Frank right at the beginning of my house church journey in 1998, my freshman year in college. He was and is one of the most prolific pens in house churchdom (though his relationship with ‘house church’ is as nuanced as Brian McLaren’s is with ’emergent church’). One year later, he crashed on a pallet beside me and three other guys on my parents living room floor! Our church was hosting a men’s conference in ’99 and I got to meet The Man Himself. He was younger and more Italian than I anticipated. And so it began.

Around 2005 Frank discovered what dawned on me in 2001; that these ’emerging church’ folks were valuable friends and conversation partners in discovering the life, meaning and mission of Jesus’ followers in the 21st century. He asked me what he should be reading more of, and who he should be talking to. I introduced him to some friends, and gave him some contacts with the e-zines. After digesting more of ‘the conversation,’ Frank penned an article that went viral, Will the Emerging Church Fully Emerge? Andrew Jones and many others weighed in. My own thoughts were ‘Finally! My friends and family having a first conversation.’ It was perhaps a bit too guns-a-blazin’ for an initial conversation, for my tastes, but at least Frank put all his cards on the table. (And Frank’d probably call me a sissy.) It’s been fun watching folks’ responses to ‘organic church’ praxis evolve over the years, from initial wariness to active engagement.

This Is Now

So these days Pagan Christianity? and Reimagining Church hold their own in faith-based best-seller lists alongside other house church-oriented books (that you may or may not have heard of) like The Shack. Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk himself, thinks that emerging church practitioners should take Frank and his ecclesiology seriously. RTS prof Steve Brown is pleasantly surprised by house church ideas. And Relevant’s newly-launched Neue Ministry discovers that house church folks really can care about the poor.

If you’re a house churcher or emerging churcher (or baffled onlooker), what do you think of this confluence of HC and EC?

Tomorrow (or thereabouts), I bring some attention to two of the most significant recent diaologues between house church folks and high church/liturgical folks – two segments of the church that I have enormous respect for.


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  • Friend of Emergent Village

    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

    Illumination and Darkness: An Anne Rice Feature from Burnside Writer's Collective
    Shadows & Light: An Anne Rice Interview in MP3 format from Relevant Magazine
    God's Ultimate Passion: A Trinity of Frank Viola interview on Next Wave: Part I, Part II, Part III
    Review: Furious Pursuit by Tim King, from The Ooze
    Church Planting Chat from Next-Wave
    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave

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