Tuesday, January 29


what worship among postmoderns looks like

for anyone who wants a quick read on emerging/gen x worship, check out this brief article, which basically hits the nail on the head as to what is going on, and what the vibe is... not "traditional," not "contemporary," but ancient/future. read here

also explore the flip-side- the cutting edge vibe of alt worship. read (below) a pioneering article on the topic by andrew jones.

fyi, alt worship, unlike "regular" emerging worship, is cyclical, not weekly and has a much more feast / fast / creative / non-linear / artistic / organic vibe than weekly emerging worship.

at church of the apostles, we hope to do "regular" emerging worship for our weekly diet and spike our food with various forms of alt worship perhaps quarterly, and maybe try to throw down with one notorious B.I.G alt worship installation per year. in anycase, get into the vibe of alt worship by reading is this the next worship?

posted by COTA | 6:20 PM|


all this work on dreaming up a start up church is exciting and exhausting. i like to chill and get psyched by listening to cool faith based music. if you like postmodern, indie vibe christian music (not dated corporate faux "contemporary") go here and get some grassroots music

posted by COTA | 2:35 PM|


i've been raggin' a lot about boomers (under the raggin, hear a plea for more boomer leaders to step up to the plate and help out xers leaders with some serious mentoring and support).

let me say that there are some really incredible boomers out there, who are spirituality attuned, and are true leaders and mentors for the postmodern church. (i'm gonna write a column on this for worship leader magazine soon). people like todd hunter and brian mclaren come to mind in the national arena. but for me, here in seattle, trying to start this mission church, fr. jeff lee at st. thomas episcopal church in medina, washignton is a godsend. a "barely boomer" age wise, he has a vision for the church of the future that does not trash the church of the past. he is moving his already stellar congregation, step by step, into a postmodern ethos. part of this move is leading st. thomas into being a great commisison congregation. that is, a congregation that sees itself in the business of helping midwife the new christians that God is seeking to birth.

st thomas is stepping up to be the main mother church for cota (church of the apostles). this means that cota's planned east "cell" will operate as a "church within a church" at st. thomas, and the other planned cota cell will meet at a lutheran church in north seattle. so cota will be lut-episc, relating to both mother traditons, but will be an emerging ethos community, seeking to speak and embody faith to and among postmodern seekers. i am also thankful for pastor carol jensen and the people at st. john united lutheran in seattle. st john is also a great commission parish, which will welcome cota north and allow us to use its building, to hang out, and incubate like a baby bird in a mama's nest.

posted by COTA | 12:46 PM|

Monday, January 28


just to acknowledge a real olive branch, and that a modernist church structure CAN turn outwards to meet the postmodern world...

kudos! to the baptist general convention of texas for starting the boaz project with andrew jones.

hey. are there any lutheran or episocpal (8765 or 815) outreach folk out there ( charles fulton, ruben duran and friends?) who are interested in doing a joint ccm boaz? cause there are people out here from eln and gtng who could work on this. just give me a call, my agent says i'm available at 206-417-0470. also, to the pcusa, rca, and crc, we can work on this with you too.

and kudos to the pcusa for bringing chip andrus on board as a breath of fresh air to the louisville staff. so somebody just call, so we can all git bizee!

posted by COTA | 2:23 PM|

Sunday, January 27


today i barely made it to church. it snowed in seattle. not an everyday thing, and thank god, because people out here don't know how to drive in snow and should stay off the roads!

after liturgy at holy trinity, i got home and began surfing. i discovered a few more emerging churches with websites- vineyard central in cincinnati, and vine and branches in lexington. both of these churches are deep into the ancient-future or "emerging ethos" vibe. in both communites, you don't have "glitz and show," but you will find formation in faith and spiritual feeding through praying the offices, lectio divina, and merciful service... all over north america, native postmoderns are busy planting such emerging base chrisitan communities.

despite the sprouting of over 2,500 nu churches in north america, such communities are rarely being supported (or even studied) by the institutional structures of the church. there is a lot of talk about "reaching" postmodern generations and becoming "the 21st century church." despite the rhetoric, waring camps are still pouring energy into 30 year old megachurch patterns (remember the "cathedral of tomorrow"? - i don't, but i read about it!") or the latest round of text driven liturgical tweaking. the problem with all this, is that both the patterns of the mega church and post-Vatican II liturgical renewal (though groud-breaking for their heyday (the 60s-80's)), still carry with them an orientation towards the late modern era... and thus carry with them hidden modernist assumptions, which will lead to rehashed modernist solutions, not well suited for shaping worship and outreach in the postmodern age.

on the other hand, many emerging church leaders are working under radar and off-battlefield. they have a different and postmodern born orientation to both church growth and worship that is being overlooked in the smoke arising from the waring camps.

what all this may mean, is that many postmodern leaders within mainline denominations will not receive the support they could use from their parent church bodies (as resources are being expended on the war efforts). our post denominational networks, friendships and associations ( like emergent village, gtng, eln, and theooze) may continue to be our frontline of support as we play (not war) in the mission fields of the Lord.

maybe there is something that can be done to alter the course... God knows, some of us are trying... yet too many of our parent bodies are so busy trying to "reach" us, or trying to "involve" us in "the ministries of the church," that they are missing the forest for the trees.

in my opinion:

postmoderns do not desire to become more "involved" in the "ministries of the church" (denominational structures and programs), instead, what they desire, is to become more involved in the ministries of jesus christ (vocation of the baptized in the world). and 2., postmoderns don't really need to be "reached," as postmodern leaders themselves are beginning to do the reaching... and because of this, they are in great need of supportive mentoring and modest seed funding, as they go about the work of re-grounding the faith, renewing the heart of worship, and re-focusing the mission of the church for postmodern people in the postmodern world.

sermonis terminus...

now, back to emerging churches.

almost categorically, emerging ethos churches (like central vineyard and vine and branches) do not burn bridges to the past, but see in the past, wisdom towards God's new and enlivening future. in fact, one more than anecdotal way to spot an emerging ethos church is by its name. the value of the past, morphed toward the future can be seen in postmodern founded communities with names like imago dei (image of god), ecclesia (gathering), warehouse 242 (from acts 2:42), levi's table, jacob's well, solomon's porch, the church of the beloved, and hopefully, the church of the apostles in seattle.

as you can see by the names above, the "past," is not circa 1950's past, but "way past," like, circa "book of acts" past, and way of the cross within the host culture, ancient... not as some lame nostalgia trip, but as a clear, focused, and spiritually grounded turning towards authentic witness and the cost of discipleship in these postmodern times. most of such churches seems to have:

a flat and loose structure
a "plan/do" rather than maoist blueprint for action
a lack of focus on owning buildings and property
a low maintenance meta, not high maintenance mega feel
a communal rather than programed lifestyle
biblical, rather than self-improvement teaching
a respect for deep core tradition
no fear of vulnerability in the world, and before God
a distaste for spit and polish
a comfort with technology as a tool, not a panacea
a view that all are seekers
a view that all need real worship
a non-interest in parsing worship into "styles"
a desire for cruciform, rather than self-actualized living
a vocabulary devoid of the word "contemporary"
a need to know, more than to "know about" God
a focus on growth in the love of God
a orientation to faith as journey, not destination
a view of conversion as process not moment
a need to grow "into the stature of christ," more than to out-size a community
church growth (in numbers) that is sideways and not up
a belief that love of God is made real in love and service to neighbors... which is our spiritual worship.

cruise this site for help with cell based ministry, and check out the authentic ministries going on at vineyard central and vine and branches christian communities.

posted by COTA | 6:26 PM|

Tuesday, January 22


today i flipped through my latest copy of worship leader magazine (jan/feb 2002). i got really pysched when i read robert webber's "ancient-future faith" column, entitled "where are we going?- new leaders and the future of church worship." it felt good to hear a wise silent generation leader catch the real spirit of the times, speak about the new emerging ethos, and be really on target in what he says.

i for one, really lament the fact that members of the silent generation are leaving positions of leadership in the upper echelons of the church at an alarming rate. they are being replaced mostly by the 46-59 age bracket of boomers (who have a harder time understanding gen xers in particular).

my theory on this "sibling communication gap" is that xers are so close to boomers in age, that they think we are just an extension of themselves, kinda like an uninformed american view of canadians as being some friendly "suburb of themselves." in reality, canadians have their own identity and ethos, complete with their own unique gifts, insights, and approaches to life.

it will be a real spiritual challenge for newly powerful boomer leaders to learn to be the kind of "older brothers" that many of us emerging leaders would love to have. it will fall to the boomers to learn to really listen, and to xers to control our anger (which is really our generational hurt seeking understanding). the first step, i think, in this re-connection process, is for boomers to try and understand that the differences between the sibling generations x and boom are real, and are not based primarily on age, but on zeitgeist, orientation, and differing degrees of immersion in the postmodern world.

when it comes to immersion in the postmodern world, boomers are half postmodern, while xers are completely postmodern. in terms of imagery it looks like this: many boomers are wading knee-deep off the pomo beachfront (wearing flotation donuts), while most xers are barefoot and surfing the tsunami waves deep at sea. so the age thing needs to be put aside, because it fools boomers into thinking that xers are "just like them, but a few years younger," which is WAY OFF THE MARK and the source of endless frustration for us xers who are in desperate need of understanding mentors who can lift us up for our unique gifts as a generation, rather than dismissing us, trying to speak for us, or bullying us out of the way.

it is my hope that before they retire on us, those wise ones among the silent generation will continue to step up to the plate and help newly powerful boomers to re-connect to their slightly younger xer brothers and sisters, as this is absolutely critical to the health and strenght of the church well into the early 21st century.

i conclude this post with words from wise silent elder robert webber. in his column he is talking about worship, but the insights are broader than worship, and are really about a new ethos for being church that is struggling to emerge.

weber writes "postmodernity and 9/11 are introducing a cultural change, every bit as great as the cultural change of the 1960's that introduced music driven contemporary worship. and the boomers are digging in... the boomers who still drink from the hydrant of church growth, whose approach to the church and its worship is market driven, music driven, numbers driven, and therapy driven, are as intractable as their parents, the traditionalists of another era. so what will happen? the same thing that happened in the 1960's and the 1970's. a new phenomena is now emerging out of the ashes of the contemporary worship movement. all over the world new leadership is emerging in new start-up churches. like our 9/11 culture, it is more conservative, going back to basics. and like our postmodern world, it is eclectic in its choice of music and in its embrace of the smorgasboard of Christian traditions... the old war between traditional and contemporary worship makes no sense to the emerging leadership as they prefer the inclusivity of both and..."

For more brain fuel on the new emerging church ethos read this article by joseph higgenbotham, click here

posted by COTA | 11:07 AM|

Monday, January 21


today is martin luther king day in the states. my office at holy trinity, mercer island, wa ( my interim call, while i prep. for the mission plant) is closed today to observe the holiday, which means i get to sit home and write this blog thought. i have no memory of martin luther king as a child in the 1960's, except for my grandmother's wall tryptych. on her wall were three portraits: martin king on the right, jesus in the middle and john f kennedy on the left. whoever this king guy was, i thought, he obviously kept incredible company.

when i grew older, i learned more about civil rights and the struggles of african americans. in some ways, the stories my grandparents told me about life "in the south" seemed hard to comprehend... i suppose, it is a tribute to king and to people like him, that i could grow up having to learn about such struggles in the history books. i know the struggle continues, and there is a long way to go in terms of civil rights, but there is hope... in some ways, the postmodern culture may turn out to be a partner in advancing the cause. it is amazing to me how truly multi-cultural many millennial kids are. not only are millennials (born 1981 onward) becoming more multi-cultural, they also seem very committed to justice and harmony among peoples.

an iconic example of this optimistic and hopeful millennial generation is a kid named gregory r smith. in addition to being a worker for justice and mercy, gregory is also a hyper-genius, and perhaps the smartest person on the planet earth. visit his site here

posted by COTA | 8:28 AM|

Saturday, January 19


today i had a saturday off with nothing on the calendar. amazing... i surfed around alot today on my ibook and stumbled across this fascinating site called killing the buddha. it is a site about religion for people who are non-religious (or at least skeptical and unconvinced). for those of us who are religious, it could be helpful to find out what non-religious seekers really think.

and about being religious... i used to think i should not be... but to be truthfull, i find being religious is cool. alot of people in my generation have popularized the phrase, "spiritual but not religious." i get what they mean, but find that it often falls flat. religious comes from the latin word religio, to follow a rule or to walk a path. the idea being that each one of us follows a rule of life, whether we are aware of it or not; from the rule of upward mobility or thrill seeking to the rule of body building or carpe whateverism... so don't let your homies off the hook too easily when they pull the "i'm not religious" line. instead, buy them a shot and engage them in conversation about their religio: what drives them, what they turn to when all else fails, and whether that religio is big enough and strong enough to hold their life...

uh oh, the whore of babylon comes on in a few (for ye non-believers that is babylon 5) my sci-fi geek religio is calling, gotta go. peace.

posted by COTA | 7:13 PM|

Friday, January 18


my homebrewed ministry site is emergingchurch

i started emergingchurch because as an atari xer, deeply committed to the church and its mission, i became baffled by the myriad of church leaders who kept trying to promote specific "styles" of worship and outreach that would "attract" postmodern generations. the only problem is, they often forget to ask or listen to the postmoderns sitting right among them, and thus keep on pursuing some dated "comtemporary" agenda. my response, (in typical xer mode) was to vote my frustration with my mouse!

there is something different going on in new churches and churches within churches started by xers. with no protests, hand-clasping, or noise, xer planters are dirt diving into the vision god has given them for the church they love... to take a garden tour, and see what is going on, read this
and this.

posted by COTA | 9:45 PM|


this blogspot belongs to karen ward, struggling christian, world citizen, lutheran pastor and would-be church planter.

in october 2001 i left my big house (denominational hq) call, to pursue the crazy dream of planting a little church in the wild northwest. the main thing driving me (besides starbucks americano) is a deep desire to start a church that i'd want to go to. my logic being, if i would go there, my gen x peers might go there too. is this a sad commentary on the state of a modernist church drown in the sea of the postmodern era? or a dove toted branch for a hopeful future? we'll see...

posted by COTA | 8:07 PM|

 ::church planting :: culture surfing::


vintage faith
eln (lutheran network)
episcopal xers
a kingdom space
stuff to read
lutheran xers forum
northwest brews
emerald city search
geek nirvana

 church plant i.p.o.

my church plant (apostles, seattle) has little funds, but big dreams... we are seeking to raise $200,000 to launch a non-profit cafe/art gallery for god in seattle. we need both small and major donors. click below to make a tax deductible donation. if you are a major donor, please contact me off blog at: karen@apostleschurch.org

 book club

i ain't oprah, but here we go...

digital storytellers by len wilson and jason moore: at last, a book to save the world from the "modernist use of powerpoint in worship hell." if you want to torpedo boring ppt. bulleted sermon points from a modernist pastor who thinks he or she is now hip because he or she is using technology, read this book! better yet, buy the book and send it to the modernist pastor and do his/her congregation a big favor. read digital storytellers

gen x religion, ed by richard w. flory & donald e. miller, provides an accurate "npr like" documentation of religion, as actually practiced by xers, and even reflects theologically on xer subsets (like the goths) and on the phenomenon of piercing among us.
and, unlike many other xer books (filled with clever quips by boomers about xers), this book was written by serious sociologists of religion (many of them xers) who actually researched and studied churches founded by and for xers. amazing and authentic...
read gen x religion

 blogging team
iggie online
alan creech
kevin rains
jonny baker
andrew careaga
punk monkey

 the gardner
i'm karen ward. i'm baptized.
i'm cascadian (from the pacific northwest of north america).
my house is in seattle.
i like my house.
you would too,
so drop by and visit sometime.
i'm postmodern (a 60's born xer).
i can be geeky
(but i'm NOT socially backward).
i webmeister emergingchurch
i'm helping with a new
lutheran network called eln
i'm digging dirt around a
nu church plant, called

 church of the month
landing place

 contact me
send e-mail

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