Category Archives: atlanta

Gun Violence, Part 2

Last week I wrote a blog about the violence that seems to be erupting in my Denver neighborhood. This past Sunday, the Chicago neighborhood where my eldest son lives exploded in gunfire. Of the six people who were shot, two died and four were taken to the hospital.

 

I have spent much of the past two weeks thinking about violence, safety, the DOOR Network, and my Christian faith. DOOR is an urban program. We are committed to showing the face of God in the city. Most of the time we do a good job of helping visitors see and experience the amazing things that God is doing in the city.

These past two weeks have tested (and continue to test) my commitment to God’s presence in the city. Giving witness to the violence, hate, and frustration that seems to explode on the streets of our urban neighborhoods leads to some deep soul searching. Where is God? Or, better yet, where are the people of God? What does it mean to be people of faith in the midst of violence? What did Jesus mean when he talked about people of faith being salt and light?

This past weekend I had the privilege of participating in the ordination service of our Atlanta City Director. Part of the service included a reading from Matthew 28:16-20:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The call of people of faith is to go and be present in all places and all conditions. This presence includes the call to be agents of transformation, or, to use the biblical language, to make disciples. The Christian faith has never been about passive observation. It has always been a faith that calls us to direct involvement.

So to hear my son and his roommates talk about staying, learning from, and walking alongside their neighbors was a conflicted moment for me. I felt both pride and terror.

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Leadership

Last night I saw Selma for the second time. The movie tells the story of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches. For those who have not taken the time to see this movie, please go. It is worth the price of admission.

This movie is a stark reminder of a past that many would like to forget. 1965 was a time when Jim Crow laws shaped the daily lives of our brothers and sisters of color by instituting various racially motivated economic, education, and social hardships. These laws mandated the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation including restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains.

In the midst of all of this a leader and prophet emerges, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I had always assumed that leadership came easily to King. Hearing his sermons still takes the listener to a higher place. Who doesn’t resonate with “I have a dream” or “He’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I have seen the Promised Land”? King had a way of rallying people to his cause, of stirring people to action. I imagine that just being in his presence made you a better person.

The movie dared to expose a more personal side of King; a side that questioned, doubted, and wondered. Sometimes it is easy to assume that leadership is about confidence and strength. It was good to be reminded that leaders are human beings as well. King found ways to overcome his fears and questions. In doing this he became the prophet, pastor, and spiritual leader we needed and continue to need.

Today we still need people who can move beyond their fears, questions, and weaknesses to find the courage to speak truth to power. We need people to dream, to go to the mountain and see not what is but what can be.

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Filed under atlanta, Bearing Witness, Beloved Community, Christian, collaboration, culture, diversity, doubt, enemy, faith, Fear, losing faith, Mission, mistakes, MLK, movie, multicultural, politics, racism, racist, reformation, religion, religious system, social programs, speech

A glimpse into the program I oversee

Brent Davis is a Dweller in our DOOR Hollywood program. Over the last few weeks he took it upon himself to capture the thoughts of recent Discover participants while they stayed at our community house.  It’s a huge blessing, and a fun way to show how God is nudging people to break down single stories in Hollywood through DOOR.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np_JZfxfg38

 

If you are interested in participating in in DOOR, please check out our website – www.DOORnetwork.org

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Filed under A New Kind of Christian, atlanta, Christian, culture, denominations, experiencing god, faith, kingdom of heaven, label, labels, Mission, multicultural, mutuality, relationship, religion, religious system, service, service to others, short-term mission, theology, transforming, urban tour

Why DOOR?

This is that time of year when youth pastors and ministry leaders start to plan their spring or summer mission trip and college seniors start to wonder about life after graduation.  The program I oversee offers options for both of these groups.  Our Discover program provides opportunities for groups of folks to serve and learn in the city for anywhere from a day to a week.  Dwell, our year- long program, is geared towards young adults who want to spend a year living in community, serving in a local helping agency, and exploring what the call of God on their life might be.

We are not the only people who offer these kinds of programs.  One of the questions I get asked on a regular basis is simply, why DOOR?  This is always an interesting question to try to respond to.  I have friends that run similar programs and in the for-profit world they would be considered competitors.  But in the ministry world we are “co-laborers.”   Trash talking is not appropriate!

With this in mind, why DOOR?  Here is my list:

  1. When you come to DOOR you support local jobs and benefits.  We prioritize hiring local staff; we tend to shy away from “importing” leaders into our cities, believing that each of our locations already has the leadership necessary to run a successful program.
  2. When you choose DOOR you are intentionally favoring uniqueness in an increasingly generic “mission and service” market place.  Each DOOR city is watched over by a local board comprised of folks who love their cities and want participants to have an honest, healthy, and safe experience.
  3. DOOR works to create safe spaces where everyone can share their faith journey and together we can come to a new and more enriched understanding of the kingdom of God.  This is not always comfortable or easy, but the Christian faith is so much more than the boxes we try to fit it into.
  4. DOOR is a place where local pastors, ministry leaders, and artists are asked to speak into your experience while participating.  Local voices add authenticity and realism to your time with us.
  5. The programmatic fees you pay are reinvested into the local community.  We actively prioritize local suppliers, restaurants, and staff.  All of this helps to keep your fees and fundraising dollars circulating in the local community longer thus helping to strengthen the financial stability of everyone.
  6. DOOR starts with the assumption that God is already in the city.  This is an asset-based approach.  When one approaches ministry and mission from an asset-based perspective the inherent dignity of everyone is preserved.

If you are considering or know someone who is leading a service/mission trip or wanting to spend a year living in an intentional Christian community please consider DOOR.

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Filed under atlanta, Beloved Community, Christian, church, church camp, culture, distinctives, diversity, experiencing god, faith, ministry, Mission, religion, service, service to others, social programs, Solidarity, transforming, urban ministry, urban tour

Why DOOR?

If you are a leader of a group or the person charge of finding a service/learning opportunity for 2013, then this blog is for you!

Here are my top 10 reasons for considering DOOR:

  1. We are an “asset based” organization.  We believe that God is alive and well and working our cities.  Yes there are needs, issues and problems in the city, but the hope, resourcefulness and life in the city far outweigh the negatives.  Another way to think about this is that the biblical story starts in a garden, but ends in a city.  If you want to know what heaven is going to be like, come to the city!
  1. There are 6 great locations to come and witness what God is doing – Atlanta, Chicago, Denver,      Hollywood, Miami, and San Antonio.
  1. The $305.00 per person cost covers meals, staffing, lodging and reflection.  This frees leaders to spend time getting to know the members of their group – doing the pastoral stuff without      having to sweat the logistics.
  1. 2013 marks our 26th year, we began in 1986.  We have the experience and knowhow.
  1. We hire local City Directors; these are folks who know the city and who call it their home.  If you break down, it’s their mechanic you’re calling.  When you leave, the relationships with agencies, speakers and neighborhoods remain and grow  year to year.
  1. Our relationship to local      helping agencies, ministries and churches is grounded in authentic      relationships.  On average each of      our cities we work with 30-50 agencies, ministries and churches.  That’s a potential national network of      300.
  1. The fee you pay helps DOOR hire local staff and purchases food and materials at local businesses.  You are not only getting a good value for your money, but it is spent in such a way as to benefit the local community.
  1. Our commitment to “partnership.”  We partner with other organizations and institutions because we believe that we have much to learn from others and the combination of DOOR with our partners creates a better experience for participants.  We believe that service minded learning is best accomplished collaboratively.  Listening and learning from various voices serves to enhance one’s understanding of God and God’s call.  We believe in hearing God’s call within community at both the individual level as well as our organizational level. This commitment to partnership extends to all levels of DOOR’s programming.  Nationally, we are a network of cities and denominations partnering with each other to provide learning. Locally we work with various faith based and non-faith based service agencies. We are committed to connecting participants to local urban congregations representing various denominational and cultural traditions.
  1. Our commitments to reconciliation peace, non-violence and justice.  From race to nationality and from denomination to local church our programming, our training and our philosophies challenge us to reconcile the sins and hurts of the past and to move forward together with God.
  1. Finally, take home new energy, focus, and ideas for ministry in your home congregation and neighborhood. Interacting with urban service agencies, local congregations, and DOOR staff can help your group consider how to live out the Gospel in new ways at home.

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Filed under atlanta, Beloved Community, Christian, church camp, collaboration, community, culture, denominations, distinctives, diversity, local communities, racism, Uncategorized

Evangelism

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is entering into theological discussions with our summer staff.  I especially like these talks when I am the one doing the pushing.  It becomes less fun when I am pushed.

This past week in Atlanta one of our worship leaders suggested that the secret to evangelism is becoming that which you wish to save.  My initial reaction was mostly dismissive.  It is a helpful way to avoid rethinking and it gives me time to come up with a strategy to regain the upper hand.

The farther away I get from the conversation the more I have become convinced that my negative reaction to his thoughts had to do with the nagging suspicion that he might be right.  The potential implications of this are seismic.

This means that evangelism is something other than sharing the four spiritual laws or getting the person to pray the sinner’s prayer.  Becoming that which we wish to save speaks to identification and relationship.  Isn’t this what Philippians 2 is talking about- a Savior who gave it all up to become like us, human.   Jesus entered into relationship with humanity and could identify with the human predicament.

What does this mean for us?

Does evangelism among the poor mean becoming poor?

Can we cry with those who are crying if we ourselves have never cried?

Can you do multi-cultural ministry and live in a mono-cultural neighborhood?

To be honest, I am still thinking through the implications.  I sort-of want him to be wrong.

Becoming is costly.  It may mean stepping out of a comfortable world.  Authentic evangelism is much more than a brief encounter and a short prayer.  It has the potential to impact where I live, how I spend my money, the church I attend and who I spend my free time with.

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Filed under atlanta, Evangelical, Evangelism, faith, Philippians 2:7