Blessed Are the Undesirable

Unless you’re new to the blog, you are aware that my focus in ministry over the past few years has been exclusively on two things:

* In writing and study, it’s been on historical Jesus studies, deeper life themes, Christology, and apologetics. My book Jesus: A Theography and my Answers to Skeptics series are two fruits of that effort.

* In practical ministry, it’s been a complete focus on developing relationships with non-Christians (some of whom are agnostics and atheists) on the one hand, and walking along side of and aiding the poor and the afflicted on the other. For that reason, I spend very little time on the Internet these days.

I’ve not written on organic church since 2009 and haven’t been involved in it for several years now. Though I still stand by everything I’ve written on the subject.

I’d like to share on the present focus of my ministry.

At this moment, I have in mind the faces of the poor and afflicted whom I’ve worked with in 2012 and will continue to, God willing, this year.

Some of them have very few friends. Some of them are living in poverty. Some of them have mental illnesses that regularly torment them. Some of them have legal problems. Some of them have gone nose-to-nose with suicide. Some of them are incredibly needy.

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Top Posts of 2012

Here are the top posts of 2012 (some were written before 2012, but they received major traffic last year so they made the list).

God’s View of a Woman

Have You Heard? The Plague of Gossip & Slander in the Body of Christ

N.T. Wright

What Makes a True Friend?

The Art of Being a Jerk Online

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Hearing One Side of a Story

20 Things the Blood of Jesus Does

How (Not) to Correct Another Christian

20 Reasons Why the Christian Right & Left Won’t Adopt Me


Top Posts of 2008

Top Posts of 2009

Top Posts of 2010

Top Posts of 2011

Top Posts of 2013

Join over 80,000 monthly readers and receive free blog updates. If you subscribe by Email, you will receive my eBook Rethinking the Will of God (Revised) and my Next Reformation Seminar as a free gift. By subscribing, you also won’t miss a post. If you want to start your own blog from scratch in less than 10 minutes, click here. And if you’re looking for a hosting or domain-name service, I highly recommend BlueHost.

The Blog is Now Formatted for Smart Phones

Hi Friends,

As promised, I will resume blogging on January 1st. Just wanted you to know that the blog has recently been formatted to be viewed on your smart phone. So if you have a smart phone, it will be super easy to read now (applause, whistling). :-)

Storytellers Change the World: A Film Review of “Lincoln” by Leonard Sweet

Hi Fun Seekers. I suspect you’re surprised to hear from me because I’m on a blog break for this December. But consider this a reverse intermission. About a week ago, Leonard Sweet (my esteemed co-author of Jesus Manifesto and Jesus: A Theography) and I had a phone conversation. During the call, Len told me that he saw the new movie, Lincoln. He then shared some of his reactions and impressions of it. I was impressed. So much so that I encouraged him to write a review of the film and promised that I would publish it on my blog. So here it is . . . enjoy and share it with your friends using the share buttons below.

How do you measure a life? The same way you measure a nation. By the power of its story.

Some of the most beloved stories of our nation mythologize one of the nation’s greatest storytellers himself: Abraham Lincoln.

The Great American Story is the Story of the American Dream. But the most difficult chapter in that storybook is the one that united a divided country. Lincoln knew the power that story could wield, and he used his own stories to heal and guide a nation, long after his own death. With narrative wit, and cunning wisdom, Lincoln wove the metaphorical flag that would represent the new United States of America.

Lincoln’s stories were not stock aphorisms or standard tales; they were organically grown from grass roots and apple seeds found on the land of common people who toughed it out with sweat and blood just as Lincoln himself did on the midwestern frontier.

Lincoln’s story begins in Kentucky on 12 February 1809. Two women gave birth to sons on that same day: one in a one-room, 16′ by 18′ cabin in Kentucky, the other in a finely furnished house called “The Mount” on the edge of Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England. The latter became the greatest scientist of the 19th century, who wrote more than 6 million words in his lifetime and is often cited as “the greatest Englishman of the 19th century.” The first, born from the most common beginnings, became the greatest president in US history, whose short speeches steered the country through the “Second American Revolution” (James McPherson) and is often cited as “the greatest American of the 19th century.”


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Why I’m Taking December Off

I’m taking the rest of December off from blogging here on Beyond Evangelical. The holiday season has rendered many of us too busy to read and respond to blog posts. I’ll be resuming on January 1,2013. In the meantime, I’d like to encourage you with five things:

  1. If you are new to the blog since December 2011, be sure to check out my annual The Nativity Story & My Favorite Christmas Spoof Song post.
  2. If you haven’t gotten to them yet, be sure to respond to my two recent posts: Meet Me in 2013 PLUS Special Workshop for Writers & Bloggers and My Next Co-Author.
  3. Check out the blog Archives and get caught up on what you’ve missed.
  4. Subscribe to the free podcast. There are now 64 episodes with more to come.
  5. Consider taking advantage of our Christmas special – it’s still available.

Many blessings to you and yours,


Psalm 115:1

Roger Olson

With respect to authors, scholars, and theologians who have taken a “post-evangelical” or “beyond-evangelical” position, some of the most influential voices of our time are Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright, the late Michael Spencer (iMonk), and Roger Olson.

You may know Olson from my book Beyond Evangelical, which he highly (and kindly) recommended.

I caught up with Roger Olson recently and interviewed him on the challenges that face evangelicalism today. Here’s the interview.

For those who aren’t familiar with you, tell us about your ministry and the topics that you are most passionate about.

Roger Olson: I teach historical theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University. I’m in my thirtieth year of teaching theology and previously taught it at Bethel College (now Bethel University) and (for two years) Oral Roberts University. I’m passionate about evangelical theology and Arminian theology—clearing up misconceptions about them and exploring what they really are. Both are widely misrepresented and misunderstood. My main area of interest and research, though, is modern/contemporary theology.

In my book, Beyond Evangelical, I quote you, Scot McKnight, and the late Michael Spencer quite a bit. There is no doubt that a growing number of evangelicals today are moving beyond the classical Left and Right categories. To your mind, what are the top 3 biggest obstacles that evangelicalism faces today with respect to how the world views us?[Continue Reading...]

My Next Co-Author & FAQ Questions

Last week I wrote a post entitled Co-Authoring: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. In the beginning of the article, I made this statement:

“I don’t know about you, but I’m wired for networking and co-laboring. I love team-work and prefer joint projects over flying solo. So co-writing suits my personality.”

On the heels of that remark, someone suggested that I ask my blog readers to answer the following:

Name a published author that you’d like to see me co-author a book with.

Even if your choice is a “long shot,” I’d still like to hear your answer to this question.

Also, don’t miss my Frequently Asked Questions page. Some of the questions I’ve addressed so far are:

*what is your advice on blogging, writing books, and getting published?

*has your recent shift of ministry-focus affected your view of your previous books on the church?

*I want to leave my church. What advice can you give me on how to do it?

*I’ve looked for an organic expression of the church like you describe in Reimagining Church, but I cannot find one near me. What do I do?

*what’s the difference between clergy salaries and receiving royalties for the work of authors, musicians, and artists?

And many more . . .

If you find this post helpful, you are free to ADD A LINK to it on your blog or website. But don’t copy and paste the post as this violates Google’s guidelines.

Join over 80,000 monthly readers and receive free blog updates. If you subscribe by Email, you will receive my eBook Rethinking the Will of God (Revised) and my Next Reformation Seminar as a free gift. By subscribing, you also won’t miss a post. If you want to start your own blog from scratch in less than 10 minutes, click here. And if you’re looking for a hosting or domain-name service, I highly recommend BlueHost.

Meet Me in 2013 PLUS a Special Workshop for Writers & Bloggers

One of the things I really enjoy in life is meeting my readers in person. This year I had the pleasure of meeting many of you in several of my speaking events and it was great to hang out.

Click here to ensure that you’re on my Events List to be notified about future events. Even if you filled out the form in the past, I recommend filling it out again. Our old list got corrupted.

I will be speaking at several cool conferences in 2013. So I hope to meet you at one of them.

If you’re a pastor or a conference host, and you’d like to book me for 2013, go to this page for instructions. Some of my most popular messages are on that page to sample.

Writers & Bloggers Workshop[Continue Reading...]

Do You Make These 4 Mistakes When Disagreeing With Someone?

The following post was written by Heather Goodman.

If you’re in a conversation with someone about some way of thinking you think they need to see from your perspective, the following statements are unhelpful and bad form:

1) “You can only understand what I’m saying by revelation.” (Gee, what are they supposed to do with THAT?)

2) “You need to go research a bit and then come back and talk to me.” (How do you know they haven’t researched this topic more than YOU and *still* see it differently than you do? Don’t make assumptions!)

3) “You need to stop thinking so much / get out of your head / stop being so intellectual about this.” (What that usually means is that you are weak at explaining your position, so you’d rather the person just swallow what you are trying to teach them without thinking much about it.)

4) “I used to think like you on that topic – but God set me free.” (Do you know how this sets up your own experience/perception as the authority and puts the other person beneath you as you are the expert and they are still in your prior “childish” state?)

See also . . .

So You Think You Disagree?

The Art of Being a Jerk Online

We Have Not So Learned Christ: On Internet Correspondence

The Anatomy of a Slanted Critique

An Important Insight from President Obama

Do you think Heather’s list is valid and can you add any other statements to it?

The Next Big Social Network

Many people are waiting for the next big social network to show up.

Facebook has been declining in popularity with their constant privacy changes as well as making members pay for a decent amount of people to see your updates. If you don’t pay to promote your status updates, only 10-12% of your friends see them.

Twitter is less effective on this front. Only about 2% of your Twitter followers see your tweets.

Google+ is horrible in the visibility-awareness department. Everyone is on it, but hardly anyone uses it. I’m in about 5,000 circles. But that and a dollar will buy me a Lotto ticket. I can count on one hand how many people see my updates.

Pinterest is effective for some, but ineffective for others. If there’s a way to send a personal message to someone on Pinterest (like you can do on Facebook), can you tell me how to do that?

Quora is ineffective as well, for the same reason.

For all of these reasons, many are looking for the next big social network. And they want to get in on it early when it launches.

Are you aware of such a network?

P.S. If you missed it, our Christmas special is still on. There are only 7 copies left of the collector’s item.