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Forgotten Missional Ways 2

posted by xscot mcknight

Last week we began looking at Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways. This week we want to look at chp 1. Alan Hirsch is a practitioner (not simply an “armchair theologian”) of missional churches; he has been involved in revitalizing, re-envisioning, failing, and re-focusing local churches in Melbourne Australia. Chp 1 is his story — fascinating.
Eventually this story will come down to learning how to build a church in which there is at least 80% participation. Most churches have a 10:90 ratio or maybe a 20:80 ratio of participants and spectators. The question we need to consider is this: What percentage of Christians who attend our churches actually participate? How big does a church become when it becomes functionally non-participative? (All of this hinges on the meaning of “participate”.)
Alan and Deb Hirsch were involved in revitalizing a church in South Melbourne and it happened — with some rough and tumble radical types — ex-druggies, prostitutes, gay and lesbian culture. Some began following Jesus and the church grew fast and radically. Eventually they opted for a restaurant face to their “church” and, while they learned a lot, it failed. They came to two conclusions: (1) they learned how to build a 10:90 or 20:80 modern church but (2) wanted instead to participate in an ecclesia (church) that was highly participatory and missional.
The former appeals to about 35% of the culture (in USA) and about 17% in Oz. Church growth principles shape the 20:80 model. Here are its strategies:
1. Expand the building for growth and redesign.
2. Ensure excellent preaching that is relevant.
3. Develop an inspiring worship service with a good band and positive leaders.
4. Good parking.
5. Ensure excellent programs for kids.
6. Develop cell groups rooted in a Christian educational model.
7. Make sure next week is better than last week.
The ecclesia model of Hirsch focuses on making missional disciples. Here are the factors:
1. A covenanted community
2. Centered on Jesus Christ (not just “God”).
3. Worship: offering our lives back to God through Jesus.
4. Discipleship: following Jesus and becoming increasingly like him.
5. Mission: extending the mission of God through the activities of the covenanted community.
The ecclesia model here found that its statement had to be core practices that brought into living reality its core values (beliefs, doctrines). They arrived at this “naughty” acronym:
T: Together we follow — community focused.
E: Engage Scripture — integrating Bible into life.
M: Mission — missional activities bring cohesion.
P: Passion for Jesus — worship and prayer.
T: Transformation — character development and accountability.



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Tom Smith

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:06 am


I’m reading this from Johannesburg South Africa and it’s so refreshing to see how God is leading a global revolution back to the basics. Thanks for posting this!



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Sam Carr

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:10 am


A fascinating and clear contrast between the more traditional church growth model and the much more biblical missional approach.
Scott, what do you think of the the geometric model of discipleship such as was pioneered by parachurch orgs like that Navs? Being less structured and self propagating can be a great thing for growing more and better ‘followers of Jesus’



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Ted Gossard

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:44 am


Scot, I like this. I’m not fond of the first list. Though that can be all too true in our churches. Somehow, if we’re in such a church, we need to incorporate that second list, to make it a participatory reality. Relationships are so important here, and Jesus in the middle of all that, to be sure.



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Ted Gossard

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:46 am


Also the acronym is great. Does seem like it covers the needed basics well. In a way to remember, I guess.



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Tom Smith

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:48 am


Four years ago my wife and I embarked with some friends on the journey of moving from the first to the second list. In the process God created a community where we’re recovering some of our roots. Thanks for this series of posts! It’s amazing how God is moving internationally on these issues. We’re experiencing this in Johannesburg, South Africa.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:16 am


Sam,
I don’t know the geometric model, but your description of it sounds emerging.



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paul

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:53 am


i like the second list, but i still have a question. the first list seems so specific (program oriented), but the second still more vague (more philosophical/theoretical).
my church has a great set of values (like the 2nd & 3rd lists) but still worships like many churches in the 1st list.
i guess i’m wondering, how did this second & third list play out in the life of the church in such a way that they changed the actual forms found in the first list?



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Kate Johnson

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:21 am


Back to Basics… I think that says it.
We are at a first “church list”, yet long for a second church list. We have been trying to incorporate some of the second, but are met with resistance. The answer we got when we met with the leadership was, “we do [the first] well and that is our gifting. We think we should stay with what we do well.” sigh…. Then what do we do when this is the answer? It is disheartening to say the least….
And I believe the reason we (and many others) have a 20:80 church is because we take the first list view. The second list almost demands that we become involved and would encourage, rather than discourage, people to get involved where their heart is and what they are called to do. I think that the hierarchal set up perpetrates a place where people feel less impotent and therefore less “needed” to be involved. Jesus encouraged all He healed to join Him in His ministry, not sit on the side lines. Isn’t this what our approach should be??? If my heart breaks, I’m sure His does.



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Linda Mortensen

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:35 am


I love the unspoken assumption in the second model (and “naughty” acronym!) that a lengthy sermon is not a necessary element in discipleship and worship. It gives room for practical learning that might “stick” longer than a long sermon. No offense intended to those of you who preach sermons. Although they have their place, many of us would recognize that unrestricted (two-way) communication is often a more effective teaching tool than a restricted, one-way form of communication. I think this is why I need to have a conversation about a book to retain information and apply it well. It is also possible to do this with a sermon. I’ve seen it in a couple of churches, and it works beautifully!



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Linda Mortensen

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:56 am


Kate,
I just read your post. It is a difficult thing to be in such a situation, and I believe I understand your sadness.
My husband and I went through the very situation you describe. While we wished our church well and knew that they were still performing a valuable function within the body of Christ, we concluded after much thought, prayer, and discussion that if change ever came, it would come too slowly for us. We left and eventually planted a church with some other families that would become the second list described in the post above. We are still in our toddler years as a church, but it is heartening to see people feel the freedom to say, “This is how I can serve Jesus.” We put them to work almost immediately – sometimes even before they profess faith in Jesus.
I hope your church situation will work itself out soon. It is hard to wait.



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Scott Dollar

posted January 30, 2007 at 10:06 am


Scot,
I just recently found your blog. I like what I see and appreciate your work that have put into this.
Paul,
My personal opinion on how it is lived out is that it can be lived out in various ways. It is vague, so it allows each local body of Christ to determine the direction that God is leading them in expressing their faith Corporately. Ultimatley the question may be our we bound by our traditional forms or at this point in time does God have us in a traditional form of worship?
Another question may be: What is the main tool we use for outrach: Is the worship service considered the best opportuntiy (ie invite people to come and hear)? or is our main focus of outreach outside the walls of the church as we build relationships, build community and live out Christ’s love to the people around us?



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Bob Postiff

posted January 30, 2007 at 10:38 am


The first list is like a corporation: Money, strong central leadership, sellable goods,clear plan,performance pressure on the top person,measurable results,predictable. Pay a tihle and receive a product.The second list allows for much creativity,failure,confusion, threat of heresy, dysfunctional realationships,unpredictable and the fear of the unknown. I default towards the first, but desire the second.



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Stephen Miracle

posted January 30, 2007 at 10:44 am


I have been reading clips of this book around the blogosphere and I am really liking it. I just don’t know if its right to completely disregard the “church growth model”. Excellence and design of the building, preaching and worship should always be considered. Maybe we need a list that doesn’t choose between one or an either, but a good and practical one that integrates them both.



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Julie Clawson

posted January 30, 2007 at 10:59 am


I’m with Paul #8 – the first list is so specific and in many ways easy. The second is just a list of ideas with no concrete methods. And yes, I know that’s kinda the point – we all see how it works out in our individual communities, but its really easy to quote rhetoric and have to plan for how to put it into action.
Its interesting though. We have a small church with a large participation percentage and encourage people to use their gifts in missional ways. So while a lot of people are involved, the basics (set-up, child care) often get ignored or are left to one or two people. We need to find a balance so that the fun dreamy missional stuff and the everyday practical stuff are both seen as part of what it means to be the church.



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Jay Lewis

posted January 30, 2007 at 11:03 am


My wife and I launched a new church almost 3 years ago with the express purpose to move from list 1 to list 2. Sounds simple, but we have had difficulty at times resisting the default mode returnng to a more institutional church. Yes the “methods” are a bit vague, but it is our experience that a truly missional church is organic in its progression through life in community. We (elders) have to meet sometimes to simply remind ourselves of who we are, and communicate the vision continually to the church. We do have a very high participation ratio by design. It is not easy, but the reward is nothing short of heaven!



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Jay Lewis

posted January 30, 2007 at 11:07 am


Julie #15,
When you find the answer, share it with all of us!



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Beyond Words

posted January 30, 2007 at 11:55 am


I’m struck by #2 and #3 on the second list. In fact, I wrote yesterday that in some gatherings, people might never figure out we’re Christians because we never mention Jesus. My theory is that we’ve forgotten the narrative scope of Scripture and compartmentalized our theology so we don’t know how to center on “‘Jesus Christ (not just ‘God’)” and offer our lives back to God through Jesus.
I would love to see more conversation about this.



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kent

posted January 30, 2007 at 12:06 pm


To take a church form list #1, which they are not always doing so well, and try to lead them to list #2 will take patience, prayer and persistence. We live in consumer culture and that will spill over into the church. It may take multiple attempts and sacrifcies of leaders, as in invited to go away, before the change is sucessful. As a leader of such a church there is a hesitancy because sacrifice such as this is no longer theoretical but immediately present and real.



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bob smietana

posted January 30, 2007 at 12:16 pm


Scott,
Is the first list a little too simplistic? Maybe the 20% who do the work in an 20-80 model are the only ones with something to offer at that point in their life. Just holding life together these days is not always easy–and below the surface, people who look they have their lives all together are one step away from falling apart. Hirsch has good ideas, but does this have to be an either/or model–defined by what the church is not?



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paul

posted January 30, 2007 at 12:32 pm


to kinda rephrase my question (#8), i would say this…
I know that the second list gives more freedom and flexibility. But i’m curious, as a church adopts the values in the second list certain practices are developed that help us achieve those values. My church practices are very much like the 1st list, yet they believe that their values are like second list (i think they would even affirm the acronym as something we do, yet we are very much a low participational church)
I still feel that the acronym is helpful, but still too vague. I’m wondering what are some of the practices that came from the second list values that allowed for more participation in worship. i’m not looking for a perfect model to follow, just some practical ideas and practices that would help me to communicate how values in the second list could be lead to totally different practices… especially in a large group setting??



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samlcarr

posted January 30, 2007 at 12:51 pm


Scot, #6
The Navigators developed the idea of discipling one-on-one in the 70s and the idea was taken up by others, notably Worldwide Discipleship Association (With Christ in the School of Disciple Building), and by the Pierces of Cincinnati who have set up a scholarship programme at Gordon Conwell to promote the biblical model.
The idea is basically that more mature Christians mentor younger Christians in kingdom lifestyle and evangelism. The concept is deceptively simple, 1 dicsciples one, who in turn disciples another and one ends up with sustained growth in numbers (1-2-4-8-16…) as well as growing maturity in Christ. the key text is 2Tim 2:2.



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rick

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:26 pm


Bob #22 brings up a good point: it is difficult to have the time and energy to fully participate. In addition, perhaps some of the 80% is putting some of that time and energy into “being the church” in the community, rather into the formal church organization.
The “missional” church (list #2) is much more appealing than the “attractional” church (list #1), but at certain stages of life #1 seems more practical. It is certainly unrealistic to expect many people to be able to do both.



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j-dubb

posted January 30, 2007 at 2:52 pm


This is such a great conversation and one that needs to be had in more congregations! I think I am going to get this book.
My church could be the poster child for the first list, yet many of the staff are feeling restless doing ministry in the box. We have a much higher ratio than the 20/80, which we thank God for. The problem I see is that we have so many great volunteers doing some great things, but spending so much time AT THE CHURCH that they dont have time to be the body of Christ in their communities.
A wise man once said that when Christ comes to town, the community should be changed. Since the body of Christ are the people that make up the body, when a Christian family moves into a new community, that community SHOULD BE TRANSFORMED.
I recently heard someone AFFIRM the 20/80 ratio of ministry division in the church as a good thing. He said that the 80 are freed to be the body of Christ outside the church.
This makes a lot of sense to me…The only problem is getting the 80% to actually care for people in their communities.



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samlcarr

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:34 pm


It needs to be said that the model is not everything. The second model may look more missional but the proof will be in the pudding and whatever model is being applied, even tho it may look unwieldy, can be powerfully missional if the individuals in that community decide to make it so. Let’s give the Holy Spirit some credit! As has been pointed out, a lot depends on what individuals and families are doing on their own in their own niches in society.
It is very important to also realise that the idea that we have to ‘come to the building’ to be the church is not the NT definition of eklesia and is not equivalent to being about our Father’s business.



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Jim Martin

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:36 pm


Sounds like an interesting read. I really like the second list more than the first. The first feels pragmatic. The second feel more theological.
I would be interested to learn more about their work. Do they have any more experiences of revitilizing churches like this in Melbourne?



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Linda Mortensen

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:46 pm


rick #23 and j-dubb #24,
I assume you are referring specifically to the neighborhood communities in which people live. Is this correct? I wonder how many churches are truly invested in the neighborhoods directly around their church. Also, I wonder about the percentage of people driving in from other communities/neighborhoods to go to church and how it relates to the number of people connected to a church who live in the church’s neighborhood. Anyone know anything about this?



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Jason

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:57 pm


Although I primarily agree with the second list, I have a tough time with the first list. I just don’t know if that is true in a majority of traditional churches. How is it that when a traditional churches considers parking it is seen as a diversion away from mission, but when a “missional” church thinks about it is seen in a totally altruistic light? It seems cynical toward the traditional church. 1. Expand the building for growth and redesign.
Do we house churches not want teaching that is good and relevant?
Do we not want worship that inspires us? Do we not want leaders who are positive and not sarcastic and cynical?
Do we not want to provide an environment that would be conducive to the spiritual vitality of kids/the whole family?
Do we not want to construct groups that share information?
Do we not want to move further in our faith and be “better than last week?”
I’m just quite hesitant to confidently write down the mental and spiritual motives of churches in the US? WHo is to say that most believers in most churches aren’t desirous of the same things as we are in house church?
7. Make sure next week is better than last week.



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Erika Haub

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:38 pm


Linda #27:
I would love to hear more discussion of this topic as well. I am part of a church-planting team in South Central, L.A. and we found that while there are a ton of churches in the neighborhood, maybe one or two of them actually have people from the community who participate. The majority of them are commuter churches–I guess as people have fled this part of the city, many have retained their church connections.
Our church has operated on a parish model where all of our members are people from the immediate community. Of course anyone is welcome to worship with us, but for those who wish to become members, living in the community is required. Two reasons: we can’t honestly see how the kind of life together we are called to share could happen as commuters in each other’s lives; we want our church to impact this very specific community.
One story of why this matters: we worked a few years back on closing a trouble liquor store in our community (I won’t go into the horrors of what this business was doing and allowing, but let’s just say they were actually selling the little balloons drug dealers use to conceal crack). When it came time to testify before the city council, there was actually a pastor from one of the neghborhood churches there to testify IN FAVOR of this store owner. Why? He didn’t live here. He had no idea what was going on. His kids didn’t have to walk by prostitutes on their way to school. We won, but I will never forget hearing that man testify and realizing how important geography is.



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Rick

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:33 pm


Linda #27-
Yes, I was referring to local communities. The book The Suburban Christian by A. Hsu deals with the church commute issue to a degree, and the problems it creates.



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LandonSandy

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:17 pm


You have the people that want exciting programs and worship experiences. the “What can we get from this church?” person. For them participating is as easy as enjoying a weekly concert and conference.
But I would think that “ecclesia” participation means being invested in the collective spiritual life of the church, looking to give into the collective more than you take out. This type of participation is more than most congregants and even pastors are willing to do. Which might mean that the churches we consider “80/20″ might be significantly less.



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Tom Hackelman

posted January 30, 2007 at 7:29 pm


Scott,
I’ve been reading this book as well and his commentary on the 20/80 concept in the church hit a nerve. Perhaps it’s because I, too, have been wrestling with this same thing. Having spent many years in the business community, I know that the Paretto Principle of 80/20 applies virtually everywhere. But is there a way to challenge the principle from a spiritual perspective — to challenge, motivate, and encourage people to move from being part of the 80% who are spectators to 80% or better of involvement.
I believe Allen is on to something with his TEMPT acronym. We encourage our church to invest themselves in worship, small groups, and service. The missing component that we’ve detected is intentional discipleship. This is an area that, while discipleship is something we all profess, is in actuality difficult to get the typical Christian to embrace. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. But to see true life change and to see people go from spectator to participant, we must challenge their willingness to truly embrace the way of the Master.
I look forward to reading the rest of the book and seeing Allen’s prescription for this.
Thanks for sharing!



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Linda Mortensen

posted January 30, 2007 at 10:09 pm


Erika #29 – I admire what you’re doing. Our church plant is urban and has many people from the surrounding neighborhood involved, but most of the church planters are from 15 minutes away. We have wrestled with this issue.
Rick #30, thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll check it out.



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Matt Glover

posted January 31, 2007 at 1:47 am


So much to say on this…so little space!
But on the 20:80 ratio thing, I htink we need to be a bit more clear about what we’re describing. For instance, in my community, if you count the number of people that are involved in the home maintenance ministry, you’d be lucky to get about 5%. But if you count the number of people that are involved in something, you’d be pushing 80% easily. (FYI we’re a mix between and ermeging and traditional church – whatever that is)
My guess is that the figures above are based on worship services. It woould be good if that could be clarified.
Anyway, I’m encouraged to see more of the disciplines appearing in Hirsch’s writings now. The earlier stuff was all ‘do’ with little ‘be’ and seemed to leave out God altogether. Having said that, I am privileged to know Al and Deb and appreciate the journey thay are on and think we’re all fortunate that they are so prepared to go out on a limb and share it with all of us.



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Bob

posted January 31, 2007 at 11:46 am


With all due respect, I’m not so sure Mr Hirsch is on to anything new here. The two lists he comes up with are not choices between two alternatives. In fact, they don’t even describe the same thing.
One describes the gathered church (event and location based) and the other describes the living church (life/community based). Both of these things are going on at ALL CHURCHES.
It’s just that the people who are invested in the gathered church have no control over the activity of the living church so they think it isn’t happening. Worse yet, all those people out there living their faith in the living church aren’t being affirmed or encouraged by the gathered church. They walk into gathered church and are told they need to do more to support the activities under control of their pastors/leaders. They are never reassured that the simple witness of their life is the most important thing. What is preached from the pulpit isn’t “love you neighbor”, it is “love your church” (serve here, give here, bring others here, etc.).
It isn’t a matter of turning a “first list” church into a “second list” church. It is a matter of the “first list” church recognizing and affirming the already present activity of the “second list” church.



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len

posted January 31, 2007 at 1:29 pm


Paul,
One of the points Alan makes in the same section is your point. When they decided that mission and not ministry would be their center it led them to three concrete steps: 1. the basic ekklesial unit became much smaller. Cells became the fundamental churching unit. 2.They did not develop a philosophy of ministry, but rather a covenant and core practices. This last point is really, really central. Alan writes,
“Behind this thinking was the belief that when we talk about core values, the appeal is to the head. I have yet to see a set of core values in any church’s philosophy that I cannot agree with.. they are motherhood statements in confessional communities.” (46)
The wisdom that Hirsch and others recognized was that in a pluralistic, fragmented, individualistic and consumer oriented culture, apart from a covenant and communal practices, we remain separate stones and are never built into a living temple. We pick and choose our practices, our commitments, and what we allow to shape our world. Moreoever, “values” remain merely someone else’s ideas, opinion or interpretation of Christian living.



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len

posted January 31, 2007 at 1:31 pm


j-dubb, “I recently heard someone AFFIRM the 20/80 ratio of ministry division in the church as a good thing. He said that the 80 are freed to be the body of Christ outside the church.” Right, its a great theory, but it neglects the reality that “the medium is the message.” We train people to be passive consumers, then we expect them to actively live their faith and see themselves as ministers at large. But we have already trained them that only a few are qualified, and our actions speak louder than our stated values.



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j-dubb

posted January 31, 2007 at 2:39 pm


Len #37
I think you are correct. How we do church inherently communicates something different than what we are trying to communicate verbally.
I attend a large church (for Canadian standards) of 1500, and I am starting to be less and less convinced of the large church model. So many people COMING to us that they are LEAVING the people they live life with. I realize that God uses big churches, but is it the best case scenario.
We have a massive budget that goes toward extensive staffing, costs surrounding building upkeep, technology costs… In all of the “big-ness” something seems lost. Is it ever alright that we spend $35 000 on a new sound system when there are hungry people even within our own congregation?
What does it mean to be the Church?



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Scot McKnight

posted January 31, 2007 at 2:44 pm


J-Dubb,
Be careful, you’ll be emerging next. Sitting somewhere with Br Maynard and Jamie and Len plotting how to turn a neighborhood upside down for kingdom.



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alan hirsch

posted February 1, 2007 at 12:15 am


Scot, Sorry for not entering the discussion earlier. I have been so busy (in LA actually) I havenot had time to even look at the blogs. Seems like I have missed most of the discussion. Thanks again for tracking with me on this.
Every blessing



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