Archives For Story Telling

I’m not sure where I first heard this story. And I really can’t confirm the main characters. Though I remember Charles Spurgeon as the protagonist — without any Googleable proof, unfortunately.

But.

The apocryphal story goes like this:

Spurgeon was at a conference with many people of different denominations. One of those people was a man quite taken with the holiness movement.

Pitcher of Milk shadow

In fact, he professed to actually having achieved holiness. And he kept referring to this throughout the many days of the conference.

Finally, at breakfast on the last morning, Spurgeon took a full pitcher of milk and poured it over the holiness fellow’s head. The man screamed at Spurgeon, “You idiot, why would you do this to me!”

To which Spurgeon replied, “I was simply testing your theology, good sir.”

My memory of this story prompted by Mark Galli’s review of a book I doubt I will ever read.

____________________________________________________

Apocryphal — of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated

Dani on Couch Speech Bubble

Six years. Or perhaps that should be 42 years. At least from a dog’s perspective. With all that has happened in my life, the life of my family and our glocal existence – six years as a temporal description hardly does this passage of time justice.

Yet. In the world of Kronos, six years ago yesterday, this blog launched. (Yes this is belated – which fits with what was inferred previously about my state of mind.) We had moved to another city, five months prior (September 2004) − 2,072km from our Toronto home. (1,287.5 miles for my metric-challenged American friends.) Imbi and I had been offered the positions of Co-Directors of Communication at a mega-church and we had accepted. (We had been consulting with this church when we were enticed to move.)

I named the blog “achievable ends”. Partially a pragmatic alphabetical decision in the event that other blogs might decide to add it to their blog lists. As well, I honestly thought I’d be able to point readers at ends that were achievable. (So how did that work for you?)

By early 2005, I’d been following blogs for at least three years. People like Kathy Sierra and Doc Searls were Generous Web practitioners in blogdom. Anecdotal evidence suggested blogs were an effective way to communicate ideas in the glocal world of the interwebs. With the “achievable ends” foray into blogdom, I hoped to convince the senior leader we worked with that blogging would be a worthwhile endeavour for them. (And since I did most of the writing that appeared under that person’s byline, this blog was effectively a test-run, as it were.)

Six weeks after this blog began, we were no longer Co-Directors of anything at the church. In fact, we were informed that we were no longer welcome on the church property. (The blog played no role in that chief executive decision.)

And the next stage in our family’s life journey began.

We retraced the 2,072 kilometres back to Toronto. I was profoundly depressed – though I would not acknowledge that for a couple of years. The blog became my therapy as I began to question the church world we’d been a part of for too many years.

Bill balloon

As a result of this “church experience” Imbi and I had to restart our production business – after telling our clients less than a year before that we were making a dramatic change in our lives and going to work for a church.

Knowing the restart would take time, Imbi took advantage of available hours and began to work on her Masters in Theological Studies at the University of Toronto’s Wycliffe College. Her oft-mentioned documentary on Church Leadership for the 21st Century came out of her studies. (And it is not finished because of me – the editing load is huge – more on that in another post.)

The blog initially covered many things I was passionate about – media technology, production, leadership and yes, the church.

My two posts in the fall of ’05 and beginning of '06 on Killer Ideas vs Idea Killers will give you a sense of how my thoughts on leadership were developing. (I must note that much of the content of this blog is a direct result of conversations with Imbi – and the things we both read. Liam, Rylan and Kaili – the next-gen Kinnons – have also provoked much.)

In early 2006, my warped sense of humour was in evidence with a viral post I wrote, Microsoft Abandons PowerPoint. It was the direct result of a church service experience where PowerPoint assaulted the eyeballs of those gathered.

2006 was a year of theological change for me. Sixteen hours after returning home from a six week teaching trip to Kenya, Imbi and I were on our way to Boise, Idaho to provide production services for an Allelon Missional Church conference. In spite of having known Alan Roxburgh for 20 years, the “missional conversation” was not even on our radar. Pat Keifert, Craig Van Gelder, Mark Priddy (the first actual missional practitioner I ever met) and others (including Roxburgh, of course) changed that.

By that fall, I was working half-time with Allelon. And the focus of this humble corner of the pushed-pixel universe was firmly the church and it’s call to a mission-shaped reality.

One of the richest benefits of blogging has been the people I’ve met – both virtually and in 3D. Dave Fitch is one of these gems. His first book, The Great Giveaway further developed my changing theological understanding. We began to talk via our blogs and then I arranged to meet him (and interview him) when he was in Toronto in late March of 2007.

That interview turned into a four hour conversation about the Western church. And that conversation informed by others with bloggers like John Frye, Darryl Dash, Jamie Arpin-Ricci and Brent Toderash aka Brother Maynard, became the viral post, The People Formerly Known as the Congregation. It was a post that triggered many others. Many years later, it is still eliciting responses.

And that post is probably the most responsible for creating the group of friends known as the Missional Tribe 'Gators – Peggy, Linda, Sonja, Brad, Brent, Rick et moi. True friends for this journey. (And there are rumblings that we may launch a new MT. Stay tuned.)

Michael spencer

However, of all the fellow bloggers who have influenced me, the one who had the greatest impact was Michael Spencer - and it hurts to write “had” and “was”.

I can’t easily pinpoint when Michael and I became friends but I can tell you that that friendship had a profound impact on me. Yes, Michael’s links to a number of my posts drove much blog traffic to what has become kinnon.tv. But what I truly appreciated were our email conversations. When I called the iMonk my iPastor, I wasn’t kidding.

Michael’s creative output was staggering. His writing at the InternetMonk could and should fill many books. His prophetic voice of one calling out in the post-evangelical wilderness drove many people crazy – but was fresh cool water to those of us parched in the midst of the Western evangelical circus.

Michael loved to start conversations – and willingly engaged in them deeply. The rowdy virtual pub known as the Boar’s Head Tavern was evidence of Michael’s desire for and encouragement of great conversation.

One of the BHT fellows, Bob Myers wrote this recently,

…there’s just no one on the web or leading in Christian circles like our beloved Internet Monk, Michael Spencer. He was willing to look at all angles of questions, had a healthy doubt of all the stuff Christians like and flock to, and yet was generous and gracious and kind even to those who were not any of those things.

He also could stir up a hornet’s nest of response, and much of it very, very, constructive. And of course, in the midst of it, sometimes it made me lose my drink laughing, snorting it out of my nose right in the midst of serious theological banter.All from a Kentucky school teacher. God sure placed him in an unusual ministry to make such a splash on the internet.

Anyways, I miss him a lot, as I know everyone in here does. I’m glad he left behind great writings, but what we miss is him alive and stirring us all up, questioning stuff, passionately confronting us with honesty that came from taking his mask off and by doing so removing ours too.

I could not express the sense of loss any better than Bob.

Michael provoked good and important conversation. Listen to Michael in this clip from Drew Marshall’s show that includes Darryl Dash and me. He’s brilliant and funny. (And yes, I wish I’d spoken half as much – with Michael filling the thus provided space.) Go back and listen to Michael’s podcasts . (And no, I don’t’ share Michael’s love of baseball but all the other content is very, very good.)

I had lunch with Darryl Dash recently and he asked me whether Michael’s illness and death had directly impacted my writing. The answer was and is yes. As much as I can intellectually understand that in a fallen world, as a consequence of that fall, millions get sick and die. Emotionally I struggle with the reality that God neither healed Michael nor prevented the illness in the first place. (I do not believe that it was part of God’s plan from the beginning of time Michael would get sick and die at age 53.)

Blogging has not been anywhere near as enjoyable as it was with Michael’s thoughts and provocations.

But Michael’s writing still impacts me. In his book, Mere Churchianity, he writes this;

The Holy Spirit transforms individuals into Jesus-followers, but Jesus was explicit about the purpose of the church, which is to make disciples. Does that mean the church replaces the Holy Spirit? No, it means the church is a community that the Holy Spirit uses to bring individuals to mature Christlikeness and genuine Kingdom usefulness. The balance between an individual’s faith, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is vital and delicate. Once lost or distorted, it must be corrected, or a counterfeit Christian existence will grow in place of the real thing.

If you’ve read me in the last six months, you will see the influence of that statement. It resonates with what Chris Wright says in this interview clip from Imbi’s doc – paraphrased ‘before we worry about raising up leaders – we need to worry about making disciples.

So, on the day after this blog’s sixth birthday, what will be it’s future. I really don’t know.

Kablamm Get The Hell Out

I do know that I will continue to write as long as I have breath and can form a coherent thought. Some of what I write (and occasionally mash up in Photoshop) will offend some and make others laugh. (And then I will probably write something that will reverse the audience effects.) I will continue on the occasionally quixotic quest to convince those in places of positional authority that their primary role is to disciple. The consumer church will remain in my sites.

As I bring this much too long blogiversary historical post to a close, I’d like to thank the folk who have encouraged me to continue in what may be my role as a Christian gadfly (in Triple D’s words). I especially appreciate the encouragement from a recent email. Thank you, Mark B.

And if you've made it this far in the post, I apologize for it's length.

UPDATE: And we thought I was kidding. (Thanks to Jamie for the link.)

It was before sunrise on November the 1st. All Saints Day. A rather appropriate day for my birthday. At least, so I've always thought.

Mcdonalds-logo I was sitting in a McDonald's in a Northern Chicago 'burb. Dave Fitch had brought me there for a very early-morning birthday breakfast. It's where he spends many of his before-sunrise mornings. Working on his writing. Drinking McD's coffee. Chatting with a bunch a guys about hockey, and Max's need for new skates and asking "who has Bob's sports section."

He got up to chat with the guys while I was fiddling with my Sony PCM-M10 audio recorder – trying to get it ready so I could shoot a brief comment of Fitch talking about something or other missional. The camera was ready to go.

"Are you Brad Kinnon?"

I looked up to see this nicely dressed guy, in a stylishly long leather jacket, black turtle neck and black jeans. His aviator shades were in his hair. He was looking at me in a rather discomfiting manner.

"Ahh, actually it's Bill. Bill Kinnon."

"Right, right. You're that blogger guy, kinnon dot tv, right."

I'm sure I saw a microexpression of disgust and then anger momentarily animate his smiling face. But perhaps I've read too much Paul Ekman or watched too many episodes of Lie to Me.

He and his McDonald's coffee sat down across from me, uninvited, in Dave's seat.

Dave could be heard in the near distance talking about the Blackhawks' defeat of the Leafs and how, if Hamilton had a team, perhaps they'd be Stanley Cup contenders. And if the Hamilton Ti-Cats made the Canadian Football League playoffs, he was going to spend Thanksgiving in Canada watching the Grey Cup.

Thinking this could be interesting (leather-coat guy, rather than Fitch), I hit record on the little Sony. What follows is a transcription of sorts.

He didn't offer his hand as he said, "I'm L.S Clivenot. But people call me Jim. I'm the Creative Visioncaster and Media Guru of Bestis MegaChurch, Evah, Indianna."

"Bestis MegaChurch?!"

"I'm surprised you don't know us. We're one of the biggest MegaChurchs in Indianna. Evah's a suburb of Gary. We're on Bestis Street."

"I'm a Canadian. Perhaps I'm not as tuned into the latest and greatest megachurches."

"Well, that would seem obvious from the few times I've read your blog." There was that disgust microexpression again. "You just don't seem to get the powerful impact megachurchs have on this great nation of ours. "

He was right about that. "Well, I…"

But this was a monologue, not a dialogue.

"We've just opened our new 100 million dollar facility. It will blow your mind. We've taken megachurch design to a whole new level. I was here in Chi-town this weekend bragg…ahh, telling a bunch of megachurch creatives about it."

"Yes, well…" At least I tried to interact.

"We didn't waste money on a better-than-Broadway stage. Too smart, too cutting edge for that. We put in a state-of-the-art 3D projection system and huge screen. Every one of our 5,000 reclining seats has a perfect 3D view of that screen."

"Wow…"

"Better than 'Wow', man. We built one of the finest soundstages ever – right behind the huge screen. With multiple studios, small green-screen ones, a big one for major productions. All shot with 3D cameras. Like I said. It will blow your mind."

"Gee…"

"Ever seat has it's own case with the finest 3D ground-optics glasses in those cases. Of course, we have RFID tags on each pair. Anyone tries to steal 'em and the alarms go off."

"That sounds kind of…"

"…smart. You're right. And the really cool thing is we got one of the top movie trailer voice-over guys to do our every-service opening. [He became Mr. Voice-over Guy right in front of me.] 'WELCOME TO BESTIS MEGACHURCH, EVAH, INDIANNA. PLEASE PUT ON YOUR 3D GLASSES FOR THE BESTIS EXPERIENCE.' And then he goes on to tell them to put the glasses back in the case when the experience ends."

"Don't people…"

"..love it. Do they ever. When the pastor picks up his bible at the beginning of the service and shakes it at them, they almost all duck. Of course, he only picks up the Bible once. We wouldn't want to scare people too much, now would we."

"You mean the Pastor preaches from a soundstage?"

"Of course. Why wouldn't he? We can put him in any environment he wants. Last week he preached from the surface of Jupiter. Out of this world, man! And then, at the end of every service, the Pastor walks out in front of the screen to wrap things up. Oh. And he reminds people to put their 3D glasses back in the cases."

"Right, but…"

"No buts, man. Just butts in every chair. And the cool thing, it's gonna make satellite churches really easy to setup. And if the Pastor only wants to do one service… we have three… we just playback a pre-record. As long as he still comes out from behind the curtain, ahh, the screen – no one knows it wasn't live."

"No one…"

"And you won't believe our Holiday Season Event this year. Me and my team have created a whole new Narnia story. We call it, Narnia & the Evil Penguins."

"NARNIA & THE EVIL PENGUINS!??"

"With Voyage of the Dawntreader coming out, we figured what better way to capitalize on it and get people into our Holiday Season Events. We've set it in the Chicago Zoo. That's the biggest and best zoo around. It's kind of the story of Aslan's birth – he's born the King of the Zoos. His mother is Mari, the Lioness. The Joseph part is played by Tony the Tiger. A little corporate sponsorship to defray some of the costs, you know."

"But what about Lewis' storytelling…"

"Yah, right. I saw an illegal torrent of Dawntreader, man. Eustace is the hero. He's the one who saves everybody in the end. A little creative license never hurt anyone."

"You've got to be…"

"…excited. You bet. It's going to be great. The penguins are lead by Harrad, the Warrior Penguin. He thinks he's the King of the Zoos. The penguins scheme to kill baby Aslan after they hear of his birth from the three magicians. We're using a flame-eater, a sword-swallower and a third guy dressed up as a clown."

"Penguins?" I was still in shock.

"It's great. We've even worked in Lyle Lovett's Penguins song. It'll be a real crowd pleaser. Harrad's wife sings it. She's a chinchilla in this story. And then we have this kids' choir who are supposedly touring the zoo when the Angel Clarence shows up and does that whole 'behold' thing. The kids go running to the Lion cage."

"Cage?"

"It's a zoo, man. But trust me, it all makes sense. So. When the kids get to the cage, Mari stands and begins to sing the perfect song."

"And let me guess, the perfect song is…"

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It's so beautiful man. Mari is played by this gorgeous Mezzo-Soprano, who looks fabulous in lion-skin."

"Somewhere…?"

"The kids choir joins her on Somewhere and it'll send chills up your spine. And while they're all singing – Warrior Penguin King Harrad and his Penguin horde attack. What's so cool is we got that dwar…ahh, little guy who was in Prince Caspian to play Harrad, Peter Dinklage."

"He was great in The Station Agent. But how could you possibly afford him for your production?" I finally got two sentences in, back to back.

"We flew him in for a day. On the wideshots you can't tell it isn't him. And we go to playback for his closeups. You could never do this with a stage production. Trust me."

I didn't know what to interject as he continued, "…so, the Penguin horde is on the attack but as they approach they hear Mari's song."

"Another song? After Somewhere?"

"No, no. She's still singing Somewhere. It's a powerful tune. And it touches Harrad's heart. He realizes the evil of his ways. When I wrote his monologue, it even made me cry, man."

"I'm sure I'd cry, as well." He couldn't read my microexpression as he stared right through me, picturing his wondrous prose.

"And the ending is fabulous. Baby Aslan morphs into this full grown lion. He grabs a guitar and leads the entire cast in that killer Sting song, If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free. He even hoists Harrad onto his shoulders at one point. We had a few tech challenges their, I'm telling you."

"But, the cage…"

"Oh, right. When Aslan morphs to full grown, the cage opens magically. It's part of the whole 'goodness frees you' theme of the Holiday Event. We get the Angel Clarence to explain that at one point."

"And the whole production stage piece ends with Aslan's amazing guitar solo as the entire cast comes out in front of the screen and leads the audience in the closing song."

"Let me guess. Silent Night, right?"

"Man, you really are stuck in a traditional mindset, aren't you. It's no wonder you don't get megachurches. Of course not."

"The Pastor's a real Train fan. And he plays the ukelele. I rewrote the lyrics to Hey, Soul Sister. Called it Hey, Soul Lover. Absolutely Killer! Brings the house down. Guaranteed. [And he began to sing] Hey, Soul Lover, Ain't that Aslan's mother on the…"

At that very point Fitch reappeared at the table, further proving there is a God. Fitch's expression wasn't micro. He wanted his seat back.

Clivenot stopped singing as he looked up at Fitch. He immediately got Dave's look after ignoring all of mine. "I guess I'm in your seat. Sorry, man. Hey. Aren't you Jarred Fitch. I heard that Moody Radio thing you did with Scot McKnight on…"

But Fitch cut him off. In his best, unintended Jack Nicholson impersonation, "I'm really sorry, man. My name's not Jarred and I've got a lot of work to do here."

"At McDonald's?" Clivenot responded. Fitch just looked at him and that was enough to send Clivenot on his way.

He looked back over his shoulder, as he headed for the door. "Hey, Brad, " he called loudly, "I don't want to read about this conversation on your blog, ok."

 

Show and Tell: Part Two

kinnon —  September 18, 2010 — 9 Comments

This TED Video does a better job of explaining what I was attempting to say in the previous post. Please take the 18 minutes to watch it – it's more than worth that amount of time. (In my never humble but accurate opinion, of course.)


The presentation software he uses for his 18 minutes is from Prezi. Much more effective than PowerPoint.

Show and Tell

kinnon —  September 16, 2010 — 4 Comments

As hard as it may be to believe, your humble servant majored in writing (and radio) “back in the day.” I’ve taken numerous writing courses since. Perhaps one day their impact will magically appear in my prose – I wouldn’t hold my breath, however.

One of the key writing truths drummed into me, whether by Dr. Bob Gardner @ Ryerson, Roy Williams, Chris Maddock or Jeff Sexton @ Wizard Academy, or in books like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is “Show, don’t tell.”

I occasionally think of this as I read the Scriptures – there’s a lot more showing than telling (especially in the New Testament.) I think of how John’s Gospel ends, (in Peterson’s paraphrase),

There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books.

Why don’t we have more of what Jesus did written down? We would then be able to more easily practise an “if, then” Christianity; if X happens, then do Y. Systematic Theology would have been sooooo much easier.

Instead, the New Testament spends a lot of time showing us the Gospel in action – telling us stories of the Kingdom of God being at hand. Yes, we are “told” lots of thing – there is instruction – but not enough to answer all the questions Christians ask – which (I believe) is why Jesus said this,

“I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said.”

What point am I attempting to make (feebly or otherwise)?

IF-THEN.jpg

We spend far too much time promoting an IF/THEN version of Christianity. The latest gurus, whether mega, missional, missional-mega, mega-missional, young, old, restless or otherwise offer us keys to unlock the secrets of “growing the church/solving the world’s problems.”

Listen to me. IF you’d just do this, THEN it would work out the way Jesus wants it to, eh!

It’s all TELL with very little SHOW.

When my kids were little (rather than the adults they are today) they used to ask me to “tell them a story.” I didn’t begin with; “the protagonist in this story is the Little Lion. The antagonist is the Littler Lion. The Littlest Lion is the 3rd gravitating body – providing intrigue and delight. The purpose of this story is…”

I told them stories about the Little Lion, his brother, the Littler Lion and their sister, the Littlest Lion. (I was never going to be an award-winning children’s author.) These stories were more or less about them – about adventures they’d had – trying to make sense of their world for them – or adventures they might have – exciting them about what might be.

I’ve said it here too many times, but we are wired for stories. (I love this line from Jeff Jarvis: “Gore hits the same points with different words again and again, not knowing which will stick so he keeps throwing. Bono, instead, tells a story.”)

Please. Tell me a story about how God is moving in your midst. Allow the Holy Spirit to show me His Truth and what He wants me to see in the midst of your story.

And.

If you don’t have a real story to tell – simply prognostications based on your theories – please sit down and make room for the story tellers. We all might learn something.

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Aside: Some of this is a result of the struggles I’m having in the editing of Imbi’s Documentary on Church Leadership for the 21st Century – the need to balance theory and practice. (Imbi conducted and I shot over 40 hours of interviews – while shooting many more hours of B-roll.) I need to be careful not to reject the prophetic because it sounds like theory – but also, not to accept that which claims to be prophetic when the “prophet” stands above and apart.

NeitherMissionalNorAttractionalSign.jpg

The cross jumps right out at you, doesn’t it. Powerful!

I must confess. I laughed out loud when I stumbled across this sign yesterday. I even mentioned it to some Missional Tribe elders with whom I was chatting shortly thereafter.

Canada’s famous humourist, Stephen Leacock would have had a field day with it.

He won’t be commenting anytime soon, unfortunately.

He’s buried in that church’s cemetery. (I wonder if he was a legal rights holder.)

Gore hits the same points with different words again and again, not knowing which will stick so he keeps throwing. Bono, instead, tells a story. [link]

Stories and Truth

kinnon —  January 30, 2008 — Leave a comment

Sean Olaoire via Doc Searls

Some truths are so deep that only stories can tell them

Papa Al and Brother Maynard

kinnon —  October 20, 2007 — 1 Comment

AlandbromaynA number of us drove back together in two cars from Seabeck to Vancouver, BC. Bob Roxburgh convinced us to stop briefly at a Mall just before the Canadian border.

I snapped these shots with my phone of Brother Maynard and Al Roxburgh engaged in deep theological conversations…or they were discussing what we were going to have for dinner – I’m not sure which. (We did have a fabulous pasta dish later that evening – that Alan cooked for the lot of us.)

Sara Jane Walker named it Papa Al and Brother Maynard.

Nothing Resolves

kinnon —  August 28, 2007 — Leave a comment

Brant Hansen writes Unresolved Chicken Soup for the Soul. Read it. Please.