Monday, December 31, 2007

Resisting Enigmatic Christianity

In my preparations for starting this new church I have been in almost-constant conversations with people. The biggest question I have been asking is, "What puzzles you about today's Christianity?"

One of the recurring themes has been the way that Christians seem to want to make extensive lists about what it means to be Christian (i.e. Republican, anglo, heterosexual, fill-in-your-favorite-item-on-the-list and you know the list I'm talking about). At first when I heard this I was very defensive... angry even. I thought, that's just because the rest of you are wrong & we're right and you just can't handle the truth! Over time I am beginning to see that my approach was exactly what they are talking about.

Even when it comes to issues that the Scripture seems to address clearly, there is a temptation to beat people up with those things. I certainly don't have it all together - on any level. So, I am learning that it is the approach to those discussions that matters. Pre-Christian people are even willing (in most cases) to accept the fact that I may not share their opinion if I am willing to listen to their thoughts and not crucify them for not seeing things the way I may see them.

In the end I am beginning to see that this stance gives credence to the Gospel. It reflects more accurately the spirit of Jesus and it affords me an opportunity to help people understand things that may not make sense to them.

I remember an old preacher used to say... "The Gospel really isn't the good news if it doesn't reach those who need it." While he was talking about world missions to unreached people groups, I think the same could be said of our sometimes puzzling approaches to discussions on topics that we identify as signposts of our Christianity.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Bit Further South

First I should admit that I am (as are most men) the biggest baby when it comes to pain. Any physical discomfort is almost immediately translated as dire affliction. Our wives endure far more in bringing children into the world.

So I have this lower back thing... now I feel like one of the people I used to overhear in my grandmother's apartment complex. But seriously, what is my deal? I'm not even 40 years old and I get these crippling days where all I want to do is lay on the floor.

In this condition I hear God telling me too many things to write. One of them is that I need to toughen up a bit. Another whisper is that I need to take better care of this shell before it becomes a carcass. And though this pain is real and really frustrating, the best takeaway is that I can learn to deal with my microscopic hurt by reaching out to someone surrounded by their own immense distress.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Powerful & Effective Prayers

I have recently been re-reminded of that profound verse in James 5:16 ...the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. That little phrase continues to have more intense meaning to me as the years proceed.

Most recently I have been reminded of the importance of prayer as my family and I face this enormous task that God is calling us to... starting a new church.

Over the years I have received many (genuine) pleas for support from people in various endeavors. Because of my cynical side I always feel like when they are asking for financial and/or prayer they really mean financial support. In an attempt to avoid creating similar feelings in others, my thought was to build a Prayer Team separate from and ahead of any pleas for financial assistance. To do this well it meant hours of work to locate people and email addresses. Weeks later I am still calling on people to join us in this prayer project.

The biggest surprise has come as people have started joining us in prayer. Each Sunday evening when ministry is done I go back to my office and send a simple email message to The 300... they are our Prayer Team partners. Throughout the week I receive powerful & effective answers to those simple prayers spoken by righteous people.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The 300: Prayer Warriors for Process Church

Will you join us in praying? We are looking for 300 people who will lift the steps of this new ministry before the Father. There are a few significant reasons I have chosen this number. Gideon followed God against impossible odds with 300 men. The 300 men of Sparta were a force to be reckoned with. And even our new zip code starts with… you guessed it… 300. We are asking people to commit to praying for the McQueary family and Process Church on every calendar day that has a 3 in it (the 3rd, 13th, 23rd, 30th and some months, the 31st). Our primary method of communication will be email. To join The 300 please send an email to and in the subject line type 300. We will periodically be sending more detailed email updates to our 300 as well as a Request of the Week at the beginning of each new week.

Asking God to Do Something So Big That He Alone Gets the Credit,

Rob, Christina, Natalie, Erica & Tyler

Monday, September 24, 2007

Lessons from Saturday Labor: Painting & Planting

I will admit that my ears are completely tuned to hearing messages about starting a church!

OK - with that out of the way - I heard one of those messages in the most unusual places... my yard. This past Saturday I had committed to giving the entire day to work on the house. There are a few things that most of us can do to help the resale value of a house. These were the types of things on "the list". Among them... painting.

What I love about painting is seeing the total transformation that is revealed in the finished product. But that is not what painting is all about... especially not as gauged by time spent. Most of the time spent in painting happens in some of the smaller/less lovely tasks:
  1. preparing the surface means scraping
  2. sanding the scraped surface
  3. brushing away the debris
  4. then finally actually painting
So what do any of these things have to do with church planting? I'm finding these processes to be all but identical. Without getting lost in the list, suffice it to say that I find church planting to be MUCH about the smaller/less lovely tasks that are COMPLETELY necessary in the pursuit of the finished product that will one day be the church.

God, help me to enjoy the process.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Difference Friends Make

Have you recently considered the impact that friendships have on your life? I was thinking about it this week as I said goodbye to a group of friends that I have been learning with for almost a year. Last year at our denominational district conference a group of us decided to form a Learning Community that would help us stay sharp in ministry and life.

So almost every month since then we have met to do just that. We have studied and prayed together. These guys have truly become some of my best friends. But why? I mean... really... after only 10 or so times together spread out over a year's time. What difference could possibly happen in that short amount of time?

Here are the top 3 for me:
  1. they push me to be better spiritually
  2. they sharpen my ideas by making sure they are biblical
  3. they care about me beyond (outside of) the group
Do you have friends like these? It's never too late to start!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Where Does Vision Come From?

As fall arrives and we enter a new ministry year I have been contemplating this question... where does vision come from? It often seems that the blind are leading the blind. No direction. Or worse... different directions and no forward movement. So what of it?

I have been wrestling with this idea by looking at biblical examples of vision-finders and receivers. There seem to be some consistent threads. Do you see the same types of things?

1. true vision (spiritually speaking) comes from God
2. vision rarely (if ever) comes to groups... it almost always seems to be given to individuals
3. this same reality can very easily lead to abuse if the vision is not validated and embraced by other godly people

As I have been struggling to define biblical vision, I have been encouraged that, indeed, there is such a thing. I am wary of individuals who talk about things such as vision as if they are secrets... and usually that they are the only ones with access to such secrets. The reality of Jesus is that seeking and finding go hand in hand. There are a few practices (admittedly not revolutionary) that I have adopted to help me in this pursuit of vision:
  1. pray... asking God to show me His vision
  2. reading Scripture to see how God has moved in others in the past
  3. pray again... asking God how He wants me to apply what I have read
  4. reading from a variety of Christian authors of the present to see what God may be up to these days
  5. pray some more... focusing on hearing God's voice even through man's words
Many times vision is not from God. It is from man's creativity. Or from the inspiration found in a great movie or song. People launch into things because of visions emanating from many sources. I too have had inspirational moments from some of these same places. But by God's grace, I only want the things that drive me (vision) to be from God!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Resisting Personal Urges

I have walked many roads in my short life. To the point of my entire post I will refrain from specifying each of these roads as part of my personal resistance... resisting my own urges. I have walked with Jesus down most of these same pathways.

I will further admit to being given to emotion. I am the first (and usually only) one in my house to cry at the appropriately sentimental time in a movie. I am the one making the impassioned pleas for more of this or less of that. I am the mercy-showing disciplinarian... at times to my wife's chagrin. I am a leader and a joiner - that is, I try to lead other people to join together for a common cause.

Frankly I used to be of the opinion that there was only one true brand of Christianity... which (not coincidentally) happened to be the brand that I belonged to at the time. This opinion was held so firmly that there were many people who I then labeled as apostate (or worse) that I now identify as Jesus-followers. I am embarrassed at things I have said in that regard. I have asked some of those same people to forgive me and now am enriched by their friendship.

Recently a dear friend of mine has chosen to chronicle some of his personal journey with Jesus. There have been statements made for and against his words - and not surprisingly. I'm pretty sure that not so long ago I would have felt it necessary to join in the scrutinous discussion. So I'm not voting on this one. There are close personal friends on both sides of this for me. There has been deep (in some senses irreparable) damage done already.

The Jesus way is personal. This venue is impersonal. Therefore, at least so far as the blogosphere is concerned, I will remain silent. Instead of talking about people I choose to talk to them. And if you truly care about any individual... perhaps you should do the same.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

All I Really Needed to Know I Learned On the Daily Show

Some people watch television to unplug and relax. Others watch to plug in and be informed.

I watch for reasons all my own... and very different ones at that.

Jon Stewart is a culturist (as I attempt to be). He offers more than comedy. He gives nightly social commentary. And whether you agree with him or not, you must acknowledge its provocation.

Think about it. Watch. Think.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Parable of the Deer

This may or may not be meaningful to you. Personally, I'm not much of an outdoorsman. On a recent 1500 mile trip I was overwhelmed by the powerful imagery of (and similarity between) the way I found myself watching for deer and the ways in which I seek people who are not-yet-Christian. This story will contain the deer part... hearing the parable is up to you.

Seeing Deer
One can have a desire to see our fury friends and cease to lay eyes on a single one. There are several keys that I found helped me to see the deer. In a little less than two hours I saw 18 live ones and 9 of the other kind.
  • the right time of day (typically dawn or dusk) - they like cooler temperatures
  • knowing where to look
  • requires vigilance - constant watching
  • the looking makes time fly
  • there are even signs noting a historical presence
Distractions to Seeing Deer
As I was watching for and seeing these beautiful creatures I noticed that there were other things vying for my attention. They weren't necessarily bad things (though some were). But these things made it very difficult for me to see the deer.
  • trees
  • the speed at which things were passing me by
  • trying to operate a moving vehicle while watching
  • writing these thoughts down so I wouldn't forget them
  • phone calls
  • heat... as the sun and the temperature rose the deer vanished
Realities of Deer Seeking
I'm sure experiences vary and geography has much to do with my fortune of seeing so many deer in such a relatively short amount of time. This caused me to think... what were other realities that I was facing as part of this process?
  • some don't make it... remember the 9 mentioned earlier
  • most travel together
  • almost all were near the edge of a wooded area
  • few were out in the open looking for something to eat
I learned much that day. Truthfully I'm pretty sure I would have remembered it all without writing it down. But now you can know the story too.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Who Is God?

Much has been written and said about this One named God. In His name beautiful things have been done and ugly wars have been fought. He is credited with the creation of worlds and children. Many people have received instructions about life that they claim came from this God. Who is He... really? How can we definitively know what He is like and maybe more importantly, what He wants us to be like?

I've been thinking about this lately. It seems to me that especially when we draw near to things that are clearly out of our control we are prone to look to this God. In times of terrorism we have asked God to "bless America". Weddings, funerals, baby dedications... many of these events invite God to preside (or so we say/pray). My family and I are in a time like that even now and I have been searching for this kind of help from God.

There are many comforts to be found in knowing and believing the Scriptures. It is the journal of God. I can read it to discover realities about God. There is a place to uncover mysteries that are greater than my understanding. So I went to this book - the Bible - to see some of the ways that God dealt with people. I decided to start in Genesis... the book of beginnings. The things I have learned and been reminded of about God are too many to print. Allow me to share a few:
  • God is creative... it's always been that way
  • God made people to be together
  • God knows everything about everything
  • God made people in His image
  • God loves protecting people
  • God reluctantly punishes people
  • God is merciful
  • God says hard things too... He's probably the only One who ever should
  • God knows what is in people's hearts... He's probably the only One who ever could
  • God keeps all of His promises... He's probably the only One who ever will
There are so many other things. These are just a few of the high points of the first few chapters. God's history is clear in the pages of His Word. His present and future are equally clear as He continues to act and move in the lives of real people and their circumstances.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's In A Name?

I have an extreme fascination with words. The words I choose say so much about who I am. How I think... or fail to. The longer I live the more carefully I choose my words. I realize that they are very powerful for encouragement or harm.

So why the blog name change? Some of you have actually been asking. Now more than ever I am acutely aware of the effect that words have on people's viewpoints. And while "tangible theology" (the title of my old blog) may be meaningful to me, its wording may elicit more confusion than clarity.

One of the early lessons I remember learning in speech class was to know your audience. In my career and life I have benefited from that thought more than I possibly could have imagined as a 14-year-old when I first heard it. It is that consideration that frames my decision to consider some intentional ministry re-focusing of which this blog will be an important part.

While a portion of my audience has always been and will continue to be those who already believe in Jesus, I have been overwhelmingly burdened of late to consider well the vast majority of those who do not yet believe. They are, after all, the majority... the Scriptures say there will always be more who find themselves on the wanting side of faith. So how can I not consider them?

There are 3 realities that keep repeating themselves in my studies of Scripture and the culture around me.
  1. many who live life without Jesus have largely chosen so because of misconceptions of what following Him would mean
  2. so-called church people are the reason for most of those same misconceptions
  3. if pre-Christian people came in contact with the real Jesus... they would want to follow Him
So, why the name? Of all the roles I happily assume: Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend... only one of those helps me make all of the other ones better. Because my relationship with Jesus informs all my other relationships that is the way I want to be known by those who do not yet know Jesus. Even if they think I'm an ok dad or husband or whatever... I want to be known as... the Jesus guy.