Jared Witt | November 22, 2019
“The geeks have inherited the Earth.”
So says Justin McElroy, one of the co-hosts of the wildly popular (and wildly nerdy) podcast, “My Brother, My Brother, and Me,” where three brothers from Huntington, West Virginia provide insincere but good natured “advice” to equally insincere question askers and somewhat more sincere inquirers on the “Yahoo Answers” platform.
He is pointing to a cultural shift that is tough to prove, and yet everyone who has passed from high school into adulthood over the last couple decades is vaguely aware of it: Nerdy = cool now. If you’ve ever watched oldest brother Justin’s YouTube series “Things I Bought at Sheetz [gas station]” or their spinoff series “The Adventure Zone,” where the three brothers live record a never ending game of “Dungeons and Dragons,” you may scratch your head, that they’re able to sell out an auditorium of five thousand or more in any major city around the country. The McElroy brothers are living proof of Justin’s decree.
Jared Witt | October 17, 2019
Part II: The way it is now
My work day began in exhaustion and now ends in exhaustion.
This type of fatigue has nothing in common with that satisfying soreness, which follows a productive day of yard work, nor is it the full and confident feeling an artist or a cobbler used to feel when they knew they’d spent the day creating something of genuine worth. It’s a dry eyed, caffeine wired, but not totally alert sort of feeling. My brain feels spent but not accomplished. I remember all the sound and fury of a day’s worth of emails and text alerts, but what they signify, currently escapes me.
My poor dog, Lula, greets me at the door. She is doing the pee dance like a kid in a little league game. We make our nightly pilgrimage to the apartment complex mailbox, which somehow manages to be an equidistant mile from every unit.
A cute girl in Yoga pants has just done the same with her yippie Shih Tzu. We exchange polite apologies while our dogs try to recreate the plot line of Bloodsport. “You're supposed to be helping me with that!" I scold Lu as we mosey on.
Jared Witt | October 3, 2019
Part I: The way it used to be…
Backstory: When I was about 12 or 13, I thought briefly of asking out a girl from my class. But as I contemplated the humiliating logistics of (A) seating her on the back of my banana seat huffy or (B) asking one of my parents to drive, I just figured it was a no go and tried to focus on bettering myself (I asked my Mom to take me to Old Navy).
So my first encounter in romance (let’s just use the term liberally for the story’s sake) came when I was sixteen. She was a cute, soccer playing blonde with a loose affiliation in my friendship circle. Truthfully, that’s all I knew about her, that she was cute, soccer playing, and blonde. It was enough for me. I’d only had my eye on here for a couple weeks, which I figured was advantageous timing as I’d long noticed the self-sabotaging effect of pining after someone for months on end if unaccompanied by action. And so that’s where we find our hero in the spring of 2002…
Jared Witt - September 19, 2019
Who ruined the world?
Was it the Republicans? Was it the Democrats? Was it the Christians? The Mexicans? The Muslims? The black lives? The blue lives? Was it the Millennials? Was it old people? Was it me?...Definitely not me, right?
We’re not the first to ask that question. In the family and lineage-based cultures of Bible-y times they would put it this way: If your father eats sour grapes, will your teeth be set on edge? In other words, whose fault is it that there is so much wrong with the world? Ours? Or our parent’s generation? Are we paying the consequences of our own bad decisions or someone else’s? Who deserves the blame?
Jared Witt - September 5, 2019
For three years, I haven’t been able to forget this speech I heard by activist John Dear (not to be confused with the tractor guy), whom our denomination hired to be a keynote speaker at a regional gathering. This man, who has been imprisoned dozens of times over several decades for demonstrating against war and other human rights atrocities for which our country is responsible, gave this image of what he felt the church is supposed to be:
“A twelve step program for people who are addicted to violence.”
I thought that to be one of the most compelling and Jesus-like images I’d come across, certainly more so than country club, temple of the crypt keeper, religious tribe, or any of the other images that seem to be floating about out there. So I’ve often thought it would be a good thought experiment to add to it the other addictions for which the church ought to make a good detox center and recovery program. I’ll start with that one, give some biblical justification for it, and then do the same with others.
Jared Witt - August 22, 2019
The terms that were coined nearly two decades ago by leadership gurus Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky are well worn at this point, but they still get the job done.
Technical change vs adaptive change.
These terms should be common currency for anyone looking to be a relevant missional leader in the 21st century church.
Technical changes are changes to an organization which tweak an external problem in an attempt to fix what is essentially an internal problem—which obviously doesn’t work. In the church world, these usually amount to updating the narthex or adding different instrumentation in worship. These are the kinds of solutions typically suggested by anxious church people who know that the culture is being turned off from coming to their church but can’t possibly imagine that they themselves are the main deterrent.
Jared Witt - August 15, 2019
22 He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[a] 26 If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;[b] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying... 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father takes delight in giving you the kingdom.”
Jared Witt - July 18, 2019
There was a time when Christians weren’t called Christians. Rather, they were called followers of The Way.
One day, a famous follower of The Way was interrogated by an official of the state named Rusticus, who wanted to know if this riff-raffy hodgepodge of misfits had some kind of subversive intent. He hurried the interrogatee through the boilerplate questions about the group, you know, doctrines and behaviors and what have you, but what really seemed to concern him was this seemingly mundane question: “Where do your gatherings meet?”
Whatever the agenda of this strange new cult, it would put his mind at ease to know that their meetings were at least hidden away in some officially sanctioned religious house. Then there would be little to bother with in it.
Jared Witt - July 4, 2019
A couple is enjoying their lunch at a sidewalk cafe. The day is clear and warm with a late June breeze coming in from the lake. It’s about a week until Independence Day
This couple and their little son are a picture of contentment, casually trading thoughts on the news of the day but without any strong emotional investment this way or that.
She says to her husband, “Do you want my avocado?”
“No thank you.”
“What? You love avocado?”
“No, I always eat yours because you hate avocado. But I’m actually on the fence.”
“No, you love avocado.”
They both laugh.
Jared Witt - June 20, 2019
It’s a little bit sad—and grant you, I’ve done it too—when people push buttons on microwaves, not knowing how microwaves work, or send texts on phones that they could never build, and then thump their thumbs into their own chests and say “Look at how advanced I am as a human.”
We presume some sort of amazing progress as a species, as if our early bipedal ancestry could not have also pushed buttons on strange machines that would have otherwise utterly baffled them.
But as Martin Luther King Jr. says way back in the early 60s, in his essay, Paul’s letter to American Christians, “I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress,” or are these just (he quotes Thoreau) “improved means to an unimproved end.”
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.