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 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 - 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 - April 26, 2019
The goal in Christianity is to lose your life, not your head.
This can be said of all of the great religious traditions.
Too far into the tradition and you’ll confuse the means with the end. You’ll mistake the tools for the house.
Too far out of the tradition and you’ll forever be searching the shed for better tools rather than making progress with the one that’s in your hand.
Too far in and you’ll confuse the paintings with the vision.
Too far out and it just looks like everything else.
Jared Witt l January 29, 2019
Like many saints, Ignatius of Loyola was far from pious in his early days. He concerned himself with the things that most ambitious young men did, winning prosperity, military prestige, and of course women. Then came the ecstatic day—typical in the lore of medieval saints—where he ripped off his clothes, just like Francis of Assisi centuries before, handed them to a homeless person, and dedicated his sword and dagger to a statue of the virgin Mary at the Spanish abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat.
You don't need to experience a moment quite so dramatic in order to have a meaningful spiritual life. He did. But most people won't. Fortunately, there is a less cinematic but, in some ways, far more usable second part to this story.
Jared Witt - December 18, 2018
I'm looking for people who might describe themselves as spiritually motivated, who would like to participate in a series of midweek centering sessions that I am calling "Spiritual but Not Ridiculous: A thinking person's place to explore the divine."
By "spiritually motivated," think open and intentional as opposed to advanced or knowledgable. I'm looking for people who don't have all or perhaps any of the answers but who know there is a depth and a mystery to life and God still to probe. I'm looking for people who are perhaps not sure where to begin but who suspect that by seeking that depth first, joy, beauty, abundance, or what Jesus calls "the reign of God" will be added as well.
If that describes you, my disclaimer as the leader of the group is that I also don't have "the answers," but I share that same suspicion with you.
I'm designing this to be part theological exploration, part prayer practice, part spiritual exercise, part Bible study. We will center conversation around Jesus of Nazareth and his Way of being in the world as well as the mystical spirituality of finding the Holy Spirit in and among our lives together.
As all truth is God's truth, we will draw freely from other traditions and influences in which I have found Christ-like spiritual food. Examples include:
- Hebraic storytelling and the Rabbinic tradition
- Medieval Rhineland Christian mysticism
- Jesuit Examen Prayer and Ignatian Spirituality
- Zen Meditation
I'm there every Tuesday at this time for pastoral counseling with whoever shows up (closed on Christmas). But I hope to begin in earnest with a larger group on Tuesday January 8th.
You know who you are. Hope to see you there.
Cheers and Peace,
Jared Witt - November 27, 2018
Alright, I'm taking a pass on this week's blog post. Got a couple other irons in the fire right now. Namely, CASTLE CHURCH GRAND OPENING FESTIVAL this Saturday, December 1, all day (11am - 1am). Food Trucks, Music, Games, and I'll shamelessly mention our Orlando Beer Festival Judges Choice Award Winning Craft Beer. At 5pm we name the winner of Free Beer for a Year. Click the link above for details, and if you can make it, be there! We love having you in our community.
Cheers and Peace,
Jared Witt - November 20, 2018
Jared Witt - November 12, 2018
I typically like to occupy my mind (and blog) with more interesting and complex ideas than this one. I figure, if it’s not an idea that most would find novel or surprising, then why bother writing about it?
But sometimes a simple thing (and by "simple" I mean so simple as to be uninteresting), is nonetheless so frequently misunderstood, that it’s still worth mentioning. One such thing is the coolness:theology paradox in churches.
You could also call it the style:substance paradox, and it goes like this: the style-savvy packaging or cool factor in the worship of your average North American congregation tends to be inversely proportional to the progressiveness of the theology.
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.