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.”
Jared Witt - June 6, 2019
After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” – John 20:20-21
“As the father is sending me, so I am sending you.”
Think about that one for a second. Otherwise, I fear, it’ll just sound like one of those Bible-y sounding niceties that can make one glaze over. Or even worse, we’ll turn it into the “doctrine of the sending” and rob it of its teeth. A mentor once told me, if no one would ever object to what you’ve said, then you haven’t said anything.
And Jesus has really said something here, no?
Jared Witt - May 31, 2019
I can see it in their faces whenever I teach a Bible study. People want to buy my version of who Jesus actually was: Something like a Dada performance artist meets an occasionally though not always zen-ed out meditation guru meets that guy who stood in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square.
They yearn for my image of Jesus, yearn for it in a vital and eager way, because they see Truth there easily and organically, not in the forced, top-down way that they’ve been taught they’re supposed to see the Truth in Jesus, depicted as a somehow weightless God-man who floats about saying wise old aphorisms about life in this world but who is basically unaffected by it.
They want so badly to believe in the earthy relevance and spiritual urgency of my version of Jesus, but there is a mental block. And it's one of the hardest things for people raised with the felt-board God-man image of Jesus to absorb. It sounds off to them, like some kind of blasphemy even if it's just a simple fact: Jesus didn’t know we were recording.
Jared Witt - May 9, 2019
Paraphrasing Aristotle: the sign of a well-developed mind is the ability to chew on an idea neither swallowing nor spitting it out right away.
When you’re a child, your ideas about the world and God are given to you. You have very little to do with it. Reality is described a certain way and you accept that.
As soon as you can talk, you start asking for the names of everything. What’s this? What’s that? It’s thrilling to name something. In one biblical creation myth, naming things was the main project for which humans were created in the first place. When you name something, you pluck it out of the swirling morass of undifferentiated stuff and honor its special, unique existence. That’s why we’re encouraged not to name animals that are likely to die soon. When you name something, you give it an emotional weightiness that it didn’t have before.
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.