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The No Pants Gospel

Chris —  February 28, 2014

Perhaps we should have titled the Ecclesia National Gathering “The No Pants Gospel.”

Kingdom Pants

Scot McKnight is on a tirade right now, trying to get people to slow down and think through what they mean when they say “Kingdom.” He pointed out two, somewhat generational definitions of the word.

For the “Skinny Jeans” crowd, there is “kingdom work” which more or less means doing social justice (ie – Tom’s Shoes, wells in Africa).

For the Pleated Pants crowd there are “kingdom moments” where something miraculous happens (ie – healings, reconciliation, victory over evil systems)

This can be pretty offensive to people giving their life for their definition of the Kingdom. But Scot has a point. Skinny jeans leave the church for their wells. Pleated pants use the church to manufacture experiences.

No Rule Book

McKnight went on to team up with Bill Webb (of Slaves, Women and Homosexuals infamy) to radically reenvision how we read the BIble.

Looking at the “divorce texts” they showed how the gospel writers and Paul each framed Jesus teaching a little differently. They made three points:

  1. There is no “ultimate ethic” reflected in a single verse of scripture.
  2. The Bible is full of stories of discernment, applying ethics to culturally bound circumstances.
  3. You can see incremental movement throughout scripture toward a redemptive ethic, found most clearly in the teachings of Jesus and embodied in the Church.

In other words, the Bible is a great story, but it makes for a lousy rule book.

The No Pants Gospel

Mandy Smith answered the lingering question, “how then do we read the Bible?” Mandy’s answer: “let the Bible read you.”

If the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing bones and marrow, we should treat God’s Word like a surgical tool.

We cannot approach the Bible to justify our personal need to be involved in social justice.

We cannot approach the Bible to justify our personal need for an exciting, life-changing experience.

We must approach the Bible as the Word of God, carrying the authority of God. We must set aside our own agendas and approach it naked of our hopes and dreams.

How do we read the Bible? Only with the expectation that learning to live in the Kingdom where God reigns will hurt.

RSVP Now for  Austin Mustard Seed‘s first ever Sunday Liturgy on Sunday October 13!

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For the last four years, I’ve called Vox Veniae my home. Vox is the most fun, innovative and loving church community I’ve ever known. Why would anyone leave?

1) If you love something, you want there to be more of it.

I landed at Vox Veniae a little beat up. On my first visit, I saw no pretense, heard the soothing hymns of Sufjan Stevens and was invited out to lunch. The community was made of individuals at different stages of faith with varying lifestyles. They exuded creativity and a sense of belonging. I was encouraged to participate, not just watch.

In a world where millennials seem to be dropping out of church, Vox is young and vibrant. In a commuting culture, Vox is passionate about being good neighbors. In a politically polarized culture, Vox is fighting to create a quiet space to listen to God.

I would love to spend the next few decades as a part of Vox. There is something I am convinced is more important: giving more people the opportunity I had.


2) We need neighborhood churches.

Here’s my theory: the best antidote for consumer church is incarnational communities. When I say “incarnational“, I mean that the church follows the methodology of Jesus: “the Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.” Jesus, the eternal Word of God and second person of the Trinity, became a baby. He got calloused hands from working hard labor, spoke Aramaic and ate a lot of locally sourced fish.

There’s a lot of great regional churches. Sometimes the people who live in the same neighborhood as the church building don’t know much about the church other than the traffic jams on Sundays. I’m betting that living the church together in our neighborhoods will make it easier to participate in meaningful community and love our neighbors. Continue Reading…

JR Woodward is a fellow graduate of the Fuller MAGL, the head of V3 Church Planting. His book Creating a Missional Culture: Equipping the Church for the Sake of the World, synthesizes much of what we studied in the MAGL with his own philosophy of church planting and leadership.

According to Woodward’s, there is a direct correlation between the forms of church leadership and the spiritual lives of individual believers.  He draws on Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 4 that there is a “link between the spiritual maturity of the church and the five kinds of equippers operating in the church: apostles (what I nickname dream awakeners), prophets (heart revealers), evangelists (story tellers), pastors (soul healers) and teachers (light givers)”.

This view of church leadership is occasionally referred to as APEPT.  The modern churches obsession with Pastor/Teachers often leads to the joke “where are all the APEs in the church?

Here’s a quick overview, and my response:

Continue Reading…


  • Still flying high from my time in DC with Missio Alliance.  It ended up being a bit of a family reunion, with old friends from growing up in Denver, my alma mater, Ecclesia network, and my Fuller MAGL cohort and my church in Austin.
  • One person said to me “now I understand Chris!  These are his people.”  That felt good.
  • There’s been lots of great feedback from my post Eight Game-Changers Observed at Missio Alliance. One person even wrote a response.  Check it out, and share your thoughts.
  • Here’s some other people who have been blogging about Missio:
  • After leaving Missio Alliance, I headed up to New York to spend a few days with my sister and brother-in-law (and future niece!) in the Bronx. Here we are at The Cloisters.
  • She is responsible for my awesome new profile pic.  Thanks!


  • Highlight of this trip to NYC? Highline Park.  A former freight train track that runs across through the city that has been repurposed into a hanging garden.  The best views I’ve seen in New York.  Pretty much the closest I’ll ever get to being Spider-Man.
  • I try to befriend anyone I see reading N.T. Wright in public.  Yesterday at the best-looking coffee shop in Austin, I met Shane Blackshear, a blogger, podcaster, and part of an inspiring church community named Mosaic.  Check out this interview he did with Derek Webb.

Missio Alliance is the brainchild of the Ecclesia Network.  It is a much needed effort to provide a theological framework for how to be the church in a 21st Century, Post-Christendom America.  It features a few speakers who have radically shaped who I am and how I think, most prevalently, Dallas Willard and Scot McKnight.  Other participants include my church’s own Gideon Tsang and one of my incredible Fuller MAGL professors Shelley Trebesch.  Beside’s world-class content, here are the other two reasons I can’t wait: Continue Reading…