A preface for later ...

I've been thinking about heaven lately, and I'm working on a few paragraphs of pitiful prose about it. I'm just not ready to start typing it all up in the blog yet and subject another round of ramblings to public scrutiny, for good or ill.

So, this is a preface.

First, a special thank you is in order for Jim Eaton, who runs The Outpost. I had the opportunity to spend a couple days with Jim and some of his friends up at Spruce Knob -- it was nice to welcome some city slickers from Atlanta and Pittsburgh to my neck of the woods (literally), even though they were hosting the whole shindig. Good fellowship, good conversation, good times (the impromptu "Aaron Shust: Storytellers" episode out by the camp fire was especially memorable, as was the Emerging Church pow-wow on Saturday morning).

I had to leave early, which I regretted, but the Lord truly blessed me to be able to get to know Jim and Co., if only for a little while.

Why a thank you? Well, The West Virginia Advance 2006 was nearly a month ago, meaning it's well past time to give the guys a shout out and a public "thank you." Hope you guys see this.

Second, he brought a few things to my attention -- specifically, some of the questions and concerns I had about the Emerging Church movement, some ideas on the difference between "emerging" and "emergent" (there's a world of difference there, believe me -- and I want to get into it here in a few weeks), and a few things to read.

(The things I learned about the Emerging Church, again, I'll save for later. Tons there. )

Jim turned me onto Mark Driscoll's book "Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church." It's a great, great read for those of you looking to expand your ministry into areas of church planting, church attendance and church "action."

Driscoll is the senior pastor of Mars Hill Church, one of the fastest growing and most influential churches in America. He and his ministry have, in a very short amount of time, stirred something within me that God has wanted to come out of dormancy for a good long time now -- how long I don't know. It's not like I've been cultivating it, at least in the way He's wanted. Heck, I don't even know what He has planned yet, but it's something.

Long story short (or short story long, as it were; I get a little long winded with these things sometimes), I've been filling my MP3 player full of podcasts from Driscoll's ongoing sermon series about 1 Corinthians. In one of them he addressed the concept of Heaven ... well, if I don't quit while I'm ahead I'll end up writing too much today (oops, too late).

Anywho, I highly recommend checking out the Mars Hill website and, if you are so technologically inclined, giving the podcasts a whirl. It's pretty much all I've been listening to lately, and I'm partnering the sermons with a classic J. Vernon McGee study on 1 Corinthians while reading through the book myself. Good times.

Anyway, thanks again, Jim ... you and your ministry are in my prayers.


Jim Eaton said...


First, it was great to get a chance to meet you. Thanks for welcoming us into your neck of the woods. I'm glad that God used the Outpost to minister some clarity on the Emerging/Emergent conversation. Driscoll is a hoot. I found myself belly laughing through most of the book. It's definitely a great "faith biography" for many in our generation. I suppose the cheeky, irreverent thing he does will get a few Pharasaical phylacteries in a wad though. The distinction he makes between a "mission of community" and a "community of mission" is the goods. Also, the reality check for all the young bucks who think church planting is sexy-chic way to enter the adult world will no doubt steer some away from inevitable crash and burn. I'd be interested in hearing about what the book stirred in you.

By the way, thanks for your prayers. Saturday night was a highlight for many of us. The young guy from the PA father/son duo came to faith. Many reported strengthened father/son relationship. Others shared how God had used the time to help them face and win small victories over their fears. We prayed for you and your family and hope that all are finding peace in Christ through the challenges and loss. Thanks for the shout out! We appreciate your support. Let's stay connected.