Know your audience

Some good tips about polling your website’s audi­ence to learn what they’re look­ing for. The author +Daniel Tread­well the devel­oper of the Google+Blog plug-in for Word­Press that lets you sync between the two.

Know your Audi­ence
Last year with the release of Google+ it was made very obvi­ous that a large amount of peo­ple have been look­ing for a new com­mu­nity that allows them to share their time, their art and their opin­ions with oth­ers in a way that was not pre­vi­ously available.

Once you have gained a sig­nif­i­cant amount of fol­low­ers (and this amount is sub­jec­tive and per­sonal, what is a large num­ber to one may not be to another) most peo­ple will start to won­der exactly what it is that their audi­ence is most inter­ested in

Google+: View post on Google+

Are We More Than Our Demographics?

One of the things that is intrigu­ing me lately is the nature of Quaker debate.  There are half a dozen seemingly-perennial polit­i­cal issues around which Friends in my cir­cles have very strong opin­ions (these include abor­tion, nuclear power, and the role of Friends in the trou­bles of Israel/Palestine) . We often jus­tify our posi­tions with appeals to our Quaker faith, but I won­der how often our opin­ions could be more accu­rately pre­dicted by our demo­graphic profile?

How many of your polit­i­cal posi­tions and social atti­tudes could be accu­rately guessed by a savvy demog­ra­pher who knew your date of birth,  postal code,  edu­ca­tion and fam­ily income? I’d guess each of us are far more pre­dictable than we’d like to think.If true,  then what role does our reli­gious life actu­ally play?

Reli­gious beliefs are also a demo­graphic cat­e­gory,  granted, but if they only con­firm posi­tions that could be just as actu­ally pre­dicted by non-spiritual data, then doesn’t that imply that we’ve sim­ply found (or remained in) a reli­gious com­mu­nity that con­firms our pre-existing biases? Have we cre­ated a faith in our own image? And if true, is it really fair to jus­tify our­selves based on appeals to Quaker values?

The “polit­i­cal” Quaker writ­ings I’m find­ing most inter­est­ing (because they’re least pre­dictable) are the ones that stop to ask how Quaker dis­cern­ment fits into the debate. Dis­cern­ment: one could eas­ily argue that Quaker open­ings and tools around it are one of our great­est gifts to human spir­i­tu­al­ity.  When we build a wor­ship com­mu­nity based on strict adher­ence to the imme­di­ate prompt­ing of the Holy Spirit, the first ques­tion becomes fig­ur­ing out what is of-God and what is not.  Is James Nayler, rid­ing Jesus-like into Bris­tol, a prophet or a nut?

When we go deep into the ques­tions,  we may find that the answers are less impor­tant than the care we take to reach them.  Wait­ing for one another,  hold­ing one another’s hand in love despite dif­fer­ences of opin­ion, can be more impor­tant than being the right-answer early adopter. How do you step back from easy answers to the thorny ques­tions? How do you poll your­self and that-of-God in your­self to open your eyes and ears for the poten­tial of surprise?

Quakers and Christmas aka the annual Scrooge post

It’s that sea­son again, the time when unpro­grammed Friends talk about Christ­mas. Click Ric has posted about the seem­ing incon­gruity of his meeting’s Christ­mas tree and LizOpp has reprinted a still-timely let­ter from about five years ago about the meeting’s chil­dren Christ­mas pageant.

Scrooge McDuckFriends tra­di­tion­ally have lumped Christ­mas in with all of the other rit­u­al­is­tic boo-ha that main­stream Chris­tians prac­tice. These are out­ward ele­ments that should be aban­doned now that we know Christ has come to teach the peo­ple him­self and is present and avail­able to all of us at all times. Out­ward bap­tism, com­mu­nion, planned ser­mons, paid min­is­ters, Christ­mas and Easter: all dis­trac­tions from true Chris­t­ian reli­gion, from prim­i­tive Chri­tian­ity revived.

One con­fu­sion that arises in lib­eral meet­ings this time of year is that it’s assumed it’s the Chris­t­ian Friends who want the Christ­mas tree. Argu­ments some­time break out with “hyphen­ated” Friends who feel uncom­fort­able with the tree: folks who con­sider them­selves Friends but also Pagan, Non­the­is­tic, or Jew­ish and won­der why they’re hav­ing Chris­tian­ity forced on them. But those of us who fol­low what we might call the “Chris­t­ian tra­di­tion as under­stood by Friends” should be just as put out by a Christ­mas tree and party. We know that sym­bolic rit­u­als like these spark dis­unity and dis­tract us from the real pur­pose of our com­mu­nity: befriend­ing Christ and lis­ten­ing for His guid­ance.

I was shocked and star­tled when I first learned that Quaker schools used to meet on Christ­mas day. My first response was “oh come on, that’s tak­ing it all too far.” But it kept bug­ging me and I kept try­ing to under­stand it. This was one of the pieces that helped me under­stand the Quaker way bet­ter and I finally grew to under­stand the ratio­nale. If Friends were more con­sis­tent with more-or-less sym­bolic stuff like Christ­mas, it would be eas­ier to teach Quakerism.

Theo and the Christmas treeI don’t mind Christ­mas trees, per se. I have one in my liv­ing room (right). In my extended fam­ily Christ­mas has served as one of the manda­tory times of year we all have to show up together for din­ner. It’s never been very reli­gious, so I never felt I needed to stop the prac­tice when I became involved with Friends. But as a Friend I’m care­ful not to pre­tend that the con­sumerism and social rit­u­als have much to do with Christ. Christ­mas trees are pretty. The lights make me feel good in the dol­drums of mid-winter. That’s rea­son enough to put one up.

Unpro­grammed lib­eral Friends could use the ten­sions between tra­di­tional Quak­erly sto­icism and main­stream Chris­t­ian nos­tal­gia as a teach­ing moment, and we could use dis­com­fort around the rit­ual of Christ­mas as a point of unity and dia­log with Pagan, Jew­ish and Non-theistic Friends. Chris­t­ian Friends are always hav­ing to explain how we’re not the kind of Chris­tians oth­ers assume we are (oth­ers both within and out­side the Soci­ety). Being prin­ci­pled about Christ­mas is one way of show­ing that dif­fer­ence. Peo­ple will surely say “oh come on,” but so what? A lot of spir­i­tual seek­ers are crit­i­cal of the kind of crazy com­mer­cial spend­ing sprees that marked Christmas’s past and I don’t see why a group say­ing Christ­mas isn’t about Christ would be at a par­tic­u­lar dis­ad­van­tage dur­ing this first Christ­mas sea­son of the next Great Depression.

I’ve been talk­ing about lib­eral unpro­grammed Friends. For the record, I under­stand Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions among “pas­toral” and/or “pro­grammed” Friends. They’ve made a con­scious deci­sion to adopt a more main­stream Chris­t­ian approach to reli­gious edu­ca­tion and min­istry. That’s fine. It’s not the kind of Quaker I prac­tice, but they’re open about their approach and Christ­mas makes sense in that context.

When­ever I post this kind of stuff on my blog I get com­ments how I’m being too Scroogey. Well I guess I am. Bah Hum­bug. Hon­estly though, I’ve always like Quaker Christ­mas par­ties. They’re a way of mix­ing things up, a way of com­ing together as a com­mu­nity in a warmer way that we usu­ally do. Peo­ple stop con­fab­bing about com­mit­tee ques­tions and actu­ally enjoy one another’s com­pany. One time I asked my meet­ing to call it the Day the World Calls Christ­mas Party, which I thought was kind of clever (every­one else surely thought “there goes Mar­tin again”). The joy of real com­mu­nity that is filled once a year at our Christ­mas par­ties might be symp­tom of a hunger to be a dif­fer­ent kind of com­mu­nity every week, even every day.

The Quaker testimonies as our collective wisdom wiki

My sort-of response to Callid’s great Youtube piece on the Quaker tes­ti­monies, I com­pare the clas­sic tes­ti­monies to a wiki: the col­lec­tive knowl­edge of Friends dis­tilled into spe­cific cau­tions and guides. “We as Friends have found that.…” I do talk about how the recent “SPICE” sim­pli­fi­ca­tion (sim­plic­ity, integrity, integrity, com­mu­nity and equal­ity) has robbed our notion of tes­ti­monies of some of their power.

Reach up high, clear off the dust, time to get started

It’s been a fas­ci­nat­ing edu­ca­tion learn­ing about insti­tu­tional Catholi­cism these past few weeks. I won’t reveal how and what I know, but I think I have a good pic­ture of the cul­ture inside the bishop’s inner cir­cle and I’m pretty sure I under­stand his long-term agenda. The cur­rent lightening-fast clo­sure of sixty-some churches is the first step of an ambi­tious plan; man­u­fac­tured priest short­ages and soon-to-be over­crowded churches will be used to jus­tify even more rad­i­cal changes. In about twenty years time, the 125 churches that exist today will have been sold off. What’s left of a half mil­lion faith­ful will be herded into a dozen or so mega-churches, with the­ol­ogy bor­rowed from generic lib­er­al­ism, style from feel-good evan­gel­i­cal­ism, and orga­ni­za­tion from con­sul­tant culture.

When dioce­san offi­cials come by to read this blog (and they do now), they will smile at that last sen­tence and nod their heads approv­ingly. The con­spir­acy is real.

But I don’t want to talk about Catholi­cism again. Let’s talk Quak­ers instead, why not? I should be in some meet­ing for wor­ship right now any­way. Julie left Friends and returned to the faith of her upbring­ing after eleven years with us because she wanted a reli­gious com­mu­nity that shared a basic faith and that wasn’t afraid to talk about that faith as a cor­po­rate “we.” It seems that Catholi­cism won’t be able to offer that in a few years. Will she run then run off to the East­ern Ortho­dox church? For that mat­ter should I be run­ning off to the Men­non­ites? See though, the prob­lem is that the same issues will face us wher­ever we try to go. It’s mod­ernism, baby. No focused and authen­tic faith seems to be safe from the Forces of the Bland. Lord help us.

We can blog the ques­tions of course. Why would some­one who dis­likes Catholic cul­ture and wants to dis­man­tle its infra­struc­ture become a priest and a career bureau­crat? For that mat­ter why do so many peo­ple want to call them­selves Quak­ers when they can’t stand basic Quaker the­ol­ogy? If I wanted lots of com­ments I could go on blah-blah-blah, but ulti­mately the ques­tion is futile and beyond my figuring.

Another piece to this issue came in some ques­tions Wess Daniels sent around to me and a few oth­ers this past week in prepa­ra­tion for his upcom­ing pre­sen­ta­tion at Wood­brooke. He asked about how a par­tic­u­lar Quaker insti­tu­tion did or did not rep­re­sent or might or might not be able to con­tain the so-called “Con­ver­gent” Friends move­ment. I don’t want to bust on any­one so I won’t name the orga­ni­za­tion. Let’s just say that like pretty much all Quaker bureau­cra­cies it’s inward-focused, shal­low in its pub­lic state­ments, slow to take ini­tia­tive and more or less irrel­e­vant to any cam­paign to gather a great peo­ple. A more suc­cess­ful Quaker bureau­cracy I could name seems to be doing well in fundrais­ing but is doing less and less with more and more staff and seems more inter­ested in donor-focused hype than long-term pro­gram implementation.

One enemy of the faith is bureau­cracy. Real lead­er­ship has been replaced by con­sul­tants and fundrais­ers. Finan­cial and staffing crises–real and created–are used to jus­tify a water­ing down of the mes­sage. Pro­grams are dri­ven by donor money rather than clear need and when real work might require con­tro­versy, it’s tabled for the façade of feel-goodism. Quaker read­ers who think I’m talk­ing about Quak­ers: no I’m talk­ing about Catholics. Catholic read­ers who think I’m talk­ing about Catholics: no, I’m talk­ing about Quak­ers. My point is that these forces are tear­ing down reli­gios­ity all over. Some cheer this devel­op­ment on. I think it’s evil at work, the Tempter using our leader’s desires for posi­tion and respect and our the desires of our laity’s (for lack of a bet­ter word) to trust and think the best of its leaders.

So where does that leave us? I’m tired of think­ing that maybe if I try one more Quaker meet­ing I’ll find the com­mu­nity where I can prac­tice and deepen my faith as a Chris­t­ian Friend. I’m stumped. That first batch of Friends knew this feel­ing: Fox and the Pen­ing­tons and all the rest talked about iso­la­tion and about reli­gious pro­fes­sion­als who were in it for the career. I know from the blo­gos­phere and from count­less one-on-one con­ver­sa­tions that there are a lot of us–a lot–who either drift away or stay in meet­ings out of a sense of guilt.

So what would a spir­i­tual com­mu­nity for these out­sider Friends look like? If we had real vision rather than donor vision, what would our struc­tures look like? If we let the generic churches go off to out-compete one other to see who can be the bland­est, what would be left for the rest of us to do?

20080608-xcjchpscnwekhsh85kg2hr7nbf.previewI guess this last para­graph is the new revised mis­sion state­ment for the Quaker part of this blog. Okay kids, get a step stool, go to your meet­ing library, reach up high, clear away the dust and pull out vol­ume one of “A por­trai­ture of Quak­erism: Taken from a view of the edu­ca­tion and dis­ci­pline, social man­ners, civil and polit­i­cal econ­omy, reli­gious prin­ci­ples and char­ac­ter, of the Soci­ety of Friends” by Thomas Clark­son. Yes the 1806 ver­sion, stop the grum­bling. Get out the ribbed pack­ing tape and put its cover back together–this isn’t the frig­ging Library of Con­gress and we’re actu­ally going to read this thing. Don’t even waste your time check­ing it out in the meeting’s log­book: no one’s pulled it down off the shelf in fifty years and no one’s going to miss it now. Really stuck?, okay Google’s got it too. Class will start shortly.

For other uses, see Light (disambiguation)

Even though my last post was a five minute quickie, it gen­er­ated a num­ber of com­ments. One ques­tion that came up was how aware indi­vid­ual Friends are about the spe­cific Quaker mean­ings of some of the com­mon Eng­lish words we use—“Light,” “Spirit,” etc.(dis­am­bigua­tion in Wiki-speak). Mar­shall Massey expressed sad­ness that the terms were used uncom­pre­hend­ingly and I sug­gested that some Friends know­ingly con­fuse the generic and spe­cific mean­ings. Mar­shall replied that if this were so it might be a cul­tural dif­fer­ence based on geography.

If it’s a cul­tural dif­fer­ence, I sus­pect it’s less geo­graphic than func­tional. I was speak­ing of the class of pro­fes­sional Friends (heavy in my parts) who pur­pose­fully obscure their lan­guage. We’re very good at talk­ing in a way that sounds Quaker to those who do know our spe­cific lan­guage but that sounds gener­i­cally spir­i­tual to those who don’t. Some­times this obscu­ran­tism is used by peo­ple who are repelled by tra­di­tional Quak­erism but want to advance their ideas in the Reli­gious Soci­ety of Friends, but more often (and more dan­ger­ously) it’s used by Friends who know and love what we are but are loathe to say any­thing that might sound controversial.

I’ve told the story before of a Friend and friend who said that every­time he uses the word com­mu­nity he’s mean­ing the body of Christ. New­com­ers hear­ing him and read­ing his arti­cles could be for­given for think­ing that com­mu­nity is our reason-for-being, indeed: what we wor­ship. The prob­lem is that ten years later, they’ll have signed up and built up an iden­tity as a Friend and will get all offended when some­one sug­gests that this com­mu­nity they know and love is really the body of Christ.

Lib­eral Friends in the pub­lic eye need to be more hon­est in their con­ver­sa­tion about the Bib­li­cal and Chris­t­ian roots of our reli­gious fel­low­ship. That will scare off poten­tial mem­bers who have been scarred by the acts of those who have falsely claimed Christ. I’m sorry about that and we need to be as gen­tle and hum­ble about this as we can. But hope­fully they’ll see the fruits of the true spirit in our open­ness, our warmth and our giv­ing and will real­ize that Chris­t­ian fel­low­ship is not about tel­e­van­ge­lists and Pres­i­den­tial hyp­ocrites. Maybe they’ll even­tu­ally join or maybe not, but if they do at least they won’t be sur­prised by our iden­tity. Before some­one com­ments back, I’m not say­ing that Chris­tian­ity needs to be a test for indi­vid­ual mem­ber­ship but new mem­bers should know that every­thing from our name (“Friends of Christ”) on down are rooted in that tra­di­tion and that that for­mal mem­ber­ship does not include veto power over our pub­lic identity.

There is room out there for spiritual-but-not-religious com­mu­ni­ties that aren’t built around a col­lec­tive wor­ship of God, don’t worry about any par­tic­u­lar tra­di­tion and focus their ener­gies and group iden­tity on lib­eral social causes. But I guess part of what I won­der is why this doesn’t col­lect under the UUA ban­ner, whose Prin­ci­ples and Pur­poses state­ment is already much more syn­cretis­tic and post-religious than even the most lib­eral yearly meet­ing. Evolv­ing into the “other UUA” would mean aban­don­ing most of the valu­able spir­i­tual wis­dom we have as a people.

I think there’s a need for the kind of strong lib­eral Chris­tian­ity that Friends have prac­ticed for 350 years. There must be mil­lions of peo­ple parked on church benches every Sun­day morn­ing look­ing up at the pul­pit and think­ing to them­selves, “surely this isn’t what Jesus was talk­ing about.” Look, we have Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians com­ing out against the war! And let’s face it, it’s only a mat­ter of time before “Emer­gent Chris­tians” real­ize how lame all that post-post can­dle wor­ship is and look for some­thing a lit­tle deeper. The times are ripe for “Oppor­tu­ni­ties,” Friends. We have impor­tant knowl­edge to share about all this. It would be a shame if we kept quiet.

Working with Pipes #2: A DIY personalized community with Del​.icio​.us, Flickr and Google Blog Search

not nec­es­sary to develop your own Web 2.0 soft­ware infra­struc­ture to
cre­ate an inde­pen­dent Web 2.0-powered com­mu­nity online. It’s far
sim­pler to set a stan­dard for your com­mu­nity to use on exisit­ing
net­works and then to use Yahoo Pipes to pull it together.

I decided on about a dozen cat­e­gories to use with my DIY blog aggre­ga­tor (Quak­erQuaker).
I only want to pull in posts that are being gen­er­ated for my site by
com­mu­nity mem­bers so we use a com­mu­nity iden­ti­fier, a unique pre­fix
that isn’t likely to be used by others.

This post will show you how to pull in tagged feeds from three sources: the Del​.icio​.us social book­mark­ing sys­tem, the Flickr photo shar­ing site and Google Blog Search.

Step 1: Pick a com­mu­nity designator

I’ve been using the com­mu­nity name fol­lowed by a dot. The pre­fix
goes in front of cat­e­gory descrip­tion to make a set of unique tags for
the aggre­ga­tor. When some­one wants to add some­thing for the site they
tag it with this “community.category” tag. In my exam­ple, when some­one
wants to list a new Quaker blog they use “”, “quaker” being
the com­mu­nity name, “blog” being the cat­e­gory name for the “New Blogs“

Step 2: Col­lect the com­mu­nity pre­fix and cat­e­gory name in Pipes

You begin by going into Pipes and pulling over two text inputs: one for
the com­mu­nity pre­fix, the other for the spe­cific category.

Step 3: Con­struct these into tags

Now use the “String Con­cate­na­tion” mod­ule to turn this into the
“community.category” model. The com­mu­nity input goes into the top slot,
a dot is the sec­ond slot and the cat­e­gory input goes into the last slot.

Now, when you have a tag in Flickr with a dot in it, Flickr auto­mat­i­cally removes it in the resul­tant RSS feed.
So with Flickr you want your tag to be “com­mu­ni­ty­cat­e­gory” with­out a
dot. Sim­ple enough: just pull another “String Con­cate­na­tion” mod­ule
onto your Pipes work space. It should look the same except that it
won’t have the mid­dle slot with the dot.

Step 4: Turn these tags into RSS URLs

Pull three “URL­Builder” mod­ules into Pipes, one for each of the
ser­vices we’re going to query. For the Base, use the non-tag spe­cific
part of the URL that each ser­vice uses for its RSS feeds. Here they are:

Del​.icio​.us http://​del​.icio​.us/​r​s​s​/​tag
Flickr http://​api​.flickr​.com/​s​e​r​v​i​c​e​s​/​f​e​eds
Google Blog Search http://​blogsearch​.google​.com

Under path ele­ments, put the cor­rect tag: for Del​.icio​.us and Google it should be the community.category tag, for Flickr the dot-less com­mu­ni­ty­cat­e­gory tag.

Step 5: Fetch and Dedupe

Fetch is the Pipes mod­ule that pulls in URLs and out­puts RSS feeds. It can also com­bine them. Send each URLBuilder out­put into the same Fetch routine.

Since it’s pos­si­ble that you’ll might have dupli­cate posts, use the “Unique” mod­ule to dedu­pli­cate entries by URL.
Through a lit­tle trial and error I’ve deter­mined that in cases of
dupli­cates, feeds lower in the Fetch list trump those higher. In the
actual Pipe pow­er­ing my aggre­ga­tor I pull a sec­ond Del​.icio​.us feed: my
own. I have that as the last entry in the Fetch list so that I can
per­son­ally over­ride every other input.

Step 6: Sort by Date

With exper­i­men­ta­tion it seems like Pipes orders the out­put entries by
descend­ing date, which is prob­a­bly what you want. But I want to show
how Pipes can work with “dc” data, the “Dublin Core” model that allows
you to extend stan­dard RSS feeds (see yesterday’s post for more on this).

Google Blog Search and Del​.icio​.us feeds use the “dc:date” field to
record the time when the post was made. Flickr uses “dc:date.Taken” to
pass on the photograph’s meta­data about when it was taken. Pipes’
“Rename” mod­ule lets you copy both fields into one you cre­ate (I’ve
sim­ply used “date”), which you can then run through its “Sort” mod­ule.
Again, it’s a moot point since Pipes seems to do this auto­mat­i­cally.
But it’s good to know how to manip­u­late and rename “dc” data if only
because many PHP parsers have trou­ble lay­ing it out on a webpage.

Update: it’s all moot: accord­ing to a ZDNet blog, “Pipes now auto­mat­i­cally appends a pub­Date tag to any RSS feed that has any of the other allow­able date tags.” This is nice: no need to hack the date every time you want to make a Pipe!

Step 7: Output

The final step for any Pipe is the “Pipe Out­put” module.

In action

You can see this pub­lished Pipe here, and copy and play with it your­self. The result lets you build an RSS feed based on the two inputs.

Strangers to the Covenant

A work­shop led by Zachary Moon and Mar­tin Kel­ley at the 2005 FGC Gath­er­ing of Friends.


This is for Young Friends who want to break into the power of Quak­erism: it’s the stuff you didn’t get in First Day School. Con­nect­ing with his­tor­i­cal Quak­ers whose pow­er­ful min­istry came in their teens and twen­ties, we’ll look at how Friends wove God, covenants and gospel order together to build a move­ment that rocked the world. We’ll mine Quaker his­tory to reclaim the power of our tra­di­tion, to explore the liv­ing tes­ti­monies and our wit­ness in the world. (P/T)

Per­cent­age of time: Wor­ship 20 / Lec­ture 30 / Dis­cus­sion 50


Extended Descrip­tion

We hope to encour­age Friends to imag­ine them­selves as min­is­ters and elders and to be bold enough to chal­lenge the insti­tu­tions of Quak­erism as needed. We want to build a com­mu­nity, a cohort, of Friends who aren’t afraid to bust us out of our own lim­ited expec­ta­tions and give them space to grow into the aware­ness that their long­ing for deeper spir­i­tual con­nec­tion with shared widely among oth­ers their age. Our task as work­shop con­ven­ers is to model as both bold and hum­ble seek­ers after truth, who can stay real to the spirit with­out tak­ing our­selves either too seri­ously or too lightly.

Mar­tin and Zachary have dis­cov­ered a Quaker tra­di­tion more defined, more coher­ent and far richer than the Quak­erism we were offered in First Day School. In integrity to that dis­cov­ery, we intend to cre­ate a space for fel­low­ship that would fur­ther open these glimpses of what’s out there and what pos­si­bil­i­ties exist to step out boldly in this Light.

Sun­day: Intro­duc­tions
The most impor­tant task for today is mod­el­ing the grounded wor­ship and spirit-led min­istry that will be our true cur­ricu­lum this week. In a wor­ship shar­ing for­mat we will con­sider these questions:

  • What brought me to this workshop?
  • What did they fail to teach me in First Day School that I still want to know?

Mon­day: What is this Quak­erism?
Today will be about enter­ing this grounded space together as Friends, begin­ning to ask some ques­tions that reveal and open. How do I artic­u­late what Quak­erism is all about? What ideas, lan­guage, and words (e.g. “God”, “Jesus” “Light”) do use to describe this tra­di­tion? Today we start that dia­logue. At the end of ses­sion we will ask par­tic­i­pants to seek out an older Friend and ask them for their answers on these queries and bring back that expe­ri­ence to our next gathering.

  • Wor­ship. Read­ing of selected texts from jour­nal and Bible
  • Present ques­tion: When some­one asks me “what is Quak­erism?” how do I respond.
  • Mar­tin and Zachary will share some thoughts on this ques­tion from other Friends
  • Jour­nal­ing on Query
  • Dis­cus­sion of ideas and language.

Tues­day: The Mys­ti­cal Tra­di­tion and Gospel Order
We enter into the lan­guage and fab­ric of our Tra­di­tion at its mys­ti­cal roots. Ask­ing the ques­tions: What does God feel like? Intro­duce early Quaker’s talk about God. What does it feel like to be with God? What is Gospel Order?

  • Wor­ship. Read­ing of selected texts from jour­nals and Bible
  • Follow-up on pre­vi­ous day’s discussion/homework what new came into the Light overnight?
  • Jour­nal­ing on Query: When have I felt the pres­ence of God? Describe it in five senses?
  • Ini­tial dis­cus­sion and shar­ing of thoughts and ideas.
  • Intro­duce some ideas from early Friends and oth­ers on this Query. How have oth­ers (Jesus, Isa­iah, Mer­ton, Fox, Day) spo­ken of this experience?
  • Intro­duce themes of Spir­i­tual Prac­tice: If Quak­erism is about ask­ing the right ques­tions, how do we get into the place to hear those ques­tions and respond faith­fully? We have already been incor­po­rat­ing devo­tional read­ing into our time together each morn­ing but we will intro­duce into the Light of Dis­ci­pline as such here. Nam­ing of other prac­tices, pre­vi­ously acknowl­edged and oth­er­wise, within the group.
  • Intro­duce ‘Spir­i­tual Dis­cern­ment’ themes for the fol­low­ing day’s session.

Wednes­day: The Roots of Friends’ Dis­cern­ment Tra­di­tion and the Tes­ti­monies
We delve into the archives, the dusty stuff, the stuff First Day School didn’t get to: the preach­ing from the trees, the prison time, the age George Fox was when he was first incar­cer­ated for his beliefs, what the tes­ti­monies are really about and where they came from. Today is about tak­ing the skele­tons out of the closet and clean­ing house.

  • Wor­ship. Read­ing of selected texts from jour­nals and Bible
  • ‘Let’s talk his­tory’: Early Friends, the Mak­ing of The Soci­ety, and the Dis­cern­ment Tra­di­tion. [Mar­tin and Zachary may cover this, or we may arrange to have another Friend come and share some thoughts and infuse a new voice into our dialogue]
  • There are lots of tes­ti­monies: what are ours? Name some. How to they facil­i­tate our rela­tion­ship with God?
  • What’s up with “Obe­di­ence”, “Plain­ness”, and “Dis­ci­pline”? How do we prac­tice them?

Thurs­day: Friends in a Covenanted Rela­tion­ship
We grow into our roles as lead­ers in this com­mu­nity by con­sid­er­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ties and the hur­dles in deep­en­ing our covenant rela­tion­ship. We begin with con­sid­er­ing spir­i­tual gifts, and then con­sider ques­tions around min­istry, its ori­gin and its dis­cern­ment. We will take up the task of con­sid­er­ing what our work, what piece of this respon­si­bil­ity is ours to carry.

  • Wor­ship. Read­ing of selected texts from jour­nals and Bible
  • Jour­nal­ing on the Queries: What is alive inside of me? How are my spir­i­tual gifts named and nurtured?
  • What are the tasks of ministry?
  • What are the tasks of eldering?
  • What are the struc­tures and prac­tices in our monthly, quar­terly and yearly meet­ings that we can use to test out and sup­port lead­ings? How do these struc­tures work and not work. Clear­ness com­mit­tees? Trav­el­ing Friends? Spir­i­tual nurture/affinity groups?
  • What is hold­ing us back from liv­ing this deep­ened rela­tion­ship? What is our respon­si­bil­ity to this covenant and this covenant community?

Fri­day: The Future of Quak­erism
We begin the work that will occupy the rest of our lives. The par­tic­i­pants of this work­shop will be around for the next fifty or more years, so let’s start talk­ing about sys­tem­atic, long-term change. We have some­thing to con­tribute to this con­sid­er­a­tion right now.

  • Wor­ship. Read­ing of selected texts from jour­nals and Bible
  • Where do we go from here? Mar­tin will present on emer­gent church. Zachary will present some thoughts on ‘Beloved Com­mu­nity’.
    Many have talked about deep com­mu­nion with God and about covenant com­mu­nity. Many have spo­ken our hearts and given voice to the pas­sion we expe­ri­ence; now it’s on us what are we going to do about it? Where is it happening?
  • Dis­cus­sion (maybe as a fish­bowl) Where do we envi­sion Quak­erism 50 years from now? 100 years from now?

Exter­nal Web­site: Quaker Ranter, Martin’s site.

Avoiding Plain Dress Designer Clothing

A guest piece by “David,” orig­i­nally posted on the Plain and Mod­est Dress Yahoo Group.

From: “mquadd” <mquadd@y…>
Date: Wed Jul 21, 2004
Sub­ject: Intro­duc­tion and questions

Hi. My name is David and I attend but am not a mem­ber of the Friends Meet­ing here. I was actu­ally raised as an Epis­co­palian although I had sev­eral uncles who were birth-right Quak­ers. I grew up (for my first 10 years) in Chester County, PA which tra­di­tion­ally was an area with a high con­cen­tra­tion of Quak­ers. I would expect that this is no longer true as the area has become quite sub­ur­ban with a big influx of new res­i­dents. Nonethe­less, I grew up attend­ing meet­ing now and then with rel­a­tives at var­i­ous meet­ings in Chester County and north­ern Dele­ware. That was in the 1960s and was a time when some peo­ple, mostly older peo­ple (peo­ple most likely born in the 1800s mean­ing these peo­ple were in their 70s or 80s in the 1960s), still used plain talk. Even in the 1960s, in a fairly rural area, this was more of an except­ing than the rule and was lim­ited to the old­est mem­bers of the meet­ing and never used out­side the Quaker com­mu­nity. Those who used plain talk never used it out­side of the Quaker community–home, Friends, and meet­ing. As far as I know, they never used this type of talk for busi­ness or rela­tions or out­side the community.

At age 10 we moved to Lan­caster County. At that time, many Mem­monites who now no longer dress plain or wear cov­er­ings did still did both of these. I went to school with many Men­non­ite kids. In addi­tion I became friends with sev­eral Old Order Amish fam­i­lies (and one Beachy fam­ily) with whom I am still friends. That was 35 years ago, I have wit­nessed the plain tes­ti­mony weaken in each of these groups includ­ing the Old Order Amish. I actu­ally spent much of my child­hood and teenage years hang­ing out with one patic­u­lar Old Order Amish fam­ily as way to escape the insan­ity of hav­ing drug addicted and alco­holic par­ents. In their very sim­ple and unstated Chris­tian­ity, they were very will­ing to pro­vide food, shel­ter, and love to a very con­fused boy (me).

Any­way, the Lan­caster Con­fer­ence Men­non­ites (now part of the largest Men­non­ite group) seem to be totally main­stream. Per­haps there are some who still fol­low the for­mer order. The Beachy Amish now dress like con­ser­v­a­tive Men­non­ites and less and less like Amish. Finally, I was watched the Amish allow lots of mod­ern changes in their dis­ci­pline although their basic cloth­ing is pretty much unchanged but sun glasses are now allowed and many Amish girls and women pluck their eyebrows–both not allowed in the 1970s. By the way, in the late 1960s they had already adopted cotton-poly blends for both cloth­ing and quilts!

The rea­son for that, per­haps odd, bio­graph­i­cal sketch is to give some back­ground on my expo­sure to plain groups and, more impor­tantly, plain thought. I have toyed with the idea of plain dress­ing although I can’t give a clear rea­son why I feel this. Is it a call­ing or am I just crazy? I do know that the sta­bil­ity I found in that Amish house in the 1970s most likely had a giant influ­ence on me (a happy Amish fam­ily where I had fun vs. liv­ing in a fam­ily that was in the self-distruct mode due to addic­tion). I also I have clear mem­o­ries of hav­ing Quaker teach­ers in ele­mently school and van­ity and world­li­ness was a bad thing. It was dur­ing the height of the Viet Nam war, so there was this odd hippy-Quaker thing going on with some of my teach­ers. I am sure some of you who were around the RSF in the 1960s can relate. So here I am still toy­ing with these ideas and still attempt­ing to define my own reli­gious feel­ings at the mid­dle of my life (I am 45).

Here are a few things I do know that apply to me. First, I feel very at odds with our soci­ety that focuses on the most superf­i­cal things. Our soci­ety spends BILLIONS on make-up, hair dye, plas­tic surgery, breast inplants, push-up bras, designer clothes (that are no dif­fer­ent that basic clothes except the label and might even be of lower qual­ity).… Peo­ple are judged on the these issues. Char­ac­ter and moral­ity (a loaded term that seems to have been high­jacked by the rightwing and ultraconservatives)seems to be sec­ondary to these very super­fi­cial things. What we tell our­selves and our chil­dren is that we are not ade­quate as we are. We have to change our body and then drape it was overly priced clothes to count. The out­side is more impor­tant that the inside. This is sick. It is dis­truc­tive. It is a sin.

Beyond that, my feel­ings about plain dress­ing get less clear. Is a uni­form what I am seek­ing? Those groups who were very uni­form cloth­ing tend to be insu­lar and often attact as much atten­tion to them­selves as a belly shirt and designer jeans! If you doubt this, go to Lan­caster County and attempt to drive on Rt. 340. The attrac­tion that the plain peo­ple attract in that area rivals any movie star or rock con­cert. Lan­caster gets lit­er­ally mil­lions of tourists each year. So is that type of uni­form dress­ing that is quite dis­tinct serv­ing a good pur­pose? I am not sure but am just offer­ing a ques­tion rather than a judge­ment. Other groups that dress quite plain such as ultra-orthodox Jews are not so much a tourist attrac­tion but clearly are insu­lar and seper­ate from the larger soci­ety. Many peo­ple view this as being “stand off-ish” which I hope is nobody’s goal. I have heard peo­ple apply this type of judge­ment to plain chris­t­ian groups also.

So, I would be very inter­ested in hear­ing what dri­ves oth­ers to dress plain? If you are a Quaker, what has been the reac­tion at your meet­ing? I once met a plain dress­ing Quaker who said that he had received more neg­a­tive than pos­i­tive reac­tions when vis­it­ing other meet­ings. Are there any meet­ings where all or most mem­bers dress plain? In my child­hood expe­ri­ences, there was no plain dress­ing in any Quaker meet­ings in Chester County or in Dele­ware. I have not even run into any­one who uses plain lan­guage for over 30 years except that one plain dress­ing man. Clearly, I know no Quak­ers who have been raised with the idea of plain dress­ing or plain lan­guage includ­ing some of my cousins who are worldly to say the least. What makes plain. I know of “black bumper Men­non­ites” who drive a black bumper Mer­cedes. Is that plain? Why is a Volvo often con­sid­ered ok but a BMW is bad? They both cost $40K. Often I see this type of think­ing in those who claim to fol­low a less than worldly life style. I think there is always a risk of falling into the mind­set of some labels being good and oth­ers being bad. Once a par­tic­u­lar brand, say a type of hat or type of jeans, is thought to be the proper “plain uni­form” does that not become the designed cloth­ing of the plain dressers? I am not sure. What I find is that once you jump into this topic, it becomes com­pli­cated and that is not the point.

One final ques­tion, what ben­e­fits do you recieve from plain dress­ing?
Thanks. David

Emergent Church Movement: The Younger Evangelicals and Quaker Renewal

A look at the gen­er­a­tional shifts fac­ing Friends.

I’m cur­rently read­ing Robert E. Webber’s The Younger Evan­gel­i­cals: Fac­ing the Chal­lenges of the New World, which exam­ines the cul­tural and gen­er­a­tional shifts hap­pen­ing within the Chris­t­ian Evan­gel­i­cal move­ment. At the bot­tom of this page is a handy chart that out­lines the gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences in the­ol­ogy, eccle­si­as­ti­cal par­a­digm, church polity that he sees. When I first saw it I said “yes!” to almost each cat­e­gory, as it clearly hits at the gen­er­a­tional forces hit­ting Quakerism.

Unfor­tu­nately many Friends in lead­er­ship posi­tions don’t really under­stand the prob­lems fac­ing Quak­erism. Or: they do, but they don’t under­stand the larger shifts behind them and think that they just need to redou­ble their efforts using the old meth­ods and mod­els. The Baby Boom gen­er­a­tion in charge knows the chal­lenge is to reach out to seek­ers in their twen­ties or thir­ties, but they do this by devel­op­ing pro­grams that would have appealed to them when they were that age. The cur­rent crop of out­reach projects and peace ini­tia­tives are all very 1980 in style. There’s no recog­ni­tion that the sec­u­lar peace com­mu­nity that drew seek­ers in twenty years ago no longer exists and that today’s seek­ers are look­ing for some­thing deeper, some­thing more per­sonal and more real.

When younger Friends are included in the sur­veys and com­mit­tees, they tend to be either the unin­volved chil­dren of impor­tant Baby Boom gen­er­a­tion Quak­ers, or those thirty-something Friends that cul­tur­ally and philo­soph­i­cally fit into the older par­a­digms. It’s fine that these two types of Friends are around, but nei­ther group chal­lenges Baby Boomer group-think. Out­spo­ken younger Friends often end up leav­ing the Soci­ety in frus­tra­tion after a few years.

It’s a shame. In my ten years attend­ing a down­town Philadel­phia Friends meet­ing, I eas­ily met a hun­dred young seek­ers. They mostly cycled through, attend­ing for peri­ods rang­ing from a few months to a few years. I would often ask them why they stopped com­ing. Some­times they were just nice and said life was too busy, but of course that’s not a real answer: you make time for the things that are impor­tant and that feed you in some way. But oth­ers told me they found the meet­ing unwel­com­ing, or Friends too self-congratulatory or super­fi­cial, the com­mu­nity more social than spir­i­tual. I went back to this meet­ing one First Day after a two year absence and it was depress­ing how it was all the same faces. This is not a knock on this par­tic­u­lar meet­ing, since the same dynam­ics are at work in most of the liberal-leaning meet­ings I’ve attended, both in the FGC and FUM worlds–it’s a gen­er­a­tional cul­tural phe­nom­e­non. I have never found the young Quaker seeker com­mu­nity I know is out there, though I’ve glimpsed its indi­vid­ual faces a hun­dred times: always just out of reach, never gelling into a movement.

I’m not sure what the answers are. Luck­ily it’s not my job to have answers: I leave that up to Christ and only con­cern myself with being as faith­ful a ser­vant to the Spirit as I can be (this spirit-led lead­er­ship style is exactly one of the gen­er­a­tional shifts Web­ber talks about). I’ve been given a clear mes­sage that my job is to stay with the Soci­ety of Friends, that I might be of use some­day. But there are a few pieces that I think will come out:

A re-examination of our roots, as Chris­tians and as Friends

What babies were thrown out with the bath­wa­ter by turn-of-the-century Friends who embraced mod­ernism and ratio­nal­ism and turned their back on tra­di­tional tes­ti­monies? This will require chal­leng­ing some of the sacred myths of con­tem­po­rary Quak­erism. There are a lot that aren’t par­tic­u­larly Quaker and we need to start admit­ting to that. I’ve per­son­ally taken up plain dress and find the old state­ments on the peace tes­ti­mony much deeper and more mean­ing­ful than con­tem­po­rary ones. I’m a pro­fes­sional web­mas­ter and run a promi­nent paci­fist site, so it’s not like I’m stuck in the nine­teenth cen­tury; instead, I just think these old tes­ti­monies actu­ally speak to our con­di­tion in the twenty-first Century.

A Desire to Grow

Too many Friends are happy with their nice cozy meet­ings. The meet­ings serve as fam­ily and as a sup­port group, and a real growth would dis­rupt our estab­lished pat­terns. If Quak­erism grew ten­fold over the next twenty years we’d have to build meet­ing­houses, have extra wor­ship, reor­ga­nize our com­mit­tees. Involved Friends wouldn’t know all the other involved Friends in their yearly meet­ing. With more mem­bers we’d have to become more rig­or­ous and dis­ci­plined in our com­mit­tee meet­ings. Quak­erism would feel dif­fer­ent if it were ten times larger: how many of us would just feel uncom­fort­able with that. Many of our Meet­ings are ripe for growth, being in boom­ing sub­urbs or thriv­ing urban cen­ters, but year after year they stay small. Many sim­ply neglect and screw up out­reach or reli­gious edu­ca­tion efforts as a way of keep­ing the meet­ing at its cur­rent size and with its cur­rent character.

A more personally-involved, time-consuming commitment

Reli­gion in Amer­ica has become yet another con­sumer choice, an enter­tain­ment option for Sun­day morn­ing, and this par­a­digm is true with Friends. We com­plain how much time our Quaker work takes up. We com­plain about clear­ness com­mit­tees or vision­ing groups that might take up a Sat­ur­day after­noon. A more involved Quak­erism would real­ize that the hour on First Day morn­ing is in many ways the least impor­tant time to our Soci­ety. Younger seek­ers are look­ing for con­nec­tions that are deeper and that will require time. We can’t build a Soci­ety on the cheap. It’s not money we need to invest, but our hearts and time.

I recently vis­ited a Meet­ing that was set­ting up its first adult reli­gious edu­ca­tion pro­gram. When it came time to fig­ure out the for­mat, a weighty Friend declared that it couldn’t take place on the first Sun­day of the month because that was when the finance com­mit­tee met; the sec­ond Sun­day was out because of the mem­ber­ship care com­mit­tee; the third was out because of busi­ness meet­ing and so forth. It turned out that reli­gious edu­ca­tion could be squeezed into one 45-minute slot on the fourth Sun­day of every month. Here was a small strug­gling meet­ing in the mid­dle of an sym­pa­thetic urban neigh­bor­hood and they couldn’t spare even an hour a month on reli­gious edu­ca­tion or sub­stan­tive out­reach to new mem­bers. Mod­ern Friends should not exist to meet in committees.

A renewal of dis­ci­pline and oversight

These are taboo words for many mod­ern Friends. But we’ve taken open-hearted tol­er­ance so far that we’ve for­got­ten who we are. What does it mean to be a Quaker? Seek­ers are look­ing for answers. Friends have been able to pro­vide them with answers in the past: both ways to con­duct one­self in the world and ways to reach the divine. Many of us actu­ally yearn for more care, atten­tion and over­sight in our reli­gious lives and more con­nec­tion with others.

A con­fronta­tion of our eth­nic and cul­tural bigotries

Too much of Quaker cul­ture is still rooted in elit­ist wealthy Philadel­phia Main Line “Wasp” cul­ture. For gen­er­a­tions of Friends, the Soci­ety became an eth­nic group you were born into. Too many Friends still care if your name is “Roberts,” “Jones,” “Lip­pen­cott,” “Thomas,” “Brin­ton.” A num­ber of nineteenth-century Quaker lead­ers tried to make this a reli­gion of fam­ily fief­doms. There was a love of the world and an urge for to be respected by the out­side world (the Epis­co­palians wouldn’t let you into the coun­try clubs if you wore plain dress or got too excited about religion).

Today we too often con­fuse the cul­ture of those fam­i­lies with Quak­erism. The most obvi­ous exam­ple to me is the oft-repeated phrase: “Friends don’t believe in pros­e­ly­tiz­ing.” Wrong: we started off as great speak­ers of the Truth, gain­ing num­bers in great quan­ti­ties. It was the old Quaker fam­i­lies who started fret­ting about new blood in the Soci­ety, for they saw birthright mem­ber­ship as more impor­tant than bap­tism by the Holy Spirit. We’ve got a lot of bag­gage left over from this era, things we need to re-examine, includ­ing: our will­ing­ness to sac­ri­fice Truth-telling in the name of polite­ness; an over-developed intel­lec­tu­al­ism that has become snob­bery against those with­out advanced school­ing; our taboo about being too loud or too “eth­nic” in Meeting.

Note that I haven’t specif­i­cally men­tioned racial diver­sity. This is a piece of the work we need to do and I’m happy that many Friends are work­ing on it. But I think we’ll all agree that it will take more than a few African Amer­i­cans with grad­u­ate degrees to bring true diver­sity. The Lib­eral branch of Friends spends a lot of time con­grat­u­lat­ing itself on being open, tol­er­ant and self-examining and yet as far as I can tell we’re the least ethnically-diverse branch of Amer­i­can Quak­ers (I’m pretty sure, any­one with cor­rob­o­ra­tion?). We need to re-examine and chal­lenge the unwrit­ten norms of Quaker cul­ture that don’t arise from faith. When we have some­thing to offer besides upper-class lib­er­al­ism, we’ll find we can talk to a much wider selec­tion of seekers.

Can we do it?

Can we do these re-examinations with­out rip­ping our Soci­ety apart? I don’t know. I don’t think the age of Quaker schisms is over, I just think we have a dif­fer­ent dis­ci­pline and church polity that let us pre­tend the splits aren’t there. We just self-select our­selves into dif­fer­ent sub-groups. I’m not sure if this can con­tinue indef­i­nitely. Every week our Meet­ings for Wor­ship bring together peo­ple of rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent beliefs and non-beliefs. Instead of wor­ship, we have indi­vid­ual med­i­ta­tion in a group set­ting, where every­one is free to believe what they want to believe. This isn’t Friends’ style and it’s not sat­is­fy­ing to many of us. I know this state­ment may seem like sac­ri­lege to many Friends who value tol­er­ance above all. But I don’t think I’m the only one who would rather wor­ship God than Silence, who longs for a deeper reli­gious fel­low­ship than that found in most con­tem­po­rary Meet­ings. Quak­erism will change and Mod­ernism isn’t the end of history.

How open will we all be to this process? How hon­est will we get? Where will our Soci­ety end up? We’re not the only reli­gion in Amer­ica that is fac­ing these questions.








as a ratio­nal world­view

as ther­apy Answers needs

as a com­mu­nity of faith.



as meaning-giver
Per­sonal Faith

the meta­nar­ra­tive
Embod­ied apolo­getic
Com­mu­nal faith


Civil Reli­gion

sen­si­tive church
Mar­ket Dri­ven

Counter cul­tural



Mar­ket tar­geted

Back to cities




Priest­hood of all



Week­end fun retreats

Bible Study, Wor­ship, Social Action


Infor­ma­tion cen­tred

gen­er­a­tional groups and needs

for­ma­tion in com­mu­nity


the rules

and suc­cess








as illus­tra­tion







of evan­gel­i­cal social action

social action (divorce groups, drug rehab

cities and neigh­bor­hoods

See also:

On Quaker Ranter:

  • It Will Be There in Decline Our Entire Lives. There’s a gen­er­a­tion of young Chris­tians dis­il­lu­sioned by mod­ern church insti­tu­tion­al­ism who are writ­ing and blog­ging under the “post-modern” “emer­gent church” labels. Do Friends have any­thing to offer these wea­ried seek­ers except more of the same hashed out institutionalism?
  • Post-Liberals & Post-Evangelicals?, my obser­va­tions from the Novem­ber 2003 “Indie Allies” meet-up.
  • Sodium Free Friends, a post of mine urg­ing Friends to actively engage with our tra­di­tion and not just selec­tively edit out a few words which makes Fox sound like a sev­en­teen cen­tury Thich Nhat Hanh. “We poor humans are look­ing for ways to tran­scend the crap­pi­ness of our war– and consumer-obsessed world and Quak­erism has some­thing to say about that.”
  • Peace and Twenty-Somethings: are the Emer­gent Church seek­ers cre­at­ing the kinds of youth-led inten­tional com­mu­ni­ties that the peace move­ment inspired in the 1970s?


  • From Evan­gel­i­cal Friends Church South­west comes an emer­gent church” church plant­ing project called >Sim­ple Churches (since laid down, link is to archive). I love their intro: “As your peruse the links from this site please rec­og­nize that the Truth reflected in essays are often writ­ten with a ‘prophetic edge’, that is sharp, non com­pro­mis­ing and some­times rad­i­cal per­spec­tive. We believe Truth can be received with­out ‘curs­ing the dark­ness’ and encour­age you to reflect upon find­ing the ‘can­dle’ to light, per­son­ally, as you apply what you hear the Lord speak­ing to you.”
  • The emer­gent church move­ment hit the New York Times in Feb­ru­ary 2004. Here’s a link to the arti­cle and my thoughts about it.
  • “Ortho­dox Twenty-Somethings,” a great arti­cle from TheOoze (now lost to a site redesign of theirs), and my intro to the arti­cle Want to under­stand us?
  • The blog­ger Punkmon­key talks about what a mis­sional com­mu­nity of faith would look like and it sounds a lot like what I dream of: “a mis­sional com­mu­nity of faith is a liv­ing breath­ing trans­par­ent com­mu­nity of faith will­ing to get messy while reach out to, and bring­ing in, those out­side the cur­rent community.”