Dorothy on Leadership

Dorothy on Leadership
Or “How a Movie from our Childhood Can Help us Understand the Changing Nature of Leadership in the Postmodern Transition”
Brian D. McLaren
Originally Published in Rev. Magazine, November/December 2000

OK, I admit it. I spent most of the 80’s and early 90’s wishing I could be just like Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, or John Maxwell. They were successful. They appeared unflinchingly confident. They were powerful, knowledgeable, larger than life. I’d go to their seminars, and return home feeling wildly inspired and mildly depressed. How could I feel those two things at the same time? If you’ve attended their seminars, you probably don’t need me to explain.
But if you do need me to explain, think back to the Biblical story of David, when he tried to wear Saul’s armor. Imagine that he had actually tried to go to battle with Goliath wearing armor that was XXL when he was a regular M (or even S) guy. He would have come back looking like a partially opened (and partially eaten!) can of sardines.
I wasn’t the only one who thought that the best image of the successful pastor was the CEO, the alpha male, the armored knight, the corporate hero. Thousands of us tried on that armor, and the results – in our churches and in our personal lives – weren’t pretty. Of course, the suit fit some of us (for example, I think that Hybels, Warren, and Maxwell really are XXL’s), but most of us eventually realized that if we were going to be of any use to God, we’d better be ourselves. A novel idea!
About the time I was reaching that conclusion, I was going through my “postmodern conversion.” I was seeing the pattern or matrix of modernity giving way to a new pattern, and I was beginning to see how my whole understanding of Christianity fit snugly within the modern matrix. I wondered how ministry, theology, spirituality, and evangelism would change as the matrix changed. And I wondered how leadership would change too.
Somewhere in the middle of these musings, a strange memory returned … the scene in “The Wizard of Oz” when little Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal that the great Wizard of Oz is a rather normal guy hiding behind an imposing image. It struck me that the 1940’s world that produced the film was in many ways a world at the height of modernity, a world enamored with Superman, with the Lone Ranger, with Great Men. It struck me that by exposing the Wizard as a fraud, the film was probing an unexpressed cultural doubt, giving voice to a rising misgiving, displaying an early pang of discontent with its dominant model of larger-than-life leadership. And it made me wonder what image of leadership would replace the great Wizard.
The answer, of course, appeared in the next scene. No, it wasn’t the lion, the scarecrow, or the tin man. It was Dorothy.
At first glance, Dorothy is all wrong as a model of leadership. She is the wrong gender (female) and the wrong age (young). Rather than being a person with all the answers, who knows what’s up and where to go and what’s what, she is herself lost, a seeker, often bewildered, and vulnerable. These characteristics would disqualify her from modern leadership. But they serve as her best credentials for postmodern leadership.
In the world of Christian ministry, we could identify ten Wizardly characteristics of modern leadership. (You’ll notice the masculine pronoun used exclusively here.)
1. Bible Analyst: The modern Christian leader dissects the Bible like a scientist dissects a fetal pig, to gain knowledge through analysis, and in modernity, knowledge is power.
2. Broadcaster: Somehow, when one amplifies his voice electronically and adds a little reverb, his power quotient goes up in modernity. Being slick, being smooth, being big, being “on the air” – that’s what makes you a leader.
3. Objective Technician: The organization (church, ministry, etc.) is a machine, and the leader knows how to work the machine, how to make it run, how to tweak it and engineer (or reengineer) it. It’s the object, and he’s the subject.
4. Warrior/Salesman: Modern leadership is about conquest -- “winning” souls, launching “crusades,” “taking” this city (country, whatever) for Jesus, etc. And it’s about marketing, getting buy-in, selling (and sometimes selling out).
5. Careerist: The modern leader earns credentials, grasps the bottom rung of the ladder, and climbs, climbs, climbs – whether he is a stock-boy-who-would-be-CEO or a young preacher on the rise.
6. Problem-Solver: Come to him, and he’ll fix you.
7. Apologist: Come to him, and he’ll tell you why he’s right and your doubt or skepticism is wrong.
8. Threat: One of the most powerful and underrated weapons of the modern Christian leader has been the threat of exclusion. The sword is normally kept in its sheath, but through mocking caricatures and other forms of rhetorical demonization, a gifted orator can make you fear that if you don’t agree with/follow/submit to his leadership, you’ll be banished – like the Wizard bellowing threats from behind his curtain.
9. Knower: The modern Christian leader is (or appears) supremely confident in his opinions, perspectives, beliefs, systems, and formulations. While the rest of us question and doubt, he is the answer-man who knows.
10. Solo Act: There’s only room for one in the Wizard’s control booth, and there’s only room for one at the top of the church org chart.
When you think of Dorothy, the picture is so different. Basically, instead of sitting pretty in a control booth, she’s stuck in a predicament – still a little dizzy from the tornado, lost, far from home, needing to find the way. As she sets out on her journey, she finds other needy people (actually not people exactly, but you get the point), one in need of courage, another in need of intelligence, another in need of a heart. She believes that their varying needs can be fulfilled on a common quest, and her earnestness, her compassion, her determination, and her youthful spunk galvanize them into a foursome (five, with Toto) singing down the yellow brick road together. Dorothy doesn’t have the knowledge to help them avoid all problems and dangers; she doesn’t protect them from all threats and temptations. But she doesn’t give up, and her passion holds strong, and in the end, they all get what they need. Maybe one of the film’s many enduring delights is hidden in Dorothy’s unwizardly leadership charisma. Maybe people in the 1940’s were just beginning to yearn for a way of leadership that now is becoming ascendant – a post-wizard kind of leadership:
1. Bible Analyst → Spiritual sage: As we move beyond modernity, we lose our infatuation with analysis, knowledge, information, “facts,” and belief systems – and those who traffic in them. Instead, we are attracted to leaders who possess that elusive quality of wisdom (think of James 3:???), who practice spiritual disciplines and whose lives are characterized by depth of spiritual practice (not just by the tightness of belief system). These leaders possess a moral authority more closely linked to character than intellectual credentials; they are more sages than technicians; it’s their slow, thoughtful, considered answer that convinces, not the snap-your-fingers-I-know-that kind of answer-man know-it-all-ness. Dorothy has this “softer” authority, a reflection of her earnestness and kindness as much as her intellectual acumen.
2. Broadcaster → Listener: In the postmodern world, it’s not how loud you shout; it’s how deeply you listen that counts. Just as Dorothy engages her traveling companions by listening to their stories and evoking their needs, the postmodern leader creates a safe place that attracts a team, and then she or he empowers them by the amazing power of a listening heart.
3. Objective Technician → Spiritual friend: Think of the difference between a scientist objectively studying chimpanzees, and a crusader dedicated to saving them from extinction. In modernity, a leader loves his organization and loves his ambition, his strategic plan, his goals; but on this side of the transition, leaders love their teams, and those to whom their teams are sent. (Or, more perversely put – in modernity, I Corinthians 13 would read, “If I have all love and would lay down my life for my friends, but have not knowledge, I am a wispy wimp and a poor excuse for a leader.” Beyond modernity, we return toward Paul’s original meaning.)
4. Warrior/Salesman → Dancer: In a world plagued by ethnic hatred and telemarketers, every voice adding stridency and sales pressure to the world is one voice too many. Nobody wants to be “won to Christ” or “taken for Jesus” in one of our “crusades,” and neither do they want to be subjected to a sales pitch for heaven, that sounds for all the world like an invitation to check out a time share vacation resort. A presentation of the gospel that sounds like a military ultimatum or like a slick sales pitch will dishonor the gospel for postmodern people. Instead, think of leadership (and especially evangelism) as a dance. You hear the music that I don’t hear, and you know how to move to its rhythm. Gently, you help me begin to hear its music, feel its rhythm, and learn to move to it with grace and joy. A very different kind of leadership, don’t you agree?
5. Careerist → Amateur: The root of the word “amateur” is “amar” – to love. Most of us in Christian leadership know that seeing ministry as a career can quickly quench the motivation of love. How can we keep that higher motivation alive? How can Christian leadership be for us less like the drudgery of a “job” and more like the joy of a day golfing or fishing or playing soccer or whatever … not something we have to do, but something we get to do? The professionalization of ministry will be one of the harmful legacies of modernity, I believe … a classic case of jumping from the frying pan of clericalism into the fire of professionalism.
6. Problem-Solver → Quest Creator: The man-at-the-top of modern leadership is the guy you go to for answers and solutions. No doubt, there are times when that’s what we need now too. But postmodern leaders will be as interested in creating new problems, in setting new challenges, in launching new adventures … as in solving, finishing, or facilitating old ones. Dorothy does this: she helps her companions trade their old problems (birds landing on the scarecrow, the tin man being paralyzed by rust, the lion faking bravado) for a new quest. Of course, this is what Jesus does too. He doesn’t solve the problems of the Pharisees (How can we get these stupid crowds to know and obey the law as we do?). He creates new ones (Seek first the kingdom of God….).
7. Apologist → Apologizer: Instead of defending old answers, the new kind of leader will often apologize for how inadequate they are. In modernity, you gained credibility by always being right; in postmodernity, you gain authority by admitting when you’re wrong (think of the Pope’s visit to the Middle East in early 2000) and apologizing humbly. That kind of humility, that vulnerability, was one of Dorothy’s most winsome – and “leader-ly” -- characteristics.
8. Threat → Includer: The only threat Dorothy poses is the threat of inclusion, not exclusion. She basically threatens you with acceptance; you’re part of her journey, a member of her team, unless you refuse and walk away. That kind of leadership strikes me as gospel leadership, and it reminds me of Someone Else.
9. Knower → Seeker: Oddly, Dorothy’s appeal as a leader arises from her being lost and being passionate about seeking a way home. Does it ever strike you as odd in contemporary Christian jargon that it’s the pre-Christians who are called seekers? Where does that leave the Christians? Shouldn’t the Christian leader be the lead seeker?
10. Solo Act → Team Builder: All along her journey, Dorothy welcomed company. She was glad for a team. By the end of their journey, the lion, the scarecrow, and the tin man have joined Dorothy as peers, partners, friends. Her style of leadership was empowering, ennobling, not patronizing, paternalistic, creating dependency. So effective was her empowering of them that they were able to say a tearful goodbye and move on to their own adventures.
I know, you’re thinking, why take a silly kid’s movie so seriously? You’re right – it’s just a movie. But I find the film’s repudiation of more traditional modern leadership to be fascinating, maybe an early expression of a cultural shift that we are more fully experiencing today.
And ultimately, of course, I find in Dorothy’s way of leadership many echoes of our Lord’s. After all, you can never imagine the great and terrible Oz washing his subjects’ feet, or his voice booming out, “I no longer call you servants, but friends.”
Maybe some of us are trying hard to be something we’re not. Maybe we’re imitating styles of leadership that are becoming outdated, inappropriate. That’s not to say we don’t have a lot to learn, but maybe the best thing that could happen to us would be to have the curtain pulled back to reveal us not as XXL superheroes, but regular size-M men and women. Maybe then, with the amplifiers turned off and the imaged dropped, we’ll hear Jesus inviting us to learn new ways of leading in his cause.
From 1982-1996, Brian McLaren was a pastor at Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, MD ( He is now an author, speaker, networker, and board member ( and He and his wife, Grace, have four young adult children. He has written several books and his website is

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A Sermon for President Bush

A Sermon for President Bush
By Brian McLaren
This is something written a few months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Dear Mr. President,
I will never forget the day the ballots finally revealed you as our nation’s 43rd president. I was listening to the radio. You were asked in an interview what you wanted to say to the American people, and you said, “We have to love one another,” and I thought, “This is a different kind of president indeed!”
Those hope-inspiring words, echoing the words of Jesus, said something about your sincere commitment as a Christian. They also signified, to me at least, that we are entering a profound new era, called by some a postmodern era. In the premodern era (before, say, 1500), church and state were one. In the modern era, the two wisely separated, but the state often marginalized the church and the spiritual life to a private sphere, excluded from public life, where the state reigned supreme. Or else the state admitted a domesticated civil religion to the public sphere as its chaplain, its justifier, its assistant, its baptizer, but not often as its peer or conscience or advisor.
But in the postmodern era, we realize that while spirituality and politics can and should be separate (for the benefit of both), they are best never to be dis-integrated or alienated or isolated, nor should one be subordinate to the other. Instead, like good neighbors partnering in a difficult task, like two wings on a flying bird, like two participants in an important dialogue, they each must be strong and free to give their best, respectfully interacting with one another as peers with distinct God-given roles.
Mr. President, I am a pastor, serving a congregation of ordinary Americans in the suburbs of Washington, DC. They’re good folk, a mix of GED’s and PhD’s, a mix of white, blue, and no collars, a mix of Democrats and Republicans (who get along pretty well most of the time!), a mix of skin tones and family shapes and sizes. Many of our members work for the government in various capacities, and many are current or retired military people for whom I have deep respect. Several are in the process of being deployed to the Middle East right now. I know you are very busy, and I doubt my words will ever reach your ears, but in case they do, I will seek to keep them brief and simple, in hopes that I, as a fellow Christian, can be of some help and encouragement to you at this difficult time of war and rumors of war.
In addition to our ongoing war against terrorism, we now face the imminent prospect of war with Iraq. I know that politics involves all kinds of gamesmanship and rhetorical maneuvering, requiring far more dexterity and skill than a halfback dodging between tacklers or a quarterback scrambling, faking, and weaving a pass between blocking hands to reach its target. I can understand that sometimes, to prevent a war leaders must make a strong stand by preparing for war. I know that enemies like Saddam Hussein are wily, deceitful, desperate, and dangerously ruthless, and that one must be as wise as a serpent (as Jesus said) in order to deal with them.
Jesus also said, though, that in our serpentine cleverness, we must remain as guileless as a dove, pure in heart as peacemakers, because the God who is real is a God of peace. Whatever clever tactics we must use to seek to prevent war, however we must bare our teeth and expose our claws to dissuade our attackers, we must reverence the harmless dove (God’s Spirit) who flies among us, within us. I have been asking myself what it means to be a true Christian in a time like this, facing war yet loving and seeking peace, wise as a serpent, yet innocent as a dove. So here are four reflections that have been resonant within me in recent days that I wish to share with you.
1. For the follower of Jesus, war must always be seen as a defeat, before the first shot is fired or the last body is buried. In the Scriptures, the voice of God through the prophets plants a dream in our hearts, a dream not of military power and victory, but of peace that makes military power and victories unnecessary. Many people think the prophets primary aim was to predict the future … and there is some little truth to that. But more important, I think, the prophets were helping form the future. They were making history and changing history in a very profound and powerful way: by reaching into the imagination of their hearers, by planting a dream in people’s hearts, a dream that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. This happened in the 7th century BC, when Isaiah was given this message to give to the people. In those days, the Jewish people were under threat from superpowers around them that threatened to overpower them. At a tense time like that, one would expect a rousing, “Let’s go get ‘em! Prepare for war!” kind of speech. But what the prophet says at this critical moment is stunning, surprising:
Many peoples will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths."
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, O house of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the LORD. (Isaiah 2:3-5)
At this dangerous time, when people were sharpening swords and forging spears, God plants in the hearts of the people a dream of peace, of a time when weapons will be melted down and recast as farming tools. True, they may still have to fight, but in their fighting, this dream from God will have taken root, reminding them that fighting will one day be obsolete, and that training for war was not God’s dream.
So, going to war is never a dream come true; it is always a nightmare come true, God’s best dream for us being temporarily defeated. Training for war is a reminder that the dream of God for planet earth is still frustrated, and taking up swords and spears (or tanks and bombs) means that one or both sides have failed, one or both sides have been defeated, have failed to let God “judge between nations” and “settle disputes for many peoples.”
Jesus resonated with this ancient prophet’s dream. In his day, many of his Jewish countrymen dreamed of being free from Roman oppression – a good dream. But to get free, many dreamed of slitting Roman throats – a nightmare, Jesus said. His strategy to achieve freedom and peace was stunningly different:
"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:27-29)
Many have interpreted Jesus’ words as a mandate for all followers of Jesus to be strict pacifists. It is hard to contradict that interpretation, although there is a respectable counterargument in what is called “just war theory” that arises from several Biblical passages, and especially the writings of Saint Augustine in the 5th century. (Unfortunately, I don’t know of any wars ever being called off because theologians convinced anyone that a particular war was unjust in view of the theory, although many wars have been justified through the theory, often at the same time by opposite sides.) But in spite of just war theory, as followers of Jesus we must believe that if pacifism is not right for this or that particular war, it is only a matter of time. Someday, pacifism will be right for everyone, even if it isn’t now, and we should prepare our hearts for that day and long for it to come. In the meantime, it is clear that when war happens, a loving God weeps. After all, Jesus himself, by his way of living and dying, made it clear that God’s kingdom is better welcomed by suffering violence than by causing others to suffer violence. General Douglas MacArthur said,
“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
I would add that for the Christian who is a soldier, his motivation to pray for peace is intensified by his concern for the scars of war suffered by his enemies. So, for the Christian, we must begin with God’s dream, God’s desire, God’s will for us … which is peace. This leads to my second reflection.
2. Whenever we talk of war, and if we must go to war, we must do so with sadness for all concerned. Jesus said we are to love our enemies, and if we love people, to see beloved enemies as the targets of bullets and bombs is a tragic thing.
I grew up, as you did, Mr. President, hearing Walter Cronkite’s weekly reports on the death toll in Viet Nam, first hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands. I remember the first time I heard Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young sing, “Four dead in Ohio, four dead in Ohio, four dead in Ohio,” showing a different kind of casualty of the war, smaller in number but closer to home. But something I never heard, and still have never heard, is the death toll of the North Vietnamese. A decade ago, in the Gulf War (which I watched unfold while sitting at the bedside of my son, who was in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia), I never heard the death toll even estimated of the Iraqis. Perhaps these numbers were never released, or never counted.
Colonel Samuel J.T. Boone, a chaplain in our Army and a Gulf War veteran, wrote,
“In the five months of Desert Shield, prior to Desert Storm, I took prayer requests every day during daily worship service. At every service, some American solder asked that we pray for our enemies. One staff sergeant noted, ‘…A mother’s wail at the loss of her son knows no language, race, or religion.’” (Colonel Samuel J.T. Boone)
In this war, Mr. President, if war must happen, I wonder if you would make history by being the first president to share the death toll of our enemy, not as a score of victory, but as another tragic cost of war? I wonder if you could teach the American people to mourn the death of Iraqi mothers’ sons along with our own? I wonder if you could, in this way, deepen our dread and hatred of war, so that if this war happens, it will bring us one war closer to the end of the nightmare, and the beginning of God’s dream for us? When Jesus said,
“Blessed are they who mourn…” (Matthew 5:4)
I think it is this sort of situation he had in mind.
In our history, I think of Abraham Lincoln, whose sad, sad face – shown in nearly every old photograph and painting -- revealed a heart that was broken by war, a heart that took no joy even in victory in such a dirty business, but only relief that the nightmare was over. If we go to war, Mr. President, my prayer is that your face will show similar lines of sadness, not because I wish for you to be sad, but because I pray for you to be as good a man as Lincoln was, a man who knows the blessedness of mourning that Jesus spoke of. I often think that Lincoln’s sadness was intensified because the war he presided over was a civil war, a war between brothers. And then I think that from God’s perspective, every war is really a civil war, every war a battle between brothers.
Third, Mr. President, it’s important to remember that one doesn’t get a military exemption from the teachings of Christ. So, in light of Jesus’ words,
“Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12)
it should never be easy to drop a bomb on them. In light of Jesus’ words,
“Love your enemies…” (Matthew 5:44)
it should never be easy to load a machine gun with a belt of bullets. But if these things must be done (again, with a heavy heart, with a sense of defeat even before we begin), we must ask, “What do we wish others would do for us if they attacked us and made war against us?”
Three answers rush to my mind. First, I would wish that they would never forget that we are human beings. We are not faceless enemies. We are not gears or pistons in the machinery of an evil empire. We are not subhuman orcs from a Tolkein movie. We are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, lovers and friends, neighbors and colleagues. You reminded us of this again and again at the outset of our attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan. You constantly referred to the people of Afghanistan as neighbors, even friends; you asked the children of America to send a dollar each to the children of Afghanistan. If war breaks out, Mr. President, please do this again, with no less passion and compassion. Be our moral leader even more powerfully than our military leader, and tell the world that we see even our enemies as human beings.
Second, if I ask how I wish our enemies would treat us if they went to war against us, I would wish that they would take every pain to avoid the loss of innocent life. So, if another fifteen minutes of preparation, another fifteen days of taking extra pains and precautions, if another fifteen hours of checking and rechecking satellite data or whatever other tools are at the disposal of military planners … if these extra efforts on our part could save a civilian family, a school girl, a teenager, and old grandfather … I hope we will take the extra effort. I am sure that this is always a concern, but Mr. President, I would wish and hope that you would double the concern, or triple it, or more.
And third, Mr. President, if I were the one being attacked, I would wish that my enemies would spend at least two dollars to repair whatever damage each dollar of weaponry caused. Jesus talked about walking the second mile, and perhaps today he would talk about paying the second dollar. If this means raising taxes, Mr. President, I for one will pay twice the taxes to have the chance to do right to the Iraqi people after the war – if we must go to war.
This would, I realize, triple the cost of war for us. But that would not be a bad thing at all. I think you’ll agree: war should be costly, too costly. A cheap, convenient, easy war could make it easy for us to become barbarians, abusing the power and wealth which we have been given, and for which we will be held accountable as stewards. When we add the high cost of postwar rebuilding to the high cost of war to begin with, we will be more likely to seek creative alternatives to war. We may realize that it would be a bargain to be more generous, to use our money to make friends through wise generosity and humanitarian development rather than using it to make enemies through foreign war.
So, if you and our other national leaders can not find a good alternative to going to war, we must remember after the fighting ends: there is a high cost to being cheap. If we wound but do not heal, the memories of our enemies will keep track of our debt, which will accrue a high rate of interest, perhaps for decades if not centuries. This is one of the consequences of victory, which can be even more dangerous than the consequences of defeat. That final cost of victory may be multiplied a thousand times over our initial expenditure on bombs, bullets, and MRE’s, compared to twice that expenditure on aid immediately after the war.
4. Finally, Mr. President, even if we must prepare for war, up until the very, very, very last minute, I would hope that you would keep asking (and praying), “Can we wait another day? Can we pursue another option? Can we see any other way ahead? Can this cup pass from us?” I will never forget the day in 1994 I heard on the radio news that Nelson Mandela had been elected as president of South Africa. When I thought of the bloodshed that his election precluded, when I thought of the tenure of injustice and oppression that his election ended, my heart leapt with joy. I was driving down the highway, listening to the radio, and tears of joy brimmed in my eyes.
Mr. President, if you fight and win a war in the spirit I have described above, I think the whole world will look back with gratitude that you were elected president. And if you manage to avoid a war while increasing the security of our little planet, our gratitude will overflow in tears of joy and pride, and history will never forget that you represent one of the peacemakers whom Jesus said are truly blessed.
Well, I promised to be brief, and perhaps I have broken that promise. This is my sermon for you. I do not envy you or your associates in making these grave decisions. I know it is easy for others to criticize from the sidelines, easy for pundits and commentators to chide or mock, but they would find it very different if they walked in your shoes, sat at your desk, slept and woke with your pressures on their minds and hearts.
Perhaps I am saying things so obvious that they don’t need to be said. Saying them, of course, is not enough, so I and my congregation will pray for you, and for our world, and for our enemies, and for peace, during these difficult days. May God bless you, and may God bless America, and may God bless our enemies, and may God’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. [end]
Postscript: I wrote the following song (which can be accessed at, in the online sermon for January 12, 2003) to accompany this sermon:
This Dream
We have this dream God has planted in our hearts
Like a seed that is watered with our tears and hope and prayer
That all of/ the guns and/ the tanks and/ rocket launchers
And the land mines/ and the bayonets/ and the bullets/, bombs, and knives
Will be melted down and gone from our lives
We have this dream God has planted in our hearts
Like a seed that is watered with our tears and hope and prayer
From the guns and/ from the tanks we’ll/ make swing sets/ and park benches
From the bullets/ we’ll make trumpets/. In the bombshells/ we’ll plant gardens
So open your heart and don’t let it harden
We have this dream God has planted in our hearts
Like a seed that is watered with our tears and hope and prayer
Clenching fists will/ stop their fighting/, hugs and handshakes/ reuniting
Shouts and violence/ will be silenced/ smile and hear the/ children’s laughter
God’s kingdom is coming and this we seek after.
Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD…
Come, make a plowshare out of every sword
Never let us train for war anymore
Let us walk in the light of the LORD.

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God is!

Leader: My sisters and brothers, God is! (Clap, clap)
All: God is. (Clap, clap)
God’s presence is with us whether or not we are aware of it,
Whether or not we feel it, whether or not we believe it.
God was here before we arrived,
So we do not have to ask for God to be present.
We simply have to awaken to the one who was, who is, and who will always be.
Leader: My sisters and brothers, God accepts us and loves us! (clap, clap)
All: God accepts us and loves us. (Clap, clap)
God accepts us and loves us whether or not we are aware of it,
Whether or not we feel it, whether or not we believe it.
God accepted us and loved us before we accepted and loved God,
So we do not have to ask God to accept us and love us.
We simply have to awaken to the love that was, that is, and that will always be.
Leader: My sisters and brothers, God cares! (clap, clap)
All: God cares. (Clap, clap)
All our problems are known to God, all our pains are felt by God,
All our faults are forgiven by God, and all our concerns are shared with God.
We are not alone.
So now, we awaken ourselves to the presence of God,
So good, so kind, so holy, so just, so powerful, so real, so near, so here.
And now, we awaken ourselves to the acceptance of God.
We accept our acceptance, and we love because God first loves us.
And now, we awaken ourselves to the care of God.
Leader: Wake up, sleepers! (Clap, clap)
All: Let us awaken! (Clap, clap)
Leader: Arise from the dead! (clap, clap)
All: Let us arise! (clap clap)
The light of Christ shines upon us! (Applause and cheers of “Amen” and “Hallelujah!”)

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Everyone is Clergy

Everyone is Clergy: a liturgical reading.
Everyone is clergy. Everyone is called to serve,
To create, to communicate,
To participate with our good Creator
In the making and remaking of our good world.
Everyone is clergy. Everyone is called to stand,
To struggle, to suffer, to trust and to love,
And so to join in the unmaking of injustice and
In the liberation of earth from every form of sin.
Everyone is clergy. Everyone is called to holiness,
To faithfulness, to health, to growth,
To serenity and activity,
To the practices of life
In the kingdom of God.
All our daily work is holy. Every act of service,
Every deed of neighborly kindness,
Every smile or sigh, every touch or tear
Can be a sacramental act expressing the presence of the living God.
Every drop of sweat that falls in honest labor for the common good
Joins with every movement toward others
In the daily liturgy of human work.
Some are given special gifts to equip and inspire others for this daily work of faith
And labor of love.
All are channels of grace, given, received,
Shared in a symphony of many voices and instruments,
So the earth may be filled with the glory of God.
You are clergy. So am I. Together
We are called to learn God’s music of life
In the unique instruments of our bodies, our persons, our times, our settings.
Then we are sent out to play it with joy and sincerity wherever we go.
Together we are part of a truly apostolic succession:
The people of God sent into the world, generation after generation,
As Jesus was sent by the Father,
In the power of the Holy Spirit,
For the good of the world.
So let us work and rest together,
Let us play and sing together,
Let us by our faithful lives bring glory to the true and living God.
For we are all clergy
And we are all called.

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For Non-English Speakers

Translated Books

Several of Brian's books have been translated into foreign languages, but we are in the process of figuring out how to obtain those books. Below is a list of the information we do have.
The Secret Message of Jesus
Spanish - El mensaje secreto de Jesús available for purchase now.
Thomas Nelson publishers anticipates that Everything Must Change will be available in the above languages as well. Publishers wishing to secure translation rights should contact Trish Morrison at

A New Kind of Christian

Korea Inter Varsity Press – Korean – Not yet released
Boedal Publishing – Danish – Published
Marcus Forlag – Swedish – Not yet released
Campus Evangelical Fellowship Press – Orthodox Chinese – Published

The Story We Find Ourselves In

Boedal Publishing – Danish – Published
Marcus Forlag – Swedish – Not yet released
Campus Evangelical Fellowship Press – Orthodox Chinese – Published
The Last Word and the Word After That
Boedal Publishing – Danish – Not yet released
Marcus Forlag – Swedish – Not yet released
Spanish Articles

Carta abierta a los escritores de canciones de adoración
La duda como marea de la fe
La iglesia emergente y mi visita a la iglesia fundada por un líder del movimiento by Melvin Rivera
You can purchase The Secret Message of Jesus in Spanish, as well.

Some of Brian's writings are now in German at this site.

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