Category Archives: Body of CHRIST

The Future of Body Theology

On Monday, guest poster Matt Cavanaugh brought up a good point about the changing nature of Church and what the future might bring. He said:

Our world is becoming more isolated physically but more social in a digital sense. I anticipate seeing this trend further, where church (and The Church) is becoming more about what is convenient for our busy schedules. I anticipate people’s spending less time in chapels and more at home with virtual socialization.

So, lovely readers, you are the body theology buffs now.  What do you think?

On the one hand, we have the passing of the peace that Matthew van Maastricht mentioned in the comments to Monday’s post.  We have the seven desires of every heart, one of which is to be physically touched in a safe and non-sexual way. We have the universally accepted healing power of physical touch (ever seen that Vicks Vapo Rub commercial where the mommy is comforting her sick child by rubbing his chest with Vicks?).  Then, of course, there’s the laying on of hands we see in scripture and continue to use today as a physical expression of spiritual support, prayer, healing, and blessing.

On the other hand, we have at least 10 merits of digital community.

A more digitized community might make us more conscious of and intentional about the need for physical connection.  Or it might numb us to the need for human touch and create disembodied communities full of people disconnected from their own bodies as well as the physicality of the incarnation and the body of Christ.

We might be more inclined to follow the example of the desert mothers and fathers and separate ourselves from society for the purpose of prayer and contemplation.  Or we might lose our passion for social justice and creation care and consider them nothing more than the cares of the world that will soon pass away.

What do you think will be the outcome of a more digitized community of God in the future?  Will it affect our body theology positively or negatively?

Guest Post: The Future of Church

I’m extremely proud and grateful to host a guest post from my wonderful, brilliant husband, Matt Cavanaugh.  In addition to the privilege of being married to me, Matt is a musical composer, avid hiker, and lover of all things REI.  He holds a masters in Worship, Theology, and Art from Fuller Seminary as well as undergraduate degrees in psychology, theology, and church and ministry leadership from Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL. Find more from Matt at his website.

God created us each with purpose in mind. It could be purpose as in singular or purposes as in plural. But we’ve been created with — what I believe scripture would support — a ton of intention. (Is there a person who has read Jeremiah out there who can give me an “Amen”?) Not only do we have a purposeful existence, but we also have a purposeful time and location.

I believe that we are living at a very important point in Church history. We’re coming out of the Seeker/Modernist movement and a shorter but important Emergent/Postmodern movement… and now we’re in what I’d consider an idling spot. If we are talking about cars, we have our car still on but at a red light, awaiting a green to move forward and go to the next place.

And so I ask… what is this next spot? This next movement/evolution/step?

Is it the pendulum swinging back towards the more conservative movement (ala Neo-Reformists like Piper, Driscoll, etc…)?

Or is it more progressive?

Or, to think more multidimensionally, is it not a question of more liberal/more conservative or progressive/regressive but instead an entire paradigm shift?

God created us at turning point, and I believe that each of us has a role that requires our integrity and intention. God’s purposes are great for Creation; I believe that (and hope you do too!), and we have been invited to play a part in this wonderful drama of God’s world.

What is your role? I’m not necessarily talking Strengthfinders 2.0 or Myers-Briggs but instead your ROLE. How is/will God use you to further the growth and development of the Kingdom? How will your existence be important to the further unveiling of God’s heart and Plan? (This is not rhetorical… I really would love to hear your answers!)

What might be God moving us towards next?

I have a feeling that the next movement will have to do less with theology and more with physical and emotional socialization. Our world is becoming more isolated physically but more social in a digital sense. I anticipate seeing this trend further, where church (and The Church) is becoming more about what is convenient for our busy schedules. I anticipate people’s spending less time in chapels and more at home with virtual socialization. Maybe someone will figure out a way to create increased digital social community, more developed and fulfilling than what we have already.

How would this more digital and physically isolated experience of the community of God affect our body theology?

Regardless of what the future holds, know this: You have purpose. I have purpose. God is purposeful. Let’s be intentional as we play our part in the future of Church.

An August of Selah


Hello, lovely readers!  It’s been about six months since I began blogging regularly here at Holistic Body Theology, and I’ve decided to take the month of August off from blogging and dedicate the time to praying, planning, and preparing for the future of the blog.

Although I won’t be posting anything new, I’ll still be around, so feel free to connect with me and let me know what you’d like to see here in the future.  Leave a comment in the box below, or hit me up on Facebook or by email. I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, here are some of the most popular posts from the past few months to tide you over until I get back.

Sex is Good, Even When You’re Not Having Any

Reflections on Body Theology: 10 Things that Annoy Me about Being a Woman

My Body Is Rebelling

Choosing Church: A Lament (Part 1)

What Is Body Theology?

Conversation: Are You an Ender or a Starter?

Bathtub Spirituality: Getting Naked Before God

Gender-Inclusive Language; Gender-Inclusive God – Part 1

Why Jesus Taught in Parables

It’s Holy Week! Part 3

The Spiritual Practice of Sleeping

Against the Flesh: Part 2

See you all in September!


The Habit of Hospitality

People are creatures of habit.  We like to be comfortable and content.  We like met expectations.  We like sameness.

But Christ did not call us to comfort and contentment, sameness or habit.  We are called to more than the status quo, more than what is easy and accessible.

We are called to go. We are called to give up.  We are called to drop and follow.  We are called to run.  We are called to be bold.  We are called to be counter-cultural.  We are called to be subversive.  We are called to live in tension, in paradox.  We are called to more.

Since moving to a new area and starting over again to find a community to participate in, my husband and I have been reminded — at times quite painfully — what it’s like to be new, outside, uninitiated.  In the past year, here are three key ingredients I’ve discovered in true hospitality.

1) Be genuine.

Even the less-discerning among us can spot a faker a mile away.  The smile a little too forced.  The voice a little too high. The questions that don’t wait for an answer.  The slimy feeling left behind — sticky-sweet, I call it, the kind of hospitality that leaves a residue.  If we want people to feel welcomed, we have to be genuinely welcoming.

2) Be the initiator and the pursuer.

Simply put, follow up.  New people have already made the first move by showing up. Make them feel genuinely welcomed by inviting them out for coffee, texting them to ask about their day, Facebooking them a funny video that reminded you of your recent conversation.  Do something honest and tailored, something that allows for a response. Do it more than once.  No form letters or cold calls allowed.

3) Earn the right to ask personal questions.

Everyone hates small talk, but going zero to sixty can make newcomers feel uncomfortable and caught off-guard.  Don’t ask a question you wouldn’t be willing to answer yourself.  Take time to build relationship with people.  Let depth come naturally.  Create space for deep conversation, make the first move, and allow them to share when they’re ready — when you’ve earned their trust.

I’m the first to admit I’m not the person most suited to hospitality.  As an introvert, I tend to make terrible first impressions and usually only slightly less terrible second and third impressions.  It takes time for me to open up to new people.  On the rare occasion I work up the courage to initiate, the experience is generally monumentally awkward for everyone involved. (Hence my failure  at working retail.)

I know how hard it can be to be willing to be uncomfortable, to be the one to break the ice, to leave the circle of familiar friends and open up to someone new.  But this past year, being the newcomer at every new church service, every new community event, I have been reminded that it is infinitely more difficult to be on the outside, feeling displaced and excluded — maybe even unwanted.

Next time I’m on the end of extending hospitality to someone new, I will remember to be in the habit of being genuine, following up, and earning the right to go deeper.

What’s your hospitality story?

Forward Friday: What does God value?

This week we’ve been talking about church plants and what it looks like to be the community of God.  For the weekend, try this short journal exercise:

Ask yourself: what does God value? How can the community of God be and behave more according to God’s values and goals for the body of Christ?

Not into journaling?  Try discussing the question over coffee or tea with a friend.

Come back and share your experience in the comment box below.

What would it look like?

What would it look like if church communities sat down every month and had a Kaizen meeting?  What if we constantly asked ourselves what God values and how to usher in the kingdom of God?

What would it look like if we not only allowed church plants to be new and different — to behave newly and differently — but also expected it? Go forth and be new wine skins.

What if we viewed church communities as organisms, not as organizations?  Living, breathing, growing, changing entities with lifespans and families and personalities and the freedom to try, to surpass, to surprise.

What would that look like?

What if we started by asking what God is already doing and how to join in instead of asking God to sign on to our next big idea?  See the new thing springing up and enter in!

What if we refused to programmize, institutionalize, or bureaucratize? What if the church community didn’t need accountants and buildings and budgets? What if we focused more on being available than on being established?

What if “preacher” were not automatically synonymous with “leader?”   What if our leadership were flat?  What if it were equal?

What would that look like?

What if we worried more about being mobile than being mega?

What if we did not pursue the praise of people but the principles of the kingdom of God?

What if we were innovators and creators and deconstructors and reconstructors and  philosophers and activists and lovers and monks and healers?

What if we were loud? What if we were quiet? What if we were brave?

Who would we look like?

15 Benefits of Being a New Church Plant

  1. You don’t think you have everything figured out yet.
  2. You don’t feel the need to run everything like a well-oiled machine.
  3. You don’t have any parking spaces labeled “senior pastor only.”
  4. You are still small enough that you recognize a new face.
  5. You are tight enough that most of the participants feel like family.
  6. You can recognize your mistakes as mistakes.
  7. You can admit your mistakes and move on.
  8. You’re more willing to try new (or really old) things.
  9. You’re more likely to keep/enjoy/benefit from the new (or really old) things that you try.
  10. You have to ask for help more often.
  11. You get to help/volunteer/participate more often.
  12. You feel more ownership and buy-in because you are helping/volunteering/participating.
  13. You worry less about who you might offend or what unspoken rules you might break.
  14. You worry less about starting new programs.
  15. You worry more about identifying what God is already doing and how to enter into it.


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Forward Friday: Relational Living

Wednesday, I wrote about my purpose in blogging on Holistic Body Theology.   I shared that I write this blog because we are not made to be alone.  We do not walk this journey alone.

Relational living is a simple, yet vital, element of body theology. This weekend, as you spend time with family, friends, maybe a church community, take the opportunity to be mindful of the way God created us to be together.

Then come back and share your experience in the comment box below.

How did you participate in the body of Christ this weekend?

Why Body Theology?

In an age when we can transplant blood and organs from one person to another in order to bring life; when people’s bodies can be augmented by artificial means; when a person’s sex can be altered; when beings can be cloned; when heterosexual and patriarchal understandings of the body are breaking down, issues of bodily identity worry us and yet in an age when aesthetics appears to have largely replaced metaphysics,

the body seems to be all we have

(even, as [Sarah] Coakley notes, as it disappears on the internet). The body matters and so it is little wonder that a distinctive genre of theology known as body theology has developed.  But in truth

Christian theology has always been an embodied theology rooted in creation, incarnation and resurrection, and sacrament. 

Christian theology has always applied both the analogia entis (analogy of being) and the analogia fidei (analogy of faith) to the body.

The body is both the site and the recipient of revelation.

– Lisa Isherwood and Elizabeth Stuart, Introducing Body Theology (p. 10-11), emphasis added

Body theology — holistic body theology — is about knowing who we are in Christ and allowing that identity to inform the way we see ourselves, the way we interact with others who share the same identity, and the way we interact with the world as a whole.

Having a healthy relationship with our bodies informs the way we relate to ourselves, to God, and to each other. 

When we are free from the lies we receive and internalize, we are able to enter into the fullness of life God has promised and live in the already as whole, redeemed, holy people of God.

I write this blog because I need to be reminded every day that my body is good, has been redeemed, and is an inextricable and irremovable part of the way God speaks to me and uses me in the world for God’s good purpose.

I write this blog because I have met so many other people who struggle just like I do to live a little more in the already and recognize the sacred in ourselves and all around us.

I write this blog because we are not made to be alone.  We do not walk this journey alone.  Your comments, Facebook messages, and emails continually inspire, encourage, and challenge me.

Keep thinking.  Keep sharing.  Keep walking with me.  Let’s walk together slowly, faithfully into the freedom God has promised.

Forward Friday: Reflecting on Community

This weekend, reflect on one of the following:

1)      What does “community” mean to you?

2)      Think about a recent interaction with someone in your community where you spoke, acted, or reacted out of woundedness and fear rather than healing and love. Identify the root or source of your behavior.  Notice your emotional and physical responses.  Invite God into your experience to help guide your reflection.  Ask God to bring healing into the place of woundedness and to cast out fear with love. Write down your experience so you can return to it for further reflection as you grow in your spiritual journey.

Share what you discover with a close friend, or post in the comment box below.

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