Where’s the Beef?


I remember the day I read this quote from Walter Bruggemann, “The task of [the prophet] is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness & perception alternative to the consciousness & perception of the dominant culture around us.”[1] It was September 29, 2007, it was the day I “knew” I was called to ministry.  It was the day when I accepted that the call to ministry was one set not in peril but plagued with inefficiency of human effort as we all did the best we could with what we had to serve Jesus the Christ.

That being a pastor, minister, faith leader or elder was not merely an office to stand in and maintain the status quo.  Rather, pursuing ordained ministry is accepting the call to be a prophet in a world where prophetic voices were hair pieces and demand money on late night cable access programs.  Even this image is fading into glory and what are we left with?

The answer is not simple if there is an answer at all.  There are more questions than answers and more uncertainty than certainty.  The only thing static is the white knuckled grip on institutional traditionalism and the demand for young people.

You see I am not your standard “Christian” nor am I a textbook case of ministry faire.  I have more questions than answers and I am more uncertain than certain.  The only thing I have in buckets is bravado and opinions and the bravado is probably more like fear or ignorance.

It is with in this geography that I entertained the idea of being called to ministry and it is also the geography that lead me to [D]mergent.  I came late to the party after my own little Rumspringa.  I came like Paul with a miricle laced entrance and always thought that was how God worked in these things.  God was hardcore and extreme.  God invaded my world as much as God invades the world others lived in.  There was no boundary for the God I knew and the world to which I sought reconciliation from.

I hold evangelical roots from the City of Angels.  I am a white boy that fights for his Native roots and feels at home with his Latino/a family.  I was a carny and a truck driver.  I have been baptized three times and have a weakness for altar calls.  I love high church and feel a deep connection to praise songs.  I am messy, complex and indulge in conversations.

I am seminary trained and barroom forged.  I am a student of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and North American Indigenous Spirituality.  I like to grill out and desire to be a vegetarian.  I love poetry and cuss words.  I hate labels and seek security in labeling the world around me.

I hope to see God in all that I do.  I trust that God is in all of creation.  I am not sure if I am even a Christian.  At best I am a poor example of a Christian but I try really hard.  I see the kingdom of God as a geography of hope, a nation of all that hunger for a better way.  I bring this thought to [D]mergent as I answer my call to ordained ministry with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

“The task of [the prophet] is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness & perception alternative to the consciousness & perception of the dominant culture around us.” It is my hope that [D]mergent may be the geography of hope for those the seek to be a ‘Disciple” to the generations that have no ecclesial home.  I want to gather and be a part of a tribe that nurtures, nourishes and evokes a consciousness and perception that is counter to the status quo.  I feel God is calling us all to a new way, a way that embraces the Other where they may be.  A call that is more certain than uncertain.  A call to wrestle together and answer those questions that challenge us to imagine a brave new world, a geography that penetrates the craggy surfaces of those long abused by the church and the others that have been left behind.

It is this misfit, outcast hope that I bring to [D]mergent.  I hunger for a place to witness the church, as I have known it.  That place where sinners dinner together in the glory of Jesus the Christ trusting that we are all in the same boat.  We are [D]mergent.

By Ryan Kemp-Pappan

Ryan is a minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at Douglass Blvd. Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He has a B.A. in Religious Studies from California State University, Northridge and a M.Div. from Austin Seminary (TX). He chairs the Faith Leaders for Fairness fighting for equal rights for all in the State of Kentucky. He delivers mad Esoteric Piracy. He likes to think of himself as a Royal Pain in the south end of a north bound donkey, Master of 3 of the 5 logical oceans, Beloved creation, 1985 Beer Chug Champion, Amateur Sock Puppeteer, Buckaroo, Reclaimer of lost treasures, Seeker of truth, Tamer of lions, Pugilist of toothless circus bears, Servant, & Tinker of convoluted ideas…

He blogs at The Fettered Heart. He is a host with HCX.  He dreams of one day fighting for lost souls in the dark, smoke filled rings of Mexico City  as a luchador por Jesus Cristo and hopes to walk this way following the footsteps of the grandest ADIDAS there ever has been.


[1] The Prophetic Imagination pg. 13 [Brueggemann, W.]

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About @rk_p

Friend. LGBTQ Advocate. Minister. Runner. Diabetic. Husband. Brother. Son. Aspiring Vegan. Artist. Storyteller. Writer. Taco Aficionado. Lover of Los Doyers! Extrovert married to an introvert. Spiritual but not Christian.

8 thoughts on “Where’s the Beef?

  1. ryan, it’s good to read of someone else who is both very certain and totally uncertain about what is and who is. I look forward to some barroom discussions of all this.

  2. Ryan – Thanks for writing this. It was just what I needed this morning. I’m glad to be your brother in this whole mess we call Christianity. Like Scott, I hope to belly-up with you some day for sharing of thoughts and feelings.

  3. I get the sorta wild-thing new-church Christ-cloud uncertainty principle. I get the unburdened coffeeshop-as-catacomb sensibility. It all resonates in me; I’m perhaps as certain/uncertain as you are. What I’m struggling with right now in my traditional church (on life support) is loving and caring for the ones who can’t deal with it, either by temperament or upbringing. Do we let the dead bury their own dead? If I don’t Twitter, am I an insta-fail unworthy of the brave new world of church? Who gets left behind, and when?

    • I do not have all the answers. This is why it is important for all of us that gather here to bring this conversation to those that are nor here. We need all voices in this conversation and we need all those divinely inspired gifts that God has bestowed upon the community of God. We are not complete sans one voice.
      It is my deepest desire that [D]mergent may become a place for all voices that are seeking news ways or voices seeking to restore or renew old ways. We need it all here.
      I hope that we may draw others into this conversation for the sake of the church and for our sake as disciples.

      As for letting the dead bury the dead. There is wisdom there. Can you or I minister outside of our context? We must seek to build relationships with each other. The dead must bury the dead but we must also mourn their loss and share the burden.

  4. Janet & et al.,
    1) Explicity and continuously invite people to [D]mergent. Put a short notice in the church newletter or the Sunday bulletin or leave little slips of paper in the sanctuary or pass them out to the Sunday School classes or anything else or any combination.

    2) Personally invite people who are computer literate to join the conversation at [D]mergent.

    3) Carry the conversation back to church, to Sunday School class, to the church newsletter. At your church, is wireless service available for your laptop? – take your laptop to church. Print articles, take them to church…

    4) Carry the conversation to work, to school, college, seminary, Facebook, MySpace, twitter – take the message to the world, at least your portion of it.

    5) Keep inviting. Keep sharing. Keep the conversation alive.

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