NPR's Day to Day profiles life in Kansas City: Kansas City: The View from the Middle. Though the piece carries a subtle tone of condescension, it offers a nice profile of a great city that we are growing to love with increasing intensity.
The term "middle" conjures up a host of pejoratives: middling, middle-brow and middle-of-the road.
But settle down in what folks on both coasts deride as "flyover country," and you discover something different: a political environment that celebrates consensus as much as conflict, a space where culture and business are comfortably intertwined, and a place where history and modernity don't just live, but thrive.
Kansas City is the embodiment of the middle. It's near the geographic center of the continental United States. It's the dividing line between a traditionally "blue" state (Missouri) and a traditionally "red" one (Kansas). And it's a sprawling — but human-scale — metropolis, with a reviving downtown and so many construction cranes that locals joke "the crane is the new state bird."
The first thing you notice as an outsider is the architecture. The way glassy modernist sculptures like the still-under-construction Sprint Center arena nestles amidst stately, century-old apartment buildings. Or how the city's colonnaded grande dame, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, has sprouted a funky new wing that glows softly at night.
You can read more, and listen to the show here. To read more about our efforts to plant a new church in Kansas City, check Reach Kansas City
Drew Goodmanson answers the question with three key ingredients that lead to greater conversion taking place within the context of church plants:
1. Jericho Walls - Church planting requires a tremendous amount of faith and a slight bit of gospel insanity ... Church planters need to have a sense of calling because church planters have to look at the Jericho-sized walls of starting a church and addressing the world's unbelief and pray to God as desperate men who have to have God show up in order to plant a church. And this is where God tends to arrive most, when there is a humble people lifting their hands desperate for Him to show up...
2. Fat Cats Don't Hunt - When church plants begin, there is a smaller number of people and they often have a much greater external focus. Larger churches often see a great necessity for taking care of the people that are already showing up. Therefore, a larger church tends to spend more time on internal programs...
3. Risk & Reward - New churches have greater freedom to be flexible, change on the dime and try new things. This means they can experiment with new methods, sounds, styles and often this can reach untapped people groups. The same principles are seen when start-up companies are more innovative and surpass the larger bureaucracy-laden companies in tapping new markets.
One of my favorite books in the world is Heath and Potter's, Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture. I have read the book three or four times and have had more conversations with people about the book than I care to count. I don't ascribe to all the tenets of the book, but if I haven't told you to buy the book yet, consider this your introduction. Buy Nation of Rebels.
The concept of countercultural rebellion and its elusive twin—cool—have resulted in a status competition that has driven consumption to unprecedented heights. It's not conformism that leads us to spend, spend, spend on the unnecessary and the ephemeral, but its opposite: the quest to distinguish ourselves from the masses through our enlightened, hip, or just plain rebellious consumer preferences. And marketers of products ranging from cars (the Volkswagen Bug) to computers (the Mac) to shoes (Doc Martens) have been reaping huge harvests from the countercultural seeds that were sown in the 1960s. The point was never underlined more heavily than when Kalle Lassen, editor of the ragingly anti-capitalist Adbusters magazine, came out with the Black Spot sneaker: a "subversive" running shoe that Lassen hoped would "uncool Nike" and "set a precedent that [would] revolutionize capitalism." As Heath and Potter point out, there is nothing "subversive" about trying to beat Nike. "That's called marketplace competition. It's the whole point of capitalism...."
I'm glad to see Relevant magazine profiling what I consider to be good artists, though one could hardly call Dylan Peterson's piece on Pinback a "review" by any standard. Perhaps others who, like Peterson, depend on Grey's Anatomy and The OC to find new music, will agree with his assessment that Pinback is an indie rock "hit" band (whatever that may mean).
However, I believe that Peterson's inability to appreciate the full scope of Pinback albums might say less about the band and more about a generation of ipod 'playlist' and television soundtrack music listeners that are increasingly incapable of actually engaging an album for what it is-- namely, an album. I think it is a sad commentary on how we engage music as art that so few people I know actually consider that artists compose albums and therefore few sit down and listen to an album in its entirety.
Don't get me wrong: those that are content to pluck "hits" at $0.99 a pop would still benefit from Peterson's advice to check out Pinback. But, for those that want to encounter a band that exists as a creative force outside The OC and 30 second iTunes previews-- I would highly recommend the new Pinback album, Autumn of the Seraphs. The album has a great flow from beginning to end. In fact, I heartily recommend all of Pinback's albums (even Nautical Antiques, which is not technically an album but the compilation of several out of print EP's from earlier in the band's career).