Portrait of A.J. Swoboda

A.J. Swoboda

  • Pastor
  • Professor
  • Speaker
  • Writer
  • Community Architect

Location: Portland, Oregon | USA

Sep 10, 2014

Words and Shovels: Where are the Prophets? (V3 Article)

Prophets are the church’s immune system.

Without prophets, we are left to the mercy of whatever sicknesses we’re exposed to from season to season. The prophet, like an oncologist, inflicts a kind of communal pain which, when received, brings healing. Their hard words bring a better world. Perhaps more than ever, prophets are in great need to revitalize the American church. For truth-telling is the language of a Christ who so proudly spoke of Himself as “…the Truth.” (John 14:6)

Yet, in recent times, I’ve lamented a growing trend...

[Read the full article at V3 here]

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Womanizers and Nazis (Christianity Today Article)

It would be impossible to count the number of times a new member to our church community has entered our fellowship with that line. Countless, indeed. And, in most cases, the pain is still throbbing. In many conversations, I hear them talk about leaving ministries with wonderful leaders, inspiring histories, and profound impact. Of course, I’ve learned to be quick to press into that pain—there’s always an important story there. Healing, after all, was (and is) a central aspect of Jesus’ ministry. I am always careful.

How do we learn and grow after churches, pastors, spiritual authorities, or organizations have hurt or deeply disappointed us?

So, how do we learn and grow after churches, pastors, spiritual authorities, or organizations have hurt or deeply disappointed us?...

[Read the full article at Christianity Today's website here]

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Jun 30, 2014

Curing Good News Anxiety (Wheaton Article)

You preach of the good news; you need the good news.

History reminds us that amidst the excitement of 19th century revivalism, Charles Finney (1792–1875) played a particularly crucial part in gospel evangelism of his time. Among his other trademarks, Finney’s evangelistic method made popular by the “anxious seat” puts him in a special place in evangelical history. His practice was a first of its kind—at the end of tent prayer meetings, Finney invited plain folk who feltanxious about their standing before God to the front. There, the seeker would sit down in a chair, an “anxious seat,” and through prayer and confession receive Jesus as Lord.[1]

Finney’s practice changed everything...

[Read the full article at the Billy Graham Wheaton Center website...]

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Jun 28, 2014

Learning to Recover from a Sermon (Preaching Today Article)

A preacher's life is full of all kinds of confusing stuff that their congregation probably knows little or nothing about (and probably don't want to). Stuff like our occasional doubts after we preach some doctrinal point to God's people, or the anger preachers have to preach through after just having had a five minute argument with their spouse in the back hallway of the church, or the sheer insecurity preachers face every single week about their own vocational calling. One more: How to recover from a sermon.

How do we recover from the high of preaching?...

[Read the full article at Preaching Today...]

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Jun 26, 2014

Spilled Blood and Graceful Judgment (Parse)

Spilled Blood and Graceful JudgmentWhether you paid attention or not, many of us watched the world mercilessly turn against a man this past spring. Donald Sterling, the now ex-owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, became a poster-child for racism, hatred, and bigoted wealth. Sterling's racist, thoughtless comments, recorded secretly and posted on a gossip website after lots of money changed hands, reveal a man whose words and actions betray his very character and his future. Sterling was banned from the NBA for life for his comments, and fined 2.5 million dollars. Reactions of outrage, even outright hatred toward him were everywhere online.

There is no excuse for his comments, no justification—by any stretch of the imagination—for the opinions that spawned them. But from my perspective, our culture's reaction, angry and judgmental, reveals something deeper and darker than simple righteous indignation. It reveals how broken our sense of judgment is, and how much we need a better one.

[Read the full article at Parse...]

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Books I've Written

Living People I Read

Alan Hirsch

Allan Anderson

Amos Yong

Bernard Anderson

Dale Davis

Don Carson

Donald Bloesch

Donald Dayton

Donald Gelpi

Ed Dobson

Elizabeth Johnson

Eugene Peterson

Frederick Beuchner

Gary Babcock

Gordon Fee

Gregory Boyd

Harvey Cox

John Drane

John Goldingay

John Stott

John Zizioulas

Jim Belcher

Jürgen Moltmann

Karen Armstrong

Kenneth Bailey

Kevin Vanhoozer

Kirsteen Kim

Larry Hurtado

Lauren Winner

Mark Cartledge

Margaret Feinberg

Mel Robeck

Nancey Murphy

N.T. Wright

Paul Hiebert

Phyllis Tickle

Ray Bakke

Richard Baukham

Rodney Clapp

Robert Banks

Robert Farrar Capon

Rowan Williams

Sallie McFague

Stanley Fish

Stanley Hauerwas

Thomas Schmidt

Timothy Keller

Walter Brueggemann

Zygmunt Bauman

Dead People I Read

Aimee Semple McPherson

Athanasius

Augustine

Basil the Great

Charles Spurgeon

Charles Wesley

Colin Gunton

C.S. Lewis

David Bosch

Dorothy Day

Dorothy Sayer

G.K. Chesterton

George Eldon Ladd

Hendrickus Berkhof

Henri Nouwen

John Wesley

Jonathan Edwards

John Calvin

Joseph Fitzmyer

Karl Barth

Leslie Newbigin

Martin Luther

Michel Foucault

Paul Tillich

Raymond Brown

Roland Allen

Simone Weil

Steven Bevans

Theresa of Avila

Vincent Donovan

Walter Hollenweger

William McClendon