I help people and organizations approach the world through a subversive lens…challenging assumptions and helping people embody an alternative to the imperial norm. I weave together the skills of a theologian, a pastor, a spiritual director, an artist and an activist to help people incarnate something new into our shadowed world.
This can take different shapes. Sometime this involves individual or group spiritual direction. Sometimes I develop customized workshops or courses. Sometimes I lead retreats or facilitate group discernment. Whatever form it takes, my vocation in this world is to help people turn from the false promises of Empire to embody something new—a creative expression of God’s (un)kingdom.
In that spirit, I offer these guidelines for those who are seeking my help as a speaker/teacher.
GUIDELINES FOR SPEAKING/TEACHING
If you are interested in having me speak at your event, facilitate a workshop, lead a retreat, etc., please fill out the following:
- A description of how you would like me to participate, including the number of times I’d be asked to speak.
- The attendance and type of audience you expect, and a description of the event, along with dates.
- A brief explanation of your need and why you think I might be helpful.
- A description of your organization/institution/community.
- Your proposed compensation (see below).
- Your complete contact information including name, address, phone, and email of the primary contact person.
Compensation: I often participate in events for less if the organization has a limited budget or is one with which I have a strong personal connection. At the same time, if you are a part of a large or wealthy organization, or if your proposed event will require extra research or other challenges, I might ask for more. Each situation is different and I consider determining reasonable compensation a matter of dialog and discernment.
If your event is within 100 miles of the Twin Cities Metro area, $500 is suggested for a single-day speaking event. For multiple-day events, $600 is suggested for the first day with $500 for each following day.
If your event is outside of the Twin Cities area, a $600 minimum is suggested for a single-day speaking event. For multiple-day events, $700 is suggested for the first day with $600 for each following day.
Travel: Unless other arrangements are made, it is assumed that your organization or group will cover the costs of travel.
Lodging: Whenever possible, I would rather stay in a home than a hotel.
Food: It is assumed that your group or organization will provide for my meals both during his travel, as well as during my visit.
Cancellations: If you should need to cancel your arrangement, you are responsible for paying a $300/day cancellation fee unless I waive that.
Here are some examples of topics I have engaged as a speaker, teacher, or workshop facilitator. As a consultant, most of my work has been in helping communities and individuals move more deeply into the intersection of radical action and deep spirituality.
These are topics I’m most excited about:
Becoming Human: As new technologies help connect billions around the globe, people feel as disconnected as ever. And as we enter into an era of unprescented diversity, xenophobia rages. In the midst of growing anxiety, doubt, and fear, how can we be the hospitable church God wants us to be? Drawing from fifteen years of hospitality ministry, new social and neurological research in infrahumanization, and ancient teachings of Christian mystics, I will help you see the ways in which our society causes dehumanization and how you might begin to resist alienation in a fragmented society. And then, picking up the pieces, I’ll help you develop skills that cultivate inner peace and stronger communities.
Welcoming the Jubilee: We live in a society that tells us we experience abundance through hard work and poverty through laziness. We are hounded by anxieties and pressures to succeed, to measure up, and to pave our own path. And when things don’t work out like we’d hope, we suspect that it is because there is something wrong with us. As we look out into our broken world, we see people living on the streets, millions in jail, millions more in debt, and a church that seems to preach “blessed are the rich and successful” instead of “blessed are the poor.” But what if Jesus was right? What if we can experience “the year of the Lord’s favor”—the Jubilee? I will dig into ancient practices of the “gift economy” and learn from those communities that developed skills of mutual aid to shed light on Jesus’ jubilee vision. Together, I can help your community begin to opt out of this treacherous meritocracy and begin to create something new.
Jesus the Trickster: For 2000 years, Jesus has been used to reinforce the status quo. Drawing upon folklore, anthropology, and scripture, I will challenge our societal assumptions about Jesus to reveal a radical figure hidden underneath the debris from two thousand years of propaganda and propriety. How does our faith change when we recognize Jesus as a trickster who mocks the elite, turns common sense on its head, and shows people a dangerously alternative way to live? And how can we begin our own reckless path into being tricksters who follow in the way of Jesus?
Uprooting Empire: Christianity has become interwoven with systems of oppression. Our faith has been weaponized. And instead of proclaiming the Gospel, the church is more often telling stories that nurture an imperial spirituality. Mark will explore the ways we’ve internalized those narratives and how we may begin to uproot them, both within ourselves and in society. Together, we will ask “What toxic narratives do I need to uproot so that I can begin to find liberation for myself and my society?” and “How can we reclaim a liberatory faith that challenges the injustices around us?”
The Stories we Live By: The first real step in transforming the world is transforming our way of seeing the world. And the way we see the world is shaped by the stories we believe about ourselves and our world. Unfortunately, we didn’t choose most of the “big stories” that guide our lives. Stories about who is most deserving in our society. Stories that justify injustice. Stories that make us feel like failures. Toxic stories. How can we begin to change these stories that we tell ourselves? So that we might become people of a better story…people of the Gospel?
These are some other topics I’m keen to explore with you:
The Kingdom of God and the American Dream: Christianity has been twisted in this nation to legitimize conquest, subjugation, and oppression. And today, what many call the Gospel is actually an imperial myth. How can we begin to disentangle Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God from the so-called “American Dream?”
The Prophetic Vocation: Seminaries train pastors, not prophets. And our churches tend to encourage respectability, not defiance. How do we take prophetic ministry seriously? And how do we begin to train and equip people accordingly?
The Dangerous Duty of Discernment: Jesus never promised us a holy book of answers. Instead, he promised us that the Spirit will “guide us into all truth.” How can we discern the Spirit together in a way that leads to faithfulness in the midst of alienating and dehumanizing forces?
Subversive Spirituality: The first real step in transforming the world is transforming our way of seeing the world. How do contemplative practices help shape us into being faithful witnesses to God’s presence in the midst of a broken world?
Forming Intentional Communities: Interested in forming an intentional Christian community? Mark can share 15 years worth of insights to help you avoid pitfalls and establish solid practices.