Category Archives: Projects

The Challenge for a Startup Religion

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Integral Church is an interspiritual and interfaith community for those who identify with a specific faith tradition as well as those identifying as “spiritually independent,” “spiritual but not religious” or “religiously unaffiliated.”

It is our mission to deepen personal transformative practice, engage in community service and increase religious literacy.

We embrace both wisdom and knowledge by including the beauty, goodness and truth found in the world’s myths, creation stories and faith traditions as well as scientific findings from the domains of psychology, biology and cosmology.

We are interested in carrying forward what works about religion and jettisoning what doesn’t. We bring religion into the 21st century by replacing hierarchy with holarchy and practicing religion in a post-modern, peer-to-peer setting.

We are reclaiming previously stigmatized words like “church” and “religion” for those raised on pluralistic beliefs, multiculturalism and universal values (i.e. compassion, charity, playfulness, mindfulness and The Golden Rule). We express the three faces (or dimensions) of Spirit-in-Action (“I,” “we” and “it”) as we embody these values in our selves, express them throughout our culture and honor them in nature.

We are building radically inclusive forms of spiritual expression including new inter-generational rituals and rites of passage for young people and families, interfaith services and study groups. We also believe in recognizing the new mythologies and sacred texts being written in our time (Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.).

Integral Spirituality is not just a spirituality of “both/and” (masculine and feminine, transcendent and immanent, etc.), it is the belief that we all transcend and include. The belief that something can be both changing and complete — unfolding, yet ever-present — this is the unique idea that Integral Spirituality offers to the world.

This is the vision we hold for the future and the challenge that all religions should take up for themselves.


#GoodNewsStPete launches in St. Petersburg


Welcome to St. Petersburg, one of the hippest and happiest places to live in Florida – maybe even the world. Every day, so many great and beautiful things happen in our community, yet most of what we see on the news is dirty laundry (or much worse).

#GoodNewsStPete is your chance to create balance in the way the story of our city is told.

Start today:

  1. Take a photo or short video with a caption telling the world about your “good news” from St Pete. Did you get an “A” on your math test? Did someone help you with your groceries? Is there a local event or charity you want to rave about?
  2. Upload it to your social media account with the hashtag #GoodNewsStPete and share the love!
  3. If you’re having trouble finding good news to share about creative, kind, and compassionate people in your community, then go create some yourself!

Follow @GoodNewsStPete on Instagram, or send your good news to GoodNewsStPete@gmail.com for the chance to have it featured!

Photo by Chad Mize


New Logo

We can’t tell you how thrilled we are to finally unveil our new logo — developed by our good friend and conspirator, Chris Parks at Pale Horse Design.

Integral Church PaleHorse Logo

What do you think?


The Seven Day Media Cleanse: How and Why?

“Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

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INTRODUCTION

It wasn’t even my idea.

It was my seven-year-old daughter, Alchemy, who suggested it.

“Daddy, let’s go a week without watching TV!”

Her mother, Jennifer, and I had just finished our second juice cleanse of the year, and I think Alchemy was just caught up in all the cleansing and fasting and wanted somehow to be a part of it all. She got no argument from us. In fact, we had just been commenting on her ability to lose herself for hours in the ridiculous time-suck that is the “EZ Bake Oven” app on her iPad.

Recognizing the opportunity to break myself of that nasty texting-and-driving habit, I suggested we also incorporate devices and apps (like Facebook and Twitter) into the mix. Since she didn’t have access to these services, she was totally cool with it.

So, here were the fast and not-so-loose ground rules for our Seven Day Media Cleanse:

1) No TV
2) No apps
3) No internet

This meant no Facebook, Twitter, Netflix or Hulu and (voluntarily) included iTunes and streaming audio services (we have a family plan on Apple Music). For seven days, we would listen to vinyl at home and only have work-related access to e-mail and Google Drive.

DAY ONE – SUNDAY

We decided to start on a Sunday, as it seemed like a day we could easily keep ourselves occupied. However, I had forgotten, this wasn’t any normal Sunday. Jen had class all day, and I had the kids.

My morning routine usually consists of me opening my eyes, hopping out of bed, going to the bathroom, then getting back into bed and lying there for at least another half hour scrolling through my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Not so this morning. I got up, saw Jen out the door, made a cup of tea, put on a record, and started getting the kids ready for the day. I always find it easier to leave the house altogether when I have them. If we’re on the go, they can’t get bored, and they can’t make a mess. Do other dads do this?

We had plenty of books and records at the house to last us through the week, but we made a preemptive trip to Daddy Kool and Planet Retro to buy some records missing from our collection just in case (Jellyfish, Local Natives, Public Enemy, Tomahawk). This seemed completely justified and even proactive at the time. In hindsight, I guess I just like to shop for records.

Our dinner routine usually consists of sitting at the coffee table and watching TV while we eat. However, when Jen got home, we had dinner at the dining room table. Something we hadn’t done in a while. I said a short blessing before the meal, and we enjoyed all facing each other, talking and laughing.

DAY TWO – MONDAY

Not being able to listen to music while driving kinda took some getting used to. The car is where I usually listen to the music I want to hear. I listen to entire albums at a time, and I listen to them loud. I most likely look like a fool to other drivers in traffic as I drum on the steering wheel and shred wicked air guitar solos. After I dropped the kids off at school, it was just me, my thoughts and the silence. The silence was deafening. My ears rang and my head throbbed. I talked to myself, and at times even noticed myself yelling – not in anger, just talking loud to fill the emptiness.

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Feeding Children Everywhere brings “Project 3” to Ybor City

Thanks to everyone at Feeding Children Everywhere who hosted a food packing event in Ybor City during the 2012 Republican National Convention. Our shift alone packed 100,000 meals in two hours that were sent to hungry families within the United States, and the event lasted for three days.

Hoola for Happiness was on-site providing hip-gyrating warm-up activities while we waited for our shift to begin. We were honored to serve alongside all the other churches and community members that came out to support and volunteer.

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Improving Your Sunday Soundtrack

One of the most anti-climactic and disappointing elements of the traditional church service, to me, is not the message clouded in hyperbole. It’s not the sermon — delivered by motivational speakers with drawn-out, dramatic pauses. It’s not the church politics or the passing of the plate.

It’s the music.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t envy the job of the church musical director — keeping an eye out for new talent among the congregation, readying material with little time for rehearsal, limited budget for session players or name acts, politics from the board of directors who have family members who “love to perform.”

I understand it. But I don’t have to like it.

I’m a musician after all, and I have a hard time finding a musical service that both pleases the ear in composition and tonality and also moves the soul to the kind of heights necessary to attain spiritual reflection and illumination.

There is no sheet music for this, there is no cheat sheet or chart. It has to arise in the moment. And when it does, the whole room can feel it. Is this kind of performance too much to ask?

Please take a second to answer this one-question survey in the comments section below.

“I would go to church every Sunday (or more) if the band performing at the service was ______________.”

(Can be anyone, living or dead)


Updated Friend-Sourcing Map

UPDATE: I’ve been carrying the Friend-Sourcing Project journal around with me everywhere I go. People have been very forthcoming with projects they’d like to see happen within their community, and I look forward to one of this church’s core missions being able to manifest these intentions in the real world.

Since the last update, we’ve found it necessary to add a fifth category (Children and Families) due to the growing cluster of projects around that theme. Above is the updated map with simplified descriptions. We swear that they fell into place (with the exception of “Children and Families”) around the integral quadrants (arts/interior, wellness/physiology, gardening/community, cities/systems) all on their own.

As always, if you have an idea for a project, please contribute in the comments below, and we will add it to the map.

Here, again, is the question:

“If you could harness the power of your friends, family and everyone you knew to make a positive change in the world around you, what would it be?”


The Friend-Sourcing Project

“If you could harness the power of your friends, family and everyone you knew to make a positive change in the world around you, what would it be?”

This is what I scrawled into an empty journal and passed around at my birthday gathering last night.

I expected some good and bad, but I didn’t expect such reasoned, rational response (well, at least toward the beginning of the night). 20 entries were collected in all. At a minimum, there will be more gathered in the next few days, and ideally, this will become an ongoing method of gathering information from our friends and family. Responses ranged from pie-eating contests for homeless kids (“to take their minds off being bored”) or building a beer can pyramid to community engagement (recycling, attending city council meetings, urban farming, child mentoring, feeding the homeless, etc.) and even included a full business plan for the launch of a new baked goods concept for mothers.

I am indebted to Joanelle Lusk for inspiring this public appeal for dreams, desires, passions and projects. Without her, Integral Church would be stalled at best. There are some very real, very possible outcomes in the pages of this new journal. Having mind-mapped all the entries thus far, there seem to be commonalities and clusters around the following topics:

1. Food / Urban Farming

2. The Arts

3. City Living / Government

4. Wellness (Body, Mind, Spirit)

I will continue to collect and map these entries as more come in, seeing as my contribution to this project will be to design a system (through meet-ups, outreach and fundraisers) that will make as many of these ideas as possible into sustainable, long-term realities.

If you would like to submit an entry for the Friend-Sourcing Project, please do so in the comments section (be as simple or detailed as you’d like) and we will add yours to the list.

Thank you, everyone.