Something to think about

From Discover Your Windows by Kent R. Hunter

A man walked into the pastor’s office and said: “I want to join the church.  But don’t ask me to do anything. I don’t want to be part of any organization.  I don’t want to do any work.  I’ll come to church when I feel like it, but that’s it.”

The pastor replied:  “I see.  Well you’re at the wrong address.  Here, go to this address just down the road.  They have exactly what you want.”

The man left and went down the street until he came to the address which the pastor gave him, and was shocked to find himself at the entrance to a cemetery.

Faith takes action.

Vic Halboth

 

The Day the Bodybuilders met the Baptists

Three

St John’s is a Lutheran flavored congregation so why in the world am I blogging about bodybuilders and baptists?

This:

Do we reflect the very best of the gospel of Jesus, or are we slipping into the lure of institutionalism and isolationism? Do we actually know our neighbors? Do we love our city as Jesus loved Jerusalem? Do we honestly care about the needs and lives of those outside the church? How do we welcome the stranger, and those very different than us? Are we aware of how unapproachable or otherworldly we appear to others? Do we recognize that, unless we convince them otherwise, our culture identifies us with the grotesque aberrations of Christianity that the media panders to? How have we allowed the political culture, rather than the gospel, to shape us?

These are great questions! We are called to constantly monitor how we are representing Christ to each other and to the world.

Pastor Matt

What Netflix Can Teach Us About Church

nonprofit-storytelling-featured-imageThis blog post by Carey Nieuwhof is nearly a year old but it speaks well to what we are facing as The Church.  Carey shares five shifts in culture embodied in Netflix.  One of the great take-aways for me

Clearly people are looking for a better story. Church leaders need to bring it to them.

I love watching the Netflix original shows because they have great story lines, push the envelope, and are rich and full of life.  Carey calls them the movies of today.  It’s not the bland, one size fits all of TV programming of the 20th century.  It is full, rich story-telling–on demand.

We need to tell the Greatest Story Ever….well.  The entire Gospel in all it’s richness and interesting twists.  No Netflix or TV show can touch the drama and impact of Jesus Christ.  Tell….The…..Story.

Tension

tension_small

As a Pastor, I often hear that a good church is one that gets along.  Anytime there is tension or conflict that particular congregation gets labeled bad.  What if our perception is backward?

I’ve often said that if there isn’t at least someone upset with the way things are going in a congregation, the congregation is dead.  Here is another way to put it from an article by Amy Butler:

A member of my congregation recently came to see me and we agreed: tension is absolutely necessary in any congregation that wants to welcome the future. The truth of the matter is: any congregation that wants to be part of the future of the Church — whatever that will be — must be ready and willing to welcome whatever will come.

And that means tension.

There’s tension between what was and what will be. There’s tension between policies and vision. There’s tension between roles and responsibilities. But how do we move forward? We feel the tension, but we want the future. What to do?

Amy has four ways to deal with tension in the church

First, there has to be a commitment to hiring good people, and to helping good volunteers step into meaningful service. Please, friends, empower your senior clergy to hire an excellent team; these professionals will make or break your efforts. Then, furthermore, help qualified and competent lay people step into leadership roles. They will take you to the future! Hire the professionals, then let the laity step in, and empower them to lead.

Second, in a system welcoming the future, there has to be training. TRAINING! In any way that we can summon education around roles and responsibilities, that education is key. We have to communally understand why we are here and what responsibilities our roles require. When we have that, we can move forward with confidence.

Third, if we’re transitioning, we have to work to keep the vision alive. Tell each other why you’re here. Remind one another of the gifts of the community. Reiterate the substance of your life together — again and again. Keep the vision alive.

Fourth, and last: learn to trust each other. When a new leader comes in, when change begins to happen, we want to welcome that change. After all, we’ve been waiting and working for such a turn of events. But when the change comes, we often think: “It almost feels like we haven’t participated in such a change!” Trust your leaders. Trust each other. We will make it through this change.

The last sentence really sums it up for me:  We will make it through this change.

Leadership Challenges in Church Revitalization

or Mission is Messy:

Any disconnected church that seeks to reengage with their community will find the experience to be messy.

There may be physical messes like mud on the carpet, smudges on the walls, dirty bathrooms, or broken vases. The way of church life to which your people had grown accustomed will suddenly change.

But, there are also relational messes—things changing that some do not want to change.

In revitalization, it’s hard to transition to a missional mindset. Kids will break things. Life will change.

Church revitalization is an opportunity to lead God’s people to a renewed focus on God’s mission.

But in the end, it’s worth it all.

Meet a Saint Today

In Matthew 19 the disciples were trying to keep the little children away from Jesus.  The disciples didn’t want Jesus distracted with little people outside his generation.  Jesus reaction is recorded in Matthew 19:14

Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.

Our society is heavily segregated by age:

It is possible, today, for a middle-aged office worker to go to sleep on a Friday having interacted all week with not one person more than a decade older or younger; the same could well be true for her daughter in college, or her parents living at Pleasant Oaks Village. According to one study, Americans over 60 said that only a quarter of the people they had discussed “important matters” with during a six-month period were younger than 36; if they didn’t count relatives, the number dropped to an astonishing 6 percent.

The Church is probably the last place in the United States where young and old might actually interact with each other.  And what do we do?  We try to follow the world’s example and leave the interaction to the “professionals:” pastor, youth pastor, Sunday School teachers, etc.

So what happens when we mix across age/generational lines.  We share faith with one another.  We share life with one another.  We share Jesus with one another:

Studies have shown that seniors in retirement homes benefit when they spend time reading to children and playing with them, while young people are given the chance to absorb wisdom and life experience.

I encourage you to read the whole article.  There is a place for us to interact with peers of our own age and life experience.  But God’s Kingdom calls us to break through the barriers that separate us.

God has given each of us gifts in the Communion of Saints.  You are a Saint in God’s Kingdom no matter what generation you belong.  The person from another generation is also a Saint in God’s Kingdom.  Go meet a Saint today.