"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Near the beginning of his performance, he shared that God created humor and there must be a reason why God allowed it as part of God's creation. He believes it's because humor is one of God's ways of helping us to cope with the challenges and valleys we face in life.
Mike's impersonation of Bruce Springsteen, his invention of a much cheaper hands free bluetooth option for cell phones (a rubber band,) and his samples of stupid sayings found on public signs helped us to laugh and remember to not take ourselves too seriously, even those of us who are very committed in our faith and to the work and ministry of the church.
I've often felt that humor, when appropriately used in sermons, bible studies, worship, and conversation can help us connect with God at a deeper level. Maybe it's because effective humor has a way of dismantling even the coldest of hearts which frees us to be open to new possibilities thanks to the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
How has humor sustained you through difficult times?
Sermon - "Roadblocks"
Friday, September 25, 2009
warm afternoons, cool nights
blue skies, the brilliant colors of changing leaves,
the taste of fresh apple cyder.......
I DREAD IT
It's not that I don't like those things.......
But each fall, my home is invaded by that dreaded insect,
There's nothing wrong with listening to the little guys on the lawn,
chirping the night away.
It's just that I don't really need to be serenaded in my bedroom ................
Scientists say that the male cricket chirps
to entice the female for purposes of mating.
If that's the case,
my home has become a love shack for the little tikes.
It started about 4 days ago...
not just in the bedroom.
There was one also in the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen.
It didn't matter where I went to try to sleep.
They were there....talking to each other, from a distance.
It was the same feeling as if a couple chose to talk in front of me in Spanish,
so I wouldn't know what was being said.
So I laid awake, wide eyed,
listening to their locker room banter....
It went something like this....
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp
(Hey guys, glad to see you made it into the vault)
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp
(Yeah! Glad the human of the house left the sliding door ajar.)
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp
(He's not very smart.)
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp
(Where are the girls?)
(I think they are hanging out by the fireplace)
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp
(It's going to be a wild and crazy night)
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp, Chirp!
(Wait, I see one of them. )
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp
(I see her too. Jiminy Crickets, she is hot!)
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp
(Watch your language, let's not take our name in vain.....)
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp
(Let's hit it boys.....)
As the chirping increased to a rapid pace,
I could hear them getting closer together.
I could only imaging what they were about to do....
on my carpet.
By now I was wide awake.
And so I did what any self respecting human would do,
I turned on the lights.
Nothing stops a wild party like a raid.
Nothing stops depravity like shining the light on it.
Jesus spoke how we are like crickets.
We do those things in secret
under the cover of darkness,
that we wouldn't do in the light of day.
That's the nature of sin.
Crickets have an excuse,
they are acting entirely on instinct.
What's our excuse?
As for me.....
I recommend ear plugs.
"For nothing is hidden,
that shall not become evident,
nor anything secret that shall not be known
and come to light."
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Our surveys underscore the fact that about three-quarters of all adults believe poverty is one of the most serious issues facing the nation. Even more significantly, most Americans also contend that when it comes to alleviating poverty, that’s mainly the government’s responsibility. Two-thirds of adults look to the government to solve issues related to poverty – including health care deficiencies. Just one out of every five adults believes that solving poverty is an individual duty, and a mere one out of 25 people assigns that task to non-profit organizations, and another one in 25 assigns it to churches.
As we assess how individuals deal with poverty on a personal level, we find that Americans do get involved, but in a kind of arms-length manner. For instance, the most common responses are for people to give money, food, and clothing to someone else to get the job done. In contrast, the most personal responses are the least common. Relatively few Americans talk directly with the needy, tutor them, build homes for them, visit them, befriend them, or engage in other types of personal activities to address the issue.
One might say, then, that we mean well but we’re too busy, too disinterested, or feel too inadequate to actually address poverty personally, head-on. Given that mind set, it’s no wonder that the current health care debate centers not on what every American can personally do to help alleviate human suffering, but on how we can get the government to provide a more efficient alternative that will neither break the bank nor hinder our lifestyle.
In essence, what Americans seem to want is increased government services, more efficient delivery of services, no increase in taxes, and no personal involvement in the process. In a nutshell, our argument is: it’s not my fault and it’s not my job, so let the paid professionals deal with it.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
- For churches that are 10 or more years old, it takes 72 members to help one person with no church affiliation to become a member. For churches that are 5 years old, it takes 17 members. And for churches that are 3 or less years old, it only takes two members to reach one person. The point that he was making is that the younger the church or the newer the worship service is, the more people are willing to invite unchurched friends to worship and church events.
- Even for people who have had a negative experience with the church, our United Methodist brand name is pretty positive in our society thanks to UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) which responds to natural disasters and often makes the news. Plus, our "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors" media campaign has been helpful to promote our image.
- It's important for the Senior Pastor to spend at least 20% of his/her time out in the community, rather than in the church office.
Actually, regarding the last point about the Senior Pastor spending time in the community, I have dedicated time each week to get to know the local businesses. This seminar is prompting me to think of additional ways I can connect with our community.
The other lingering thought from the seminar is how to help the church to always have a heart for the de-churched, especially since statistics tell us that the older the church, the less likely we will invite people to attend church.
This is a lot to think about and all of this from one seminar!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
John Wesley, the 18th century founder of Methodism, preached, taught, and wrote on the topic of stewardship extensively. Below is one of his famous teachings on the topic of money. This three-part summary is an easy way for us to remember what it means to be good stewards of all that God has given us.
Gain All You Can. However, do this without hurting your neighbor. We cannot ruin our neighbor's trade to advance our own.
Save All You Can. Do not throw precious money and talent away in idle expenses, which is the same as throwing it into the sea.
Give All You Can. First, provide things needed for yourself, your wife, children, and any others who are part of your household including whatever is moderately required to maintain health and strength. If you have a surplus, then "do good to them that are part of the household of faith." If there is still a surplus, "as you have opportunity, do good unto all men."
Instead of trusting riches, Wesley encourages us to “trust in the living God; then we will be safe under the shadow of the Almighty; his faithfulness and truth shall be our shield and buckler.”
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Sermon - God Is Real in your Life
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
- Our agenda included worship services, Holy Communion, singing, hiking, free time, eating, laughing, getting better acquainted, and board games.
- We spent a lot of time sharing our personality profiles based on myers-briggs, enjoyed learning how we are created uniquely by God, and thought about how we might best function as a team based on our personality types and preferred work environments
- Drawing from our Wesleyan and United Methodist heritage, we developed a staff covenant which will help us to function at a high level as a staff team.
- We focused on our primary mission as a church which is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and our core values which include 1) radical hospitality 2) passionate worship 3) intentional faith development 4) risk-taking mission 5) extravagant generosity.
- Part of our bible study time was to read Acts 2:42-47 together which includes references to the core values and we discussed the six benchmarks to become an Acts 2 fruit bearing congregation. These benchmarks include 1) increase in membership 2) increase in worship attendance 3) baptisms 4) including new Christians into our church membership 5) seeing an increase of people involved in intentional disciple making small groups 6) paying 100% of our conference apportionments.
- We spent some time thinking about how we might break the 80/20 barrier (20% of the people doing 80% of the ministries) and how we can increase our level of stewardship commitment within the church, especially in the context of our national economic downturn.
- What would an overnight staff retreat be without a fun game of "Apples to Apples" and a two hour competitive round of "Trivial Pursuit?" My team lost, partly because I asked the question at one point, "Is the earth considered one of our planets?"
- We conducted a SWOT analysis of our congregation (S - Strengths, W - Weaknesses, O - Opportunities, T - Threats) and listed our responses on a giant white board which led to a very helpful discussion. From this exercise we developed some key areas that we as a staff will work together to address in helping us in our mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world. These include 1) increasing the number of lay people involved in at least one ministry. 2) focusing on how we can continue to maximize the use of our beautiful Crossroads facility as we seek to live out our mission 3) find ways to help our church pay 100% of our conference apportionments 4) increase and expand the number of discipleship making small groups/classes.
- Since Camp Akita has a beautiful lake, several of us enjoyed boat rides with one staff member (who shall remain nameless) capsizing his boat (did I use a male pronoun?)
OK, now the explanation for the word, "georgeous." I told the staff during the beginning of the retreat that I had misspelled the word, "gorgeous" during one of our Wednesday evening worship services and instead spelled it as "georgeous." So now, we have a new word to describe something as magnificent and wonderful. And that word is "georgeous."
So as you can see in our staff picture above, we had a georgeous retreat together these past few days! The staff would like to thank the congregation for giving us the gift of these two days which inspired and renewed us so that we can offer our very best in ministry.
We are excited about what God is going to do through us for the remainder of 2009 and into the new year.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
- September 26 at Community UMC in Circleville, Ohio
- October 31 at New Knoxville UMC in New Knoxville, Ohio
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Earlier in the day, I had a spiritual work out at the church as well. It began with a staff worship exercise in the chapel. Pastor Cheryl Foulk led an inspiring service which included holy communion. When you work out in church, it's always good to stay replenished!
From that work out, I went to another room to focus on another exercise...a program staff meeting to help strengthen the ministries of the church. We talked a lot about our fall programing, new member classes, and ministry initiatives which will be coming our way in 2010.
From there, I worked out with a worship planning team and together, we planned future Sunday worship services. Another exercise group called Staff/Parish Relations gathered to see how we can best support our staff leadership to continue to lead us in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Before I left the church work-out, I came across one more group of folks breaking a sweat and that was our global missions team. They wanted to show me what their new Lithuania/Latvia workout machine looks like which will be coming to our church this April.
It was great to see so many people getting a work out in church. These folks motivate me to stay in shape in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Gotta go...I have another church work out this morning.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
This does raise a question regarding the proper dating for church bicentennials. I would say that the official beginning of a congregation is when it became an organized "society" which is a specific early Methodist term rather than when a church structure was built. The only problem is that it's often easier to date a building than to find a date for a decision to become a society.