Thinking Out Loud

November 15, 2019

Dammit Isn’t God’s Last Name

On the last Friday night of the month, Youth Pastor Wayne Wyatt would suspend the normal Youth Group format in order to have either a sports night or a music night. For the music nights, he would book a band that was known either locally or regionally, but this week was an exception.

“We don’t really have a name;” the guitar player told him.

Wayne preferred to use bands that had played other area churches so he could contact the youth pastors there and get recommendations, but these guys were friends of Brooke, and her dad was the church board Treasurer, so he figured he was on safe ground.

The kids mixed around the room. There were snacks at the back. Colored lights. It looked like a dance, except nobody was dancing. No one ever did. There were about 60 teens when the night started, but a few songs in there were closer to 80 in attendance.

The guys in the band were well-dressed and polite. They started with a Switchfoot song that Wayne knew, and then a cover of song by Skillet.

For the third song, the guitarist started out with, “We’d like to do one of our original songs for you now. My grandpa had a song he liked that went, ‘He’s more than just a swear word, more than just an I-don’t-care word,’ and I know that for many of us we hear people say God dammit all the time and–“

At this Wayne stopped what he was doing and wondered where they were going with this.

“–or we hear people say ‘Oh my God,’ and we forget to give respect to God’s name. So we’re gonna do a song called ‘Dammit isn’t God’s last name.'”

They cranked up the introduction,

You see in on your screens
and you hear it in the street.
They’re using God’s name
In a way I won’t repeat.

Wayne turned away from the stage. So far, so good. He spoke with a couple of the teens while the verse continued, but then the chorus got his attention.

‘Cause dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.
‘You know dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.

It wasn’t the type of lyric their guest bands would usually perform, but he figured the song was a one-off and he’d try to relax. A group of guys wanted to know the deadline to sign up for Snow Camp and two girls wanted to know if they were doing a car wash in the spring because they had some ideas. But then, moments later, there it was again.

‘Cause dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.
‘You know dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.

Some of the kids were singing along. When the chorus came around for a third time — he wondered if this song might ever end — he looked closely and they seemed to be enjoying saying ‘dammit’ all too much.

But then the band went into a bridge that consisted entirely of

Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit

On the third repeat, with all the kids in the group shouting the word back to the band, he decided enough was enough, and started walking swiftly and intentionally in a direct line to the stage.

But his path was blocked by a girl who seemed to appear out of nowhere.

“Pastor Wayne,” she said, “You have to come quick; Carly’s fallen in the restroom and she’s hurt really bad.”

Injuries are every youth pastor’s worst nightmare, so he changed his path and started walking toward the hallway. As he picked up his pace, several things occurred to him at once. First of all, he knew the kids really well, and he didn’t know anyone named Carly. For that matter, he didn’t know the girl who had summoned him. And how could he just walk into the women’s restroom?

The sound of the band was wafting from the youth multi-purpose room.

‘Cause dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.
‘You know dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.

At least they were back to the verse. Or other chorus. Or whatever it was. His head was spinning. At that moment, Ted and Belinda, the official youth group sponsors appeared in the hallway. He quickly called out to them, “There’s a girl hurt in the restroom.”

They were on it. He could return to his other issue. The band was back to the bridge and the kids were shouting a frenzy.

Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit

In the hallway on his right was the electrical panel. He opened it and identified two breakers. One would cut the power to the stage and the other would cut the power to the wall receptacles, where the band’s mixing board was plugged in and all the colored lights. Some of the group’s electronics would need several seconds to reset. That would give him time to have some words with the band members.

At the same time as that happened, he looked down the hallway and saw Belinda emerging from the women’s restroom. She shrugged her shoulders. There was no one hurt inside.

Wayne switched the breakers and according to plan, the sound went quiet. Unexpectedly, the light in the hallway went out as well. He decided to give this ten seconds, and in that short span of time, while everything around him was physically void of light, the lights went on inside him.

He felt he’d been set up booking the band. He realized the girl who told him to book the group didn’t really like the job he was doing as Youth Pastor. He realized the other girl, who had told him that the fictional Carly needed rescue had been training her eyes on him, waiting for the moment he would try to shut down the performance of ‘Dammit’ so she could distract him.

Eight, nine, ten. Ten seconds. He threw the switches back on.

When he did and the lights in the hallway came back, there was Brooke and standing next to her was her dad, the church Treasurer and head of the hiring committee which had brought him to the church in the first place. Both were scowling.

He looked deep into Brooke’s eyes for something that would answer the question as to why he’d been set up. But instead, the mystery girl emerged and inadvertently brought with her a brief moment of comic relief.

“It’s too late, Pastor Wayne;” she said with a straight face; “Carly’s dead.”

 

September 26, 2019

Local Church Initiatives: More Isn’t Better

Some background: On Tuesday I posted a brief article contrasting those churches which are programmed to death with those not offering enough avenues for engagement. You can read that article here.

That promoted this reader comment:

I’ve been involved as a leader in both “kinds” of churches…at one church, we had the philosophy that MORE ministries were better, in other words, it was like a smorgasbord of ministries that were available every week. The calendar HAD to be full. I constantly felt the pressure as a leader to fill positions, fund initiatives, provide space, and pressure people to be involved.

Then I started leading a church where the only ministries we had were the ones that “surfaced” within the Body itself…in other words, people who felt the leading of the Lord to begin a ministry, started them and “staffed” them with like-minded people they knew who shared their passion, I found so much freedom in that…and I found that the ministries took care of themselves better over the long haul.

I am now a firm believer in “less is more”…in fact, in most of the churches I’ve led since my “smorgasbord” days, the church has been healthier because we have allowed the Lord to lead us in birthing ministries instead of having a busy “template” for what church should look like. In fact, I think for most churches, they could let about 1/2 of their ministries “die” and they would be happier and healthier. The issue is giving people the freedom and encouragement to build their lives in the Lord IN the midst of their lives instead of forcing them to live the life we think they should live…one built around church activities instead of simply living for Jesus in the spheres of influence that is their daily life. That’s been my experience…

The comment came from Rev. Dr. Robin J. Dugall who describes himself as “Pastor, Professor, Musician, Teacher and follower of Jesus;” and writes at Spiritual Regurgitations. (see more below*)

Because of his insights with this, I invited him to expand on this…

More isn’t better: It’s exhausting and counter-productive

The editor of this blog started “thinking out loud” and, in the process, requested a bit more from a reply that I posted to “Volunteers Wanted.” This issue has been the story of much of my professional life in the Church. Without bringing up at all any thoughts regarding the differentiation between “volunteers” and those using their gifts in ministry as an expression of their unique Kingdom calling, I’ll wade into the invitational waters.

I never thought I would say this much less write it, but I’ve lived a good majority of my 65 years of life involved in some manner or form of “Church.” From parachurch ministries to outdoor ministries…from small congregational ministries to what used to be regarded as “large” church settings. Thanks to the Lord, I’ve never had the opportunity to live my Kingdom life within the sphere of the megachurch. There is a part of me that cringes simply imagining the intensity of financial and organizational pressure that goes along with the management of any large “company.”

As a “churchworld” (I’ll define that term below) leader, my responsibilities have ranged from that which would be regarded by some as the sphere of the Senior Pastor to the leadership of a plethora of “sub-ministries” including children’s, youth, music, small groups, leadership and theological/biblical development. So, in regard to this issue of “Volunteerism” and what it takes these days to not only “do” ministry but enable and equip Jesus following people to be responsive to the call of God upon their lives, I’ve had my share of experience.

I must say that I’ve made some drastic, strategic and, in my mind, God-honoring changes in my ministry philosophy over the past two decades. Much of those changes have occurred because of witnessing the futility and counter-productivity of the “more is better” mentality. I’ve been involved as a leader in both “kinds” of churches…at one church, we had the philosophy that MORE ministries were better, in other words, it was like a smorgasbord of ministries that were available every week. We operated under with the mindset that the “calendar HAD to be full.” Subsequently, it was. It wasn’t simply the fact that I was out of my home probably five to six out of seven nights per week, but we constantly felt the overwhelming pressure as leaders to fill positions, fund initiatives, provide space, and pressure people to be involved. The key aspect of the previous phrase is “pressure people”…and, trust me, that’s what happened.

When Christendom ruled, the belief stood that the Church should be the center of life. And, in some respects, Christendom did appropriately draw one’s faith journey into a rich life of worship, fellowship and encouragement in faithfulness. Yet what has occurred over time as many Christians have bemoaned Christendom’s demise is that a form of institutional tyranny arose in its place. The Church was no longer the center of culture, so Church people formed a hybrid (more of a mutation) of Christendom to take its place – something I call, “churchworld.” When I talk about “churchworld” I am attempting to put into approachable language some way to clarify the overwhelming, insatiable “hunger” of religious institutionalism to demand the whole of a person’s life and attention.

“Churchworld” is one-part theme park and one-part assembly line…one part “money pit” and one-part shopping mall. It is built upon the values of consumerism and utilitarianism – in other words, how can we get the most out of people in order to give back to people what we perceive they need. In my humble opinion, that’s what “churchworld” does…just as the price of a ticket to any Disney park has insanely and prohibitively increased in cost for day’s excursion, so has the “cost” in time, energy, money, and “personnel” of feeding the demands of “churchworld.”

My wife and I have adult children that are involved in “churchworld” ministries. They constantly give witness to the increasing demands for the totality of their lives to be focused on sustaining the institution’s strategy of ministry. They have shared with me the fact that many people who are their friends in the Lord have made it a habit to leave churches after a year or so simply because of the increasing burdens and demands of involvement. Once involved in feeding the “beast,” it is hard to back away graciously without risking the subsequent woes and grief given by overwhelmed staff. I would never coin myself as a predictive prophesy individual, yet it doesn’t take much forethought to see the coming fall of “churchworld.”

One of my favorite authors, John Kavanaugh compares Ancient Rome’s adherence to “bread and circus” (the book, Following Christ in a Consumer Society; John Drane says the same in his books on the McDonaldization of the Church) to that of “churchworld’s” fascination with entertainment and feeding/attracting the masses.

Contrast that experience with what happened in my life as a leader and fellow disciple when I started leading a church where the only ministries we had were the ones that “surfaced” within the Body itself…in other words, people who felt the leading of the Lord to begin a ministry, started them and “staffed” them with like-minded people they knew who shared their passion and sense of calling for that ministry. Some call this ministry strategy, “Organic.” Truthfully, that kind of language aptly describes what occurs in reality. The kingdom of God that Jesus described is viral, organic and, by nature, a movement. It grows where no apparent strategy or potential can be found…and it lives, not by human energy and ingenuity, but by spiritual mystery.

In the organic ministry realm, we are much more apt to be praising God for his leadership and fruitfulness in people’s lives than praising ourselves for the plethora of activities that we can effectively manage and multiply by sheer effort and relational intimidation. Personally, I found so much freedom living as a living “organism.” With that mindset, with a renewed embrace of the dynamic spiritual nature of the Body of Christ, I found that the ministries took care of themselves better over the long haul. For example, in my current congregational setting, we have a few teenagers who would benefit from a good youth ministry program. Now, I could for a ministry team, hire a youth worker and build an entire infrastructure to handle that ministry need…that’s the programmatic approach. Even so, we have no one in the church who is sensing the “call” of God to form another program.

In the past, I would have beaten down people in an attempt to build another program. I chose not to do that. Instead, I called a pastor friend of mine who leads another church in town. They have an amazing youth ministry program and have built a solid ministry strategy to disciple teens. I talked to the pastor; told him I was interested in “investing” the kids in our church into their youth ministry program. I felt that partnership was more important than simply duplicating what is happening right down our street (so to speak). I talked to the parents of the teens, the youth themselves and now they are loving what God is doing in their lives as they participate in that other church’s ministry.

Some might say, “well, aren’t you fearful that you will lose that family to that other church?” No, I’m not and if they did leave, I would bless them on their way. I’m not going to try to be “all things to all people” any longer. I’m not going to fear ministry partnerships…in fact, I want so desperately to affirm them.

Church, at least in what I read in the New Testament, has more to do with organic living than most people want to admit. I am now a firm believer in “less is more”…in fact, in most of the churches I’ve led since my “smorgasbord” days, the church has been healthier because we have allowed the Lord to lead us in birthing ministries instead of having a busy “template” for what church should look like. In fact, I think for most churches, they could let about half of their ministries “die” and they would be happier and healthier.

The issue is giving people the freedom and encouragement to build their lives in the Lord IN the midst of their lives instead of forcing them to live the life we think they should live…one built around church activities instead of simply living for Jesus in the spheres of influence that is their daily life. This explains why Jesus did not ask us to go and “make gatherings or churches or home groups or…” He did not ask us to go and “make house churches.” He said, “go and make disciples.” Discipling viral disciplers is the end game. This places YOU and ME squarely in the midst of reproductive life that the kingdom is intrinsically about. We become movement-starters not church-starters. We release disciples who will influence the world throughout their lifetime and beyond.

When we start “churches, communities, meetings, etc.”, our focus tends to be on the communal gathering—what to do, how to do it, what it looks like, etc. We may say to ourselves that we are learning to “be” the church but often our priority remains on developing the structure/form/institution. When following Jesus and inviting others to follow him becomes our focus (discipling viral disciples), we have to shift from the “gathering” mentality to the “lifestyle-going” mentality. This shift will propel us from being church-starters to movement starters (where churches and gatherings spring up along the way).

One more thought – consider “wiki-based ministry.” In other words, I desire to build a “Collaboration based” ministry environment. I believe that God is active in EVERY person so that our community creates meaning – our ministry partnership is a reflection of a descriptive process with no prescribed meaning; we fix us, no experts are needed; leadership teams and pastors are good but only one of the gifts of community. We believe in a distinctly relational ecclesiology. That is organic…that is a celebration of less is more.

 


*From his About page: “Currently, in addition to being an Adjunct Professor in Biblical Studies at Azusa Pacific University, he is a pastor of a faith community, Adjunct Professor at Concordia University (Portland, OR) and an instructor/mentor of the Missional Training Team for the Lutheran denomination.”

September 12, 2019

The Importance of Cross Pollination in Worship

John Severns photo, Public Domain

The late Robert Webber will be remembered for encouraging worship leaders along the lines of “Ancient-Future” worship, but churches which are determined not to reach back to the hymns of past centuries might do well to at least heed the principle.

This week we discovered a new song being sung at a church we once visited, while the people were receiving communion. The song immediately resonated with us. After the service had played out, I found the proper title, the original recording artists, and some videos online.

I would teach this song in a heartbeat. It probably fits more into the “Modern Hymns” movement than it does “Modern Worship” but it had enough to offer to have been closing in on 3 million views online.

But then last night, we listened to it again, and followed up by clicking on another song from the same worship team.

Same key. Same rhythm. Same lead vocalist. Same lexical set.

By the latter, I mean that in some faith streams, there is a pressure to say certain things and to say them the same way. Each song is supposed to encapsulate not part, of all of the Gospel™.

We listened to a third song.

Same thing.

At this point, I turned to Mrs. W. and announced, “They’re plagiarizing their own music.”

Truly, it was partly that. It was partially an attempt to copy a style made popular by a particular husband-and-wife couple who are also leaders in this same sub-genre of worship. As the late Larry Norman once said comparing the present state of the arts to the Rennaissance, “Christianity is in an imitative mode.” We find things that are working elsewhere while 90% of the creative possibilities lie under-utilized if not undiscovered.

So to return to Dr. Webber, I think I would still teach the first song because it would form part of a set drawn from a larger catalog of available worship.

But if your church worship is all Hillsong, or all Bethel, or all Elevation, then it’s possibly not a healthy mix. In fact, if the trip back to the hymn area is too long a road to travel, I would suggest at least periodically looking to what you were doing ten years ago, and also occasionally revisiting the founding worship streams for the present movement, such as the original Maranatha! Music, Vineyard and Hosanna Integrity compositions.

There’s a value in cross-pollination.

It was getting late, and part way through the third song, my wife said, “I’m bored. I’m leaving now.” Each one of the songs was beautiful and lyrically rich, but as we would say to the kids at the dessert buffet, “You can only choose one.” We’d only heard three songs and we were starting to O.D. on this particular style.

For some reason, three songs from this worship family was two too many.

September 9, 2019

Dad, I’m Gay

Filed under: children, Christianity, Church, issues, parenting — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:53 am

What do you do when your son says, “I am gay?” There’s a lot contained in that three word statement, certainly more than initially registers. A Christian friend experienced this several months ago and continues to wrestle with the implications. Recently, he asked to share this with readers here.


“Dad, I’m gay.”

When my son says “Dad, I am gay”, what he is saying is . . .

I had the courage to tell you something very important.

I have been trying to figure this all out for quite some time now.

I’m more likely to deal with depression than a straight child.

I’m more likely to have suicidal thoughts than a straight child.

I am more likely to be picked on or talked about than a straight child.

I would be arrested in certain parts of the world.

I would be put to death in certain parts of the world.

I’m not sure I will be accepted at church.

I’m not sure you will be accepted at church either depending on how you handle this.

Though I am your son, I am not just like you.

I am still your son, and in many ways, just like you.

I am still your child, but am not a child anymore.

I will want you to meet my boyfriend someday.

If I take a step of covenanting with a man to be faithful to him the rest of my life, many of your friends may tell you that you should not attend that celebration. My friends will not hesitate to be there for me.

You may not change your perspective on homosexuality, but I do expect you to be understanding of mine.

I want you to celebrate and have joy because of me, not merely tolerate me.

I know that you love Jesus and the Bible. I am also aware that you love me. You need to figure out what all that looks like.


This post originally ran in January of last year, but I’m running it so soon again because I was told last week it got a lot of ‘likes,’ so myself and the author decided we’d run it today in case some missed it the day after New Year’s.

Leave a comment — I’m closing comments here so you can add your voice to the original post at this link.

September 6, 2019

Stained Glass

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:41 am

Guest post by Ruth Wilkinson

When Jesus talked about us, he used words like “family,” “vine” and “body” – images of life, growth and diversity.

The journey of a Jesus follower was never meant to be a solo trip. His own vision for His Church was that we would build it together. Even when things were frustrating. Even when we got hurt.

If you’ve been trying to live this life by yourself, maybe it’s time to think ‘inside the frame.’ Your shape fits together with all the other shapes of all the other believers to make something far better than we can make on our own.

What are you a part of? A rainbow? A blossoming apple tree? A tool box? An orchestra?

If you’ve walked away from “church,” you’re missed. You’re needed. You belong in the picture.

This Sunday, take a chance – see where you fit.

August 29, 2019

July 22, 2019

Visits to Three Vancouver Churches Shattered Our Stereotypes

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:22 am

I would love to have moved to take pictures showing the attendance at all three churches, but that would have been disruptive. First Baptist will relocate temporarily at some point in 2020 to undergo a seismic upgrade, since this is Vancouver after all.

We visited three different Vancouver Churches on Sunday. God has to let us in to heaven now, right? Our visits were (in order): First Baptist Church, Coastal Church and Tenth Church.

Several stereotypes I had were shattered.

To begin, Evangelicals have not all abdicated the city core and moved out to the suburbs, at the intersection of two freeways. These downtown churches were comfortably filled. At our first stop, people were streaming into First Baptist when we arrived. It was quite a sight to see! But the crowds continued at the other two.

Second, the classic Willow mantra that if people are going to visit, it’s going to be on Sunday morning just didn’t apply. Two of the services were at 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM. If you had told me that a 1:00 PM service would be filled, I would have been skeptical.

Third, it wasn’t a question of scarcity. First Baptist and Coastal were within blocks of each other.

My wife was especially impressed with the level of community involvement at First Baptist. This is the one that had the oldest demographic yet seemed to be most concerned about social justice.

She also noted that each was very different, and each had a number of different foci and different strengths. They all had good singers, they all had good musicians. First Baptist was plagued with audio problems, the sermon precariously perched on the edge of feedback for all 40 minutes.

First Baptist did a high quality mix of blended worship, including an organ postlude for which adherents remained seated and broke out the only applause of the morning at that church. Coastal may have been doing all original songs, we weren’t sure. (I asked the sound guy for his rundown sheet after the service, but he wouldn’t give it to me!) Tenth did CCLI Top 25 songs for which they have to keep the windows closed in order to avoid conflicts with the surrounding neighborhood. The windows get opened during the teaching.

Taken just ten minutes before the service at Coastal Church, latecomers totally filled this section by the third and final worship song. It’s a former Christian Science church. Entrance is on two streets, but some rather narrow hallways on the lower level. (Great bookstore, by the way!)

Two of the churches were using older buildings, and the one which wasn’t went out of their way to incorporate classic elements, i.e. candles and paintings.

No one who wasn’t serving as an official greeter spoke with us at all three churches. We had to be the ones to initiate conversations.

For what it’s worth, all had coffee. (I was given a banana at Coastal, which came in handy later!) Tenth impressed me by having their full kids program running at 6:00 PM. While we’re being superficial, none of these churches had air conditioning, something that would have been unthinkable back east. And what’s with communion on the third Sunday of the month? Must be a Vancouver thing.

The picture at Tenth was also taken ten minutes before the start of the service. The four rows in the center section to the left, which you can’t see, were 100% full by the third worship song, and the other sections filled up comfortably. A few people were sitting in the balcony. Many people are dependent on public transit in Vancouver, so they arrive when they arrive.

All three sermons were high quality. There was a basic scholarship error in an interpretation at First, and also a badly-worded comment about mental illness; and I think the title of this one implied the Bible passage was going to contain an entirely different emphasis.

Coastal mixed three video clips from a popular movie with a sermon that would have made Joel Osteen proud. Tenth had a younger, associate pastor speaking and I wasn’t sure where that would go, but for my wife it was the best of the three. Quite personal and an abundance of application.

By the way, in spite of any minor negative comments, all three would have my recommendation and I would happily visit each one again.

 

June 24, 2019

What Normal People Do

Filed under: Christianity, Church, ministry — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:45 am

On Thursday last week I replaced the slats in this rocking deck chair as the ones facing skyward had weathered to the point of disintegrating.

This probably seems unremarkable until you consider it’s the first time in a long time that I’ve come close to doing anything that resembles what normal people do. I also did the caulking around the bathtub the same day. Look at me! The home improvement guy!

The reason this behavior is uncharacteristic is because 24 years ago this September, I walked away from a work-from-home situation and started being the face behind a Christian bookstore, that later grew to a chain of three stores. It was all-consuming

Over 12 years ago, I began the blogging activity — starting with a short-lived faith-focused blog at USAToday — that would also consume much of my time. Later, that morphed into five blogs, eventually settling down at three, two of which had daily (as in 365) content until recently. (I’m still committed to doing C201 daily.)

So I’m not a fix-the-deck-chair type of guy. I had to ask my wife where some of the tools were located and needed some up extra help when it came to changing the drill bit in the cordless drill. Sandpaper? I get the principle, but I’m not certified, so to speak, on that piece of equipment. Plus, I get flustered. I can take something like applying wood stain and make it complicated.

I suspect it’s the same for many people in ministry. The weirdness of the schedule and perhaps a sense of having to prioritize spiritual things can easily result in not doing what normal people do. Around the house. With the car. Involving the kids. Especially with the kids.

It actually felt strange having done something like this. I keep looking at the chair and thinking I want to finish the other half now. Those slats aren’t weathered and don’t need to be replaced just yet, but it was just the pride in having done something like this.

Can anyone identify with this?

June 21, 2019

Andy Stanley Clearly Articulates the Premise of Irresistible

Maggie John of the daily Christian television show 100 Huntley Street has posted a full, 49-minute interview she did with Andy Stanley, talking first about his famous father and his call to ministry, and then focusing in more directly on his book Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleased to the World. (Thomas Nelson, 2018)

Some people have their minds made up about what Andy did say or did not say and that’s unfortunate, because I don’t see how anyone can watch this with an open mind and not grasp the point he is trying to make; namely, the need to switch our emphasis from “The Bible says it,” to “Hundreds witnessed it;” to remind ourselves that the key to our faith is not rooted in a book as it is rooted in a resurrection.

I suppose that actually giving this some thought is too big a stretch for some. It’s easier to pre-judge Andy and his book and bring personal bias to the discussion before actually slowing down to hear him out. It’s easier to go on the attack on Twitter and other media than it is to consider that if we fail to listen to this, we’re in danger of losing an entire generation. It’s easier to create a panic, accuse someone of heresy, or rally the troops around a common enemy.

I’m all in on this. 100%. I’ve embedded the video below, but if you click on the YouTube logo, it will open on their site and you can capture the URL to watch on another device. You may read my original review of the book at this link.

 

May 27, 2019

Now That We’re All Here, You Can Home

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:35 am

Driving to church yesterday, I listened to a radio broadcast from a church located about two hours from where I live. After the sermon ended, the pastor announced that as the month of June was approaching “our programs are winding down for the summer.”

Two years ago I combined a number for older posts into a single article, Church Continuity, Summer Shutdowns and Lake House Mentality. (Or you could say, ‘Cabin Mentality,’ or as we say here, ‘Cottage Mentality.’)  I’ll probably repeat that post in about a year.

What struck me yesterday however, was that the announcement came after what has been a very difficult winter for local churches. Snowstorms, ice storms, blizzards… whatever you call them, the weather has been rough this past winter, with a seemingly disproportionate number of weather incidents occurring on Sunday mornings. Even the spring hasn’t been particularly kind to church attendance, especially for people the Midwest in flood and hurricane zones.

But now, we have no excuses. Let the pews be filled. Everyone can get out for mid-week programs of all shapes and sizes, right? But no, we’re “winding down for the summer.”

I know it can be hard to get volunteers, but there are many who end up feeling isolated in the summer months because they’re church has nothing to offer. You could say, ‘Ah, look at all the lonely people;’ but you can’t look at them because you’ve left them on the sidelines just because the leadership didn’t think someone could step up and fill in for a week here or a week there.

Again, I encourage you to read the aforementioned article. And if you live in an area affected by winter weather, now that everyone is mobile, consider actually adding some programs, perhaps even convening them in the fresh air, weather permitting of course.

 

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