Thinking Out Loud

June 21, 2014

Welcome to our Church Family

coffee time

Michaela and Brett have been attending Neighborhood Community Church for three consecutive weeks now and are at the post-service coffee time in the facility’s large activity room.

BRETT: I’m gonna see if there’s seconds on this decaf.

MICHAELA: Sure, go ahead mine is still too hot to drink.  [Brett exits]

[A woman walks up to Michaela]

HANNAH: Hi, my name’s Hannah, I’ve noticed you’ve been here three weeks in a row and —

MICHAELA: Hi, I’m Michaela; yes we’ve been attending here while–

[Hannah reaches inside a large brown envelope and pulls out a keychain with a key and and a white business-card sized piece of cardboard attached to it.]

HANNAH: Well, here’s your keys to the church.

MICHAELA: (pauses, not sure what to say) My keys?

HANNAH: We want you to feel part of the family and if there’s anything you want to do to volunteer, we don’t want you sitting in the parking lot waiting for someone to arrive.

MICHAELA: Actually, the reason we’re coming here–

HANNAH: The four digit number on the card is your alarm code. Just make sure you enter by the back door or the front door; although the key opens other doors.

MICHAELA: (tries to give the keys back) I don’t think I can–

HANNAH: Oh it’s easy, as you walk in the box is beeping and you just type in the number.

MICHAELA: I don’t want to have to–

HANNAH: (sees someone in the distance) Oh, sorry, I gotta run.  [Exits]

MICHAELA: (to herself) Well that was weird.

The Pastor walks up to Michaela guiding a woman he wants to introduce.

PASTOR: It’s good to see you back again, Kayla.

MICHAELA: Actually it’s Michaela–

PASTOR: Right. Michaela and Jeff.

MICHAELA: No, he’s–

PASTOR: This is Sarah, she’s in charge of our–oh my, I see someone I’ve been trying to catch up with for weeks; excuse me.   [Exits]

SARAH: He’s too busy, that guy. Anyway, I noticed you signed up to attend the banquet on Saturday and wondered if you had any time in the morning to be part of our kitchen team to help us get started.

MICHAELA: That would be nice, we don’t have anything planned.

SARAH: Good. We need someone to start the potatoes. They need to be washed and peeled and cut, so we need that to take place early. Now, I noticed that Hannah gave you a key; we thought if the potato person started around 7:00 AM–

MICHAELA: Potato person?

SARAH: Yes, you’d be the first to arrive. The potato bag will be on the counter, there’s peelers in the top drawer to the left of the sink, and we’ll leave out a few big pots you can put them in.

MICHAELA: Well, I once did a 20-pound bag at church camp, so I suppose–

SARAH: Well these are 48-pound bags. Oh my! Is that Esther? This is her first Sunday back at church after her–well I’m not supposed to say am I?  [Exits]

MICHAELA: (calls after her) Wait! Bags?    [Brett returns]

BRETT: (holding a hot coffee and a large binder under his arm): Who was that? Did you find a set of keys? We should turn those in.

MICHAELA: It’s the keys to the church. I have to be here at 7:00 AM on Saturday to peel potatoes for the banquet, and I think I’m going to be working alone.

BRETT: They gave you keys to the church?

MICHAELA: Yes. I think we need to tell these people we’re only here for ten weeks while our place back home is getting renovated.

BRETT: Yeah, I tried that once a few minutes ago and it didn’t work.

MICHAELA: What’s with that binder?

BRETT: Oh, they found out what I work at, I’m now the chair of the finance committee.

[End]

November 8, 2013

When a Whole Denomination is Put on Hold

Put on Hold

I love reading denominational periodicals, though it has to be said that some are better than others. This week I got my hands on one that I always find interesting, and though I was disappointed to discover I was reading a July edition; I still found myself enjoying many different articles

In this particular one, the question arises at a meeting of the Synod as to the party denominational position on homosexuality, last affirmed in 2002. The conclusion was that, “When delegates voted, the majority agreed to appoint a study committee that will examine how to loving communicate (not re-examine) the [denomination’s] position on homosexuality.”

In other words, they didn’t feel it was necessary to reopen the issue, but felt they instead needed to better communicate the policy and position they already have.

Okay; let’s give that the benefit of the doubt. Here’s the focus of my writing today: The article concluded with a sentence that is probably quite normative in reporting of these types of meetings but which I found rather damning —

The study committee will report to Synod in 2016.

2016? Really? Seriously? In three years? On an issue where the landscape is rapidly changing? When churches are bleeding a generation of members over the handling of this issue?

Sorry, but three months would have been more appropriate.

We touched on something similar here almost exactly a year ago. It was a response to a comment made during the U.S. election coverage: “The Republican Party needs to realize that the country is changing faster than they are.”

When you’re in a sprint to keep up with where the culture is heading, you don’t take a three lap water break, or take three years to produce a study on one of the toughest issues the church has faced in much time. Your study is out of date by the time it’s released.

Oddly enough, the article was titled, “A Generation’s Defining Struggle.” Too bad the people in the story it covered didn’t have the same sense of urgency.

 

May 17, 2011

They Like Church But Not Jesus

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:23 am

Several years ago Dan Kimball wrote a book (which also became a DVD) titled They Like Jesus But Not The Church.  It was a much needed book at the time which pointed out a sector of western society that has a high regard for the person of Jesus of Nazareth, but a rather low regard for the institution that bears his name.   The publisher blurb was:  “An overview of the six most common objections emerging generations have with church and Christianity along with the biblical answers to these objections and examples of how churches are facing this challenge.”

But I often wonder if now there isn’t a need for a corresponding book titled They Like The Church But Not Jesus.  I’m thinking of the people who live for the committees, the meetings, the ‘business’ of church.  I’m thinking of the people who thrive on the worship band or choir, the programs, the Sunday event itself.  I’m thinking of people who get excited talking about the missions conference, the Sunday School picnic, the current sermon series. I’m thinking of people who are, as one person put it, “So into the things of the Lord that they’ve missed the Lord of the things.”   What could we call them?  Churchaphiles?  Church junkies?

I write from personal knowledge.

I think there are times when I get so consumed, so distracted, so sidetracked by the excitement of what we do when we go to God’s house that we sometimes forget that the host of the party longs to meet us at the front door, but in the rushing past, we miss Him.  Okay, we don’t exactly don’t like Jesus, but we’ve got blinders on because we’re too busy doing church.

And here’s the kicker:  I think the odds of this happening are just as great in a small, rural country chapel as they are in an urban megachurch located at the intersection of two freeways.  Furthermore, I think those of us who blog and read blogs and are really into what’s going on in the big-C Church run the greatest risk of getting so caught up in church that we miss Jesus.

 Revelation 2:4-5a“But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen?…Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste…  [The Message]


Classic and modern worship
If you check the right hand margin over at Christianity 201, you’ll see that all of the various music resources that have appeared there are now listed and linked alphabetically. Take a moment to discover — or re-discover — some worship songs with spirit and substance.

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