This is from our main service this past Sunday. We are in the middle of a series on Daniel, and this week was covering chapters 8-12 and Daniel's visions. Thought this was a funny way to intro the sermon.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I am doing two seminars - the first is "Parents are your Partners." The objective is to help volunteers see the family as their ally in reaching young teens. How can we move beyond the teen as our "end goal" and start seeing the family as the place where lasting ministry moments can happen more frequently?
The second seminar I am doing in tandem with my associate Emily Wilson and another young woman in ministry Jenny Marvine. This seminar will be "Ministering to Middle School Boys & Girls." Our objective in this time is to help volunteers understand ways to better connect with students as they better understand who they are and where they are and why they are. Did that make any sense?
If you have any thoughts that might be good to share in either of these seminars, let me know.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
Monday, April 30, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
Listening to volunteers has taught me they feel ill equipped to do what we ask of them. The feel like they are failing with their small group. They are stretched thin and need some help and leadership. So, when they come to our training time, what do we give them? The tools they need to successfully lead a small group, or food for their own soul, or both? Question: What would it look like if we stopped giving our volunteers another tool for their ministry toolbox, stopped giving them answers to problem a, b, and c? Instead, what would happen if we met their needs, discipled them, helped them grow closer to Christ? Would they naturally be better at doing this with students if someone did it with them? Maybe!
What role does the rest of the church play in this process though? If the volunteers in your ministry are involved in an adult small group of their own (a healthy thing to be involved with people older than 12) and they found the encouragement they needed and the soul food they needed within that context? Would you need to fill this role? Maybe we need to spend our time trying helping them learn to translate what we have gleaned as adults to the lives of the young teens they work with. Would this accomplish the goal of helping volunteers be better at discipleing students?
Now, the bottom line is there are some volunteers who do this very well (either as a result or in spite of what we have done with them). There are others, however, who may not ever be good at it no matter what we do. There are still others who, with a little push, could become great. The question is what does that push look like? We want to move our volunteers to become better at reaching our overall goal of making disciples, but we don’t want to be trying to move them to an unattainable place.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Things I have been learning on my sabbatical – simple statements that I’ll seek to elaborate on later.
- Training our volunteers is highly valued, but not well done
- Volunteer leaders need to be super-human to do what we ask of them (this makes those who actually do what we ask amazing)
- Ministry assessment is not happening very well – how well do you confront the brutal facts of how your ministry is doing?
- Discipleship is not happening as well as we might think it is
- Our small groups are not really accomplishing as much as we thought they would
- Junior high students are very capable of diving into the spiritual disciplines (the old and “new” ones) as long as they are lead well
- There are not a lot of good resources out there for junior high students. There are plenty of not so good things, but not many that are really worth much. If a student is looking for a devotional booklet or some help with a problem, don’t hold your breath for the answers to come with a simple resource
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
Last week I found myself sitting in Taco Bell with Steve Friesen (a self-proclaimed taco bell junkie). As I waited for Steve to arrive, I was listening to two cable guys talk about their jobs. They are talking about how they don’t like to work in the “rich” neighborhoods because the home owners treat them like crap. They are wondering why when they try to be so nice and go the extra mile to resolve a problem, do people treat them like dirt and call in to complain. I’m reminded to be a person of compassion. How do I view the people in life who work minimum wage jobs? Do I look down on them? Do I feel like I am entitled to something because I make more money than they do? Are they not created in God’s image just as I am? Are they not “the least of these” that Jesus talked about? How are you doing? I can do better.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
This past weekend, I had time to ask all my sabbatical project questions to Scott Reuben of Willow Creek. Now, I have known Scott for a few years and he has always impressed me as someone who thinks and really seeks to excel in ministry. My conversation with him this past weekend confirmed these feelings even more. One of the things I really like about Scott is his genuine humble attitude. This manifested itself this weekend in a few simple ways. First, he was willing to take time with me (okay, we have a low level ministry related friendship, but still, he has a monster of a ministry to run and probably gets a ton of requests for his time). Second, he gave me a sneak peek into some of the inner workings of the junior high ministry at Willow and he did not need to do so.
I think, for me, the thing I was most reassured with in my time with Scott and his team this weekend was size does not make things easier, it just takes the problems we all face and compounds them (in fact my group is about 15% of Willow’s and I would say that we have the same difficulties, but I deal with about 15% of the breath of those problems in comparison to Willow). Let me do what I can to challenge those of you who dream of huge ministries to stop dreaming J If God desires to entrust you with so many students, great, but don’t wish for it. The problems you face now will not run away when you have ten times the kids, ten times the staff, and ten times the budget. You’ll just get ten times the problems and you’ll still be pulling your hair out trying to be a good steward of what God has called you to do. I am glad to be serving where I am!
BTW - MarkO posted on the numbers game a few days ago, read his comments here.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Thought about what a sixth grader coming into your ministry can and can’t do? I’m not sure I have given this a ton of thought. This weekend was an eye-opener for me in a few small ways. You see, as I traveled with my soon-to-be-sixth-grader-in-my-ministry son, I noticed he was not ready to do a few things I routinely ask new sixth graders to do - assuming they can do them. The most interesting of these little realizations was the fact that he has never ordered his own meal at a restaurant. Now, I know that is a sad reflection on him and even a more pathetic reflection on me, his father, but it’s true. When we go out to eat, and it does not matter if it’s a fancy place or McDonald’s, it’s always been easier for me to order for all the kids (I have four of them). It’s a pragmatic thing – we talk about what they want and I communicate it to the waiter or waitress. However, now I am just realizing that my son does not even really know how to do this. So, this weekend I made him order everything. It was quite an experience. At times, he did fine and at other times, he had some trouble. One thing was consistent – he was nervous. Can you believe that? He was nervous about ordering a chicken sandwich at McDonald’s. Now, extrapolate that to a bunch of your sixth graders and that “deer in the headlights” look when your standing at the counter on that first trip with them makes a whole lot more sense. I’m sure you are better than I in this area, but I plan to pay more attention and be much more sensitive to these sixth graders from here on out.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Our weekend started with Ethan getting out of half of Thursday and all of Friday from school (he did not complain). We hit the road to Chicago and began to listen to Dr. Dobson’s “Preparing for Adolescence” CD series. I will say that I don’t think there is a lot of good material out there to help parents navigate this important transitional time and although Dobson’s stuff is horribly dated (he recorded it in the late 70’s) it is still, I think, some of the best stuff out there. To clarify, what I like is that he does not just cover sex and the physical changes that will occur in the years to come (and I must say, I think he covers this subject very well), but he also talks about inferiority, conformity, love, and friends. The dated side of the material shows up in his examples and statistics. I would love to see him update these (or have one of his staff do so).
Friday put us at the Cubs game. Ethan has always been a Cubs fan (influence of his grandfather), but he had never been to Wrigley. So, naturally, we needed to get this done while we were there. It was a great day (except they fell apart in the 5th and lost by one run). We got to the stadium at 11:00 for b.p. and Ethan was initially not excited about standing around for two hours prior to game time. However, after 90 minutes he got a ball and that made everything worthwhile. An added bonus and totally a coincidence, Ethan’s grandpa and uncle were at the game and we were able to sit with them and enjoy our special day together.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
(NOTE: I am currently reading “Teenage Girls” by Ginny Olsen and look forward to being able to add this to my very short list of good girl resources. I'll post on it when I'm done.)
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Man about town
INTERVIEW: Urban planner Christopher Leerssen sees caring about the built environment as one way Christians love their neighbors | Mindy Belz
"As a Christian architect I try to reflect the order and the creativity of our ultimate creator—to somehow point to hope and faith and many times humility through our edifices," is a straightforward statement of purpose from prize-winning architect Christopher Leerssen. The Georgia Tech graduate specializes in architecture both vertical and horizontal, serving as an urban planner in Atlanta with expertise in designing infill and urban mixed-use developments around the Southeast. Planning communities, he says, should include a biblical expression not only of beauty but also justice and mercy, where justice can be a sidewalk and mercy a bench for the homeless.
WORLD: What makes for a great community?
LEERSSEN: Some folks would say that community is only people, and I would agree partially, but I would also forward that the form or shape of the place will influence and affect how great that community can be. Truly beautiful, lovable places have both a visual loveliness and an experiential charge to them.
I would say what makes for a great community is a respect for the human. It comes from an understanding, written or unwritten, that we are image bearers of a Divine Creator. From that knowledge stems great people places: places of worship, discourse, learning, and market. My view of greatness entails well-roundedness. While rare, a free democracy is paramount; greatness cannot come on the backs of others.
WORLD: How do you translate those abstract ideas into concrete reality?
LEERSSEN: I am certain that participating in public life is a must for believers, and if there isn't that sidewalk or park or space where people rub shoulders, either start one or move to some place that has a real community. Also, when the time comes for a vote on community plans and zoning, don't be afraid of people different from you (smaller houses) or of density (apartments). A compact urban form is necessary for an ecologically sustainable future and fiscally, a dense city is easier to service, police, and beautify.
WORLD: How does the design of traffic flow patterns and streetscapes advance the kingdom of God?
LEERSSEN: Traffic can either give or take away time to be with other people—family, strangers or otherwise. And streetscapes and their sidewalks are the bedrock to good public space—they are the glue that holds diverse neighborhoods together.
WORLD: Are big-box stores and mega-malls then unbiblical?
LEERSSEN: No, not really. They certainly serve a purpose in commerce; however, their deleterious impacts on community, traffic, other businesses, and the environment should not be overlooked. As with any business you should ask if the manner in which they deliver the product is ethical and in line with what you believe. We all can display a slick form of greed when we price shop to an extreme. Price warring has resulted in shopping centers that look like they dropped from outer space—they are entirely auto-oriented and far from a beautiful or uplifting human environment.
WORLD: You have said, "A powerful tool for the spread of the gospel is lost when our public realm is dismantled." What do you mean by dismantling and what can be done to reverse it?
LEERSSEN: Dismantling the public realm starts with building inward-looking, privately focused developments, be they single-family homes with garages at the street or gated apartments, all linked by roads that have no sidewalks. Or take the schools that are only accessed via automobile, fenced in and off limits, having no real connection to their surrounds and engendering no other public activities at any time of the day.
Where do religions have their greatest impact? Dispersed through the countryside or in the network hubs where new ideas and change are a given? Where did the early apostles go—to the outskirts or to the center? Reversing our inward-focused mindset entails loving to be with other people at the park, on the way to work, at the school. Loving to know your neighbors and to have the opportunity to serve them is paramount to spreading the gospel.
WORLD: Is there a specific role for churches in this process? Do churches resist civic engagement as "not direct ministry"?
LEERSSEN: Certainly, churches and their buildings should be less clubby, private affairs and more of that common ground for "the Church" proper to interact with the outside world and skeptics. Churches could open wide their doors by hosting art shows, financial seminars, offering mercy, and musical performances—invite the public in and create that haven for public discourse.
Churches are also buildings. Congregations must have a very good understanding architecturally how their master plan contributes to the fabric of the community. The church could regain some of her stature and prominence in our communities if congregations would locate and design their site in such a way to be less insulated and boring.
Many churches these days, when expanding their facilities, look for the 10-20 acre site on cheap land with good access (Sound like a familiar story? Think big retail). This ensures the church is only accessible by automobile and probably nowhere near any preexisting human activity in the community—it's no wonder we've lost some of our connection with the world.
The better scenario is to look for the spot near some nexus of human energy and build a church which fits into that context. The really exciting hybrid of that positive scenario is when churches also play developer (likely through a partnership of sorts) and add housing or major mercy facilities into their master plan.
WORLD: Since Atlanta is your hometown—and to many a maze of overbuilt freeways and endless shopping meccas—how do you interact with locals to improve your own public realm?
LEERSSEN: Hotlanta—the city too busy to hate. Its energy and youthfulness are intoxicating, but from a planning and architectural standpoint we've grown inebriated with our success and grown too fast. It really is a fantastic laboratory to test out various patterns of building a city: solid intown neighborhoods with transit, walkability, historic properties, and decent retail; first-ring suburbs that are for the most part imploding due to an exodus of fleeing families and downward real-estate values; second-ring suburbs that seem to do OK but are stiflingly boring; and the exurbs, which is a horse farm next to gated cul-de-sac that could go on quite literally till Tennessee. Frankly, due to our abuses of the land, we are returning back to time-honored principles of city building.
We all have to help locally, and for me that means serving on the board of my neighborhood and chairing our zoning committee. There very local decisions about density and design and streetscapes are made as we negotiate with developers and landowners. I attend planning workshops and interact with the process, and many times end up angling for the rights of the poor, the elderly and car-less.
My family also sits on our porch a good bit; we take walks and are available for neighbors. We make use of our parks and sidewalks and trails so that we can enliven and reinforce the idea of being with other humans. We walk to dinner, to shopping, and to transit, saying hello usually to more than one neighbor. Once the coffee shop opens up, we'll be there, too. We don't watch a lot of TV—we'd prefer to interact with ruddy faces, not glowing ones.
WORLD: What can fellow Christians do to improve the growth of their communities in meaningful and practical ways?
LEERSSEN: Be more mindful of the physical spaces around you—begin to ask yourself some questions about the places in which you dwell. Are your daily places those where you have the opportunity to interact with other image bearers? What does your commute do for you? Are you active in your neighborhood—allowing you to more fully know and love your neighbors? Is your church active in its (maybe the same) neighborhood? Community is both physical and nonphysical, but God gives us the capacity to dwell in and improve both.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
One of the things I have always known, but often times have neglected anyway has been investment into our volunteer staff team. Now, I’m not saying we’re miserable or anything, in fact, I think the team we have in place right now is the best team we have ever had. I would say that more of our volunteer staff understand genuine ministry and love students more holistically now than at any other time in my ministry life. That being said, if ministry really does center around relationships with adults who love Jesus and love students, than, it’s extremely important for those adults to be equipped and trained to use those relationships to help students live in the Kingdom of God.
I must ask myself and evaluate myself and my own leadership in this area of training staff. I would contend that I have a long way to go in developing people who are powerfully impacting teens. I would say that those on our current team who do this well are natural at it and would do well with or with out me. What will I change when I get back to the helm of our middle school ministry that will allow be to better lead, train, and equip our volunteer staff team?
So, how are you equipping your team? What has been the best thing you’ve done or taught in the last year? What has been a valuable resource for you in this area?
Interesting, one of the things I am really enjoying on my sabbatical is the opportunity I have to visit other ministries in our area. It’s great to see my friends in action and experience their context. Yet, with Chris’ book as a backdrop, I would say that every church I have visited (mine included) has a long way to go if we are to really be “new kinds of youth ministries.” There are a number of things many are doing well and a number of things that I would suggest we need to rethink.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
If you have been reading my blog at all, you know that I am in the middle of a 12 week sabbatical (this is awesome and I feel incredibly blessed to have a church which grants this Sabbath rest). One of the things I have been wanting to do for some time is to think about the future of young teen ministry. Part of my sabbatical, as I proposed it, is to be spent thinking about this in the context of my church and ministry. For this reason, I have put together a set of questions that I have been wrestling with.
This is where you can help if you want. I am in the process of setting up one hour phone interviews to talk through these questions. If you would be willing to give me an hour of your time, I would love to ask for your thoughts on my thoughts. The only requirement is that you are in full-time junior high ministry. You can be in a church or para-church or some other ministry. As long as you work with young teens, I’d love to talk with you.
If you would like to see the basic questions prior to talking with me or deciding if you want to talk with me, you can find them here. I will not get through all these questions with everyone, but you’ll get an idea of what I’m looking to ask.
If you would like to participate, please leave me a comment and give me your email address. We’ll go from there.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
In our church, we have come to adopt a four chapter view of the Gospel story. This is not our idea and not a new idea, but it makes a ton of sense to me. The story the way we understand it starts not with the two story idea of sin and salvation, but with Creation. We and the world are created by God and the way God created us was good. The way things were created was the way it “OUGHT” to be. We came into the world, however, and took God’s plan into our own hands and did our own thing. Thus, sin enters the world and screws things up. This is the way it “IS” but not the way it “OUGHT” to be. The solution is redemption - God’s plan for resorting not only man, but the world to Himself. When we look at this plan, we see the way the world “CAN” be if we follow God’s plan. Finally, we look down the road to a new creation. A time when God’s plan will again come to perfection and the world “WILL” be the way it was created to be once again. As creations of God, we are called to live within His plan, to help fulfill His plan, to help restore the world and all that is in it (including people). Nancy Pearsey uses a three chapter version of this message (she combines chapters three and four) and explains why it is so compelling and why it is so helpful in her book.
A bottom line is summarizing this book might be to say it helps one form a more complete Christian worldview. I know that this may not sound fun and to some, it may even sound ugly (the notion of worldview is often misrepresented and therefore discarded). Yet, I believe Mrs. Pearcey is right on track in saying that everyone has a worldview and we must not only understand our view, but know more about how that worldview answers some of life’s most important questions. As Christians, and as youth leaders, we have done a good job of helping people know “the facts” but we don’t always help people connect the dots. Let me explain a bit more…
A helpful insight that Mrs. Pearcey brings out is the bifurcation of the mind. Our world (and Pearcey traces the roots as to how we got to where we are today) separates life into to realms, fact and value. Facts are the things that deal in science and empirical evidence. These are the things that can be “known.” Values are connected with religion and are held as subjective. Our culture has made the realm of “fact” to be what we talk about in the public square and the realm of “value” to be confined to the private life of an individual and the two have no connection, no relevance to one another. Therefore your private value system has no business in determining the public policy for this or that. You can see examples of this everywhere, from President Clinton’s scandal, to the “battle cry” discussion on marko’s blog. Of course the problems raised by ron luce and his ministry are a problem for the city of san fran. But the city is not going to listen to what ron has to say because he is dealing in value and they have no traction in the public square where fact rules the day. As ministries we must reculture and re-architect our language and the arguments we have in order to be heard in the public square and ultimately make a difference in redeeming our world.
How is this relevant to junior high ministry? Good question. I need to process this a lot in order to be equipped to answer that fully. However, if we are not helping students see the dichotomous life they are living when they place their faith in that “value” realm and pull it out only on Sunday, then we set them up for a miserable failure in post high school life when they are picked apart by people who can pick apart some of the “holes” in their faith system. If we don’t show students how to connect their faith with every part of their life and how it answers all of life’s hardest questions what good are we doing? If all we’re doing is transferring information, we may create good Bible quizzers or “good Christian kids” but will we see life transformation? Will we see students fall in love with Jesus? Will we see students really know whom we are asking them to love? Will we help students see that life with Jesus is about living in His Kingdom now, not gaining access to heaven later?
Monday, March 12, 2007
On a sad note, but another factor in our weekend, a great lady in our church (and also our small group) passed away Wednesday after a ten-year bought with cancer. The services were this weekend adding yet one more item to the plate (again, not lamenting the services, but rather the irony of “when it rains, it pours”).
Last night as my wife and I were lying in bed (for the hour I was there before my six year old got up and I had to move to the living room floor with him up half the night), we were commenting on how full we feel like our schedule is on my sabbatical. I guess, for some dumb reason, we thought our lives would slow down for these weeks. What were we thinking – we have four kids who are involved in stuff.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Yesterday I had the chance to spend the morning with our church staff downtown at an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was in some ways less than what I expected, but in most ways, it was truly awe inspiring. There are over 100,000 fragments of scrolls that were found in the caves of Qumran. Yet, most of them are small pieces and therefore are not impressive in size. However, when you think about the fact that you are seeing a fragment from the Bible that was written over 2.000 years ago, that's really impressive.
One other thing that was way different than I expected was how small the writing on the scroll was. I guess I assumed that because everything was copied by hand, the writting would be a "normal" written size (maybe around a 12 to 14 pt font). Yet, the scrolls had what I would classify as more of a 9 point font with all the intricacy of Hebrew and Aramaic lettering. WOW!
Sunday my two sons and I hit Kemper Arena here in KC for the home opener of the arena football league Kansas City Brigade. Last year, the Brigade was 3-13 and very pathetic. This year, with a less than impressive "grand enterence" the Brigade came out and kicked some Chicago butt. It was a ton of fun.
Monday, March 05, 2007
This has become more and more of a buzz word in youth ministry circles, but what does it really mean? It has been something my heart has been beating for, but I’m not really sure how to “take it to the next level.” Currently, in our ministry, we seek to help, equip, and encourage the family by…
- providing weekly resources for communication between parents and teens
- providing weekly communication to families through our website and broadcast emails
- providing periodic parent forums for training and development of parenting and communication skills
- providing a few fun moments where parents and teens can connect in a friendly environment
What I would like to see happen is to bolster these efforts. I’d really like to see students and parents talking more. Some of the reasons I think many do not communicate would include…
- parents may not really know how or where to start
- parents may actually be scared of communication
- students view it as boring and irrelevant
- students feel threatened because every time a parent tries to communicate it turns into a “grip” session where they are in trouble
So, as a ministry leader, one of my burdens is to see communication strengthened. Is this realistic? Is it possible? What is the role of the church in this process? How do we go about really helping instead of playing lip service to the entire idea? If you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them. If you know someone who is doing this well (or some part of family ministry well), I’d love to get their name so I could talk with them personally.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Last night I finished a new mystery novel called “Damnation Street” by Andrew Klavan. I have not read any of his other books, but he has won a few Edger awards for his mystery writing, so I thought I’d read this newest effort. It was engaging, but I’m not much of a literary critic, so I don’t know if it was well written. I did enjoy the twists and the unique writing style. It was a bit more “edgy” than I expected. Pretty racy and crude, but still a very engaging story.
What I liked the most about this novel is Andrew is a Christian and the book was not a Christian book. It seems that, as an artist, he has been able to engage the world and live the Christian life without swimming in the mire that often is bad Christian literature. Here’s an excerpt from an article in World Magazine about Mr. Klavan.
“Andrew Klavan is an unusual combination: He writes detective novels filled with depictions of human depravity, and he's now a Christian. It shouldn't be an unusual combination, because an understanding of man's sinfulness, along with a glimpse of God's holiness, often makes us realize our desperate need for Christ. And yet Christian fiction has a reputation for being too nice to take on vice.”
I’d recommend the read just for the fact of finding good work done by a Christian that is not so “Christian.”
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Being new to the blogging world and very new to the “almost every day” blogging world, I have desired to read good blogs. Now, I must say that I’m not a big fan of reading someone’s journal of all their personal stuff (unless I know them), so, I guess, I’m looking for thought provoking blogs that are more substance than fluff. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.
Take a look at the Jesus action figures (note they come in light or dark skin). Enjoy the scenic background you get with it and the hours of fun you can have. I love the button you push to order. Note is says "order Jesus." What kind of a society are we in that we can "order" Jesus? Don't forget to check out the entire line of Biblical action figures.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Today I visited the Olathe Campus of our church. This multi-site location of the church I serve is a unique blend of the components of our church that are what makes it Christ Community with a small, quaint atmosphere. I enjoyed the musical leadership of the campus corporate worship pastor and the genuine young leadership of the pastor of congregational development. The sermon is done via video on a one week delay from the Leawood campus and with a 16x9 screen with two HD projectors; I actually enjoyed watching the sermon on the screen more than I like it live in Leawood. After a few weeks away, it was good to worship at “home.”
It has been a long time since I have had such a great day with my family. I was a great day not because of something huge we did (Disney World will top that list for a while), but because of time spent together. I am kind of a task master around the house on Saturday’s. I make the kids pick up and we need to clean the house. Today, however, things went more smoothly than they many times do and we were finished by 10:00 am (we get up early). This left the entire day for other things to take place. Each member of the family as doing something they love to do while we all relaxed a bit. After a while, my 8 year old came along and announced it was her teddy’s birthday, so I encouraged her to decorate her room and throw a party. We even made brownies for birthday snacks. After lunch, we sat down and played “Star Wars Risk.” Jay (my six year old) and I were the bad guys and we conquered the galaxy. It was just a fun day and one that we need to repeat more often.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
So, let me challenge you first with the concept of Sabbath and how you are doing at getting the rest you need. Are you working non-stop? Are you going 110% all the time? How is your life at home? Do you give your all to your ministry and fail to have anything left to give to those in your life who matter most? Think about this and be willing to make a change and confront the brutal facts if needed.
Second, in Manning’s book, he makes this statement about the Jewish observation of Sabbath: “…it started at sundown Friday with the mother of the family ceremonially lighting the candles. Then the father, after saying grace over a cup of wine, laid his hand on the head of each of his children and solemnly blessed them with a personal prayer. These and many similar paraliturgical gestures not only hallowed the Sabbath but also sanctified the Jewish home making it a mikdash me-at, a miniature sanctuary in which the parents were the priests and the family table was the alter.” WOW! Why don’t we do this in our families? This is great!
One of the things I will be thinking about a lot while I am on this sabbatical is family and how our ministry can more effectively come alongside families and help them be the “pastors” and “miniature sanctuaries” they were meant to be.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
Because I work with middle school students, I would suggest that, if you’re taking young teens, they would definitely need some guidance through the movie. I say this because it’s not an action-adventure, a sci-fi triller, or a horror film. It’s a bit slow at times and a bit hard to follow at times if you do not know much about Wilberforce. However, the significance of his life and his role in world history as a man and a Christ follower demands attention. Students need to know who Wilberforce was and how they could stand to see this example of how one can use whatever talent and gift God has given in whatever vocation one ends up choosing in life. There is not such thing as “sacred” callings. We are all called to live a Christ-like life no matter what our vocation. We are all called to be apart of God’s redemption plan for the world we live in.
I hope you’ll check out the movie and consider taking a few students to see it as well.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
- The Scriptures are held in high esteem – literally! The priest this morning paraded an ornate Bible around the front, holding it above his head as he made his way to the lectern where he read the Scripture lesson. Now, I don’t think we need to walk around in our daily life with the Bible raised above our heads, but in our church, most don’t even bring a Bible. Do we really value the Scriptures like we should? Do we have the respect for God’s Word that we should? Is it a living, breathing, life-giving book, or just another book on our shelf? Maybe we should hold it up more often.
- The parishioners stand for specific reasons. It seems in the protestant evangelical church we stand for musical worship and that’s about it. Why don’t we stand in reverence when the Scriptures are read? Why don’t we stand when we pray? Why don’t we stand in respect at other times in our services?
- The people kneel for certain prayers. Now, I don’t really know why they kneel for some prayer and why they stand for others (I’ll ask a catholic friend this week), but what I know is we don’t ever kneel for prayer in our church. As a staff, we kneel in our weekly prayer time, but why don’t we encourage our congregation to kneel when we pray? This simple act of submission can be powerful.
- Stay on Disney property – yes, it will cost you more, but the benefits are numerous and make for a much more relaxed and stress free vacation.
- Get the meal plan and plan ahead – Disney offers a meal plan to those who stay on Disney property. It’s not cheap, and if you brought all your own food, you could eat cheaper, but it’s a great value if used wisely, and it allows for more stress free vacationing. Example – a typical lunch at Disney is about $10/person. Snacks around $3/person/snack, and dinner will range in cost from $20-$50/person. Your meal plan will cost you on average $25/person/day. If you plan ahead and make reservations (a must) at nice places for dinner each night, you’ll save a TON of money.
- Relax – you’re on vacation – we say many families dragging their kids through the park and running them into the ground with a frantic schedule. Relax! Give yourself permission to NOT do everything.
- Go between mid January and mid February – I have never taken my family to Disney, but have been many times with groups and this was the slowest I have ever seen the parks. We waited, at most, 20 minutes for all the rides. Most often, we waited under ten minutes. It was fantastic!
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Enter my church. When I joined our staff team five years ago this thing called sabbatical was on included in the compensation package was sated as being granted every five years. This twelve-week respite is granted to bless the pastoral staff a period of refreshment and withdrawal from the demands of weekly ministry. The elder team has an idea that, while on sabbatical, the pastor will spend time deepening relationships with family, the Lord, and strengthening their love and passion for their work. However, they do not demand a great list of “to do’s” that must be accomplished. Their primary desire is to see the pastoral staff renewed and to return to the ministry refreshed and ready for another term of engagement.
Well, after my first five years of ministry here at Christ Community Church, I have been just begun my first twelve week sabbatical. Let me say that I look forward to this time away not because I don’t like my work (I love my work), but because there is so much I would like to read, so much I’d like to contemplate, I look forward to having the time to do these things without the weekly demands of ministry. Most importantly, I am excited to reconnect at an intimate level with my maker. Ministry is to come out of the overflow of ones heart and my overflow was/is running low. I relish the opportunity I have been given to deepen my life with the Lord.
If you actually read this blog post, let me ask you to rejoice with me in the blessing I have been given, but also pray with me as I seek to use this blessing wisely and responsibly. I love my church and I look forward to returning to the ministry of Christ’s bride in twelve weeks.