On the way to Sunday … church community?

church-community21

Church is designed to be a gathering of people and simply a building.  But unfortunately that notion of community is as often broken as it is celebrated.  That is not more clear than in an article about the church that appeared in the Huffington Post:

Personal or national tragedy (and especially since 9/11) seems to cause a major shift in people’s assessment of church. It is a time when people flock to churches in droves. There is just something about churches that society finds in times of tragedy and hardship. This always fascinates me because the media and general public embrace church or (the idea of church) during a time of crisis, but in times of peace and prosperity, the church seems to become irrelevant again. 

Perhaps our struggle comes from our expectations.

We have culturally grown to become spectators – we love watching others do – it allows us to be critical – and in some ways superior – we know better.

And that culturally process has invaded the church.  Church has become a spectator sport focused on entertainment – big numbers – providing activities, programs, events, stuff … and the result is we miss out on providing community.

Church … as a place of faith … a place of refuge … a place of healing … a place of acceptance … a place to accepted and loved … is needed now more than ever … it is needed at all times and not just during crisis.

Church is a unique place that can change people’s lives because the community can rally together every day to help one another.  That one another thing is big deal in the Bible:

Love one another (Jn 13:3415:1217Ro 13:81 Th 3:124:91 Pe 1:221 Jn 3:11)

Through love, serve one another (Ga 5:13)

Tolerate one another in love (Ep 4:2)

And that’s just the start …

Where do you start?

Build community together in your church …

See you Sunday?

 

On the way to Sunday … Vegas Style

Search for the lost, bring back those that stray away, put bandages on those that are hurt, and make the weak strong.   Ezekiel 34:16

If you ever have the opportunity to fly into Las Vegas, do it at night.  It is an incredibly beautiful city.  The downtown strip in Vegas is as bright as day in the middle of the night.  Why all the light?  It helps keep the criminals away.  Light has a way of doing that.

Have we as followers of Christ become so comfortable in the light that we are now afraid of the dark and shadows?  God has given us the responsibility as Christians and as a church to reach the people in the shadows – the hurting and crippled people.The people living in the shadows do so because they are afraid to reveal themselves to others.

PEOPLE!  We have NOTHING to hide.

If we used half the energy that we use to complain about the shadows to light up the darkness the world would be changed.

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Maybe it’s time we spent more time lighting up the world “Vegas Style” instead of embracing the idea that what happens in church stays in church.

What would ‘lighting up the world” look like?  Great Question …

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.  John 13:35

We have nothing to hide …. we have Love on our side … what are you waiting for?

Light up the World!

See you Sunday …

Losing another Generation


The systems of life hum accordingly
Every day, every year, every century
But, everywhere humans go things get worse
Can’t you tell through the smoke in the dirty city

And now they’re down to 250 lone souls
They’re a breed of a losing generation it seems
The killers are ourselves so you know who to blame
It was man with his plan and his frightening greed
I don’t think we’ll ever leave them alone.

Losing Generation by Bad Religion

The words might as well have been written today, but truth is this song was part of Bad Religion’s 1983 album and to think I was a high school senior then!

Time flies and another generation is lost.

It seems rather frightening to think that we have been singing/talking about losing a generation for generations.  The church has become like so many other so called leaders in that we are better at the rhetoric of crisis than we are that the action of change.  In other words, we would rather yell, “Fire!” than pick up a bucket, find some water and fight the fire.

It’s time to stop talking and yelling and fighting.

It is time to boldly declare the great and mighty works of God to this and every generation.

We can’t remain silent, but we must have something more to say than, “Danger! Danger!”

Someone please pick up a bucket!

I believe that and others will gladly follow your example.

Here I am to save the day!

superheroHere I am to save the day!

Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … you?

Why not? Who hasn’t dreamed about casting off the bondage of gravity and flying through the air like Superman or sticking to the side of buildings like Spider-Man or rescuing helpless vegetables like Larry Boy?  I mean if a cucumber can do it, why can’t I?

Unfortunately, reality has a way of ruining a good fantasy.  After all, superheroes only exist in comic books, cartoons, and movies.

I am just one person. What difference could I make anyway?

Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. Romans 7:19 CEV

But still …

I wish I had the power to always do the right thing.

I wish I had the power to make things right.

I wish I had the power to love the unlovable.

I wish I had the power to fix things gone wrong.

Amidst my wishing, I find God speaking to me through scripture:

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 NIV

Maybe I can be a superhero …

Maybe by learning to practice grace in my life … accepting God’s forgiveness,

I can learn to practice grace in other people’s lives as well.

Practice Grace this week.  In your life and others.

Who knows … maybe that’s the secret to becoming a Superhero!

Giving the gift of light


It’s amazing how much light one match can create in a room of darkness.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. John 1:9

Every Sunday at church we pass the offering plate. Often times I hear this called “taking up the collection.”

I have come to understand that is wrong on so many levels.

I take time each Sunday to remind our congregation that our offering is an act of worship as we sacrifice to give a portion of what we have been given.

The idea of the gift of light struck me this week.

May all your gifts be light in a world of darkness.

On the way to Sunday … something new


I am not really an adventurous sort, but for some reason I was compelled to try para-sailing this past week.  Perhaps the fact that my son wanted to go and I didn’t want to chicken out was part of the compulsion.  I must admit the idea of hanging from a parachute connected by a couple of hooks while being pulled around by a boat in the middle of the ocean might seem like fun to others it just has never had much appeal to me.

The view was amazing, but the view was no different than that which you would see from a plane or while gazing out the window of a tall building. The thing that was most striking to me while being suspended 500 feet above the water was the absolute quiet. The quiet was overwhelming. Being accustomed to spectacular views from a plane window, I am also accustomed to the sound of the engine and the people around you.

We both hung suspended from a parachute with no engine, no one else talking. We both watched in silence the vastness of the ocean. The silence was breathtaking and I think we are both trying to figure out the words to utter in order to describe the experience.

I would do it again, but I am not sure I can explain why.  As we reached our zenith, some 500 feet above the water, my son looked at me and said, “Dad we’re flyin’ just like Mary Poppins!”

I think I will remember his words more than anything else – that and the sound of his laughter as our toes splashed down into the cold ocean water.

It struck me when we got out of the boat and returned to safe land. Most of the enriching moments in our life (and especially in ministry) are when we are willing to take risks that move us out of our comfort zone and away from our routines.

The view from a Para-sail was worth the risk and I will keep that view in mind the next time I hesitate to step out of my comfort zone and change my routine.

On the way to Sunday … the usual

I’m not thirsty,
but I’m standing in line.
I’ll have the usual
I’ll have the usual

from John Hiat’s song The Usual

The 2010 estimate, the most recent, says that 925 million people were undernourished in 2010.  925 million people is 13.6 percent of the estimated world population of 6.8 billion or almost 1 in 7 people are hungry.  Nearly all of the undernourished are in developing countries. The number of hungry people has nearly doubled since 1995.  More information about the world hunger problem is available here.

The increase has been due to three factors:

1) neglect of agriculture relevant to very poor people by governments and international agencies

2) the current worldwide economic crisis and

3) the significant increase of food prices which has been devastating to those with only a few dollars a day to spend.

Children are the most visible victims of under nutrition. Children who are poorly nourished suffer up to 160 days of illness each year. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year–five million deaths. Under nutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria. The estimated proportions of deaths in which under nutrition is an underlying cause are roughly similar for diarrhea (61%), malaria (57%), pneumonia (52%), and measles (45%). Malnutrition can also be caused by diseases, such as the diseases that cause diarrhea, by reducing the body’s ability to convert food into usable nutrients.

Simply put every 6 seconds a child dies in the world as a result of hunger related problems.

If that is the usual, then something should change.

Thankfully it can thanks to organizations like Pack Away Hunger.  My church has partnered with this organization to help provide meals to people in Central Indiana and far away places like Africa and Guatemala.  Mark your calendar now for our Annual Fish Fry – June 14-16 as proceeds from this event will help fight hunger and nutrition problems.  You can volunteer to work or just come and eat!

Until then … join us on Sunday … as we explore what more of the usual looks like in the weeks following Easter morning!

See you Sunday …