Author Archive

Change!?!, Community, Worship

I HATE Altar Calls….

I have long hated altar calls… since a boy in growing up in church… they seem so manipulative. And frankly, I don’t think they work anymore these days. In fact, let me say that stronger… they DON’T work!

Here’s why I say that so strongly… three weeks ago on Feb 22, I offered an altar call in both of our worship gatherings… NO response. None… Nada… Zip! Then the very next Sunday – March 1, I introduced a response card in each bulletin. I got 7 responses that day from people wanting to commit their lives to Christ, be baptized, and/or join the church. The very next week, I got 3 responses.

Go figure!

I think the day of the altar call in USAmerica is over!


Books / Readings, Community

A Helpful Framework

Just finished reading a book called “Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement” by Mel Lawrenz. I can’t recommend the book except that the framework he sets forth I find really helpful and provocative! The book is just lots of ink on paper. The framework is on page 11 and the rest works at supporting the framework, but not very well, in my opinion.

The framework Mel sets forth is a helpful way to think about God’s work in the world and the work that God has called us to do in the world as well.

Mel defines engagement as “Bringing together God’s supply and human need.

And then he further talks about four kinds of engagement that every church is called to do.

1. Engaging with God (the life of worship and personal devotion)
2. Engaging with God’s people (real koinonia {Community} through small groups and other means)
3. Engaging with your community (imaginative ways to distribute Christian witness that is decentralized, grass roots, salt and light.)
4. Engaging with the world (developing an awareness of and involvement in global mission)

When Jesus announced, what I call his mission to the world, he said he was sent to engage the world. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” That’s engagement!

It is also what he calls us to do!

Books / Readings, Spiritual Formation

Thoughts about the Beatitudes

I have been doing lots of reading on vacation. Working my way through a books series (3 in number) Called the Apprentice Series. The first one is called The Good and Beautiful God, the second (which I am reading now) is called The Good and Beautiful Life. They are books designed to be used in a spiritual formation group and in 2010, I will probably attempt doing just that. I wanted to read them through first to see if they were worthy of that. They are! (At least the first two are – the third one is not yet printed!)

They are written by James Bryan Smith, who is a theology professor at Friends University in Kansas and the Director of the Spiritual Formation Institute there and is a founding member of Renovare (Richard Foster’s spiritual growth group). One of the things that caught my eye was Dallas Willard’s praise of the book… “The best practice I have seen in Christian spiritual formation.”

In a chapter I was reading today, James writes this about the Beattitudes…”The people mentioned in the Beattitudes are not blessed because they are in those conditions. They are blessed because of Jesus. They have hope because the kingdom is available to even them…. People are not blessed merely because they are poor in spirit. The condition is not important. What is important is that these people are not cut off from God. Their life situation does not prevent them from entering the kingdom of God.”

And he concludes that out of that blessing they are to bless the world!

Neat way to think about the beattitudes! We ARE blessed because of Jesus (not because of the condition we find ourselves in) and the blessing we have is the invitation to be part of God’s kingdom and that blessing is for us to share – to invite others into God’s kingdom where they will find love, forgiveness, healing, peace, and blessing!

Books / Readings

A Book Recommendation!

I just finished reading my advance copy of Mark Batterson’s about to be released book “Primal: The Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity.” Having already read Mark’s previous books, I came to this book with HIGH expectations. He didn’t let me down. It is a good read and I found it very helpful. In many ways, Mark has put into writing some ideas that I have had for a number of years now.

The book’s guiding image of peeling back the layers of all that Christianity has evolved into to get back to the “primal” nature of Christianity is a helpful image. The book is designed to take an indepth look at what was most important to Jesus…. the great commandment. Mark writes, “we have a tendency to complicate Christianity. Jesus simplified it: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.”

And then Mark devotes the chapters in the book to taking a look at what each of those four ways we are to Love God might look like in our world and lives today.

I HIGHLY recommend reading this book and look forward to Mark’s next.


Where the rubber hits the road part 2

Here are some ways that our congregation is developing teams to work together to bless our community. See Part 1 for more details.

+ Habitat for Humanity Work Group

+ Working with Homeless Ministries

+ Install a new bathroom floor for Stacy

+ Visit Shut-ins and group homes

+ promote “eco-justice” issues

+ help Stacy with mowing, yard work

+ Parents Night Out

+ The Everybody Playspace Walk, Run, Stroller Strut

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