I have been pondering this idea of “start with why” for my own ministries then it had me wondering. Does our church even know the ‘why’ of its existence? Sure there are some mission statements, but those are things that the church says it wants to be. Not really why it is there. Maybe I am thinking to hard on this, but companies who live to do their why have captured mass appeal. Maybe the church doesn’t need mass appeal.. The leaders of my faith expression sure seem to want ‘vital’ mass appeal.
In my ongoing documentary watching courtesy of my newfound Netflix subscription I watched “The God Who Wasn’t There.” I remember when this was hitting the release date and it had its natural pub and buzz as denying God can be a real sassy topic. It never interested me as I’ve seen the “Religulous” or “The Root of All Evil” (aka. God Delusion) and could pretty much script the whole documentary.
Well, if I’m already paying for my subscription and it is available, why not? So I watched the documentary and it was as predicted. It took on more so the modern theology of focusing on the resurrection as the only real part of the story. Took a whole bunch of Christian pop culture of the time (the Passion of the Christ gets a good reflection). This is all circles back around as the director/narrator shares that he grew up in a fundamental educational environment. He even takes on his private school principal/dean on some of these theological teachings.
As the movie went on and on I was less impressed by the case against a “God who wasn’t there” but felt bad for him because the God who he had been taught about actually wasn’t there. God wasn’t there because he had been taught a shallow part of the story of God’s workings with his people. There wasn’t anything of grace, dreams, loving others, caring for the poor & less fortunate, and more. There is a God who is there, in my belief, and I’m saddened by this case the many replicating cases out there where people were taught short of the full spectrum of a God who loves them.
In pondering the whole “Call to Action” and my thoughts yesterday on “Poking the Church” it had me wondering. Why don’t more people get involved and take on their communities and their faith.. What is the one thing? Are we all just to lazy? or maybe we claim to be to ‘busy?’
Maybe, as Dave Meslin puts in this short talk, its more a web of things that compound. He’s talking up a civic cultural apathy. But this in many ways translates into our church cultures. Especially found his framework of intentional exclusion very insightful.
My wife loves the movie “50 First Dates” & I enjoy it quite a bit as well. It is one of the few movies we actually own & will still watch on television when it comes on.
So if you want a cute love story comedy then this is our family suggestion.
The premise of the movie is that Drew Barrymore’s character has a rare amnesia that keeps her from remembering anything past a date when she had a car accident. So every day for her is relived the same over and over again. Adam Sandler’s character falls in love with her and when coming to understand her condition continues to try and woo her. As well, he also tries to help her live with her condition. This sets up some really funny and cute scenarios.
One of the scenes in the movie the couple are having a beach campfire, hanging out with many of friends of Barrymore’s character. One of the ‘friends’ played by Maya Rudolph, asks in puzzled amazement, ‘So you work everyday to get her to fall in love with you, and then do it again the next day?’ This questioning is met with a nodding “Yeah.”
What if the church were to work so hard and so passionately to the goal that it’s community were to fall in love with, not the church, but the God & Christ that church represents.
What would that look like? What would the church be doing if it did that?
Why isn’t Youth Ministry a Mission of the church?
That might sound trite, or stupid question, but think about it. If you go to any church website I will, 99% of the time, guarantee you that ‘youth ministry’ or ‘student ministry’ will be under a heading of ‘programs’ of the church.
Does putting it under a ‘program’ heading fundamentally change the expectations of the ministry? So some thoughts on Program & Mission…
- works for those within organization
- evolving – reshaping to needs
- outreach – taking message outside organization
Now, there is nothing wrong with program, as long as those are the expectations and goals behind a program. However, if we really want our churches to reach out, introduce teenagers to a radical Christ, and take on the passion of our Lord.. then wouldn’t our youth ministries be more of a mission category?
A struggling Baltimore parish received a surprising donation two Sundays ago, when a Maryland Lottery Cash Craze Crossword scratch-off arrived in the collection plate. The ticket, which was already scratched revealing the win, was discovered by the church’s pastor when tallying the day’s contributions. “I’m not too familiar with these tickets,” said the pastor. “I asked somebody if it was a winner.” The response was “It looks like it’s a winner to me.” With this affirmation, the 55-year-old church leader brought the ticket to Lottery Headquarters, where the largesse of an anonymous individual was confirmed.
“I have no idea who did this,” the pastor declared. “I really have no clue.” The church, which has been experiencing financial difficulties, will use the money toward operating expenses, but the pastor also wishes to give some back to the people. “We have a lot of people in need,” he said. “Hopefully, we can give some back, especially since this is the way we received it.”
Although this unexpected windfall is much-appreciated, the church still faces financial challenges. With that in mind, the smiling pastor said that he intends to buy $5 worth of Mega Millions tickets for Friday night’s drawing which has a jackpot of $312 million.
I know my United Methodist tradition has issues with lotteries. I remember when I was in Alabama, back in the 90’s, our church went against the lottery legislation then as well. That one never passed surprisingly.
The axe to grind against the lottery is one that says that they prey on those who are in poverty situations. Statistics can be bent around to prove this true or not true. In my anecdotal experiences it seems true to me that it is the case more than not. Maybe some folks playing the lottery may not be in abject poverty, but you generally do not see those who have solid financial positions playing games of chance where the odds of winning are astronomical.
With that in mind, is there an issue with taking lottery money if it is against the mission of the church? Obviously this pastor does not have a problem with it and will have his go at the scratch game sometime in the future at least once. Would it have been more of a story if the church refused $30k because of the method of it being attained from the people?
Is there another story here that has to do with someone capturing the imagination of the news giving away $30k to a church in the form of a lottery ticket?
Or is it that someone has bad luck and didn’t realize that they had a winner? I know I wouldn’t know, those things are just confusing to me.
My friend Matthew (JesusNeedsNewPR) is campaigning to spread the word for Give a Goat week. This week, before the black Friday & the holiday rush begins, start off your giving by giving a goat to a needy family.
Goats nourish hungry children and families with healthy milk, cheese, and yogurt. Goats also give a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market.
A healthy dairy goat can give up to 16 cups of milk a day. Goat milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk and is an excellent source of calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients that growing children need. Goats are practical animals — flourishing in harsh climates while producing valuable manure to fertilize crops and vegetable gardens.
…a goat is affordable: Only $75. And for somebody who might not be able to afford to sponsor a child through World Vision, this is an affordable option to give and help a family in need this holiday season.
I’ve been on two trips with World Vision, to Uganda and Dominican Republic, and have witnessed firsthand the amazing benefits that one goat can make in the life of a family or community. While a goat might not seem like much to us, for many across the globe, a goat is one of the most cherished gifts they can receive. Because for them, one goat represents the opportunity for sustainability.
Still Not Convinced?
This post originally written for Sticky Sheep
The Dead Sea is one of those iconic sites to check out with a visit to the Holy Land. It isn’t dead in the aspect that it does have some benefits (translation = products) that it is able to provide for its surrounding community. However, in all aspects it is a void of life and production of vitality for the range it covers. What makes this sea, so dead?..
It goes no where.
You may know that the famed Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea & there are some small waters that filter into the sea. But remarkably there isn’t an outflow of water.
Whether you are a business or a church, non-profit or fortune 500. There needs to be outflow from your entity. I am not just talking about an outflow of product, but all the energies and collection of talent in a company need to be pouring out into the community. So I ask, what are you doing that flows out into the community? What nutrients, positive energy, inner life, etc does your company/church give to build the greater good? Or, do you just hold everything within the walls for just the company/church?
As I mentioned, this isn’t an outflow of product, but allowing the passions & personalities of the company/church to move outward, beyond the current boundaries, to do and be a part of things that are not for a bottom line. Flowing outward to be a service to the surrounding community. It is in this spirit though that your company/church can ensure its future life. It is in this spirit that people will stick to who you are & what you are about. It is in this spirit that your innards will be revitalized by a movement that goes somewhere.
today i ran into Quita, asking her "you have a few papers for me?" and she responded with a sigh and a "yes, you know what these are all about?" myself along with my buddy jason had a nice chat with her about her travels since being displaced from tent city during the flood. she had her housing voucher paperwork and said more than a few times "it's not my permanent solution." we hugged and exchanged our pleasantries and went along our ways.
in the last year and a half God has moved me around some people that brought me in touch with this community of people i was aware of but never knew. note: as a church staff person it is rather interesting that it is hard to be with people who have no home. many times they carry with them little value to the church, except a 'mission' or 'outreach' cause. many times, those are charitable in nature and hurt an eventual goal of getting folks off the streets.
as i have been finding my way these last few months and meeting folks in the homeless community i've given my support; in small acts, prayers, needed resources, and just being to the folks at "tent city."
i've done this for a reason. i believe in a process and a place. there needs to be a place that people can land when all the bottoms fall out. if the world falls out from under me i have back ups and places to go. we are richly blessed in that manner. but many do not have those options. so there is a need for a place to land.
but that place isn't the only need. there needs to be a process and the people to help getting folks back to where they want to be. as i've been around the tent city community i believe and am seeing the people who have gotten involved in bridging relationships and helping folks pick themselves up and get back into the life they dream for themselves.
homelessness is complex and this doesn't address all the needs, but a place for folks to build from is, and needs to be, an option. so that is why i support a tent city
i read this little parable for our youth the first sunday of advent. we were coming off the thanksgiving holiday and it seemed poignant. i share with you to ask the same thing i asked of our teenagers. 'what are you doing to not live into this parable.
here's what i am encouraging you to check out.
- 61st Avenue umc & the last minute toy store: little ole’ 61st ave umc is putting together its annual “last minute” toy store to help
families in hardship provide some toys, food, and sometimes a christmas
tree for over 3,500 children here in nashville. toy store starts at noon on friday and
goes thru Monday. join me on friday by driving yourself over. volunteer orientation starts at 12. The
Toy Store will stay open till around 6:30pm when the last shoppers go
- send a message of hope to our growing church in cote d’ivoire, west africa. there is a lot of need, and when there is need a little hope goes a long way. send some encouragement.
- check out advent conspiracy, get yourself aware of the conditions people live in outside your world. spend less, give more, love all!
- maybe you are just a cool person who cares
- volunteer at the community care’s fellowship or nashville rescue mission
- become aware of local and global issues.. maybe the world AIDS or water problem