We Show Up

February 26th, 2010

So a couple of weeks ago there was a long weekend in our neck of the woods. A yearly Monday off called Family Day. I love the premise. A day off where the only requirement is to spend time with family. I always work to put the day to it’s intended purpose.

This year we found out about a big event hosted at a high school in one of the small rural communities just outside of our city. It was quite fantastic. There were jumpy castles, clowns, entertainment and more. Our kids had a blast. They were even serving a pizza/hot dog lunch in the cafeteria for a ridiculously low price. (this is starting to sound like an infomercial)

Around the school that day there were several local community groups helping out. One of the groups helping to serve the lunch was from a local church which I think is fantastic. What I found interesting was the t shirts the church group were wearing. They were very bright yellow and said

“Church Name (changed to protect the innocent) community outreach…..We Show Up!

While eating, my wife and I had a conversation about the “We Show Up” tag line on the shirts. To be honest I’m not sure what to think of it. I don’t mean to be hard on the group of people who were there on their holiday, giving up their time  serving my family lunch but I don’t understand the intent of the we show up. That’s why I’m writing this post. I need some help and want some outsiders opinion.

Were they trying to draw attention to the fact they were doing this good deed? Were they trying to draw attention to the fact other churches weren’t involved. Were they trying to state that “Hey we’re here for you, our community please count on us”?

I guess trying to guess their intention isn’t really possible (or fair) but I don’t understand what they would be trying to communicate with it, or to be honest how I feel about it. If you have any thoughts please comment them.

Creative Blackout

February 25th, 2010

So I’ve spent a fair bit of time today thinking about us as Christians and the risks (or lack of) we take or the creativity (or lack of) we are open to.

I know I am painting with a very broad brush here but it seems like a large majority of the time I hear believers talking about risks  and the need to take them it’s usually in the context of a short term missions trip or looking at financing a building project.

Not that there is anything wrong with those two things but we have a faith based on a God who sent His son to earth to die on a cross. He then rose from the dead so that we could be reconciled with God and live life to the full.  We then usually live safe little lives where we take very few risks. We sit nicely in our pews then go out into the world and blend right in. Large groups of us may raise our voice to complain about something we’re unhappy about (usually the government) but won’t allow God to speak into our lives beyond dealing with some surface level sin.

A lot of these thoughts come from my reaction to an interaction I had earlier today.  It was with a leader in a local church and there was just no excitement. There was no willingness to change anything from the status quo. There was no willingness to risk anything.  Everything is just fine the way it is and there is no reason to look at anything other than what they’re currently doing and how they’re doing it.

I’m not a fan of change for change sake but I believe we need to be open to God’s calling whenever it comes.  We need to be creative in our thinking as we seek to share the gospel.  We should be full of a holy mischief. We should make people a little uncomfortable because we live as people who have a hope. A hope that is worth dedicating our lives to and giving up everything for.

Again I know I’m painting with a very broad brush. I know there are people of faith who are taking huge risks for the kingdom of God.  I know there are believers who are creating beautiful art and others who are thinking and wrestling with the realities of living a life a faith. So I ask for your forgiveness as I gripe about the way we as Christians often settle for a bland way of living.

Guide

December 11th, 2009

I’m out doing some song writing and came across two fantastic definitions for the word “guide” that I wanted to share.

Guide
1) implies intimate knowledge of the way and of all it’s difficulties and dangers

2) to put or lead on a course or into the way to be followed

They’re nothing profound but I was really struck with the beautiful picture of God as our true guide. That in the struggles and realities of life He alone has an intimate knowledge of the way to be followed.

May God guide you!

A Thought From Mrs. Wanting More

November 26th, 2009

While talking to Charlie the other evening, I shared a thought that God dropped on me while I was doing the dishes.  Charlie asked if I would write it out for his blog and that folks, is why you’re stuck with this glimpse into the wife’s mind.

It has now been about 10 months since Charlie left his position in church ministry and since that time we have been faced with the question of which church community we should call home.  Neither of us has ever really had a start-from-scratch church hunt before and it is a challenge.  It’s a question that lately has been on my mind the majority of the time.  I think it’s really important to be an involved and committed member of a church family and this search is leading me to ask a lot of questions about what a church should be, what it should look like and what things are most important to me in a church.

We’ve kind of nailed our decision down to two possible church families and are now really evaluating where would be the best fit.  We’re asking what I think are legitimate questions in this process and I’ve been getting frustrated at not sensing clear answers.  Until I was doing the dishes the other day…

It struck me that maybe we’re not asking a big enough question.  The questions flying through my mind have included things like:

“Where will we be most fed by the sermon content?”

“Where will our children be able to make strong connections with other children who love Jesus?”  “Where we will gain a strong social network?”

“What types of ministries are there to get involved in?”

“Where are these churches headed?  What are their core values”

and the list goes on.

Good questions, right?  Maybe not the one God wants to answer.  It flew into my mind that if life is about glorifying God then the question we should be asking is this:

“Which church community does God want us to be part of so that His kingdom will be furthered?”

I believe that if we start praying that, then God will clearly lead where he wants us to go.  I also believe that if we go where God wants us, then all of those other questions will be answered on the way.  He’ll meet our needs because that is what God does.  I just seem to forget it all too often.

So, that’s the thought from the Mrs.  Remember… it was Charlie’s idea.

Habits

November 25th, 2009

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately trying to create new and fresh experiences and expressions of worship in my life. It’s been an interesting time.  I’ve also started rereading Praise Habits by David Crowder.  I really appreciate his perspective on creating a lifestyle of worship. I just read this section on page 27 of the book:

“I have tried to develop a habit of having a “quiet time”. Sometimes it would stick. Sometimes it would not. Guilt would be thick when it would not. But for a long period it became what I did first thing every day. It was beauty. The internal joy it brought was overwhelming. Then at some point it went hollow. It’s not that it was a bad idea to form a habit of a quiet time, but the habit had slyly begun to suck the life out of my relationship with God. I had fallen in love with my spirituality rather than with the one whom I sought, and in the end it left me void and wanting. A frightening aspect of habit attached to our spiritual formation is that inherent in the idea of habit is the possibility for meaningless ritual. With the formation of habit there is a subtle abdication of consciousness in our actions. This can twist things that were intended to bring life into cold and empty ritualistic experiences. Indeed we are broken. We do bad things without thinking and when we try to do good things they often end up warped. How can we maintain life in our spiritual formation?”

One of the things that lead to me needing to leave ministry was the exhaustion I was feeling about planning worship services.  Both the planning and leading of the services became such a “cold ritual”. What was suppose to be moving me closer to God had “begun to suck the life out of my relationship with God.” I worked really hard to prevent that by trying to keep things in our services fresh and by making sure I was ready spiritually to lead but I couldn’t do it anymore. The confines of planning worship times for a large group of people who all have their own needs and expectations was too much.

Don’t get me wrong I loved my job. LOVED IT.  I loved trying to create new experiences for us as a congregation and shaping where we were going, I really loved working with and engaging the young people we had involved and I really miss it.  But I became bitter. I felt that I was just a dealer providing junkies an empty ritualistic experience.  (I don’t believe that was true but it was how I felt)

Now I’m thinking through the things I do and things we (universally) do as a church and really trying to examine what has become old and stale (even if it started with right intentions)? What habits or ways of thinking are holding me back from moving closer to God? Or am I just crazy (don’t answer that) and making bigger issues of things that aren’t important?

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