An op-ed from the August 7 New York Times, written by a United Church of Christ pastor is called "Congregations Gone Wild." G. Jeffrey MacDonald sketches a serious warning to pastors and congregations about our consumerist culture's potential to blow out the foundation and integrity of the pastoral calling.
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Well, it has been a couple of weeks since I've been on-line. Yes, my family and I have been "on holidays," as we say up here in the "true North, strong and free"--or as Bob Dylan calls it south of the border, "the north country fair." Whatever you call it, after a hard start to our holidays with the death of a young mother in our congregation (see the blog, "Claudette's Cancer: A Hard Sanctification?"), God blessed us with opportunities to re-connect as siblings, cousins, parents, childen and grandchildren in two rounds of family reunions.
A month ago Blizzard (a video game developer) announced they were going to require users of their online forums to use their real names with a hope to reduce trolling, flame wars, and other non productive comments. This was a bold move by Blizzard which shows the severity of their problem. Immediately, many users complained, and Blizzard ended up cancelling this requirement.
In a bookstore we picked up the audio version of Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones). We started to ask: how can we use this as a congregation? It got me thinking about elders and the spiritual lives of children.
When I came home from vacation one of the first newspapers we received had an excerpt from a book by Peter Hitchens (brother to Christopher): it spoke about the need to pass on faith to children. He writes
... today my small group world and work-out world collided when I saw a sign advertising “Small Group Personal Training.” For a very reasonable price we are offered the opportunity to get the benefits of a personal trainer in a small group setting. The sign promoted other benefits of these small groups:
Let's keep talking about the affects of the Americans with Disabilities act on churches. How has your church been doing at including people with disabilities? What barriers still need to be overcome in building architecture, or in programming and communication, or in peoples' attitudes?
As a "pastor family" there are several things that can set your family apart within the church congregation. Some of those things are obvious differences (like not being able to complain about the youth pastor's sermons!) and some are self-inflicted (like choosing not to get involved in things due to conflict of interest situations). But...
Every conversation about the things of God is laced with reflection about God. As elders, we are challenged to lead people in clear thinking. But that means elders need to think things through as well. So this makes me wonder: when and how do elders practice disciplined learning in the matters of faith?
Imagine this. You’ve been in an ongoing spiritual discussion with someone and are asked, “So what is the Gospel?” How would you answer? I had a pretty pat answer in mind until I spent time reflecting on the first four verses of Isaiah 61. This passage points out a bigger understanding of the Gospel than I’m used to thinking
With the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, it's a good time to reflect on the positive and significant changes brought into the church and into people's lives by this legislation.
Many churches which have done a number of short term missions trips have been struggling with some common questions. "We have done construction or other tasks. Is there more? Is there a way for us to develop a relationship with another church or community? What are the pitfalls to avoid and the opportunities to embrace in doing joint ministry? What about serving together in a third location?
Yesterday a 40 year-old wife and mom from our congregation died. She had suffered from cancer for just over a year. It started with a mole in the small of her back that he husband saw one evening. Though discovered early, that made no difference to the raging cancer that devoured multiple organs.
What if the most important thing a deacon could do to facilitate CHANGE would be to build a couple of really good relationships with members of the congregation? What if the purpose of the relationship was to discover together how to live a more Christ-like life, a life more marked by grace, and sensitivity to needs, and better use of gifts, and increased generosity?
With Rich Dixon's permission, I've copied an entry from his blog, Bouncing Back. In it, Rich applies an excuse analysis to physical accessibility of church buildings. The same analysis could be used to consider accessibility and inclusion in church communications, language used in worship and other settings, educational programming, youth group, small groups, outreach activities, work projects, and all other church related activities.