Thursday, July 27, 2006

I,We and Me

I have this tension inside me when it comes to Christian contemporary music. This tension has to do with the rampant individualism lifted up in the music.

How many of the songs we sing in worship are about "me, myself, and I"? Have you ever stopped to think. Going back to the the Maranatha days there was "Lord I Lift Your Name on High". Then there was "Here I am to Worship" and "I Can Only Imagine" and even favorites today like "Lifesong" (Let your lifesong sing for me). Oh, sure there are a couple of good songs that sing about God and don't constantly use the first person but they seem to be getting fewer and fewer between.

I think we need to be cognizant of this and aware of the cult of individualism that is being reinforced albeit unknowingly I am sure. The community of faith I find described in scripture and throughout most of history is anything but individualistic. The Bible says we need each other. The Bible says to meet together. The Bible says we worship together. In our closed lives of individualism where the world tells us to look out for number one and to buy the package designed especially for you the church and its teaching need to be counter-cultural and thus temper this cult of individualism.

On the other hand, when it comes to music, we want a certain portion of the music to be personal. We want people to be able to appropriate the words into the core of their being and be able to demonstrate and live out those words in their life. We want people to know what it is like to praise God out of their whole being. So there is the tension.

Maybe the answer is to find a balance. One where the music balances the communal and individual aspects of this journey we are on.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


There are three "omni" words traditionally used to define God: omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (all present).

For most people who subscribe to a belief in the God of Christianity the first two are not that hard. It is pretty easy to believe that God is all powerful after taking in a waterfall or seeing a violent storm. And it is pretty easy to subscribe to the notion that God is all knowing when we see how things turn out in our life and in the lives of others mostly for good.

We tend to have more of a problem with this God being present everywhere thing. I mean it is easy to affirm and say that God is everywhere but we often forget this truth. Or, we simply do not believe it. Or, we believe that God is only present in the four walls of the church. But God is everywhere and that is what omnipresence is all about.

For most of us though we do not stop long enough to see God's presence among us. We don't see God as we rush from appointment to appointment, errand to errand, soccer practice to ballet, email to cell phone and more. How many times do we walk by, drive by, and pass by the presence of God because we are elsewhere?

God is present and working in all the places we find ourselves in. True enough, God is most powerfully experienced through Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit when the community of faith gathers and breaks bread together, but he is also present in all other places.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How Big is Your Jesus?

Where are you on your Jesus journey?

When you are up on the ropes, when your faith is tested, when it seems like there is no way out (or in) how big is your Jesus?

As you grow in your faith and discover more and more about what it means to follow this Jesus do you move beyond "Jesus said it, I believe it, and it's so" to knowing the truth of Christ in your heart?

When the proverbial box of your faith is shattered, is your faith big enough that it can handle what your are experiencing or learning that calls into question all you have been taught?

There is no doubt that the Jesus we find in the Bible and who we experience is big enough. The questions is whether we believe the Jesus we follow is big enough. How big is your Jesus?

Next week- Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy!

Monday, July 24, 2006


Yesterday was one of those rare Sundays when I was not teaching and I did not have other worship celebration experience responsibilities. I wondered earlier in the week what I would do. I thought real hard about attending one of the more innovative churches in the Fredericksburg area to get ideas and see how other people were connecting others to Christ.

However I settled on doing a little recon instead. I wanted to see what people were doing who were not in church on Sunday. After all, if these are the people we are trying to reach why shouldn't we learn as much as we can about their Sunday morning habits. While it was strange to be driving around on Sunday morning the learning was invaluable. Here is what I observed from about 10:30 a.m. to noon.

  • In the neighborhood I drove through there were many garage doors open with people getting ready to mow grass or in the process of washing cars. There was not a tremendous amount of activity but more than I though there would be.
  • There were a significant amount of people at WaWa, Food Lion, Wal-Mart, Lowes, Toys R Us, and especially the brand spanking new Target.
  • One lady I was next to at a stop light was playing contemporary Christian music while smoking a cigarette. She would fit in well at New Season! Like Jesus, we love smokers though not their habit!
  • When I passed the big soccer complex at Loriella Park there were no soccer or baseball games going. Good for you Spotsylvania Parks and Rec.

Here are some take aways from what I saw.

  • While all these people were different and no doubt some were regularly connected to a faith community there are still vast amounts of people not connected to a faith community and no doubt vast amounts living without Christ.
  • All of the churches in are area could double and there would still be unchurched people in our area.
  • Future servant evangelism efforts (passing out free water/ drinks, free newspapers and coffee, free car washes) should take place on Sunday mornings if that is who we are trying to demonstrate the love of Christ to.
  • I dream of a day when we will cancel Sunday worship (maybe move it to Saturday) and be out serving in the community on a Sunday morning.

See you in church next week!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


What does it mean to be relevant when it comes to doing church? Whether that means being relevant in preaching, programming, nurturing, evangelism or anything else the church does? We hear a lot of churches say come and hear relevant messages. Or, we are a contemporary, causal and relevant church. What does this overused word mean?

Relevant is...
  • Meeting people's felt needs and helping them to discover and fill their ultimate need- a life changing walk with Jesus Christ.
  • Using methods to present the Gospel that are indigenous to your mission field specially in the area of worship.
  • Watching your language and not using Christianese so that persons not "in" have a hard time understanding what in the world you are saying. People have not been to church have nop idea what a narthex, nave, doxology, atonement, or lectionary is.
  • Preaching and teaching about relationships, marriage, raising kids, dealing with stress, finding purpose and meaning etc.- all in the context of the Biblical witness and always exalting Christ.

Relevant is not...

  • Telling people what you think they need to hear.
  • Expecting persons who have grown up with television, computers at age 5, MTV images every three seconds, and surround sound to sit through an hour to an hour and a half of linear worship with one or two talking heads.
  • Simply putting up a screen, using movie clips, or playing contemporary Christian music.
  • Arguing about the amount of water used in baptism, the color of the new carpet, whether to spend money on a newspaper ad or whether gay people should be allowed to become members of the church. We do this while people in our mission field are dying and going to hell, going hungry and have no place to lay their heads and suffer from physical, spiritual and emotional illnesses.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Nomadic Churches

Nomadic Chruches are churches that for any number of reasons do not have a permanent home. They may meet in schools, community cetners, warehouses, movie theaters or any place where worship can happen "in spirit and truth." Bill Easum and Pete Theodore provide an excellent survey of the special challenges faced by nomadic churches as well as the many benefits the nomadic church has over the established church. As more and more churches are started in areas where land is way too expensive to purchase and build upon and where mission trumps structures we will see more nomadic churches. These churches will be nomadic not for a time, but for their life. Here are some highlights from Easum and Theodore's work some with my comments.

p. 3 Possible things don’t need God.

A mantra here at New Season these days. If it can be done without God it is not worth doing. That's been said numerous times by many but still worth repeating.

p. 16 To fulfill the Great Commission, the number of new churches that must be planted requires a method that demands less capital than in the past.
We’ve learned that it costs between 500,000 and 1 million to plant a church the traditional way.

We can't keep doing parachute drops if we want to plant 250 new churches in the next 30 years in Virginia.

p. 17 ...having their own buildings may encourage churches to operate with a centripial (come) rather than a centrifugal (go) mentality in mission, inviting non-members to church rather than going into society to meet people on neutral territory, reversing the apparent thrust of mission in the New Testament.

Gone are the days when you could say "hey, here we are y'all come now" and expect people to show up. We need to get the hell out of the church both literally and figuratively.

p. 21 An advantage to the nomadic church is it keeps away some Christians who only want a comfortable church experience.

What a great benefit this is.

p. 123 “My goal was for it to be impossible for anyone in our city to be unaware of our church.”

This is the worthy goal of one leader of a nomadic church and one that is a worthy goal for every church.

p. 139 Simple core value- Christ first, people second, buildings last.

For those who have already built I would add, "Never put up a building until everyone understands we will tear it down in a New York minute if it means reaching more people for Christ."

p. 156 There is much we can do after we pray; but there is nothing worth doing until we pray.

p. 162 Luther- Pray as if everything depends on God. Then work as if everything depends on you.