Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Weekend

I am looking forward to our Memorial Weekend worship experience this morning at New Season. It looks like we are going to have great weather for worshiping outside. Every Memorial Weekend and Labor Day Weekend we worship outside as a change of pace and because so many of our folks are out of town. We then grill out. We are also doing a blessing of the animals and their owners this morning. It all makes for a fun time in the midst of solemnity as we remember those who have paid the price for our freedom to worship and assemble and all our other freedoms. And most importantly as we remember Jesus who gave us freedom from brokenness, sin, and anything else that would bind us and rob us of the freedom God desires to give us through his life, death and resurrection.

Happy Memorial Day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Biblical Adverbs and Transitions

Reading the Bible is like reading a book you read in high school or seeing a movie for the second time. As you read a chapter or story in the Bible for the second time or three hundredth and second time you always take notice of something new. There is some detail usually that you did not notice before. There is a name you kind of glanced over in previous readings or a sequence of events that you discover that fits in the larger puzzle.

I have been noticing lately the adverbs and transitional phrases in the New Testament. These typically happen at the beginning of new passages. They say things like "Immediately Jesus left the place..." or "The next day..." or "When he had finished" or "Later..." or "In those days."

Sometimes noticing these transitions makes little difference to the whole story, sometimes more. I have tried to take notice of the durations these adverbs and transitions encompass. I tend to read the Gospel narrative and the Acts of the Apostles as a continuous event. Sometimes though these transitions speak of greater lengths of time between events.

So there is the English lesson for today. Watch your adverbs and transitional phrases. They might make a difference in how you read the Bible.

Growing Pains

Here is the second message "Growing Pains" from the "I Love the '80s" message series. Listen by clicking the link or using the embedded player.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sidewinders Baseball

Robert is getting ready to start his baseball season. We have already started practicing. This year we decided to play in the Fredericksburg Parks and Rec league and we are graduating from Tee Ball to Coach Pitch. I did not coach last year and missed it so I signed up to be an assistant for Robert's team this year. Of course at the coach's meeting to start the season there was no head coach and I wound up being the head coach. I am a little worried about pitching to people that are like four feet and giving them something to hit. Our team name is the Sidewinders and we have had two practices.

I am quickly remembering from my previous coacing what a challenge it is to keep the attention of 7 and 8 year old kids. It is hard. It is also a challenge to explain basics of the game using langauge they understand and can apply. For example, when I tell a batter "when you swing, keep your back foot planted" they look at me like "huh- keep my back foot planted." I also can't assume that the kids know how to hold a bat, what direction to run to first base or where right field is.

I liken it somewhat to the church and preaching. It makes little sense to most followers of Jesus even ones who have been following Jesus for some time for me to speak about incarnation, substiutionary atonement, or glosollalia without explaining what that means in terms that are understandable and to further explain what difference those things make for a person's journey with Jesus. I can't assume those in the worship environment even know what a gospel is, how to recevie communion by intinction or any other host of actions or code words in the church.

Sometimes we have to speak the people's langauge in order for them to get it whether they be 7 and 8 year olds on a ball field or 27 and 38 year olds in a worship setting. It is what the Lord requires.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Moms of the '80s

Here is the first message from the "I Love the '80s" series called "Moms of the '80s". You can listen by using the embedded player below or click here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What To Count

I read a number of blogs of other church planters from around the country and rejoice with them at the ways God is moving in their churches. They will often report that 50 persons, or 35 persons or 135 persons made a commitment to follow Christ at their last Sunday service. I surmise this info is gathered by having people fill something out or by asking persons to raise their hands to indicate they are making a first time commitment to follow Jesus. Whatever way they use to measure that really doesn't matter to the point I am trying to make.

Let me say I think it is great and tremendous that these persons are making a commitment to follow Christ and I rejoice with the angels in heaven for them and these churches. However, Craig Groeschel made a great point at the Exponential Conference this April. He suggested that perhaps instead of or addition to counting the number of people who raise their hands, respond to an altar call or fill out a call we should count the number of people in our community who have not begun to follow Christ and report that and let that number drive us in our ministry.

I agree with Craig and think in many ways we let "who we have" drive us in the church. We focus on "how many we have" when what we need to focus is on how many that are beyond the walls of the church who do not follow Jesus yet. This is why churches become territorial when a new church comes into the community. They view that as a zero sum game. If there is a new church that means less for me. No, there are more than enough people to be reached- the harvest is plentiful.

One unscientific way I have heard of calculating the number of people who are not part of a vital worshiping faith community is to survey the churches in a geographic area and ask what their seating capacity is. Subtract that number from the total population and you come near the number of people not involved in a vital worshiping faith community.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Love the 80s

The I Love the 80s message series at New Season Church starts this Sunday- 10AM at Lee Hill Elementary School. Will be kicking off the series with "Moms of the '80s" as a way to honor moms for Mothers Day. Don't miss the other messages in the weeks to come.

May 17th Growing Pains
May 24th Family Ties
May 31st The A-Team

So bust out your best parachute pants, put your boom box on your shoulder and make your way over to New Season as we use the 1980s as a launching pad to explore Biblical and spiritual issues. We may also have an Asteroids tournament on the Atari 2600 or a single elimination tournament of Pong. Send an e-vite to a friend to invite them to be part of this message series.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Emotional Baggage

Here is the last message from the Baggage series. Emotional Baggage. Why not lay your bags down today?

Facebook and Twitter Resources for Churches

I recently shared with a friend two resources churches might find helpful in sharing the good news of Christ and communicating among persons in the church.

The first is Facebook for Pastors which is a free download from Chris Forbes. It can be found here.

The second is a great little e-book from Anthony Coppedge called Twittering for Churches. It is really cheap and well worth the money for the download.

You can join the New Season Facebook Group here.

You can follow New Season on Twitter here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Our Enemy is Satan

In light of what I blogged about yesterday concerning one our church plants leaving the connection I have been thinking about why we (and I use the collective "we" of all followers of Jesus) fight each other so much.

I mean good gosh! In this case we fight about methods, or about doctrine that does not strike at the heat of Christianity, or homosexuality, or how the church should be organized, or whatever. We put all this energy into all these arguments. We put all kinds of time into these arguments. All the while there are people who are hungering for Christ. And, I do have to say on one level it is healthy to engage in spirited discussion. There is a time to confront false teaching (when it strikes at the heart of the faith). However, there comes a tipping point where are constant arguing and sniping is not God honoring. It is certainly not a good witness to the world.

I think we do well to remember that our enemy is not each other, but it is Satan. It is the evil forces, powers or whatever you want to call them in your theology. We don't need to be fighting each other but joining together to push back the gates of hell. Our enemy is not the pro or anti-"whatever the issue", it is not the new church or the traditional church, it is the enemy himself.

I think Wesley (borrowing from Augustine) is helpful here "As to the essential unity, as to non-essentials, think and let think."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

GracePoint Church Leaves the Connection

Here is an interesting series of articles about a church in Kansas that left the connection of the United Methodist Church after much angst about its style and its desire to multiply itself. (It is actually two article with the link to the second article at the bottom of the first). I would not pretend to know the many issues or the complexity of the situation and I have great respect for Bishop Jones who I have heard on many occasions and who seems to "get it".

The funniest thing about this sad situation was the old retired codger who brought the church planter from GracePoint up on charges for their "Church Doesn't Suck" Campaign. Here is what the article says...

The “pushback” happened before GracePoint even sought to expand, Mr. Butts said. When GracePoint broke out its “Church Doesn’t Suck” campaign, for instance, a retired United Methodist clergy brought up Mr. Butts on charges for using the word “suck.” Another clergy member who visited GracePoint complained to conference leaders that the church was doing both infant baptisms and dedications, depending on what parents requested.

The only thing I have to say to that is "that sucks!"