Archive for July, 2007

Community, Spiritual Formation, Worship

Worship should be more like VBS

We just finished the annual week of Vacation Bible School here in Modesto. It is one of the weeks that seems to take an incredible amount of time and energy to make happen, and all you need is a reason to cancel and save yourself from that prep time.

But then the week begins, and the kids arrive, and things start to happen, and you begin to get a glimpse of the growing possibilities for the kids and the adults who are making it happen. What a great week of activity center based growth in living and following in the Jesus way. We used as our base theme and materials Be Bold! God is with you by the Mennonites. Ten different activity centers encouraged us to think and try being bold. Being it repelling from the church roof (awesome), to sessions on prayer, breaking down walls that divide us as people, learning about our Prayer Shawl ministry and trying to knit, and of course the standard creative expressions in art. In 5 days, we all took steps to becoming bolder in our living for God. 25 minutes of worship, singing, and Bible story, and then 1 1/2 hours of time engaging one another and God.

Maybe that is the mix we should be striving for in our worship times on Sunday morning. 25 to 35 good minutes of gathering as God’s people, and an hour of good time interacting with each other and God that would bring us more fully into relationship and experience. I’m talking about more than a station folks could go to but a major reworking of time and experience. Not sure how or if we will get there, but it sure is interesting to dream about.

Shalom,

Russ

Books / Readings, Community, Missional

Building Friendships

I read the “Getting to Know You” post. I thought that this tag was in reference to how we are getting to know one another in Christ. I was mistaken, but am still going to put my comments here. I just finished McLaren’s book “More Ready Than You Realize” and found it to be inspiring– forming spiritual friendships with the sole purpose of helping the other discover his/her own path. It details his emailing with April (aka Alice) and kind of the flow of that relationship.

One of the most poignant reminders was this on pg 94, “I think a lot of us would be better Christians if we spent less time at church.” That to meet spiritual friends will mean developing friendships outside of the church– attending sporting events, recitals, neighborhood gatherings– without the expectation of getting our spiritual friends _into_ church. Walk the walk _next_ to them.

I love that. Getting to know you is about really getting to know _you_ not about WIFM (what’s in it for me). Duh. =)

He closes that same chapter with this benediction and I leave it here now:
May the Spirit of Christ empower you to love and serve your neighbors, welcoming them into your lives and home and schedules and hearts, so that through belonging they may discover the joys of believing and becoming. You are more ready for this than you realize. Go in God’s grace and peace.

See you “out there”
Angie=), Peoria, AZ

Books / Readings, Change!?!, Leadership

E-Zines

How many of you subscribe to e-zines? Do you have the time to read them? I, for one, have subscribed to several, yet don’t find much time to keep up with them. However, sometimes when I do read them, I find some real nuggets of information. For example today, I discovered two items that may also be of interest to you:

From Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, Page 1

In Europe, God Is (Not) Dead

Christian groups are growing, faith is more public.
Is supply-side economics the explanation?

By ANDREW HIGGINS
July 14, 2007; Page A1

Stockholm

Late last year, a Swedish hotel guest named Stefan Jansson grew upset when he found a Bible in his room. He fired off an email to the hotel chain, saying the presence of the Christian scriptures was “boring and stupefying.” This spring, the Scandic chain, Scandinavia’s biggest, ordered the New Testaments removed.

In a country where barely 3% of the population goes to church each week, the affair seemed just another step in Christian Europe’s long march toward secularism. Then something odd happened: A national furor erupted. . .

To read the whole article, go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118434936941966055.html?mod=hpp_us_pageone.

I find the above article to be quite intriquing. For those of you who have gone to Europe to visit the emerging church, you’ll especially enjoy the article.

Another article that I found very interesting is on understanding how to introduce change in your congregation. Those of you with the gift of being a “prophet” may not always be received very well when you tell your church leaders what you “see”. The following article gives some very helpful tips for motivating people to change.

Leader’s Insight: Your Church’s DNA
Each church has unique make-up that’s essential to its life, health, and future.
by Kevin G. Ford, guest columnist

Aurora Advent Christian Church, located just outside of Chicago, was stuck. The church was dynamic in many ways. The leaders were talented and highly motivated, but as a unit, something was wrong.

The first things I noticed were the signs—in the office, in the gymnasium, on the doors to the bathroom. The place was plastered with “do not’s.”

  • Do not bounce balls on the wall.
  • Do not wear black-soled shoes.
  • Do not leave the lights on.
  • Do not sit here.

Each notice was signed: “The Trustees.”

The meetings I attended were formal, focused on procedure and rules. Yet everyone seemed so friendly, warm, and passionate about ministry. When I took a direct, left-brain approach and told leaders they were overly focused on the business of the church, it did not go well. . .

To read more of this article, go to:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/leaders/newsletter/2007/cln70723.html

I hope you enjoy these!

Jeff Glass

Change!?!, General, Marketing

Fan of YouTube?

Yesterday, YouTube.com made the national news in a big way. The Democratic Party spiced-up their presidential candidate debates by having questions come via YouTube vs. a moderator. Recently, I learned that some emergent churches are posting their worship services on YouTube. That was a suprise to me, but why not do it?

I like YouTube and similar sites, though I don’t have much time to view them. Today, I typed in “emerging churches” into the search tool and came-up with quite a list. Here’s one video that does a nice job in describing the emerging church movement: www.youtube.com/watch?v=g98V6V1DyiU

Are you a fan of YouTube? Do you have any video’s posted there?

Blessings to you,

Jeff Glass

Change!?!, Third Places

Thanks, Starbucks!

I’m grateful in a lot of ways for Starbucks. No, one is not the coffee. I go there often, but I’m not a coffee drinker. I’ve been a tea drinker ever since high school when a former Brethren missionary from India taught me to drink tea “the British way”. I do like the teas at Starbucks, but that’s not why I’m posting. I also like the culture, the ability to meet friends, to hang-out and make new friends, as well as to have a place to work when I need to get out of the office.

Another thing I’m grateful for is the writings on their cups; The Way I See It series. Recently, I got a cup with #254 of the series. It is written by Terry Kellogg, executive director of 1% for the Planet, a network of companies that donate a portion of sales to environmental causes. He writes, “I have spent a lot of time living where two bioregions intersect. There’s often amazing diversity in these zones, as species native to one region seem to thrive in the presence of those from another. . .”  Terry goes one to write about how there can be a beneficial relationship between business and the environment.

What grabbed me from the quote above was the thought of how two different types of plant species can co-exist at the same time and place. Yet, if you go very far in one direction or the other, you lose the unique mix. This thought reminds me of what Dan Kimball and Brian McLaren have been teaching for years, that we are living in that inbetween, transition time between the modern and postmodern times.

From conversations I’ve had, some of  us can’t wait for postmodern culture to develop more fully and want to jetison modernity ASAP. But like the mixture of species thrive together where environmental zones meet to create a unique mix, can we find and blend the best of modernity into the ways we want to see church move forward into?  What do you appreciate about Modernity that you feel is beneficial to the church? How can we create a unique blend between the two so that we can bring with us the older Brethren, while reachin those who are outside the church? Is this possible in your mind?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Peace!

Jeff Glass

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