Archive for December, 2009

Books / Readings

A Book Recommendation!

I just finished reading my advance copy of Mark Batterson’s about to be released book “Primal: The Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity.” Having already read Mark’s previous books, I came to this book with HIGH expectations. He didn’t let me down. It is a good read and I found it very helpful. In many ways, Mark has put into writing some ideas that I have had for a number of years now.

The book’s guiding image of peeling back the layers of all that Christianity has evolved into to get back to the “primal” nature of Christianity is a helpful image. The book is designed to take an indepth look at what was most important to Jesus…. the great commandment. Mark writes, “we have a tendency to complicate Christianity. Jesus simplified it: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.”

And then Mark devotes the chapters in the book to taking a look at what each of those four ways we are to Love God might look like in our world and lives today.

I HIGHLY recommend reading this book and look forward to Mark’s next.

Media for Worship, Worship

Free `Using Video in Worship’ Resource

There’s a free resource available through the Building Church Leaders website. Since many of you are either using video projection in worship, or are considering it, this resource might be helpful. The following describes the resource:

This tool will help you understand and establish values and policies for using images and video in your worship services. You’ll also learn where to get projection software, and how to select and use the right equipment to make your video projection the most effective for your congregation.

This Training Pack contains all of the following:

Values and Policies for Screen Use
An example of how one church drew up guidelines for video screens in worship.

Using Still Images
Think about these four major categories when deciding what goes on the screen.

How to Make Great Eye Candy
Simple, colorful graphics help create an attractive principal image of worship.

Church Projection Software
A wide selection of programs gives your church alternatives to PowerPoint

The Screen is Like …
Consider how the video screen fits with existing elements of your sanctuary.

Select the Right Screen
Factor in church size, screen uses, and surface material to get the big picture.

Pass the Screen Test
What you project on is as important as how you project it.

Projecting an Image

Don’t shortcut the evaluation process when choosing a new video projector.

Here’s the link to download it: Building Church Leaders.

Let me know if this is helpful!


Church Planting, Missional, Third Places

I Was Wrong about Church Buildings

Found this interesting article in Leadership online from Dan Kimball about using buildings missionally.

They can be outposts of mission, not just a drain on resources.
Dan Kimball

Sunday, November 29, 2009

If you had asked me eight years ago what I thought about church buildings, I would have said, “Who needs a building? The early church didn’t have buildings, and we don’t need them either!” But I was wrong.

My anti-building phase was a reaction to having seen so much money spent on church facilities, often for non-essential, luxury items. I was also reacting to a philosophy of ministry that treated church buildings like Disneyland; a place consumers gather for entertainment. But these abuses had caused me to unfairly dismiss the potential blessing of buildings as well.

Consider the building occupied by Compassion International in Colorado Springs. It has a well-groomed lawn with sprinkler system, an attractive sign, and an expansive parking lot. It’s a nice facility. But it’s more than just a building—it is the headquarters and training center for a ministry that brings physical and spiritual nourishment to more than one million children in 25 countries. The Compassion building is used for a missional purpose, not simply as a place for Christians to gather and consume religious services.

When we planted our church in 2004, we needed a place to meet. We found a very traditional church building that had a sizable “fellowship hall” originally used only for donuts and coffee on Sundays. Wanting to use the building differently, we converted the fellowship hall into a public coffee lounge featuring music and art from the outside community. The Abbey, as it’s now called, is open seven days a week and offers free internet access.

Just yesterday I was in The Abbey and saw about 20 people, not part of our congregation, studying and hanging out. (During finals week I counted 90 students packed into the place.) While there I talked to a brand new Christian who has been coming to our gatherings. He found out about our church from a Buddhist friend. His friend loves coming to The Abbey and recommended our church because he trusted us.

We’ve also used our building to serve our community in times of crisis. When wildfires forced nearby residents to flee their homes, our building became an overnight refuge for those without a place to stay.

These missional opportunities would not be possible without a building.

What about the sanctuary? When we first got the building, one person said the sanctuary “looked like a funeral parlor.” We sought to remake the worship space to express our congregation’s values of community, worship, and service.

First, we removed the pews. Looking at the back of peoples’ heads simply didn’t communicate our values of community and participation.

We also invited local artists to create images during our worship gatherings. These were then displayed in the space.

The only cross in the building was very small, so we brought in a huge iron cross as the visual focus of our worship space. This clearly communicated that Christ was at the center of our mission.

We lowered the large wooden pulpit in order to facilitate more relational teaching, and we added a prayer shawl over the podium to reinforce our frequent talks about the importance of prayer in changing lives.

Little by little the space that had been powerfully missional in the 1930s and ’40s was transformed to reflect missional values of the 21st century. In 20 years I’m sure the way these values are expressed will have changed again, and I hope the design of the sanctuary and fellowship hall will change accordingly.

What’s important is that our mission drives our aesthetics and our use of space.

Today I am incredibly thankful we have a building. It allows us meet in larger groups for worship, and it allows for training classes that equip people for mission. We also use our space all week and welcome the public into it.

So, I have recanted from my earlier belief that buildings drain resources and create consumer Christians. I was wrong. Now I see them as missionary centers to impact lives for the gospel.

So here is my question and assignment for you. If you had the opportunity to have a building or you already own a building, what types of things could you or do you do to use the building missionally and to not be a drain on resources? If you could design a building anyway you want to be a missional center, what would you do? What creative ways could you fund the designing of the space? Let me know your thoughts about the article and the questions.