Monday, March 19, 2007

“Someday” May Be Today – Part II

As I mentioned in the March 7th newsletter, a Master Site Planning Committee will be meeting soon. Our first meeting will take place on Thursday evening, March 29th, at 6:30 PM. Sunday School classes need to send their appointed representatives to serve on a Master Site Planning Committee. We also need church trustees and church staff to be there.

We will need to hold urgency and patience in tension as we do this work. Highway construction is a reality, as you can tell from work already in progress. The urgency is in two areas:

1. Dealing with immediate parking and facilities problems resulting from highway construction.
2. Relocating the preschool playground, as part of it now lies on state right-of-way.

We have some “sketches” of how to deal with parking and relocating the playground to get our conversation started.

The other areas will be where we need patience, perspective, and prayer:

3. Developing a master site plan on the church property that will take into account future growth and expansion.
4. Answering the question: “Who Are We?”

In recent continuing education events I attended on church growth and evangelism, I have heard the following said over and over: “ ‘If you build it, they will come’ only works in the movies.” There are many churches that have regretted building gymnasiums, family life centers, etc., finding out that they were neither community needs nor areas of mission their church was really called to do. These same churches are now often struggling just to make interest payments on underused and understaffed facilities. And in these days of climbing building costs, aesthetics often has to be balanced with usability and affordability. Most new church facilities are built on the philosophy that all space is shared space, adaptable space, and has to serve more than one function. Before we build, expand, and change – we need to be sure it is faithful rather than faddish.

As far as the question: “Who are we?” The answer to that will dictate what direction we will go in as a church, not just regarding its physical plant, but also in our mission and our ministry.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Chilling Out

Michael Choate (mandolin), Zach Bohannon (guitar), and Sam Riley (harmonica) are PseudoScience, pictured here live.

I don't do it enough, but when I do it's glorious. Sometimes, you gotta chill.

This evening, the young men that play at our Sunday Evening worship services did a gig in Lowertown Paducah at Etcetera Coffeehouse (a rather cool place itself, displaying local high school student's art). It was good, laid back acoustic music that was soothing to the soul and pleasant to the ear. I grabbed a mocha, sat down with a few friends, and listened to the music. Other than the fact that I was about the oldest person in there, it was great. Good music, great atmosphere, marvelous company.

These guys are good.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Change, Crisis, and Transformation

A friend of mine asked me the other day why I didn’t dress “like a preacher” during the week. When I asked him how a preacher was supposed to dress, he said, “Well, I guess I’ve never really thought about it.” That got me to thinking how much clerical dress has changed throughout history. Clergy and monastics in Russia, Greece, and other Orthodox countries almost always sport long hair and beards, citing scripture from Leviticus 19.27: “You shall not make a round cutting of the hair of your head, nor disfigure your beard.” Today, clergy wear collars, polo shirts, oxford shirts with or without ties, suits with ties or without, beards or clean-shaven. In the case of women clergy, make-up or no make-up, pants or skirts, pant suits or dresses. I don’t wear a beard during basketball season because of officiating dress codes. I grow it back when basketball season is over because my wife likes it and it saves me time in the morning.

I doubt that any of the above has anything to do with the state of the church. Fashions change.

When it comes to “what’s wrong with the Church,” the reasons given have changed as much as the clothing styles for lay and clergy alike. Today, we blame the current state of the Church on sex, music, and “the way kids are being brought up.”

I'll bet that excuse has been around a while.

Homosexuality and sex in general gets more press when it comes to the Church than anything else. In my opinion, it’s no help: it’s idolatry, pure and simple. Just a subset of much bigger and greater problems.

What’s wrong with the Church? I think the answer is simple: we’re failing to make disciples. That takes work. That takes a willingness to get personal. It means being transparent, baring our souls, giving up our comforts and what we like, and yielding instead to the mind and way of Christ.

We must quit majoring in the minors and instead worry about the things Jesus worried about. Dress? Jesus wore sandals. Sex? Jesus said very little about it. Money? Jesus said LOTS about it – its use and its abuse. Outcasts? Jesus didn’t turn them away; he ate with them (and as a result was accused of being a glutton and a drunk). Saving souls? It was his top priority to redeem and transform all God’s children. There were no lost causes to him; he loved everyone he met unconditionally. Those who met Him found their salvation by their belief.

Today, those who meet Him find their salvation by their belief. Are we willing to introduce Him to others? Or just blame sex, music, and the way kids are brought up?

Don Shula, famous football coach, said this: “The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others.”

That might hold true for Christians.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Who's the Worse Sinner?

Here's the shirt I used and referred to from the sermon Sunday. And no, I still haven't worn it yet on a motorcycle ride. Perhaps I should. If the shirt fits...

Many Thanks, Brad Delp

Maybe not a household name, but if you are a classic rock fan, you've heard his voice. He was the lead singer for Boston, and hit those impossibly high notes.

Boston had a sound like no one... and made a LOT of money not just off records, but also off equipment that was pioneering in rock music. Tom Scholtz (Boston guitarist) invented the Rockman (a little gizmo that replaced racks and racks of older electronics), and a lot of groups had their "sound" because of Boston's pioneering.

Who were these guys? In short: nerds. Brad Delp made heating elements for Mr. Coffee machines. Tom Scholtz is an MIT graduate who worked at Poloroid. Regular guys who loved to rock.

I think the greatest tribute ever paid to a musician was what was on Boston's website for a few days after Delp's untimely death: "We've just lost the nicest guy in rock and roll."

I've always loved their music, and have every album. How gratifying to know that not only did he have a great voice... he was a nice guy.

R.I.P. Bradley E. Delp (June 12, 1951 – March 9, 2007).

Monday, March 05, 2007

“Someday” May Be Today

For how many years have we heard that “They are going to widen Reidland Road, put a light at the corner, and close off Old Benton Road by the church?" I heard it when I first moved here. We all said, “Well, they keep saying that…”

It looks like it’s going to happen. Not only has the state paid us for the right of way, they have begun work in earnest moving underground and aboveground utilities. Sunday morning, you may have noticed fewer parking places on the north end of the building because of a pile of dirt and gravel. Those are not “our” parking places anymore.

A few months ago, Sunday School classes were ask to appoint a representative to serve on a Master Site Planning Committee. The time for that committee to meet is now. As I see it, the committee has three imminent tasks:

1. Dealing with immediate parking and facilities problems resulting from highway construction.
2. Relocating the preschool playground, as part of it now lies on state right-of-way.
3. Developing a master site plan on the church property that will take into account future growth and expansion.

There is one more task that we need to tackle that affects every aspect of our church. We need to answer this question:

Who are we?

It may take us a while to answer that question, but in the process of answering it, we will find direction for what goals we set, what ministries we offer, and how we live out our discipleship as individual Christians and as a local church in Reidland.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Disciplines During Our Lenten Journey

It sounds kind of screwy… but I look forward to the Lenten season each year. The attention we give to Jesus and His love for us fills me with great expectation for the Easter celebration.

This year, we are going to begin some new and different disciplines to keep a holy Lent. Rather than be just busy work, I think they will be ways to focus on our discipleship and to be reminded of the greatest love story of all: the Passion of our Lord.

Here is a Lenten schedule for this season:

Every Sunday morning during Lent:
• Holy Communion, 9:15-9:30, church sanctuary, beginning this Sunday, 2/25.

Holy Week Schedule:
Palm Sunday (4/1)
• 8:15, 10:45, Palm Sunday with Holy Communion
Monday (4/2) & Tuesday (4/3):
• 9:30 AM, Mid-Morning Prayer, Sanctuary. Coffee and fellowship to follow.
Thursday (4/5)
• 6:30 PM, Maundy Thursday Service/Holy Communion, Sanctuary
Good Friday (4/6)
• 6:30 PM, Good Friday/Tenebrae (“Service of Shadows”) Service, Sanctuary
Holy Saturday (4/7)
• Prayer Vigil (asking people to offer to pray for 30 minutes during the day. More later.)
Easter (4/8):
• 7 AM, Reidland Community Sunrise Service, park across from church
• 10:45 AM – ONE worship service, Church Sanctuary

We know that our schedules are all different, and our prayer is that Holy Week will afford people of all schedules some opportunities to center themselves in prayer and in Christ to experience God’s love and continuing saving power.