Multitasking For Mission (God’s)

6 02 2015

Multitasking For Mission (God’s).

Multitasking For Mission (God’s)

6 02 2015

We live in a multi-tasking world. That’s nothing new. Our daughter and her husband just had a new baby, their third, and like most young mothers multitasking is now her middle name.4881scd

At work, we are likely to have many projects open, not just one.   Technology today makes multitasking easier and inevitable. As I write this, my email program displays notifications of incoming emails at the top of the screen. I can reply, or delete, without leaving what I’m doing.   Mostly I ignore it, but it can be a helpful tool when I have a long project. In any case, multitasking is just the way things are done today and we’ve all adjusted and accommodated to that reality.

There is one spot that has been relatively immune to multitasking. Our churches. Specifically our worship space. As a result, the church sanctuary is probably the most underused asset and resource a congregation has.

Think about it. Most sanctuaries are only used for a couple of hours on Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon, everyone has gone home, the pastor is probably napping (at least this one is), and the sanctuary stays dark for the rest of the week.

Congregations for the most part, don’t give this a second thought, because they have pretty much defined their mission as Sunday morning worship. And the sanctuary exists to support that mission.   But wait a minute.

What if we expanded our understanding of our mission? More along the lines that Jesus had in mind. Not so much connecting with people on Sunday morning…but connecting with people; period. Sharing the Good News. The sanctuary can be a wonderful place for that to happen. And not just on Sunday morning.   Saturday afternoon. Wednesday night. You name it. The sanctuary is freed to play an integral role in the overall mission of the congregation, and in the life of the community.

When you think about it, it’s not such a stretch. A typical church sanctuary has: 1. seating, 2. sound system, 3. video system. All of these have broader applications than Sunday morning. The church sanctuary can be the perfect place to host an Open Mic night. Poetry readings. Open music jams. Art gallery. Photo gallery.   It can provide rehearsal space for choral groups, local bands, and orchestras.

Seeing the sanctuary differently allows a congregation to connect with an entirely new group of people. Why is this important?

Well, if we see creativity as a gift of God, using the church sanctuary to support creative expression is putting the sanctuary to use supporting what God is doing in our community and in the lives of its people.

That’s a much more powerful witness than empty worship space.

Fishing On The Sunday Morning Side Of The Boat

30 01 2015

Fishing On The Sunday Morning Side Of The Boat.

Fishing On The Sunday Morning Side Of The Boat

30 01 2015

He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.  John 21:6


Just think how the world has changed since 1965. 50 years ago. The congregation where I serve now celebrated its first anniversary. The Super Bowl was still 2 years off. Green Bay would beat Kansas City 35- 10. I watched it on a black and white television set. No one had a color TV, at least not anyone I knew. It wasn’t until the next Super Bowl in 1968 that I saw my first color television. Friends from church invited us to their house to see the game. I hadn’t realized that the Green Bay Packers uniforms were yellow and green until that moment.

It would four more years until we put a man on the moon (1969). IBM mostly made electric typewriters for the everyday market. Computers required an entire building, and not even the president of IBM could foresee a day when a home would have (or need) a computer.   Now, we carry them in our pockets. iPhones.

Think of the lives we lead today, compared to even 20 years ago. You don’t have to go back 50 years. When I started in ministry, it was easier to find volunteers for ministries because lots of families got by with a single income. Women’s groups (usually called circles) were active. Men’s groups had pretty much died out. Men were already beginning to work longer hours, and had no time for Men’s groups.

By the time I got to my second call, everyone was trying to figure out how to revive their Women’s Circles, and by the time I got to my third call, they’d pretty much given up. Women were going to work outside the home too. Their lives were changing dramatically, and something had to give.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list. Feel free to add your own stories. However we frame it, the point is the same. The lives we lead today are very different than the lives we led just 20 years ago. The stresses, the demands, and the rewards. But when you consider how the church has changed over that same period, you get the exact opposite picture. We’ve continued to operate like we always have.

While the lives of people were undergoing seismic shifts, we opened our doors on Sunday morning for worship services, and we waited for people to show up.

Considering how lives have changed, is it any wonder that fewer and fewer people showed up?

So, we tried to perfect Sunday mornings. Make it more appealing. Which set off the worship wars. Contemporary vs. traditional.

Vestments vs. casual.

Organ vs. guitar, piano, drums.

To screen or not to screen?

Paper or plastic?

On and on. As though there were a hymn, or a style of hymn, or a power point, that could get people out of bed early and through the doors of a strange church on what may be their only day off.

We are like the disciples, working hard, catching nothing, and growing more and more frustrated. Still we drop our nets on the Sunday morning side of the boat.

Jesus introduces a new concept. Drop your nets where the fish are!!!! “Push out into deeper water.” “Throw your nets out on the other side of the boat.”

Notice, He didn’t tell the disciples to stop fishing and become accountants. Sunday morning worship is still important. But we need hear what Jesus is saying, and push out into deeper water. Throw our nets out the other side. Sunday morning can’t be the only thing we do to connect with people. We need to do more.

We have to drop our nets where the fish are!fisherman100529-3





Happy New Year Dr. WHO

2 01 2015

Happy New Year Dr. WHO.

Happy New Year Dr. WHO

2 01 2015
Happy New Year!

On New Year’s Eve, my son came in and we watched Dr Who episodes back to back on NetFlix.  It was great.  But, at the big moment, we switched back to live TV to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  Because, that’s what we do, and the future would feel incomplete without it.images

That’s sort of life in a nutshell today.  New opportunities, new possibilities, (streaming on-demand content providers like NetFlix are taking a big bite out of traditional TV networks) but we return to the familiar, however briefly, to welcome the next new thing.  2015!

Our lives are a confusing combination of innovation and tradition.  We need both.  We tend to see them as separate and distinct; often at odds.  But are they really?

This year, watching the ball drop, I noticed how closely innovation and tradition work together. Dick Clark is no longer with us, but the show is still called
Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.  At least for now while enough people still remember Dick Clark and it’s still comforting.  That won’t be forever.

I didn’t recognize many of the acts and they didn’t really interest me.  Elton John just looked old.  Reminded me that one of my resolutions needs to be “take off a few pounds” in 2015.  I think that was last year’s resolution too, come to think of it.

And Guy Lombardo was nowhere to be found, though having lived on Long Island close to Guy Lombardo’s hometown of Freeport where the main drag is named after him, I’m sure some iteration of his band was playing somewhere on New Year’s Eve 2015.

New Year’s Eve used to be owned by Guy Lombardo.  Until Dick Clark.  And now others vie for the territory today.   Things change.

Innovation allows us the freedom to respond to ever changing realities.  Tradition reminds us what’s important as we do.

What’s overlooked in that is how both serve as a correction and a balance to each other.

Without innovation, tradition doesn’t know what’s important. How could it?

Tradition just kind of memorializes everything without distinction and they become habits.  Good and bad.  Slavery, Segregation, Discrimination, Sexism, Racism; all were traditions as much as Aunt Minnie’s meatballs at the holidays.

Innovation says there are things that need to change and should be left behind if we are to truly live up to our Tradition. Innovation provides the excitement, the fireworks, that marks New Year’s Eve and the ball drop.

At the same time, the underlying values of Tradition provides grounding for Innovation.  Tradition offers a framework for understanding the present moment, and shapes our response to that moment.

Tradition provides the optimism and the hope that is also the hallmark of New Year’s Eve.

Without that grounding, Innovation would be vague and unfocused, like a leaf being blown by the wind.

Tradition reminds us who we are at our best and demands that those things are lifted up and provide a foundation for who we are becoming through the necessary process of Innovation.

And through this dance is the abiding presence of God. In both Innovation and Tradition.  It’s not either/or.  It’s always both/and.

We don’t say this much anymore because it seems so formal, but I think there’s a value in at least mentioning it once.  A new year is more than a number.  It is also an affirmation.

Welcome to the Year of Our Lord, 2015!
I can’t wait to enjoy a new season of Dr. Who with my son.

2014 in review

30 12 2014

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36 other followers