Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The "M" Word

Meetings. Why do we dread them? What can we do about them? Are they really missional?

In many corporate settings, meetings are the inevitable waste of time and energy. When they happen in the context of church people often feel one or more of the following emotions:

  1. Joy at doing God's work.
  2. Guilt for not enjoying God's work.
  3. Dread at spending time away from home or away from your favorite restaurant or away from a Walking Dead episode.

While I don't expect that people will always find more joy in a church meeting than they do at El Reposo, I do think we could refine the process so that the joy we get from experiencing God is at least hinted at as we run our meetings.

To take a closer look at how to run a meeting, let's look at a case study of one of my favorite meetings ever. Read Acts 2. Go on. I'll wait. 

Fascinating right? This is one of my favorite church meetings. You might not think of Pentecost as a church meeting. It was after all a Jewish holiday. They were worshiping.  Not all meetings have worship components but I'd challenge you to put those components in your meetings - then you might just find God showing up. 

So to have the "M" word at church feel a little more holy and a little less horrible, follow the example of Peter at Pentecost:

  1. There was a clear purpose for gathering. A holiday!
  2. The right people were there. People were gathered from all over so that their voices were heard at the table - and boy were they ever!
  3. Ask genuine questions. "Are they drunk" is always a good question.
  4. Decide the next steps. In this case - repent and be baptized.
  5. Expect God to show up. There was a bit of mystery about when Jesus would send the Holy Spirit and what would happen next but the disciples were expecting something to happen. They just didn't know what.
Follow these steps to put a little more liveliness in your church meetings. If that doesn't work, try bringing bacon (and invite me).

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What's Your Story?

I love that my daughter still wants me to read her bedtime stories. Some days its the only chance I get to escape into my imagination and create new worlds that mirror ours.

The important parts of a good story always have a thread of truth - no matter how creative or fictitious the story is. This is one of the factors that made Jesus' parables so effective. He spoke in a story people could understand but put the truth in the story as well.

Take the parable of the sower as an example. At first glance it seems like a story about gardening. But once you dig deeper (put intended) into who Jesus is, the story takes on a whole new meaning.

The Parable of the Sower

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!”

People are more willing to share their story with you than you'd think. When they do, listen for the truth. No matter what their belief's or where they are in their faith the prevenient grace of God is there. The truth in their story. He's in yours. Are you willing to share it?

Until Everyone Hears,

Sunday, October 2, 2016

When Crickets Aren't Peaceful

Typically I love to go to sleep with the sounds of crickets chirping. Its a very peaceful, soothing sound that comforts me an lulls me to sleep.

But then there are those times when the sound of crickets is awkward.

A few weeks ago I experienced one of those times. I was teaching the first session of a Bible Study at church and we were looking at the Great Commission. Matthew 28:16-20 - Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Its one of my favorite passages. I asked the class if they knew what the mission of our church was and to my delight they could name the mission of the UMC perfectly! Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I should have stopped there. They'll all aced that part. I shouldn't have asked the next question but I felt like I was on a roll....

I asked, "How do we do that here? In other words - do you know our vision?"


It wasn't peaceful. It wasn't soothing.

The good news is that it wasn't peaceful for the class either. They weren't complacent that they didn't know the mission. They were concerned. They wanted to be able to articulate why we do what we do. We spent the rest of the class listing things that we do to live out the mission. Even after getting a closer look at our vision they still seemed to be concerned that "transforming the world" is to big a job for us to do.

I agree.

Transforming the world is too big a job for us to do...alone. But we aren't alone. God is with us. The incarnational nature of our faith gives us a picture and an experience of God being with us. Our mission IS big -but it's not bigger than our God. Its not too much for us to handle when we are walking with God and living into all that God calls us to be.

As I went to sleep that night I was comforted by the sound of crickets for another reason. They reminded me that not everyone knows the love of God like I do. And I get to get up everyday and transform the world with a God who transformed me.

Until Everyone Hears,

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