Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
I find the idea of several smaller services to be highly appealing to me. I have a lead worships of many different sizes, never more than a 250 or so, but I know that while there can certainly be more energy at a larger service, there is also something powerful about even just a service of 10-20 people. There are challenges to creating a church that has lots of smaller services. Building connections between individuals at the services is important. There is also more work required of a the pastor to lead so many services. People also prefer larger services at times, it lets people drift into the background more.
All of these are excellent concerns, but I also like the point that having more services allows a church to better use a smaller space. Rather than needing huge sprawling campus, churches can make do with a much smaller area. Instead of pouring all its money into building campaigns, people can be spending more money on mission instead. Most churches have building funds, which often have amounts in the tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. How many churches have similar funds for missions, or even given an equivelant amount to missions?
I also like the idea of the smaller, more intimate worship experience as a way to emphasize that worship is a community experience and a participtory one. Worship is not meant to be observed, but taken part in. Smaller services help to create a stronger connection within the church. I think an emphasis on smaller size helps to increase what can be done in worship, since smaller size tends to allow for more flexibility with space.
As I reflect on all of this I realize that part of what is at stake is how worship seeks to live out the mission of the church. Different styles and such are certainly useful, but we should not be concerned with models and styles so much as whether the worship service is moving the church forward in its mission.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I am preparing a class on Harry Potter for parents and kids at the moment. My hope is to show how Harry Potter retells Biblical stories and messages in a different way. I hope that by studying Harry Potter the kids, and the parents, will have a better understanding of what it means to be a Christian. I do not think I am off base on this, from what I know, Rowling, like Tolkien and Lewis deliberately wove religion into her writings.
As I was beginning to think about how we could find parts of Scripture in fiction it made me begin to wonder if we actually need to be thinking of new ways for people to experience Scripture. For hundreds of years we have read the Bible, or other have read the Bible and told it to us, and WORDS (caps used for emphasis) have been used to convey the meaning of Scripture. I think even for those people who desire to take the Bible to the letter would have to agree that what is truly important is not the literal WORDS on the page, but the IDEAS behind them. I think what is truly sacred, truly inspired by God is the meaning of the Bible, the message of God's continuing love for us that is stretches from Genesis to Revelation. Part of the idea behind "The Message" by Eugene Peterson, is the idea that people today will better grasp Scripture if it is written in a way that captures the heart of the words, and casts them in a way that has meaning for people today. I know for a number of people this is quite true. I also know that some people love and treasure the translations of scripture that they grew up with. The Christmas story is best told to me in the voice of Linus Van Pelt, from "A Charlie Brown Christmas." People learn best in different ways, what seems to be most important to me is not the words we use, but the ideas we convey. Is it possible for people to experience God better through the Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, than it is through the Bible? Does this go against the importance of Scripture? Or, does this actually make Scripture to be something more than the mere object of the Bible, but in fact reinforce that Scripture truly is God to speaking to us, through the Bible, the words of J.K. Rowling, or Ian McKellen as Gandalf?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Sunday, January 14, 2007
I offer this example because I think it echoes a lot of what is being said in the church today. There is a sense of satisfacion that comes with pain, loss, or effort. In an attempt to fill the pews it is tempting to try and make church easy for people. While this may have a short term result, in the end I think church, and more specifically faith needs to be something that takes effort. In the Epistle of James there is the statement that "faith without works is dead." If we are not prepared to work for, to stretch ourselves for our faith, what does it mean? I think leaders of the church, myself certainly included, need to remember that we are doing everyone a disservice if we try and make faith something that is easy. No one would go to a gym and expect their workout instructor to just have them lounge around. When we go to the gym we expect a work out. Why should the church be anything different? Obviously I don't expect a worship service to be a cardivascular workout, but shouldn't a sermon require a bit of mental strectching? Shouldn't the message of scripture cause us to break a sweat as we seek to live out our faith? If we are to make faith meaningful today I think we need to try a create that same sense of deep accomplishment that comes from knowing you have gone out and done something, made a difference somehow.