Apr

21

2014

Bridging The Divide

I used to cringe at the word “ecumenical”. It smacked of engineered truces and kumbayah emotions. It conjured images for me of 1960′s World Council of Churches meetings and “So a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar” jokes – only the jokes never seemed to have a good punchline since everyone involved in ecumenical dialogue seemed to take themselves as seriously as a heart attack. [Read more]

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“If you find the right word, it paints a thousand pictures.” – Richard Foster, from his session entitled “The Humiliation of the Word in our Day” at Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing.

I heard dozens of “right words” during the last few days. Some of them came from speakers like Anne Lamott, Richard Foster, Luci Shaw, Bret Lott, Neil Plantinga, Edward Gilbreath, Marlena Graves, Al Hsu and Helen Lee. [Read more]

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Apr

21

2014

Me `n N.T. (Wright)

Part of the delight of my seminary experience so far (I’ve completed two classes and am enrolled in a church history course this quarter) has been gaining new thinking partners. The promise that seminary would introduce me to new thinking partners was alluring bait for me when I first spoke with an admissions officer at the school last summer. So far, the classroom has indeed fulfilled that promise.

Some of those new thinking partners have been other students. It’s a rush to be in a room full of people just as eager to learn as I am. Their great questions of the teachers and their spirited times of class discussion were super-energizing for me. Some of those new thinking partners have been my instructors. It’s been a joy to listen to them as they share out of the deep wells of their acquired knowledge.

And of course, there are the books. [Read more]

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File this story under “4-H Fail” or perhaps “The Green Acres Effect”. Here’s a post just for fun today. Enjoy.

When my family moved to the far edge of Waukesha, WI in 1995, I was determined to help our family acclimate to our new zip code as quickly as possible. Several new friends told me their kids were active in various local 4-H clubs. We’d been to the county fair. We’d seen the blue ribbons given to goats, fruit pies and macrame projects. The whole thing seemed fairly self-explanatory. Bake a pie. Win a ribbon. We decided we’d give 4-H a try.

In retrospect, I realize this assumption was my first mistake. I assumed that joining 4-H was like becoming a Cub Scout. You paid some dues, went to a few meetings, learned a new skill or two, and did some community service. The people in charge of Scouting or Awana programs held orientations for new parents, and explained how the program worked. Why wouldn’t 4-H be the same way?

It didn’t take me long to discover that 4-H seemed to be organized more like a secret society such as the Masonic Lodge, the CIA or the Illuminati. [Read more]

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In my earlier posts in this series, I queried pastors and church leaders about their experience pastoring those over 40. (Click here if you’d like to have a peek at those posts.) Those responsible for shepherding their congregations are stretched in dozens of different directions on any given day. A discussion about how to effectively minister to older congregants may sound as though I’m suggesting adding another half-dozen tasks to that impossible to-do list.

As several respondents to that survey noted, some in this demographic tend to be the ones that utter that darling phrase that almost always sucks all the air from a room: “But we’ve always done it that way”. While some pastors noted that older members were key participants and leaders in their congregations, many other leaders expressed at least mild frustration with their perceptions of rigidity and immaturity among older members.

Each one of us is responsible for cultivating our individual relationship with the Lord. (Going to church every time the doors are open doesn’t automatically confer maturity on us. On the other hand, nor does avoiding any sort of corporate connection with other believers. We are not a constellation of disconnected individuals – we are all part of the Bride. One Bride. Singular.) That noted, our life together as believers is meant to form us as individuals as well as in expressing Christ’s love to the world he came to redeem. [Read more]

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