Thursday, February 24, 2011

From the Sporadic Bibliography

I haven’t showcased anything from the “Sporadic Bibliography” here lately, so here we go: A handful of things that I’ve been reading this week!

Week of Compassion Resources
Don’t forget that this Sunday marks the closing day for this year’s Week of Compassion Offering. You can find all sorts of great resources on their website like the history of Week of Compassion, resources for specific projects, success stories from local congregations, and even the video we shared in worship this past Sunday.

What is Week of Compassion from Stephen Moseley on Vimeo.
Earlier this week I took part in a Webinar led by church growth and revitalization guru Rev. Cameron Trimble. She turned me on to this website, and I’ve gotta be honest, I’m not quite sure what to make of it just yet. But Cameron has never steered me wrong before, so I’m willing to check it out. YouVersion is an online, social networking, Bible study community. Follow the link to check it out and see if you think it might be something useful for our church to try. If you have any opinions on it, drop me an e-mail.

SWOT Analysis and Asset Mapping
Two separate resources, and they only sound New Age-y. They are actually terrific exercises for organizational development. Sandi DeFeo and I met last night to talk about our upcoming Administrative Council Retreat and we’ll be using modified versions of these two tools to set some goals for Administrative Council and begin the work of discerning God’s vision for our congregation. You’ll be hearing more about the Administrative Council Retreat in the coming weeks, but for now check out these two resources to see what we’ll be talking about.

Growth Stalls, Falls for Largest US Churches
This one is humbling. Actually, it just hurts. USA Today ran a story earlier this month on the statistics and trends in church membership in the United States today. In a word: Not so good. The mainline church (of which the Disciples of Christ are a part, even though we don’t garner a single mention in the article) has continued to see steady decline in membership, giving, and participation. It spells out the very real challenges that are ahead of us if we want to be a growing, vibrant, active church in this day and age. It is well worth the read if you want to get a sense for the state of the church in America today.

Happy reading, friends. If you have anything that you have enjoyed reading lately and would like to recommend it please mention it in the comments section!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Three Things from Worship Committee

The Worship Committee met this past Sunday to get everything together for our Lenten Worship Services. Here are the three things you need to know from that meeting:

  1. We will have several special services throughout Lent including:
    -- Ash Wednesday on March 9 at 7PM
    -- Palm/Passion Sunday on April 17 at 10:15AM
    -- Maundy Thursday on April 21 at 7PM (with a possible dinner before)
    -- Easter Sunday on April 24 at 10:15AM
  2. Throughout the forty days of Lent we'll be following the theme, "The Stories of our Faith." We inherit some of the classic, foundational texts of our faith this Lenten Season: Temptation in the Garden of Eden, God's covenant with Abraham, the divine promise of John 3:16, Jesus and the Samaritan Women at the well, the calling of King David, Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones, Christ's raising of Lazarus. Each Sunday we will build on those texts, those stories of our faith, and continue to discover the ways that God is shaping the stories of our lives and of our faith today.
  3. Carrie Marinkovich agreed to take over the leadership reigns as our We Worship Coordinator. After four years of service, Gretchen Biltz has stepped down as the We Worship Coordinator and I am glad to announce that Carrie will be taking over those duties immediately. She was unanimously approved by the Administrative Council and will be a great asset to the church.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On the Whiteboard: Week of Compassion 2

More cheating on the Whiteboard this week friends...but an image that will take a little explaining none the less. (Note: You can click on the image below to see a full-sized version)

At the center of the Whiteboard you'll see a larger version of the image from the Bulletin Inserts this past Sunday. It contains the same tag line that is the overriding theme for Week of Compassion this year, "Sharing Brings Joy: To Us. To Others. To God," and has the cutest kid (short of my own son, Henry) showing us what sharing looks like.

Around that image you'll see all sorts of numbers. Those are the Week of Compassion totals from First Christian Church Scottsdale from last year. It is really an amazing sum that breaks down like this:

$680.00 for Week of Compassion Offering
$3116.86 for WoC Emergency Relief to Haiti
$130.00 for WoC Emergency Relief to Chile
$170.00 for WoC Emergency Relief to Pakistan

That gives you the big total at the bottom of the picture of $4096.86 given by FCC Scottsdale to Week of Compassion in 2010!

This coming Sunday will mark the close of Week of Compassion. We will share more stories of the amazing work that Week of Compassion does literally all around the globe on our behalf. We will guided by the holy words of scripture found in Isaiah 49:8-16 and Matthew 6:24-34, each of which demonstrate that God provides for us in our time of need.

I'll see you on Sunday, if not before!

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Newsbrief: Week of Compassion

For the next two Sundays you are going to hear me talk about Week of Compassion.

Week of Compassion is the relief, refugee and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. It seeks to equip and empower disciples to alleviate the suffering of others through disaster response, humanitarian aid, sustainable development and the promotion of mission opportunities.

Week of Compassion formally kicks off this coming Sunday and wraps up the Sunday after. In worship we’ll share stories about the wonderful work that happens, quite literally, all over the world through Week of Compassion.

But before we get there I want to share my own personal connection to Week of Compassion. You see, the guiding hands at work leading Week of Compassion happen to be two friends of mine that I have known for a long, long time. I couldn’t be prouder of them and their work, and I couldn’t be more excited about supporting Week of Compassion because of them.

Amy Gopp is the Executive Director of Week of Compassion. We’ve known each other since my church camp days, our paths have intersected over and over again since then, and as a proud resident of Kent, Ohio (where I served a UCC congregation for 6 years before coming to Arizona) Amy was one of the last people I had coffee with before moving out West. Amy is a life-long Disciple, passionate advocate for peace and justice, an amazing preacher, and a true gift to our church.

Brandon Gilvin serves as the Associate Director of Week of Compassion. He is also one of my best friends from seminary and was a groomsman at my wedding. That’s right, Disciples-dom is a small world! Brandon has many remarkable gifts as a pastor and it has been a joy to see him land in a place where his passions, calling, and God-given abilities are all so fully put to use.

Week of Compassion is led by these two wonderful, committed Disciples pastors…and I’m not just saying that because they each have embarrassing photos of me from my younger days! I’m saying it because I’ve known Amy and Brandon for a very long time and I know just how seriously and faithfully they take the work of Week of Compassion. I’ll see you in church the next two Sundays as we share the stories, opportunities, and life-changing ministry that you support through Week of Compassion.

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On the Whiteboard

Okay, I cheated a bit this week in decorating my whiteboard.

What you see below is the official poster for the 2011 Week of Compassion Special Offering taped onto my whiteboard with a festive marker-drawn frame all around it.

For the next two Sundays we'll be focusing on Week of Compassion. Week of Compassion is the relief, refugee and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. Week of Compassion seeks to equip and empower disciples to alleviate the suffering of others through disaster response, humanitarian aid, sustainable development and the promotion of mission opportunities.

We'll begin collecting the Week of Compassion Special Offering this Sunday and worship will be built around several resources from Week of Compassion as well as the lectionary scriptures from Leviticus 19 and Matthew 5:38-48

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On the Whiteboard

Gonna try a new feature on the blog, friends.

For folks who have been in my office at the church you know that I have a big whiteboard hanging on the wall. (For folks who haven't been in my office, well, I have a big whiteboard hanging on the wall).

At the beginning of each week I toss something up on the whiteboard to keep me focused on the theme for that Sunday's worship. Sometimes it is handwritten line of scripture, sometimes it is a quick sketch, occasionally it is just a word or short phrase. My rule is that I don't give myself any longer than 5-minutes because there is too much other important stuff going on in the life of the church for me to be wasting time perfecting a doodle!

I freely admit that I am not much of a graphic artist, but I thought it might be fun to post whatever is up on my whiteboard here on the blog along with a quick word about whatever is coming up this Sunday in worship. If it helps me focus, then maybe it will help you too. And if it doesn't, well, that is the joy of a blog, I can just stop posting it!

So here we go. Here is what is On the Whiteboard this week:

With Saint Valentine's Day right around the corner, this Sunday's theme is The Love of God. The sermon will be centered around Deuteronomy 30:15-20 where God sets before us life and death, blessings and curses and God implores us to choose a way of blessing, a way of life.

I'll see you this Sunday as we celebrate the love of God in worship together! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Newsbrief: Coming up on Saturday

Come to church this Saturday!

Wait, is that right? I thought people came to church on Sunday?

Just a second.

{Double checks notes to make sure that is right.}

Yep, that’s right: Come to church this Saturday! We have two great things going on and we could use your help with either one of them or even both!

A loyal group of us will be getting together starting at 8AM for Work Day. The forecast is looking sunny and warm (I blame myself for the cold-snap this week, by the way.
I should have known better than to write a Newsletter Article reveling in the joys of Arizona’s warm weather in February! Sorry about tempting fate like that!). We’ll be working to clean up the church grounds, fight back some of the damage from the frost, and keep our facility beautiful and inviting. Need more incentives than that? Okay fine, we have donuts too. Lots and lots of donuts!

Same Saturday, a little later in the day we’ll have a Global Ministries Meeting starting at 2PM in the Library. Our very own Al Beasley (who attended the Global Ministries training in Indianapolis a few months back) will be leading the group. EVERYONE is invited! Come and find out what Global Ministries is all about, what opportunities exist for our church to get involved, and all the exciting things that God is up to all over the world. As a resource to folks who might need a little primer on Global Ministries (a joint witness the Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ at work literally all over the world) then please check out their excellent website

I’ll see you on Saturday…then again on Sunday too!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Congratulations Judy Stall!

Check it out!

Our very own Rev. Judy Stall (Minister of Outreach here at FCC Scottsdale) got a great write-up in the Arcadia News for her tremendous work at her day job at the Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center.

You can get a quick clip version of the story by clicking here, and can find the entire article in the February issues of the Arcadia News on page 12.

Way to go, Judy! We are so proud of you and all of your good work!