Friday, July 24, 2015

Church Buildings and Mission

This morning I attended the seminar "Holy Spaces, Batman!: Putting Your Church Building to More Faithful and Creative Use."

The Rev. Jim Michel from Church Extension led the seminar, and he started things off by giving us this handout...

...and asking us to fill it out. Interesting to think about, right? What 10 organizations, ministries, and community programs come to mind for you? Who could and should we be partnering with and sharing our space with?

While you thin up your list, let me share the seven guidelines that Jim lifted up for us.

Guidelines for Effectively Using Your Church Building
1) Get the congregation as a whole to buy in
2) Start with existing relationships
3) Look for partners with a common mission/vision
4) Have a clear understanding of the agreement upfront
5) Address zoning/insurance/code issues
6) consider wear and tear on the building and any increased demand on church staff
7) Assess your building to determine how it can be put to use

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Important Work at the Business Session

This afternoon we commissioned a new slate of overseas missionaries to go forth into the world sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. 

It is good and vital work that these Christian servant leaders have been called to, and an honor for the General Assembly to pray a word of blessing upon them. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Innovate: Session 1 Highlights

General Assembly features several learning tracks this year, and I elected to participate in the "Innovate" section.

So this morning I attended a panel discussion featuring three incredible pastors from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): Rev. Jen Garbin of Sugarbush Christian Church in Guellph, Ontario; Rev. Courtney Richards of Harvard Avenue Christian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Rev. Jose Morales from the Center for Pastoral Formation at the Disciples Seminary Foundation. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes and reflections from each of them!

Rev. Jen Garbin
"What is innovative in this day and age is one-on-one connection with people, where we are not afraid to talk about God."

"Too often we work to sustain the by-laws and structures of the church instead of those things sustaining the true work of the church."

"The key question in all that we do: How do we want to be together? So many conflicts come from not keeping that question in front of us."

Rev. Courtney Richards
"Innovation is not just about reaching hipsters and millennials. It is about offering and extending the opportunity to be authentic."

"Innovation is not a one-and-done is about constantly being willing to try something new and keep learning from the experiences. We are a resurrection people, we just forget it."

"We need to talk to our neighbors and say, 'We want to be good neighbors' and then ask them, 'What can we do to be better neighbors?'"

Rev. Jose Morales
"Continuity matters. Even when we are talking about innovation we must root our identity in what it means to be the church."

"Jesus is not here to meet our needs. Let's face it, sometimes what we think we need is the wrong stuff. No, Jesus is here to change our needs."

"Transcendence is the one advantage we have over nonprofits. We can point to something bigger than us, greater than us. Worship helps us to see with wonder, depth, and awe."

"Churches that grow (in depth and sometimes in number) operate out of a sense of expectation. They see their work as the beginning of an encounter with God; not as the end of one."

Sunday, July 19, 2015

From the back pew

This is what worship looks like at General Assembly 2015!

I sat in the very back of the auditorium/sanctuary so that you could get a feel for the scope of things. Tonight's worship service centered around a series of brief meditations built around a staggering amount of powerful church music. And wouldn't you know it, our old friend (and alum of the Arizona Region) Erin Wathen brought the word to life in a powerful way with her meditation on Isaiah 40. 

And speaking of powerful music, at an after session sponsored by Chalice Press we packed the basement of a local establishment for a session of "Books & Hymns" where reflections from recent Chalice Press authors were combined with festive, sing-a-long renditions of favorite hymns. Check out that crowd!

Opening Worship

I made it to the Convention Center just in time for Opening Worship...and for my phone battery to give out!

So I only got this one (very blurry) picture before my phone died. Which means I couldn't capture the fullness of the choir, the beauty of the communion table, or the size of the gathered congregation. 

Worship was amazing and beautiful and touching...even if this picture of Bill Edwards (Ohio Regional Pastor) and Glen Miles (Moderator of the Christian Church) welcoming us didn't turn out so well!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

SAIL Week Two

The SAIL Program just keeps getting better and better each week!

We met for our second session last night, and with over folks in attendance we shared dinner, made crafts, played together, and prayed together. You won't want to miss next week's session (or the one after that or the one after that...). We'll be meeting up in the Fellowship Hall on Wednesday evening at 6PM.

Here are some photos from last night:

Whiteboard: For Freedom

Since it is Fourth of July Weekend, this coming Sunday we will celebrate Freedom Sunday at FCC Scottsdale. 

And what better scripture passage could we have than Galatians 5!

Galatians 5 begins, "For freedom Christ has set us free."
On the 4th of July we celebrate the dreams, aspirations, and very best of our country and on the Sunday right before the July 4 we celebrate Freedom Sunday by lifting up the very best of who we are as believers who have been set free by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Through the power, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love that we know through Jesus we are set free from all things that would oppress us and pull us away from God's call in our lives. God does not force us into a life of worship and service (such would simply be another form of enslavement) but rather frees us from our bonds and invites us to find meaning and purpose in our lives through God. That is what it means to be truly free...and that is worth celebrating on Sunday morning!

(by the way: With the Whiteboard picture this week, it seems that people either immediately get it or they don't get it at all. That is a bird flying away (set free!) at the end of the word "freedom")

Galatians 5:1, 13-15 On Freedom

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.