Monday, April 19, 2004

happy monday morning

bumper sticker at caleb's school this morning:

God answers knee-mail :-) (emoticon their's not mine obviously)


Friday, April 16, 2004

this is too much

ok. so mcdonald's is launching an anti-obesity campaign. is it just me or does this feel like a bunch of crack dealers hosting a "D.A.R.E." rally?

no one goes to mcdonalds for the salads. trust me on this one.

my dilemma (well, one of many)

several times over the last couple of weeks i have found myself trying to answer some version of the question "tell me about your church". (which i know is not a question really, but pretend that there is a question mark at the end of it and move on) one of a couple of things has happened as i have tried to answer it. 1) i have stammered around like an idiot trying to explain as briefly as possible who we are, how we do some of what we do, and why we exist. i learned that i can't do that quickly so i have moved on to option 2 -- the longer explanation. what i'm learning here though is that people's eyes glaze over in a pretty big hurry when i try to actually get into a conversation or explanation about it. it's almost like the ministry version of asking "how are you?" - no one really wants to know, they just feel obligated to ask. now i think the people who asked me recently really were interested, i just caused them to glaze over by my lack of ability to quickly explain our community. so all of this to say i have developed a couple of questions about this whole thing of me explaining our church. feel free to ignore all of this, i need to ramble to think.

1. why do i suck at describing / explaining jacob's well? back in the leaving chbc days, it seemed a whole lot easier to explain (o postmodernity, where art thou?). of course, that's before it actually existed so that may have been part of the ease of it. explaining a concept in this case seems easier than explaining reality. hmm. i had the 30 second "quick hit" answer, the 10 minute "let's talk about it" answer and the 3 hour "here it all is" answer. there is no more quick hit, and the 10 minute version has gotten too complicated to do in 10 minutes.
i think the problem is that what we are can't be explained in 1 or 10 or 120 minutes. we don't fit in a box and so i can't just say "well, we're a ________ church" or "we're like ____________". i think that's a good thing. i hope it is. i find myself telling people that the best way to understand what and who we are is to come and experience us. and then i realize that one expeirence of us will still probably not be enough. sigh. that brings us all the way back to where we always start and end anyway -- it's all about being friends with people. friends will come with me to something that i can't describe, most people i just kind of know aren't going to trust me that far. ok, moving on.

2. why has so much of christianity been reduced to a sound bite anyway? here i am frustrated that i don't have a quick statement of jacob's well. why do i need one? Jesus didn't operate in sound bites. (not that i'm anything like Jesus, but if he is the role model...) he had conversations. a lot of what he said has been turned into sound bites (the whole sermon on the mount just won't fit on a keychain, bookmark, bracelet, cross-stitch plaque, etc.), but he didn't talk that way. and the people who met him had trouble explaining him in sound bites. the woman at the well had to tell her village "come and see" (John 4:39-42), the man born blind after all of the questioning said "all i know is i used to be blind, now i'm not" (john 9). they talked of experience and knowing - no quick hits.
i guess we have learned to go short because of the national attention span being lowered to 1.7 seconds. if you can't state it all in one breath (25 words or less, right pdc folks?), or put it in 4 letters on a bracelet (what WOULD Jesus do indeed?) no one wants to hear it. or maybe we do that so we don't have to spend too much time talking about it. maybe it isn't for "them" so much as it is for "us". could it be that the Church has gone to slogans because we don't have that much to talk about anymore? that would be tragic.

well, that doesn't help my dilemma any. i still don't know how to quickly tell people what our community is. i don't feel like i want to, i just feel like for the sake of those who are stuck listening, i should be better at it.

obviously i can't say anything quickly.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

i finally did it

kenda and i went to see the passion of the christ this afternoon. for the record, good friday is a good day to do things like that. initial thoughts -- it was beautiful. it was painful. as a film, it was incredible -- the look , the casting, the acting, the images -- wow. as a "cinema sacrament" (i've heard it called that a couple of times to try and describe the personal spiritual element of the movie) i think i will need some time to think through that. as i walked out of the theater past ads for things like spiderman2, shrek2, dodge ball, and more i thought about how silly most of life is compared to that story. i'm not sure where that thread of thought goes, but i know it has been playing around the edges of my mind for the past few weeks and now it is in the front. lots to think about. i'm not sure if i'll be around for a while.

peaceful good friday to all

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

i would like to apologize

for the advertising content that blogger put on my site.

i was checking for comments this morning when i noticed an ad at the top of my blog for a "church growth calendar - the first of its kind in the history of the church". my ever-curious mind (and need to be really ticked off by things on occasion) forced me to click the link. you can too if it isn't up there anymore.

i learned a couple of things at the connectionpower calculator.
1) people will pay for anything if they think it will help their church be "successful" (which of course means have more people in it today than it did yesterday)
2) the corporation church is still alive and well - i tried to watch the "introduction video" (because i clearly need professional help) and i had to turn it off after 30 seconds. i felt like i was watching a mulit-level marketing intro.
3) according to the calculator (i couldn't resist) jacob's well will cease to exist in about 3 years. that's too bad, i kind of like it. i did have problems making the system work though, I don't know what our "visitor volume" or "visitor retention" rate are. heck, i don't even know what our average QTR attendance is. i'm clearly failing somehow.

the problem may be that when i hear the word "assimilation" all i can think of is the borg (which may not be a bad analogy for the kind of church this system is targeting), but that may be because i am an enormous geek like that. there are also way too many charts and management systems and cycles and reports. i'm sure "loving people" and "being friends" and things like that are listed somewhere in the plan, but i couldn't wade that deep without subscribing.

is this really the point of church? is God satisfied when we get (and keep) more people in the front door than go out the back? if growth is the primary purpose of the church, why is the christianity of the bible so hard? wouldn't it be better from a PR standpoint to just tell us all to play nice and do the best we can? wouldn't that be more attractive and condusive to "visitor retention and assimilation"?

there's more i want to say, but it's hard to keep a train of thought while watching kids. i did just notice that when nathan gets excited and starts yelling what for him are sentences he sounds a lot like eric cartman (caution language). see? i'll try for more coherency later.

by the way, i know that some of you will be happy to point out that this post might run counter to my "can't we all get along" thoughts from last week. i know. i've already admitted that i'm eaten up with hypocricy. i've decided to embrace mine. how you doing with yours?

off to assimilate the kids.

Monday, April 05, 2004

random thoughts from opening day

1. listening to joe morgan and jon miller from espn call a game is like listening to two guys in a nursing home reminiscing about breakfast. if it weren't for tim mccarver, those guys would be the worst announcers in baseball.

2. george bush threw out the opening day first pitch in st. louis. it wasn't opening day(three games had already been played). it wasn't the first pitch (several other games had already started). it was for the cardinals (picked third at best in the central). typical bush -- way behind and propping up futility. the good news is, after watching him throw the first pitch, ashcroft won't need to worry about testing him for steroids.

3. just for the record, the cubs are on pace to go 162-0. life is good.

happy opening (well kind of) day

Saturday, April 03, 2004

ah the sports illustrated baseball preview issue arrived today

just take a look at the cover.

life is good.