Archive for October 14, 2009

One of Those Nights

Posted: October 14, 2009 in Family, Personal Reflections

How was my nightHOW WAS MY NIGHT!!!!?  Oh…I’ll tell you how my night has been:

1.  After work I went to the gym to lift weights.  Two words – PATHETICALLY WEAK!!

2.  My daughter this evening announced she wants her mother to get remarried to someone else so she can have a puppy.

3.  My wife bought me some conditioner from the store.  When I looked at the bottle she decided to select a conditioner that was for “dull and lackluster” hair.

4.  During dinner, my fat butt was so heavy that it literally broke the chair I was sitting in and I fell backwards (I’m not kidding…and I”m not talking about one of those “wooden peg” that fits into a hole that was loose kind of situations, I’m talking soldered metal!!  Snapped it right off!!  My family feigned concern, but I could see they were laughing right at me).

Thus…I’m locking myself in the bathroom and going to have a good cry for about an hour, then I’m getting in my pajamas and getting into bed to watch Grey’s Anatomy episodes, and if I’m still awake after that, I’m going to watch The Notebook!! 😦

P.S.  Oh…I did have a great LSC leadership meeting in between these events. 🙂

There are always ideas.  People are always offering suggestions on what you/the church should do in regards to ministry.  There really is no lack of ideas for what a church should or should not be doing.  The issue is discerning through the ideas to see what God is calling the church to do.  And so we listen to suggested programs, ministry opportunities, events, new directions, etc.  And then we pray and discern.   Besides fitting with the larger vision and calling of a church, my experience is that there are three elements that are essential for any ministry, event, or program to succeed.  Think of it like a 3-legged stool.  If just one leg is missing, there is no stability and the person attempting to sit on it will end up on the ground.  The 3 legs are:

1.  Vision. What is the compelling story that drives the idea?  Is it clear?  Is it identifiable?  Is it compelling?  Can the idea behind any ministry be communicated in a manner that compels people to want to be a part of it.  Does it have purpose?  Is there meaning?  Does this idea make sense to who we are and what we do (as opposed to, “Another church does it like this…”).  Without a clear and communicated vision, a ministry will end up being short-lived or, will wrestle through conflict and disappointment as competing assumptions and agendas arise.  This is the case often with a church’s Sunday School program.  “Why do we do this?”  Everyone scratches their head and can only answer, “Because we have always done this.”  Not compelling.

2.  Leadership. Is there someone (and I mean one person) who can lead this vision?  They can work with a team, there can be many involved, but is there someone who takes ownership and responsibility for the vision and can move forward in all that is necessary by way of communication, execution, and problem-solving along the way.  I’ve seen many “prayer ministries” attempt to come together with the idea that there isn’t any need for a “leader” and it would sort of be an organic free for all.  In the end, they have either failed, or someone who shouldn’t be leading, in the void of leadership took the reigns and led.  Nothing is more frustrating than showing up to an event, ministry, etc. only to stare at everyone around the table and wonder, “Who is leading this thing?”  You can have a vision for a great student ministry, including a great space…but if you don’t have a leader of student ministry…you will ultimately have no student ministry.

3.  Space. This is either in physical space or time. Many small group ministries fail because there is no space (by way of time) for them.  The church already does Sunday morning Bible classes, Sunday morning worship, Sunday night worship, Wednesday night Bible classes, ministry meetings on other nights…AND in addition, wants a small group ministry.  You can’t.  You don’t have the space available.  Small groups may have a great vision, and strong leadership…but if people don’t have another night of the week, you aren’t going to succeed.  You may have a compelling vision and leadership for a Christian school, but if all you have is a few classroom spaces in your basement, you aren’t not going to have a Christian school.

What are you trying to keep going but you probably should bring to an end because you are missing one or more in vision, leadership, or space?

Zachary Christie is 6 years old.  He is a delinquent.  The school has taken action and suspended him and he faces the possibility of 45 days in a Reform School to see if his little evil heart can be redeemed and whether he can be placed safely back in the school around other children.  If you are curious what an evil 6 year old boy looks like…I mean really looking in the face of evil…watch this video and you will see what I’m talking about:

Warning:  GRAPHIC VIDEO OF EVIL 6 YEAR OLD SUSPENDED FROM SCHOOL

See…scary huh?

Once again, the Zero Tolerance policy gone crazy in regards to a “weapons” violation at school.  He brought his Cub Scout swiss army spoon/fork/knife combo to school so he can eat his lunch with it.

Should he have done this?  No. But a two minute conversation with the boy would reveal he had the sweetest of intentions and he just didn’t know.  But what does the school administration do?  Kick him out for the week with the possibility of serving 45 days in Reform School.  Come on!!  [by the way…good news…the school board caving to the outcry of injustice reversed the decision and is allowing little Zachary Christie to come back to school…this is good, but did it really necessitate a school board meeting to adjudicate this?]

There is always a spirit behind a rule.  The rule has a purpose and an intent.  You can’t lose sight of it.  If it becomes about the rule in-and-of-itself, the “rules” become legalistic and brings death.  The last thing Zachary Christie needs is to be placed for 45 days with kids who really do belong in Reform School.  Sometimes you recognize that the application of the rule in its strictest sense is a violation of the spirit of the rule.  In that case, ALWAYS go with the spirit of the rule.

Rules for rules sake stink.  Why do you have the rule?

We are making some changes in our Kids Kanyon (children’s ministry) here at the Living Stones Church.  Part of that is the establishment of and enforcement of some rules.  But there is a spirit (a reason) behind the rule.  For example:

1.  After 9:55 & 11:55 a.m. our check-in for kids is closed.  Why?  We have discovered that new kids entering after that time hinders what the volunteers have done by way of teaching.  They worked hard to get the kids to “settle down” and move in a groove with the curriculum, and the addition of new kids at that point ends the focus and they have to start all over again.

2.  We don’t allow donuts (which we serve at the beginning of worship) in the classroom.  The moment one kid walks in with a donut, every kid that doesn’t have a donut starts crying and wanting a donut (this is also true for electronic devices, toys, etc.).

3.  Once you check your child in, we ask that you leave them there until the service has ended.  If you pick them up early because you want to avoid the check-out line, what you do is retrieve your child and produce chaos in the classroom after you leave.  When a kid sees a parent enter the classroom and get their child, it signals in their mind that church is over and that their parent is coming for them.  When they perceive something to be “over” they check-out and no matter what the volunteer has in mind, it is over.  Further, when their parent doesn’t pick them up, they start to get anxious and upset.  The result:  chaos.

But these rules have a spirit.  They aren’t intended to be legalistic.  If you have to go to work and have to leave early, you have to leave early…come and get your child.  If a single mother shows up with three kids and you know she did everything she could to even make it church but showed up at 9:57…you smile, receive her kids, and thank God that she made it to church.  Donuts…there is no liberty…NO DONUTS! 🙂

Jesus Gave Me Swine Flu

Posted: October 14, 2009 in Church, Doctrine

Bishop D’Arcy of the South Bend/Ft. Wayne Catholic diocese has decided to withhold the common cup during Mass from the congregation (reserving it only for the priests…which wouldn’t be the first time in history that this has taken place).  The reason:  swine flu.  You can read the story here.  Personally, I would recommend to Bishop D’Arcy the uber cool mini-individual cups that we use at Living Stones Church where we each get our own individual cup. Thus, my lips aren’t touching the same cup that your lips are touching.  I love you…but not that much. 🙂 Since the Catholic church uses one cup, I think this is a good decision.  I’m not criticizing Bishop D’Arcy for this at all.  My question is more theological.  The Catholic Church teaches a doctrine of communion called transubstantiation.  In short, through a metaphysical miracle, they teach that the bread actually becomes the body of Jesus and the wine becomes the actual blood of Jesus.  This is one large dividing point between Catholicism and Protestant churches.  My question is, given the doctrine of transubstantiation, are we saying that Jesus can give us swine flu?  My OCD/hypochondriac side likes this decision.  But if I were Catholic, my theology might be troubled slightly.

In addition, the sign of peace no longer necessitates a handshake.  You can just nod your head. 🙂

NOTE: Until the health department gives us the ALL-CLEAR, high-fives on Sunday morning at the Living Stones Church have been suspended.