Archive for the ‘vision’ Category

Honing our vandalism skills with chalk on the building


Disturbing the peace with loud rocking worship music


Ann Lynn sporting lunch lady gang paraphernalia


Downin’ some delicious BBQ pulled pork sandwiches (seriously good)

You have SEVEN HOURS as of the time I posted this blog to get your High Schooler to the Living Stones Church @ 5:30 pm so they can participate in the Summer Kick Off of the High School Youth Group led by TIM BOUCHER!!!!!

SEVEN HOURS before they experience the time of their life and some pretty foundational experiences as a youth group.

So…if you are in High School…or you have a High Schooler get them to the Living Stones Church @ 5:30 pm.  From there they will be going out to South Paw (not “Paw Paw” as I kept saying on Sunday…which is where you go in Michigan for a bunch of vineyards and wine tastings.  Don’t worry…our High Schoolers will not be going to a wine tasting this evening).  South Paw is the old residence of Jamie Moyer (the baseball player) turned into a retreat center.  They are going there for a cookout, swimming, games, etc.  They will return to the church @ 10:00 pm.

Any questions?  Send them to Tim Boucher here.

Today we launched RECESS 2012!!!  Thanks to the generosity of the Living Stones Church we are looking forward to the next eight weeks with a bunch of students from Monroe School / Miami Hills apartments (we are expecting about 100 total).

Today went great!  Meredith Waltman (our RECESS Director) and her top-notch counselors and volunteers did an excellent job.  The kids had a blast and it was a successful first day!!

Another great thing this year is that we were approved for a grant from the government to make our own breakfasts and lunches.  Last year we were approved by the South Bend School Corporation to be a free lunch site.  It was a huge blessing to have daily meals supplied by the corporation.  BUT – the quality of the meals were a little…you know.  So, this year we have been approved for a grant that will pay us $5.31 per child per day.  Multiple that by the number of kids in RECESS for eight weeks and we are looking at a potential funding of $20,000 so that we can make our own meals!!!   This is a huge blessing!!!!

Finally, this past Sunday Living Stoners brought us over our funding goal by contributing $15,759.38 for RECESS 2012!!!  THANK YOU!!!

This video is a physics demonstration using dominoes.

My prayer is that it becomes a working metaphor and illustration for the vision and mission of the Living Stones Church that begins in that little orange brick building that meets at 718 E. Donmoyer Ave.

Let me give you another blog you should be checking out.  It is called Revitalize South Bend (*insertpumpfist*).

It’s creator:  The most excellent Beth Harsch.

Listen to its purpose and intent:

As a resident of South Bend, I refuse to believe we’re a ”Dying City,” as a recent article in Newsweek claims. Nor do I care to give credence to Princeton who lists South Bend among the ”College Towns not so Great.”

I believe what many residents of South Bend believe… that this is a generous, caring, innovative community.

My desire is to highlight those people (and groups) in our community who will not let some Newsweek article define them. This is for, and about, those generous, caring and innovative people doing transformational work that improves life in South Bend.

Won’t you join me as we share ideas and resources that can benefit others in our community?

Add it to your blog roll, check out its contents frequently, and COMMENT and engage in the conversation!!

And while you are there should especially check out today’s blog post!!

“I’m Pastorman”

Posted: May 9, 2012 in Leadership, Ministry, vision

Most Pastors I know (including myself) want to believe that by way of identity they are leading a community of faith to change the world through the expansion of the Kingdom of God.  Sounds exciting doesn’t it?  It is (or at least it can be)!  It’s the stuff of superheroes – battling spiritual principalities, rescuing those who have been taken captive to sin and suffering, standing up for truth (and grace)!!!  I practically walk around with a music/movie soundtrack playing in the back of my head – you know…those anthemic intense superhero ones.  “I’m Pastor-Man!!!” *looks out the window to see if I can see my Pastor-man signal in the sky*

What most pastors don’t want to be is a chaplain to society.  That is a totally different identity.  It doesn’t have anthemic intense superhero music set in the background.  It is more like musak in an elevator.  Boring.  Ignored.  Seemingly unnecessary.  And at times – obnoxious (really…you’re going to set “Everybody Rules the World” by Tears for Fear to Musak!!!!?)

Did you know that cruise ships have a chaplain?  They do.  And they get to enjoy a week-long cruise for free as long as they hold an interdenominational service on Sunday morning and are available should they be needed (guess how many people attend this service on a cruise ship).  Do you know when chaplains on cruise ships are needed?  Never.  I’m going to suggest that every employee on a cruise ship, and I don’t care if you are the lowest rung of the maintenance crew, the kitchen staff, or the housekeeping – is more important than a chaplain on a cruise ship.  You may be tempted to think to yourself, yea, but what if the ship is sinking…I bet you would want a chaplain then.  The answer:  NOPE.  No one in the midst of a sinking ship thinks to themselves, “I wish I had a chaplain.”  What they want is a life boat or someone skilled enough to plug that hole in the side of the ship.  The only time a chaplain comes in handy is at the very end, when all hope is lost, we know we are about to drown…we’ve totally given up…now – someone find a chaplain to say something or pray something because we are about to meet God.

Pastors, if they aren’t careful, can very quickly be relegated by society to chaplaincy.  It happens all the time.  The obligatory prayer before the city council meetings, the invocation at the start of the Little League game, a blessing at some civic dedication ceremony (which by the way…these aren’t bad things…and I’ve done some of them), but ultimately it is a very different function than “Pastor-Man” (I just puffed my chest out as I said that…I’m not sure even when puffed it extends past my belly…dang it!) a leader of God’s people called to change the world.

[More on this later]

Postcard sent out to 10,000 homes on the South Side of South Bend!

A lot of people are interested in discovering how to survive the impending zombie-apocalypse.  Well…we won’t be covering that topic.  BUT…how to survive and recover from a “living dead” state in your spiritual life, marriage, finances, job, etc. (or just life in general)…THAT we’re talking about!!!  And we begin the conversation this coming Sunday, April 8th – EASTER – @9:00, 10:30, or 11:55 am at the Living Stones Church!!!!

The church has been buzzing with help and activity all week:  labeling post cards, putting candy in plastic easter eggs (for our easter egg hunt on Saturday with the families at Monroe School), putting together the set design for our new series (I love it by the way!!!), preparations for our Good Friday service, practicing for our Easter celebration, invite banners in the front yard, etc.  It is going to be a great weekend!!!!  See you there…and rent vans and bring as many people as you can find!!

Good Friday – noon

Easter Egg Hunt – Saturday 10:30 am

Easter Celebration (Walking Dead series) – Sunday 9:00, 10:30, or 11:55 am

Listen up all you Living Stoners – we have some ambitious plans for some crazy good Spring clean-up this coming Saturday 9:00 am – noon.  We are going to transform our front yard to look like this:

Front yard view of Living Stones Church

Pretty sweet huh?  Yea.  It will be the coolest yard on Donmoyer Avenue!!!

And if we have enough people to help, we are making the entrance into our parking lot look like this:

Living Stones Church sweet-looking driveway into parking lot!

You’re thinking – “Man I go to the coolest church on Donmoyer Avenue!!!”  It’s true.  You do.  But, as you can see we need a lot of help to pull this off so I’ll see YOU at the Living Stones Church this Saturday at 9:00 am.  We should have everything done by noon.

And to my fellow Living Stoners of the male gender – if more women show up to this event than men (as the sign ups thus far indicate) – I’m taking away your “man-card” at communion!!!!  And dude…if you are single…THERE are more women signed-up than men!!!!!  You get what I’m sayin‘!?  Yea…I’m just trying to help a brother out.

Bring your rakes, working gloves, hedge clippers, weed-whackers, etc.  If it rains, the alternate date is Thursday evening, April 8th 5:00-8:00 pm.

While not  necessarily news to Living Stones Church (unless you missed the week we made the announcement) – I haven’t announced it on the blog – so…

I’m very excited to announce that we are hiring two outstanding gentlemen (loosely defined) to serve on staff here at the Living Stones Church.  

Jeff Gritton

First, we hired Jeff Gritton to lead our Communitas Groups (small groups) and serve as Pastor of Ministries.  Jeff officially begins this Sunday, April 1st (at least that is when we start paying him – he actually started work a month ago…and April Fools Day as a start date seems foreshadowing).  Jeff will begin part-time (continuing to work part-time at Liberty Mutual) and transition to full-time hopefully later this year.  Jeff brings with him a wealth of experience and expertise and is excellent at relationally connecting with our leaders and helping them by way of encouragement, resources, and guidance in vision and mission.

Tim Boucher...who got the job in spite of the fact that he is an Ohio State fan.

Second, we hired Tim Boucher to lead our Student Ministries and Creative Arts.  Presently, Tim is working as a teacher at Jackson Middle School (where…by the way…he was “Teacher of the Year”).  When the school year is up, Tim will begin his employment with Living Stones the second week of June [and by that I mean he will actually start getting paid for the work he is already doing].  Tim brings with him a great passion and energy (as well as years of experience in ministry in several areas) that is contagious and exciting.

I’m personally looking forward to both Tim & Jeff being on staff and bringing a 50/50 balance between men and women on staff.  This will definitely improve my record in our LSC staff men vs. women dodge ball and “red rover” tournaments!!!!  I’ve heard Tim has a wicked throwing arm (but a bum knee) and no one is getting past Jeff in a Red Rover competition.

Sometimes God just decides a church is going to have a particular ministry whether it asks for it or not.  And since He is God, he gets to do that and doesn’t really need to ask anyone for permission!  And for whatever reason, God has decided that the Living Stones Church is going to have a ministry for families and children with special needs.  We didn’t ask for it.  We didn’t pray for it.  We didn’t set it as a part of some great “vision statement” / outreach plan.  God just sent us a ton of families with children who have special needs.  Like, percentage-wise, more than any church I know!!! (humility qualifier:  I don’t know every church. 🙂 ).

What is strange about God’s plan is that I feel like we are an ill-equipped church for such a ministry.  We don’t have many resources in regards to money, space, etc.  But, I guess that doesn’t concern God at all.

What we do have is people like Amy Osterhout (she leads our children’s ministry) who before coming on staff at LSC served in the South Bend Community School Corporation as a special education teacher for 17 years.  AND we have Melissa Holstein who has seven children (along with a husband who could at times qualify as one of her children 🙂 ) who has several children with autism and a PASSION to see families who need support get it!  She started “precious stones” here several years ago for this very need.  (sidenote:  I don’t know anyone who lives with as much grace, humor, and endurance in the midst of their life circumstances than the Holsteins.  Don’t tell them – but they are heroes to me).  AND we have an entire children’s ministry team that in heart, life experience, or passion is second to none in regards to children with special needs.

SO…Here we go!!  I guess we are beginning a venture to figure out how to be a church that is capable of ministering faithfully to families and children with special challenges that God has sent us.  We don’t have everything figured out.  But we’re going to try.

I got an e-mail this morning from Karen Roberts who works with Joni & Friends International Disability Center.  It looks like we are going to learn as much from them as we can on how we are supposed to serve and minister well.

Speaking of heroes, Mike Cope who is one of my preaching heroes…like seriously…the man can preach in such a way that Scripture just comes to life…at his blog began today a series on “Church and Families With Specially Challenged Kids” and I know it is going to be great.  You should check it out here.  The above video is from his first post.