Wednesday, July 25, 2007

35 checkouts

Ok 35 is a guess, I did not count at the other end. This is the checkout area of a local store, but seeing this makes me wonder if we will see anything like this in India. We purchased our $30 worth of items at #10. Yes only 3, 6, 8, and 10 plus another 4 at the other end were open. To think this place can be busy enough (Christmas) that every station would be open.

I would love to hear what people think, esp those from other countries.
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Monday, July 23, 2007

Razzmatazz or Ragamuffins?

I have been trying to think what to post for a while now, rather than talk about my jitters of getting ready to go to India, none of which stay still long enough for me to write about...

Then I found this: and the July 23rd post Razzmatazz or Ragamuffins? Two non-Christians paid to visit churches are impressed with charity not facilities.

Go read it. Go read it. Go read it.

Thank You

July 23, 2007
Razzmatazz or Ragamuffins?

Two non-Christians paid to visit churches are impressed with charity not facilities.
It’s been done before. A non-Christian is paid to attend church and provide their honest feedback about the experience. The latest rendition of this experiment is occurring north of the border in Canada. Christian talk show host Drew Marshall has paid two college students, one male and one female, to attend five different churches in the Toronto area. Their observations can be read on Marshall’s website, but below are a few highlights from their excursion into Christendom.

The two students visited one of the fastest growing mega-churches in Toronto. Like many megas it has positioned itself as “the church for people who aren’t into church.” On this Sunday the pastor spoke about wealth and possessions. What did Drew Marshall’s guinea pigs think?
Why is it that I should not seek out possessions and money, but the church is permitted to do just that? Does taking 10% of every congregant’s income not count as seeking out money? Why should the institution be rich, and the congregation not? If you really believe you should be living the aesthetic life led by Christ and his apostles, why aren’t you doing it? If money and possessions aren’t important, why aren’t you meeting to discuss the meaning of Christ’s ideas and life in the local park? Notwithstanding the need to broadcast to your rather large congregation, and obviously you’d have to come up with a solution during the winter months, but really: why the son et lumiere? I found the medium more than a bit out of whack with the message.

Which brings me to another point: all that razzmatazz kind of unsettles me. We live in a culture where distraction is often misdirection - like a magician who gets you to look at his left hand while he’s disappearing something with his right. I found myself wondering why a group that liked its preacher so straightforward felt most at home in a medium of flashing lights and sound. Read more.

The paid church visitors also made a stop at the Sanctuary, a downtown congregation with deep involvement in the community—particularly with the homeless and poor. The Sanctuary provides free meals and cloths as well as medical care to those in need. One visitor’s first impression was telling:

I could tell then and there we had found what this experiment was set out to accomplish, a church that saw past the money, power and the heighten sense of moral superiority that we have grown accustomed to. Charity, real charity. About time.
He continues…

I was floored, for close to a month now I have been told of all the wonderful things the Christian church provides without any physical evidence of its truth, but here it is, in the flesh. I have to smile, we have traveled to the city’s massive churches where thousands worship and yet we find what we are looking for in a turnout of 35 on Sunday. Read more.

Overall, both Taylor and Sabrina (the non-Christians) gave the Sanctuary overwhelmingly positive marks—far more favorable than any other church they visited. Drew Marshall later tried to identify what set the Sanctuary apart. His conclusion:

This is the only Church where the majority of time, finances and energy is NOT spent on the Sunday service. At Sanctuary, it actually would have been unfair to only score them on their Sunday service, the smallest part of what they do. Read more.

What is the big lesson for church leaders? I’m not sure, and I’m hesitant to make any sweeping conclusions based on the opinion of just two people. However, Taylor and Sabrina do force us to ask an important question. Why does the majority of most churches' resources get funneled back into Sunday morning (facilities, staff, programs)? And, in a culture growing increasingly suspicious of “razzmatazz” is a spectacular worship production still the best way to draw people to God? (Has it ever been the best way?)
Posted by UrL on July 23, 2007

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Real and Unreal

Bungi is once again thinking deeply. Trying to figure out why if so much of this world is intangible why people favor the tangible. She wondered what a non-Asian view would be...

Now usually I am out of sync with her and her friends thoughts. So I will try without being trying.

But already I am stuck, do I base it all on money, or all on science, or try to define all things intangible?

I think for an average person in the USA science and education has stripped the world view of anything other than tangible. As that is where our faith has been placed in science, testing physics, engineering.

And with money you can buy enough stuff to fill your mind with tangible things, computers, cars, televisions, cell phones, games, furniture, plants, food. A human brain can only think about so much and fill it with all things 'real' you do not have time for the rest. So our education, and our money has helped us ignore the intangible.

What is left to be intangible? Stress and other emotional states? Gosh we can take physical pills and change our emotional states so no I guess that is really real. What is left intangible? God? yes that is about it, and the sad truth is science looks at Him and says 'any thing you can to I can do better' (For example look at transportation, the best God gave was a horse, science got us rockets!)

But what if this world is actually a lot more intangible? what is the proportion? Is it 50:50 tangible to intangible, or 60:40 or 40:60 or 99:01 or 01:99? WOW if 1% of everything was tangible, 99% would be beyond our grasp. What is in that 99%, God, life, feelings, other spirits... many people do try to grasp some of that, but most are happy with the physical.

Lets take one example of intangible, life, you can have a living person, alive, and they stop breathing, dead. All the physical is still there. But the intangible is gone, and that is more than them moving blood, and air. All the thoughts they have, all intangible, are they all gone or do they still exist in the intangible part of the world.

Gina talks about it in terms of music, add more and more chords, the music gets better and better sounding. That is what the world is like, but maybe we only hear some of the chords, the part we hear incomplete, sounds horrible.

Oh but to answer Bungi's question, why favor the tangible? because we have been taught too, esp me as an engineer. And we can afford to, esp me as a rich person.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My Iphone Post

The new Iphone blend now that is amazing. Go watch the video and come back.

Notice how long the machine stayed on? That is some good engineering.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Missional Church

There is an organization called EnterMission, all about 'getting out of the seat and into the story.' They have some pod casts and I took the opportunity to listen to one this morning. I took notes then went back and filled in some gaps with my thoughts... sorry the two are fairly intermingled.

This podcast is called "Highway on ramp how to build entries into ministries" a conversation with Jack Magruder and Rob Wegener, who both work at Granger Community Church.

Like a real highway they want every event to have an exit ramp and entrance ramp. People need to know how to get in and people want to know that they can get out before they get in. Most people will not do something unless they know all the risks, and most people are very risk adverse. Unknown is a very large risk.

The church must create meaningful environments for projects, and show that doing missions is for everyone.

Missional activity is for everyone. Everyone can be missional no matter where they are spiritually from the 'confirmed atheist' to the 'wild eyed zelots 'From you have only erratic time to you can give your entire life.

The traditional way at a traditional church is: 'I know the church does stuff but I do not know how to do it with them.' Or maybe you need to be more of a christian before you become involved. Or projects would be fly in fix it and fly out, feeling good but what it feels like where you went is like a mosquito bite.

GCC chooses it's project to be long term to keep shining the light of God on one spot. They think about what they are doing, where they are doing, and why they are doing.

But there is an on ramp for everyone from the first timer to the long term guy. The mission opportunities that are provided fit in a variety of locations. Think of a x and y grid up and down is location of ministry Horizontal is the commitment level required.

In Church
Local a few minutes away
Nearby a couple hours away
Ends of the earth A remote Indian village

Access ministries
Project ministries
Ongoing Team ministries
Leadership ministries

GCC has access ministries in the church and local and they have leadership ministries in the church to the ends of the earth. It is not 4 separate types but 16.

More detail of the ministry types
Access: have easy entry points for people, overcome the fear of doing it eliminate every single barrier
'Keep it Sassy': simple accessible and scalable
simple show up no tools planning needed
accessible, don't need to do anything special anyone can do it no mater their theology knowledge or physical ability
scalable be ready for 4 or 40 people to show up Example is GCC second Saturday
Know that it is meaningful to society.
Access leads to 'what's next?' 'what is deeper?'
And because access ministry come in to support what is being done through a ministry team they can see that.

Project ministries are short term like to inner city Chicago or India first timers: limited in time and scope, a day a weekend, a week, a couple planning sessions, do it, then the exit ramp. But again tied into the long term Ongoing Teams. For example a bailout for a poor inner city Chicago family, after they complete some training with the ongoing ministry a team will come in and do an extreme makeover to where they live.

Moving deeper:
The foundation for the above ministries is the Ministry teams are ongoing. To be involved require a commitment of at least a year, they need you to be there, they depend on you being there.

And last is leadership ministries:
Jack and Rob may be at the top but most teams are lead by others and they don't micromanage others lead the ongoing ministries of GCC.

Also someone may be a leader in one area and at access in another area, a great greeter but never traveled to India.

They want people to go from access to leadership. They want people to develop, always taking the next step.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mission Possible

The full title of the book is Mission Possible - World Missions In The 1980s by Marian and Robert Schindler.

Why would I review and recommend a book written 20 years ago? Because it shows that some of the 'new' ideas now were thought of long ago, some of the material is dated, but most is timeless.

This book is a step back, while it has personal examples the goal is to look at the big picture. God's plan, why go, why send, why raise up missionaries, history of missions, and future changes.

The books concludes with the story of a missionary meeting a Chinese woman after missionaries were let back in. Her first words to him were 'let me hear you pray' ...

The whole reason for missions is to have a relationship with Jesus, prayer is such an important part. Christianity can flourish without buildings, clean water, bibles, hospitals, schools, and all the other things we take for granted. Christianity is not Christianity without prayer.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Last Goodby

This past Sunday my friend Brandon passed away. He had been fighting a brain tumor for the past 18 months. He was on a ventilator for the past year, bedridden, weak but not unresponsive. Brandon and Kerstin, his wife have a daughter, Cora, just 2 months younger than our Anna, 28 months.

We drove across the state for the funeral on Thursday morning, it was at the graveside. Many friends and coworkers of his were there. Anna and Cora were off behind the group, pointing out flowers and flags to Nancy and Cora's daycare worker for most of the service. Then at the end the girls came around. About the time that they were lowering the casket.

I was amazed that while Cora was not happy with dad going down into the hole she did not temper-tantrum. What she did do will leave an impression on me for the rest of my life, and will bring tears to my eyes. After the casket was down and everyone was returning to their cars she knelt down next to the hole and looked down, saying "Daddy, Daddy," from her questioning tone of voice I think she was wondering why something so valuable was being placed so far down into a hole.

Kerstin knelt next to her for a moment then they got up and also went away.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Strong Willed?

Anna is now 2-1/2. You know I never really knew before how smart kids were. I mean she can go to the bathroom. I always thought little ones went potty, you know that thing in the yard with flowers sticking out (flower pot.)

I was told yesterday that Anna is strong willed. And really I wonder about that. I laugh off most of her stubbornness and make sure my firm rules really matter. She is to not go in the road, no hitting, things like that. I give her respect for things that do not matter, what shirt she wears (though if she does not want to get dressed I just say OK you may stay in the bedroom.) I try to teach her what she wants to learn, parts of a tree when we are laying in the shade of one for example.

I was watching someone interact with her, growing frustrated trying to get this 30 month old to do and say what they wanted... you know I think if the reverse was happening Anna asking them to do exactly what she wanted Anna would be as frustrated as Elmo in his world. (FYI most things in Elmo's crayon drawn world do not respect that little red fuzz at all.) Yes Anna is independent, herself, and if strong willed means that she knows she is worthy of respect, then yes she is strong willed, and that is OK.