Monday, June 27, 2005

283 Visualcy

"Many centuries after the shift from oral to written culture, we are now well along in the transition to visual culture—where the predominant mode of communication is images rather than words. Just as the shift to writing required the skills we call literacy, so visual culture requires its own skills—for lack of a better word, visualcy."

Our church is UALC, and we have a Visual Arts Ministry, called in short hand, VAM. Now, thanks to Andy Crouch's article on VISUALCY, maybe we can just combine the whole thing.

His article here.

Friday, June 24, 2005

282 "This makes it all worth it"

That was my husband's comment as he came in the door, and handed me this piece of paper, completing his week as a fourth grade Bible School teacher. He said virtually every one of his 16 students came up to thank the teachers today. Yesterday they were chosen to lead the Lord's Prayer in American Sign Language for the entire VBS (his co-teacher interprets for the deaf). Every year he tells me it was his best class. Same for this year.

Thank you note from a fourth grader

Cross posted at Collecting my thoughts.

Monday, June 20, 2005

281 First Day of Vacation Bible School

This is the 12th year my husband has taught Bible School, and he was uncharacteristically frantic this week-end. The meeting for the teachers wasn't until the 18th when they received their teaching material, room assignments and found out who their co-teachers were. His room is one of those with a movable wall, so he had to go back on Sunday, remove all the chairs, and put his wall in place to put up displays. He's got 17 kids in his class, more girls than boys, which will make it easier.

But what drove him wacko was the material. I won't tell you the publisher, just in case you're using the same company. Usually our church writes and publishes its own stuff because we have about 3,000 kids enrolled, and purchasing that is just too overwhelming. But this year they found a company doing the same African theme UALC was going to offer. After listening to him moan about this several times (he is the world's most patient person), I finally took a look. I started with the title page, inspected the publication information, read the table of contents, and skipped all the introductory stuff. Each lesson was divided into four sections, but section one had two options, and then it seemed to be organized like spilled beans on a slippery floor. After reading through two pages, I handed it back, apologized, and admitted I was clueless. Truly, it appeared to have been developed by someone with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. After his third try of barricading himself in his office and outlining the lesson, he announced victory: lesson one completed. His co-teacher will do Tuesday.

On a happier note (or maybe not), this morning I was playing the DVD of George Barna lecturing on the importance of Children's Ministry. It is part of Church Communication Network, February 2005 CCN Broadcasts. This is from our church library which has a subscription. The title of the disk is "Becoming a church that transforms children into spiritual champions." He's convinced me that ministry to children needs to be the church's first priority. He says, moral foundations are set by age 9, and by age 12 children have made their faith choices. "Ministry to adults is essentially a maintenance ministry." The real changes happen to children.

VBS Photo Gallery, 2004

Friday, June 17, 2005

280 Today she would use Google

Julie has an interesting 5 part faith story at her Blog, sotto sotto.

"One statement stopped me in my tracks though -- the assertion that Catholics believe that the Sacraments are necessary for salvation. I stopped and thought, "Crap. Do I believe that?" I wasn't sure what the answer was, and it scared me a little. But I headed to the library.

Miraculously, I found a book to start with -- an examination of the documents of the Council of Trent. (The fact that the book still felt and smelled new after decades in the library was amusing but not surprising.) I was afraid of reading something that I didn't agree with, but in faith I started to dig in. And I am so glad that I did, because the study I did that day gave me a new measure of confidence in my call to the Church. I didn't just accept the teaching....I embraced it. And I could defend it too."

This part (about the value of a library and a good book when you have questions of faith) is found in the 5th part of total story.

Gerald didn't use the library, but did go to the movies to see The Passion:

"First I found a home and patriotism in this blessed land, then I found a home and patriotism in the Kingdom of God. I think that the Holy Spirit, God’s amazing grace (always a song in my mind, from early on in my life) moved me to move here. I don’t think I would have found God in Europe. Of course God was never lost, I was, so actually He found me, just in the nick of time." The Cafeteria is Closed

Saturday, June 11, 2005

279 Intelligent Design doesn't sound as intelligent as Genesis

The efforts to include Intelligent Design in science classes sound a bit tepid and pale to me. I'm a six day creationist myself, and the ID stuff just has no pizzaz, no oomph, no. . . well, Truth with a capital T. It's even more boring than the "days are millions of years" exegesis of the beginnings. Give it up Christians, and go back to basics.

This morning I slipped a CD into my van's player (it's the best cd player we have) and listened to the first 8 chapters of Genesis (NIV) that were part of an 8 disk set that was left in the library's freebie box (one disk is missing). Usually I don't enjoy listening to the Bible recorded--the voices are too monotonous or regular or something. This one was different. It had wonderful introductory material by a woman and was read by a man, and both had excellent, interesting voices that sounded like the reader believed what was being read.

Hearing it again, I was struck by the fact that so many of today's problems are mentioned in the earliest chapters of the Bible--disobedience, guilt, male-female differences and problems, marriage, parenting, jealousy, killing, alienation from God. The scope is breath taking; even though I'm familiar with the story--have heard it all my life--it is always today's newspaper or evening news.

Our church rarely preaches or teaches from the first eleven chapters of Genesis, does yours? (We did offer a class on why evolution wasn't Biblical during an adult Sunday School time, but that was researched and taught by a non-staff member.) There's a lot of good stuff there. Until Christians start believing Genesis is worthwhile for us in our everyday lives, I see little point in assaulting unbelievers with it. I didn't want my children learning someone else's religion in school--New Ageism was the biggie in the 70s-80s--and I'm guessing you don't either. Let's give non-Christian parents the choice to indoctrinate their own children as they see fit.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

278 Maybe it's just me. . .

There's something odd about the juxtaposition of the words and meaning in this paragraph, don't you think?

"When Aspen Baker was 23 she had an abortion. Baker had just completed her college degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from University of California, Berkeley, and, after weighing her options, she chose to have the procedure at a local hospital."
Women's e-news

277 Be ready with the evidence

Remember that old saw, "If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" This morning during the radio "drive-time" with Bob Connors (WTVN 610) I heard an interview, or at least the introduction, with a very prominent Columbus area pastor who heads the largest congregation in the city, and maybe the state. I won't mention his name or church because this blog is picked up by an aggregator and we're not supposed to be critical of other churches, faiths, or denominations. Let's just say this church is big, fundamentalist and charismatic with an enormous community outreach and education program, and a televised service that goes all over the world.

Anyway, Bob begins with: "Tell us Rev. X, what is a Christian?" To which Mr. Big Church gives a long drawn out definition that would make the World Council of Churches proud, because he never mentions Jesus Christ! Then Bob responds, "Oh, when I was growing up I learned a Christian was a person who followed Jesus Christ." The pastor laughed and made some comment about that was why Bob was in radio (he could say something in few words) and he was a pastor, (because he needed many words to say the same thing). At this point, I was in the parking lot turning off the key, so I'm not sure if the pastor ever caught on that he'd just blown the interview. Also, I don't know what the discussion was about, so perhaps he recovered later on and made our Lord rejoice to have him as a follower.

276 Bags of Blessings

Our church partners with an urban elementary school providing hundreds of volunteers. Tests scores have improved dramatically. Reading is the big push because many of these children are coming from chaotic home situations, or they are foreign born, or they are transient and parents don't have the interest or the time to read with them.

For the summer send off, each child receives a "Bag of Blessings" of fun items, but included is an application for a Columbus Public Library Card and a flier for the school's six-week summer reading program. Also provided for the send-off is a trumpeter and a catered dinner for the families. The church is providing the summer bookclub, and members can purchase the books (which the children keep), read with the children, provide the snacks or be a host/hostess.

Monday, June 06, 2005

275 What books do pastors read?

“When pastors were asked to identify the three books that had been most helpful to them as a ministry leader during the past three years, more than two hundred different books were listed. However, only nine books were listed by at least 2% of all pastors; just ten authors were identified by at least 2% of pastors, and just three categories of books were named by at least 10% of the church leaders interviewed.” Barna Research.

The Purpose Driven Life and Purpose Driven Church topped the list, particularly with baby boomer pastors of large congregations (our large multi-campus church used these titles and 2 or our 4 pastors are boomers).

I thought the categories read by the different age groups and different denominations were very interesting. Older pastors and women tend to read fewer books on leadership; main-line pastors read less in the area of evangelism and more in theology; and pastors of small churches read fewer books.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

274 Self-Control, Gift of the Spirit

My friend Sylvia is visiting this week-end, so this morning we attended two services, the 8:30 a.m. traditional at our Lytham Road campus, and the 10 a.m. contemporary at the Mill Run campus. It was communion Sunday, so after the second time I leaned over and whispered to her, "If we attend any more services we'll be tipsy."

Pastor Jeff had another good children's sermon using a cookie jar to talk about self-control. He asked the children, "What do you think is in this cookie jar?" and one little guy said, "Your cell phone!" Really, how do kids come up with these answers?

Although Jeff (LR) gave a strong gospel message, I sort of enjoyed some of the points in Pastor Dave's (MR) sermon. Specifically when he talked about the relationship between freedom and self-control. "Who today is the most free?" he asked. In the music world, it is the one who spent the hours and hours on scales and drills. On the basketball court, it is the player who practiced the most. In finances, it is the person who saved and invested and paid her bills who is now free. He also reminded us that it is the disciplines of the Christian life--Bible study, prayer, corporate worship, and fellowship with other believers--that keep us in the flow of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

273 The hymns of Charles Wesley

In the morning I try to read a daily selection from "Amazing Grace; 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions" by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Every entry is wonderful, not only for the story of each hymn, but the inspiring thoughts of Mr. Osbeck. Other devotional sources I've tired of, but never this one.

However, no hymn writer is as amazing as Charles Wesley who wrote 6,500 hymns. Think of that. If I read one of his hymns each day, studying the scripture or theology on which he based them, it would take me over 16 years just to read them! So if he wrote one every 48 hours, that would be a non-stop effort of nearly 35 years.

And if that isn't amazing with a capital A, he also traveled over 250,000 miles on horseback preaching to over 40,000 people. How do you write hymns on horseback? He must have been composing in his head while swaying and bumping along. However he did it, 200 years later we are still being blessed by his efforts and faithfulness.

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing