Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anne Lamott

I love Anne Lamott's writings, but I hope she's been misquoted, or misparaphrased here:
    Lamott described herself to Krista as a spiritual “woman of faith” who disdains dogma and “the great evil” of religious fundamentalism. She calls out fundamentalism as a terrifying peril of our time: “a conviction of being right and of feeling that we are chosen and that other people can be denied a seat at the banquet table.”
I guess she's never read any of Jesus' parables, or Paul, or Moses, or Nahum or a host of other Biblical writers. This was from one of those "I'm spiritual but not religious" gibberish websites.

I'm a fundamentalist about a number of things. It means having core beliefs, adhering to the fundamentals. Like the weakest (the unborn) need our protection, love and healthcare. Or, if we accept, buy or take in a pet, we absolutely have responsibilities to protect and care for it. Or, there are about 70 references to the first 11 chapters of Genesis in the New Testament, so who am I to question how God did it. And this one, Jesus never, never suggested you take money from one neighbor you didn't know to help out another one you did. That's called stealing, according to Moses, who also had a pretty good relationship with God. Lust and adultery always, always come to bad ends in the Bible. Call it fundamentalism or dogma, but I'd hardly call it the peril of our times. Even religious wars are rarely about religion--they're about ethnicity, power and land grabs from my reading of history. There are manipulative leaders who inflame religious fervor for their own purposes, but again, that's about power, not fundamental beliefs.

The oh wow cool dude whatever crowd are probably just high on something. When they come down, sober up, or dry out, they probably know something about fundamentals, too.

SOF Observed - Thinking of Anne Lamott As We Create a New Show...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Whatever happened to Spiritual Mapping?

"It is an attractive package: evangelism is the goal, God is to be praised, Christians work in harmony, and prayer is the foundational method. All that is needed is a spiritual map. How could any Christian possibly be against it?"

It seems our church flirted with this as an evangelism tool maybe 15 years ago. Anyone remember? I never got on board, and neither did the author of this article.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whatever happened to SALT groups?

After we joined UALC in 1976 we invited the others in our "new member" class to our home to see if they were interested in becoming a more permanent, contract group that would meet on a regular basis. We had been in a Couples Group at First Community Church for eight years and liked that model with rotating host family choosing the topic or speaker for the evening with occasional social events or service projects. Five of the six couples came, and four decided to stay together.

At that time, UALC had no mechanism for creating small groups. It had traditional "Lutheran" type groups like women's study/social circles, Altar Guild, ad hoc task groups, choir, and committees that reported to various staff or board members. That first couples group stayed together about 4 or 5 years. After that group disbanded we either joined or created (can't remember which) another group that was a bit more fluid--there were some core members, but others came and went--8 or 10--as it suited their needs and schedule. The third group we joined was about a year old and its leader died shortly after we joined. My husband took over even though we'd only been in the group a short time. By then (early 90s?) the church had actively begun to organize small groups and christen them SALT, or, "Sharing and Living Together." (I much prefer the term Serving and Learning Together but . . . oh well). The church had regular meetings for SALT group leaders for communicating with the rest of us and a staff member to oversee putting new groups together. After 10+ years with that group, we went a few years without an intimate friend-fellowship-prayer group meeting regularly, and we missed it. About three-four years ago we were invited to join a group that had begun in the late 1990s from a new members class and we're still together.

SALT has been a successful model for bringing people who don't know each other together in a very large church with four styles of worship in three locations and nine services. At some of our Sunday evening meetings, we may have heard four different service leaders/pastors that morning. We still rotate hosting and planning, and occasionally have service projects or attend an event together.

So why has UALC dropped any mention of SALT on its Web page or printed small group "connected" and "study" brochures reprinted in 2009? Why is there no shepherd for SALT on the paid staff? Not even a volunteer? The worship attendance is dropping (decrease of 414 between Dec. 2007 and Dec. 2009 according to the Jan 19 Council minutes). Maybe we need to get back to a model that was in use when we were bursting at the seams and decided we needed another campus? Technology like Facebook, Twitter and web sites are great--but they don't take the place of face to face contact, praying together, studying together, going out to eat, sharing child care or visiting a friend in the hospital.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Lutheran Confessions: Roundtable 44: The Marriage of Priests (Smalcald Articles Part III, Article XI)

Yes, it's hard to believe but The Book of Concord has a blog (or several), a Facebook page, and it sends Tweets. Isn't technology amazing? I'm not sure if the BoC has spoken to our latest marriage controversy of two males or two females (and committed groups (mix and match) of three and four will be down the road, you just wait and see), but here's one on celibacy rules and the problems it causes.

Concordia | The Lutheran Confessions: Roundtable 44: The Marriage of Priests (Smalcald Articles Part III, Article XI)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lutheran CORE releases proposal

Leaders of Lutheran CORE released a proposal for the reconfiguration of Lutheranism in North American on Thursday, February 18, 2010, the date church calendars commemorate Martin Luther, who died February 18, 1546.

The new Lutheran church body is called North American Lutheran Church (NALC).

I'm somewhat amused (and saddened) that the liberal Christian press are calling those who have chosen to honor what God has said about male and female, marriage, and the bride of Christ "dissidents" and "disaffected," and that NALC will be a "rival." Well over 20 years ago (my first clipping is dated 1988), the push began by a tiny minority to change history, scripture and church tradition on human sexuality. With a document that is an embarrassment and travesty for the English language, they finally squeaked through. The traditionalists have announced in their proposal that "both staying in and leaving the ELCA and ELCIC can be faithful courses for confessing Lutherans." The somewhat editorialized copy distributed by Religious New Service now wallpapering webpages across the Net (sort of an AP for religious groups) offers no such olive branch.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

So close. . .

Today I was looking at the web page (and outstanding technology to spread the word) of Spirit & Truth Fellowship International. Hmmm. Most of what I checked seemed on target--until the speaker (I was watching a video) mentioned such and so wasn't really in the Bible and therefore many Christian groups were wrong on that issue (happened to be about women). So I googled the leaders. They are former members of The Way International, a very active cult I remembered from the 1970s. Well, I suppose they could have left the cult and become Christians. Looked through a few more things and finally googled, "cult awareness spirit and truth fellowship" and here's what I found,
    "group describes itself as "A worldwide community of Christians who desire to make known the written Word of God so as to proclaim the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ." Among other teachings, the group denies the Trinity and affirms that "when a person dies, his life is gone and he no longer exists anywhere in any form." "
Hmmm. Definitely not Christian. A cult is a cult even when the leaders leave the wrong headed teaching they started with. Even ELCA with all its problems and wandering away from the clear message of Scripture, gets the Trinity and the bodily resurrection of believers right.

Lutherans distribute Arch Books in Haiti

Food, water, and something to read. There is great need.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What did Jesus say about himself?

by Pastor Eric Waters, UALC

"Pretty much every year, just in time for Easter, magazines and cable shows appear claiming that Jesus is not the person we think he is. Invariably, these shows and articles smugly conclude that the Church has gotten it wrong when it comes to Jesus. They’ll say, “Jesus was a great teacher, but the Church corrupted his teaching.” Well, let’s take a look at what Jesus taught.

First, Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man. It was Jesus’ favorite way of referring to himself. The title comes from a prophecy in the Book of Daniel: “I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven… He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations, and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion…” (Daniel 7:13-14). Who can rightly claim dominion and authority over all people; who can rule a kingdom that lasts forever; who can receive the worship of all people, except for God alone?

Second, Jesus claimed to judge the world. He warns, “When the Son of Man comes… All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32). Jesus further claims that the basis for separation will be how people respond to him: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9). Who has authority to judge the hearts of people and demand their ultimate allegiance, except God alone?

Third, Jesus claimed to forgive sins. Early in his ministry (Mark 2:1-12), four men carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus on a mat. Jesus said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” People in the crowd were stunned, saying, “He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They’re absolutely right – who can forgive sins, but God alone? Yet to prove that he was who he claimed to be, Jesus healed the paralyzed man so that the man “got up, took his mat, and walked out in full view of them all.”

Fourth, claimed authority to edit the Word of God. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus taught, “You have heard it said… But I say to you…” Each time, what “they heard said” was God’s Word. Similarly, in his teaching on divorce (Matthew 19:1-9), Jesus claimed to understand what God was thinking when he wrote his Word, and authority to overrule what Moses had allowed. Finally, when Jesus “declared all foods ‘clean’” (Mark 7:1-23), he did nothing less than set aside the entire Kosher system God had set up! Who has authority to edit what God has said, except God alone?

So has the Church gotten it wrong when it comes to Jesus? Look at what Jesus taught, look at what Jesus said about himself, and see for yourself that Jesus claimed to be no one less than God."

— Pastor Eric Waters
The Cornerstone, March 14-20, 2010
Upper Arlington Lutheran Church

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sunday, March 07, 2010

David Householder's advice on technology for Pastors

This is excellent advice. And although I'm not an expert on church growth, evangelism, or technology, most of it sounds right to me. Especially this one on church web sites.

And sure, websites are old school, but there are trends to watch.

1) Simple is good. Think iPod. If you aren’t going to update it, don’t post it. Stale dates, etc. are a bad sign.

2) Never ever ever use stock photos of “beautiful people.” Use real pix of your people. Authentic is everything.

3) Make it easy to “contact us.” Real phone numbers and email addresses. Don’t make people have to hunt to find you.

4) Prominently feature the picture and bio of the senior pastor. People are looking for this.

5) Come right out and tell people what your worship style and political/theological stances are. Don’t be vague. If you’re pro-life, say so. If you are liturgical, say so. Etc.

6) Make sure the branding, colors, logos, etc. actually match your church service and “vibe.” Don’t have an artsy, brooding (albeit cool) website if you are a happy clappy church. The medium is the message.

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