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Friday, October 27, 2006

Ron Ball Association and Marriage seminars

Yesterday I had the privilege of being part of a Pastor's Oasis with Ron Ball held at the Good News Center in Utica. Ron is an outstanding communicator and shared a great deal of wisdom about leadership and communicating effectively in a pomo world.

Ron spoke about 12 challenges that executives face:
  • Expansive Ego: Business leaders often fail for cockiness and greed.
  • Exhaustion of Omnipotence: exhausted from being the "know it all"
  • Logistical Frustration: overwhelmed by having to operate systems they didn't create and are not good at. For problem solving, he promotes the FIXIT solution:
F - FACTS. Make friends with all the facts, not just the ones you want to hear.
I - INVENT. Invent a plan based on those facts.
X - EXTERMINATE negative spin.
I - INVITE support.
T - TRACK results.
  • Hidden Anxieties: Promotional Disappointment; Financial Frustration; Recognition Diminishment.
  • Unresolved Anger
  • Team Sabbotage: sabbotaging one's own team through neglect or domination.
  • Mechanical Relationships
  • Exclusionary Resentment
  • Back Burner Families
  • Artificial Spirituality
  • Emotional Flatness
  • Authentic Burnout
Of particular interest to me was his talk on Logistical Frustration where he addressed problem solving. He was quoting someone else when he said, "We need to take full responsibility for every situation we find ourselves in. If there is a problem here, I caused it." He also said that many major corporations when doing problem solving go with an 80% solution because aiming for 100% paralyzes them and costs too much.

His talk on the post-modern mind was fascinating. Much of it I had heard in other venues. But I was surprised at how much I learned despite having been a student of this stuff.

Modern Modernistic Characteristics
  • Cultural Liberalism: weakening of boundaries, marriage, sexual ethics, etc. all leading to a feeling of entitlement of pleasure.
  • Discovery of Subconscious: unexpected result being the belief that we are just products of our subconscious thought and early childhood experiences leading to the idea that we are less responsible for our actions.
  • Industrial Development: idea that by working for a corporation they will provide for and protect you.
  • Socialist Economics: Let the state take care of you when you are in need.
  • Realism in the Arts: evolved to cheapen life and the removal of dignity.
  • Respectability in Religion: leading to the belief that the most important thing is that one is a decent person, cheapening the belief in spiritual transformation and power.
  • Tolerance as a Primary Virtue
Modern Characteristics
  • Deconstructionism
  • Disintigrationalism
  • Existentialism
  • "Me"ism
  • Immediatism
  • Reductionism
  • Globalism
He also talked about Julian Strauss and mentioned some of her findings regarding the 21-39 generation ...
  • Cult of "I"
  • Multiple choice culture
  • Devastated by the unexpected results of divorce
  • Devastated by the unexpected results of feminism
  • "Why suffer?" mentality
  • Celebrity standard & influence
  • Media dominance
Ron mostly speaks to business communities but was also an associate pastor with tele-preacher Charles Stanley for a couple years. I listed most of his talks in bullet points but he did an oustanding job of pulling it together and making it relevant for pastors. If you get a chance to hear him sometime it would be worth your while.

Syracuse Area Marriage Encounter

My wife and I went on a Marriage Encounter a couple weeks ago at the Good News Center in Utica, NY. It was very healing and life changing for us. I can honestly say I'm more in love with my wife than ever and feel as good about my marriage as I have in the past decade. Even more than that was the thrill of watching a family member and her husband attend the Encounter and see their marriage come alive, saved from the brink of destruction.

Check out the Syracuse Area Marriage Encounter site for more information about their next events.

The Good News Center also holds Engaged Encounters and Retrouvaille for marriages that are deeply distressed. The Executve Director, Mike Buckley and his staff are some of the most wonderfully godly and hospitable people I have ever met. I'm truly blessed to have them as friends and work with them on a regular basis.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

ChurchStaffing.com Church Jobs Career Pastors

I saw this ad for a pastor position and the church listed it's values. I liked these ...

ChurchStaffing.com Church Jobs Career Pastors:
• Every person has the right to a presentation of the Gospel at his or her level of understanding.
• Every person needs a Biblical moral compass to guide and protect him or her throughout life.
• Every believer has unique gifts to be discovered, developed, and used to strengthen the Church.
• Every believer has a purpose in advancing the global mission of Christ and the Church.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Quebec prepared to shut private schools over Bible-based teaching

Quebec! Freedom of religion is apparently dying in Quebec. Which also means freedom of thought is dying too.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mars Hill Church Seattle

Mars Hill Church Seattle has some great free stuff: sermons via video and audio. Marc Driscoll is hilarious. My wife and I watched one of his sermons on 'Paying Your Pastor' from a series on 1st Corinthians. I think that was the first time I had ever heard "frank and beans" used in a sermon in quite that way. I enjoy how he is expository yet topical, relevant and rotflm(b)o funny. Kudos to Mars Hill for all the free stuff they give away.

National Grid - Outages by County

Remember that early snow storm in the Buffalo area last week?
Over 83,000 people are still without power and the NationalGrid web site predicts it won't be restored for a few more days. Lord have mercy.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Church promotes serious look at sex

I'm home from church today with a sick kid. I have a great church so I'll miss that but God shows up here too.

"Pure Sex" at Discovery Church in New Jersey
This is an article about a a church thinking outside the box and inside the Scriptures. The Bible isn't silent on sexuality and the pulpit should be not either. God forbid that our teens grow up in a church and never hear a sermon on sexual ethics. Kudos to Discovery Church.

You absolutely must watch the flash intro to this church's sermon series on sexuality. Extremely well done. Just in case you were worried it is safe for work and not even remotely lewd. mysexlifestinks.com

"Love, Sex and Marriage Seminar" by Joe Beam

Xorey sent me a link that I think I may have blogged previously but here it is again. Joe Beam is a Southern Baptist preacher giving talks about sexuality with some good things to say. The dissonance of seeing this older, nerdy looking guy talking openly about sexuality is a little strange but I think that's part of his gig and what makes him work. Watch the video clip.

Religion-Based Tax Breaks: Housing to Paychecks to Books - New York Times

In case you didn't know, pastors get some nice tax breaks. Here is an article that explains a little about it.

P.P. Waldenstrom's Writings on the Atonement



When I think of the word atonement I think of "at-one-ment" or being made "at one with God". Here are a couple of links to PP Waldenstrom's views on the attonement. Just for the record, there does not appear to be any Wikipedia article about P.P. Waldenstrom. C'mon Covenant scholars, get it out there!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Jefferson County Scanner

I found out what a PC is good for: listening to Jefferson County Scanner. Couldn't get it to work right on my Mac. This is great.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Interesting Monastic Links ...

I'm thinking about becoming a Benedictine or Franciscan. My life needs a little more depth centered around Jesus Christ. I stumbled across these ...

Lesser Franciscans

The Community of Jesus

Friends of Saint Benedict

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Welcome to St. Andrew's in the Valley

I was down in Liverpool over the weekend and I visited St. Andrew's in the Valley, which is a former Episcopal Church now AMiA congregation. I had high hopes as I have continued to read so many great things about the AMiA. This is a self described church as charismatic, Anglican, evangelical and traditional, and although it was called a contemporary service, it was not ... at all ... even remotely. However, the people were very nice and the sermon was excellent (someone filled in for the pastor).

They did this cool blessing at the end of the service that was from the Rwandan Book of Common Prayer. (remember the AMiA is a mission movement of the Rwandan & Hong Kong churches).

Here is the liturgical instruction from the bulletin for this responsively spoken blessing: "The people accompany the first three responses with a sweep of the arm towards the cross behind the Holy Table, and the final response with a sweep towards heaven."

Celebrant: All our problems
People: We send to the cross of Christ (and you sweep your arm like you are sending your problems to the Cross)

C: All our difficulties
P: We send to the cross of Christ.

C: All the devil's works
P We send to the cross of Christ.

C: All our hopes
P: We set on the risen Christ (sweep of the arm towards heaven).

C: Christ the Sun of righteousness shine upon you and scatter the darkness from before your path: and the blessing of God Almightly, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.

I keep wondering if one of these Anglican/BCP based churches with solid evangecal theology and a strong missionary spirit will employ some excellent contemporary worship music and just flourish in the upstate NY area. I think this area is so ripe for a church with that style. It's a church planters gold mine waiting to happen.

Wellspring :: Friends of Jesus in Ministry

Wellspring :: Friends of Jesus in Ministry is a Dallas-Fort Worth, TX area church planted by scholar and pastor Jack Deere. I heard Jack speak in OH at a church down the street from mine. He had a profound effect on me so I've bought all three of his books. My favorite book in my entire library is Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. His personal testimony is powerful.

VirtueOnline: MASSACHUSETTS: Episcopal Diocese may quit marriages

A quote from this article ...
"In a novel approach to the tensions that have accompanied the same-sex marriage debate in many religious denominations, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts this month will consider getting out of the marriage business.

A group of local Episcopal priests, saying that the gay marriage debate has intensified their longtime concern about acting as agents of the state by officiating at marriages, is proposing that the Episcopal Church adopt a new approach. Any couples qualified to get married under state law could be married by a justice of the peace, and then, if they want a religious imprimatur for their marriage, they could come to the Episcopal Church seeking a blessing from a priest."
I tend to agree with them. I don't think that churches should be agents of the state.

Buffalo News - A virgin forever betrothed to Christ alone

This whole consecrated virgin thing seems to stem from 1 Corinthians 7 where St. Paul instructs the unmarried and widowed to remain unmarried like him so as to fully devote themselves to Christ. It seems that Catholocism is the only strain of Christianity to give this kind of virginal devotion a public recognition and recognize it as a gift from God. It's impressive. I admire the woman's honesty that this calling has developed over time for her. She wanted to marry and have children but it has not happened and has become a calling for her to fully devote herself to God.

I don't think I've heard any sermons advocating singleness for God. 1 Corinthians 7 is clear that St. Paul believes those who marry will have more worldly concerns. I know I never have preached it. Anybody else out there encouraging their people to remain single for God?

Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers - New York Times

I remember sitting with this older Episcopal women who was extolling the virtues of the Episcopal church liturgy and the BCP. When speaking of the unchurched she said, "If only they would come and experience the beauty of the liturgy they would love it. We just need to find ways to get them into the church." I callously said, "They've been leaving the Episcopal Church in droves for years. They know exactly what it is you have and they don't want any more of it."

If the stats in this article bear out, I suppose my comments might ring true of many evangelical churches in the future. I don't think even successful evangelical churches are planning for significant change in the immediate future -- just like the mainline churches did not when they were successful.

I think evangelical churches will die quicker than many mainline churches have. Many mainlines have had extremely loyal older members and some are flush with cash from endowments and bequests. Cultural shifts also happen quicker than in years past. These factors could result in a swift death for certain churches who do not plan well.

An article like this often times puts the focus on the young people asking, "What's wrong with them? Why are they leaving?" Perhaps we might need to ask, "What's wrong with the church that it holds no appeal?" The truth might be that our theology might be orthodox and good but our ecclesiology and culture might be driving people away. Then again, our theology might be bad too.

Something must change and Lord knows our churches hate change. Lord have mercy.

Friday, October 06, 2006

OutwardBuzz - Living the Outward Focused Life! : Rethinking Evangelism

FREE mp3 from Steve Sjogren entitled: Rethinking Evangelism

Pastors: Leaders of the flock but alone in the crowd

Here is a quote from a good article about pastor loneliness. Pastors: Leaders of the flock but alone in the crowd: "The clergy-parishioner bond is powerful, Odom said, but pastors can’t reciprocate when congregants confess sin or complain about other church members. And that causes a barrier that leads to emotional distance and isolation."

It really is difficult for people to understand the inner world of a pastor, ie how we relate to both clergy and non-clergy people, how our pastoral job performance is tied up in our own sense of spirituality, feeling like a pastor all the time even when we're not working, etc. Pastors are whacked. There is only one book that I have ever seen come close to explaining it. If you haven't bought this for your church leadership, I highly recommend it:

It Only Hurts on Monday: Why Pastors Quit and What You Can Do about It by Gary McIntosh and Robert Edmondson

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Churches Seeking Staff - Evangelical Covenant Church

Only 34 senior pastor openings listed at the Covenant Church's web site which really isn't very many -- excludes Canada and Alaska. I didn't see Turlock, CA or Cuyahoga Falls, OH listed. Must be their search committees are not in action yet.

I still can't understand why no one wants to go to North Miami. That church has been open forever. Even if the church stinks, it's still in North Miami, FLORIDA! I just googled it and the church appears to be within walking distance from the ocean. Que pasa people?

Lafeyette, IN is still listed with 875 in attendance but rumors have it there are actually hundreds less than that every Sunday and apparently they ain't happy. But that's just rumors.

Palatine, IL is open. I attended that church when it was planted and I was in seminary. That was supposed to be the model church plant that was going to be a mother church planting more churches. Didn't happen -- YET. Attendance is listed at 119. God is patient. It could still come about.

Christ Covenant Church
in Novi, MI is looking for a worship leader. Could be very kewl to work with Nate Pawl, who is now the sexiest Covenant pastor in the GLC since Xorey has moved on. Love their philosophy of ministry leading people to establish a Rule of Life and then planting churches in Asia and Germany. Rock on!

The other church in Ellsworth, WI is open. Apparently the arrival of Xorey scared off whoever else was there. He's a force to be reckoned with. I left OH in part because of him.

Other kewl jobs:
Youth ministry at Zion Cov in Jamestown, NY working with BJB who is currently on sabbatical in Africa. Great church with really super people.

Redeemer Church in Carrollton, TX which was planted by the brilliant Larry Sherman is looking for a pastor. It's gotta be a great church.

Kudos to Redeemer Church in Tulsa, OK for listing an Associate position whose job is listed as Evangelism and Outreach. Churches hire pastors for youth, children, executive pastors, worship pastors --- all by the dozens. But next to no one hires anyone specifically for evangelism.

New trend: there are at least 11 staff positions (ie associate pastor) that were not youth, children or worship positions. That's unusual to see that many of that type of position listed.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Anglican Mission in America: Winter Conference 2007

As any regular visitor to The Land of the Ultra Rev knows, I am a huge fan of The AMIA. They are evangelical, charismatic, Anglican and traditional. Sounds like the best of all streams of Christianity. Anglicanism is flourishing in the United States through The AMIA (and other orthodox anglican groups).

The AMIA's Winter Conference 2007: "Wellspring Church", will be happening in Jacksonville, FL in January. An interesting slate of speakers including the legendary Michael Green and JI Packer, along with my favorite author Jack Deere, and Rebecca Pippert and others.

I want to go. Anybody out there willing to pay my way? I figure I'll need several hundred dollars for airfare, registration, lodging & food and the myriad of books that I'll want to buy.

Mere Anglicanism

The Mere Anglicanism site is a wonderful peice of eye candy -- very well done. Oh yeah, it's interesting too. There are free MP3's of Os Guinness and Stephen Noll and information about Mere Anglicanism's upcoming conference in Charleston, SC.

Mere Anglicanism

The Mere Anglicanism site is a wonderful peice of eye candy -- very well done. Oh yeah, it's interesting too. There are free MP3's of Os Guinness and Stephen Noll and information about Mere Anglicanism's upcoming conference in Charleston, SC.