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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Youth and Young Adult Ministry Has Never Been More Important

internetmonk.com: Michael Bell: How To Stop The Hemorrhaging: A Follow Up To The Pew Forum Data [please read]

Recent data from the Pew Forum points to the importance of youth and young adult ministry. Boiled down: if the church doesn't reach or keep them by age 23, we likely won't. Michael Bell says,
"Of those who were raised Protestant (Evangelical, Mainline, and Historical Black), and are now “unaffiliated with any religious group”, 85% left their childhood faith before the age of 24. Of those who were raised Catholic and were now unaffiliated, 79% left before the age of 24. The same holds true for those coming back the other way. Of those raised unaffiliated, but who are now affiliated with a religious group, 72% left the ranks of the unaffiliated before the age of 24."
Churches used to say, if we don't get them by graduation we won't have them. Then it was, if it was not by grade 10, we'll have little chance because their lives become so busy. Then it was, if not by Junior High. Recently I've heard some say it's now by fifth grade. A lot of the problem in youth ministry these days is the parents failure to personally disciple their children and failure to prioritize youth ministry in their child's life.

Churches training parents to be the primary spiritual directors of their children has never been more important.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Alcohol Debate Continues

Trouble Brewing | LeadershipJournal.net

Leadership Journal has a good, balanced article on the current debate regarding the use of alcohol by Christians. Bottom line the debate is: One group says we have liberty and freedom in Christ to responsibly consume alcohol. Jesus made wine. The other group says, you do have freedom but it's in your personal best interest and the best use of your personal influence to abstain.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

List of Prayers at St. Clare's

For those of you who like prayer book prayers, there is a tidy list at Mission St. Clare's: Prayers. And of course you can find the Daily Office there in both Español and English.
"Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rick Warren Addresses the new Anglican Church in North America

Love this quote from Rick Warren (at the 17:00 mark of the video,
"If God has called you to serve in a local church, as a parish priest, lay leader, or in any other capacity, or whatever, don't you ever step down to become the President of the United States or anything else for that matter."

The Birth of a New North American Anglicanism

ACNA | The Anglican Church of North America

This is a monumental week in Anglican Communion, and for that matter, in church history. For over 200 years the Episcopal Church in the US has been the only form of Anglicanism officially recognized by the Church of England and the See of Canterbury. It remains so. However, a greater portion of the Anglican Communion now recognizes the brand new Anglican Church in North America which was born this week and holds little regard for the Archbishop of Canterbury's recognition.

Check out VirtueOnline and ACNA for up to the minute news and schedules. The ACNA site also has a live video feed. You can watch: "Assembly Eucharist and Recognition of Archbishop. All are welcome to attend a festival Eucharist at Christ Church Plano. This service will include the installation and recognition of the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan as archbishop of The Anglican Church in North America."

Willow Creek's Leadership Summit for $99

In Brief: Covenanters Making News - Evangelical Covenant Church:
"CHICAGO, IL (June 17, 2009) – The Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management has arranged a special registration rate of $99 for members of the Evangelical Covenant Church to attend the Willow Creek Association’s Leadership Summit on August 6-7.

The rate is discounted more than $180. Covenanters should register online with the priority code AXELSON. The deadline is June 30.

Leadership Summit 2009 will be held at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois. Tens of thousands of leaders also will participate in 140 satellite locations across North America.

Covenant pastors Harvey Carey and David Gibbons will be among the main presenters. Other speakers include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, journalist David Gergen, Tim Keller, and Wes Stafford.

For more information and to register, click here.

The Axelson Center is part of North Park University’s School of Business and Nonprofit Management."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Church Planting Resources

CPM Training Resources

The Church Planting Movement has a plethora of free videos and PDF's related to church planting.

Monday, June 22, 2009

If Pimping Your Liturgy Isn't Enough, Serve Beer

Last Monday I posted about the Church of England going seeker sensitive to be more "entertaining" and to "appeal to a younger generation."

This week the Church of England gets more exciting: Beer, Bacon & Chocolate for Dads. No, this is not LarkNews.

Church blesses fathers with beer - Telegraph

"... the Rt Rev John Inge, the Bishop of Worcester, said that it could help churches to attract more men. He argued that the free beer was intended to be symbolic of "the generosity of God".

"Posies of flowers are given to mums on Mothering Sunday and we wanted to give a laddish, blokeish gift to the men. A bottle of beer hits the mark. The whole of life is to be celebrated in church."


'"Jesus created a lot more wine at a point in the party when some thought that there had already been enough drinking. He was all in favour of partying," the bishop said.'

Skipping Church On Sunday

Church Foregoes Sunday Service—Puts Feet to Its Faith - Evangelical Covenant Church
Here's a great story about River Ridge Covenant Church in Lacey, WA who skipped church on Sunday and sent their people out to serve the community. They earned the respect of the community and received an acclamation of honor from the city for the tangible impact made in their community.

They are also joining other churches who are skipping church on October 11 for the national Faith in Action Sunday.

My church, Catalyst Church, and our friends at Missio Church skipped church one day and served some of the refugee population of Syracuse by helping them move and clean their homes. It was a fantastic day.

I'm not exactly sure why it doesn't feel the same or get the same amount of participation when done on Saturday or other day. There's just something about skipping church to serve God in the community that is incredibly worshipful.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Free Breakfast Every Sunday ... No Strings Attached!

The Courageous Church in Atlanta does a free breakfast every Sunday. Great idea and great marketing with www.freebreakfastchurch.com.

I love churches that do the free or really cheap meal outreach. I think it is exceedingly meaningful. Certainly it does feed hungry people but recently I have been stunned by how many people are just plain lonely and they are craving human contact. Church with a meal meets physical, spiritual and relational needs.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Pastor Dino Rizzo of The Healing Place Church which is a multi-site mega church based out of Louisiana, has a book out: Servolution. I haven't read the book yet, but the supporting web site, [Healing Place Church / Servolution / Home], has some great servant evangelism materials and encouragement. The Healing Place has a live webcast on Sat & Sun.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Evangelical Covenant Church Planting Wiki

Church Planting Wiki

The Evangelical Covenant Church has created a ChurchPlantingWiki with some great information for church planters. As many of you know, the ECC are experts in church planting. It's great they are making their resources freely available.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Free Web Servers For Everyone

Brad also posted:
"Opera Unite is cutting out the middle man -- taking the next step beyond web 2.0. ~ link"
With the advent of Opera Unite, your computer can become a web server -- extremely simply. (Though this has been possible with OS X for some time and it's actually not that difficult there.) There will be lots of applications for this in church life. It just became a lot easier to for a church to share files easily and cheaply (and Lord knows how important it is to do it cheaply! oi). And it does more: it has social networking capabilities by posting things on the "Fridge" (ie. Facebook status), chat in the Lounge, host a web site on the Web Server or access your media files from the Media Server.

From what I've read it is not getting rave reviews yet but clearly it will give capabilities to churches, ministries and other non-profits that don't have the funds or technical savvy to use these web technologies. Free is good.

Just a side note: Do you see where this is going? Years ago when Apple was putting video and audio spigots on their computer for everyday users people thought they were nuts. But they saw into the future where everyone was going to want to be their own TV or Radio station. Eventually we are heading toward everyone being their own full fledged media company, producing TV, radio, web and print, collaborating with others and with everyone having access to it wherever they want however they want to receive it. A completely wireless decentralization of digital data.

Important Reading

Beloved and brilliant friend Brad Boydston: Random linked to some important articles today on his blog.

Firstly, he linked to a missiologist's article on the importance and hierarchy of trust.
"Richard Lewis' latest lessonn on cross-cultural interaction -- "Hierarchy of Trust" ~ link"
Missiologists think about trust. Imagine moving to a foreign land to begin a ministry to bring the Gospel to people of a different culture. You ask questions like "How do I relate to these people?", "How do I speak their language so they understand the Gospel?", "How do I present it in such a way they believe it?", or "How do I get them to trust me?", etc. You must understand their culture.

I'm guessing, North American ministers think about this less and perhaps, do not overtly ask the question, "How do I get them to trust me?" But it's an important question whether you are a church planter or a going to serve an established church. Do they trust you? How is trust built? Who do they trust?

Lewis' article elaborates on the theory of everyone having a hierarchy of trust, which essentially says that we all have a implicit or explicit ranking of sources of data in terms of trust. We have them individually and culturally. Lewis says, "All cultures have a hierarchy of trust, it’s just manifested in different forms. The key to building trust is to understand the trust structure."

Again, you can think about macro-cultures of North America or the USA but also sub marco-cultures of the northeastern US or NY State, or break it down further and think about Upstate NY or specifically Central New York or even more focused the culture of Liverpool as opposed to Syracuse or Lyncourt. What are their trust structures?

Here's a small example of the importance of understanding people's trust structures. I'm part of a church plant that meets in Syracuse city high school but I live in and am a product of suburban Liverpool. As an over generalization, people in the suburbs only go to the city of Syracuse to go to the Dome, the War Memorial, the OnCenter, one of the hospitals and perhaps the zoo or Armory Square. With few exceptions that's it. People of the suburbs generally don't trust the city as a safe place particularly a city high school. The chances of my church reaching into the suburbs is minimal because of trust issues.

Missional leaders need to understand issues of trust in their context.

De-Baptism - Prison Fellowship

De-Baptism - Prison Fellowship Chuck Colson comments on the 100,000+ people in the UK who have downloaded certificates of "de-baptism". From the National Secular Society: “Liberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had.”

Colson says, "The sad truth is that every time we think mankind has liberated itself from the dusty old notions of sin and evil, we discover how disastrously wrong we were."

Working With Gen Y

'Not Everyone Gets a Trophy' describes working with Generation Y employees - The Boston Globe

Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y by Bruce Tulgan

A new book out gives anecdotes and suggestions for mangers and businesses dealing with high maintenance Gen Y employees. Essentially, you have to parent them. Sounds like this could be a good read for those attempting to create church ministries to reach this generation and deal with them as staff members. According to the article, Gen Y would be between ages 19-31.

I, of course, am the leading edge of the ever dysfunctional, slacker generation: Generation X. If Gen Y is more difficult to deal with than we are, Lord have mercy on us all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why are young people leaving the church?

I saw a convergence of news stories this week. WorldNetDaily reported on Ken Ham from Answer in Genesis, who commissioned a study about young people leaving the church and the subsequent publications as a result of the study: WorldNetDaily: Why are young people leaving the church? And David Virtue noted: The Southern Baptist Convention is Finally 'Throwing in the Towel' on Government Schools.

While it used to be thought that college was negatively influencing many young people's faith because of it's liberal bias and anti-Christian positions, many are now perceiving those same influences coming from high school and junior high. And our students are leaving the church as the church fails to provide adequate faith formation experiences and information to counter the influences from elsewhere. Of course, Ken Ham wants to link it specifically to what churches teach on Genesis and creation.

Regardless of the reasons, there does appear to be a growing alarm about people are leaving the church.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


This morning I finished reading Never Silent: How Third World Missionaries Are Now Bringing the Gospel to the US by the Rt. Rev'd. Bishop Thad Barnum of the Anglican Mission in America. I'm stunned and wrecked by this book, pondering deeply my future in ministry.

The book details the events that unfolded for one of the poorest countries in the world, Rwanda, to have their Anglican Church stand up to one of the richest churches in the world, The Episcopal Church in the US, and begin a reformation within worldwide Anglicanism.

Anyone who reads of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and lack of the world's nations response is staggered. In a nation of 7.5 million people, nearly 800,000 murdered, mostly by machete, in about 100 days time. Many of those participating in the slaughter were church goers.

As the world was largely silent and ignoring the slaughter, the Rwandans learned the importance of never being silent in the face of sin and never ignoring the cries for help by those being persecuted.

As orthodox Anglicans were being marginalized in the US, God raised up these humble, courageous Rwandans to respond. Not only did they create a safe haven for persecuted Anglicans, they have subsequently created a mission movement, the Anglican Mission in America, that is planting a new church every three weeks.

This book is not just for those interested in the story of the formation of the Anglican Mission in America and how Africans and Asians are sending missionaries to the US. Never Silent challenges every Christian to stand for Christ and to be willing to suffer and face great adversity for the sake of the Gospel. I cannot encourage you strongly enough to read this book.

Big Vision Church Planting Conference

Looks like an exciting church planting conference upcoming: Big Vision Church Planting Conference. Many of the presenters are from my tribe, the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Monday, June 15, 2009

So You're Looking to Pimp Your Liturgy? So is the C of E.

Church of England attempts to broaden appeal with songs by U2 and prayers for Google - Telegraph

The Church of England is becoming seeker sensitive.

In a seeming attempt to modernize their liturgy, make it more relevant and "appeal to a younger generation", the Church of England is toying with some seriously, way outside the box ideas. Prayers for major corporation CEO's by name, using YouTube videos, prayer stations and a blending of modern technology with ancient prayers.

They still don't get it. Running television commercials and making their liturgy more "exciting" or "entertaining" really won't grow their church or stem the hemorrhaging of parishioners.

While this is a bit of a sweeping generalization: Evangelical churches grow while churches that have abandoned the centrality of the Bible and salvation through Jesus Christ don't. It's not because one is better at marketing or more entertaining. It's not because they have a better plan or strategy. It's because they offer a true hope of a new life -- a life transformed -- through the power of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Hemmoraging Continues

David Virtue Reports: "Death is catching up on the aging denomination. The Episcopal Church is experiencing 19,000 more deaths than births per year, which roughly equals the loss of a diocese annually with Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) now hovering at about 700,000."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Hymnody Has Vanished From My Life

There are days I miss singing some of the obscure Swedish hymns out of the Covenant Hymnal or some of the old delightful hymns by Charles Wesley. I don't wish to sing them every week in worship or even once a month. But at random times I miss them and I have no place to go to enjoy them. I can't even find recordings of them that are worshipful. Hymns have vanished from my world. Completely vanished.

Here's one I sing to Jacqui. Oddly enough, I can sing the first line in Swedish, which is also the name of the tune: Trygarre kan ingen vara.

Children of the Heavenly Father
Lina Sandell
(Listen to midi here)

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.

My favorite hymn of all time is #423 in the red Covenant Hymnal: O Let Your Soul Be Filled With Gladness (listen to midi here).

O Let Your Soul now be Filled with Gladness
Words by Peter Aschan

O let your soul now be filled with gladness,
Your heart redeemed, rejoice indeed!
O may the thought banish all your sadness,
That in His blood you have been freed,
That God's unfailing love is yours,
That you the only Son were given,
That by His death He has opened heaven,
That you are ransomed as you are.

If you seem empty of any feeling,
Rejoice, you are His ransomed bride!
If those you cherish seem not to love you,
And dark assails from every side;
Still yours the promise, come what may,
In loss and triumph, in laughter, crying;
In want and riches, in living dying,
That you are purchased as you are.

It is a good, every good transcending,
That Christ has died for you and me!
It is a gladness that has no ending
There in God's wondrous love to see!
Praise be to Him the spotless Lamb,
Who through the desert my soul is leading
To that fair city of joy exceeding,
For which He bought me as I am!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Irish Book of Common Prayer 2004 & Church of Ireland growth explosion

Book of Common Prayer 2004 - Church of Ireland

According to David Virtue, the Anglican Church of Ireland has grown 50% in the last decade and a half and much of the growth has come from Catholic converts.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

So You Always Wanted To Play A Shofar?

Shofar Hero

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Ordination of R-J Heijmen, St. Paul's Anglican Church, Manhattan, NY

St. Paul's Church is a new Anglican church plant located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that will be officially launching in September 2009. I had the privilege to attend the Ordination Eucharist of their clergyman, R-J Heijmen, who was ordained as a Transitional Deacon this evening. It is an AMiA Church. Very exciting. Hope you can attend.

R-J blogs at The Mockingbird Blog

Online Bible Study Tools

Blue Letter Bible - Home Page

I'm sitting in a lecture with Dr. Sean McDonough from Gordon-Conwell Seminary and wishing I had my Greek-NASB-NIV Interlinear Bible. Fortunately this retreat center has WiFi and I found this site: Blue Letter Bible. It has the ability to compare multiple translations including original languages + the Latin Vulgate and LXX for you serious scholars out there. ¡Incluso tiene la Reina-Valera!

There appears to be more tools but I haven't explored them yet.

Monday, June 01, 2009

5 Years

I was hoping to have the Land of the Ultra Rev pimped out for today because today is my five year anniversary for blogging. Thanks for reading. Leave a comment. Tell me what you like and what you don't. Comment about anything. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading.

PEACE -- sme