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Location: Liverpool, NY

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This Is Very Exciting ...

Jason Condon: New Gig! Associate Superintendent for East Coast Conference of ECC

Friday, June 25, 2010

I'm just saying ....

"Everyone is worth finding." ~ Kevin Dedmon ... That includes YOU

Friday, June 18, 2010

Married Priests in the Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, NY is getting a new priest — a married one: Scott Caton. That's pretty unusual. If this becomes a major trend in the Church, it could lead to significant shift in the health of the organization. The Catholic Church in CNY is seen as a dying organization because of it's recent need to close and restructure parishes and it's lack of priests. Here in CNY where the average age of a priest is 70+ and the need for new priests is at a crisis level, if there were an influx of priests who were married and of the caliber of Scott Caton there would be genuine excitement — dare I say revival.

Dr. Scott Caton Caton is Professor of History at Roberts Wesleyan College, as well as Professor of History and Culture at Northeastern Seminary. And, from the times I have interacted with him, he is a delightful soul.

Diocese of Rochester.org: Scott Caton

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Self Help, Sleep & the Church

Don't sleep longer – sleep smarter - Features, Health and Families - The Independent

More and more I am convinced that people need to be seen and ministered to holistically by the church, meaning we ought not just be concerned with the salvation of souls and getting people to pray and read the Bible more. Their ability to be a disciple, i.e. pray, read and understand Scripture, minister to others, serve, etc., is inherently tied up with their physiology.

For example, lack of sleep or lack of good sleep creates a multitude of problems for the disciple: compromised immune system, paranoia, depression, decreased ability to concentrate and communicate, and an increased risk of having a host of serious illnesses including heart disease and diabetes. All of those effect or hinder a person's ability to follow Christ. What about the person who comes with a sense of frustration and guilt over their inability to pray? Maybe it's not just a spiritual issue but is also affected by their inability to concentrate because of sleeplessness.

Most churches can't afford to become medical experts.  But they can support good sleep, nutrition, mental health, etc. I continue to read self-help sites (see the left column on this blog) to address my own issues more holistically. Some of the sites come with their own philosophical/religious agenda, which creates the need to filter some of the information but I find them very useful.

(This just has me wondering ... In light of the current flux in the health care industry, I wonder if there will come a day when churches band together to hire their own parish doctors / medical staff.)

See also:
Trouble sleeping? Maybe it's your iPad - CNN.com

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Self Help & Interesting Relgious Culture in the News

See how U.S. religious landscape has changed in nearly 2 decades - USATODAY.com — The velocity of the seismic shifts we are seeing away from church attendance and adherence are increasing. Just more data.

VirtueOnline - Cohabitation: A Sensible Step Or a Destructive One? — The evidence continues to mount that cohabitation is destructive.

Parchment and Pen - “Christianity is Dependant on Your Character Witness” . . . And Other Stupid Statements — Interesting discussion about the character of a Christian and it's validation or non-validation of the Christian faith.

Steve Jobs Explains His World at All Things D - Tech Talk - CBS News — Who knew? Jobs says he started work on the iPad first.

Theater Review - 'Get Mad at Sin!' - Andrew Dinwiddie as Jimmy Swaggart at the Chocolate Factory - NYTimes.com — I dunno, but it just seems weird that a theatrical play would be done of Jimmy Swaggart, especially with attempts to be authentic and not buffoon him.

Teacher fired for premarital sex - TODAY People — A widowed Christian teacher is fired for conceiving a child six weeks before her wedding. I too think it's important to have standards for our teachers to live up to. But what about grace? Certainly they have now created a culture where it's important to not be honest about your sins because you'll be punished and fired.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Another CNY Church Plant

While having coffee today with Scott, one of the other regulars mentioned a church that was going into Three Rivers Plaza in Phoenix, NY — the very place that Scott and I were there to talk about planting a church. Apparently a new church called The Bridge, that is also part of a larger church movement and swims in the prophetic stream, will be coming to Phoenix.

The Bridge Syracuse NY - Liverpool, NY

The Continued Erosion of Cessationism & Treasure Hunts

A friend pointed me to an online video, "The Finger of God" by Darren Wilson. It's done in a documentary style to examine outlandish claims around the globe about signs and wonders — people receiving gold teeth, healings, treasure hunts, etc.

I think we are beginning to see the end of the doctrine of cessationism, which is the belief that miracles, signs and wonders, and God speaking ended at the close of the canon of Scripture. In other words, God stopped speaking after we had the complete Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

However, I continue to see people who were former cessationists, either in formal belief or practice, that are discovering the Holy Spirit is still communicating. It appears as a growing trend. Not only is the old divide between charismatics and non-charismatics gone, there appears to be a growing trend toward people receiving revelation from God.

One term I keep hearing about is "treasure hunts". It's the practice of believers praying together for revelation from the Holy Spirit as to who to talk to and what to talk to them about. Imagine your youth group gathering at church, praying for revelation and someone has a revelation of a person dressed in pink at the mall with a sore back. The group goes to the mall, finds the person God spoke to them about, and prays for that person's healing. The person is healed and then they share the Gospel with them and they become Christians too. That's the idea behind a treasure hunt.

Here are the Finger of God videos:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Still ...

I have climbed highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you
I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like a fire
This burning desire

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
But yes I'm still running

You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Oh my shame
You know I believe it

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Preaching at St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Syracuse .... again!

Fr. Bob Hackendorf just called and will be out of town on a family emergency, so I will again be preaching at St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Syracuse this week. I thoroughly enjoy the people there and am grateful for the opportunity to serve them.

So it's only 4 pm. Do I pull one out of the file or start from scratch with the lectionary?

Diet Coke & Evangelicalism

Reclaiming the Mission — The Caffeine Free Diet Coke: A Metaphor for Evangelicalism in our Day?

Fascinating post by David Fitch which includes some history about the drink we know as Diet Coke from another source.  He tells of it's original intent as a tonic and how it developed into a popular drink devoid of anything resembling it's origins.  Then he compares it to evangelicalism.

Fitch appears to want to reform evangelicalism. I'm thinking about it yet wondering if there are better options.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Exciting New Church near Fort Drum

Newzjunky - New Church Proposed for Pamelia

A great Newzjunky article about Life Church of the Nazarene in Watertown and their plans to expand their ministry on Rt. 342 out near Ft. Drum. The article leaves out one important point (understandably so) that the original vision for a campus out there lies with their former pastor Greg Gates, who was a much better leader than he was given credit for. Great to see Life Church building on the foundation Greg left them and exciting to see their Kingdom influence expanding.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Why Church Planting? Answer: Least Evangelical U.S. Metro Areas

Least Evangelical U.S. Metro Areas

By now many of you have heard about or seen JD Payne's compilation of 2000 data regarding evangelicals. I recognize the data is 10 years old but it's still stunning. In his post he mentions that new data is being researched this year.

He lists the top 30 metro areas with least percentage of evangelicals. Of particular interest to me is to see so many Empire State cities: #6 New York (and surrrounding area), #11 Albany and the tri-city area, #15 Glens Falls (a very small city, definitely not urban), #17 Utica-Rome, #19 Syracuse, #24 Rochester and #25 Binghamton.

Many here still think of the area as heavily churched, or in decline but no worse than anyone else. I hear all the time, "There's a church on every corner. Why do we need new churches?"  What they need to realize is that the canary in the mine died years ago when our "vibrant" churches were busy having worship wars, bickering about charismatic issues and swapping church members.

This data is from 2000. It didn't happen in 2000. It began decades earlier. So if you were a church leader in the 1980's-90's (probably earlier), the fruit of your labor, or inattentiveness, resulted in 3.7% evangelical population, which is about 5300 people out of a population of 142,000.

Upstate New York is so desperate for new healthy churches right now. Thank God for courageous leaders like J-Stinz, Mazz and others who are attempting to stem the tide. What we don't need is missionaries from the south who don't connect with the culture. What we do need is for the Christians and church leaders of upstate NY to recognize the urgency of the situation. On second thought, maybe we do need leaders from the south — the global south.

We need the churches of our communities to critically and extensively examine their effectiveness for ministry and retool themselves. We don't need to ask whether what we are doing is working or not. Apparently, it's not. That is self evident from the data.

We need many of the churches and denominations in our area to plant new churches — NOW. If not you, then who and if not now, then when?

Here is the list, taken without permission from JD Payne's blog. (Thank you Dr. Payne for making this information available.) Go visit his site for more information to download.

U. S. Metro Area

Total Evangelical Percentage

Evangelical Church to Population Ratio

Provo-Orem, Utah 0.6% 1:18,427
Pittsfield, Massachusetts 1.5% 1:9640
Barnstable-Yarmouth, Massachusetts 1.5% 1:8889
Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket, Rhode Island 1.7% 1:8230
Springfield, Massachusetts 1.9% 1:9814
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT-PA 2.3% 1:8517
Salt Lake City-Ogden, Utah 2.3% 1:9808
Boston-Worcester-Lawrence-Lowell-Brockton, Massachusetts 2.5% 1:7786
New London-Norwich, Connecticut 2.5% 1:6477
Hartford, Connecticut 2.7% 1:7557
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York 2.7% 1:5837
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pennsylvania 2.8% 1:6577
Burlington, Vermont 2.9% 1:6630
Dubuque, Iowa 3.1% 1:6857
Glens Falls, New York 3.1% 1:4288
Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazelton, Pennsylvania 3.1% 1:4733
Utica-Rome, New York 3.4% 1:4837
Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, PA-NJ-DE 3.6% 1:5704
Syracuse, New York 3.7% 1:5049
Bangor, Maine 3.8% 1:3535
Portland, Maine 3.8% 1:4580
Laredo, Texas 3.9% 1:4598
Reading, Pennsylvania 4% 1:4018
Rochester, New York 4.1% 1:5084
Binghamton, New York 4.4% 1:3504
Reno, Nevada 4.6% 1:4715
Salinas, California 4.7% 1:3686
Lewiston-Auburn, Maine 5% 1:4152
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 5% 1:3978