Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

A great story…

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

I shared this video during my sermon this past weekend. Since I was preaching Sunday morning as well, I got to watch the video four times. Still amazing. If you’re interested in the sermon, check out our Saturday Night Podcast.

Holy Moments

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Yesterday I officiated at my third funeral. I’ve had the opportunity to preach several hundred times in my six years of ministry, but I’ve not done that many funerals. The task intimidates me more than most of the things I do in my job. You certainly want to make sure you get everyone’s name right. You want to appropriately represent the life of the person who has passed away, and of course, you want to express a word of hope and grace to the family and friends who have gathered to honor the life of the deceased. It’s not an easy task.

I guess I shouldn’t say I enjoy doing funerals… but I did realize yesterday what an incredible honor it is to fill that role for a family. It’s an honor to speak to someone’s life. It’s an honor to be invited into the grief and sadness of a family. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to speak words of grace and hope into that place of brokenness and loss. It’s a tender moment. It’s a holy moment, and I do feel honored to participate in it.

What was most evident to me yesterday was how important funerals are to the life and ministry of the church. Maybe it is because I now have a more clearly defined “pastoral” role in the church, but I felt a wonderful sense of affirmation yesterday as I was leaving the graveside that what I had just done was extremely important to the church of Jesus Christ. That was a holy moment for me as well.

Are you buying it?

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Seth Godin is one of my favorite bloggers for two reasons.

  1. He always has something great to share.
  2. The thoughts that he shares are applicable in almost any working environment.

If you haven’t seen his latest post about responsibility, take some time to check that out. If you are a church leader, I think It’s a great word to share with your team of leaders or just to read yourself and consider whether your community is “buying what you are selling.” I think it would be a great lead-in to pondering some questions like…

What are the things that we believe in and want to communicate to our community?

In what ways are we responsibly nurturing and growing our congregation for long term health?

In what ways might we be compromising long term health in order to address short term issues?

What are our ethical and moral responsibilities are leaders of our community?

Are we buying what we’re selling?

Or if you are looking for something different, check out his post on the importance of vibe. I think we are going to take his advice and recruit some leaders for our Saturday night service to focus strictly on this.

A life free from conflict…

Friday, June 8th, 2007

Conflict is inevitable because leadership means change, and change provokes resistance. If you are looking for a life free from conflict, make sure you don’t become a leader or a preacher. (19)

The above quote is from a great book I am reading, 360-Degree Leadership: Preaching to transform congregations, by Michael J. Quicke. I’ll post more about it later, but it’s basic thesis is the role of leading and the role of preaching cannot be divorced. Quicke gives critique to the modern day fascination (both inside the church and in the business world) with “leadership” that he believes has not only devalued the role of preaching but has also separated this function from the critical role in plays in the work of a leader. Another quote illustrates this.

Instead of claiming that leadership is supremely important and that preaching supports it, let’s assert that preaching is supremely important and leadership flows out of it. (55)

So far, great read. I highly recommend it.

I need to tell a story…

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

For almost two months, I haven’t had much to say. I’ve been pretty quiet here on the blog and it’s taken me some time to process why that it is. Earlier this week, I felt like I was gaining some clarity on the answer to that question. I was beginning to realize that the transition in my role at the church was a significant contributing factor to my silence. I am slowly getting used to the idea of “speaking” from a different perspective and yet I realize that this new location in some ways requires me to communicate differently. I guess the best way to describe that is that I feel a heightened sense of responsibility for my words. Perhaps I should have felt that all along, but I certainly feel it now as I move into a more defined pastoral role in the life of our church community.

I’ve said this before, but I continue to believe that as you develop in the role of teacher/preacher, you spend a great deal of energy trying to get people to listen to you and it is only after you realize that people are taking you seriously that the fear sets in and you realize, “these people are actually depending upon me to say something. I better not screw this up.” It seems that in my first six years of ministry, I’ve been back and forth on that pendulum which swings between boastful pride and utter humility.

Tonight, we had some wonderful friends over for dinner. One couple we have known for quite some time, and they were instrumental in starting Mosaic. The other couple who joined us for dinner were invited to Mosaic by the first couple so we’ve only known them for a short time, but I have really enjoyed getting to know them. I really enjoyed tonight. We had some great conversation… one of those conversations that you can spend hours participating in and yet you feel like you’ve only been talking for 10 minutes… you know what I mean…

I was asking the husband questions about his job (I don’t know why, but I am always fascinated by what people do all day!) and he shared an incredible response with me that has encouraged me to write tonight. As he was sharing about his work and some of the stuff that he does, he said, “I don’t quite understand it but I find myself needing to tell a story. I’m not sure what that story is, but I know that I need to tell it.” I’ve been mulling over those two sentences all night. I really feel like I needed to hear that tonight.

Like my friend, I feel the need to tell a story. Further, as a follower of Jesus, I understand that to be one of the primary functions of my life… but the process gets fuzzy when I am reminded of the fact that the process of retelling is also a process of reliving. It is not enough to tell the story. We are invited to “live in” and “embody” a particular story. That’s where the work gets hard, and it’s also the point where the fear begins to rise because we are now aware that people are listening and watching. And the reason that they are listening and watching isn’t to fulfill some exhibitionist fantasy. The reason that they are watching is because they are desperate to believe that there is more to the story… and that perhaps the expectation and excitement that the story has produced in their life might have a chance to actually be realized.

In the words of a friend, I heard my call to speak again tonight… I heard my call to write and to journal and to pray and to wrestle and to read and to reflect and to share… because I too have a story to share… and I too have a story to live.

And so do you…

Constraints and Creativity

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Our staff read The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All last fall together. It’s the story written from the perspective of someone who gets a behind the scenes look at the entire production process of Cirque du Soleil. It’s really an interesting book for someone looking for some thoughts on creativity. One of the most surprising ideas that I found in the book was the relationship between creativity and constraints. I had always assumed that creativity thrived when no rules were in place and you were absolutely free to go wherever you wanted. The production team of Cirque du Soleil couldn’t disagree more. Repeatedly throughout the book they talked about how the presence of constraints fueled their creatiivity. In one section, the author talks about his surprise as he listened to one of the directors talk about budgets and deadlines.

“Budgets and deadlines?” I joked. “I didn’t think any of the normal rules applied here – including gravity!”

“Oh we’ve got budgets and deadlines, all right,” she said. ‘Without them I don’t think we’d be half as creative as we are. They force us to come up with solutions we’d never think of otherwise. Constraints on time, money, and resources can be incredible motivators! Some of our most inspired ideas have arisen from the most Spartan situations.”

I was reminded of that principle today while reading an article in Business Week entitled, “Creativity Loves Constraints.” You can access the article here, and after you read it, ask yourself the question: How are you using and/or creating constraints in your system in order to fuel your creativity?

*Quote from Spark, 28.

What about Hell?

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Given that I have actually had several conversations with students and others about this particular topic, I found this post interesting from the Leadership Journal blog. The story below is an excerpt.

It was a busy day in heaven as folks waited in line at the pearly gates. Peter stood as gatekeeper checking each newcomer’s name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But there was some confusion, as the numbers were not adding up. Heaven was a little overcrowded, and a bunch of folks were unaccounted for. So some of the angels were sent on a mission to investigate things. And it was not long before two of them returned, “We found the problem,” they said. “Jesus is out back, lifting people up over the gate.”

Amen to that. Here is a link to the author’s church. I love what they say about their mission.

Our Mission is:

“To Love God. To Love people. To Follow Jesus.”

We’re giving that our best shot.

Study Leave

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

I leave tomorrow for two days of study leave. I hope to plan out a great deal for the winter and spring seasons, but more than anything, I am looking forward to a break from the normal flow of life. I turned in a 23 page paper today that finally brought to a close the worst class I have taken in seminary. It’s a great burden that has been lifted, but I’m so run down right now, I haven’t yet felt the relief. Hopefully a few days of retreat will bring some refreshment.

I may now officially be old

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

2-1Last night while trying to fight through some sermon block, I was shuffling around the iTunes store trying to find some music to inspire. I don’t understand how you can have 18 gigs of music and still feel like you keep hearing the same thing over and over again, but that seems to be the case for me right now. Anyways, I was looking to branch out a little bit and I came across a name that I recognized… Yo-Yo Ma. The only reason I recognized him is because he was prominently featured in several West Wing episodes during some of the earlier seasons of the show including one of my favorites which deals with Josh’s (Bradley Witford for any Studio 60 fans) recovery & post-traumatic stress from being severely wounded in an assasination attempt on the President… But I digress…

So I take a quick 30 second listen to some of his stuff, and it is amazing. It is heart-wrenching, inspiring, hope-filled music that makes you want to cry, sleep, and run 10 miles in the snow all at the same time. Sermon block has been officially cured… I just hope the message is half as inspiring as I felt while writing it. Maybe I’ll preach tonight with Yo-Yo Ma in the background… That’s emergent, right?

So to quote Donna from the West Wing, “Yo-Yo Ma rules!” Check him out on iTunes, listen to some great classical music, and come be an old man with me.

The Christmas Spirit…

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Christmas-Header-4

I have to confess that I have caught a pretty healthy wave of Christmas spirit this season. I actually spent a little time today at the office finding some Christmas music. I have always liked Christmas, but there are several things that seem to make this year feel a bit different for me.

First, I have been super busy for many months… Since about the beginning of August, and the Christmas season will actually give me some time away from work. I’m looking forward to that. Second, I have a little girl whose almost three. It’s really cool to hear her talk about what she wants for Christmas and ask to turn the Christmas tree on because it “makes her happy.”

But a third reason (of the ones I can come up with off the top of my head) is that for the worship gathering I lead on Saturday night’s called Mosaic, we are trying to be fairly intentional about recognizing, celebrating and experiencing the full Advent season. We’ve even got an advent wreath that we will continue to light and share some liturgy around that moment. Along with that, I am preaching (for the first time) a series of Advent messages. This week we’re looking at the birth of John the Baptist and Zecheriah’s prophetic words that he shares over his son in Luke 1:67-72.

It’s really enhanced the season for me, and for that I’m grateful. I hope it enhances the season for others as well.

It also helps that I have an incredible team of people I get the blessing to work with everyday. To see how much fun we have, take a look at our Christmas card above.

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