Thursday, December 27, 2007

Church Innovations

I have this hunch that there are some really creative and innovative things that churches are doing in this world of ours. I would like to get your participation in answering the following question:

What innovative things are churches or ministries doing?

By innovative I do not mean that the innovation has to be something necessarily new, but rather something that might be challenging or risky or require creativity. What I am looking for is outside the box efforts that might be experimental or unconventional. For example, using the church building for a junior high lock-in will fall into the not innovative category. However, using the church building as a service center for the growing population of immigrant workers in the community would be an innovative use of the building.

If it helps, below is a framework for thinking. Use it or don't. But please share as much as you know about the church or ministry you find innovative. Also, if it is appropriate (usually it will be), please provide a url or link to the church or ministry if you have it.

1. Innovative use of church facilities.

2. Innovative service in local community (within 2 miles of the central location of the building).

3. Innovative use of budget or capital campaign (ie not to build more structures for member use).

4. Innovative local cross-cultural outreach.

5. Innovative use of volunteers (not teaching Bible class or VBS).

6. Innovative work or ministry fighting poverty.

7. Innovative ministry collaborations across denominational lines.

8. Innovative staffing.

9. Innovative use of worship arts (praise team and powerpoints is not innovative. Themed art gallery of work by church members or local artists is innovative).

10. Innovative ways of telling the story of Jesus (in any context) outside of traditional use of sermons.

Finally, I would love for you to copy this post and post this to your blog (if you're feeling generous and interested in the topic). It would be really cool to share and learn from each other.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christian Servants

We had a wonderful Christmas breakfast loaded with made to order everything. It was fabulous. Afterwards, all four of us shared clean up duties.

As she was carrying her plate to the kitchen, my 9 year old daughter said, "Sometimes I wish that we had servants." Clearly this was the low point of her Christmas breakfast.

I felt the need to respond to her comment in a teachable moment kind of way. I told her that Jesus was a servant and so serving is being kind of like Jesus.

"Well," she said without missing a beat, "then we need to make sure we have Christian servants."

Clearly she had a teachable moment of her own that she felt the need to impose upon me.

Christians Need Christmas

Garrison Keillor says, in his usual satire and critique, that Christmas is that special time of the year when Christians around the world do good things in order to make up for all of the cruelties they have done throughout hisotry in the name of God.

Christians need Christmas. It is a reminder of the kinds if risks God takes in order to love the people he has created. To entrust himself as a baby to the people who he created is insane - and perfect. To place oneself at risk for the sake of love is beautiful and crazy at the same time. Christians need this Christmas reminder to take risks for the sake of love.

Jesus entered the world vulnerable and found a way to remain vulnerable. He exercised power by being innocent, but wise. He could see the religious and political power structures for what they were and did not allow them to make decisions for him. Rather, he allowed those systems to assist him in his plan - which in no way fit the religious and political agendas of the day.

Why can't Christianity treat religion and politics like Jesus did?

Why can't it be Christmas all year round?

Mike Huckabee

Click here to see me and my good friend Mike Huckabee. We go way back.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007


We had a very cold, windy, snow storm here in Minnesota today. It looked kind of like this picture. Nothing is colder than blowing snow. Today was a hunker down and watch football Sunday.

However, we didn't just hunker down as we attended church this morning with my mother and afterward had brunch at Cracker Barrel. It was a wodnerful time as we were toasty warm enjoying the only good restaurant bacon in the world, french toast, and hash brown casarole.

We had to take I-35 to get home. Snow blew with an angry howl as legions of white snow snakes speedily slithered over the highway. There were plenty of people on the highway. Driving under the speed limit was not only the smart thing to do, but teh only sane thing to do.

I was driving the minivan (without the Peyton Manning fire decal) with half a dozen of us talking about Christmas when a dreadful and disturbing sound from behind us got all of our attention. I looked in my rearview mirror and things couldn't have been closer than they appeared because the out-of-control SUV filled my entire rear view mirror. The unpredictably spinning SUV was so close as it passed behind us that everyone in the van besides me thought that the SUV clipped my rear bumper.

Off into the ditch went to the SUV. We kept on for about a tenth of a mile before pulling off. In one minute, yes, one minute, there was a state trooper on sight and a guy with a huge truck with a chain pulling this crazy SUV out of the ditch.

We checked the rear bumper and found no indication that we were hit. We assessed that the state trooper and the dude with the truck and chain had the situation under control, so we drove on, slowly.

We missed getting into a potentially deadly situation by a measure of inches. My whole life was in that van today. Were I to lose my wife, children, mother and sister then I lose most of me.

I am so grateful for being missed. I am grateful no one was injured as well.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Used to have to pay for this stuff

My favorite e-mag is now completely free.

New Wineskins began as a print magazine back in the early 1990's as an effort to make a difference in a Christian fellowship called Churches of Christ.

It transitioned to an e-mag a few years back as an effort to keep technologically current (and save some trees). But it was still fee based.

Now, New Winesins is free.

This magazine has interviewed some of the leading emerging church personalities, provided excellent, high-quality, thought-provoking writing, and highlights some terrific resources.

If you are not familiar with New Wineskins and are interested in what is emerging in Christian faith, then go and check it out.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Thanks, Dan. We'll miss you.

I am saddened to hear that Dan Fogelberg died today. I am not surprised as he was fightng prostate cancer. But I am saddened.

Leader of the Band was a huge song for me as a kid as it found that empty father-son place in my heart and gave me hope, a vision. I still listen to it about every 6 months or so.

I have great memories of listening to Fogelberg one summer as I spent a week in my favorite place in the world, Duluth, Minnesota. I was in college and stayed at a friends' house who were out of town. I was single and longing to find a girl who would soothe my heart, spend time with me, want to be with me. Looking for a Lady spoke to me and reminded me that I am not alone in feeling alone. Souvenirs helped me to know how valuable it is to remember, to save things, and to cry. There's a Place in the World for a Gambler helped me know that love is a risk and that risk is worth it.

When I graduated from college at 22 years old, I felt lost as could be. Wandering Shepherd played on a bootlegged cassette as I drove my 1975 Buick Century to no where specific in Searcy, Arkansas and wept the loss of a college life that had brought me so much fun; I wept for a future that was completely unknown.

More recently, I have relied on Nether Lands to remind me that life is this gift that must be lived, a life void of worship is a life void of appreciation of the wonders of this place in which we live.

Oh, there are many other Fogelberg songs which have connected with me, mentored me, and held me when I was alone, but I will stop here.

Dan, thanks for your trail of gifts. I have picked up so many of them and kept them close. You will be missed.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I would like to conduct a non scientific blog survey. Please answer the following questions as best as you can.

1. What is feminism?

2. What do you believe about feminism?

If I get anyone engaging with this survey, I will disclose why I am asking such questions and I will give my answers.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Meteoric Defiance

Dark night and blackened sky;
Where solar absence cools;
A haunt sets in the souls of men,
And turns them into fools;
Lightline of protest, divide murky ink;
Blaze where these fools grope!
Burn, with defiance, a momentary streak
of Unignorable Hope.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Still Thinking?

Well, we have had one response to the challenge of what you would do with a 5 million dollar, three year capital campaign in your church.

While you're thinking about it, add this to the mix. What do you think the leaders (elders, ministers, deacons, whoever) would do with it?

What do you think a collection of the 10 most influential women in your church would do with it?
What do you think that your youth group would do with it?

What do you think that your unchurched neighbors would suggest that the church do with it?

I am so curious what you are thinking about this one.

I am the King Maker

Shortly after I left Arkansas back in the ealry 1990's, former Governor Bill Clinton became president of the United States of America. I moved to Texas.

Shortly after I moved from Texas, former governor George W. Bush became president of the United States of America. I moved to Minnesota.

I lived there only two years and not during an election cycle. I moved to Arkansas.

Shortly after I moved from Arkansas, Mike Huckabee ran for president and began a pre-caucus/primary surge. Mike Hucakabee will be our next president whether you like it or not. Hey, I am not promoting him or trying to make this happen. I just know that this is how presidents are elected.

From what I can tell, presidents are elected not based on policy, personality, or political prowess. No, presidents become preseident because I leave the state they once governed.

To put it another way, when I live somewhere, the governors from the state I am leaving like me so much that when I leave their states, they still want to govern me. Since they can't just become governor of the next state I move to , they decide that the only thing they can do is to become president.

Thus, Mike Huckabee will be the next president of the United States of America.

Oh, about that stint in Minnesota when it was during an off year election cycle. Be very, very glad about that. The governor of Minnesota at the time was Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Had I moved closer to an election year, he would have been president.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Today's Assignment

OK, your church has just decided that it will launch an ambitious captial campaign. The goal is to raise 5 million dollars over a three year period. The church leadership has asked you to devise a plan for the best use of the money.

Here are the parameters they have given you:

1. The money cannot be used to build a new church building, build or rent any structure for the church use (No super cool teen center), or remodel the existing building.

2. The money cannot be used for foreign or North American missionaries (in other words, all money must be spent locally)

3. The money cannot be used to fund an existing non-profit or ministry (in other words, start something).

4. The end result must be an enduring impact on the local community (within 20 miles of the local of your building, if you have a building).

5. The money cannot staff more than three full time people, of which one must be an administrative assistant.

6. The plan must be structured such that without the volunteerism from at least 10% of the members of your congregation, the plan would fail.

That's it. I can't wait to hear your plan.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Escape From Babel

What if church buildings and denominations were diametrically opposed to God's dream for the world?

What if the hundreds of billions of dollars of financial resources, time, and energy spent on buildings were supposed to go to the poor?

What if the endless emotional and intellectual energy it takes to create and defend the doctrines which define denominations were meant to be spent comforting and healing the broken and grieved?

What would happen if we learned that it was absolutely impossible to please God while using money on buildings and intellect and emotions on that which divides?

What would we do?
What would you do?

How will we ever escape from Babel?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Karon Goodman

Over on my Smart Stepfamilies Blog is an interview with author Karon Goodman. Go over ther and take a looky-lo.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Amazing Radar of Winter Storm

Click here to see how the current winter storm surrounded Minneapolis and then closed in.