Monday, April 29, 2013

Guide to Church Planning

(Percentage of Church that will show up)

New Carpet Color Mtg            95%
Second Coming                       90% (9% will cite "out of town."
                                                       1% will go to a Baptist church "just in case")
Easter/Christmas                     70%
Food Served                            60%
Special Event                           50%
Something Cute w/Children   40%
Sunday Worship                       30%
Sermon on Tithing                  15% (Don't announce it and you can double attendance)
Church Work Day                     10%
Bring a Friend Sunday             5% (All of whom thought food was involved)

Sharing the Load

I have supported KUHF, the local public radio station, since 1986. This is part of Christine and my regular giving. The station us currently going through an 8 day (twice a year) solicitation campaign to raise new pledges/donors. I was surprised to hear that only 8% of the listeners give all of the support. In other words, 92% get the perks but not the drawbacks. I am sure a few do not have the resources, but I suspect most do.

This got me to thinking.

If those who let others carry the freight would pony up support, we could have 14 or so of our days of broadcasting back without the beg-a-thon (necessary, but not very lovable.) 

What would the world be like if we had a tenfold increase in our investment and presence in marriage or church or PTO or the poor? I suspect it would be more like what God had envisioned.

Where are you the 8% in your life – supporting others, and maybe, a bit resentful? Where are you the 92% - being carried by others, and maybe, burning them out as a result? What do you think God thinks about that? What will you do? Ask God to heal you.

What more would God do through us? Might we not be living in something much more like Paradise?

Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: "Those unwilling to work will not get to eat." 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NLT)

Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NLT)

The most powerful person is he who is able to do least himself and burden others most with the things for which he lends his name and pockets the credit.
Theodor Adorno

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.
Charles Dickens

Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility; for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible.
Thomas a Kempis

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It’s not about you

Recently, I talked with a couple who were often at odds. It seems that each time one person of the couple would have a need (or a complaint, but more often, a need,) the other would immediately make it about him/her. Similarly, a couple could parent-child, spouses, friend to friend, service provider to customer, you name it. Any two people.

I tell people with whom I do pastoral care that, if it’s not about God, it’s going to be a long day. I think God would say this.

  • Seek me first or all is lost. The universe does not turn around either of you but it does, in fact, turn around me. After all, I made it (and you.) Let me be your North Star to guide you. Holy Scripture is alive with how to conduct loving, healing, healthy relationships.
  • Listen……………………….No, I mean it. Turn off your brain and listen. You probably cannot fix things anyway. Being heard is one of the biggest gifts we can give one another.
  • Maintain healthy boundaries. Your problem often is not mine (and visa-versa.)
  • Do not fix others. They may need fixing. Direct them to that. We are not fixers. Point them to possibilities.
  • Ask, “What ‘s going on in me.”
  • Share the airwaves. It cannot be a one way street.
  • Pray (God’s listening and cares, ya know.)
  • Take a break. Sometimes, you need it.
  • There are a few quick fixes but not many. Allow time. You might need as much as it took to get where you are.
  • Honor each other.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)

Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye. Matthew 7:5 (NLT)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Age and Wisdom

I have found age to be a two-edged sword. I believe I know more of what matters now than I did a quarter century ago. The “long view” adds a perspective that cannot be rushed. There is a certain wisdom that can come with age. Some of the wisdom comes from maturity. Some comes from the school of hard knocks (also known as the “stupid-things-I-have-done-and-was-lucky-enough-to-survive-and-learn-from.”)

The other edge of the sword comes from people being less inclined to listen to you because you are old and “out of touch.” While many cultures revere their elderly, we basically tolerate them. The exception may be the aged in our own family. We worship youth. Our advertisements and consumption point to that reality. 

While scripture encourages us to respect those of age, what it really values is wisdom. We can get old and never become any wiser. Just like old grapes can become either vinegar or a fine wine.

Where is wisdom’s place in your life? Where do you seek wisdom? Do you ask yourself, “Is this the wise thing to do (despite what is expedient and feels good?)”

A life richly lived with God yields the luscious fruit of wisdom. Age is automatic, wisdom must be sought. And, in wisdom, there is life. I pray wisdom for you today.

Is not wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long life bring understanding? Job 12:12 (NIV)

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 (NIV)

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:32 (NIV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)

Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10 (NIV)
Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Proverbs 28:26 (NIV)

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Ecclesiastes 7:12 (NIV)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Faster, Cheaper, Greater

One of the blogs I read recently ran a posting about how a company or freelancer can have two of the three following qualities – but not all three.

  • ·         Fast
  • ·         Cheap
  • ·         Great

This seemed true. The illusive “sweet spot” would be where all three could be had is unattainable. Best go for two out of three.

This got me to wondering. What about for we who follow Christ? What might our Venn diagram be?

I think the three for Christians would be

  • ·         Wait
  • ·         Be Generous
  • ·         Practice Humility

All three fly in the face out our cultural reality. In a world that screams to us faster-cheaper-greater (do more with less,) God whispers to us the Way to bring heavenly reality (Kingdom of God) into the middle of every life situation. Wait for the right time, be generous, and practice humility.

What do you think? Is a change of mind in order? Want to try for the sweet spot? Is that what God wants for all of Creation? For you?

Here are some things God says;

…but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 41:31 (NRSV)

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6 (NRSV)

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Mark 1:15 (NRSV)

 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Luke 14:28 (NRSV)

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? Matthew 16:24-26 (NRSV)

Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Luke 9:48 (NRSV)