The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination.
The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it... it was because "God so loved the world." That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven... but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name.
Gil Rendle has an interesting article on the story our congregations tell. Storytelling is important - it has the power to heal, but it also has the power to hurt and to hinder if we are telling the wrong sorts of stories. One of the many things Amy has done really well was to have her congregation tell the story they had been operating under, identifying some of the the misconceptions and false assumptions behind it, and them helping them live into a better story. The outcome was freeing - the congregation really began to regain vitality once they understood their story.
Also in Leading Ideas there is a nice, little article about what congregations can do to help a healthy transition to a new pastor. I know the handful of people who stumble upon this little blog are on the "other side" of that situation, but it is good, basic information to be aware of, and hopefully something we can pass along to our SPRC's when appointment time comes.
At Lifehacker this week there was a reminder that we should spend more time examining what went right instead of obsessing over what went wrong (important advice, especially if your personality is anything like mine).
Peter Rollins posted a video this week from his recent Insurrection Tour. There was a stop in Grand Rapids that I'm sorry I missed. If you have time check out the video, there's some interesting stuff - plus I just dig listening to his Irish accent.
Peter Rollins at Baylor University from Peter Rollins on Vimeo.
Over at Church Marketing Sucks a blog post was put up about Twittering in church. I think it makes a lot of sense based on how they present it. I'd much rather have people processing and interacting with my sermons via Twitter than being completely disengaged or distracted in some other way (and I say this as someone who was regularly writing and passing notes about the sermons I heard in high school). From the perspective of the "other side" I am usually so oblivious about what's happening in the pews while I'm preaching that to see someone typing on their keyboard, wouldn't really phase me, even if I were to notice.
On the same site, there is also a solid piece about who we compete against as a church. As I mentioned last week in regard to having a "kingdom mindset" - if we see (as we so often do) the church down the street as the "competition" - we're done for. Instead of being in ministry to "the least, the last, and the lost" we've turned our focus on just shifting members from one church to another and bring everybody down in the process. There are better battles to be fought than trying to convince someone that this church is better than that church. Accept our differences, celebrate the fact that we are one body with many parts, and let's start focusing on loving and serving people like Jesus did, and not worry so much about which building they worship in on Sunday morning.
Donald Miller has another great post, this time on the question of if God has a specific plan for your life. His answer: probably not, which is where I basically lean as well. I believe God offers possibilities and opens doors, but the "plan" is never so rigid that all is lost if we don't travel down that certain path.
With this weekly roundup music selection I'm starting to lose track of what I have or haven't posted, so you'll have to forgive me if you seen this one before. The Hold Steady are a great band - they have a new album coming out next week (though I am a little nervous about the more "mainstream rock" sound they seem to be moving toward, based on what little I've heard). This one is from their last album and a good personal reminder - we've got to stay positive