December 24, 2011

this week's round-up (december 22)

I seem to have lost that weekly rhythm of blog posts... maybe in the new year I'll get on a better schedule. Anyway, here's what has caught my attention over the past few weeks:

Seth Godin: Tools vs. Insight. Often we don't need new tools, we just need to find creative ways to use what we've already got. Also check out Insulate Yourself...

Marcus Zumwalt: We are the 99%. Marcus is a friend I had the great privilege of getting to know when our lives briefly crossed in Ann Arbor. This post is a powerful reminder that even with the issues around the gap between the rich and the poor here in the US, highlighted by the "Occupy" movement, the issue is even more profound on a global scale. Are we really the 99%, or are we, in fact, the 1%?

Donald Miller: It's not what you do that scares me, it's what you hide.; What would change if you believed people actually wanted to talk to you?; and Do you believe in your own power to shape the world? (Side note: I'm really interested in the shift Don has taken from the usual typed blog posts to photos of handwritten messages - there is an element of beauty and authenticity in handwritten messages that I really appreciate).

When Animals Run Attack Ads.

Dan Dick: Christmas Affluenza. Also: The Nice Curse.

EmergingUMC: What Brings People to Church?

Fred Clark: Millennials Will Change the Future of the Church.

The Economist: How Luther Went Viral. Fascinating article about social media and church history and how about "new" advances in communication and collective action aren't really new at all.

Dear Congress, It's No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works.

How to Live Better on 24 Hours a Day.

2011 - The Year in (Lego) Pictures.

Nerd Porn - 47 Year Old Television Signals Are Bouncing Back to Earth. Fascinating article about how "something" approximately 25 light years away is reflecting TV signals back to earth, which means that some "lost" programs, like episodes of Doctor Who, can be recovered and recorded.

Insiders and Outsiders and the future of the Church.

Forget Planes and Cars: The Beginners Guide to Traveling by Bike.

DIY Star Wars Snowflakes. I tried a couple of these and they actually came out pretty good.

Brian Owen (via Michael Hyatt's blog): What an Acting Coach Taught Me About Public Speaking. Also from Hyatt: 5 Ways You Can Be an Everyday Hero and How a Shift in Your Vocabular can Instantly Change Your Attitude - the "have to" vs. "get to" thing has already been a help for me.

December 11, 2011

19x2

Another year, another playlist for one more trip around the sun...

19x2 by Michael Mayo-Moyle on Grooveshark

Notes:
3. U2 - saw them in Lansing this past summer - AMAZING performance.
4. Decemberists - The King is Dead is probably my favorite album of 2011.
5. Andrew Bird - The third song in an "end of the world" medley for Harold Camping, and the Mayan calendar set to end a year from now. The world is always ending. The world is always beginning. It all depends of your perspective.
7. Blur - love the line: "I'm a professional cynic / but my heart's not in it / paying the price for living life at the limit." Here's to the century's remedy.
16. Das Racist - explicit language on this one; you might want to skip.
18. Timelords - old song, novelty pop song, but I still think Dr. Who is one of the best shows on TV (in close running with The Walking Dead).
22. Tori Amos - hard to believe Nirvana's "Nevermind" is 20 years old this year. This version by Tori Amos actually helped me "get" Nirvana. Also started my love affair with a great cover versions of songs.
23. REM - RIP. Didn't listen to the last few albums, never saw them live, but I was a pretty big fan back in the day.
24. Jonathan Coulton - sorry I missed his show with They Might be Giants this year; also see #18.
26. They Might be Giants - This summer the KKK put some "recruiting" material out in the town where I work (apparently they had a pretty strong presence in the area a number of years ago), so I think about this song probably more than the average person does. (Also, just so I'm clear, I've never witnessed racist attitudes among the members of the church I serve).
30. B-52s - always loved this simple instrumental track.
32. Mumford and Sons - Lyric I'll always wished I had written: "It seems that all my bridges have been burned / But you say that's how this grace thing works / It's not the long walk home that will change this heart / But the welcome I receive with the restart". If my years of preaching could be summarized in a song, that would probably be it.
33. Lou Reed - thinking about mortality this fall, led to recalling Reed's "Magic and Loss" album. Even though my job involves being around a lot of death, you're still never quite prepared for the loss of friends.
35. Over the Rhine - just discovered this track this past week. Another song with great lyrics: "All my favorite people are broken / Believe me / My heart should know... All my friends are part saint and part sinner / We lean on each other / Try to rise above." Thanks to those friends who live this out with me.
36. Grateful Dead - Crossed a milestone when my aunt suggested at Thanksgiving that I visit her stylist to get my "color done."
38. Willie Nelson - haven't taken the kids to see the latest Muppet movie, but this song (and this version) is always a personal favorite.

December 9, 2011

Christmas Eve Welcome

This came to me last year in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve and I used it for worship then (and think I shared it here as well). Thought I'd put it up again for anyone who might find a use for it in worship this Christmas; feel free to use or adapt as you see fit (there in info at the bottom of the blog about Creative Commons - if you do use, I prefer attribution and that any derivative works retain the "share alike" philosophy).

We come excited,
We come exhausted,
Welcome to this place.

We come hopeful,
We come humble,
Welcome to this place.

We come with deepest longing,
We come distracted,
Welcome to this place.

We come compassionate,
We come confused,
Welcome to this place.

We come joyful,
We come just-happy-to-have-made-it-through-another-day,
Welcome to this place.

We come faithful,
We come fearful,
Welcome to this place.

Welcome,
to one and all,
to this place,
where we can be who we are,
confident that God meets us,
as we are.

Welcome to this night:
Welcome to the Marys pregnant with possibilities,
Welcome to the Josephs returning to their hometowns,
Welcome to the travelers, weary after a long journey,
Welcome to the inn-keepers, making room for one more, wherever they can.
Welcome to this place
Where angels sing
and shepherds seek
welcoming a King
born in Bethlehem, long ago
called Emmanuel:
 God-Is-With-Us
and Still Is With Us
Welcoming us,
 receiving us,
  redeeming us,
even on this Holy Night.
Welcome Christmas people.

December 4, 2011

last month's(?) round-up

Ouch... I've gotten really behind on maintaining this thing; apologies to the handful who actually follow this...

Here we go:

Ever want to try to break open a door just like in the movies? Here's how to do it (without hurting yourself).

Glen Bickford: How I Lost a Vocal Cord and Found My Voice.

Roger Olson: Should Christian organizations adopt the business model? Certainly there are practices and techniques that we can learn from an adapt, but when do we cross the line from being a body that changes the world through our values and practices to being one that simply assimilates the inherent brokenness of the purely secular world. I think I see this most clearly around employment practices - should the church pay, provide benefits, and treat employees like every other business does (which generally means strive for the lowest common denominator), or should we aim to do better, striving to really embody a belief that every person is of sacred worth and deserves the best the organization is able to offer? Obviously this same line of thinking can be applied to the whole discussion around church metrics and congregational vitality as well.

Related to that last point - Jeremy Smith has a whole round-up of Call to Action-related posts. Tim McClendon on Restructuring is bad medicine for the UMC. Also, from another perspective, check out Bishop Scott Jones: 1972 No Longer, and Bishops, Conference, Mission.

Another post from Olson worth checking out - Our Founding Fathers, Christians or What?

Mark Engler - a guy I used to play ultimate frisbee with back in high school, now writes some great stuff at Democracy Uprising, has a excellent post on Occupy the Pulpit. I've been paying attention (and intrigued) by the whole "Reverend Billy" thing for a while, and how his act essentially mocks stereotypes of preachers, while at the same time putting forth some very valid points about community building and not being lost in an overly materialistic culture. As Mark makes note maybe it is time for real preachers to make a prophetic stand so that Reverend Billy is no longer necessary.

Megan Phelps-Roper of Westboro Baptist Church: An Heir to Hate. When I read this, I realized it was most likely was Megan that I shared a plane with a few years ago (I was going to guess that her cousin mentioned in the article, Libby, was the other young woman on the flight, but according to the article, Libby had already left the church by then). Much light that flight, the article on Megan simply reminds me how tragic her situation is. I know I'm a victim to my own biases and prejudices, but it doesn't isolate me. It also made me really reflect on the compromises we all make - I'm really curious how Megan can reconcile protesting Steve Job's funeral while also using an iPhone... and I know if I looked hard enough I could find similar hypocrisy in my own life, but at least I'm willing to acknowledge the grey areas of life and my own imperfections. When you make everything so very black-and-white you can't help but expose the flaws in your own philosophy.

Zombie Outreach for Churches. From Halloween, but still good. PS - How amazing was this season of The Walking Dead? Loved the ending, and I can't wait for the series to resume.

Dan Dick: C is for...

Jay Voorhees: Using the Common English Bible in Worship. I do have a couple copies of the CEB (both physical, but also on my phone), and have been using it a little in worship and in Bible studies. I'm not sure I'm totally comfortable with making a big commitment to it, but I do like the way some of it reads.

Drive Old or Buy New?

Perry Noble: My Wife Had a Bad Experience at Chick-Fil-A. Does one unusual experience, or one bad encounter get in the way of all the good ones? (That question has nothing to do with Chick-Fil-A).

Fred Clark: Richard Land to Newt Gingrich - Strike a Pose

Derek Webb has an excellent piece of the future of the music business in terms of distribution, generating revenue, and building community: Giving It Away - How Free Music Makes More Sense. Although I'm not involved in the industry, I've been thinking along the same lines for a while now (see my discussion about Prince from a few months ago - near the bottom of the page). Back to the idea of what churches can learn from business, I think there might be something here - give it away, and build those personal, long-term relationships.

Rupert Murdoch now controls 50% of the Christian book market.

The Easter Island "Heads" Have Bodies! By the way, I've noticed Mental Floss magazine in the stores for a couple years now, but I never really stopped to look at it - turns out I LOVE it, it totally speaks to my inner geek - if anyone wants to give me a subscription, or a shirt feel free (I especially like the "I'm no rocket surgeon" and "I avoid cliches like the plague" ones).

Sometimes you just have the learn the hard way: Maybe our apartment is too small for a bald eagle.

Still prefer the original, but Billy Bragg has a new version of Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards out...

November 11, 2011

The Bully Pulpit

I know I'm overdue for another round-up... I might have some time to crank one out tomorrow, in the meantime check out the clip from Stephen Colbert from a few nights ago...

October 26, 2011

this week's round-up (october 26)

Fred Clark on James Taylor and Moral Relativism. Also from Fred, Why are those OWS Protesters so Upset?

Lifehacker: The True Cost of Commuting - Unfortunately I fit, almost exactly, this profile:
"Let's take a typical day's drive for this self-destructive couple. Adding 38 miles of round-trip driving at the IRS's estimate of total driving cost of $0.51 per mile, there's $19 per day of direct driving and car ownership costs. It is possible to drive for less, but these people happen to have fairly new cars, bought on credit, so they are wasting the full amount.
Next is the actual human time wasted. At 80 minutes per day, the self-imposed driving would be adding the equivalent of almost an entire work day to each work week – so they would now effectively be working 6 workdays per week."
Prayers for Chad Holtz as he takes a break from blogging to find some healing in rehab.

Dan Dick on Discipleship; also, The Missionally Challenged Church.

Sam Kemmis: History Will Thank Us for Determining Which Mushrooms Are Poisonous

Chuck Warnock: The Myth of Why Conservative Churches are Growing.

Top 4 Practices of Disciple-Making Churches.

Jeremy Smith reviews the Official UMC iPhone App. (I still haven't downloaded it to give it a try myself).

Seth Godin: The Difference Between Management and Leadership.

Brandon Cox: What's Right with the Church in 2011.

Jen Lemen: Wrecking Ball.

Rhett Smith: Steve Jobs, John Wesley and how Pursuing Opportunities can come at Great Cost to our Personal and Family Lives.

Mike Slaughter on Bridging the Political Divide in Church.

Friend and colleague, Rick Dake, pointed me to this audio from Bishop Gerald Kennedy from 1960 speaking on The Marks of a Methodist - interesting how little has changed in 50 years.

Michael Hyatt on How to Avoid the Power of the Drift and Are You Living Your Own Dream or Someone Else's?

Great video from Advent Conspiracy / Chris Tomlin - Love:

[AC] Love All (ft. Chris Tomlin's 'Love') from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.



October 25, 2011

Valuing Community

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together:
"It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us... Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God's grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren."

October 12, 2011

10-Fold - Day 3

To find out more about the global missions efforts of the United Methodist Church and to make a donation, click here.

October 11, 2011

this week's round-up (october 11)

Another catch-up week with lots of links (I actually cut out a few that would have been included in a "normal" week):

Smashing Magazine: How to Make an eBook Don't know what I'd ever write a book about, but I like the whole idea that whole new platforms are opening up to those seeking to self-publish and destribute their ideas.

Haven't checked this out yet, but I like the idea - Fleetly iPhone App turns exercise into a game (via Lifehacker).

Semi-related: John Piper on Exercise. I'm not one to often agree with Piper, but I think he does make a couple good points in this one - I especially appreciate the note he makes that obesity isn't the same as gluttony.

Jen Lemen: 10 Ways to Become the One You Were Made to Be. Also from Jen, 15 Things That Can Happen When You Keep Your Truth In A Hidden Place. Too often I feel like Jen is constantly peeking into my brain.

Upcoming legislation allowing cell-phone robocalls and what you can do about it. (via Lifehacker).

Daniel So: Pastor, Present and Future.

"Cassette Tape" Cut From the Oxford English Dictionary. Further confirmation I'm old.

From the Personal MBA Blog: Are You an Implementor or an Enabler?

Stephen Colbert on God and Hell (taken from a Fresh Air interview):


Dan Dick on Christi-inanity. I think Dan's making a good point, but also I don't think it's quite as "black and white" as he makes it. Do we need to raise the bar on theological understanding and conversation within the church? Absolutely. But when you are dealing with congregations with a wide diversity of age, educational and theological backgrounds it's hard to get good systems in place that can meet the different populations at different points of need. Even using words like "antinomianism" or "theodicy" has to be done differntly when I'm preaching to the university church where a majority are college graduates and many have post-grad degrees versus the rural congregations where less than 10% of the population has a college degree. One isn't better than the other - they just have a different set of demands, and a different style of communication, even if the content is the same. Likewise, I feel like even with my seminary education, I lack a certain amount of critical theological discourse. I know I'm lacking in this area, myself, and yet I know I'm probably better than most in terms of on-going reading and education on these topics. In the midst of all the demands of ministry, reading to stay on top of topics like systematic theology, unfortunately, doesn't fall on many people's priority list. It needs to be fixed, but I'm not even sure where you might really begin.

Semi-related: David Kinnaman on Prodigals, Nomads, and Exiles.

Greg Boyd on Kingdom of God vs. Religion. Greg's work is something I've not very familiar with (another admission of my limited theological depth, perhaps), but I've seen Roger Olson make reference to him on occasion in terms of his take on open theism, and he says some interesting things here, so maybe it's worth checking out:


Teddy Wayne: Occupy Main Street!

For the science-nerd in you: Hubble Telescope Picture of the Center of the Galaxy.

Sherman Haywood Cox II: Naming Your Sermon. I always dread having to come up with titles/names for my sermons, but there are some good ideas is this post.

Budgeting with Cash Envelopes. Great tip that made a big difference for my household (unfortunately we've fallen off the wagon); make sure you check it out, though, because they include a template so that you can print your own envelopes. We had always used the Dave Ramsey envelopes that come with the Financial Peace University kit, and the trouble we'd have is that they would wear out fairly quickly with use - so a nice template to make your own as needed is a good thing.

Guy Kawasaki: What I Learned from Steve Jobs.

Related: My friend from college, Scott Heiferman, went on to make it big in the digital world (he's founder and CEO of MeetUp.com). Here's video of him asking Steve Jobs a question on how technology can change the world. Steve's answer is okay, but I think Scott was hoping for more. Scott's really gotten into the idea of using tech to bring people together in real face-to-face interactions (the whole idea behind MeetUp), and I think he's on to something. Tech isn't a tool in itself, only in it's ability to connect and help facilitate real change to take happen:


Jamie the Very Worst Missionary: Missionary Positions: How a Wife Does It.

Seth Godin: Which Are You? Also from Godin: Open Conversations.

Lifehacker: How to Turn Any Song into a Ringtone for Android or iPhone. I knew how to do this for my old Android G1, but had no idea how to do it for the iPhone. Great tip.

Donald Miller: Intimacy With God Comes When We Accept His Kindness.

Jay Voorhees: Rebuilding Trust - The DS and Bishop Dilemna. I feel badly that this is falling near the bottom of an already long post, because it is important and needs to be read (but I'm also too lazy to move it closer to the beginning). I think Jay is hitting some important points, but I'm also trying to fight my own cynicism around this area. Yes, there is a breakdown of trust especially among clergy, congregations and the Cabinet in the UMC, and it is an "occupational hazard" of the system, but the post seems to suggest that the necessary change needs to primarily come from the Cabinet. Maybe we need to start assuming that they are doing the best they can and everything they can, and instead focus on what we do have the capacity to change about ourselves. Instead of waiting for a DS to set up a regular process for fellowship and conversation with clergy, maybe the clergy need to initiate it and invite the DS into the process. We need to stop blaming and stop complaining and start finding ways to improve the system under our own initiative. (Of course, that is much easier said than done).

Semi-related: Bill Dobbs (assistant to the Bishop in the Michigan Episcopal Area) on The Appointment Process.

Music: The Civil War's covering Michael Jackson.




October 5, 2011

thank you steve

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life..."

September 30, 2011

September 28, 2011

this week's round-up (september 28)

God Makes Lemonade - love this concept!

Seth Godin on Talker's Block - great post about working through writer's block; of course the mild irony, for me, is that I frequently do have "talker's block" and tend to keep silent if I don't have anything to say. Also from Godin: Marketing the Placebo - When Everyone Gets Their Own Belief.

Lifehacker: Upgrade Your Health & Fitness Routines.

Donald Miller: Leaders Lead People Through Fear.

Dan Dick: Take Time to be Holy.

Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary: Using Your Poor Kid to Teach My Rich Kid a Lesson. Raises an important point to consider about the unintended messages of mission trips.

Cameron Conant (via Rethink Church): Live the Best Case Scenario.

Christian Piatt (via Huffington Post): Why Young Adults Are Walking Away From Church.

Michael Hyatt: What Drives You As A Leader?

Chad Missildine: 8 Dos and Don'ts of Transformational Leadership.

I'd forgotten about the whole "Playing for Change" project, so I had no idea they had new songs out. Here's their latest, and it's a good one:


September 27, 2011

what people are looking for

I don't really fit the theological camp that Good News Magazine is written for, but I do try to read it when it arrives in my mailbox to broaden my theology and to better be in dialogue with other United Methodists; and the fact is, frequently there are good articles in the pages. The article by Jason Vickers "Renewal in an age of Anxiety" has some great stuff in it (it doesn't look like the on-line version is available yet, otherwise I'd link to it). I especially appreciated these thoughts:
"The truth is that we do not need more demographic or generational studies to figure out what people are looking for. In the midst of workplaces full of resentment and hostility, people are searching for love. Surrounded by anxiety and depression, people are looking for joy. Amid the violence and insanity of city streets and war-torn countries, people are searching high and low for peace. Faced with spouses and co-workers who lose their tempers at a moment's notice, people are looking for self-control. Amid rampant road rage, people are in desperate need of patience. Against the backdrop that is the harshness and cruelty of the evening news, people will inevitably be drawn to churches that exhibit gentleness and kindness in every aspect of their lives. Over against the gospel of pervasive pessimism about human nature and human communities, people will be drawn to church that proclaim and embody a gospel of transformation and holiness.
 "Conceived along these lines, the real question for the church is not whether we can get people to come to church in the first place. The real question is whether, upon coming, they will find compelling reasons to return time and time again.
"People will not be drawn to and held captive by the church simply because it carefully preserves and maintains its long-standing structures. Nor will they be drawn to and held captive by the church simply because it is part of a prophetic movement aimed at renewal or reform. Rather, people will ultimately be drawn to and help captive by the church when they discover in the church something they cannot readily get anywhere else, namely a community that embodies in readily discernible ways the mind of Christ, the theological virtues, and the fruits of the Spirit. In other words, they will be drawn to and held captive by those churches that bear the marks of incorporation into the Trinitarian life of God. Short of this, people may come to the church for a season, but they will ultimately look elsewhere for their salvation." 

September 22, 2011

get ready to lose

I have the bad habit of trying to read several books at the same time. I'll start one, get half-way through, set it on my bookshelf, get distracted by another book, then a couple chapters in, go back to the first, etc. Unfortunately that's been the case with Dirty Word: The Vulgar, Offensive Language of the Kingdom of God by Jim Walker; unfortunate, because while the whole book is good, the last couple chapters are exceptional.

Jim's words here, really spoke to me:
"In talking with the young adults who are part of our community, I have noticed that many of them are paralyzed by life. With so many choices and expectations, they freeze and don't do anything at all. I think part of the problem is that our culture demands that we do something 'big' with our lives. In the face of that expectation, we go into a coma. There is a strong undercurrent in our culture, which makes its want into the church, that pulls us into thinking that we have to change the world somehow. This expectation leaves many young people who want to follow Christ trying to figure out how they can be a disciple of Jesus, the sufferer, and a big rock star at the same time. The result is an epidemic of Christian rock stars. Instead of finding places to serve, these Christian rock stars will only serve when the work is cool or sexy, or they get to climb up on the roof and take their shirt off. Or when there's a camera around. Instead of being honest about their struggles, they push their dirty laundry under their beds and pretend that they have it all together. Instead of running toward the cross, they run away from the cross, all the while talking about their plans to change the world. We need less Christian rock stars and more heroes, people willing to surrender and sacrifice so that the kingdom of God will be near.
"I believe that we are at a critical point in church history. There is a conflict going on, and we need losers like Jeremiah to stand in the fray and be torn to shreds. The outcome of this conflict will affect the future of the church. The conflict within the church and between those who call themselves Christians. The conflict is between those who are surrendered and those who use fear as a weapon. It is between those who humble themselves and wash feet and those who use rejection to conquer and control. It is between those who share in compassion and those who guard their luxury. It is between those who pursue the truth, the Word of God, and those who abide behind fake veneer or superficialities and disillusion. It is obvious who will win and who will lose this conflict. The winners will take the spoils - the beautiful buildings, the large endowments, and the places of position and power. The losers will quietly go their own way, back into the catacombs from which they came. They will go back underground, to the tattoo-shop basements and dark, dirty holes of this world where they share little pieces of body and little drops of blood with one another, and they sing quiet hymns of praise. We need heroes who are ready to go and lose that battle for the sake of the kingdom of God, ready to be losers for Christ, and for the sake of those who do not yet know of the awesome love and grace of Jesus." (pgs. 244-246)


this week's round-up (september 22)

Roger Olsen: Is Hell Part of the Gospel? Also Olsen asks the question, do we really think of the people of America as family? (his answer in short, only when it suits us).

Rick Dake: Moving Out. Rick's a good friend & colleague and I appreciate his thoughts on choosing isolation, or choosing to learn a new language and embrace a new culture.

Chad Holtz: After the Storm

ChurchLeaders.com: More Christians are Developing a 'Designer Faith'

Philip Bewer: Social Security is Not a Ponzi Scheme

Jonathan Martin: What Does it Mean to be a Preacher? Some great stuff in there (I'd encourage you to read the whole thing):
"It is understandable why we would pretend to be something different than what we are, because to put it mildly, preachers have limitations. We are compared to poets, but we generally lack their precision with language, using words with clumsy brute force as often as not. We are sometimes called prophets, but we are not generally so courageous, especially since our livelihood generally depends on the people we prophesy to. We are not precisely artists, since we lack the artist’s originality. The preacher’s job is not to paint new things but to repeat old things...
 "I am a preacher... I live under the weight of words. I carry words in my pockets, words in my satchel, words in my heart. Words, always the words. Words as pitiable weapons in a world when there are guns for sale at Wal Mart, words as medicine in a world where prescriptions are all we seem to need. Carrying my words to places where they are impractical and words to places where they are inept. Delivering words that make some people look at me with the superstitious fear of a witch doctor, a shaman, the village medicine man who has all the answers—words that make people look like the village idiot, a man out of time, a man that won’t move on with the world.
"And I know that words cannot always be the answer. But that sometimes they can, and that words can create galaxies and words can burn cities down. All this damnation and hope at my disposal, all this absurd power—living under the weight of the words. I wish that I could live up to the greatness of the words, to have a soul big enough and a life noble enough to be worthy of them. But don’t you see by now—I’m a preacher? There is nothing greater than the words, they are the stars that light up the night. Isn’t Jesus Himself called the Word of God? Only He could bear up under the weight of so many words, only he could exceed the expectation that words create and surpass the reality of what words signify. 
"I don’t live up to the words, create the words, own the words. I gaze at them, I gibber with them. I consume them, I choke on them, I vomit them. I am a preacher. Words are all I’ve got, words will have to be enough."
Lifehacker: Forget the Standing Desk - Move. Too bad, I always thought the idea of a standing desk seemed kind of cool (although also somewhat impractical).

Donald Miller: The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received.

Seth Godin: Lousy Tomatoes and the Rare Search for Wonder. While Godin's critique crosses all institutions and industries, it seems especially apt for the church - we are the boring supermarket - there when people need us, more often than not, offering visitors "good enough" instead of remarkable. It's possible the church can swing too far in one direction and go overboard with trying to get the "wow!" factor, especially when you set the expectation that each week you need to top the previous one - before too long, the pastor will have to be juggling flaming batons, while a trapeze act flies over the pews, or you end up with this. We can be reliable, let us also aim to be remarkable.

Jay Voorhees: Get the Churches to do it, They'll do Anything! Great post from Jay, questioning one of the key arguments of those seeing to limit government assistance to people in need. The argument is that churches will pick up the slack, and that they are precisely the institutions with the missional foundation to best help those in need. You can back the argument up by showing how it was churches that built the key social structures in this country, hospitals, colleges, even public schools have their roots in religious institutions and are the result of faith-based leadership. The problem is the world has changed since then. Many hospitals and colleges are now only loosely affiliated with the religious bodies that founded them. I haven't studied the reasons behind that shift, but I'm guess there were a few elements behind it - the institutions were adapting to a more secular culture and  the churches shifted their focus to congregational life instead of social service. But my guess is the primary reason has to do with the professionalization of the fields - the business of running a hospital has become so complex that it no longer makes sense for pastoral authority to hold supervision over the institution. It might have worked 50 or 100 years ago when clergy were among the best educated people in the community, but that is no longer the case.

In Jay's blog, he addresses a different point. Based on current conditions, most congregations are in no place to address the groundswell of needs that are happening in our nation right now. And the notion that a tax cut would produce a sharp increase in charitable giving to help churches provide for the new needs is questionable at best. The reality is, it would need to be basically a one-to-one ratio, not to mention the increase in inefficiency due to a lack of coordinated authority.

Jen Lemen: How to be Happy (Part 5).

Will Willimon: Using Dashboard to Understand the Church's Story.

The end of R.E.M. I know I should feel sad, and I wish I had seen them perform live, but honestly they had pretty much dropped off my music radar for the last decade.

My DS, Eugene Blair, writes on cross-racial appointments and urban ministry here (and no, I'm not posting that just to "kiss up").

One of my former professors, Rabbi Jay Holstein, is featured in a recent documentary. Unfortunately I don't have the channel the program is being broadcast on, but he was a fascinating professor. (I'd especially love to go back and sit on one of his classes now).

Michael Hyatt: How to Write a Blog Post in 70 Minutes or Less. Good ideas in there, especially since at some point I'd like to break away from the pure "round-up" nature of this blog. Related: 13 Idea-Starters for Stuck Bloggers.

Derek Thompson: Who's Had the Worst Recession: Boomers, Millennials, or Gen-Xers?

This week - new music from Gungor - "When Death Dies." Anytime you have a guy beat-boxing AND playing cello simultaneously, you know something awesome (or awful) is happening (fortunately, I file this under "awesome").
 

September 13, 2011

this week's round-up (september 13)

I knew I'd been off for a couple weeks... didn't realize it has been close to a month since my last post. Time to play catch-up:

Damon Lindelof on Raiders of the Lost Ark

Unexpected ways the library can save you money. Actually these are all pretty standard and obvious in my opinion, but then again, I'm a cheap nerd who loves the library (and I especially love my current local library because they do have an excellent music, movie, and magazine selection in addition to a great book collection).

Why 99% of Pastors are Universalists... at Funerals. Love the last line, "Maybe if Rob Bell had spoken his thoughts at a funeral, nobody would have had a problem with it."

Donald Miller: Learning to Love Your Flaws.

Jen Lemen: What If...

Amy Valdez Barker has a few thoughts about churches failing to do the most basic of outreach efforts I think she is a little "off" in directing her criticism at the pastors; anyone can build a church website or facebook page, ordination isn't a requirement, even though I know the main point is it takes pastoral leadership to get the church to even consider those things. Amy's also quick to affirm when churches get it right.

My good friend, Eric, is back blogging at Operation Nu-U, great thoughts on the battle with food addiction, and the efforts he's making towards living a healthier lifestyle. Eric's an awesome guy, and I wish him the best in his efforts.

Another good friend, Jeff, tells of the 10 things he snuck into his son's backpack before he starts kindergarten.

How to Shave 10 Hours Off Your Ministry Work Week.

Dan Dick on Accountability Ability nice post on a tough topic - at what point do we take membership vows seriously enough to remove "Christians" blatantly exhibiting un-Christ-like behavior?

Roger Olsen: Was Kierkegaard an evangelical? Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Also from Olsen: Why "evangelical" is a label I won't surrender; while "evangelical" is not a label I grew up with, I've been interesting in finding ways to reclaim it, because it is part of the Wesleyan heritage. Just recently I was taking part in a phone survey where the question was asked, "Do you consider yourself evangelical or mainline?" and I wanted to answer both, but not in the way "evangelical" has been commonly understood in the last 30 years.

Fred Clark on Neuhaus and "Dominonism". Just prior to labor day, I heard something on NPR about Bachmann, Perry and Palin's connection to this theological arena (movement?) I worry that connections, and beliefs like this can be overblown and overstated, but I also think this is something worth keeping an eye on. Fred offers a follow-up post here. Also interesting stuff on the ACLJ, I had always been a little weary of the organization's efforts, I had no idea about the financial aspects of the organization. One more from Fred to plug: Refusing to Bow Before the Beast, on understanding the Book of Revelation.

Lifehacker: People Who Get Malware, Also Get Mugged More Often.

What If Steve Jobs Made Disciples? 

Who Said It? God, MLK Jr. or Captain America?

Six Key Tasks of Pastors Who Make a Difference.

Jeremy Smith: I Could Sing of Your Love on Sundays. Great video if you haven't already seen it. On a much more serious note from Jeremy: Do We Seek Success or Significance?

The Post I Shouldn't Have Posted, and How It Changed Me.

Several college friends were living in NYC ten years ago. Here an IM chat my friend Rudy posted from that day.

McSweeney's: You Look At Me Like You've Never Seen a Neo-Hipster Before and Do You Like Me, Click Yes or No.

3 Blogging Experiments That Might Make You a Better Writer. I've wondered about trying to do something with video, but I know I'd make myself crazy with wanting it to be "perfect" - I'm okay with a misspelled word, but the idea of stumbling over spoken words, or even poor sound or video quality would make me nuts.

Michael Moore on what it felt like to be the most hated man in America. Moore has always interested me, especially since I've moved to Michigan, and can now see areas like Flint up close, that 22 years ago seemed like a very far away place.

Using John Wesley's words in regard to the Global Leadership Summit. (Actually a good quote for a variety of learning experiences).

With all the attention given to this being the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind, I'd forgotten that it is also the 20th anniversary of Fugazi's Steady Diet of Nothing, an album that I not only purchased before Nirvana, but also understood much more immediately than Nevermind.

August 19, 2011

this week's round-up (august 19)

Jeremy Smith on Outsourcing the Message - Jeremy brings up some good points about something I've been interested in - using video streaming to bring sermons to remote congregations. While I've been generally in favor of at least exploring or experimenting with the possibilities, and how it can be a way to support small membership and rural congregations that might otherwise lack regular preaching (especially as the number of active clergy drops and the associated personnel costs rise), I appreciate Jeremy's critique of how it undervalues contextual, community based messages and undermines leadership development. Good stuff to consider.

Bill Hybels responds to Starbuck's ceo withdrawing from Willow Creek's Leadership Summit. Regardless of what you might think of Willow Creek or the "controversy" that surrounded this, I think Hybels response is excellent; he addressed it with a lot of grace... and actually made me pick up Howard Schultz's book Onward when I saw it at the library this week. (I'm only about 1/3 of the way into the book, but already agree with Hybels that it is excellent).


Roger Olson on Process Theology - it's interesting in that I've always considered myself in or near the process theology "camp" , but based on Olson's definition, I'm not (because I don't see God and the world as being ontologically interdependent). I also enjoyed Olson's post on Something Protestants should borrow from Catholics.

Four signs you are becoming an irrelevant church leader.

Fred Clark on Is Rick Perry a 'sucker' or is he just lying, unlike Fred I am likely to give the benefit of the doubt and believe that most politicians err on the side of stupid rather than malicious, but I always appreciate Fred's analysis. Also from Fred on the theme of truth telling, this time from the pulpit: Glurge and Ghost Stories I don't think I've ever been as egregious of the violations Fred cites - I've never tried to sell another's story as my own, and there have been a couple cases where I have tried to fact-check or explain a sermon illustration that falls more into the "metaphor" rather than "history" category, but I can see where it is an easy trap to fall into.

Top 10 Tips for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Always good information to know.

I'm falling in love with Spotify - it's a great site for finding and listening to music, new and old, with some great social networking features. Their music catalogue is pretty deep allowing me to reconnect with music I used to have on cassettes that have been lost though the ages (and I've never managed to replace on CD or MP3); The Sundays are one of those bands - Reading, Writing & Arithmetic - was a big part of my soundtrack in the summer of 1990:

August 12, 2011

this week's round-up (august 11)

Paul Steinbrueck: What Church Members Want in an App.

Roger Olsen: Folk Religion and Life After Death (Part 2). Excellent article! One of my adult Sunday School teachers is going to be doing a study on "heaven" this fall, and (I think) will be addressing some of these "folk religion" aspects that Olsen mentions.

Fred Clark: You might be an evangelical...

Jen Lemen: 10 Things That Are True About You.

Dan Dick: Running Out of Options. Dan makes that case that the greatest threat to the future of the United Methodist Church is:
"... a self-centered, selfish, consumeristic, privileged entitlement mentality that puts the comfort of the individual ahead of the integrity of the community of faith and the will and vision of God. My-way-or-the-highway, take-my-ball-and-go-home immature coercion is becoming the norm rather than the exception. This, and this alone, has the power to kill us."
make sure you follow the link to read the full article.

Wil Wheaton writes about the 25th anniversary of Stand By Me.


From Mike Slaughter's blog: Why Methodist? (Good to be reminded that sometimes we do get it right).

From Christianity Today: Should We Still Give Out Tracts?

From ProBlogger: The 5 Must-read Books for Bloggers in 2011. Haven't read any of these, but I was interested in the second one on the list: Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators - I didn't realize that curation (basically what I've been doing each week) was really a "thing" - this was really about finding a way for me to catalog the stuff I found interesting as a personal study discipline, and to possibly bring some benefit to the handful of friends interested in similar subjects. I've always felt a little like I was cheating by pointing to other people's blogs while not offering very much in terms of my own content, but maybe there really is value in just doing this.

Personal MBA: 7 Tools to Manage Social Media Overload.

My family got our picture in the Detroit Free Press this week (fortunately not for doing anything illegal).






August 4, 2011

this week's round-up (august 4)

Steve Sjogren: Bullhorn Evangelism. Interesting article, especially when I saw this very thing being played out at the U2 concert in Lansing - outside a handful of guys with a bullhorn condemning everyone to hell, inside a stadium of people singing songs of hope.

Dan Dick: Paradoxology. Be sure to read the whole thing, as with most of his posts it is pretty convicting, including this bit:
"The process by which God provides is in place. That process is us. Our current problems are not those of quantity, but distribution. We don’t lack resources, we simply lack love, faith, compassion, and trust. We bow before the god of fear at the expense of trusting the God of love. It feels safer and more comfortable to take care of ourselves than to perhaps give aid or comfort to someone we don’t know, like, trust, or agree with.
And this is why our church is in the state it is in. At least for United Methodists, we lost our way when we jumped the mission and social justice ship for the church growth cruiser."
Chad Holtz: Christians Need a Ramadan and The Idolatry of Belief

Lifehacker: Best Windows Downloads and Best iPhone Apps. Several of the Windows programs I use on a regular basis (Google Chrome, Thunderbird, Dropbox, Picasa, Microsoft Security Essentials, and I've started playing with Spotify); the iPhone apps I don't know as well, but these are both pretty solid lists for good (and largely free) software for your systems.

This next link it a little more advanced in the techno-nerd realm, but Michael Hyatt has a nice post on How to Get Your Kindle Highlights into Evernote. This has been one of my frustrations as I've experimented with ebooks - how can I mark passages for future reference, and fortunately Michael notes a (relatively) simple solution.

I never really expected myself to agree with John Piper on much of anything, but his article on How Do I Think About Tweeting actually makes a lot of sense to me, especially since I know I don't use the platform to it's potential (most of the time you'll just find me retweeting what someone else has written).

Great article from Roger Olsen: A bigger problem than heresy: folk religion.

One more for the "must read" list: What If Jesus Isn't as Reasonable as Us? by Ed Cyzewski:
"Theology can only take us so far. We’re dealing with approximations at best when we talk about God. We can study the Bible all we want, but at the end of the day we’re just talking piles of dust and spit trying to define a deity that we can only see in a mirror dimly.
We know some things about God, but as NT Wright says, we can’t be 100% sure that all of our beliefs are right. And if we one day discover that God is different from us, what will we do?
I don’t think you can blog a rebuttal after standing before the judgment seat of God. Actually, I’m pretty sure about that one.
At a certain point we bump into our limitations and the likelihood that we have been wrong about God in some ways. We have to decide whether we’re willing to stick with God even if he dashes parts of our theology to bits, even if he appears unreasonable, intolerant, or too inclusive."
Mike Friesen posted this video on a day I really needed to see it:


I've had this song by the Avertt Brothers stuck in my head the past couple weeks... I really don't know much about the band other than the appearance they had on the Grammys with Mumford & Sons, and Bob Dylan; but checking their wikipedia page shows that their grandfather was a Methodist minister, so they get bonus points for being cool...

July 27, 2011

this week's round-up (july 27)

Not as much this week... here's the rundown:

Jeremy Smith on Creative Commons, Lewis Center and Link Love. Like Jeremy I think Creative Commons is a good way to approach issues of copyright, and I use a similar license (the only difference is I allow for derivative works, but require the same license to be employed).

One of the things that typically flies under the radar of many people is that Zondervan Books operates under the News Corp. umbrella, run by Rupert Murdoch, who recently made headlines because of the scandal related to News of the World. Will Braun has an interesting article in the Geez Magazine blog abut the connection, as well as some interesting insights from Shane Claiborne about how he personally handles his connection to the company. (via Slactivist)

Slactivist (aka Fred Clark), also addresses Rick Warren's tweet about taxes: To Whom Much Has Been Given.

Jay Voorhees: The Dilemma of Leading a Church in Decline.

Luke Burns: The Birthday Clown Consortium Price Guide. (Not church related, just something I found amusing).

From Andrew Conrad: Opportunity to Partner with Resurrection. Basically they are looking for 3 small membership congregations served by lay speakers or local pastors to become part of a multi-point circuit for a year. I think this is a REALLY interesting idea, and may be the future for maintaining some small-membership congregations, especially in isolated areas, and will be interested to see how this experiment works out.

Jen Lemen: How to be Happy (Part Four).

From the Father Apprentice blog: Conquer the In-Between State.

Michael Ratliff: Is the UMC really committed to young people's ministries? (via Gavin Richardson).

Jeff Goins: Saying You Want to Write Verses Actually Writing. I am totally guilt of this.

I hope there is more to this story than the way it is being spun, but the apparent move in Wisconsin to require people to possess state-issued ID to vote and then close DMVs in 10 different locations seems very suspicious.

Kurt Boemler on 7 Suggestions for those Studying to be a Pastor. The first point about business and leadership training is important AND lacking in traditional seminary education as he points out; I'm really glad Garrett is now offering their MDiv+ program (but wish it wasn't so expensive to alumni to participate). Also good points about mentoring (both in an official Board of Ordained Ministry capacity and more generally in terms of pastoral leadership).

Seth Godin: No Such Thing as Business Ethics.

I guess I'm still in a They Might Be Giants mindset, here's a cover of Tubthumping they did for The Onion AV Club (PS TMBG - why must you be so cruel to have your concert in Detroit be on a Saturday night? Some of us have to work in the morning... this is only made more cruel by have Jonathan Coulton open for you):

They Might Be Giants covers Chumbawamba

July 21, 2011

this week's round-up (july 21)

Neglected for about three weeks... quite a bit to catch up on... so less commentary, more links:

Seth Godin: The Overwhelming Fear of Being Wrong. Also: Naive or Professional, and via the Domino Project: The Evolution of Pop Culture.

Dan Dick: An Unlucky Parable. Also: Tough Love/Tough Luck.

Mike Slaughter: Vital Signs.

Teresa Cho: 10 Ways to Revive a Dying Church.

Jay Voorhees: Have the Courage to be the First Follower.

Donald Miller: Your Friends Don't Really Matter.

Will Willimon: By The Numbers.

Brian Dodd: 10 Signs Your Christianity Has Become Too Comfortable.

Ben Reed: Preaching and Self-Discovery.

Jason Hood: Why Theology? It was interesting that this came up in my news feed when it did, because a couple weeks ago I was walking over to an event where Peter Rollins was speaking; on the way the group I was with was stopped by a couple of college-aged women, who handed us some postcards and invited us to this "great Bible study" they were a part of. One of the people in our group offered a similar invitation to join us to hear Rollins speak. We tried to explain who he was as a philosopher and theologian, I even compared him to Rob Bell thinking that might be a point of connection, but they hadn't heard of Bell, either. They left saying, "We are more about reading the Bible, we don't really do theology." I so badly wanted to explain that theology fundamentally is about understanding, interpreting, and applying Scripture into practical life - if they only read the Bible but don't do theology, then they are just reading an empty book, but I held my tongue. (By the way, Peter was AWESOME - I even got to hang out with him after the event, even though I always feel a little stupid and intimidated to be in someone like Peter's presence, he was very cool, approachable, and funny).

Roger Olsen: What is "theological liberalism"?

Lifehacker: Why You Think You're Never Wrong and What To Do About It.

David Crumm: Farewell Borders - The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book.

Amy Valdez Baker: A Different Way of Doing Church.

Andrew Conrad: Snippets and Smidges of Faith.

Amy Julia Becker: Why We Don't Invite Our Friends to Church. Not sure I completely agree, but she does raise some good points.

Chad Holtz: I Really [M]ucked It Up This Time. I've mentioned Chad's honesty about his addiction before; this in another very painful chapter in his story. There is language some might find offensive in this post, but also a deeper truth that many need to understand and hear. Prayers for Chad and his family. (A side note: for the past month or so, I've really been listening to the Mumford & Sons album, and really wondering about the spiritual dimensions, or simply references, behind the album and Chad does a nice job of highlighting them).

Des Moines is the best city for young professionals. (Note: I won the "Take Pride in Des Moines" essay contest in 1987-ish. Also note: I no longer live there).

With the discussion about Prince and the changing music industry in my last round-up, I thought it was interesting to find this piece about Morrissey, and how he has a new album written, but can't get it recorded because he can't find a music label to record and distribute it. I think he makes some valid points - most labels aren't interested in legacy artists (although ANTI- seems like it could be a good fit), and at least he's honest about not being interested in self-releasing (although his comment about "not wanting to be innovative" misses the mark a little - it's no longer innovative at this point, it's really just a case of not doing work in that direction). I don't buy music like I did 20 years ago, but I'm also not as interested as listening to the "latest and greatest" sensation like I did back then. Someone like Morrissey now has an advantage (for me personally) because of name recognition, but the music needs to mature with the artist as well - they need to create something that connects with their changing demographic; and I believe that market is out there, they (music labels, artists) just need to be more creative and dedicated in rediscovering it and connecting with it.

The Onion: 97-Year-Old Dies Unaware of Being a Violin Prodigy. Obviously satirical, but raises an interesting question of what talents go undiscovered in our lives and in our communities.

Music this week from William Elliott Whitmore (don't know much about him, other than he is on the Anti- label and apparently from Iowa):


And how about one more for good measure - They Might Be Giants are certainly one of those bands that could fall into the "legacy" category, but they continue to find ways to connect with an audience (going into children's music was a brilliant move). This is from their latest album for adults, Join Us; for the video they put a challenge out to their fans to make their own. Here's the one John Hodgman selected as the winner:

June 30, 2011

this week's round-up (june 30)

Donald Miller is working on a series of podcasts with Chase Reeves that look interesting. Information about the the podcasts can be found here.

Andrew Conrad asks an important question about clergy friendships with congregants. The comments are good there, as well. It's a complex issue, because it gets into areas of professionalism and boundaries, but also into the very nature of what it means to be in pastoral ministry. It is easy to make bad analogies - I don't expect to be friends with my lawyer, doctor, or mechanic, or therapist but (hopefully) pastoral ministry is something more than that; it is more intimate, more personal, and clergy should be able to be more fully themselves. At the same time, developing friendships has the potential to disrupt the nature of the work when a professional role needs to be asserted, can create at least the appearance of playing "favorites" with congregants (leading the jealousy, etc.), and impact the itinerant nature of pastoral ministry in the United Methodist Church. I think it can be done, it just has to be carefully navigated; but this complexity is also a cause for supporting greater clergy-to-clergy interactions, relationships and friendships - so that needed network of support can happen in other systems; this is why I love things like Clergy Family Camp.

Speaking of friends from Clergy Family Camp - powerful poem from my friend, Jeff Nelson: Thanksgiving Ride.

Another friend, Bri Desotel, posted a great sermon on the Trinity. One of my favorite bits:

"See, whenever you think you’ve got the Trinity figured out,
  you need to stop and be very careful… 
 because, chances are, you just became a heretic. 
Whenever God makes sense, then we’ve made God far too small."

One more friend, from my days in the Wesley Foundation, Amy Valdez Baker provides a helpful analysis around the "vital congregation" discussion surrounding the UMC.

Really interesting post from Taylor Burton-Edwards on Ordination, Orders and Rule of Life - I think it was a couple years ago I was wondering to myself how monastic orders and rules might translate into the United Methodist Order of Elders as a way of developing identity, support and accountability. Burton-Edwards really develops this idea well beyond my initial questioning.

Church Warnock - Changing Demographics to Impact Small Churches. Just this evening, over dinner, I was reading the chapter in Generation Rising: A Future with Hope for the United Methodist Church on "Race: Grace and Unity in the Post-Civil Rights Era" that address the underlying issue in a United Methodist context, which talks about applying the means of grace to shape how congregations identify and be in ministry with our neighbors, with the challenge that we move from "multi-ethnic" (where we still expect "one size fits all") to truly "multi-cultural" (where we appreciate diversity as a sign of God's greatness).

David Fitch - STOP FUNDING CHURCH PLANTS, Start Funding Missionaries. This would require a major shift in thinking for United Methodists, but I think there are some really good points in there. I've wondered about how bi-vocational pastoral ministry might work before, and I think Fitch's post is part of the answer.

Seth Godin - Show me the meta-data.

Fred Clark - Cut waste, create jobs, save money. Seems like a simple, but beneficial idea to me. Also, check out Fred's post on the use and abuse of credit scores.

Prince won't record new music until internet piracy is under control. So in other words, Prince is done making music. While I understand the desire for greater copyright protection and how Prince might wish it was 1984 again, the reality is the world has changed. The system that helped make Prince famous - massive record labels, top-40 radio, and the youth culture hegemon of MTV - are no longer in place to help guarantee success, but the trade-off of financial guarantees is the very thing Prince said he wanted throughout the 1990s - creative control.

Prince now has the power to make any kind of music he wants, and he can distribute it, globally, without any kind of middle man to get in the way of how he might want to market it. Plus he is still in a far better position to do it than most artists still trying to make a living today - he still has name recognition AND the resources to create something people might be interested in. Yes, it means more work, with potentially greater risk, and lower returns, but if he is really interested in "the art" of music I'm sure he would still have enough of an audience wiling to pay that he could keep doing his thing.

The real problem, I suspect, isn't that people aren't stealing his music, but that no one really cares about his music anymore. He hasn't made anything that connects with a wide audience and gets people excited. I'm sure that's frustrating for him, but instead of being frustrated he has a choice - keep making music for that small group of fans that will always support him, or do something so good that it connects with a wide audience again. Until last Sunday I'd found myself feeling pretty burnt out around the music of U2 - I hadn't bought the last couple of albums, and wasn't really even listening to the old stuff anymore. Then I had a chance to see them live and they got me excited again. They knew how to play to the crowd, they kept their focus on their older music, slipping in only a couple of their more recent songs, but in was enough to get me interested in checking out those newer albums. I think there are still a significant number of people who would be interested in something new from Prince, he just has to connect with them and give them a reason to care. (Really I was thinking about Prince and changes in the music industry, but there is probably a lesson for the church somewhere in there as well).

Actually, Prince, should just check out this video with Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt, which pretty much explains what I was trying to say - the quote Seth Godin refers to "The enemy is not piracy, it's obscurity" really says it all:

Backstage with Seth Godin from Michael Hyatt on Vimeo.

From BikeHacks - How to Upholster your Bike Saddle - I actually need to do this on my old bike the old covering has become un-stapeled/un-glued... or I could probably save myself a lot of hassle and just buy a new one.

How $200 Million Changed Poetry (via Jordon Cooper)

Interesting infographic from Guy Kawasaki - How to Increase Your Likability:
Enchantment - Increase Likability

Might as well put up some U2 for today's music selection - this is from the 2000 album All That You Can't Leave Behind; I still want to learn bass guitar so I can seem as cool as Adam, and on Sunday, found myself wondering if I could ever pull off the "black stocking cap and goatee" look, like the Edge.

June 22, 2011

this week's round-up (june 22)

Donald Miller - Be Secretly Incredible.

Interesting comments on Scot McKnight's post The New Mission Field: The Rural Church - I don't think it's quite a simple telling people to come and open a doctor's office or a grocery store; there are significant economic and cultural factors that have led the the situation rural communities currently find themselves in, but I do agree with the overall spirit of the piece. Just like he need to remember the "places abandoned by the empire" like Detroit, we also need to recognize that rural communities aren't without their own set of challenges.

Preaching Hell Without Fire and Brimstone.

A Court Ordered Letter from Dora the Explorer's Mother. (A couple objectionable words in there for the sensitive, but still a pretty funny article).

Dan Dick reflects on his Annual Conference in The Unforgiving, but I imagine his comments apply to most Annual Conferences. It wasn't quite this bad in Detroit, but there were hints of the "everyone's a victim" mentality - and there is a definite need for grace and forgiveness on both sides.

Related: Great quote from Henri Nouwen on Forgiveness.

Lifehacker's guide to Maintaining Facebook Privacy.

Andrew Conrad outlines 6 Options for Church Online. Option 4 is the one I find myself most interested in at the moment - especially in terms of how the larger, regional churches can help resource rural congregations through things like streaming sermons (or full worship experiences). This has the option to provide solid preaching at low cost to congregations that are struggling to pay a full-time salary in a denomination that is experiencing a dramatic wave of retiring clergy. Of course, when I consider it in the context of the Scot McKnight post above, it makes that consideration a little more difficult - it's a temporary solution to a problem caused by a larger cultural shift, but I could also see how it could be interpreted as "giving up" on the smaller rural churches. I suspect there is a "third way" in all this that is more akin to our Methodist roots of itinerant preachers and congregations that were primarily lay led while the elder served the other churches of the circuit, but I still don't have a clear idea of what that might look like.

Teresa Cho - 10 Ways Pastors Muck it Up. Powerful, honest accounting of the mistakes we make in pastoral leadership.

Interesting video on a church that uses texting as an interactive tool in worship to ask questions & get feedback. It was also interesting when I saw this same video posted on facebook, and the initial wave of responses to it were very negative - how this is just one more distraction, and preaching shouldn't involve answering questions, etc. I get that there is a potential downside to this, but overall I see it as a creative way to engage the congregation.


I've really enjoyed Fred Clark's Slactivist blog since I discovered it a couple years ago, and my thoughts and prayers go out to him now that he's been laid off in Gannett's recent cutbacks.

Warning: This will raise your blood pressure: Draw a circle around the one God loves the most. (I'd choose the cat).

In terms of the song itself, I like Matt & Kim's "Cameras" better, but this is a great video - "Block After Block":