Archive for January, 2010

What’s At Stake?

January 30, 2010 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? I heard it again this past week at our denomination’s theological conference. Every year the 3 synod’s of Texas and Louisiana get together for a Tri-Synodical Theological Conference. This year’s topic was “La Vida de Fe” or “The Faith Life.” It surrounded the topic of Spanish ministry and Spanish spirituality. It was great! But right there in the middle of the conference I heard it again. I heard the phrase, “We are an aging church.” I hear that so often- we are a dying/aging church. As a young pastor in the ELCA (now 31) this bothers me. I have yet to hear or a attend a theological conference by my denomination about how we address this. We say it all the time, but what about a conference around the spirituality of those in their 20s- to mid 30s? What is their spirituality? Why aren’t they in church? How can we address their absence in our congregations? Are we willing to let somethings go in order for us to reach out to them? I mean, let’s face it, just getting a young preacher, isn’t going to get them flooding back into the pews. Yes, it might help, but it’s not going to solve the issue. The people within the church need to figure out how important it is for them to reach out to this non-existent age group. It may mean letting go of some things. It may mean learning to do things differently. Are we willing to take such risks? Are we willing to allow our times on Sunday mornings to include worship that reaches out to this demographic? Are we willing to offer small groups that address their seeker faith? What’s at stake is the future of the church. What’s at stake is our denomination continuing to grow older and not represent the communities around us. What’s at stake is us standing, as the Israelites were about to enter the promised land, with a generation not knowing God’s story. We can’t just say that we want younger people in our churches without being willing to make changes to allow that to happen. More later. And that’s the good word for today.

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God’s Grace

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? I recently came back from a leadership retreat I helped to lead at Camp Allen for my congregation’s leadership team. It was last weekend and it was GREAT! One of the best one’s I have attended. Usually I come back from these tired and with a whole list of stuff to do, but that wasn’t the case with this one. I felt energized, I felt God moving, and I felt us moving forward in ministry. We took a long hard look at the mission and vison statements of our congregation. It’s a long story but in the end we came up with a new purpose statement that I will begin to speak about on Sunday. I remember at one point everyone was looking at it on the board and thinking something was missing in the new purpose statement. The slogan for Messiah, the congregation I serve, is ” A Grace Place”. People were missing the word grace. How wonderful, I thought. We ended up adding it in, but by adding it in it allows me to talk and teach about grace. What is grace? We speak about it often, but what is it? Do we really show it? As simple as I can put it is that grace is the unconditional, undeserved love of God for sinners. This is a love that comes to us without conditions and undeservedly. There’s nothing we can do to earn it. It’s ours. And grace is something the world needs more of. Not more talk about it, but actually seeing it. When we say we are a place of grace, we are saying in essence that this will be a place where the unconditional, undeserved love of God will be extended. And why? Because it was extended to us. And when we receive that, when people recieve this type of love, it has the power to transform lives. Can we create a culture where that is the case? Of course we can, but we will have to work at it, and the good news is we will constantly need to be reminded that it is extended to us. And that’s the good word for today.

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