Archive for June, 2010

What Has Come Alive For You? (From the the One Year Anniversary Service)

Monday, June 28th, 2010

At our one year anniversary service, people shared what has come alive for them over the past year.  Here are some responses.

  1. The voice for God.  One voice.
  2. Knowing that a church community can be a profound support.
  3. Enjoying singing and praising the Lord
  4. My heart: I have fallen in love with a beautiful woman.  My head: I feel God’s love and He helps me each and every with all of the little stuff.
  5. The power of a genuinely friendly, warm, embracing, staff, and congregation.  A personal relationship with the pastor spearheaded by his outreach.
  6. I grew up in BA but never felt like I was a contributing to the community – nor was I interested in doing so.  NCL has made me want to get involved. volunteer and give back.  Plus the music is awesome.
  7. Actually getting out of bed and wanting to go to church today (rather than sleeping in and watching Argentina – Mexico in soccer)
  8. Love an caring, genuine concern
  9. The sense of community – I am not alone in this place
  10. The Sunday message is a wonderful stepping stone into my week and allows me to view the challenges of the week differently.
  11. Going to church with my wife again.  My wife seeking church again.  Building a new home and joining a community again
  12. What’s come alive for me is that love is the only reality
  13. A spiritually relevant moment
  14. Religion is not complex.  At its root it, living a Christian life is simple.
  15. That spark has been missing for so long.
  16. My marriage, my health, my attitude
  17. Sense of belonging to something greater that the parts that make it up
  18. Desiring to volunteer
  19. Interest in service.  Interest to share the church.
  20. The sense of contributing to a community.   The church.  Small Groups
  21. Commitment to growing and expanding my spiritual path.  Falling in love with humanity.
  22. All religions, faiths. spiritiualities have love and truth at their heart and can be embraced
  23. Surrender gives me peace
  24. Learning that marriage is about teamwork and not just me!
  25. Community, church, time with family, music, happiness, taking home a message from church, empowerment.
  26. Excitement about reconnecting with God
  27. It is not just the dogma, it is the real hands of Christianity that I always hoped Christianity would be.
  28. Bringing the church into my everyday
  29. Being able to finally not feel like I have to do it all.  It is a relief to receive help too!
  30. A desire to attend church.
  31. A new desire to be in community with fellow church goers
  32. My heart feels free each week
  33. For the first time in my life I listen to every word and see the connection to life
  34. Religion has become more real to life
  35. Connections with people
  36. I actually love and look forward to church now
  37. I have a passion for it and want everyone to know about it
  38. Inherently feeling a desire to service others
  39. NCL has given me the time to many so many new friends and spend time to volunteer with my grandson. Thank you.
  40. The story of Jesus inviting the disciples to the place He was staying
  41. I became a better person.
  42. The realization that the Lord is active in  my life all the time, especially when I am open to Him
  43. Anticipation of belonging to a community
  44. Church is safe again
  45. Some different ideas, but you have not really told me that the New Church believes.  Good ideas.  But what is the theology?
  46. The importance of being a church community
  47. The ability to share my church with my friends
  48. The way God is in every little thing – right down to the secular music.
  49. The ability to volunteer gracefully/ easily
  50. To be a better person
  51. Hope for the future
  52. Service becoming a living part of the community and my life
  53. Being part of the Sigma (a local secondary school boys club) and helping out that was actually really fun, and we got sweet T-Shirts
  54. I am new hear but I could see my kids liking it because it doesn’t feel too religious.
  55. Being around great people
  56. Creating new relationships
  57. An appreciation for all the variety of ways the Lord constantly works to reach out to us His people
  58. Appreciating the hard work my dad puts into bang on the drums all day
  59. New direction, self assurance, many new friends, and a renewed spirit
  60. Seeing my children invested in the Lord/ worship in a more tangible, personal way
  61. Being part of a new supportive community
  62. Living the Monday church
  63. My son’s involvement
  64. Giving up my agenda.  Turning it over
  65. Community and fellowship
  66. A sense of belonging and the importance of relationship
  67. I actually listen to the message because it feels relevant to me here.  It feels like it is modern and fun
  68. The ability to give freely.
  69. Service to others
  70. I do matter
  71. NCL gives me the tools to be able to leave church and apply what I learned to my life right away
  72. Religion, Christianity, never made sense to me.  I never knew people in my church even after 15 years.  At NCL, the connection with God, community, and the clarity of the message has made church come alive for me
  73. It softened my hard heart
  74. it is something I can share with my son
  75. My husband and I are going to church on a more regular basis
  76. Togetherness, peace
  77. The willingness to be real.  Kindness, Love, Giving

One Year Anniversary

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Life has that breath – in and out.

I read several years ago a book that I think was titled “Congregation.” It was an oral history written by a man who spent one year with a New England congregation in the 80′s. The beauty of it was that it so clearly and candidly showed the ups and downs of life in a church.

It is up and down! There is constant feedback, suggestions, celebrations, concerns, deaths, accidents, births, engagements, weddings, divorces – pain and joy in almost every conceivable disguise.

The one year anniversary service this weekend is a chance to take a breather. Just yesterday I went through one of those momentary panics – Are we doing enough? And then I remembered – 12 in Yoga, 18 in Meditation, 18 in Strength, 20+ in Zumba. That is a lot of folks involved during the week with “Monday Morning Church.” Those low-key social events are every bit as important as the more in-depth weighty ones. It is so nice offering both. That is community.

My hope is to look back in a year and get how small those numbers are.  Or are they?   It is kind of cool thinking about growth and how a system is churning along creating these groups that people really love and that serve their needs – not my need to be in control and offer what I enjoy versus what others need :)

I am a Christian

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Last night was the first night of “Strength.” What struck me again was God’s grace so apparent. We worshiped, we sang (I am officially horrible!) and we shared community.

As we were wrapping up, I was talking with a dear friend and we both took a moment to listen to the chatter of lives being shared. That is the sound of a church being born.

I went to bed last night at peace. The thought struck me full force – I am a Christian – belief – still important and no longer central agenda. Christianity now far more about the community, about the breathtakingly tender moment of Jesus walking among us – showing and calling us to live WITH each other. Not NewChurch LIVE “staged” but New Church ALIVE.

We work on the church so the church can work on us

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

So many thoughts going through my head up the upcoming NewChurch LIVE Anniversary Service.

What do I hope to communicate?

  1. God has given us a vision for this Church
  2. That vision really matters
  3. It is a vision we can only accomplish by partnering with Him and others with an eye to service
  4. Vision demands sacrifice.
  5. There comes a point in time when we need to step in in a new way
  6. Not an “old” church model of conversion but a “new” church model of engagement.  Full engagement – that is the new way.
  7. What are you willing to sacrifice to engage in that vision?

Avatar and the Oil Spill

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Today we started working even more in earnest on an upcoming series called “Footprints” in which we look at issues around taking care of the planet.

This series is coming together with a lot of work from the Sustainability Small Group as well as the production team

What a topic. The video of the oil spilling into the Gulf was incredibly disconcerting. Avatar was incredibly inspirational in many ways. So there you have it – trying to walk that line between a candid discussion of what is and hopeful discourse of what could be.

The Bible is filled with many messages that help to move us forwards. One author noted that one cannot read the Old Testament without being struck by the overwhelming number of passages that deal with the fertility/ infertility of the land. The paradigm she spoke of was simple. We must move the discussion from being only about “possession” to being about “care.”

Guilt That Imprisons

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Many of us are saddled with guilt. It could come from past mistakes, from areas of our life where we don’t “measure up”, from a false image of ourselves that we hope to project but that really keeps us in prison.

The thought I had during church today was about how hard it is truly “turn around.” As noted, we are often clutching the bars of our own prison, face out, not realizing that the door is actually open behind us.

God’s interest in the end is the change, not guilt.

Feeling Guilty as a Parent

Friday, June 11th, 2010

I imagine we all have shared the experience of being shamed.  Parents, even the best of parents, I imagine slipped at some point in this regard, saddling their children with a overwhelming “guilt trip” that creates the experience of being shamed.

I get why  we call it a “trip.”  During my own lapses with my kids, that is exactly what it was – a recitation of a litany of transgressions – an oh so unpleasant trip down memory lane.  The word is hard to write but the word that comes to mind is “berating.”

So how do we hold those moments?  In working on the Alcatraz series with the content team, it is clear guilt is a two edged sword.  There is, as God makes clear a positive form of guilt.  “Remorse” might be a good synonym.  This positive guilt focuses attention on accountability and action – i.e. “I erred.  This is where.  This is what I am doing to make it right.”  Without some degree of healthy guilt, repentance is impossible.

And guilt can do too far.  Negative guilt tends to frankly shrivel the soul.  It keeps one imprisoned – small, dark space, all alone.  It can go so far that we suffer from a spiritual version of the “Stockholm Syndrome” – a syndrome in which we fall in love our captors.  As Shada Sullivan noted, this in turn becomes the very personification of hell’s impact on us.

Moving beyond negative, imprisoning guilt is immensely challenging.  Maybe one “Monday Morning” thought – God is more interested in change than in guilt.

Fear and Growth

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Funny how fear and growth so closely align. I often feel pulled by two worlds as we go about growing NewChurch LIVE.

World One is a world of deep joy. I hear often from people who have joined us on this journey as they talk about what has come alive for them. As Father Gregory Boyle said, it is the opportunity to be an enlightened witness – enlightened by their light as it flicks “on.”

World Two has a lot of fear. Can we grow fast enough? Are we serving effectively enough? Am I consistently being God centered enough?

The reality of life, as one peer said, is navigating the straight and narrow between those elements of lightness and dark.

There is much to be thankful for. There is much work to do, much to push through. Somewhere in the middle is that enlivened peace.

In your head and you are dead

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Posted on Facebook:
Reading this morning about the dangers of when a church becomes solely about intellectual belief vs. life. Wish I had read it last week and I could have used in Alcatraz I!

This is where I would have tied it in. In the bible passage we looked at Jesus warned this disciples they would be bound over to the synagogues. That pictures in our life, as we move forward, we will have to face a concept of “church” in which the ceremony, the belief, the intellectual construct takes precedence over life, service – love.

Easy to place that battle “out there” but God is always kind enough to remind us that the real battle is “in here.” If we use teachings like this to divide churches that “get it” from churches that don’t, we have fallen into the trap of dualistic thinking – one where our belief supersedes that of another!

My battle starts with knowing that we are on a great path with NewChurch LIVE, a path I love. That can lead to a form of judgmental-ism that holds other churches in low esteem. The result? Blindness to their heart, their love, their needs.  In trying to do it differently, I can fall back to doing it the same.

Love and Change

Monday, June 7th, 2010

One author wrote that we have to get of the concept of that we change so that we can be loved and flip it to love others so they can change. I like the concept.

Seems very clear that is what Jesus was out to do, giving that living example of what God does. He clearly loves us SO THAT we can help carefully and lovingly enough to have the courage to change. Fun to think how the commandment to “fear” God might fit in with this.