Ten Things I Think I Think (M.L.K. Day Edition)
1) Interesting excerpts from a book on Dr. King were just recently published in the latest issue of Time. I didn't know that in this final days, King was attempting to put all those suffering from poverty under the same umbrella for a major march on Washington. Would have truly been a sight to see, and quite frankly, that nobody else would have thought about this over the course of the last 40 years blows the mind. I guess nobody really has had the credibility and vision to get this done, and while I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories, I think the prospect of uniting together Caucasian coal miners from WV, Hispanic farmworkers from California, African-American working poor from urban communities all over the country, Native Americans trapped on reservations with no economic opportunity, various peoples from the near and far east who face their own issues of survival each day, and elderly on fixed incomes would scare some pretty powerful people. Makes you wonder why Dr. King was really assassinated that day.
2) Spent a couple of days in Wilmore, Kentucky last week preparing to start a Doctorate of Ministry (DMin). The process will begin this summer, and while at this time I don't have any particulars on schedule or content, I can tell you that my focus will be on issues of leadership and worship. Leadership in the sense of taking the church into bold new frontiers while not scaring the bejeebies out of everybody, and worship in the sense of how it might be changing over the course of the next twenty years (and how that might effect this congregation). More on this later as more information becomes available.
3) Am reading George Barna's new book, "Revolution", as per the recommendation by my friend the Rev. Paul Rebelo, and I have to say that it's leaving me conflicted. You see, in it, Barna basically asserts that the day is coming when the church will no longer be the dominant force in the shaping of disciples of Jesus Christ. Instead, Barna says that home churches, para-church organizations, various worship movements, and the internet will become the connecting place for Christians, and will also do a better job of making disciples ("revolutionaries" as it's termed in his book) than the church has.
Barna, a guy who made his mark by using the strategies of a marketing analyst to help gauge the effectiveness and future of the church has had much to say that's been utilized by Christian leaders over the last 15 years. Thus, I read what it is he has to say with a great deal of respect. However, I'm a skeptic regarding this latest assertion, in that the sample he gives is so small, and so disorganized, of these "revolutionaries" that I wonder how much of this is Barna tracking a trend already happening, or Barna trying to jump-start a trend? To get some perspective on Barna's view of the church, you need some perspective on Barna, and to do that, I recommend this article... http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/009/1.32.html and to get a perspective on the book you can go here http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=201
4) Spent the whole weekend, for the most part, watching NFL playoffs, which I haven't done in years. Normally, if I see a quarter of NFL football a week, that's a lot. I mean, I've skipped watching the Super Bowl three or four times (a startling revelation for some, but if you ever do it once, doing it a second time isn't really that big of a deal). I don't see me doing this again any time soon.
5) Lots of nice emails were sent in regard to last week's post ("Too Busy Not To Pray"). I don't want to beat the experience into the ground (as my sermon Sunday really focused on what happened that day, and the movement of prayer I used based on N.T. Wright's book, "The Lord and His Prayer", which uses the Lord's Prayer as a template that can be utilized as we pray through the needs of the world), but thanks for all of the nice words. I'd encourage you, if you're in the area, to try our "Prayer Walk" which will be set up in the Centrum during Holy Week (mid-April). Otherwise, take time each day to pray for the physcial and spiritual needs of others in light of God's justice working as it should in this world.
6) Our Haiti building team has left, or is leaving, this week for a couple of weeks of hard work building homes and a church. Now is really not a good time to go to Haiti, as the political situation is really up-in-the-air even more than normal, but need knows no season of convenience. Fortunately for those of you that have heard about the "kidnappings for ransom" that are becoming an epidemic in that country right now, rest-assured that the chance of this happening outside of the capital of Port au Prince is virtually nil. Our people, as always, are in the part of the country which has historically been very quiet and safe. As always, though, I'd ask to pray for all of the members of our Haiti team, which I'll do with a little extra prayer for the one participant who happens to be my dad.
7) Took Max to the ER at St. Rita's Medical Center last night for acute stomach pain. We were worried about appendicitis, but the staff there, under the able leadership of Dr. Gary Beasily (a member here at Shawnee) ruled out that possibility. Instead there appear to be other issues at work, and whether its a virus, or just bad gas, Max appears to have made it through the worst of the pain. Of course, now Aimee isn't feeling well. The cycle continues...
8) During the big bowl games a couple of weeks, the Southern Baptist Convention bought ad time in a number of its major markets to show a commercial it produced about the work it does in the world with those afflicted with poverty, disease, and natural disasters. According to Todd Rhodes of "Monday Morning Insight",
Officials at the nation's largest Protestant denomination have publicly worried for years about their image. Southern Baptists, they fret, are best known for what they're against: abortion, homosexuality, women pastors, dancing and Disney. The new ad is an attempt to shift attention to what Baptists are for without disavowing those controversial positions, Baptist officials say. "We need to take stands where we need to take stands," said Bob Rodgers, vice president of the Cooperative Program, the denomination's fund-raising arm. "But we haven't done a very good job telling people that, in Jesus' name, these are things we're doing because we love people."
Kind of strange turn of events when the SBC acknowledges that its more well-known for what it opposes than what its for. We'll need to keep an eye on this to see if maybe, faced with churches in it's own denomination that are becoming more globally aware (read: Saddleback Church) that the SBC might be looking to move a little more to the left in coming days.
9) Received an email this week from our fearless District Superintendent, who has told us that our District Transition Team's suggestion for our new district name (Northwest) isn't good enough for the Conference Transitional Team. You see, this summer we voted as an Annual Conference to decrease the number of districts from 14 to 8. This would be equivalent of Congress deciding that 50 states were too inefficient, and now we needed to consolidate them down to 32. Anyhow, the new district our church is in is composed of the old Lima, Findlay, and Defiance Districts, which is basically all of Northwest Ohio (besides Toledo, which because of the size of the population, gets its own district).
Now, apparently, the name we chose wasn't really in line with what the CTT had in mind. According the directive from the CTT I received by email this weekend, if those of us living here in the Northwest part of Ohio call our district "The Northwest District", it could cause problems of epic proportions. What problems, I'm not sure, but rest-assured, problems we don't even want to think about. So, now we are to go back to the drawing board to follow a "landmark" theme that's been established by the CTT.
Of course, if you've ever lived in this part of Ohio, you'll know that, besides being pretty flat, that it doesn't have too many "landmarks" that would be easily recognized statewide. I mean, outside of the Ottawa River (semi-affectionately known as "Hog Creek" here in Lima), which isn't exactly what you'd call a major American waterway, what else is there? We were once covered with glaciers ("Glacial MovementDistrictt"), a swamp (Wet Foot District), and a lot of trees (Full O' Nuts District), but those aren't really options any longer. Outside of "More Groundhogs Than People District", I'm at a loss, so I need your help.
Thus, if you are aware of a landmark that would sufficiently describe the body of land that stretches along the Indiana-Ohio boarder from Celina to Bryan, and as far east as Findlay and Lima, please submit your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org . I'll issue a prize of a five dollar gift certificate to Arby's to the winner, which will be announced on February 1st. Good luck!
10) I hope that my Bishop and DS don't read this blog. If they do, know that I'm really just using a pseudonymm, and that the real name of the person publishing this stuff is "Dr. Joseph Bishman". You may deal with me accordingly.
Have a great week!