A Quick Note: Most of today's post was written before I learned of the deaths of the two high school students from Shawnee High School. As a matter of fact, despite the time of accident, which was at about 4am this morning, word didn't arrive to me until late this evening. Wish we had known this morning, or we would have lifted up the boys and their families in prayer during the worship service. This is obviously a very difficult time for the community, and I don't want to minimize the weight and gravity of the situation. I have offered the church, it's staff, and whatever resources we possess to the school system, and encourage everyone to pray for the Blosser and Dick families. If you would, please take time and pray for them.
1) Coolest thing to happen to me in awhile: Tonight at Max's swim team banquet, it was revealed that at Championships this weekend, Max's 100 Meter Medley Relay set a new team record, eclipsing the old team record by 8 seconds. Now, his name and the names of his three relay mates will go up on the Meter Record Board (there's a different record board for pools that are 25 yards, and not meters... which includes ours) affixed to the side of the clubhouse. As soon as the names are up, you can bet there will be a picture up on this website. Guaranteed.
2) Biggest Challenge Right Now: Just taking on a million things at once at church. Joseph once told me that when a church is small, managing it is a lot like playing checkers. You just pick the most advantageous move, and then wait to see what happens before you make another. Then he said that when a church grows, what happens is that managing it becomes more like chess. You have to think how making a move that effect other people, staff, or programs in a congregation. But then after awhile, if growth continues, what happens is that you have to make multiple decisions/moves all at the same time, because that is what is demanded as the complexity of the situation heightens. Shawnee is a church that is beyond chess. Youth ministry, adult discipleship, growing the children's programing, finance planning, home visits, a growing list of that which must be replaced or repaired, worship planning demands, staff issues, volunteer recruitment, and much more all present challenges that need to be addressed, now. So the questions becomes, how do you start making multiple moves, or what few things do you choose to move first, while putting off the others just a little bit longer? That friends, is what I'm trying to figure out, right now, and the clock is ticking.
3) The Thing That Happened to Me I Didn't Really Know How To Handle: In the first service today, for whatever reason, a small group of quasi-charismatics ended up in our church today. Can't say as I've been "Amen-ed" as much in my life as I was in today's service. Quite frankly, I'm not sure what to do with charismatics, I may have to give Kent Reynolds (the resident "Holy Spirit" guy from my Beeson class) a call for some advice. Can't say a guy who has described himself as "a long-haired, hippy, liberal, United Methodist pastor" has ever been identified as being "filled with the Spirit". Filled with fried chicken, maybe, but not filled with the Spirit.
4) Best Backhanded Compliment I've Had In the Last Two Months: A member of the congregation stopped me last week to let me know that the first half of last week's sermon kind of lost her, and apparently those around here. Never, I was told, were so many people check their bulletin, their cell phones, purses, or staring off into space as they were last week. "But the second half of that sermon, Bryan, was something we had to hear. You really nailed it there."
Gotta love a little bit of honesty.
5) Best Unintentionally Funny Conversation I've Had In the Past Couple of Weeks: Was out and about, filling up the motorcycle (only four gallons, to take me another 200 miles... YEAH!) when someone, who apparently recognized me, grabbed me to say "hello"
"Wow it's great to see you. How long has it been? We sure do miss you at the church."
"Um... (me trying to place the face, but just can't)... a long time."
"So", they asked, "what church are you serving now?"
"Shawnee" I replied.
"Yeah. That'd be the one."
"Wow! That's great! How long have you been back?"
(Pause, and then laughter) "I guess it's been longer than I thought since I've been to church."
How can you make this stuff up?
6) "A Statement I Just Kind Of Threw Out There That's About To Bite Me In the Keester": Happened to mention in church, sometime over the past few weeks, that one of the things I'd like to do this summer is to camp out with the boys in our backyard, but that I'd need to find a tent or something before that could happen. Well, I pretty much forgot those words as soon as I said them, right up to this morning when Sue Dickerson invited me over to her house to pick out one of her tents that I could use for the big excursion. Now it appears that I will, very, very soon, will be sleeping on the cold ground, which is fine. But I fear that I'll also have to navigate where Lucy's dog piles are in the pitch black back yard at 2:30am when Elijah, who will insist that he has to be with all the guys, wakes up in a panic not knowing where he is, and (Heaven Forbid) where his mother is. Better pick up a "Super Duper Pooper Scooper", pronto. That, and be more careful about what I say. Next time, I say camping, but instead of the word "tent" use "luxury cabin alone with my wife" instead.
7) Thing That If You Missed It You Shouldn't Have: If you live in the Shawnee area, have elementary age or young kids, and haven't been to one our Family Fun Nights, mark August 10th on your calendar cause you won't want to miss the next to last one of the summer (we'll do the annual "Sea of Galilee Party", where kids, among other things, will get to fish over as Sims' pond). Every one of these events has been fantastic. They're real laid back, have lots of stuff for kids to do, always feature activities for parents and kids together, and make available free eats. It is, without a doubt, the best kept secret in the township (although given the increase in the number of people from the first to the second event, maybe the word is out). My boys didn't want to leave, and believe me when I say that they are not ones to want to hang around the church for long periods of time, cause too often in their minds, that's what they have to do. Just a great, great time for all!
8) Thing That Made Me Scratch My Head Today: After a post-worship lunch, Aimee and I left our angels with my folks, and headed over to a local carpet store. Our basement, mercifully, is almost done, but before we're finished, we'll need to carpet the basement, as the old stuff wasn't savable because we tore down some interior walls to make it more open and bigger. We had already received one quote, which included $7.00 per square yard for labor, and $.50 per square yard for 8lb. padding. At the establishment we stopped at today, though, the labor was only $4.69 a yard - which sounded great! Considering the carpet we liked was marked down, we figured we had a winner... right up to the moment we asked about the cost of the padding.
"$3.99 per square yard for 8 lb. padding, which is the industry standard."
Apparently, there isn't a rule of thumb on this kind of thing. Maybe I'll just paint the floor, and buy a lot of pillows.
9) Trade That Needs To Happen Soon: The "Drew-Gooden-for-Mike-Bibby" rumors appear to be heating up, and say, "Make that trade yesterday if you can Danny Ferry!!!" The Cavs were one point-guard away from actually matching up well with the Spurs. If the Cavs had made this trade back in February, when it was first rumored, you can bet that Bibby would have eaten Tony Parker's lunch, and that wedding in France to the Desperate Housewives actress wouldn't have been nearly as festive. A starting line up of Bibby, LeBron, Big Z, Pavlovic, and Gooden, (because Larry Hughes was the player the Kings wanted at the time), with Varejao, Marshall, Gibson, and Brown coming off of the bench would have been a lot more interesting and turned the four game laugher into a real series.
Now, by parting with Gooden, they'll need to resign Varejao and Pavlovic, buy out Damon Jones' contract (the guy who is the self-proclaimed "world's greatest shooter"... after the buyout, he'll be able to add "playing in Turkey" to that title), and "Allen Houston" Larry Hughes so they can sign another scorer, and then let Scott Pollard and Ira Newble's contracts run out so they can bring in some vets to bang down on the boards. Gotta pull out all the stops before LeBron leaves Cleveland in two years for New York or LA, where he can become the "Global Icon" he desires to be. For the first time since Wayne Embry ripped out the hearts of Cavs fans everywhere by trading Dayton native and Miami alum, Ron Harper, for Danny Ferry, the future really is now.
Hey Danny, I believe your time has finally arrived!!!!!!
10) Most Popular Post of the Past Five Months: Want to know which of my posts, over the past four or five months, has been the most popular the day of, and after it was posted? Well, if you guessed my post on "Clergy and Retiree Health Insurance" amazingly enough, you'd be correct. Close to a couple hundred people in just a couple of days stopped by to check out that post (with a large number of those coming from the denominational board offices in Nashville and New York) which my friend Paul described as a post that would only succeed in "scaring people away".
Shows what he knows. Better stick with writing sermons and revitalizing churches, buster. Leave the important stuff - like blog topics - to the pros.
Anyhow, if that blog could obviously get passed around, and people would actually read it, then how hot a topic is health care right now? Presidential hopefuls (because there is so many of them that read this blog), you'd be crazy not to take this issue on right now. It is your ticket to victory.