#Confession #lent the #bible is clear

Prayer of Confession:

Embodier of God’s Love, teach us your love. This week our confession is that we are not willing to make the sacrifice. We are more concerned about who is a part of the kingdom, instead of loving those who might not be. We ask, what must I do? Yet the Bible is clear. When people in the Bible said Moabites were bad (Deut. 23), then Ruth the Moabite came to love Naomi in heroic ways. When the people of the Bible proclaimed that those from Uz were evil (Jer. 25), Job from Uz was uplifted as the the most blameless man on earth. When God’s people hated Samaritans, Jesus told a Samaritan who was the only one to love an injured neighbor. When foreigners and eunuchs were banned (Deut 23), an African Eunuch is prompted by the Holy Spirit to be baptized into the church. (Acts 8). When the story begins with prejudice and fear, the Spirit of God moves them to be stories of God’s openness, welcome, inclusion and affirmation. We confess that often time our story is one of worry and doubt, about what we can do, about what others can do to us. Turn our story into God’s story, the story of love. We confess ourselves and pray that we are changed here and now. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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Kids & Church

I grew up in the church…as a pastor’s daughter….I go to church now as a pastor, but my siblings don’t ..but they might someday, who knows? I don’t think it was about whether they were in or out of church service, I think its about their beliefs and the problem of they aren’t sure how they feel and the church makes it out like “you shouldn’t go to church unless you believe/act/do exactly what we want”

I feel like that may be the answer for them, but for different people, the reasons are different.

Two blogs about children surfaced this week Sunday School is killing the church (which is really about the timing of Sunday School, altho the title makes our poor underpaid youth pastors even worse off)

and The Church Should Be the Thing that Backs Down

Both of these blogs actually are trying to address a larger issue

Which is Families are CRAZY busy!

 

I mean seriously, a parent used to stay at home with the children, one working person households used to be totally feasible, plus kids had more free time. Primary socialization for families (I mean the entire family , the parents and the children) used to happen at church.

Unless we change the economy (are you helping by justly paying your church workers? or asking them to only work the hrs they are paid for? If not your church is PART OF THE VERY PROBLEM YOUR COMPLAINING ABOUT) …….we need to look deeper.

Let me tell you something, almost every stay at home parent is one because they can’t get a job that will actually contribute to the family monetarily….i.e. childcare, work clothes, gas, etc. eats all their pay

Almost every person I know is being told to work harder (put in more hrs, be more available, don’t complain about anything ever) in their job (or risk losing it) with almost no prospects of moving up

Almost every person I know with children has more demands for homework and time than ever before…plus you are never supposed to let your child play out of your sight ever again (assuming you are a middle or upper class parent) because that is “bad parenting”

Want to know why parents put their kids in babysitting/Sunday School during church? They need a break

Some parents even send their children to Sunday School and don’t even bother going to church themselves (gee…what need is that signaling) More than once I’ve heard of a church with a “problem” with it being just used as a free babysitting service.

Why is it those activities that happen not on Sunday Morning are rarely attended by kids? Usually parents have some other activity they have to attend, like sports or family time or other things (I would say “How dare they” but I don’t think everyone would hear my sarcasm)

Its tough to be a family…

And the church offers very few family resources…almost nothing to parents about parenting, few things where the entire family will ENJOY the activity (note letting children come to something IS NOT the same thing as welcoming them)

Plus most church meetings are over bedtime, which makes it really hard for a parent to come unless they pay a babysitter…even onsite care won’t help to defeat bedtime. (as my colleague Ryan Timpte says)

Deeper issues

1. Families are busy

2. We treat children as a commodity

3. Families are rarely given truly family appropriate activities to join

4. Parents are tired

5. The Weekend doesn’t exist for most people (Saturday used to be a day off too, rarely is it)

Can we reclaim Sabbath? (do we know what that means to different people and how to build that?)

Can we work with families?

Can we support parents?

Can we help the economy and idea of overwork–even if its just in our own church environment?

Can we address these problems as opportunities….because until we do, we will continue to make claims of “such and such” killing the church. And as Katie Bombalurina Mulligan said

1. We are a resurrection people, so death is not an existential crisis for us or our institutions (easier said than realized, but yeah)

2. No one thing is “killing” the church

3. The church isn’t actually something that can die. It’s an institution that might end, but the people inside are what is living.

4. The articles are written with lazy generalizations (this too is a lazy generalization. back atcha).

5. There are so many different forms and ways of doing church. if you feel yours is unfaithful, go try some more ways. and then some more.

6. If we’re going to animate the church as a living entity, then the church is supposed to die, because nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky (~Kansas. or Ecclesiastes. Take your pick. Also, that rhymed.)“

Something to SERIOUSLY consider when discussing “those cutesy beings who are the future of the church”

or as I prefer to think of them “These children of God who have so much to contribute”

What’s Good about Church

I know the church is theoretically dying, that its full of old people, judgmental and is out of date….but here is what I like about church

1. The Music<–need I say more, no where else am I permitted to belt out the hymns I know, sort of know and fake knowing with no commentary on my performance and more commentary on how “fun” the music is!!!

2. Insta-Community: Its not perfect, but this is an intergenerational community that intentionally hangs out once a week, and (in better situations) more. Moving to a new community, church is still a great way to feel supported!

3. Sabbath: The rest of my life seems to be about “me” “my situation” and “where we are right now” from monetary woes to relationship troubles to personal epiphanies (yay), the church is a place to take a rest from myself and take Sabbath, to focus on the community.

4. Hope and Joy: Very few places are a haven to practice hope. It is much easier to critique society and the people within it then to intentionally practice hope (even while we acknowledge our deeply rooted brokenness and imperfections). The demands to be perfect are WORLDY, the celebration of life to be  joyful and hopeful are Christian (i.e. Good news! For more on this read my LOL Pastor post)…We not only confess what is true now, but hope, pray and preach of the community that can and will be thru Christ….think about that.

5. We are a bunch of like-minded people striving to experience something different: Most churches are 99% one race and 1% another. Yet, even though we aren’t good at it, and even though churches can be trapped into being an “us” “them” relationship, our call is to preach to the ENTIRE WORLD. (or one of my new favorite phrases…all creation).  To experience God is to experience something fundamentally different than oneself, the very fact we are open to that experience gives me hope for the church.

6. Relationships: I know of no other place than in Worship that we get to work on all of the relationships in our lives–we give ourselves time to figure out how to better our loving of our neighbor, self, enemy, friend, stranger and God. HOW COOL IS THAT? The only thing close is therapy, and that tends to be more specific. Yet in church we give at least an hour a day to work on ALL of the relationships in our lives (to me this reason alone is worth it)

7. Faith: Church is a place to come wherever you are on your faith journey (despite advertisements to the contrary). It is a community of differing beliefs that come together to build the richer and deeper experience of faith. If you don’t believe everything or even anything one week, you have a community, holding onto faith for you whenever you need it….

8. Empowering: Got a local passion or need? Church is a great way to funnel a real and hands on mission. If you feel called to so something, then the church is designed to equip, volunteer for and experience that mission. When churches falter on mission, its because they often lack the motivation or energy for a project, but if you are feeling compelled church can be a great place to real-ize that call….

9. Everyone is Welcome: This is a struggle for churches and individuals…church’s often hold a few curmudgeons, some fussers and one or two explosive personalities. Why? Because we are trying to practice universal love–like a family you may not like everyone in your congregation, yet you are working hard to get on with them. And this is a volunteer organization, we aren’t putting up with each other for money or a promotion (most of the time), we are doing it because individuals are important, because there should be room for everyone and because we value the fact that you are practicing your faith, even when it doesn’t look exactly like mine. We falter, we have power struggles and arguments, we say stupid things…but we also a a safe haven for the sick, the bossy, the imperfect, the tired, the annoying, the messy, the uptight, the mentally ill, the ostentatious , the loud, the meek, the ones who think they are perfect, the slow, the way too fast, the sick, the short, the tall, the bad singers, the mumblers, the addicts, the religious, the areligious, the sometimes/allthetime/onlyChristmasandEasterattendees. We don’t do as good a job as I’d like, but that’s because (let’s face it) these bunch of crazies are the ones welcoming you at the door, and heaven knows we have our own brokenness to struggle with…but we’d love to welcome yours too!

10. People like to talk about God–even people who don’t believe in God, like to talk about who God is (and isn’t) where God is (and isn’t) and how that plays a role in their lives. My friends would often broach the subject: in bars, at parties, during or after movies, on walks, wherever and whenever they are…..People like to talk about their spirituality…..Church is a place to do that…a place to kick around your ideas about what may or may not exist, to do the spiritual work of figuring out where you stand and (more importantly) what implications that has on your life…..

PS for another good read check out http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nakedpastor/2013/08/its-our-fault-millennials-are-leaving-the-church/ on who millennials are (not just why they are leaving the church). Here is his comic….why millennials are leaving the church cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

 

Its not safe…

There has been an unspoken understanding that the church parking lot is fair game in the neighborhood. Recently people have been throwing trash in our dumpster to move and advertising free parking with the house that was on the market, re: our parking lot.

Maybe we should have a sign like this——>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

We have left notes and had conversations (Mostly in which the drivers were angry with us) about the fact that as the church increases our activity it is harder for us to let them park, especially since we have signs all over saying its illegal anyway (and I really don’t want to tow anyone to get my point across) I’ve been struggling about what to do with this, on the one hand it feels like we have been taken advantage of, on the other hand I want to practice Grace.

Grace is not safe. It is not an easy or even “nice” course. Grace is dangerous, its opening up your vulnerabilities and allowing others to be vulnerable too. How? Grace is giving space to another. Space for them to live into themselves, and there is a cost.

God is the God of grace because she created a space within herself in order to create us (Moltmann does a good job of describing this). God created space separate from Godself in order to create us, her children.

Grace is giving space to people who you don’t want to give space so and forming relationships AS you give them that space. Its acknowledging that everyone is human and broken
Sidenote: My church going to see Les Mis and discuss grace, but here is (I think) the point “Grace making bad guys into Good Guys and Good Guys into heroes since the beginning of time”–Katy Stenta

So what am I going to do about the people who are taking up space in our parking lot? I think maybe I’ll go over, tell them that I’ve noticed that they have parked in our lot and invite them to church…

“Once a pastor has turned you off from talking to them, they have failed. After all, that is their whole job to be available to talk to them. So if you go off alienating people or judging them, you’ve not only done someone else’s job, but you’ve already failed at being that person’s pastor”

Realitieis of pasotring, otherwise entitled “if its ever in my job description to judge people, then I’ll quit” (my ministrial motto

 

Me: “Who does Westley (m…

Me: “Who does Westley (my 2yr old) say hi to?”
Congregation: “Everybody”
Me: In fact he’s quite militant about it. If you say hi once, you are doomed to continue to say hi to him all day!

Best synopsis of my sermon about welcome today. Text: Mark 9:30-37

30They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

33Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”