Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Wal-Mart Doubles as Church

So, after nearly three days of snowed-in-ness, my family was dying to get out of the house. To do something. To go anywhere. So we loaded up for an outing to the local neighborhood Wal-Mart. It quickly became apparent that everyone else in town had the exact same idea at the exact same time.

Now I will say that since I work for a church and our town is small, I never go to Wal-Mart without visiting with at least three people. But today's outing was unprecedented! We had good conversations with at least fifteen people about deep heart-felt things. There were also several head-nods, "hey, hiya"s and distant waves. It was truly a community event. And, as we missed Wednesday services this week due to weather, it really felt like our mid-week "church" experience.

Which leads me to today's pondering: what does it take to make a "church"? Since the church is to be a grouping of people who are trying to be supportive and redemptive in people's lives, our community, our culture, and our world, why couldn't my Wal-Mart trip be classified as "church". And since some of the people I talked to may have a hard time walking into a traditional sanctuary, maybe this is even more "church" than church.

So how do we start looking for these opportunities to have "church" where we live? Let me know your thoughts, experiences, and whether this messes with you like it does me.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My New Favorite Space

So this week I spent some time in my new favorite space...the updated College & Career Classroom.

(Let me clarify that location: It is the little upstairs room - not the big upstairs room - in the Family Life Center above the kitchen where the College & Career class used to meet before they met downstairs but where they are meeting again now. Clear?)

I went up to the room to do some reading and praying and found myself just inspired by my surroundings. As I have been doing a lot of evaluating of why and how we do ministry things at 180, I was keenly aware of all the elements in this room that created an inviting environment for people to connect and hear from God.

So I made a list:


I know. I'm a nerd, but I was just really excited about these things I saw. Excellent job to all involved in creating a space where people can be invited into a true relationship with God and get involved in a loving & real body of believers!

Amber's Video Blog

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ponderings on Culture

I would call myself a student of culture.

I am very interested in the things that make people and society tick. I am fascinated by the things people use to define themselves. I am intrigued by what glues people together. I watch a lot of movies, listen to a lot of music and surf a lot of web as a part of "research". And ultimately I look at these things to figure out how best to communicate God's love and connect people to a relationship with their Creator.

Now there are a lot of different opinions about how we as followers of Christ should respond to the culture we see around us. I would call this the "culture war".

Some people think we should mask or conform ourselves to what current culture looks like in order to reach those (to quote an old Relient K song) "the world just loves to hate". This week as a part of my "research", I've been watching this documentary called "One Punk Under God" about Jay Bakker & Revolution Church.
Jay is the son of the fallen televangelist team of Jim & Tammy Bakker. And, after a lot of struggles and soul-searching, Jay has come to grips with God's love and forgiveness and started a church that reaches out to people who have been turned off by religion. But I see Jay struggling with compromising truth in order to reach out to "culture".

On the other side you have this perspective that attacks our culture and says it must change. But those who hold to this thought pattern have a tendency to be judgemental and self-righteous.

So I feel that I have swung between these two perspectives, trying to figure out what the right response to "culture" should be.

But this week I read an article that challenged me with a whole new perspective. It said we shouldn't respond to culture but we should create culture. Wow. What a concept. Our responsibility isn't to look like pop culture or attack it, but to create the type of culture that people are longing for. Offering the things that are broken or lacking in the mainstream culture. Creating the environment that will define and connect people the way God intended.

So, let me know what you think that culture should look like. What does it look like for our lives to be 180 from the world's? What does it mean to turn ours and others lives right side up? Let's start creating that culture!

Friday, January 9, 2009

In Case You Missed It

This was our intro video this past Wednesday

It was an exciting return to 180 Wednesday Nights. We are wanting to recast a vision for this service to be a time to hear from God, interact with His Truth, and let that Truth change our lives. We started a new series (Is God...? - a study/discussion on who God is and why He is important to our lives) with a new format (small group discussion with adult leaders), and the responses I've gotten so far are overwhelmingly positive. Lots of groups I've been told shared very real, very thoughtful responses to the questions about how you've seen God be real and is He easy to understand and who do we think He is. Most of the adults were very impressed with the level of honesty that was given as we admitted to our doubts. I cannot wait to see where this goes in the next few weeks.

We do want to hear from you: your responses, your questions. We want this discussion time to be about where you are at with understanding God, so tell us what you struggle with. We want to include your thoughts and perspectives.

And, oh yes, in case you missed it, we did turkey bowl!

Friday, January 2, 2009

A New Year!

Another year is here.

And many people have celebrated its coming in many ways. Apparently I did so by playing bagpipes in Nova Scotia, as this picture suggests. This photo was on Fox News' website with the caption: "Jan. 1: Mark Elliott plays the bagpipes as he heads to the government wharf to participate in the annual polar bear swim in Herring Cove, Nova Scotia."

But with a new year it puts us to thinking about resolutions and the future and questions.

As we get back to normal this next week with with school and work and (FINALLY!!) the return to our Wednesday Night Program, I want us to wrestle with these issues of our visions for our future & our desire to grow & the questions we have about faith, life & God. On January 7th we will be starting a series of weekly discussions about our questions and our aspirations. We will be challenging ourselves to explore and maybe even deconstruct our definitions of God and why we believe this way. We will be searching for truth in our lives and the lives of others. And hopefully we will be moved to action and change in our lives because of what we discover.

So I want to challenge you to get a head start. Start thinking about who you think God is and why. Why do you think/know He exists? Why/Is He important to your daily life? And as you come up with these questions, post those as a comment to this blog. We want to include your ideas in our discussions. So tell us your fears, your doubts, your questions and then come on January 7th as we start exploring the answers. -God Bless!