10 Books About Church

Books 07I am a church planter working with a nascent church that targets Millennials and folks who have given up on church.  Most of my pastoral life has been spent (over 40 years) in pretty traditional churches that failed in their calling to be outposts rather than fortresses.  My last 10-15 years have been occupied with reading books relating to the matter of how to go about being the church in this age.  Some of them have been critiques of the church such as unChristian by Kinnaman and Lyons.  This book results from research done among Millennials and their assessment of churches today, particularly Evangelicals.

Two statistics are startling to me and have caused me to want to think more and more deeply about what church should look like in this part of the 21st century.  In the 2010 census it was found that 20% of respondents selected “none” in answer to the question, “What is your religious preference?”  “None” has never been that high in previous censuses.  Additionally researchers have begun looking at another group never watched called the “Dones.”  This group has not left God.  On the contrary, they are full of faith.  But they are “done” with church.  The fact that this group is new and growing is proof that we need to put our “pay attention” hats on.

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The Desert Shall Bloom

desert blooming 02If human beings ever had a reason to feel pessimistic, it was during the time of Isaiah the prophet in the 8th century BC. The world was in political turmoil.

The nation of Assyria was ascending in power and gobbling up vast amounts of land. Israel and Judah had experienced the violence of Assyria when the Assyrian army swooped down in military soirees, totally destroying the northern part of Israel and also punishing the southern part.  Countries surrounding Israel were trying unsuccessfully to create political alliances to withstand Assyria’s gathering power. Continue reading →

Paying Attention

Cleopas and friend 04

I was in a restaurant last week eating lunch with a friend when a fellow diner waved at me and called my name as he left the restaurant.

His face was familiar. His smile said, “I know you.” I’m sure I must have had coffee with him recently or share a group membership. But no name came to my mind. “Who is this person?” I thought.

I hoped my face did not betray my cluelessness. I put on a big smile and waved back even though I couldn’t dredge up a name to go with his face. If I had just a moment to converse with him, I could have figured out the mystery.

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I’m the greatest!

I am the greatest hat.The woman was invisible.

She was the server waiting on a group of business people (mostly men). She served them well by keeping glasses filled, taking care of special requests, and serving the various courses of the meal.

But no one saw her. No one said thank you or acknowledged her presence. The most that anyone said to her was, “…more coffee over here,” or “That’s not what I wanted.” Continue reading →

How to Build Fourth-Level Connections, Pt. 2

Connections 02Cities sometimes see new businesses come and go after very brief lives. In many cases, the business creators had a build-it-and-they-will-come belief, and they were surprised when, after a grand opening, crowds did not frequent their new businesses.

The failure problem can often be reduced to one thing, namely, the refusal to do the work necessary to create third and fourth level connections. Joining the Chamber of Commerce and telling friends and family, though useful, are not enough to create healthy traffic through a business, new or old.

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Lost Things

searching-for-lost-thingsI still remember the day that I lost my bracelet.

It was a gorgeous woven silver bracelet with a toggle clasp that Bev got me for our anniversary. It felt good on my wrist and looked good with lots of things.

I wore it as an every-day bracelet, and it became an extension of my arm. However, one day after arriving at home, I noticed that it was missing. I knew that I had it on earlier so I was certain that it was gone.

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How to Build Fourth-Level Connections

3d network connectionsI’ve been thinking about the way that human beings connect with each other, particularly how to turn simple-addition connecting into multiplication. I haven’t done a scientific study, and my observations may be purely anecdotal. Nevertheless I think that there may be some warrant to the truth of these observations.

First level connections are the simple daily interactions we have which arise as a result of our usual daily activities. The checker at the local grocery store is a first level connection. I call these connections, “bump-into’s” because they are generally not intentional beyond the need to go buy some milk or new shoes or gas or to register for a course.

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