Monday, November 22, 2010

Are You Afraid to Admit It...

My wife and I are just coming off an awesome weekend visiting with Pastor Sam Masteller in a crazy cool church in the middle of no where.

If you are ever in Gap PA not Gap in the Mall you need to check out this church especially the kids ministry area that was designed by a member from Sight & Sound. It looks and feels like Noah's Ark, minus the motion sickness, which is a good thing, oh yeah, and the animal smell. (Ever been to the ape house at the zoo...woah.)

It's one thing for a church to say they love kids, its another thing for them to show they love kids.

It's a blessing as we embark on this journey of church planting to have good people and churches to connect with and learn from. We definitely learned alot this weekend from Sam and the fam, sorry I like to rhyme sometimes, opps I did it again. (um, the Britney Spears reference unintended.)

On our travels back to Camp Hill, we had to stop for a pick me up at our favorite travel spot, Starbucks. (Like you didn't know that already)

Interesting thing happened in the drive thru.

The Barista (btw if you're a guy does that make you a baristo...baristabro, anyways) he asked us a simple question as we waited for our holiday lattes...

"What brings you into town today?"

With that being said we could've said a couple of things like "We are on our way home" or "Oh just passing thru" or how about, "We love the Amish countryside."

It was not the full reason of why especially the last one, but a reason to avoid an awkward exchange of informing this "Baristainator (yeah, that didn't work) that we are... gulp...pause...Christians.

Because lets be honest it is awkward to admit you are a Christian.

So, I went for it, I said it.

"Yeah, man, we are just coming back from church."

Time slowed as I expected some half-hearted smile, or snicker, or giggle (do barista's giggle.)

He didn't do any of those things.

He shared that he was in the Navy.
He shared that he just proposed to the love of his life.
He shared that he was afraid to tell her family of their decision to tie the knot.

He opened up.

I found out his name was Josh and told him I would keep him and his family in prayer, and he asked for our names too. He thought my wife said her name was Marista, thats kinda funny, makes me think of another Barista name...Manista. (ok this is turning into a bad parady of a Seinfield episode.)

In the time of getting our drinks we had as the old-timers say, a "Divine Appointment," or as the Emmergents would say, "We felt a vibe."

However you would define it we had a God Moment.

As we drove away my wife said, "people just open up to you don't they...?"

I laughed and then I tried to say something clever, but probably corny.

We are not the only ones out there who find it challenging to show our hand and throw down the C-card. Actually its only 23% of Christians who share their faith with unchristians in a 12 month span. That is not good.

I believe there are a lot of balanced Christians who love people with no agenda; who are not trying to sell (or buy) some funky prayer cross after 12am. (Que epic music)

There are Christians who are starting to understand that it is not about a glitzy gospel.

Let's be a generation of Christians who start the conversation.

Let's be a generation of Christians who will not shy away from those "God Moments."

Lets raise the 23%.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How Do You Measure A Successful Church...The Answer

It was a random tweet on a random Wednesday night...

RT @aldisal How do u measure a successful church bedsides counting who's in the pews and who's on the bank statement?

Some of the feedback that I received was...

People being discipled
People looking after each other
People growing in Christ.

Yeah, about that, people growing in Christ what does that look like anyways?

From what I've seen people growing in Christ is...

Automatic withdraw (Still trying to process that one)

Having your best life now (Im sure that would make a good book title)

Making sure people don't watch bad movies (Why do blue people always get a bad rap, remember the smurfs)

I want to be careful because I believe these are all well intentioned men, trying to do what they think is right. I get that. Im not here to criticize their convictions.

My question...

Is there more.?

Is there less?

What is church really all about or supposed to be all about?

Maybe Francois Fenelon was on to something when he said...

"To read the bible, attend church, and avoid Big Sins- is this passionate, wholehearted love for God?"

Going back to my tweetversation (is that even a word), and waited for some more responses, I re-tweeted a comment that I didn't even think was connected until another friend (tweep) asked if it was.

RT @Gesese Yo...I just helped this homeless guy out and led him to Christ. You don't even know how good that felt.

It was not a tweet from a famous pastor, it wasn't from a pastor at all (not yet anyways).

It was a comment from a former student of mine who is in 11th grade.

It was inspiring on many levels.

This was a student that always had my attention. He is good at basketball and loves Kobe. Needless to say, lots of good sports discussion to be had. Plus he has cool hair. He is a leader.

The knowledge of the bible that this student has would rival many of the adults in the church (and mine), he always kept me on my biblical toes. (I love that about him.)

He wouldn't wear his bible on his sleeve, not an easy thing for a student who goes to Christian School. Yes, it may sound like an oxymoron but if you ever attended a Christian school you would know what I am talking about.

However, this student nailed it. (think thats punny?)

What makes the church great is not what happens on a sunday. It is what happens on Monday to Friday (and sometimes on Saturday depending on your Sabbath and what BCS team is playing. Boise St Rocks!)

Let me put it this way, what happens on sunday is like practice. Yes, Im talkin Bout Practice.

Church is practice and Chrisitians unlike Alan Iverson love practice.

It's safe.
It's controlled.
It's predictable.

Christians, when did we become so scared.
What happened to trusting Holy Spirit to speak a well timed word at the water cooler or praying for a stranger.

Christians, when did we have to control everything from movies to politics.
What happened to finding truth in everyday life, what happened to the power of the parable.

Christians when did two fast songs transitioned by a key change into three slow songs become a good worship service.
What happened to creating an atmosphere of worship not a formula for worship.

This student wasn't on a church sanctioned outreach event.
This student wasn't passing out tracts, (because everyone loves tracts right.)
This student wasn't in church.

He was at the supermarket.
He was in the Game.

This week I have been processing what our church plant is going to be all about.

What we believe.
What core values to well, value.
What makes church.

I do not have everything figured out, especially church.
Quite frankly I mess things up more often than I get things right.

But I want to get it right.