If you are new to this blog....

Welcome! The primary purpose of this blog is to explore and encourage around what it means to be winsome and sent into the world for God's glory. If you are new here, the definition of "lighthouse-searchlight" or our missional journey is a good place to start. Come peruse the blog and add me to your RSS feed!

Friday, September 18, 2009

the wednesday night experiment

For some time now at Good Shepherd, we have been wrestling with God's calling to be a lighthouse/searchlight church - that is, intentional salt and light in our community and near neighborhood.

The congregation and leadership have responded positively to this challenge! I have observed, however, that it remains difficult to change patterns of thinking and being. One result of the twin lighthouse (inviting) and searchlight (sending) challenge has been ever-increasing and effective approaches to inviting folks in to the church community. And that is wonderful!! I am encouraged and try to encourage our congregation about these steps!

But, I am also convinced that our growing edge continues to be the searchlight part of our identity in Christ (per John 17:13-21). And while embracing that mission requires head, heart, and feet, one tangible way to start in the direction is to literally "get up and get out" - i.e., leave our church property.

So, on Wednesday nights, instead of traditional church Bible study in the building and on the grounds, we are taking it to the streets (had to reference a loved song - click link or watch below!).

We are going to take a simple program - conversations with each other about where we see God in our lives during the week, and rather than meet IN the church building, we are going to disperse in 3s and 4s into public gathering places in the neighborhood. We are not going to evangelize per se, but to simply go where people are and be who we are - at Caribou, at the pizza parlor, walking on the sidewalk, at the public library. My prayer is that God will open doors for us to meet our neighbors. It's definitely experimental; I'll let you know how it goes!

Link to 1 week in
Link to 2 weeks in
Link to 3 weeks in
Link to 4 weeks in
Link to Wednesday Night Experiment, year 2
Want to check it out in person? Come join us!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

gracious witness update

From time to time I comment here on denominational things, as we are part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and our lighthouse/searchlight mission is out of that context. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may remember that I served as a commissioner to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in June of 2008 and wrote an overture that called on presbyteries to create a pastoral and gracious alternative to slugging it out in civil court when congregations seek dismissal from the denomination. That overture was passed by a significant majority. (Official record HERE) I have also tried to help encourage not only my own presbyteries, but others to follow through on this pastoral exhortation.

Both as author of that "gracious witness overture" to the 2008 General Assembly and as moderator of the Presbytery of Charlotte, I am pleased to be a part of a collaborative process within the presbytery to reach out to those in our midst who are wrestling with denominational identity. To be sure, there is no easy or perfect process to do this, but I think presbytery leadership has responded with integrity to the challenge from the General Assembly for every presbytery to pursue better and more pastoral means of addressing theological, missional, and relational disconnects within our bounds.

This "reconciliation process" has been before the presbytery council for at least one year and before the presbytery since early spring of this year. As we have done before with issues of this magnitude, we set aside time at our most recent presbytery meeting (September) to host a workshop and receive input on the wording and concept of the process. Based on input from that workshop, the writing team will seek to further improve the document, which will then be put before the presbytery for vote at the December presbytery meeting.

Further input or questions are welcomed and may be directed to me prior to the October 20 meeting of prebytery's council: robert@gspc.net

I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

missional themes, burnout, and other things

I spoke on missional themes this past week at the "East Coast Pastor's Conference," sponsored by Presbyterians for Renewal.

My first plenary talk was a study of John 17:15-21, adapted and expanded from the sermon on Jesus' prayer for us to go "Where they Are" (audio and text HERE).

My second plenary talk was a look "under the hood" of how we have been moving toward a missional identity at Good Shepherd. I am adapting and expanding on my presentation last February for a Presbyterian Global Fellowship seminar in Atlanta. I summarized that presentation in a series of blog posts which are worth re-linking below (if you want to go through them sequentially, there is a link to the next one at the end of each post).

I was also asked to preach for the communion service on the final day and shared personal testimony about two times when the burden of ministry has so far exceeded my own abilities and capabilities that I relied significantly on God's power and protection. Nothing like a room full of pastor's away from their churches to get some "Amen's" on being overloaded and weighed down! My confession was that I am so slow to rest in and trust in God... and to forget God's gracious provision when I do. Re-telling those stories was as much for me to remember as to encourage the other pastors. One of those accounts can be found HERE - "Five and Two is What?". The "punch line" application I made (though not the main point of the story) is to remember that we (including pastors!) are not Jesus in the story - creating a miracle out of every day stuff. Rather, we are the boy who offered his lunch in obedience and faith. We are also the disciples, encouraging other to share their "lunch" - but it is God who does the miracles. What a freeing truth! Now, if I can just remember...

I invite feedback, thoughts, and interaction!

talent challenge: family business in nicaragua

I wrote about the talent challenge a few posts back and several people have asked if any of the stories had developed further. At least one church family sent their money to Jason and Tiffany Hinton, who write to describe what happened with that:

We also wanted to let you know about the “Talent Money” that you guys gave towards starting a small business here in Nicaragua. Well, we finally found the right person, although it took a while. There is a lady named Damiana who volunteered to give sewing classes (how to make clothes- skirt, shirts, shorts, pants, everything) to Tiffany’s moms group. She has given five 3-hour classes so far, and the ladies who are learning are going to have a big sale in October and sell their clothes. It has been a big success. Anyways, we put some of our money, along with the money you gave, towards buying Damiana a “charger” for her sewing machine allow her to do more with her sewing machines, and a lot faster. Instead of doing side jobs, she can make it a more steady source of income for her family. Anyways, we wanted to let you know about that. We are excited for her. She is a wonderful Christian lady, and we believe that it is a good investment.
If any of you took part in the talent challenge, e-mail me and let me know how it's going!!

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