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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!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

WNE yr 2 - games

In this post and the previous two, I've shared the explanation/sample for three of the potential groups; in the next post I'll share a list of the actual groups that have formed.


Feel free to discuss and modify the approach, but here’s one suggested approach which you can try out as a group tonight. Before you are done, try to agree about what you will bring (in terms of games/supplies) next week and where you’ll go.

1. TONIGHT: if you have enough people, have two people play some or all of a game of chess. Then do the same with Scrabble (with different people). Try to do all this in 20-30 min., even if you can’t finish the games.

2. Discuss the dynamics:
  • What did it feel like to watch the games?
  • Was it interesting? Dull?
  • How would it be any different if you were in a more public place like Caribou or Starbucks?
  • What differences are there between these two games (chess and Scrabble)?
  • Are there other games that might be more effective at inviting interaction?
3. Discuss potential “goals” of the game time:
  • Is it fun for you?
  • Does it invite observation?
  • Does it invite outside participation?
  • Does it invite conversation? With players? With other church “watchers”?
4. Discuss the best arrangement of people playing vs. watching and length of game, with your goals in mind.

5. Are there creative variations on a basic game you might explore? For example hosting a “tournament” after a few weeks? A “how to play this game” demonstration? Any other ideas?

6. Finally, see if you can decide where you want to meet next week and following; commit to timeliness in starting and finishing (esp. for choir members and parents who need to be back AT 8pm).

Friday, October 29, 2010

WNE yr 2 - service

In this post and the next one, I'd like to share the explanation/sample for three of the potential groups, then I'll share a final post listing the actual groups that have formed.


Feel free to discuss and modify the approach, but here’s one suggested approach which you can try out as a group tonight. Before you are done, try to agree about what you will bring (in terms of supplies) next week and what you’ll do.

1. Brainstorm (and write down) some potential service projects your group could do, noting the size of the group. Keep in mind the following variations:
  • Spending the hour on Wednesday night “prepping” and then one or more delivering the next day/days. (ex: group making a meal in the kitchen and then one or two delivering afterward or the next day)
  • Each person prepping prior to Wednesday and then the group “delivering” on Wed pm. (ex: gifts/cards for the church staff, then placing them Wed pm)
  • An “all-in-one” project – something you could do on Wednesday night that is self-contained (ex: visiting a shut-in)
2. Given the makeup of your group, are there certain projects to which your gifts/interests lend themselves?
  • Cooking?
  • Cleaning?
  • Visiting?
  • Writing?
  • Tutoring?
  • Etc…
3. Are there creative variations you might explore?
  • Sharing stories with the congregation or beyond? A blog or Facebook page?
  • Engaging the congregation in your projects or similar ones?
  • “Bigger” projects around the holidays?
4. Finally, see if you can decide where you want to start next week; commit to timeliness in starting and finishing (esp. for choir members and parents who need to be done AT 8pm).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

WNE yr 2 - headline news

In this post and the next two, I'd like to share the explanation/sample for three of the potential groups, then I'll share a final post listing the actual groups that have formed.

Headline News

Feel free to discuss and modify the approach, but here’s one suggestion which you can try out as a group tonight. Before you are done, try to agree about what you will bring (in terms of newspapers) next week and where you’d like to go.

1. Prep (normally before you come): look through the paper and bring one or two stories you think would be good discussion pieces. For tonight, split up the local and national paper sections among your group and have each one look for one potential discussion piece.

2. Suggested ‘filters’ for helping choose a piece:
  • Choose a political piece, but don’t focus on your politics; discuss the role faith does or doesn’t play or bring to bear on the story.
  • Choose an entertainment piece to focus on values, culture, or influence
  • Choose a community piece to discuss the role our church or Christians could play in interacting with the need or situation
  • Choose a national headline as a prayer topic and discuss ways the group will commit to pray over the next week

3. Figure out a system for what to discuss:
  • 10 min. per headline
  • Draw from a hat and discuss until you’re “done”; draw another if needed
  • Pick a person to bring two (or however many fits your pace and time) any given week
  • Etc…

4. Consider additional ways to interact with the news:
  • Identify an ongoing prayer need from the news and create a scrapbook/journal and add clippings to update the situation and topic; do this individually or as a group
  • Start a blog or Facebook group around what you are doing

5. Be aware of politics and other divisive dynamics; our goal is to see how our faith intersects our culture, not pick fights with each other over political and other viewpoints. If you find that you have widely divergent viewpoints on a matter, consider making it a matter of prayer for a few weeks in preparation for discussion.

6. Finally, see if you can decide where you want to meet next week and following; commit to timeliness in starting and finishing (esp. for choir members and parents who need to be back AT 8pm).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WNE yr 2

Last Fall (2009), I wrote about our Wednesday Night Experiment.  I wrote:

So, on Wednesday nights, instead of traditional church Bible study in the building and on the grounds, we are taking it to the streets.  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!
In my view, the experiment was a great success with many wonderful surprises (live music, group home ministry, housing project neighbors, prayer needs at the bookstore).  Amazing what can happen when we venture outside of the church walls with the eyes and ears of faith!  It wasn't just going to those places though, because we get coffee and drive through the neighborhood all the time.  It was making the intentional connection between the two worlds of church and life that we so often keep separated.

This Fall (2010), we are doing something similar.  We still have several groups going out from the church, but we've tweaked the content a little bit.  Last year all of the groups were given the same set of discussion questions, based on the previous Sunday's sermon.  This year, we had an organizational night and suggested about 12 potential topics or activities and let people gravitate toward ones in which they were interested, while bearing in mind that these would be suited for public settings.

Some of these topics/activities included:

1.  Sermon discussion (like last year)
2.  Book discussion
3.  Movie discussion
4.  Headline news discussion
5.  Service/hands-on group
6.  Games group
7.  Prayer/Accountability group
8.  Scripture study
9.  Prayer walks
10. Video interviews/documentary
11. Live Music
12. Basics of Faith (to be held at church for visitors or newer Christians)

In the next few posts I'll share some more detail on several of the topics or activities as well as to which groups people gravitated.
We are about a month into this year's "experiment" and my preliminary observations are that there is more interest because of the variety of topics, but less interaction with our neighbors.  The simplicity of last year's content only required minimal focus on faith (but in a good way), leaving ample attention and opportunity for interaction.  I'm hoping that we will work our way back to that once the groups settle into the new content.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

holy friendships, pt. 2

Is God Talking to Me?
Reflections on Nathan and David in 2 Samuel 12

What do I take away from this story?

I read a pretty thorough description of God’s story of creation, sin, consequence, and redemption, both in story form with the poor man and the lamb, and in David’s life as God redeemed him from his own self-destruction.

I recognize that it is not enough to know the story at arm’s-length. Just as God used Nathan to say “You are the man!” to David, God would have me recognize that I am the man! Likewise, if you miss this, you’ve missed the point of this text. You are the man; you are the woman; you are the boy; you are the girl.

God created you for goodness, for obedience, for a relationship with Him. You and I and every other human in history has messed up God’s creation like a three year old kicking over the tower of blocks I carefully built. But we cannot destroy God’s creation, just mess it up. God’s gracious invitation through Jesus Christ is to hear His Word and Spirit, and in our conviction that we (I!) have sinned, turn back to God with a broken and contrite heart and say, “Help me!” And God will rebuild our lives and give us life with Him.

That’s the promise; that’s the Good News. That’s the Word of hope that folks need to hear when they are turned or turning away from God. A friend who will speak that Word of hope – that’s a friend worth having and that’s a friend worth being. Amen.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

holy friendships, pt. 1

There are two kinds of people in the world.

There are those who are turned or turning toward God and there are those who are turned or turning away from God.

When Jesus commanded us to love God with all we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves, he (among other things) enjoined us to holy friendships. That is, to friendships that weren't about "what I can get out of it" or even "what the other can get out of it" but "what God would do in our neighbor's life."

Barnabas was a good friend. In Acts 11 we read that the Jerusalem apostles sent him to Antioch, where a number of Greeks had believed when they heard the story of Jesus. Greeks! Not God's covenant people, but Greeks! So Barnabas went. And he demonstrated what holy friendship looks like toward those who are turned or turning toward God.

He saw the evidence of God's grace and he REJOICED. He was thrilled to see non-Jews believing in the covenant God through Jesus Christ. It didn't matter that it was "out of the box" or a little alien or a lot different than how things had been done. He was full of joy because it's what God was doing.

He ENCOURAGED these Greek believers, wisely exhorting them to hold fast to this exciting and young faith. He shows us that "running the race" is not a solo endeavor, but more like soccer, working as a team with the goal being Christ.

When God brought "success" in Antioch, he didn't set credit himself, but went to invite Paul to join him, adding Paul's gifts and strength to his own. He PUT GOD'S PLAN FIRST, even over personal ambition. And he and Paul were COMMITTED and PERSEVERING, staying for a year to teach the new converts in Antioch.

These character traits, flowing out of the Holy Spirit living in us, are all ways that we can spur one another on towards Jesus.

When others are turned or turning towards Jesus, a holy friendship like that of Barnabas can bring others to a closer relationship and obedience to Christ. That is true friendship.

[Next: holy friendship towards those turned or turning away from God...]

Friday, October 01, 2010

spend yourself for your neighborhood

I knew I liked this guy (James Kim)...     :)

Want Revival? Spend Yourself for Your Neighborhood

Jesus loves our cities.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

This is true not only for church going people, but for all people. We all know that. But what does this truth mean? Here's what I believe:

If we want to see our churches thrive and get healthy, our churches have to spend itself for our cities. The revitalization of our churches is directly related to the revitalization of our neighborhoods that our churches find themselves in. If the good news of Jesus Christ doesn't make a difference to our neighbors then what use is the church to a world who doesn't know and doesn't care about Jesus?

There is something wrong with churches that find themselves growing in numbers and dollars while their neighborhoods are declining and suffering.

Jesus impacts the world. And the way Jesus impacts the world is through the body of Christ - the church of Jesus Christ.

Do you want a revival in your church? Start investing and loving your neighborhood with the love of Jesus Christ!

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life not only for church going folks, but for the world! 

Check out James' blog: PRAXIS - God Revolution


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