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!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

participating in real worship

I was looking through old e-mail for something else this afternoon and ran into an old exchange with a friend. He had asked the question and I responded below:

What is the most surprising thing you've learned about worship?

It isn't difficult to find a Biblical basis for saying we were made for worship.  And that is plenty to try to wrap our minds around.  But what completely boggles my mind and continues to humble me is that God has chosen to allow us to participate in the eternal worship of Heaven and the inner life of the Father, Son, and Spirit.  We are not just spectators to divine worship, but are invited through Jesus to add our voices to the chorus, yield our hearts in loving submission, and carry forth the life-giving news of God's gracious love.  And even where, in our humanness, our worship falls far short, the Holy Spirit binds us to Christ, through whom our feeble acts of faith, hope, and love are presented lovingly (and perfectly) to the Father.  It is no wonder that Paul gushes without pause through the first chapter of Ephesians, for while life from death is far more than we deserve or frankly could imagine, God has poured out grace after grace in an unimaginable overflow of love.  The more I glimpse all that worship signifies, the more profoundly humbled I am.

Friday, August 29, 2014

can you spare some change?

As a postscript to the three previous posts on change, I want to add one further observation prompted by a side-question during our Scotland conference. As Diana Butler Bass was sharing statistics about the shifts in religious affiliation across the generations (builder, boomer, GenX, millennial) and focusing on the "Rise of the Nones" among the millennial generation, one of my friends and colleagues, Christopher Edmonston, commented that GenXers (to which he and I belong) are always getting overlooked.

We moved on to all of the conversation about change, but his comment kept rolling around in my mind until I had this thought: as the generation that has one foot in what was and one foot in what is emerging, GenX leaders are just now coming into the places of 'power' to let go of the structures that have been and welcome new vision and structure.

My earlier post with the three illustrations from the Presbyterian Church may be a good example of this. The General Assembly is still largely governed by older generations (reflecting it's avg-age-of-62 demographic), seemingly not yet ready to dismantle or release what has been so effective and dear for so long. NEXTchurch was effectively "blessed" by some older leaders handing off direction and control to younger leaders, and seems more of an empowering outside the realm of the PCUSA institution. (I rejoice in that!)

My particular experience in the Presbytery of Charlotte seems to be one good example of GenX leadership, not particularly tied to the old institution and structures (though thoroughly trained and understanding of it), willing to let it go. And to the credit of those involved, it was the willingness of an older Boomer generation of staff and leadership that was willing to put two GenXers in a place of leadership in the first place.

All meant to be descriptive, not prescriptive.... for what that's worth.  :)

I recognize, at 46 years old, that I have only been "given the reins" of leadership in the PCUSA in the last 3-5 years... and there is some sense of something... loss? disappointment?... to realize that the best act of leadership I may now face is to more quickly than slowly give that leadership away to those younger than I. But that would be real leadership, wouldn't it?  :)

See also:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

change is... what you need to ride a scottish bus

The danger and lure of change is that it become the thing in itself.
My previous two posts - "Change is Death" and "Change is Life" take a look at some of the dynamics of change. Hopefully, it became clear that my titles were meant to point to a range of meaning from: "change feels like death" to "change involves some things 'dying'" to "change can lead to new life" to "change feels like life" and more in-between.

There is much written about change, from "managing change" to "surviving change" to differentiating types of change (technical, adaptive, etc...). And all of that language can be helpful! But it can also imply that change is our savior. Rather, I have found that even the best teaching about change is better understood as descriptive (here's how one person/group/institution navigated change) than as prescriptive: "Here's what you must do."

Said another way, it is vital to distinguish between authentic change (what is needed) and imitative change (what worked for someone else).

Scottish Buses 

On my recent trip, my host, Michael Mair, arranged most of my transportation, but on one occasion it looked like I would need to take public transportation (a bus) to get back to his house. Not only did he tell me which bus line, route number, and stop I needed to take, he also mentioned that I needed exact change (or at least that the bus driver would not make change). And indeed, there were a few occasions where we both were waiting on a bus and he stopped into a small store to buy gum and break a larger bill in order to have exact change. Good to know!

Change is...

To be sure, people and institutions facing change (precipitated, voluntary, unexpected, or other) are well-advised to know enough about change to board the bus in the first place. But to over-focus on the change process MAY leave some folks an expert on how to ride the bus, yet no clear indication of where they are headed or if they are even on the right bus.

I've heard it said that "leaders lead" - in other words, they know where they are headed, whether by bus, car, foot, or windswept night. All things being equal, they will do well to have "exact change," but that ends up not being the most important thing.

I keep coming back to the conviction that there are deeper and more important questions at stake, questions that do not dismiss the change process or diminish their value, but questions which ultimately tell us more about where we are and where we are heading. Again, from the "Change is Death" post:

As those created, loved, redeemed, called, and sent by God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit...
  1. Who are we?
  2. Why are we here?
  3. What are we doing and why?
  4. To whom is our allegiance?
To that I would also add my best question from the past 5-8 years of ministry: What is God doing in and around us and how can we be a part of that?

Change is important, to be sure. Some days it can feel like death and other days it can feel like life. But at the end of the day, change is just what you need to ride a Scottish bus.  :)


The metaphor has been rolling around in my head all night since I wrote the post yesterday and it also strikes me, in the language of the metaphor, that change is what it takes to get where we are going... no more and no less.  That's another way of saying what I'm trying to say: it's important, but it's not the thing itself.

See also:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

change is life

In "Change is Death" I wrote about the process by which dying institutions and structures are transformed and new life and vision are birthed. While this change process is important to understand (especially if one is going through it), I proposed that there were more important underlying questions that must be asked. In this post I want to come at the same dynamics of change through stories, by sharing three narratives in which I participate.

As a backdrop I would note a convergence and seeming 'peak' of interest in the last six years or so (2008-2014) in which voices spoke and vision was cast for a church that understood itself to be missionally connected, locally contextualized, and increasingly set free from the massive structures that had been a feature of our mainline denomination for the past 40-50 years. What follows are three examples related to the PCUSA of how this kind of vision was received. 

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The Mid-Council Commission offered a long and thorough
report; I described what I saw at its heart HERE.
The 2010 General Assembly created several task forces to study change before the PCUSA and report to the 2012 General Assembly. I was particularly impressed with the significant work of the Mid-Council Commission, led by Tod Bolsinger. And yet, when that vision was brought to General Assembly in 2012 it was simply crushed. Though I would have called it change unto life, it evidently felt like change unto death. Here's what I wrote at the time:
I experienced great disappointment and sadness during the Assembly... I was not disappointed that some votes didn’t go my way...  I was disappointed that, as a whole, this Assembly seemed to choose the familiarity and “safety” of the old way of doing things over the admittedly risky possibility of something new.  The invitations were there from all four moderator candidates, from the community and example of the YAADs, from three significant two-year committee reports (Mid-Councils, 21st Century, Biennial Assembly), and from the stories and inspirational leadership of the GAMC.  And time and again, I saw or perceived the unwillingness of the body to relinquish any ground that could possibly be used by ecclesiastical opponents. [full post]
Summarizing a subsequent post on the same event, I wrote: "out of fear of losing people, congregations, or assets, the Assembly missed the truly missional and forward-thinking gift of much the Mid-Council report had to offer." [full post]

The Presbytery of Charlotte 

About the same time, my own presbytery was facing similar potential change. Younger council leadership had been recruited and had put a vision before the presbytery, perhaps most succinctly put as "equipping, resourcing, and connecting local congregations in ministry and mission." (more...) Our presbytery was struggling financially to maintain a large program staff and many centralized ministries, and financial crisis precipitated change. It went neither easy nor peacefully. For many, particularly those whose jobs and centralized ministries were eliminated, change felt like death and it was as unwelcome and threatening. As one involved in the change process, it easily measures among the most difficult years of relationship and ministry I have experienced.

And yet we are on the other side. Much did "die" but the ministry of Jesus Christ through local congregations did not. Indeed, change was unto life, and the Presbytery of Charlotte very much feels like it is on the other side of something many presbyteries are still choking on. All is not bliss; part of our change process resulted in naming some of our deepest divisions and distrusts. But, we named them and we faced them and they are before us in a way that they haven't been, perhaps in a generation. Time will tell, but it feels like a very hopeful and healthful place to be. The structures and institution of the presbytery (once the 3rd largest in the country) are now mobile, flexible, minimal, and focused on the congregations and relationships. 

NEXT Church

A third part of the story is NEXTchurch. NEXT began out of some of the same core values brewing all over the church: nimble, relational, mission-focused networks for ministry. Leadership was handed off early to younger generations and more diverse leaders. A conscious decision was made to not become another "issues group" of the church. In this case, the vision and the community of NEXT folks seems to have stepped out ahead of the denomination. While smart leaders are aware of NEXT and point to it as an example of future church, it remains (in my view as a friend and participant) somewhat out of the room. The church isn't ready to go there yet.

And similar things could be said of parallel movements: the Fellowship, ECO, 1001 worshiping communities, non-geographic presbyteries, and more. A significant number of groups and collections of people have envisioned different versions of this same nimble, relational, mission-focused church and simply don't have the crisis, power, or voice to pull the bulk of the church along.

And that's okay. I think the church coming along at this point would just mess things up. But I do hope the folks who are clinging to the institution and the old structures are paying attention. Life is springing up - not just in NEXTchurch, but in ECO, the Fellowship, 1001 New Worshiping Communities. And each of them is tempted and taunted by the old ways, the old fights, the old structures, and the old habits. But they are demonstrably showing change as life, and for that I am grateful.


Do note that I am not telling a story of failure, mediocrity, and success. Rather, I am trying to describe three different ways OUR CHURCH are struggling with change, death, life, and identity. I don't want to dissect it too much, but want to tell enough of the story for you to think about change in your own context.  Is it death? Is it life? Is it to be feared... or embraced... or maybe both?

And again, I am convinced that change is not the main point; it is just a feature of the temporary trying to share in the eternal.

See also:

Monday, August 25, 2014

change is death

For three days in lovely Kirkcaldy, Scotland, 12 PCUSA pastors and 12 Church of Scotland pastors met with authors and practical theologians, Diana Butler Bass and Douglas Gay, to talk, think, and share about changes in church and culture. Three days is a lot of content, especially with two theologians and 24 pastors, but here is my biggest takeaway...

Change is Death

We talked about whether what we are seeing in Scotland and U.S. culture is "secularization" or "transformation," but I think we agreed it was change. We talked about the process of groups undergoing change and I recognized much of the stages of grief, not unlike what one might experience as one approaches death, not least of which is the realization that "this is the end of _____ as we've known it" (or more short-sighted, just "this is the end of ____.")

The ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral, one of the key sites
where John Knox preached to incite the Protestant
Reformation in Scotland. Thanks to a friend for sharing
this unique photo vantage point with me - it is taken
from the 3rd floor men's room of the St. Andrews
Ph.D. building overlooking the cathedral ruins.
We also talked about what was on the other side of institutional/structural death, including whether to call that "new life, revival, awakening, or transformation." And we recognized that, like it or not, we and our churches and our neighbors and communities are facing the change.

We talked about institutional failure and innovation out of community; we talked about letting go, carrying (some things) with, and letting come... all parts of the journey, not TO death, but THROUGH death. We also touched on the extreme resistance to that reality of death (of something).

Today I'd like to highlight one observation I had in response to this thought-provoking content. Tomorrow I will share three examples from life in the Presbyterian Church (USA) that illustrate three different approaches to the reality that change is death.


Even as we think in the mist of crisis about institutions failing, new visions being envisioned and lived out in fresh expressions of community, and a transformation on the other side of the change-which-is-death, I believe there are underlying questions we must ask ourselves. And perhaps these are the "bits of tradition we carry with us" that Diana Butler Bass mentioned, though I don't think "bits of tradition" quite gets at the root importance of these questions. 

As those created, loved, redeemed, called, and sent by God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit...
  1. Who are we?
  2. Why are we here?
  3. What are we doing and why?
  4. To whom is our allegiance?
I am drawn to questions like those because institutions are just place-holders, structures that have for a time sustained us in asking and answering questions like those.

New visions, if they are anything more than clever human novelties, are fresh understandings of old, old questions.

And communal innovation and transformation (whether of church or culture) is new life at work answering those kinds of questions, eventually in search of new place-holders and structures to sustain the asking, answering, and living out of questions like those.

Or so it seems to me. Our stimulating discussion of the transformation process and even historic realities like the Great Awakenings leaned toward the WHAT, WHEN and the HOW... good points, important points. But we must also take notice of the WHY (and the One the biblical witness recognizes as the WHO behind the WHY).

Said another way...

Of course change is death. Everything we make and touch is dying, encased in the only structures and shells we humans know to construct to house what is from God. But we should also not be surprised to find God at work, bringing life from death and hope from ashes. That's the good and hopeful Word to which we cling in faith.

See also:

Friday, August 22, 2014

when the floor is a ceiling to ministry

As one example of far exceeding the "minimal hospitality threshold," I was deeply encouraged and challenged to hear the story of St. Bryce Church in Kirkcaldy, Scotland.

Framing the floor/ceiling
Original layout
The Rev. Ken Froude is the minister of St Bryce Kirk. With no precipitating crisis other than a 1200-seat sanctuary "that was always too big and only used once or twice a week," he had the vision more than 25 years ago to redevelop the building. Under his leadership a floor was put in the old three-story sanctuary was at the level of the gallery (balcony), creating a large auditorium upstairs (still seats 400) used for worship, conferences and concerts. The downstairs, where the old sanctuary floor once stood, was converted into office space, group meeting rooms, and a lounge and a coffee bar for the community.

The sanctuary at St. Bryce, Kirkcaldy, Scotland
w/floor brought up a story to the level of the balcony
That downstairs community center - the St Bryce Kirk Centre - is open Monday to Friday for people of all ages (toddlers to senior citizens), organizations of all kinds, charities, public services, activities and help-groups. The building is totally handicapped-accessible and equipped with up-to-date technology for conferences and concerts, with full in-house catering options (which our pastors' conference enjoyed throughout the week!).

I have two further observations on which I will elaborate in other posts:
  1. This kind of transformation of an institution and community does not come easily or quickly. In fact, one of our two lecturers (Diana Butler Bass) spoke to this very process that Ken and some others of us have lived through (more on that coming). Ken led the congregation (and community) through very intentional transformation, facing resistance and pushback. And the new life flowing in and out of St. Bryce is unmistakeable and inspiring. I applaud this pastor's courageous leadership and faithful pursuit of where the Holy Spirit led him.
  2. Related to #1, the purpose of our pastors' conference was to get together a group of U.S. and Scottish pastors and share stories and ideas with the assumption that Scotland (as much of Europe) may be some 20-25 years ahead of the United States in terms of Christianity moving out of the center of cultural and community life. Many of the churches in the Church of Scotland are aging and dwindling (as are many in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.); but we were privileged to meet a number of pastors and congregations that are nonetheless thriving in 2014 (whether you want to call it post-Christendom, post-Christian, secularized, etc...). One of the key features I noticed of the thriving churches were the move from being a church for those inside the walls (sometimes even for the sake of the walls!) to being a church for the community. Rev. Froude and St. Bryce made this shift early on and the difference it has made is palpable. (I shared some of this story and reflection in the sermon [audio link] on the Sunday after I returned from Scotland as a closing illustration of the text of Jeremiah 29:1-11, about God's people finding faithfulness in exile through praying for and seeking the shalom of the city.)
At my own church, we've had a similar transformation of perspective to open our facilities fully to our neighborhood. We have invited and welcomed any community group from our "parish" (ok, we don't have parishes, but we called the 1-mile radius around our church that) and have seen the facilities used by multiple girl scout groups, a 12-step group, several neighborhood associations, the Hospice/Palliative care organization, a Foundation related to the nearby elementary school, and several others. We also welcomed some neighborhood sports teams (little league baseball and rugby) to use our sizable ball field which had sat unused for a number of years.

While this didn't create an immediate influx of new members, that wasn't the point. We determined to be "good neighbors" and what we have seen is a tangible increase in awareness that our church sits at the heart of the surrounding neighborhoods, cares about the people and children of our neighborhood, and over time, we have met and even welcomed into worship some folks that probably would never have darkened our doors before. We've had neighbors who don't go to our church (or any church) recommend us to other neighbors.

All this is to say that I think one very important move the Church needs to make as Christianity moves away from the center of American culture is to rediscover (because it is an OLD value - think not only Jesus, but the Abrahamic covenant!) this: the church does not exist for its members, but for it's Savior, whose very mission was to come and make a home out in the world.

Upcoming posts will begin to explore the both/and of not only being more hospitable in the church, but also getting out of the church buildings and being the church in and for the world (perhaps an even more crucial task!).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

insider language addendum

Inspired by travels abroad, I wrote previously about insider language and behavior, often unintentional, that stands as a barrier in so many of our church settings. In case that needs a little more fleshing out and specificity, let me offer just a few examples off the top of my head (I really could probably come up with 50 in short order):

We don't need new cribs in our nursery - they were good enough for my kids 25 yrs. ago... they survived; plus, we don't have any babies in there right now.  

==> Do I really need to deconstruct that?! In fact, yes, I have had to deconstruct that in a very real conversation some years ago.  De we really want the bar for nursery care to be "they survived it?" I mean, in the 70s, my mom let me stand on the front seat of our VW Bug and hold on to the dashboard as she drove around town, and I survived (and liked it).  If you tried that with my small child today, not only would I never let you take my child anywhere again, I probably wouldn't leave her alone with you.  And as far as not having babies in there now... does that not suggest something to you?

Let's all stand and proclaim what we believe using the Apostles' Creed.

Post-apocalyptic worship in
"Return to the Planet of the Apes"
==>  I mean, I LOVE the Creed. I love theology. I think it's important to state key beliefs together. But do you have any idea what that sounds like and feels like to someone for whom church is new? I remember a scene from "Return to the Planet of the Apes" that brought that point home to me some 25 years ago. The music was choral, the people were lined up... at one point singing "All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small... the BOMB made them all." And the centerpiece of worship would be was a nuclear warhead.  At the time it was nonsensical; what was this group chanting, this group singing? I caught a glimpse of how weird, awkward, and non-sensical worship could be to an outsider.

Will the ushers please come forward to collect the morning's tithes and offerings?

==> I'm not sure even churched Christians really grasp "tithes and offerings"; it's just something we do... the old passing of the plate. What if you are from outside? What's the point? What's the expectation? Is it like tipping at a restaurant? And is that tipping based on how good the preacher's sermon was? A good chuckle and I'll toss in a fiver? 

[Angry shush your children look]

==> This is so common it's disheartening. Do we really NOT want children in worship and then complain about not having children and young adults in our church (the ones that just might be starting to have children?)  Combine the evil-eye shushing with the 1963 metal crib in the nursery (see #1 above) and you have a sure recipe to the exit door. 

We should only use the church building for church events...

==> When I came to my church in 2002, this was the default policy. Outsiders would mess things up. There would be security issues. Someone from the church would need to be present. In 2003-2004, when we first started thinking in terms of being a church-for-the-neighborhood ("parish church"?) we decided to open the facilities to ANY group from the neighborhood at no charge. (Charging was the second conversation after opening it up, but we decided it was to be a ministry, not a fund-raising effort.) I'll write some more on that in the next couple of posts, but it has made a HUGE difference in connecting with our neighbors.  

Minimal Hospitality Threshold

At the VERY least, we have to discover a "minimal hospitality threshold" that doesn't offer visitors the perception of dangerous childcare, arcane weirdness, awkward pandering for money, and unwelcome stares. Yet many congregations... sincerely well-meaning... have lost touch with what today's minimal hospitality threshold entails. Compare your church to a moderately successful restaurant - heck, compare it to McDonald's in terms of hospitality.

Compare your childcare to the YMCA or what you might look for in a babysitter. Put yourself in the shoes of an outsider - it's hard, but you can do it! (Or if you are really having trouble, go visit the place of worship for something really different from you - a Jewish temple or a Catholic or Orthodox or Pentecostal church... see where you are uncomfortable or lost or wishing for help.) 

And then...

Then, take a deep breath and ask this question:
Is the MINIMAL hospitality threshold really what you want as your standard of hospitality... to represent Jesus Christ to your neighbors and to the world?
Or is there far more in terms of welcome, hospitality, openness, inclusion, invitation, participation, and community?  [Hint: yes, there is far more. For just one example of that, check out this article on racial insider/outsider dynamics in church.]

And then!

And that is just the inviting, welcoming, including part of being the church that I like to call LIGHTHOUSE church. There is another whole realm of reaching out, going forth, venturing beyond the walls, loving neighbor, brushing shoulders, and being the church-for-the-world that I like to call SEARCHLIGHT church.  More on that to come...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

i know those words but don't know what you mean

I had just arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland and was supposed to meet my host at the airport. I didn't know what he looked like or where to find him, and though he had given me his phone number, my cell phone didn't have an international plan and the airport wi-fi wasn't connecting. I saw a few familiar things when I came out of customs into the waiting area: a coffee shop, some public computers for internet access, and even some phones. But I didn't (yet) have the currency. My host and I eventually found each other - it was a good portent that he had been in the coffee shop!

One of (seriously!) 1000 shows, acts, venues going on
for the "Fringe Festival"; Edinburgh Castle in the back
After a stop at the house, we ventured out into Edinburgh for an ENORMOUS month-long arts festival in the heart of town. As we navigated through to find something to watch and buy tickets, I kept noticing that I had to ask him to repeat himself and explain what he was saying to me. There was his accent (which, really, was pretty mild), but more difficult for me were so many different ways of saying things. Whether it was the boot of the car (I actually knew that one) or the "queue" to buy tickets or something costing so many "quid" (I thought it was pounds?!)... I recognized the words as existing in the language I speak, but sometimes I had no idea what he was saying. I would have been prepared for this in a culture that spoke a foreign language, but, you know, I watch Dr. Who and Sherlock and didn't figure it would throw me so much.

People ordering food and drink before returning the their table.
We went out to eat for lunch - at a legit Scottish pub. We sat down at a table and discussed what we would order, then he pointed at a number inscribed on the table top and said to stay here and he would go order. He went to the bar (with 50 other people arrayed placing their order) and left our table number there. Clearly, I knew what restaurant, table, table number, bar, menu, ordering, and all the rest were, but it was not a way of ordering food that I had ever seen.  Glad he was with me or I might have been waiting a while for a server to show up at the table!  :)

Surely you can see this person urgently
needs to get to the restroom?  :)
As we were finishing, I indicated that I needed to find the restroom. He gestured across the fairly large restaurant and said it's over there down some stairs. I set off across the restaurant and noticed some well-lit green signs of a person at the head of some stairs, so I followed the signs down two flights of stairs to a single door and went through. The door closed behind me, locked, and I found myself on the street! I went around the block, back into the restaurant and found my host at the table. He chuckled and went with me through the restaurant and pointed out the word "Toilet" at the head of another staircase. It turns out the little green running man (I thought he just really had to go!) is used throughout the country to mark the emergency exit. In the U.S. we use words for EXIT and pictures for restroom... and though I know the word "toilet" - it was not what I was looking for. All in all it was a great lesson in cultural expectations and differences. (It was also not my last bathroom mis-adventure.)

Why share all that here, as mildly humorous as it might be? It is because...

Church can also be a confusing and mis-leading culture of different language and expectations that "outsiders" have difficulty navigating.

For example:
  • Does your church have an unspoken dress code? Behavior code? Food in the sanctuary?
  • Can someone unfamiliar with church easily figure out words and practices like "passing the peace," "fellowship hour," "doxology," "confession," "hymn of praise," "creed," or any other number of things churched folks probably take for granted?
  • What about the more cultural/sub-cultural things like "ladies' circle," "covered dish dinner," "special offering," or even "youth group"?  I mean, do people outside of church ever "take an offering" for anything? At least "collection" would be a little more understandable.
  • What about standing and sitting, singing from a hymnal (or a screen), and so many of the things we do?
  • Do we sometimes, unintentionally, show people the exit door? 
I am a life-long church-goer and I have even found myself lost and confused visiting another church... even in my own Presbyterian tradition! Think about how that might feel for someone new to church and questioning the faith.

Where I'm going with all this is THIS: Are there ways we can open up insider language to better welcome those who come from outside the church or the faith?

Now there is also a fine line between opening up insider language and practice and retaining the MYSTERY that can be an important part of a worshiping community. So, in my examples above, I didn't need or want my hosts to "speak American" to me; what did work well (which we all quickly learned) was how helpful it was for them to anticipate and recognize where I might have trouble and help 'translate' or 'interpret' things that might be unfamiliar.

I'd love to hear some ways folks have done this kind of "opening up" of insider language and practices, particularly where you also have been able to maintain some of the uniqueness of Christian worship and community!

More coming...

new posts a-coming!

So in late Spring I realized I had been blogging in the areas of technology and music, both off-topic for the original intent of this "Lighthouse/Searchlight" blog.

I took some time to separate out the technology and music from the missional and moved them to the site I had created under my name when I stood for moderator of the Presbyterian Church. That took up most of May and then summer quickly filled with General Assembly, vacation Bible school, family vacation, and other things.

One of those other things was a week-long trip to Scotland with some other area pastors. Not only was it a wonderful and rich experience, it has stirred up a number of thoughts and reflections I'd like to share over the coming days and weeks, particularly around the missional church, or as I like to call it these days: church-for-the-world.

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