Monthly Archives: February 2016
When asked to pray for someone, it’s typical for me to inquire about details. The request “I’d like us to pray for my nephew. He was just diagnosed with cancer,” might be followed up with something like “Sure. What is his first name?” “How old is he?” “What kind of cancer does he have?” “When was he diagnosed?” “How are his parents doing? Maybe we should also pray for them.”
This isn’t intended to be nosy, nor are such details necessary. Even if he didn’t ask me to pray and was just giving me some troubling family news, I would still ask these questions out of concern for my friend and his nephew. Continue reading
Though it is pretty ancient technology now, I remember listening (or should it be watching) to one of my first sermons using PowerPoint. I admit that at first I was mesmerized. The man speaking was quite good, but his slides were even better. As I recall, there was a little figure on the screen who kept running from point to point as the author spoke. Occasionally something would light up and blink or disappear and reappear. I was spellbound.
But when it was over and we were walking out, I had the distinct feeling that I had been hoodwinked. It’s not that the message wasn’t good, it was almost too good. Continue reading
The church tradition I was raised in leans to the quiet side of the spectrum. It’s not a morbid, mausoleum kind of quiet; you do hear kids and the occasional whisper of an adult, but throughout the sermon folks listen quietly.
But I’ve been a guest speaker in churches of a very different atmosphere. I recall speaking in a church when someone in the back row yelled, “That’s pretty good!” I paused for a moment, not sure who he was talking to. When I saw him waving at me and everyone else in the church smiling, I relaxed and said “Why thank you, nice of you to say so” and continued on, thoroughly enjoying my time there.
Every local congregation has its own personality. At some churches, the needle leans toward reverence; while at others it points toward family and informality. No one local congregation is a perfect fit for everyone. Continue reading
Before the age of consumerism, you could pretty much anticipate what you would encounter when you visited a church simply based on its sign or building architecture. While there were plenty of exceptions, if the sign said Pentecostal, Baptist, Presbyterian, or Catholic, and the building was simple or Gothic, you pretty much knew what you were getting into. You could judge the book by its cover.
But the baby boomers changed all that. Suddenly the driving force was relevancy. The local church needed to change; it needed to close the gap between what happens out there and what happens in here. Tempo trumped tradition, volume drowned out tranquility. Continue reading
Those involved in the inner workings of a local church know how difficult it is to be both relevant and timeless. Churches deal in truth and truth does not change. But churches also exist in cultures that change almost daily.
Most church services are held in buildings and most of those buildings have electricity and indoor plumbing. But for some, the technology slows down a little at that point. Some churches have padded chairs while others insist on wooden pews. Some only sing ancient hymns while others pick another era for their songs. Some use Power Point while others eschew it as not only needless but distracting.
And then there is the matter of Bible translations. Almost every English Bible is a translation of the Hebrew (Old Testament) and the Greek (New Testament). Continue reading