Church

Lazy

I said in my sermon on Sunday that “no serious person” disputes the NASA-backed assertions that the climate is warming and that due to human causes. I wish I hadn’t use that phrase. It was a lazy way to amplify a point. What kind of sloth needs to amplify NASA?

N-A-S-A.

Such rhetorical laziness is a luxury, because, in fact, NASA and the whole edifice of global scientific consensus about this question are disputed with deadly seriousness.

Laziness about that isn’t helping.

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Church

Evaluation Time

Schedule the evaluation at the same time you schedule everything else. It’s just as important as everything else, so why leave it to the end-of-program crunch of everybody’s schedule. Put it on your schedule at the beginning.

Then, have a tool. It doesn’t need to be a complicated evaluation; the simple questions What Worked and What Could Be Better are all you really need. Of course, “worked” means you’re clear on what your program was trying to do; useful evaluation depends on clear goals and objectives.

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Church

The Summit

In between weddings on Saturday I stood in my office and nervously watched Kiddo’s cheer team compete at the Big Meet in Florida, the one we’ve been fundraising for since early April.

Her team was much smaller than the others in the competition, nine members to the standard 15 or 20. The difficulty in their routine was clearly less than their competitors, and they dropped one of their stunts. They did not advance.

Lady Evo, show ’em how it’s done

Yet there they were. The youngest ones seven years old and the oldest only 14, representing a gym that has never earned a bid to a national meet before. Good on them, and good on everyone who offered support over the last month.

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Church

Reading

There were roughly 5,000 pages of reading assigned for this first semester of my new academic venture, and I am not going to get them all read in time. That is partly because the way I am reading, which is to underline and notate in the margins and then, at several page intervals, type up those notations in a Word document. I’m basically trading speed for depth.

In school, as in life, that’s a trade with benefits and costs.

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Church

Love It

You have to love it.

Criticize it, analyze it, mock it: as long as you love it I’ll follow you in it.

I listened to my first Game of Thrones podcast yesterday. I’ve been a viewer from the beginning, never veering so far into fandom as to listen to podcasts about the show, but Sunday’s “The Longest Night” tipped me. There was just too much. I needed to hear committed people talk about it.

The best ones love it.

What matters more than production or insight in the quality of a podcast is love–the people making it love the thing it’s about. You can tell when they don’t, when they’re detached and above it all, and it’s so much less interesting.

No matter your work, if you love your subject we probably will too.,


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Church

The Next Thing

“Confirmation is a beginning, not an ending.” I say it a gazillion times over the course of the year, from the introductory meeting with parents to the presentation of the confirmands to the congregation.

Saying it is doesn’t make it so, though. I think there is something else that needs to be said to make the statement more of a reality.

“See you next week.”

Even better, “See you at youth group next week” or “See you at choir next week” or “See you in worship next week” or see-you-at-anything-the-congregation-does next week. Like, right away.

Maybe it helps to have a concrete next step.

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Church

We Can’t Not Be Political

My friend is leading a prayer before the U.S. House of Representatives, and he’s worried about his prayer being perceived as “too political.” I shared with him a quote I encountered this week, a paraphrase of John Howard Yoder in a book called Evangelism after Christendom: “The question is not whether the Christian should be political or not. The question is rather to what sort of politics the Christian is called.”

The author also observes that “The interpretation of Jesus’ life and ministry as apolitical is itself a political option.”

This is not mere wordplay. The impact on politics of women and men of faith who try to avoid the “political” is tangible. It affects not only who gets elected, but also where public moneys get appropriated and which laws become enacted.

We can’t not be political. Living is political, especially when it’s done collectively, as by a church.

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Church

Walking

It was warm enough yesterday morning to allow me to walk to a train station that’s about 30 minutes away for my morning commute, rather than the one that’s five minutes from the school where I drop Daughter off at 8:15.

Just a few minutes into that walk I ran into someone from my church. They were leaving a dentist appointment. We had a pleasant, brief, exchange, and then I continued on my walk.

Perhaps 10 minutes after that I passed someone else from the church, a coworker, on the sidewalk. We shared a surprised “Hi!” as we passed one another, and neither of us broke stride.

Finally, just a block from my destination, a third encounter with a church person. We walked the last two minutes together, talking about his recent trip to Amsterdam and Paris.

There’s nothing like a little sunshine and two walking feet.

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Church

Desire

I spent last Friday morning reading the “faith narratives” that my church’s 27 Confirmation students wrote. They range in length from a few paragraphs to three pages, and they express a wide spectrum of understanding–the Bible, the church, God: there’s a lot in there, and a lot of it I don’t remember teaching.

And yet the thing I have decided to care most about in these narratives is desire. Do these students want to be part of the church? If they do (and we work hard to give them a real choice to say they don’t), then the understanding they express comes in a distant second place; we can work with desire.

Confirmation is invitation to young people to say “yes” to faith. We grow with them from there.

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