Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fruit of the Spirit

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Worship in an age of Neuro-marketing

A recent post on the FastCompany web site had an article about the most familiar sounds according to brain-wave recognition. that's no big deal in and of itself. But the implication is that these sounds are not only familiar, they are impossible to ignore, they demand attention. When marketers link their products to these sounds, we pay attention.
What does that mean for preaching, worship and the church? Are there recognizable sounds beyond music? In our Roman Catholic past there were the sounds of tolling bells for hours and tinkling bells for the moment in the mass where transubstantiation occurs.
As an evangelical, I pay great attention to the words of text and song, and want sound to be secondary. But can it? Are we not wired to respond to sounds, anchored in memory and tradition?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Readers' Theater

Monday, February 22, 2010

The best committee meeting

I had a great committee meeting today with my brother in the surf. We sat down and sorted out important matters!

Covenant Church mentioned in "The Economist"

I have been reading "The Economist" for about 10 years now. It's grasp of global affairs is better than most magazines on the market. In its most recent issue it ran a feature about the new unemployed and how churches are making significant steps to provide the support that state systems do not have any more. Then, to my delight, it mentioned the pioneering work of Bayside Church. Way to go Covenanters!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fruit of the Spirit

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thank You

The idea of spending an entire Saturday morning at a "chaplains' enrichment seminar" excited me about as much as a toothache! There were so many other better things I could have been doing. But I dutifully went. Here we are, above, singing worship songs that were ok (I'm used to the musical leadership of Bob Gross now).

Then the Assistant Sheriff in charge of operations came forward, with tears in his eyes. He is the one who juggles budgets and the dollar flow from both the county and state, and it's all bad news. He then paused and said, "You people are the ones who make a difference here." Then they invited three ex-cons up who had come to Christ during their time in the Santa Barbara County Jail, and through tears they thanked us for coming out and planting seeds...that sprouted.

The rest of the morning involved updating us on rules and regulations, safety procedures and lots of questions. Before I knew it we were adjourned at noon. I walked out grateful and with that warm, warm feeling of being thanked.

Friday, February 19, 2010

34 off skiing

On Anger

A panelist on NPR today commented that a political group under discussion had no future because it was "driven by an inchoate sense of anger" and had no positive core value that contributes to the body politic.
"Inchoate sense of anger" rolled around in my head as I continued reading "The Seven Desires of Every Heart" by Mark & Debra Laaser. In chapter 10 on "Triggers" they quoted Frederick Buechner:
"Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain youare given and the pain you are giving back in many ways is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Practicality of Un-Plugging

Yikes! Fellow staff-member Mike Prather just handed me a blog posting by a guy named Sam Duregger with some practical ideas how to "un-plug" in life. Take a look:
1. Set boundaries on smart-phone use (never at meals)
2. Check email only twice a day
3. Hide the TV (outside of life-flow)
4. Go on a phone-fast
5. Build in intentional silence
6. Take a social media-free day

Fear the Blob Fish!

The L.A. Times today warns us of the latest marine invader...the Blob Fish!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Seth Godin on Annual Meetings!

Today Seth Godin in his typically sparse way took a shot at the big meeting. While he is, I'm assuming, aiming at the business community. What would it mean in the church world if we would cut back on all the energy we spend on the "big event?" How many person-hours would the Covenant save if it met every other year or not at all but regionalized its gatherings?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is this a good idea?

A company named Strategos is teaching churches about "biblical" self-defense. Good idea?

Sunday, February 14, 2010


America's Cup back to USA

Gazillionaire Larry Elison from Oracle up north from here brought the America's Cup back to the USA today after his 90' trimaran beat the Swiss Alinghi catamaran in Valencia Spain. Go Larry!

Pay Attention to This!

Beyond the Shame: Webisode 11 from Mocha Club on Vimeo.

I played a video done by one of our church young men, Charlie Beck, in church today. It's one of a series, like the one above, for Mocha Club, an non-profit that invests in people-helping ministries in Africa. Why did I play it, I was asked after church? Our church does not officially support Mocha Club and we were not asking for donations. I played it because this type of video "gets it" big time. Charlie and Daniel know how to capture the essence of a project with still and moving images, dubbed with local sounds and great music. The videos are not "talking heads" of ngo's or christian organizations, but they graphically and quickly tell the story of life-transformations, person by person. If I was a mission, denomination, or organizational leader, I would snatch up guys like Charlie and Daniel to tell our stories, locally and globally.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

On the 101

Thought on Ordination

To what does ordination entitle a pastor? What entitlements come with being a Senior Pastor like I am? A private office, a book allowance, lap-top, cell-phone, ???? It can become a long list. And the funny thing is that my list only looks up to those who have more things, and seldom down to those doing ministry with less.
I had a conversation with another pastor about cars recently. What kid of cars should a pastor drive: new or used? domestic or foreign? fancy or plain? In the midwest, modesty was the norm; nothing showy or exotic. But in California, where there is a culture of the car, rules are different. Here there are great deals on used BMW's and Mercedes, sometimes cheaper than a new VW Beetle (I've had two). If you saw the blog post below on the Confederate motorcycle, which I thought at first glance was one of the coolest bikes I'd ever seen, until I discovered its $110,000 price. Then it seemed pretty dumb!
This morning in devotions I read an excerpt from Thomas Dozeman's "Holiness and Ministry" that set ordination in a fresh new light:
"The office of priest results in a loss of freedom for the sake of the larger community. Individual priests give up many of the freedoms of the profane world in order to be mediators for the whole people of God in the setting of the sanctuary. An important question for anyone pursuing the priestly ordination to the sacrament in Christian tradition is to determine what freedoms one is giving up or losing by becoming ordained. If candidates cannot think of any, they have not squarely confronted the priestly ordination to the sacrament."
.....for the sake of the larger community.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Rock Stacking

I guess it comes out of Hawaii. It's some activity of quietly placing natural rocks in formations, stacked on top of each other or in upright patterns like above.

Haiti Relief Video

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rough Drive

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Office Creativity

Hints For Better Living from Mike Afsa on Vimeo.

Who Dat?

OK, the Saints won. I'm still a bit miffed at how they beat the Vikings, but that's football. It was a great game to watch in spite of some of the dumb ads (see blog below). But in watching the parade just now in New Orleans I have to wonder, what's with "Who Dat?" I don't get it at all. It is lousy english and sounds thuggish. Any help here?

Superbowl Ad Critique

Brian Reich delivers the best critique of Superbowl advertisements I've read.

Monday, February 08, 2010


MacDonalds launched a new product just for Italy...a MacItaly sandwich!


Sweet bike filled with carbon fiber. I just checked the price-tag.....$100,000!!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

3 on a couch!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Fruit of the Spirit

Sunday starts a new preaching series on Galatians 5:22,23 The Fruit of the Spirit. I have never preached a longer series on just two verses. But these are pretty dense verses, summarizing those nine qualities that should define us and give evidence to what actually lives in us.
The axiom that troubles me is: fruits define the tree. What fruit defines me? What would those closest to you say is the defining fruit in your life? Do we even want to ask?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Confirmation on worship

Pastor as Hunter or Farmer?

Seth Godin wrote a piece on the marketplace today that I thought was a good discussion starter for pastors. It described two types of people: hunters and farmers. All of us who have studied basic anthropology and the story of the people of Israel know how hard it is to shift from nomadic to agrarian, from wandering to stable.
What kind of pastor are you: a hunter or a farmer:

Some ways to think about this:

  • George Clooney (in Up in the Air) and James Bond are both fictional hunters. Give them a desk job and they freak out.
  • Farmers don't dislike technology. They dislike failure. Technology that works is a boon.
  • Hunters are in sync with Google, a hunting site, farmers like Facebook.
  • When you promote a first-rate hunting salesperson to internal sales management, be prepared for failure.
  • Farmers prefer productive meetings, hunters want to simply try stuff and see what happens.
  • Warren Buffet is a farmer. So is Bill Gates. Mark Cuban is a hunter.
  • Hunters want a high-stakes mission, farmers want to avoid epic failure.
  • Trade shows are designed to entrance hunters, yet all too often, the booths are staffed with farmers.
  • The last hundred years of our economy favored smart farmers. It seems as though the next hundred are going to belong to the persistent hunters able to stick with it for the long haul.
  • A hunter will often buy something merely because it is difficult to acquire.
  • One of the paradoxes of venture capital is that it takes a hunter to get the investment and a farmer to patiently make the business work.
  • A farmer often relies on other farmers in her peer group to be sure a purchase is riskless.

Laundry Ministry!isc?

Santa Barbara has a lot of homeless people. MCC's Pastor for Gospel Action, Jon Lemmond, has been connecting with local ministries working with the homeless. One of the consequences of being homeless is that your clothes are dirty and you develop a distinct smell....not a nice one.
In his capacity to discover ministries, Jon just discovered Laundry Love, which focusses on using laundromats for specific hours to clean the clothes of the homeless. How cool is that? Sounds kind of like something Jesus would do.

Pastoral Care 101: return phone calls

I overheard a conversation recently about a pastor who was described in one sentence: "He's the one who never returns phone calls." Ouch! I mentioned that observation to some friends, both pastors and teachers and there was a similar refrain: this generation does not think returning phone calls is valuable.
When I began ministry in 1980 I had a rotary phone and a secretary who answered the church phone and left pink "return call" slips taped to my door with the name, number and topic I needed to call back about. Then voice mail came to the church with the flashing red light that meant waiting voice mails. That became part of "office hygiene" when I arrived in the morning, after lunch and before I left in the evening: unpack and answer voice-mails. Then came the personal cell phones, but the routine was the same: respond to all voice mails. But I observed a growing phenomena: people would look at their phone face as a call came in and then and there determine whether to answer it and return it. Now the best way (notice I said "now") is to text someone. That seems to generate a better response time than leaving a voice-mail.
Some of this is plain sociology. As we are deluged with incoming data, we sift and sort it appropriately. The sheer volume of emails I receive today has grown year by year. And a lot of it is junk.
But here's the pastoral concern: do congregants have a right to expect us to return their calls? I would argue that the only answer Jesus would give is YES. Seminaries and supervisors should teach pastors in training that all calls should be returned as a common courtesy within the day they were received. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mixed Martial Arts: Go Team Cho!

In a zany attempt to reach a young male audience and to baptize the culture of brutality, today's New York Times has an article about a growing number of evangelical churches who sponsor and legitimize mixed martial arts as a way of reaching young men who are turned off by the "feminization" of the church. They cite pastors who say that Jesus was a "fighter" for what was right which allows them to bloody each other with their fists and feet!
Then, midway in the article our own Eugene Cho is quoted as an opposing voice, saying that he does not worship a Jesus who beats people up! Yeah Eugene!
What this article shows is the weak theological underbelly of evangelical attempts to evangelize with the culture, but getting consumed by the culture instead of transforming it. We should commend the intention, but reject the product. Go Team Cho!

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