Category Archives: Anything 2.0

An Open Letter to Congregations Welcoming New Pastors

My own thoughts (some hopefully beneficial, some potentially harmful) on just what to do about a new pastor arriving less than a week from today prompted me to draft an open letter to my church. It addresses the “fix-it” list mentality that we can get caught up in whenever new leadership comes into an organization…

January is here! No doubt, this is the month where God’s blessing on us manifests itself in the form of a gifted and passionate shepherd to serve as Pastor and Head of Staff. Thanks be to God! I can’t help but think that our gracious and providing God has a sense of humor. How appropriate that Pastor Bill arrives in January… that he arrives in a month saturated with new beginnings and new chapters, with renewed hope and renewed vitality. Personally and professionally, I’m very thankful for God’s blessing on us. I’m excited to work with a fellow climber, a fellow bibliophile, and a fellow questioning pilgrim, to name a few of Bill’s qualities.

The arrival of a new pastor after a long interim period is great news, but it’s also an occasion for extra diligence. Over the past few months, each of us has probably said that some problem or another will just get better when the new pastor comes. I know I have. But the more I think about it, the more I’m wary of that attitude. Indeed, the presence of a pastor inherently clears up certain potential conflicts. For example, although we could not have survived this period without the leadership of dedicated laypersons who stepped up to the plate, I eagerly anticipate having just one supervisor. Just one person to report to. Where hierarchy exists, it exists most efficiently in simple form. So, Pastor Bill’s arrival itself is somewhat of an automatic solution to certain organizational challenges.

But we know we’re not a perfect congregation. No congregation is perfect. There are still ways for us to streamline the way we carry the gospel out into Durango. There are still ways for us to more enthusiastically fold newcomers into our midst. There are still ways for us to harness 21st-century technology for the purposes of building God’s Kingdom this year. There are still ways for us to become a tighter family of many generations working together.

Join me in rejoicing that our Pastor has arrived, but also let us remain diligent, both as individuals and as a corporate body. Before I ask Bill to make a drastic change that I may personally want to see, may I give him the time he needs to observe us and strategize about how to best lead us. May I avoid the temptation to hand him a “fix-it” list. May I be eager to discern how my unique gifts might best combine with those brought by Bill. Join me in enthusiastically welcoming Pastor Bill in this way!

Let us take to heart how Paul ends his admonition to the believers in Rome: “And now to him who is able to establish us by the gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ… so that all nations might believe and obey him, to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ. Amen!”

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Student Ministry Blog

After too much red tape (and too many HTML headaches) to get a youth ministry page posted within my church’s website, I decided to just let WordPress help out. Got the “Why didn’t I think of that before?!?” idea from a colleague of mine who also uses a blog format for his youth ministry page.

It’s here: http://1stpresdurangoyouth.wordpress.com

Head over. Check it out.

  • What could be done to make it more functional, specifically for use as a youth ministry communication tool?
  • If you’re in youth ministry and use a blog for getting info out to your students, what lessons have you learned?
  • Thinking about adding a Flickr widget for ministry photos… potential privacy issues? How did you address them?
  • Have you been able to make it foster anything near the community that the social networking sites promote?
  • What cues can a blog take from the standard youth ministry webpage?

Interesting Aspect of the Facebook / MySpace Dichotomy

Came across an article about trends of class differences common in the main user groups of Facebook and MySpace. Seems like the easiest route would be to somehow convince each site to compile and release a report on their demographic breakdowns.

But no, that would be too easy… So I respect the author for making a great effort to do the bulk of her research through interviews, both formal and informal. I’m no expert on research methodology, but the author’s process seems pretty sound:

I have done formal interviews in California, Washington, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts. When I do this, I do not capture parents’ income but I do get parents’ education level and job. In each of these communities, I have spent time roaming the streets and talking informally with people of all ages. I have analyzed profiles from all 50 states (and DC and Puerto Rico). I use the high school data from these profiles and juxtapose them with federal information on high school voucher numbers to get a sense of the SES of the school. I have spent time in cities, suburbs, small towns, and some rural regions.

She also acknowledges possible weaknesses of not spending much time in rural areas or the Deep South.

The essay opens with a history of the rise of the two sites. Also discussed are the roots of bad blood between each site’s loyalists.

Next up is an exploration of socioeconomic trends among Facebookers contrasted with MySpacers. “Look and feel” factor in immensely. Facebook users tend to be

very aware of MySpace and they often have a negative opinion about it. They see it as gaudy, immature, and “so middle school.” They prefer the “clean” look of Facebook, noting that it is more mature and that MySpace is “so lame.”

Loyal MySpace users, on the other hand, interpret what the Facebookers criticize to in fact be

“glitzy” or “bling” or “fly” (or what my generation would call “phat”) by subaltern teens. Terms like “bling” come out of hip-hop culture where showy, sparkly, brash visual displays are acceptable and valued.

So those are just a few things to get your gears turning. The author also points out interesting divisions in the sites’ user bases that surface within the military…

All things considered, it doesn’t seem like the author tries to stretch the facts to make a point… I think she’s on to a pretty intuitive but not-often-expressed difference. I’ve read the article once at this point, and just had some basic reactions. I plan on going back over it a few times. You should too:

Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace

[HT]: CPYU, “Articles & Research” section

Thesis 9

A long time ago Matt and I started a joint-blogging project (March 31 was the launch… wow). It was a discussion of a 9-part article, “Learning to Read the Bible Again.” We devoted a post to each of the theses in the article, and tried to pull in some outside voices with whom to compare notes. Well I’ve finally reached the end of the project, Matt finished Thesis 9 a while back. Anyway, it’s high time I jot some of my own thoughts down on the last thesis. Without further ado…

9. We live in the tension between the “already” and the “not yet” of the kingdom of God; consequently, scripture calls the church to ongoing discernment, to continually fresh re-readings of the text in light of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in the world.

Because the narrative of scripture is open to a future that God will give, and because our vision is limited by creaturely finitude and distorted by sinfulness, we lack the perspective of the finished drama as we seek to live faithfully in the present. Yet we trust that the story is moving to a final consummation in which God will overcome death and wipe away every tear from our eyes. Knowing that we do not see ourselves and our world from God’s point of view, we are grateful for the gifts of scripture and community and for the possibilities of mutual correction in love that they offer. We are also grateful for scripture’s promise that the Spirit of God will lead us into truth, which gives us hope that our speech and practice might yet be a faithful witness to the righteous and merciful God who is made known to us in Jesus Christ.

If the story has not yet reached its conclusion, does this have implications for understanding the relationship between scripture’s identification of God and the claims made by other religious traditions? How are our fresh rereadings to be distinguished from interpretations of scripture that purport to separate the “kernel” of the gospel from the “husk” of cultural accretions? To what standards of accountability are we called in order to keep our rereadings faithful to the God of Jesus Christ?

I chuckle when I imagine the disciples eagerly asking, naively and expectantly asking, “So, like, next week… that’s when you’re gonna restore the Kingdom… right, Rabbi?” (Acts 1:6) But we do the same thing, don’t we? We just leave it up to God to bring the Kingdom here, and we’re pretty sure it’ll be any day now. Hope is great, but by no means should it devolve into lazy expectancy. And that’s why it’s so important to begin the discussion of our last thesis with the “tension between the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet’ of the kingdom of God.” Like millions of believers who have preceded us, we still have a lot of work to do. Roll up your sleeves, open your Bible, and share with your brothers and sisters what you find.

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Wikis, wikis, everywhere

The newest wiki (definition) I’ve come across is wikiletics. It was set up by Leonard Sweet, a forerunner in church imagination. Here’s what Rick Lawrence says about him:

In sum, Leonard Sweet sees things others don’t. He leans into the corners so he can peek around them. I can’t think of a better person for a brain-picking session on youth ministry’s second century. That’s why we asked him to point his mental browser at today’s young people and tell us what he sees.

I’m also excited that Sweet is going to be a keynote at Catalyst. (Oct. 3-5. Anyone else want to go? More people = better price…) At first I kinda dismissed him as a grandiose thinker without a gameplan, based on others’ descriptions of him. But the more I read, the more I see the error of my ways hahaha. A good example of me being proved wrong like this is in the above-mentioned interview he did for Rick Lawrence.

Anyway, back to the wiki. I created a login yesterday and put up my first contribution. It’s a sermon I composed and delivered last November. It’s also posted here within my wordpress.

Stewart, you should join in!