Thursday, November 20, 2008

Advent Video

Here's a fantastic video on advent and Christmas. It most certainly is something we all should think about. At the same time, this video shows the wonderful use of proper church marketing. It's crisp, fresh and fast moving. It captures your attention. Oh, how I wish more churches understood video production/media and the useful ways to market the church other than an ad in the phone book. Enjoy.

HT: Thoughts from the life of Joe

Monday, November 17, 2008

Planting Churches or Making Satellites Part 2

At the end of the post I asked several questions. I'll attempt to answer them.
They are: Why is there a disagreement between the two? What are the benefits of the church plant? What are the benefits of the satellite church? What are each churches disadvantages? What would you prefer: plant or satellite?

Before I answer these questions, I want to address Colleen's statement that whatever gets people to Christ should be used. While I do agree that each of these churches bring people to Christ is most worthy of praise, there are certainly some concerns we should have on how some people 'do' church. Also, I know that she did not mean this but there are some things that we should NOT do to get people to Christ. The image of the early Jesuit Christians converting Native Americans (South America) by way of putting a gun to their head comes to my mind. How we bring people to Christ is an important question to ask. But for now let's talk about church plants and church satellites.

First let's address Church Plants and their benefits/disadvantages. The benefits of church plants are their focus to the community. Most church plants fully embrace that they are part of a unique community and desire to bring the gospel to that community in a way which will be heard. Most church plants ask how can I bring the gospel and care for these people in a way that would fit their community. You will experience a variety of church plants, they are not the same. How one does ministry on a college campus will be vastly different to a church plant in a newly growing suburban area or even a church plant in a downtown ubran area. The message is the same but how it is communicated adapts to the community.

Certainly there are some disadvantages. Most church plants are not well funded. They are smaller and take some time to grow. They may not have all the resources as other churches. They are different. If you went to a new church plant, that is outside of your community, you will fully experience a shift. Imagine a suburbanite going to an urban church, there will be a cultural shift that may make the visitor uncomfortable.

Now what about the satellite church? The majority of satellite church look very similar to the other church they are associated with. This can be an advantage. Most satellite churches take what I like to call the Starbucks model. In all reality every Starbucks is the same. Sure the floor plans may be a little different but they are pretty much the same. This is an advantage in the aspect that if you go to a satellite church, you know what to expect. They may have the same programs, worship style, and bible studies. Another advantage of the satellite church, is the funding. Most satellite churches are funded directly by a larger church which can feed the satellite church with members.

The disadvantages of the satellite church are very similar to its advantages. Since most satellites are a 'copy' of another church, they fail to recognize the differences of the communities. Everything is the same and that can lead to placing a church in a location that is trying to reach the gospel in a way that is foreign to the community. Also this tends to create a corporation like church. The idea is about 'branding'. This allows the same branded churches to create their own denomination.

The church plant is better at effectively communicating the gospel to the community that it has been called to dwell. While the satellite often is a molded copy of another church that may or may not effectively communicate the gospel to the community. It just depends if the community is the same as the other church.

Now I know that it sounds as if church plants are good and satellites are bad. Not necessarily. I can come across several satellites that take into consideration the differences of the community. They adapt to the community. In this sense I would say that they are a hybrid between a philosophy of plants and satellites. The key is the community. Which one does the best job at proclaiming the gospel to the community. If you would like more discussion on this topic see jwinters blog on the subject.

Is there anything that I have missed? Do you agree with my conclusions?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Reformation Day

Even though most people will be celebrating Halloween tonight, I'm going to pay homage to the original: Reformation Day. Here's a video of some people at Yale created. They do a great job but get some things confused. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Planting Churches or Making Satellites

Often I come across other pastors that encourage the development of new churches. Now, I'm all for new churches but it seems that some fall into either of 2 categories: the church plant or the satellite church. Allow me to clarify and define each. Each start out with the premise that the current church is growing. Each discover a new site of potential grow. But they go about it in different ways.
(Image: Rows of Salad by majorie lipan)
The church plant (let's call it St. John's Church) addresses the issue by stating that they are going to send a core group to a new location, maybe 10 miles away from the current church location and start a new church. This church would have its own pastor and be separate from the first church (St. Johns'). They would have a new name like (St. Paul's Church). This church would at first be supported by the previous church (St. John's) until it could be supported on it's own. In time people may not realize that St. Paul's Church was planted by people from St. John's because they have grown to be 2 different churches giving the gospel to 2 communities.

(Image: Satellite by wjarrettc)
The church (let's call it Mt. Hope Church) that wants to start the satellite church goes about it differently. They, too, would find a new location, 10 miles away from the current church location and start a 'satellite' church with a core of people from the original Mt. Hope Church. This church may have its own pastor but is not separate from the first church. Often they will have the same name. Mt. Hope Church of Big Town, USA and Mt. Hope Church of Littler Town, USA. The first church would support the new one but there would be no true distinction between the two. The programs offered would be similar and possibly even the style of worship would be exactly the same. There would be no intention of growing each church into separate entities, they would always be connected. This model is often seen by many mega-churches.

So those are the 2 models. Why is there a disagreement between the two? What are the benefits of the church plant? What are the benefits of the satellite church? What are each churches disadvantages? What would you prefer: plant or satellite?

Next week I'll come up with my own assessment but I'd love to hear from you first!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One last PowerPoint help

This will probably be my last Power Point help. I know the video describes how to pitch a presentation for money but I do believe the principles exemplified work in both sermons and teaching. I think that's all I can really do to help others with their power point presentations. The only other suggestion I have is watch good presenters. (Many found on are excellent) Good luck with those presentations and send me and suggestions or comments on this power point series.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Oh, NPR why do I love and hate you at the same time?

Image: From Flickr; logo_npr_125 by MontageMan

So, I love NPR. I use to listen to it all the time when I was in St. Louis. It was great to quickly get my news while driving to Seminary and back. And of course there were the in depth interview with people that I would have never thought to be so interesting and fascinating. Yes, even Ugandan 'flute' players! NPR really broadened my perspective on things in the world. Sure many people accuse it of being a 'liberal' perspective, but I really did think that was honest.

But I will admit that towards the end of the 4th year of the Seminary I stopped listening to NPR. It wasn't a gradual phase but a complete halt. Why? There was a show about a lady who was talking about the Bible. And she was using every single fallacy known to man to disprove that the Bible was completely full of errors and is quite unintelligent. This really infuriated me because I could not really respond to the woman. I knew not just that she was wrong Biblically but that she was using logic fallacies. I guess I was just so mad that I stopped.

Well, I have now begun to listen to NPR again. It was a good news source during both the DNC and RNC. But it happened again today. This time a guy was explaining why he doesn't believe in Scripture, God and the like solely because he found out that a 'medium' was lying about channeling spirits. He took this experience and began to question his whole faith. This time I wasn't as mad but saddened. Saddened not only to listen to this man but saddened that I have never heard Christianity, the Bible, or Jesus ever truly represented in a positive light on NPR. Maybe it's my listening times? But I have yet to hear it. This time I won't be tuning out NPR...I still love...but I kinda hate it at the same time for presenting stories and people of one perspective without covering the whole story.

So am I just too sensitive? Does NPR do this? Do they have shows that give a positive light on Christianity?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DNC is here

Right now we are in the midst of the DNC (that's Democratic National Convention). That's at Denver if you live under a rock. Although if you live under a rock you might not know where Denver is anyway. I think it's great to have the Convention here. It give a good opportunity to talk about citizenship. After all, as Christians we live in a particular time and place. We live in a country and God has not just called us to be His family but to participate in the civil realm (that includes politics). We should all be aware of the 'political' realm. It is an excellent way that we can serve our neighbor.

How are you involved in the political realm?
Do you see serving/doing politics as something that is good?

The Return of .....

I know it's been a while. Life has really sped up. The good news: after much frustration we have a house! It's been a crazy process and as our Realtor said "Everything that could go wrong, went wrong with you guys." But we have a house and things are getting unpacked and put into place. I have many different projects to complete. And as many of you have notice this blog has suffered the greatest hit. But I have returned and let's see if I can give this blog the life it needs. It just might have as many lives as my office plant.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

To sermon or not to sermon?

Ok...I know that's a bad and horrible title. But I'm kinda struggling here for this Sunday's sermon. Out of the 3 readings for this Sunday (LCMS lectionary readings) I am really pulled towards Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 (I hate that they cut out 10-17, it's so important!). It's rather unusual because I typically prefer the Old Testament readings. My predicament is this: I preached on Matthew 13:1-23 a Women's Retreat in April to 50 women at RSLC. So...would it be ok if I pull out that sermon again? Now, if I'm going to use that sermon, all I'm going to do is update and clarify. After all I will be speaking to a different audience, yet the core of the message will probably be the same. So, I'd revise some illustrations, expand more on the text and give different applications. Is this ethical? Or should I just go for it? What do you think?

Monday, July 7, 2008

More on Presentations

Thanks again to Ed Ross (I think...are you edr??) for another great video on presentations. The video plays on itself, in that they guy gives suggestions on how do do a presentation while the whole video sets itself up in the correct style.

PresenTired: "The Voicemail" from Scott Schwertly on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm starting to like sports...what's happening

First allow me to state that I have always liked sports, just certain sports. I wasn't that guy who always had sportscenter on (I didn't even know what Sports Center was until a few years ago). Growing up I always liked tennis. It was my favorite sport...sure I played baseball (probably 2nd favorite sport) and soccer (close tie to baseball). But I did not like any other sports; football--not for me; basketball--please no, don't even let me touch the ball. I've always favored reading, video games, riding my bike (not into cycling though), and hanging out outside.
But recently I've been starting to watch sports. I've usually tried to catch tennis in the summer when it's on but other than that nothing. Now if I'm not watching Headline News, CNN, or SciFi channel I have ESPN on. It's great. I think I'm going to blame it all on my good friend Tony, who taught me to love hockey. You see, Tony introduced me not just to hockey but the Red Wings! He had NHL's Center Ice our fourth year at the sem, so each time the Wings were playing I'd go to his place to watch the game. We'd have some Blue Moon and talk about hockey strategy. Before that I'd never really watch any sports stuff besides tennis (Speaking of which go watch it NOW! Wimbledon is on! Great upsets but my guess it'll end with the typical Federer and Nadal champ match).
Now I like to watch baseball (only if Boston or the Cubs are playing), football (I guess I have to become a Bronocs fan...sigh), tennis (my staple, when I can watch it), and hockey (so exciting, the Red Wings won Lord Stanley's Cup by the way!). But I must admit that Sports Center is allows you to catch up on all the sports and all the highlights so if you can't catch the game you know what went on. And Sports Center is on all the time. So I'm starting to like this new sports me, it's fun. But it did give my wife a shock, "You don't watch sports!" was her response.

So what other great sports are out there that I should look into?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Winds of Change! Winds of Change!

This is the mantra that drives my wife crazy. It stems from many movies, usually of a Japanese influence, that when the trees move and the wind blows it signals a change in direction or something major is going to happen. For example, the protagonist who thinks the battle over, winds of change happen, and something major occurs. So this is the winds of change for my blog. At first, I designed this blog for my class Faith through Film where I discussed film and people from the class could join in the conversation. That didn't go too well. Then I shifted to a type of theology focused blog. That really didn't go too well. All throughout it, I sprinkled posts on my thoughts of the day, my interests and just stuff I wanted to talk about. Examples would be the comics, media and how to do a power point right. (Oh, that powerpoint is still a hot topic of mine) So this got me thinking of just doing a personal blog. My daily thoughts and some other posts of life being intersected. One of the biggest things that got me thinking is how I can show that faith and life do intersect. So I hope you will enjoy this new change in direction for this it truly becomes "Meandering of a Lutheran". Winds of Change! Winds of Change!

Monday, May 19, 2008

How to do PowerPoint right!

Here's another video on how to effectively do Power Point presentations. Thanks again, to Ed Ross for connecting me, unknowingly, to this video. Watch the video and learn. But if you want the best resource on this; then purchase Cliff Atkinson's book Beyond Bullet Points. It is by far the best resource I can offer. The video is about 20 minutes. Enjoy.

Monday, May 12, 2008

PowerPoint and My Love/Hate Relationship with It

As many of you know, my church uses PowerPoint for almost everything. And while I love PowerPoint (you can do some great things with it and effectively communicate with it), I also hate it when it isn't used properly. And so to help some PowerPoint people out there here's a great example of what NOT to do with PowerPoint. DO NOT DO THIS! I cry when I see this done. By the way, I have to give thanks to Ed Ross for inadvertently directing me to this video. I found it on the Geeks&God forum.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Bid

Well, we put a bid on the house today. Now we play the waiting game, then possibly the negotiating game and the like. It's exciting. Although, according to my wife I am a wreck. It is pretty stressful. But exciting to have your own place, your own room. It makes me think of Ascension Day. Christ returns to Heaven and says that there He is preparing a place for us...a room. That same feeling of a place to live and dwell carries over to know that we have a place in heaven established for us where we will live and dwell with our Savior is simple awesome. (No this is not a picture of our house)

The Great House Hunt

Well, my wife and I have started our house hunt about a week ago. It has been a growing experience. Our realtor has been great! Yet, I must say that the first couple days of searching we were very saddened by the houses that were in our price range. Many that we saw were foreclosed. I was shocked at the way the previous owners treated these houses. Certainly, they were foreclosed for a reason. But we saw some disgusting pits; smoke reeking, pet urine smelling, furniture dissolving, and junk filled houses. I was simply saddened at how the previous owners took care a place in which they lived. Of course, these houses got us down. Can we afford to live in these areas? Can we afford to purchase a house in this community?
But then yesterday changed all that. We did change the community in which we were looking at and we found some great houses. Beautiful houses that we could see ourselves living in. It's exciting but it's also nerve-racking. I'm a cautious person, so this is extremely stressful as we think about placing a bid and we pray that the timing all plays out.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why I love comics and superheroes

Image: the secret life of a superhero #2 by _KoAn_ at Flickr

I was reading this article from CNN and loved it. They finally get it about why kids and especially teenagers love superheroes. The author almost seems surprised that this year's superhero hits have major flaws. It's not the typical Superman weakness but the everyday weaknesses of the superheroes that draw us to them. Stan Lee mentions that it makes the hero rounded out.
I would say that it's not that the hero is rounded out but the fact that it makes the hero real. I love Superman, and can relate to that character on a very small level but he's Superman! I like it that Superman can be very much a Christ-like hero. But it's the other heroes who really draw me in, with their flaws. Spider-Man, who always has relationship issues and financial issues. I love it when in the comics he just gets done fighting a villain and then worries that he still has a rent payment to make (by the way this is what makes Spider-Man 2 the best out of the trilogy). Batman, with his identity crisis ("Who are you?" "I'm Batman!"). Iron Man, with alcoholism, and struggling with vocation. Wolverine, with his 'old life' vs 'new life' issues. These characters we all love (at least me and a lot of nerds!).
Yet I would argue that many of our Biblical Heroes are very similar to them. Samson, Ehud, Barak (Yes, I'm studying Judges right now), Moses, Aaron, Thomas, Peter, and Paul. They each have their flaws, yet God uses them. They are the prototypes (loosely used) of the Superheroes of today. Maybe we should get out that Bible and begin seeing these characters in a new light!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Creed part 4

“He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary”

For many people this part of the creed is hard to swallow. Let alone wrap our minds around it. Yet it goes to the core of our Christian faith. This is the Christmas part of the creed. It also describes how we can truly say that Jesus Christ is 100% True God and 100% True Man.

Sadly many non-Christians who grew up in the church scoff at this idea. Often they claim that Joseph was keep busy while the Father had ‘relations’ with Mary. But the very identity of Mary as a virgin stresses that this is simply not true and an aberrant thought. Also, as the creed states it is not by the power of the Father that Jesus is conceived but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus we see the miraculous conception.

Indeed, Jesus takes on the flesh of humanity. God comes to us as a man. He is born without sin because it is by the power of the Holy Spirit and the fact that he is true God. At the same time, Jesus is one of us; human. It still gives awe and wonder thinking about God becoming man. That awe and wonder is still carried out during that Christmas time with songs and worship. We still marvel at the God-man; Jesus Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord”

The Apostles Creed then moves into the Second Article. The Second Article deals with Jesus Christ. Indeed the opening phrase, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord”, gives us everything we need to know. But the rest of the following phrases explain what is meant by Jesus Christ being Lord.

Before we go into that, we must first discuss Jesus Christ being the Father’s only Son. Mentioned in the earlier newsletter article, the Creed discusses and hammers out the Triune God. First we see the role that the Father plays and now we see Jesus Christ. Each is completely God. They are each, though, a person or personhood. So, the Father is 100% God and the Son is 100% God. Yet the Father is not the Son. I know it gets confusing. But that is why we have the Nicene Creed and, more so, the Athanasian Creed which clearly describes the Trinity. But stating that you believe that Jesus Christ is the Father’s only Son is very important. This distinguishes us from many of the other religions that parade themselves as Christian (Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses). We are stating that Jesus is the Son of the Father, the ONLY Son. We become sons and daughters of God ONLY through adoption (baptism). This brings up all the issues of authority and power. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus has authority and power and gives reference that only a son can be given the authority and power via a father. Christ has the authority and power of God not because he was special or discovered something new but simply because He is God.

And because Christ is God, we call Him Lord. Luther writes, “What is it to ‘become a Lord’? It means that Christ has redeemed me from sin, from the devil, from death, and from all evil. Before this I had no Lord and King but was captive under the power of the devil.” Calling Jesus Christ “Lord” is not like saying He’s the president or C.E.O of our lives. He is the Ruler of our lives because He has redeemed us, bought us back to God. He has purchased us as His own, with His own precious blood. We now call Him Lord because Jesus is our Lord and Savior. “He has taken us as his own, under his protection, in order that he may rule us by his righteousness, wisdom, power, life, and blessedness.” – Martin Luther

I'm back!

Sorry everyone. I know this site has been 'dead' for awhile. I've been busy with Easter and then I got sick for about 2 weeks. But now I'm back and bringing this blog back to LIFE! I'm also changing some of the links so check them out. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth

The Apostles Creed is typically divided up into three articles; each dealing with one person of the Trinity. Luther decided against the twelve part division that the medieval church taught and I largely agree that the three article division is best but I am going with the twelve part division only to make these writings less tedious. So we begin with the first part: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth". There is much we confess that is packed into this first simple phrase of the Apostles Creed.

The creed begins to describe who this person of the Trinity is, namely, Father. God the Father is quite fatherly. Scripture is quite clear on who is the Father. Deuteronomy 1:31 “There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” Psalm 2:7 (in foretelling of Jesus’ baptism) “I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” We see throughout the Old Testament, the Father caring and providing for His people, even all people under creation.

That is another important confession we make: God is creator, maker of heaven and earth. Oftentimes we fly past this first statement of the Creed without ever truly thinking about it. But we are confessing that God is the Creator; that He has made everything; the earth, the plants, the cosmos, the animals, even you and me. We are a creature of God and we confess that He has given us everything. Our Catechism states “God has given and constantly sustains my body, soul, and life, all the faculties of my mind, my reason, my food and drink, clothing, means of support, wife and child, house and home” (Large Catechism). Yet, many times we question whether God has truly given these things. After all, I purchased my clothing (or atleast my wife) not God. But within this statement we see that God has provided everything for us through the doctrine of vocation. Where God works through others in the roles and callings that they have. They are all gifts from God who has worked through the fashion designers, workers, retailers and the like to provide for me clothes.

God gives us everything we need in this life. As Christian we are to see God as the Giver of these wonderful things. We are to love, praise, and thank God for all that He has done for us. “He gives us all these things so that we may sense and see in them his fatherly heart and his boundless love toward us” (Large Catechism).