Called to be there for someone

kids

On Facebook a young mom confessed that she could hardly wait for her kids to grow up… then maybe she could get her life back and have some privacy in the bathroom. She might even find some time for her friends.

 

Evangelical blogger   wrote of how Jesus first loved us and, in so doing, showed people how to live and grow and love in the middle of their daily struggles. She reflects Jesus teaching in a poetic form:

She writes:

“I was self-centered, but He loved me selflessly.

I was concerned with personal gain, but He gave to me without restraint.

I was consumed with my busy schedule, but He pencils me in without appointment.

I made mess after mess, and He cleaned them up for me.

I was ignorant of His presence, but He knew right where I was.

I tried to ignore Him, to run, but He stayed right by my side.

I was harsh and irritable, but He is patient and gentle.

I asked Him why He’s so willing to deal with fools (temporarily forgetting my place), and

He reminded me, “I get the last word.””

It is a bit of a challenge, but we all pray that we will feel that presence of the Spirit in our lives and that we will be able to have the courage and be able to find the time for even the most unlovable of people, just as the Spirit of God is there for us.

 

The Seeds of Revolution in Canada

This week  I listened as Green Party leader Elizabeth May called on Canadians to take back political ownership of their country. She called on people to tell their politicians that they want this to be the Canada that it used to be, a country:  that stands proud and free among nations; a country with a good record for human rights; a country that cares for the environment, and seeks to make life better for future generations.  May left me with a feeling that there is something wrong with the way Canadians are now doing democracy. She left me feeling that many political leaders have lost their democratic souls, concentrating on the pursuit of personal wealth and power at the expense of future generations and the liberal democratic way of life that we have experienced in the past.

I spoke with May, and I think she agreed, that this malaise is far greater than politics and democracy. It is a sickness that has infiltrated all aspects of Canadian culture. We have forgotten who we are.  As we run the race of life, at its ever quickening pace, there is never enough time. No time to read. No time to think. No time to check our email. No time to worry about others. No time for politics or religion. No time for ourselves or for our loved ones…. unless they can skype once a month on the last Sunday afternoon, precisely from 4:30 to 5:00.

How do we turn this around? How do we regain ownership of our lives, our religious beliefs, our communities and our country?

The first step is to recognize that there is a problem. Next, we must think about ourselves. who we are and how so much of what we believe in has quietly slipped away from our grasp. We must remember who we were and decide what we want to be. How do we want the people of the world to see us. We must re-take ownership of our lives: our country and our souls.

Tired of the Computer? Read a Book

Did you ever wonder about the amount of time you spend at your computer? Just too much email and too much spam? Do you need a break?

How about this old-fashioned idea… read a book!

For inspiration, consider the resolution of Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg who has chosen to read a new book every two weeks. Topics will cover new cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.   See https://www.facebook.com/ayearofbooks/timeline/

On the page you can even enjoy a Q&A with the authors.

This type of Social Media discussion  is a great idea which could be used by Churches and others for everything from workshops to Bible Study.

 

 

Searching for the Spiritual

In 1969, I wrote a thesis arguing that the Spiritual was present in all drama. If I was writing that thesis today, I would argue that all life is Spirit filled.  The Spirit is like a sacred river, flowing through all things. There are points of contact, as  many wells tap into that river. Within the limitations of our language and thought we describe our experience of the sacred as best we can, hopefully realizing that our own experiences of the holy are just some among many. Even when we put our collective experiences together, still we are unable to see or experience the Whole. This does not stop us from trying, nor does it stop us from spiritual searching. We are often surprised, sometimes struck with awe, when the Spirit bubbles up in our lives.

Some might argue that all of this spiritual stuff is just an illusion. Humans attempting to justify their actions or rationalizing their paternalistic religious ways. Religion has been misused in both ways, but religions are limited by their supporting cultures and are only  guides to spiritual attainment and descriptions of that culture’s spiritual experiences.  Religions are not bad. They are just Spirit inspired constructs of the human mind as it defines the Spiritual presence.

The challenge today is for more people to risk stepping outside of their contextual limitations, to see the processes of Creation at work and to discern the existence of the Spiritual in their own experiences.

Marketing the Church

churchapp

 

 

In the 1950’s Canada’s population moved from the center of the cities to the suburbs and so did the churches. As realtors like to say: “Location. Location. Location. Location is everything.” In 2014, the best location is whatever screen is in front of the religious “consumer.”

People are busy and do everything on the internet, from shopping to seeking help with a problem. The church that gets their attention will be the church that gives them something they will find useful. Forget about what you want them to do and think about what they would find interesting… not necessarily your church. If you can give a person something that they will actually want and use, they will follow you forever and they will tell their friends.

It doesn’t have to be sexy, but it has to be useful. It has to simplify a person’s life, or make it less stressful. Put yourself in their place and think about something that you could really use. If you are a parent of young children or a senior citizen, you need to know the location of public was rooms in your town. But what if you were visiting a different town? Someone came up with an app for just such a need. Put “Sit or Squat” on your iPod and you will never be stuck again. There is a map and you even get to add your comments about the condition of the facility. Every time you use it , the first thing you see is a cover page with the name of the App’s creator. You bet people will tell their friends about it. It doesn’t have to say, come to church… they will know what church to turn to if they have a personal or religious need.

If an app is too much for you to consider, 26 % of apps are only downloaded and opened once, you can still make use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. Take a look at what is trending… what people in your city or neighbourhood talking about or interested in now. Join in the conversation. What can you give them that they will find useful? You probably have a list of what to do or who to call in cases of sickness or family distress. Perhaps a list of organizations concerned about climate change or in getting people out to vote? Maybe you will even have a list of public wash rooms within a 1 km radius of your church or a popular shopping mall?

What would you find simple, useful and stress reducing? Others are looking for the same things. Get it out there on the internet and people will tell their friends where to find it and more.

How to Grow Your Church

who

 

For years churches have been loosing touch with the younger generation. Now days, that could mean most people under the age of fifty. What can a church do to turn this around?

 

 

Forget about traditional advertising.

Start listening to people and building a direct relationship with them.

Have a good webpage and a social media presence.

Focus on who those people are: your true fans, and on how the church can connect with them.

Go to where they are, and where they are is on Facebook, twitter and You Tube.

Don’t look for likes on your Facebook page, but like their pages first.

Be active on every blog that relates to church activities, but don’t expect everyone to come to you.

If your twitter feed is nothing but announcements about coming events and no one is sharing your content, think about adapting your content strategy.

Get creative. You can answer real questions, and give customers a sneak peek into your church and into what it will look like in the future.

Above all:

  • deliver value
  • be open
  • be clear and consistent
  • create a mutually beneficial world

Find and nurture your true fans. Your heavy users will become evangelists for you and then you will begin to experience a network effect .

The Double-Loop Theory of Change

In order to continue in these time of rapid change organizations, including the church, need to recognize some basic theories about how social and cultural organizations change. One such theory is known as the double loop theory of change . As one institution approaches the end of its time, innovators from within evolve in new ways, eventually replacing the old organization with something new and different. The following illustration shows how it works: (clicking on it may help you see the details.)

double loopSome innovations fail, but others succeed and communities of support form around them. As these new communities evolve they gain supporters from the old organization who help steward the process as it continues on.

There are many organizations and processes in Western society beginning their descent to oblivion. In these rapidly changing times we need innovators willing to risk the leap and, in so doing, keep our culture from decay.