Showing posts from November, 2008

Christmas Is Not Your Birthday

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more.
~ Dr. Seuss (1904-1991) How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Perhaps Christmas does mean a little bit more. I have struggled with how we celebrate Christmas for several years. I wonder if you struggle with it too.

For the last ten years the average spending on Christmas gifts has been around $1,000. Last year, Christmas spending dropped a little to $859. This year, most shoppers are planning to cut their gift spending by 50%. The American Research Group conducted their twenty-third annual survey on holiday spending and found that shoppers are planning to spend an average of $431 on gifts this year. This is the lowest amount recorded since 1991.

I am really pleased to see this shift, however, I imagine the reduction in spending is mainly because of the poor economy and not because of a sudden realization that Christmas does not come from a store. But we are the church. We do know. Ch…

New Wine Demands Fresh Wineskins

Jesus said, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
(Mark 2:22 NRSV)

Three weeks ago we met together during the Administrative Council meeting to talk about our future as a congregation. Many who participated in that Q&A session came thinking we would talk about the possibility of purchasing a building. Instead, that evening I said several things that took us in a new direction. For the sake of communication, I want to reiterate what I said that evening, add a little more specificity, and answer some questions that have arisen.

I said two things: 1.We are not ready to build or buy a building. 2. We need to take the next year or two and define our identity: Who are we? What is our mission? What leadership do we need?

Before we focus on “brick and mortar” we need to be a healthy, strong congregation engaged in a radically different world in the 21st centur…

Invading the World

I often hear church folks wondering how we can attract people to come to church. We have a rich history and wonderful people. Who wouldn’t want to come to Salem Church!? Even so, I wonder if we might not have things turned around. Our God seems to always be on the move, unwilling to wait for people to make the first move. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is God’s supreme move, coming to us, reaching out to us. “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14).

Following God’s missionary example, however, has been difficult. Figure 1 shows how most churches in our culture have operated. The biggest circle is the individual. What seems most important is getting the individual saved, in the traditional language. In some newer churches the language is more about improving one’s life. Either way, the Christian life is about the individual and his or her needs. Once the individual’s needs are met then we think about how one might serve the church. After that, if there is anything left ov…