Saturday, September 27, 2008

Laughter and Community

Tonight, Erika and I went to our first ever Murder Mystery fundraiser.

It was organized to raise money for our community drop in center. Most of the people on the stage were folks from our church so it was a lot of fun. It was extra juicy because two of the actors were ministry council members (aka church board members).

The opening prayer was the first clue that it was going to be an interesting evening. The guy praying referred to some questionable content. He asked God to look beyond the themes of the drama and be honoured by our laughter.

I love hearing those kinds of prayers.

The night was filled with lighthearted teasing, an intriguing plot, and generous donors--people were paying over $20 for half-eaten pies.

It was a great way to spend an evening.

I left thinking about the power of laughter to foster community. Man, I need to laugh more.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Leadership Reminder


We've all got 'em but few of us spend much time honing them.  I suspect most of us spend our lives trying to achieve balance.

I've committed my life to doing the opposite.

I was reminded of this valuable insight from a sermon that Rick (HMC discipleship pastor) preached on Sunday.  Why do we try so hard to shore up our weaknesses when God has given us areas of strength?  We've been given unique abilities and gifts.  Why spend the energy to build on our weaknesses when, at the end of the day, they will still be weaknesses.  Wouldn't you rather work on your strengths?  

But what about the rest of the stuff that needs to get done?  

I'm naive enough to believe that someone else's strengths are my weaknesses.  So, if you're looking for a detailed policy maker, I'm not your guy.  If you want someone who likes dreaming about the future, leading people, and challenging the conventional "way we've always done it" mentality.  Give me a call.

The catalyst for my "play to your strengths" ideological shift was a book by Marcus Buckingham called, "Now, Discover your Strengths."  It included an online access code for a personality survey.  At the end of the survey I was told my 5 areas of greatest strength (out of 34 possibilities).  If you have some extra time I'd highly recommend this extensive, strengths-based survey.  

Friday, September 19, 2008

I 'm lovin' it.

I love teaching!

These days I'm in the classroom 3 days a week. It's demanding. But I don't mind.

Here's a secret: lately I've been getting the itch to pursue further studies. You'd think I'd have my fill by doing what I'm doing. You'd think that my weekly research and course development would satisfy my thirst for learning. It doesn't.

I know, I know. You're thinking, more school? Why?

I guess it comes from my failure to find a good, transferable, disciple-making model for the Canadian church. I'm becoming more and more convinced that we are not making disciples of Jesus. We're producing consumers of a pseudo-gospel that looks a bit like Jesus' Gospel but it lacks the marks of what you'd expect from the God of the Bible.

So, that's the why. Now all I need to know is whether this is a fading idea or something that God has planted in my gut. Maybe I should wait until tomorrow morning to decide; after the Sour Cream and Onion chips have digested.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday morning at the Meeting House

I'm given occasional opportunities to "check out" other churches.  That's built right into my job profile.  Thanks HMC!

This past Sunday, Erika and I popped by the Meeting House in Oakville.  It was our first visit to their new venue, located in the heart of an industrial complex.  I was struck by the magnitude of the physical space, the simplicity of their design and, of course, the pre-service smoke coming from the dry ice machines on the stage.

From the 5 minute countdown, to the trance music playing as excerpts from writers were projected on the mega screen (I'm not kidding, the screen has to be 40 feet across); the service was filled with a sensory buffet.

Of course, my favorite part was getting to hear Bruxy Cavey speak.  I'm continually amazed by his ability to make the complex, understandable; his openness to answer questions from anyone in an audience of hundreds; and his knowledge of everything from mating spiders to God's revelation of Himself as a trinitarian community.

As I walked away I asked God to do one thing with me: Help me to make disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Move over U2

Kudos to Mike.  He has found the best christian music video I have ever seen.

Check out the killer moves at the 2 minute mark.

School's in for me

Just call me the traveling lecturer.

I stayed in Kitchener last night after teaching a Thursday evening course. I finished a conversation with a fellow prof at 11:30pm before settling in to do some last minute prep for my Friday morning class. That's right folks, it started at 8:30am this morning.

I'm tired but the past 24hours have rekindled something in me that I haven't felt for a few months. My love of teaching.

In other news, I haven't seen my kids since yesterday at 4:30pm. I can't wait till the bus comes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Learning with George

One of my favorite people these days, aside from Erika and our 2 kids, is our church custodian.

He's the same age as my dad.

Additionally, he's outrageously funny, highly inappropriate--at times, uncompromisingly committed to serving, and has a bizarre obsession with Jack van Impe.

We have very little in common--especially the finer points of theology.  But somehow we've become friends.

Maybe it's because we've had more than a few meals together.  Or maybe it's because I've stopped walking on his freshly waxed floors.  

Perhaps it's something more superficial.  Maybe it's because we don't take each other too seriously.

And in the midst of our quirky, nonsensical banter an amazing thing happens: we learn from each other.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The key and the keys

I'm always amazed when big box store customer service associates use first person language when referring to their products.

It makes me feel like I'm buying something from a likable individual who is just squeaking by on their monthly payments, not a multi-billion dollar, money hungry, corporation whose only interest is the bottom line.

Ownership.  I think that's the key.  

When someone is given ownership then they are empowered to act with authority.  When ownership is withheld then people will do either 1 of 2 things:

1.  Quit
2.  Outwardly comply while seething inwardly.

When I look at the example of Jesus I see someone who had everything to lose by giving ownership to a bunch of fumbling, spineless, uneducated followers.  But he did it anyway (Matt. 16:19).

As a leader I want to give ownership, not orders. 


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mushrooms aren't cool

Four days until I begin another school year.

That means completing syllabii, finalizing Power Point presentations and going over class lists.

I remember when it meant getting a new plastic lunch pail with a thermos that was held in by a hard plastic thing that looked like a seatbelt.

Ah, grade 2.  I'm re-living it.  Vicariously.  Through my daughter.

She started 2nd grade french immersion on Tuesday.  Believe it or not, she already has a concept of "cool".  

I didn't know what "cool" was until grade 7.  

I remember the day it happened.  Or failed to happen.

I went to my father's barber for a new cut.  Youngsters, here's a hint: if you're looking for "cool", you won't find it at dad's barber shop.  My new dew made me look like a mushroom.  Mushrooms aren't cool.

What is cool?  My little girl.  She's super cool.  

Right now she wants to fight me.  Cool.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Christian or Disciple?

This morning I had coffee with a friend and former pastor of mine.

We talked about the brokenness in the world, attractional vs. missional church, conversations we've had about God, and the resurrection.

We could have talked all day long.  At the end of our conversation, I felt a glimmer of hope that genuine change is possible.  Change that reaches beyond me.

Call me naive but I'm starting to believe that God wants to transform my community.  And transformation happens best when Christians aren't involved. 

That's right.  I said "when Christians aren't involved". 

I don't think God is looking for Christians.  He's looking for disciples (thanks to Dallas Willard and his book The Great Omission for that thought).  Am I a Christian or a disciple?  In other words, do I simply associate myself with Jesus or am I actively becoming like Jesus.

I don't think it's enough for me to say "I'm with Jesus".  I need to be able to say "I'm like Jesus".  Being with Him doesn't demand anything of me.  Being like Him requires my all. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

Arts and Symbols

I'm on the hunt for some artists.

Part of my teaching load this fall involves teaching a course called "Arts and Symbols in Christian Worship".  As part of my class prep, I have contacted a wide variety of people: everyone from a Greek Orthodox priest to a dramatically inclined, former college roommate who is currently serving as a youth pastor.  I'd like to expose the students to a broad range of artistic expressions so that they will be able to see how diverse Christian worship experience can be.

While the Orthodox priest was initially interested, I haven't heard back from him for a while.  He might be having second thoughts.  I am, however, excited about our class trip to The Gig in downtown Kitchener.  Rob Abbott (The Gig's pastor) is a friend of mine and is doing some great ministry within the arts community.  Coincidently, the Gig also happens to be the community of faith where my father-in-law has found a home.
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