Winter continues about as you'd expect this year. It's cold (20 °F). Today it snowed about 2 inches. So we have lots of time to be inside and think. You'd think I would have lots of time to write blogs also. I suppose that I do...
Our church's proposal to purchase the building next door was the inspiration for a good bit of thinking this winter. The scale of the project (about $2M) spurred us to think bigger about the church. With that much money, a church can do some interesting things.
For example, we could hire another pastor. A big focus of TCBC is to help students at the University grow in their faith and impact the campus, and in turn, world. Interestingly, we don't devote much pastoral staff to this part of the church. Our youngest pastor spends much of his time with our middle and high school students. Our other pastors are decently removed in time (and I am as well FYI. 1998 was some time ago!) from college life. If we hired a youngish person to work in this area, I think some interesting projects and ministries could be developed.
But our membership overwhelmingly voted in favor of purchasing the building, so additional staff is unlikely at this point. But don't worry, there are more ideas swimming around my head.
A idea that has been floated to us community types is to think about how our (mostly-community (non-student)) small groups can serve the campus (read: students). Jill and I have participated in the adopt-a-student program for many years, and enjoy getting to know students by serving them dinner (and sparkling conversation) weekly. But how can this be "part" of our small group? This is a hard question.
So instead of answering that question, I'll ask a different question. What if instead of looking for ways to serve students (who, let's face it, are pampered in nearly every possible way), we try to provide ways for students to serve? I also don't know the answer to this question, but it's more exciting to me. By having them serve the church or community in some way, they will feel more a part of our church anyway.
Lastly, I have an idea for a new type of sermon. A typical sermon at our church is a 40 minute monologue about a topic or Bible passage. During that time, the speaker has very little indication of what parts of it are meaningful to the listeners. Based on looking around at people's faces, I'd guess that they feel very discouraged by looking at the audience.
So, how about have a conversational-style sermon? 2 pastors (or one church leader and 1 pastor) will be at the front. One will be the "interviewer", and his/her primary job is to introduce the topic (why does it matter, where have we been, where are we going?) and to sharpen the points of the discussion. This could be by asking clarification questions or bringing up other passages or personal stories, but also by just "guessing" where the conversation should go next. The benefit for the main speaker is that another person is giving immediate, direct feedback. The sermon can feel more like a conversation.
Let's assume the interviewer asks a question that isn't where the main speaker wants to go. She/he could say, that's a good question, but I really want to emphasize (...). This transition can help the audience understand and track the sermon's main points. And it gives a signal that this is a time to really listen.
So podcast-style preaching isn't a good name for this (need some help with that), but the idea came from listening to a podcast.
As always, all blog ideas are free to use.
In family news, Jill had her hysterectomy just over 2 weeks ago. The first several days were spent primarily in bed resting and taking pain-killers. Since then, she's steadily added more activities to her day. Today, she made the best pizza in town for dinner.
Clara has been so excited to play Uno lately. She tracks the number of times she's won: 15 as of the last round. She's also knows even and odd numbers.
Janny enjoys playing Old Maid and watching the rest of us play Uno.
Many nights when the girls are asleep, Jill says that they are the cutest girls ever. This might be true, but I observe that she rarely says this when they are awake. Jill responds, "I don't say it then because I don't want the girls to hear. It might get in their heads."