Keeping up with Christy

Preaching at the 9:30 AM Sunday service August 30th at Christ Presbyterian Church in Gardnerville

Preaching at the 10:00 AM Sunday service September 13th at South Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church

Returning to preach Sunday, September 20th at the 10 AM service at Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, 1430 Goodyear Blvd, Akron, Ohio 44305 as part of their anniversary celebration.


A Pastor's Role

I’ve responded to some questions from a church that I thought I would share here.

How do you see a solo pastor’s role regarding involvement in community ecumenical activities balancing with the primary task of shepherding a congregation?

I would explore this tension with the session and church folk. This tension between those in and out of the congregation is in every congregation. As the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple said over 100 years ago: ” The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.”

One way I have addressed this tension is by discussing my activities, blessings, challenges, and action plans at session meetings in a written report and providing the report to the congregation.  For in the moment sharing I have used social media to share where I am and what I’m doing. Various elders would support me in prayer and post comments as I visited someone, conducted a funeral service, volunteered, retreated in prayer or worked in my office.

Another way I have addressed this tension is by working on a narrative budget where there is no overhead only ministry in addition to working line item budget. Basically, presenting the budget showing how our budget serves the church’s great ends, which assigns the pastoral (and staff and building) expense to ministry activities.

A third way was to explore and determine priorities with congregation and session. I’ve used forced choice exercises and other activities to come to a common understanding of our life and ministry together.

 I see the solo pastor’s role regarding involvement in all ministry being determined by accountability, transparency, multiple paths of feedback, discussion, shared priorities, and a willingness to learn and change; all under God’s grace and loving call to sacrifice and service.


The Next Church I Serve

I’ve responded to some questions from a church that I thought I would share here.

What experience are you looking for in your next church?

I love preaching. I would like to preach and worship creatively and involve the people and all the senses in experiencing where the scriptures and our spirit speak to one other in groans too deep for words.

I would seek to serve and not be served. In my volunteer work with ComputerCorps, an Ecycling, training, and refurbisher in Carson City, I have been humbled by how everything and everyone there comes in broken and leaves refurbished, redeemed, or recycled. ComputerCorps gives folks in rehab, on probation, in sheltered workshops, the retired, the unemployed and youth an opportunity to do good and be better while recycling and refurbishing electronic throwaways. I would like work with broken people like me, to serve the broken and thus be mended themselves.

I would like to find the church of the next millennium, not the last. I would rather fail trying to redeem the world we have now for God than succeed in protecting and preserving the ministry and mission forms that worked so well in the last millennium but no longer effectively serve God and humanity today.

I would like not to go forward alone nor leave anyone behind. I would like to hold in God’s love and care saints who have lived this life of faith and now see the institutions and practices that faithfully and joyously delivered God’s grace to them abandoned and replaced. Both the young who don’t recognize the relevance of the church in their lives and the senior saints who grieve that same situation need to experience God’s grace and a pastor’s care.


Reaching Out to Young Families

I’ve responded to some questions from a church that I thought I would share here.

Our small church has struggled to attract families and has become a congregation with an aging demographic.  What would your approach be to reach out to families and younger people?

If the primary task of your pastor is shepherding the congregation with an aging demographic (see A Pastor’s Role) then outreach to families and younger people, who are not part of the congregation I imagine would lead to conflict. So my approach would be “careful”. ;)

I would be guided by always asking families and younger people in the congregation and without how the congregation was doing. Would you recommend us to your friends? Why?

I would seek out a relationship the school board and principal of the high school. This is where young families are. I volunteered as tutor and substitute teacher, putting myself under the school’s authority and helping them in their need, not my own. I got funding and a venue for a program the guidance counselor dreamed of providing, not my own program. (So, I was there when her husband left her. She ended up joining the church and becoming an elder.) When a High School football star was nearly killed I opened up the church for a healing service and provided a website for messages to him. (Over 100 young people came forward for anointing. The next day the web server crashed from overuse.) I would be at the football games and other events as a supporter not a competitor.

I would seek permission to add video to a participatory worship experience and work on the church’s social media friendliness. A change in worship would be a sacrifice from the good folks there now. A major part of this approach would be to reach out and work with the folks who like worship and church the way it is and to provide for them.


Growing a Small Church

I’ve responded to some questions from a church that I thought I would share here.

What have you learned in your current church that would help you to grow a small church?

I am part of a team that went from 700 out of 1100 in ratings to a Number 1 ranking of all Geek Squads in the nation. Our team leader did this by stressing our one job was to make sure that every client had a good experience at Best Buy.

Everyone we dealt with at Geek Squad was having a bad day; their computer was broken and they didn’t know what to do other than come to us for help. All were at a lost, most were sad, some were angry, a couple wanted to direct and correct me, Geek Squad, Microsoft or the laws of physics.  I did well, and was the go to person to convert a “detractor” to least to a “passive” or even a “promoter”.

1 Peter 4:9-10 tells us that Hospitality is rooted in God’s grace. It is a form of service to others. I would apply the attitude of customer service, hospitality, I lived at Geek Squad to the lost, sad, angry, and even demanding folks who come to service.

I would also prepare, execute, and follow up major events in the year. We had so much training for Black Friday to be ready for visitors. I would seek to prepare for church shoppers on our big days, not only Christmas and Easter but also Mother’s Day the third biggest day for church visiting. I would seek to have  faithful and fun follow ups to make the Sunday after these high holy days not be a let down.


Star Trek Cortana Demo

Working with Cortana, Microsoft’s voice activated personal assistant, on a computer that turned off the microphone everytime the screensaver kicked in reminded me of this early demo of the technology. Click image below for Youtube video clip.

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