Search This Blog

Subscribe By Email

Get Blog Posts Sent by Email

About This Blog

How to Comment on Blog Posts

The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Monday, January 20, 2014

Search for the One that is Lost

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.  Matt 18: 12-14

This parable is relevant to all of us within Community of Christ. As I look upon the databases for each congregation which list the addresses and contact information for each member, I see we are sadly inaccurate for so many of our people. In essence they have become lost sheep. We do not know there whereabouts. But you do! These folks who have moved, married and taken new names or are listed with another congregation somewhere; are known by you as your children, grandchildren, friends and extended family. Please help me update our records. If you have the slightest inkling that there are family members or friends in the church that we need updates for, please email me even their names and maiden name and send us the full particulars when you have the info. I will follow up with you.

Each of us may think folks are doing fine without the church in their lives. The reality is that at least 20-30% of us at any given moment are encountering crisis, stressful change and loneliness in our lives. Our hope, our calling is to be present for people to enable them to choose a sometime or frequent relationship with the church of their heritage. Our sacraments of blessing for meaningful moments in life or healing moments, are unconditionally available. I believe in the power of sacraments, of sacred community, of choice.

As you ponder these words and the past enjoyment of these folks with you in the life of the church, at camps and reunions; write down the names including maiden name and the last congregation they attended or town where they lived. Send that to me or if possible the accurate info you have and be assured that pastoral care will be taken with each person. Thank you for your shepherding.

We are Community of Christ.

submitted by Kerry

Monday, January 13, 2014

Church as Wikipedia

In our pursuit of unity in diversity, common consent, allowance of dialogue as a virtue of the church and the notion of a prophetic people; this article speaks a vast truth to the emerging culture that we are apart of and the relevance of the church in people’s lives. A visionary leadership that enables and guides the process and proactively communicates with immediacy through digital applications is like riding a bronco but remains in touch with the ebb and flow of a wiki-prophetic people. 

Within this context, it is Christ’s Mission that is enduring.


Church as Wikipedia by Landon Whitsitt

At some level, the notion of a "Wikipedia church" —or "Wikicclesia"— makes a lot of sense, even if we have never thought of it before.

Wikipedia: The encyclopedia that anyone can edit
Wikicclesia: The church that anyone can edit

It kind of brings a smile to your face doesn’t it? More important, it touches on a reality facing the church today: Wikipedia is a part of our everyday lives.
According to the Internet statistics aggregator Alexa Internet, every day 13 percent of the world’s Internet users visit Wikipedia for some reason. At the time of this writing, Wikipedia was listed as the sixth most popular website in the United States and seventh worldwide. Thirteen million people worldwide are listed as registered users, and in the past thirty days, 135,000 of those users, on average, have edited an article on the site.
Wikipedia has become as synonymous with encyclopedia as Google has with search. The “wiki” phenomenon has caught fire, spawning many cousin sites, each dedicated to cataloging their own (often) niche corner of the world. (My personal favorite is Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki).
Given this reality, how do we as the church expect to be the least bit appealing to people who increasingly go throughout their day knowing that they can “wiki it.” Anyone anywhere can log on to the Internet and edit the world’s largest encyclopedia. They can contribute to the “sum of all human knowledge,” as Wikipedia describes it. They can offer their gifts of knowledge to the world and to generations to come. Yet we expect them to walk into our churches and simply take what’s handed to them and do it the way we say they should? I don’t think so.
Read a blog post, an article, or any number of books on emerging, emergent, or emergence Christianity, and you are likely to find some reference to Wikipedia in the text. It is increasingly becoming a popular metaphor for the way many would like to see the church structure itself and operate, but not a lot of time has been spent on the particulars of Wikipedia or why the project works as well as it does.
Even though there is not a firm one-to-one correlation between Wikipedia and an open source church, this brief history of Wikipedia provides us with our first point of comparison. If you are anything like me, you were part of a church experience during your youth that was fun and interesting, one where you thought you learned a lot and were valued for who you were. Your creativity was called upon, and you were encouraged to collaborate with others to a large degree. The thought seems to be that the church should do whatever it can to get kids interested in the faith, to make sure they understand that it is relevant to their life. In my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), our national youth gathering is known to have some of the most creative, powerful worship that most staid Presbyterians have ever experienced. Yet there is a disconnect when our youth return to their congregations where little to no creativity is involved and efficiency is the order of the day. Our youth are discouraged from participating in worship because, in many cases, the service is simply a weekly puzzle. The pastor and musicians certainly put thought into the service elements, but the youth can’t seem to get a good answer when they question why they can’t sing a hymn in a different spot or why there can’t be more, or fewer, hymns.
Wikipedia’s origin story suggests to us what the church is in for (and has already experienced, in many cases) when it encounters an open source worldview. Established institutions are eager to do whatever they can to ensure their viability (The development of Nupedia—the non-open source predecessor to Wikipedia­­—was slow, and Wikipedia would ensure that it got content up in a timely manner), but they rarely realize that the very thing they are counting on to save them will be the harbinger of their death. There might be a host of reasons for their demise, but the primary one has to do with structure. Institutions are generally aware that their current way of doing business is not tenable in the long run and are astute enough to know they must commit to some drastically different practices if they want to survive. But decades of habit are not easily changed.
At its most basic, the split between Nupedia and Wikipedia had to do with how and whether the site was curated. To put it another way: Who was in control? This will also be the issue that drives a wedge between established churches and their creative offspring. Those who resonate deeply with the established institutional form of Christianity will not really know what to do with more creative expressions. The very existence of alternative worship or educational experiences, in some cases, will be an affront to the very thing that established churches think they are about. Isn’t the point of church to be a place where the Divine Truth is guarded and passed down from generation to generation? This cannot be accomplished by opening the doors and allowing anyone to contribute. Yes, we want contribution and participation, but there must be a measure of indoctrination first. You have to know how we do it before we will trust you to do it.
Yet, what if you come to the church with an open source view of the world? What if your entire life was one in which you experienced a collaboration of gifts, skills, and knowledge? What if, almost every day, you experienced the coming together of seemingly disparate voices and ideas that resulted in beautiful and tremendously effective and meaningful events and solutions? What if this was your world, and you then walked through the door of almost any church, where it quickly became apparent that your job was to sit down and shut up—that your job was to listen and be spoon-fed what you needed to think and believe? To ask the obvious question again: Why is it that I can edit the world’s largest encyclopedia, but I can’t edit church?
If we want to appeal to the “open source generation” (is there such a thing?), we can’t be wedded to our current understanding of church structure. Our bureaucratic committee system will betray our true intentions, and that will repel those whom we hope to attract. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

Adapted from Open Source Church: Making Room for the Wisdom of All by Landon Whitsitt, copyright © 2011 by the Alban Institute. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Living For That Which Ought To Be

So we live for that which ought to be.
For a prophetic people the “ought” is more real than the “is”.
            That which “is” passes away.
            That which “ought to be” is eternal.
A prophetic people live always with a promised-land tradition.
            And the prophet will ever say: “Seek to bring forth and establish the cause
            of Zion.
We believe in the future and live for that which is to be.
It is the conviction of a prophetic people that the principles by which they live will ultimately shape the common life of human kind. And because they live in Christ, they are convinced of the ultimate victory of truth and justice and goodness.
                        J.C. Stuart (W. Wallace Smith Memorial Address)

As we explore more fully what it means to live “Continuing Revelation” as an enduring principle I am immediately drawn to the words of J.C. Stuart. Wow! What a challenge - to be so captured by God’s emerging future that it becomes more real than the reality of the present. Imagine the disturbing actions a prophetically convicted people would take to enact God’s future into being!
This is more than passing optimism or simply hoping something might come to pass. This is the essence of what it means to become prophetic – in the words of Walter Brueggemann to exercise “prophetic imagination”. When we truly create space to encounter the Holy, it radically alters our perspective– this is why it is so dangerous to get close to the burning bush.  This is why we focus more on being shaped than being sent. When we focus primarily on being sent we are most often determining the agenda and terms of our response. When we create space to encounter the Holy we are allowing the Spirit to shape us and it changes everything!
What once seemed foolish now seems possible. Fears fade in the stunning light of future possibility. We find ourselves compelled to speak out and enact a radically different future into being in circumstances and places no one expected God’s future to emerge.
If you are planning on a predictable and stable new year then think again. As unnecessary suffering occurs all around us the Spirit is urgently seeking to break in and disrupt us with a vision of what might be for our lives, families, congregations, neighborhoods and world!
Mission begins with encounter and is definitely disruptive!!
God, help me be fully awake and ready to respond.

By Apostle Ron Harmon

Sunday, January 5, 2014

You Matter Most

I don’t want to be caught in that familiar zone so many office staff find themselves in when part of corporate management. That is, becoming apart from the customer, those who matter most. Administrative tasks, paperwork and such, separate those in the “office” from the people we serve. Even with our best intentions, if a leader does not spend time with, person to person, heart to heart, across the diverse thought-bearing lives of our people and beyond, we will be missing the mark of relevancy. I spent a lot of time doing ride-alongs with sales reps who visited customers and prospects to hear first-hand the objections, the questions, the complaints, the suggestions, the occasional affirmations and hopes of those who mattered most. Often it wasn’t the words alone that they expressed, but observations of their displays, marketing, interactions, skills or lack of, that told a great deal. Never did I spend day with a sales rep where it was not of immense value in what I learned.

A secondary role in these travels was to teach, coach, mentor and guide both reps and customers. This was a sensitive area. Many could be reactive to other’s opinions, models and approaches to their way of doing things. Often I found asking exploratory questions led to opportunities to frame suggestions in an acceptable way. This is a type of leading from behind, enabling others to merge new thoughts with their own way of thinking and doing in a subtle manner. Discerning the progression of the person in pondering or accepting, or taking hold of an idea is just the beginning point. The important next step is the affirmation and reinforcement follow-up to guide and nurture the advancement of change in their lives, in their models of doing things, in their interactions with people.

For the above reasons of listening/observing and mentoring/exploring; being with our people is vitally important. Otherwise that which I say, write, propose or conduct in my role may not be relevant to the lives that matter most……yours. To you who matter most,  I invite you to connect with me by email, phone or in person. As we share and discuss the realities of your ministries, your congregational needs, those who are hurting, those who are disagreeing, those who have ideas and those who are doing marvelous things we should all know about….. our community becomes reconciled, transformed and enriched. We need one another. We are the ears, eyes, sixth sense and hands of the church. Christ’s missional model is that the grace of God is introduced through people, through you and me as catalysts to enable the Spirit to touch the life of another as a planted seed.

Being with you in all its possible means and forms is my primary hope for 2014. Expect to connect! Let’s mutually make that happen. I look forward to dialogue, to meaningful relationships, to receiving and giving together, one with another. May God nurture sacred community in our midst.

Submitted by Kerry