In an interview in the March 2018 Christianity Today, author and pastor Dominique Dubois Gilliard says, “It’s crucial to find the heartbeat of your church. Your church might have a heart for education. Or caring for children orphaned by the incarceration of a mother or father“ (p. 67).
I have seen this play out in the churches in which I have been a member. One program that may work in one parish will not work in another precisely because that is not where the heartbeat of that church lies.
I know churches in my community who minister to the deaf and have a sign language interpreter in worship. Another church has a minister for families with children with special needs, and makes activities available that cater to those families. International students meet for a Bible study at another church in the area.
Each of these is an example of how a church found their heartbeat and did something to keep that beat going.
So much in the church is about “the things we have always done.” But it is important to always take a step back and think about “the things we should be doing.” It is never too late to start a new program to tap into an energy and excitement among your people for a certain ministry.
In the self-help industry these days, there is a push for people to “find their passion.” The same can be said for our churches. Finding your passion as a congregation is important because focusing on that passion can build community and grow faith. People who are passionate about something get to work and are happy to be there. Isn’t that the type of people we want within our parishes?
Think about opportunities within your parish that you are sensing that people have heart and a passion for. Then keep that heartbeat going by offering more opportunities to serve in that area. The heart of God will be revealed in the process.
In a recent article in Christianity Today on the increasing threat of automation in the workforce, authors Kevin Brown and Steven McMullen highlighted an expression from author and columnist David Brooks, who has talked about the difference between résumé virtues (marketplace skills) vs. eulogy virtues (human goodness and character) (“Hope in the Humanless Economy,” Christianity Today, July/August 2017, 36).
We as Christians are not to put all of our thoughts and energy regarding our lives and livelihood into the résumé virtues basket. Jobs change, skill sets become obsolete and our careers need not define who are at our very core. As followers of Christ, we, instead, need to focus on the eulogy virtues, those things that we have learned from our Savior about showing unconditional love to others, serving in humility those around us and being respectful and genuine toward one another.
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Presiding bishop of the ELCA Elizabeth E. Eaton relates this story:
The wood frame structure of St. Mary’s Lutheran Church was a “place of worship and hope during the siege of Leningrad during WWII. But people were freezing and starving to death. There was no wood for heating or cooking. So the Lutherans looked at their beloved church and then looked at the suffering around them. Piece by piece they dismantled their building and gave it away for the life of the community” (Living Lutheran, July 2017, p. 50).
Giving away what is most precious to us in the Church to serve others is what being the Church in action is all about. We should never cling so tightly to our church building or our own history as a church body that we fail to meet the pressing needs of those around us.
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A recent segment on 60 Minutes detailed the activities of “brain hacking” taking place among computer companies in the designs of their social media platforms and apps.
Programmers have developed algorithms that take advantage of the brain’s desires for pleasure, Responses to status updates from other users are often spaced out over a period of time to drive us to check our devices more. And “likes” are sometimes bunched up together so that our brains feel a greater sense of reward when they are revealed.
Beyond making me somewhat mad at Facebook and the like for playing with our minds like this, the story reminded me that there are many things that have a greater influence over our brains than we realize.
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On this Good Friday, when we focus on the cross, I would like to share with you a devotion I wrote a while back for one of our past periodicals Living the Gospel Life. May your observance of this day be faith-strengthening.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified. 1 Cor 1:22-23
When my father graduated from the seminary, my mother gave him a ring with a cross at the center. But in his first weeks as a new pastor in Odell, Nebraska, a farmer observed, “You’re wearing that Continue reading →