Saturday, April 25, 2009

Breath of the Spirit

As you would expect, I am a blogger therefore I follow blogs. There are a number of blogs that I follow regularly. (By the way, Google Reader is a great tool for this!) Within the last week or so I keep seeing themes in the various blogs that I follow that just seem to be aimed straight at Faith and it's situation ?!

An important one deals with transformation out of conflict: This is full of wisdom for our situation and points us in God's direction to seek true transformation from the conflict we are going through.

And last night I saw this one: This one is particularly poignant for Faith church and has a double meaning! It has great insight into a besieged Pastor and her church. But MORE IMPORTANTLY, it introduces an intriguing concept of discerning God's will for our future by IMAGINING what that future might be! Rather than remaining trapped trying to figure out how to get out of our current condition it suggests using metaphors to identify and explore possible futures! Now, that sounds transforming to me!

We all need to remember we are not at the helm holding the rudder! The best we can do is keep the sails raised where God can blow us where he wants us! [That's a metaphor ;-) ]

Surely the Spirit is at work here and I just have to pass some of these along to someone...

Can you feel the breeze?

PS: Additional blogs were pointers for pastor nominating committees:, and some ugly statistics about the Presbyterian church:

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Over the last month there has been a lot of discussion about the Huntsville Housing Authority’s plan to decentralize low-income housing. This has always been a touchy subject and always will. Here are a number of links to news stories about this plan and one to the Housing Authority's website.

March 19,0,532925.story

March 24

March 30

March 31

March 31

April 9, 10

April 10

April 16

April 16,0,6665575.story

I have no desire to debate the pros and cons of this subject in this forum. I do, however, feel the need to ask several questions.

What does this mean to each of us as Christians?

What does this mean to Faith Church?

Is God positioning us for some purpose?

How are other churches responding?

Interesting questions of discernment for the near future…

Friday, April 17, 2009

Follow the Leader, Be a Leader

Two of our Presbyterian Moderator’s (Bruce Reyes-Chow) latest blog entries have captured my attention more so than usual. They have captured my attention because they seem to have sprung right from the pages of our own report on the emerging culture discussions we had last summer ( But I know his blogs and our report have both sprung from the much larger moving of the Holy Spirit. Amazing!

Mr. Moderator’s one blog, “Why social media gives visitors all the power,” talks about how much we have overlooked and underestimated the power of the new internet media. This media is a strong avenue for putting Jesus’ message and our individual church responses to that message out for public review. As our report states: “The emerging culture is information savvy and hungry. Weekly bulletin, email, monthly newsletter are good. The website should be more than just an advertisement to newcomers. In today’s world it should be the communication hub of Faith [Church]; an outward sign of a healthy active congregation. Faith [Church] would do well to support the connection between our responsibility of witness and the emerging culture’s need for experience through the use of blogs. Combining cold information and personal witness by blogging mission and other activities will spur personal involvement.

Mr. Moderator’s other blog, “Why a naked Easter just might be a better Easter,” talks about how we underestimate the worship experience. He says, “Gone are the days when people are willing to bear with the service and rightly so. We should all set and strive to meet high exceptions for our worship experiences.” Our own report states:
1) When discussing worship we tend to consider it as a tool to attract newcomers.
2) We need to approach worship as a personal and corporate response to God of those present.
3) We need to celebrate our experience of God by telling our stories.
4) We need to be open to a wide range of worship experiences to relate to other’s responses and keep worship fresh, alive, and renewed.

These thoughts on worship imply to me (or scream?) that we should be considering even more opportunities and styles of worship to support our folks in worship that is meaningful to them. Instead we and many shrinking congregations seem to want to retreat to a single worship and worship style in a “fortress” mentality?

I also get a general sense that Mr. Moderator would concur with our report’s thoughts on mission? I just can’t quote or reference anything in particular right now.

Another area of our report that I would love to see how Mr. Moderator feels about is that of leadership. It seems that if we are to make much progress in these previous areas then a shift in our leadership style is needed. Our report reaffirms the Presbyterian structure of government and leadership! But it does suggest more latitude in its implementation. Rather than a Session that seems to have to approve every little thing, the report suggests that defining the boundaries for the church’s activities to operate within offers a more “emergent friendly” environment. From our report, “Further guidelines and boundaries for team formation need to be developed to empower the emergence of teams and free Session and Diaconate to discern, architect, and guide the overall spiritual direction, mission, and nurture of Faith Church and its members.” Of course the Session retains the responsibility of oversight and the right of “course correction” as needed. Of course mistakes will be made, but too much rigor also risks the loss of opportunity. Leadership is an important and difficult balancing act.

In these times of denominational (and congregational) turbulence I’m reassured that following the lead of the Holy Spirit and the leaders the Spirit creates will reaffirm Jesus’ example of leading by serving.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Together, that is the only way for us at Faith church to move forward from this point. We must move forward together in Christian unity! If not, we are lost!

Faith has wandered away from the Christian unity that Christ has called us to. We are all, every one of us, guilty of allowing this to happen; either by what we’ve done or what we’ve failed to do, and by permitting this illness to grow.

This sounds like a lot of fire and brimstone, especially coming from this author, but let’s step back and take a look. Faith church has a history of rich diversity of opinions and actions. But this diversity has always been rooted in a common commitment to Christ and in Christ’s call to make disciples. I dare say Faith church has actually been a model of how Christian unity is supposed to work. Read this article, “Christian Unity”, based on Ephesians 4:1-16. Now doesn’t that sound like the Faith church of old?

I believe it is widely accepted that in the later stages of Dr. Pope’s illness and the longer than normal period of interim pastors that Faith church got complacent in “doing church” and spiritual growth slowed. When Pastor Steve arrived he challenged us to look at ourselves and examine the possibilities for renewed spiritual growth. Somehow that’s when things went amok and we stopped treating and communicating with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ!? Let me say it again, this detour has not been the cause of any one person, or any one group! We are all, every one of us, guilty of allowing this to happen.

So how do we move forward together from here? First, reread the “Christian Unity” article and Ephesians 4:1-16. How does this affect your vision of our future as a church united under Christ’s love? Second, we must relearn how to discuss things in Christian love. Following Faith’s “Relational Covenant” is a good guide. Thirdly, we must take heed of Pastor Kerry’s sermon of March 29th to seek and offer forgiveness, not blame, and to become friends again. Finally, we need to move forward in Christian unity; which does not mean uniformity. Using Ephesians as a yardstick sounds like a pretty good start.

Following the leadings of the Holy Spirit and bathing in the grace of God Faith church will get through this, together!