Posts Tagged ‘church’

Fall 2009: Teaching the Bible in Church

July 11, 2010

It has taken me longer than I would have liked to blog about the classes I have taken at Princeton Theological Seminary thus far, but it is still my intention to do just that.

The last class I took in Fall 2009 was Teaching the Bible in Church with Dr. Gordon Mikoski.  I took the class in the Fall short term (also referred to as the Jan or J term) so the class met Monday through Friday 9am – 12pm for three weeks.  The syllabus described the course this way:

Pastors and teachers in congregational settings require dynamic conceptions of the theory and practice of teaching scripture in order to carry out the church’s ministry of education and formation in effective ways. This course will explore the dynamic intersections between biblical knowledge, needs of various learners in congregations, and creative pedagogies. This course fulfills the education and formation requirement.

The books used were: (more…)


Thought Provoking

December 22, 2009

My friend recently included me in a facebook dialogue that she started in order to think about how the church might better be the church.  Her letter is below.  This post will be long, but it is worth it and may turn into a series of posts.  Comments are not only welcomed, but encouraged.  : )  I pray any who read these words will show me much grace in putting them to paper as I seek to refine the chaos that is often my brain.

I’ve spent much time in recent months deeply in the desert of prayer. I love our church, its people, its mission… its hope. More than anything, I treasure the life giving transformation that happens so often there (my son finding true life, as the most shining example).

I’m sharing a few thoughts I’ve had that would provide a way for us to grow in the blessing of glorifying God through what we already have and do in slightly different ways, as well as a few simple new ways to bring Him glory and us to a more familial place.

The main point here is to begin a discussion with a larger community within our larger “C” Community and gather thoughts and possible volunteers to help us find the steps in our new dance with the Holy Spirit in the diaspora God blessed us with to bring us closer to him in these financially creative times.

Be blessed — in the freedom to know exactly who you are (and are not;-) in the hope and possibility of a God who loves us enough to call us to accountability.


Our church showers amazing love & grace for those well-connected in the church. What of those on periphery, not sure how to get in? Do we have a volunteer base set up for helping them with funerals, like a funeral committee of sorts, to provide for their needs? Bringing lunch, helping with reception after the funeral, childcare, household help, food donations, etc.?

Art Gallery – With so many gifted artists in our faith community, and so much wall space, why are we not celebrating those gifts by hanging them for a month or quarter? (Understandably, given the economic situation, interested artists should pull together a plan for what they would like to showcase, where & plan to invest their own time in glorifying God by setting those on display themselves after gaining approval.)

Events around town section – to encourage our faith community to be present in the world outside of our church walls as a way to carry the gospel they seek to live into the lives of others by fellowshipping in the midst of life??

Website noodling:
Not just what we do at our church, but *why* we believe we are called to do it.

What do we aim to teach our children, young adults, varying adult classes? And why?

What are the classes studying now, or planning to study in the near future?

Major theological ideas we celebrate:
What are they??
(Baptism, reconciliation, communion, confirmation…)

Pertaining to valuable pre-education:
What topics are covered?
Expectations participants should have
What it is that they are doing from a faith perspective, as in bringing their child forth for baptism
Expectations parents (if applicable) should have
The faith community’s role/responsbility in these events, and in the lives of its members

Well, I have no idea how much of this will apply, but below are my thoughts of in response to what is mentioned above. This is my first response kind of deal so there is not a great deal of refinement of these ideas at this point. Anyway, here ’tis:

  • I think you hit the nail on the head with childcare. While I don’t have children, I have heard about this dynamic from a few different places. It is frustrating for younger generations where both husband and wife work to be involved in the life and work of the church when there is no childcare available. I think it was a book I read named “Tribal Church” by Rev. Carol Howard Meritt who talked about a church (maybe hers?) where they had child care available whenever the doors were open for any church related “function” whether it is a meeting or a Bible study.
  • It seems to me that another area of frustration for both older and younger generations is the inclusion of young adults. In some circles, the young adults are included with the “youth” ministry. While there are definitely similarities in format and so on, the life issues that young adults deal with are significantly different. There are struggles on both sides for sure, but the young adults (and youth) aren’t just the future of the church, they are the church in the same way that the generations that have gone before them are. And they have a lot to share if they are invited not to the table of Christ as passive participants but as people whose thoughts and ideas are validated and put into practice as legitimate ministry ideas. Lack of experience doesn’t mean a lack of good ideas….it just means those ideas may need more support of those who have gone before them.
  • Something that has also given me food for thought are the niches of the community that are in need of more assistance. Groups that come to mind: – Single parents: offer free child care – People from other countries: offer classes on English idioms, etc. (these people are often much smarter than we give them credit for becuase they are not always able to put their thoughts into English as well as a mative speaker. But I often ask myself, “Self, can I speak their language?” The answer is always no unless it is French and even in that I am on a 3rd grade level (if that) so I respect anyone who is pursuing a career or education in a language that is not their native tongue.)
  • Those with developmental/physical disabilities: It seems to me that it is not just important that these folks are a part of the body of Christ in thought or ideal, but in reality and action. Are these folks attending your services? Are these folks invited to be integral members of committees and serving as deacons who pass the collection plates and assist with communion and other visible events? While many times we feel these folks are disadvantaged (even the term “disability” is not helpful though it is maybe a bit better than “handicapped”), the reality is that in many aspects they are probably much more equipped for ministry. 
  • Talking about race – Do people in our church (whatever church that may be) feel comfortable talking about race and ethnicity?  In an effort to make sure no one was offended, I feel as though I grew up ignoring differences so there was no possibility of offending anyone.  This is not helpful.  The language we use to talk about race and ethnicity is also not helpful.  For those of us white folks, how many know what caucasian is?  Most of us aren’t actually caucasian.  Not are all of us white folks Anglos either to use another common word.  The diversity of humanity is beyond any system of categorization that the IRS or anyone else comes up with.  It seems to me that even if we are welcoming of others (whatever “other” is for each of us) in theory, if we aren’t comfortable talking about the differences in perception and aren’t willing to validate another persons way of doing something it is no longer about Christ.  At this point it is about how we are doing something and this is stifling to the Spirit and the Body of Christ. 

These thoughts both humble and challenge me.  Their incompleteness is heartbreaking.  And their lack of wings to fly into the face of the status quo are debilitating to me as well as the church.

Finding a Local Church

July 11, 2009

My move to Princeton is complete…mostly.  : )  I won’t be in my dorm room until Sunday night, but other than that, I’m here!  There are many, MANY things I am thinking about…the newness of everything…starting Greek in a day…meeting new people…and finding a local church.  With respect to the last item I would love suggestions, advice, things to look for, etc.  How do I discern the personality of a church?  What are good questions to ask?  What specific questions should I ask the pastor?


February 16, 2009

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13.2-5)

Life has been a treasure trove of golden nuggets from God lately. I have been scribbling things down for the fast two weeks or so thinking, “This would be a great blog post!” That’s where my previous post came from and that’s where this one came from. While my previous post focused on the foot washing itself and proposed a modern day equivalent, I will now write about the prologue to the foot washing. We have a great picture here…Jesus is eating the evening Passover meal with his disciples. We learn that Judas has been prompted by the devil to betray Jesus, and then we read on through verses 3 and 4 to get the verse 5 where Jesus starts washing feet. But I think that is a case of putting the “emPHAsis on the wrong syLAble.” Language is funny in that sometimes phrases that are inserted to provide clarity can sometimes distract us from the focus of the sentence. I think this is what is happening here. Let’s take another look at these verses while temporarily setting aside a few parts.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power…


he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet.


What I take away from this is not that Jesus set aside his power and chose to wash his disciples feet. No, rather

Jesus <i><b>knew</b></i> full well his position as well as the power and authority that came with it

and it was <i><b>this</b></i> that moved him or caused him to serve.

Power led to service.

Authority led to humility.

Lordship led to love.

Oh, the tragedy that the world lives the antithesis of this.

Oh, the heartbreak that the church often does too.

Community: Foiled Again

January 10, 2009

A friend of mine who blogs at Deeper in Me than I posted an articleabout a church she interned at in Philly.  I think the article, and this church, really capture something about community.  In fact I think much of the church’s attempts at community fail because they simply don’t get this.  But I don’t distance myself from that group that “doesn’t get it” because I am just beginning to see it.  This quote in the article really captures the crux of it for me

“If we act as if BSM [Broad Street Ministry] is about OK people helping not-OK people – that’s not a community”

While many soup kitchens and homeless shelters do what they can with what they have in order to benefit the most amount of people, I have not heard of another place where homeless folks are served at tables with white linen table cloths.  After all, if we have a friend or family member over for dinner, we wouldn’t usually pull out the plastic forks and spoons and serve their food on paper plates. 

Jesus destroyed class and hierarchy.  The last place we should find it is in the church.  And yet it is there.  Like the pink elephant in the room.  It’s sad.  Very sad.  Our communion is broken.  The oneness God desires us to have with the rest of God’s image-bearers  is broken in pieces.  Because we don’t see the people who are homeless, the people who collect our trash, and the person who are prostitutes as people.  We objectify them and denigrate them as “other” in order to maintain our comfortable living conditions.  The truth is we are all “not-OK.”

God?  Please help me and my brothers and sisters to embrace those of your children that the world has deemed rejects.  Please help us to restore the fellowship that should exist between all people.  And let us start with one person at a time.