Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Do you think he can fly?

I discovered today that some of my classmates have not seen this video. That's just criminal. It is from the Vintage21 church in North Carolina and was used, I presume (I hope), in a sermon series that addressed common misconceptions about Jesus.

A Morning with Dr. George Hunter, III

We spent Monday morning with George Hunter, III. His area of expertise is the study of how the church might reach modern, post-modern, secular people. In fact, I remember reading one of his books (oddly enough, entitled, How to Reach Secular People) in one of my seminary classes taught by Charles Taber.

An advocate of many of the Willow Creek style church growth strategies, Dr. Hunter listed four barriers the church faces when reaching out to people who aren't Christians.The barriers are as follows (most unreached people are at level one and have to work their way through level four):
  1. Image Barrier: The tarnished image of the church in the broader culture is a barrier for many. Also, the image of the church as irrelevant and boring plays a role here.
  2. Culture Barrier: The style, language, aesthetics, and music that make up the culture of the church can be a barrier for some.
  3. Gospel Barrier: The barrier that is the nature of the gospel. Some accept. Some reject.
  4. Total Commitment Barrier: This is the barrier that keeps a person from becoming fully devoted believers in Christ, the one where people wind up just attending worship services and calling it a day.
My question for Dr. Hunter that was never answered (not his fault) was whether or not the way we handle the first two barriers changes our ability to inspire people to move through the last two barriers. He believes that the nature of the gospel demands that Christians live by someone else's agenda (God's) and not our own.

What I wanted him to address is whether or not we can cater to a person's own agenda (when handling the first two barriers) and then switch horses in mid-stream for the last two barriers by telling them that the Christian life is not about a person's own agenda.
The classroom discussion on Monday morning was good. Dr. Hunter let difficult questions rise to the surface, especially questions about why the church has so often failed to address weighty sins like injustice and oppression while being more anxious to focus on what Dr. Hunter called "rinky dink" sins.

Of course, nothing was solved. Nothing ever is in a classroom. But it was good to be challenged about the nature of the church and the purpose of the church--and to keep God's purposes at the center.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sunday at Grandview

I gave the camera to Anna on Sunday and told her to take some pictures for the blog. The homecoming felt great. It's always good to see everyone, though it's hard to have anything like enough time to do anything that resembles "catching up" I preached for the first time in about five months. I was afraid I had forgotten how to do it, but it's like riding a bicycle (meaning: it hurts when you crash!).
This is Rich. I met with him and Malinda on Saturday because I will have the honor of being part of their wedding on December 16th.
Kimu, Jeremy, Logan, Marshall, Logan, and Jim took a break from playing carpet ball to pose for a picture.
Sara and Katy are still learning to control their tongues.
Meredith and Meghan, together again.
Abby and Meggy try to comfort Pippa.
It was good to be back home. We miss you all.

Here is the picture Sam took of himself!

A Great Thanksgiving Day

We left for Tennessee on Thanksgiving Day, mid-morning. The trip from Wilmore to Johnson City takes about 4 1/2 hours. It's a pleasing drive as horse farms give way to the Appalachian Mountains.The nice thing about traveling on Thanksgiving Day is that there was very little traffic. As you can see, our van was somewhat lonely.
We arrived at the Smith's house around 3pm. It was nice to be a part of a big Thanksgiving home that made room for strays like us! The mix of people made for good conversation over good food.In the wake of turkey, dressing, and all the rest, Debbie, Gary, Lynn, Susan, and Frank had a chat.
Mike and Linda Sweeney kept Scott Bartchy busy on the latest developments in the study of the New Testament. We cleared a wide swath in the room for the professors.
The young'ns played Monopoloy. My daughters were the first three to be bounced from the game. Apparently Smith girls are much more able to crush the little people and make millions!
After a good day, Cora got to spend the night in a little bedroom that was just her size. It looked like a doll house room. I thought she would last about 5 minutes in that little room by herself...she made it 10!
The next morning we woke up to this: There are many reasons to love Tennessee, but if you grew up a "flat-lander" like I did, you never quite get over the beauty of the mountains.

The Wymers send a big-blog-thank-you to Frank and Hylda Smith (and Beth and Garry) for their hospitality to us (don't worry, we'll mail a paper "thank you" as well--neither Frank nor Hylda spend a lot of time on the internet).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Paper or Plastic?

Wilmore boasts one grocer. Like many small towns , the local grocery store is an IGA. I've always presumed that stands for Independent Grocers Association, but I could be wrong.

Stepping into the Wilmore IGA I get an amazing feeling of deja' vu. I have memories of being in Fishers, Indiana, with my Grandma Wymer. We get out of her tiny, red, Toyota. She carries her cigarette into the store with her. I look greedily at the candy shelf.

I took pictures of the IGA tonight because I wonder how many more times I will get to walk into a store of this sort. The day is coming when a slick, new, store will come to Wilmore and the IGA will go away.One of the reasons slick, new, grocery stores drive old ones out of business is that you find very few "modern" groceries that hang bug zappers in the aisles.
Can you imagine, though, a Kroger that doesn't use every last millimeter of shelf space? Your local IGA will throw $1 kites down sideways and wait for you to decide to buy it.

The Kellogg's mobile looks like it could be leftover from the Ford administration. I can't remember the last time Raisin Bran used the "two scoops of raisins " song. Tony the Tiger is so faded that he looks like he could be wearing UT orange.The "throw-back" decor is part of the overall theme of the store. They appear to have saved as much of the memorabilia as they could.
And it isn't just product logos and mascots, it's also old typewriters, televisions, radios, and gizmos.
The deli counter has several kinds of bologna and a little table for eating. I've never been there during lunch so I don't know if people actually eat-in. It kind of looks like fun . . . but I get the feeling I would need to be smoking filterless Camels (and that would get me kicked out of school--and out of my house!).
The first time I walked into this IGA I grew nostalgic for the past. Then I stood in line for 15 minutes while the store owner/clerk was forced to wander to the other open lane (there are never more than two open at once) and jimmy with the cash register.

Part of me wants to continue this blog by comparing and contrasting the modern "Super Wal-Mart" church and the old-school "IGA" church . . . but Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I don't feel like being tedious.

Have a great Turkey day! To those of you in Johnson City, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Goin' Off the Rails on the Crazy Train

I am finally blogging the train! I videotaped this from our back door. If you want the full effect you will have to turn your speakers up and pretend you are watching it for the 30th time today.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Just Catching Up . . .

We woke up this fine Monday morning to the first snow of the season. We were all running late so I took Anna and Cora to school. Wilmore Elementary is a fine school, but why do schools and prisons look so similar? As you can see, we were getting some nice, big snow flakes but nothing was sticking. There will be no snowmen in Wilmore tonight.I should say another word or two on our class with Dale Galloway. It ended on Friday.
The reading for this class left something to be desired. I didn't come into the week with high academic expectations. As it turns out, I was wise. There is no need to waste words in an effort to coat the truth with sugar.

That doesn't mean that I didn't learn anything. On the contrary. More and more I'm realizing that I am, by nature, a hesitant leader. There are, I'm sure, many reasons for this. Cowardice? Competence? Complacency? (we get a lot of alliteration when we listen to preachers).

Grandview is blessed with excellent leadership. So many of the good things that have happened in the past 8 years have been the result of the elders who have been led by the following chairmen: Dan Lawson, Bill Greer, lil' Bobby Hall, and Ron Pyron (the Energizer Bunny of Elders).

There have been times when the church has looked to me for leadership and I have simply turned to the elders. There is wisdom in that, but I can see that I need to step up to the plate in the coming years. I've seen, during my time at Asbury, that a leader needs to communicate the vision of the church clearly and with confidence. A leader must be careful to keep the programs and activities in line with the goals of the church, despite the criticism that sometimes inspires.

Our leadership classes have convicted me on this point, but even more than that, my visits to local churches have been enlightening. I see the light. I see how critical the role of the lead minister really is--despite my 8 years of denying it!

So, here is a short list of leadership thoughts running through my head:
  • The word "exciting" should be put on probation. It means nothing anymore.
  • Christians are amazing. They are willing, mostly because of their commitment to God and duty, to sit through all sorts of miserable attempts by ministers to "get things moving."
  • If joy isn't evident in worship, something needs to change.
  • If there is no space for grieving in worship, something needs to change.
  • It's not enough to be deep and thoughtful.
  • The faithful church will be "deep and wide," just like the song so many of us sang as kids. It's not enough to be deep if our "depth" keeps us from teaching people about the love of God. That's not depth. That's elitism dressed in religious robes.
  • It's not enough to be wide, either. A "wide" church is good at getting people to believe that God exists and that Jesus is God's son in human flesh. Too often that's as far as things go. The faithful, wide, church must proceed to inspire people to trust this "incarnated" God enough to do what God says, even when those demands make no sense. Love your enemy? Make your life a sacrifice to God? Take care of the community? Make disciples . . . even if God does not bring them to our front door, anxious to hear the gospel? Make the lame to walk? Free the oppressed? It is possible to believe that Jesus is God in the flesh and still reject God's ways. We do it all the time.
  • The way forward, for Grandview and all Christians, is genuine affection for God, for each other, and for the world God has created. Our undisciplined, personal "likes and dislikes" are a sober test of our affections. If we are unbending on things like style then we are worshiping a version of ourselves . . . a Jesus who refused to come to earth and sing imperfect hymns with his disciples before going to the cross.
  • Last, but not least, I'm excited (okay, probation on "excited" starts . . . now) about going back home this week for Thanksgiving. I'm surprised by how nervous I feel. I haven't preached in a worship service in almost five months. Even in my associate minister days I never had a lay-off that long.
Well, hope you have enjoyed some random Monday morning thoughts inspired by a leadership class that was a mixed bag.

Here are some more pictures from class last week. Below is a picture of Alicia and Scott (Scott is the one with the facial hair).
Harriet, the faculty secretary, dropped by in a Thanksgiving turkey suit just as class was finishing. I'll let you decide which one is the turkey.
Nolan and Kent got in on the act.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Home from School

I'm taking the blog to the next level: my own video. This is a test run to see if you enjoy seeing the Beeson kids arriving home after a long day at Wilmore Elementary. As you can see, they were thrilled that I was taking video of them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Foosball Wizard

I grew up playing foosball. The Wymer family had a table in the back room--the room where everybody entered the house. Whenever the guys who worked for my dad came into the house there was some major foosball action. Some of them were really, really good.

My brother and I got pretty good at foosball while we were in high school. In fact, when we marched with our high school band in Hawaii, one of our friends said we should go to the arcade and try to hustle some locals. Fortunately, my brother and I had more sense than that.

And this video, my friends, is why you should never try to hustle somebody (besides the fact that it's wrong)! Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Leadership with Dr. Dale Galloway

Introducing Dr. Dale Galloway, the former dean of the Beeson Program. The meat of his ministry was spent in Portland, Oregon where he planted New Hope Christian Community. Although retired and living in Arizona, he returns to teach a leadership class for the Beeson Pastors each year.He started class by walking us around campus just a little bit in order to make the point that a good leader is first a good follower.

Trav is obviously a good follower/leader.

Jim, ever determined to get an "A" and impress the professor, asked insightful questions yesterday (monday). He got put on an hour's probation.After class my friend, Adrian Fehl, accompanied me to Elizabethtown, KY to visit the Greer family after the death of Edwina's father. It was good to see the Greers, though I am sorry for the occasion.

More weekend pictures

There is no new information in this blog, just some more pictures of my family and the weekend we had back in Indy for my grandfather's birthday.

This is the new foyer space at Chapel Rock Christian Church on the westside of Indianapolis. They were gracious enough to allow the birthday party in this big, well-lit, space.I like this picture of grandpa.

My dad, Wendy, and grandpa.
Cora and her "twin" cousin, Ethan.
Meghan and her cute cousin, Lily.Cora, Anna, Olivia, and me and Noble Romans Pizza (I haven't had Noble Romans in years, it was great--their deep dish Sicilian is fantastic).We went to church with Missy, Eric, and their family at Mt. Gilead Christian Church near Mooresville, Indiana.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

We made a quick trip to Indianapolis this past weekend for my grandfather's 90th birthday party at Chapel Rock Christian Church. He enjoyed the reception and the gathering of family and friends. He was pretty sick this past summer, so it was great to see him doing so well.Here he is with my mom's brother and sister, Uncle Phil and Aunt Marsha.Cora and Grandpa.I'm proud of my grandfather for his strength of spirit. He has had a hard few years, losing his wife and a daughter and struggling with the kinds of health problems that come with grief and aging. He fights on. He has good genes. When I was young I met two of his aunts. Aunt Maude lived to be 103. Aunt May lived to be 101.
I'll post more pictures from the weekend when I get a chance. We also were able to spend time with my dad and Wendy and with my siblings.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Please Allow Me to Introduce...

I promised you pictures of Ian Matthew Scholl.
Here's the handsome little fellow now.
He stopped by my carrel yesterday for a quick photo session.Ian is a sleeper . . . all night long. His mom and dad are very pleased with this.
He is so compliant that when I asked him to wave for the camera, he did.
Big sis, Alaina, was her normal full-of-life self.
Ian is the second Beeson baby of the year. We all received word last week that we should expect yet another birth by the time we leave. I've got some brave classmates to do all of this AND break-in new children.