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The Artist as Pastor

The following is a post from Blaine Hogan. Blaine, amongst other things, is an artist, a pastor and an incredible dancer. Enjoy!

How much time have we wasted trying to make ‘bigger and better’ or ‘slicker and sweeter’ messages instead of just being the messengers?” – Play Time: Finding the Freedom to Imagine and Explore by Betty Spackman, author and installation artist.

Awhile ago I was asked to submit a proposal to a publisher for a set of short films. As I sat down to write the proposal, I became acutely aware of the fact that what I was creating was very quickly going to be turned into a product. All of a sudden I was thinking about demographics, marketing, target audiences. Before I could even get started I was paralyzed, knowing that what I was writing would be subject not only to the scrutiny of my own creative process, but also to whether or not the publisher thought she could sell it. Sitting at my desk, I knew I had a choice. I could write what was inside of me. In other words, be the messenger. Or, I could write for the publisher, giving them something that might not be from my heart, but I knew they could sell.

I thought to myself, certainly there must be a place that lies somewhere between these two extremes.

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Begging the Question Why

This is a guest post from Bryne Lewis. Bryne’s a pro, a friend and one fierce writer. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did.

The little girl just in front of me has on a white turtle neck, blue uniform pants and mismatched socks. One white set of toes and one purple set of toes stand straight against the line in the carpet. When she prostrates herself in prayer, one white sole and one purple sole curl back at me. Her white head covering perfectly frames her face, pinned neatly under her chin. My head covering is yellow and is gathered around my face, over my shoulders in way that makes it apparent I am unused to wearing it. I sit very still on the floor, not wanting to disturb my scarf or the prayers taking place all around me; this is my first time visiting a mosque.

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The Withdrawal Method

This is a guest post from Steel. Yes, Steel. Kind of like Cher, but not really.

Probably one of the church’s biggest strategic mistakes in the last 50 years has been our withdrawal from the community.

We’ve preached for decades “don’t be part of this world” until we finally got there. Now, we build campuses, away from town. We organize our “own” events. Fall festivals instead of Halloween. We have been very effective in separating ourselves from the community. Then we go onto these campuses every weekend, take in something, and are told to go out and share it. Share it? With whom? The people I have lunch or dinner with, that were at the same service, or another church that morning? Who exactly? No one. That’s who.

Christ didn’t separate himself from “the world”. He lived right in there amongst them. Close enough to make the current religious leaders very uncomfortable, accusing him of excess in both drink and food. Out of this observation rises a very key idea. It’s an idea that Jesus instructed us about. He said that though we must be in the world, we must not be of it.

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Holes, Not Drills

This is a guest post by Tony Whittaker. Tony knows his stuff. Listen to him.

Toto, I have the feeling we are not in Kansas any more – Dorothy, in Wizard of Oz

In a rapidly changing world, we need to make frequent conceptual leaps for effective ministry.

A few years back, a European manufacturer of industrial drilling machines was suffering badly with competition from products manufactured in the Far East. Wisely, they called in consultants to help them see a way forward. “So, how would you describe your business,” asked the consultants. “Well, we sell drilling machines, of course,” they replied. “Well, actually, you don’t,” said the consultants. “You enable people to make holes.” This new way of perceiving their role led them to switch to making laser-equipment for cutting holes, with renewed business success.

Lateral thinking is so often a key to success. Food-processing engineers spent much time trying to create a machine that could crack nuts. The problem was adjust the crush strength according to the exact size of the nut and the strength of its shell. Unless they could precisely calibrate the exact pressure needed for each nut, many nuts would be damaged. As so often, the solution was completely different: put the nuts in a vacuum and the shells would just burst off with zero damage or loss.

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Applied Christianity

This is a guest post from Steel. Yes, Steel. Kind of like Cher, but not.

The modern, and by modern I mean the last 30+ years, approach to Christianity has become like some sort of college degree program. It’s like we’re all trying to achieve some state of learnedness, only its pursuit is perpetual. And that doesn’t seem reasonable does it?

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The Church at Auvers

Vincent Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists.  His paintings are considered by many to be the epitome of Impressionism.  I ran across this painting by Van Gogh today, and was not only struck by its beauty, but sensed something more in the symbolism of its colors and form, so I decided to do a little research.  Here’s what I found out:

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What Football Practice Can Teach You About Church

This is a guest post from friend and fellow Bethel Seminary grad Adam Silverness.

The Church is in transition. This is not the first time this has happened and certainly won’t be the last. Whether you are on the front edge of this shift, trying to convince your friends and family you’re not a heretic, or you are holding on to your traditions for dear life, the shift is undeniable.

Now if you’re like me and you are closer to edge, trying to push this transition forward, you are having a very difficult time explaining yourself to those around you. Whether they are at your church, your school or in your family, the task of playing the ‘postmodern’ in your community can be a taxing one. This gets even tougher when you aren’t really sure where you believe the Church should go from here, but instead are only able to define your views in negatives (i.e. I don’t think the Church should be seen as a service on Sunday, I can’t accept that the only Biblical view of women is one of subservience, etc).

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The Pastoral Scapegoat

This is a guest post by Mike McArthur. I asked Mike to share his experience after reading some of his posts, particularly this one. Check it out!

“We are too small to be able to afford to pay a pastor, the church will have to close.”

Bad call!

Employing a pastor is not a necessary requirement of a healthy church. In many cases it is really a convenient way to make life easier for the elders and church members.

Many small churches are struggling to balance budgets, yet the last expense to be cut is usually the pastor’s salary. As an elder myself I would never want to make a pastor redundant, but after our part-time pastor resigned a year and a half ago we did not employ anyone to replace him. Despite some doubters, our congregation is still thriving, we have an excellent Sunday school program, great sermons and heartfelt worship singing each week.

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5 Social Networks for Churchgoers

Social networks are an American phenomenon. There are now hundreds of them available to join. Some are large, like Twitter with its 75 million members; most are smaller. Some people check their network many times each day.

It is interesting that along with all the other special interest social networks, there are now some that are designed for churchgoers. This comes as no surprise, because many churchgoing people want to stay connected, just like everyone else. If you are a person of faith, you may want to check out the following five social network sites.

1.Xianz

The slogan for this site is, “The MySpace alternative for Christians! It’s the Faith Based MySpace.” Among the things that xianz.com offers are the opportunity to connect with people you know, join and create “Groups” around your interests, get recommendations for everything from a great restaurant to a good church. They also have videos available along with forums, chat groups and other features. A special item is the opportunity for bands and musicians to promote their music and to network with fans and other artists. Xianz 2.0 launches June 14, 2010.

2. Our Christian Place

This site has been newly designed. They say, “We are a Social Network Site similar to MySpace or Facebook but with a Christian atmosphere.” They offer numerous opportunities and services, including: upload music, share photos, upload videos, live chat and many others. Their slogan is, “All in a Christian Atmosphere!!!” Ourchristianplace.com stresses their Christian orientation. This is a good-looking site, and it is free to sign up for this service.

3. Faith Light

This attractive website has a great number of small pictures, all of which can be enlarged, on their home page. They have blogs, videos, photos, chat rooms and other features. They say their site provides a Christian Social Network site for everyone. Their stated goal is to provide the best place for Christians to make new friends online. They state that they are a Christian Facebook alternative.

4. Tangle

This site quotes Newsweek Magazine, which described it as, “One of the hottest sites on the Internet.” The Jonas Brothers, Chris Tomlin, Toby Mac, Kathy Ireland and other well-known Christian artists are all members. The site has all of the usual features, plus you can sign up to receive a Christian video every day. They have a large prayer ministry and a feature to locate a specific church. Christian-oriented news stories are featured. Tangle.com is an interesting, well-developed website.

5. MyChurch.org

This site is different from the others, because it focuses on churches, not individuals. It enables a church to create a network for its members, offering them free social networking. There is a fee to the church for the service. It can choose from different levels of services, beginning with the least expensive Basic plan. 40,000 churches are a part of this social network.

Millions of people use social networking sites each day. The Christian-oriented sites are a definite plus for churchgoing people.

When she’s not wasting her time on social network sites (which is often) Louise Baker writes about Online degrees for Zen College Life. Her most recent article deals with obtaining online criminal justice degrees.

What Twitter Can Teach You About Adoption

Recently we sat down with author and editor-extraordinaire, Kevin Hendricks, to chat about his latest literary creation, Addition by Adoption: Kids, Causes & 140 Characters. Aside from being a fellow Bethel grad and running his own communications company, Monkey Outta Nowhere, Kevin’s an adopting dad. His book talks about his experience with adoption while integrating his social media life into the fold. Yes, it can be done!

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