Archive for May, 2012


doing GOOD

pretty interesting days in the life of the church these days.

no, that’s not a sarcastic  comment on some recent interaction or odd conversation with a “church-folk.”

first a little history…every 500-or so years in the life of the church there is a major change [some call it a “sea change”] where all the grids change & a lot of the assumptions are shifted.  programs change & people experience a shift in how they relate to God & how the church functions.  500 years ago it was the reformation, phyllis tickle does a good job talking about this pattern in this interview.

i read or saw [don’t remember which it was] an interview with tim keller on the perceived tension of a “social gospel” [built around the activity of helping those in need] & being evangelistic [getting people connected to Christ & their souls saved].  the premise of what he was saying is that we [the church] has felt a tension between trying to decide weather we [the church] are a church that’s focused on being an evangelistic body or one that’s built around helping people with their every-day needs.  and then goes on to say that we need not feel that tension.  in reality we’re called to do both things & we don’t need to choose between the two, but in fact do both.

couple all of this with a recent interview i heard with scot mcKnight where, among other things, he talks about a word in the bible that peter uses when he encourages the people to “do good” [heb.13:16 & gal.6:10].  this phrase is technical in it’s root.  relating to the activity of working & creating for the city; building structures, building docks, the shoreline, etc.

this is interesting to me.  when we consider the “what” of what we’re supposed to be doing in our respective towns & cities it’s significant that we engage in practical ways so that the church can move from this marginalized entity that’s for the “already churched folk”.   and if moves to a place where doubt & anxiety [why are they here?  are they just going to preach to me & try to get me saved?  whatever that means…] are replaced with “i’m really glad they’re here.  no one was doing that thing there.

i’ve been asking a question, a question that i hear others asking too [no, it’s not my question; just one i’m borrowing].

if the local church, in any town, anywhere,  just disappeared & was gone.  would it matter to anyone other than the people that called that church their “home church?”

 the answer to that question, for lots of churches across the country is a resounding “NO”.  the local church has seemingly lost it’s way & has forgotten, in some regard, the way of Jesus.  may that change now.  may we begin, in new ways, to live out the life of faith that Jesus exhibited.  may we, the church, reassert ourselves into the public fray once again.

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the FEEL of a place

so today i am sitting in a new favorite place.  it’s the redolencia coffee shop in ludington.  the name comes from the root word redolent, having or diffusing a sweet sent

appropriately named!  when you walk into the shop you are hit by a strong, but not overwhelming smell of coffee & spices.  the coffee is good,and it should be!  any coffee shop with sub-par coffee need not be open.  but it is the atmosphere that is the best part of the shop.  it’s 100 things & it is one thing all at once that make this place comfortable, inviting, and a feeling of home.  quiet, but indie-type music plays to help with the mood.  there’s even a front porch inside the joint!!

all of this gets me to thinking about the atmosphere of church.  is there a sense of welcoming/invitation?  to ask the question to any who have “always been there” isn’t going to do justice to the answer.  the guys who run/own the place, of course they’re going to like the feel of the place.  any business owner is going to put their stamp on the way it all looks & feels.  it’s really the first impression of a guy like me, never been there, nothing invested in it [other than a good cup of coffee].  they have created a place that will make a guy like me want to come back…& i do want to.

so…are we doing this within our buildings?

i’m not of the opinion that our budgets need to be wholly focused on the feel & flavor of the building.  nor do i think that for the sake of saving precious pennies here and there that the building should become an institutional, bland & blank canvas.  there should be an inviting feel to the facility.

in a word that’s called ethos.

defined: ethos means the character, or guiding beliefs of a people or community.  this easily translates into the feel one gets when they enter a place…like a church.

do we believe that people matter to God & us so much that we’re willing to put aside our traditions, live with stains on the carpet & convert lobby & hallways into mini-living rooms?  places for people to talk, share life & relax together?

the romanticism of the modern coffee shop, the best ones, is’t the coffee.  we can make coffee at home.  true, the coffee you have at home may come out of a giant can & may not have complex flavors of truly great coffee.  the best shops have ample space & comfortable places to sit.  a place you can gather with friends, share stories, and even write.

so there is a FEEL to every place we go.  we return to the places that give a feeling of warmth & joy.  a place of rest & comfort.  places even where reconciliation can be experienced.  you might say, “that doesn’t sound like a coffee shop.”  then again, you might be surprised what can happen at places like a coffee shop.  this also sounds like a place like church…like  a church i would want to be.