Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Church Can Be Different - 2

No pulpit, no pews, no "pastor," no programs, no property.  No budget, no band.

People in prayer, baptism, conversion, spontaneous "church planting" to a new site (i.e. living room), joyful invitations spreading on social networks.

Read the story from Felicity Dale below and that's what you'll see.  You can find the original post here.

Church can be different.


A story from our simple/organic church--and an urgent request

We need to go away more often. It's amazing what happens when we leave the country. 
We currently have a simple/organic church that meets in our home. It's actually run by our daughter and son-in-law. We turn up from time to time.
For most of September and part of October, Tony and I were in Russia and the UK. Shortly after we left, a young man named Jose (aged 15) turned up at the gathering--schoolfriend of two nieces of Roxie who is part of the church. Jose is a sweet, incredibly loving, guy with a great sense of humor and a real love for the Lord. Jose had one thing on his heart.
"Pray that my mom will come to church with me. She needs Jesus."
His prayer was speedily answered. The very next week his mom, Rosaura, came with him. Rosaura had many needs. She had major problems with both drugs (including crack) and alcohol. The group spent most of their time together that week praying for her. She surrendered her life to Jesus and was completely delivered--no substance abuse since then. 
The following week the group didn't meet for various reasons but Rosaura was anxious that her sister, who has also had problems with alcoholism, get prayed for too. So Roxie opened up her home and the sister was set free too. Roxie has had a weekly get-together in her home since then.
Two weeks ago we were back in the country. That week, during our time together, Rosaura's sister gave her heart to the Lord.
Jose's simple faith led to his mother and aunt finding Jesus.
Last week, the family turned up with some devastating news.
"Jose has been diagnosed with a brain tumor!"
Apparently Jose had been having increasing problems with headaches and deteriorating vision. He saw an eye doctor early last week. Several urgent specialist visits later, he was diagnosed with a large, infiltrating tumor pressing on his optic nerve and pituitary gland. He is scheduled for the 8-hour surgery tomorrow.  Full recovery of both nerves and his endocrine system is expected to take more than a year. As yet, there is no way to know if the tumor is malignant or benign.
Rosaura is standing firm in her new-found faith. The morning Jose was due to see  the neurosurgeon, she asked the Lord, "Please show me something from your word." She opened her Bible randomly to Mark 1 and put her finger down on verses 30-34--the story of Jesus healing not just Peter's mother-in-law but also many other sick  or demon-possessed people. She knows that Jesus is working in her son's life.
Two days ago, we had a phone call from Roxie. 
"Jose and Rosaura want to get baptized tomorrow before Jose's operation."
So yesterday evening, around 40 people gathered around our hot tub as Jose and Rosaura were gloriously baptized.  Many of their family members and friends were there, several having come into town to support Jose and Rosaura through the ordeal of major surgery. 
So here's our urgent request: obviously we have prayed for Jesus to heal Jose, but his surgery is scheduled for 10 am tomorrow morning. Rosaura has given permission for us to tell her story and to enlist others in the battle for Jose's life and health. Please pray that if the tumor is still there, it is easily removed without complications, and that Jose makes a full recovery with no residual effects. And it would be wonderful if you would get others to pray too. 
Many thanks--and if the Lord reveals anything to you as you pray, let us know.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sermon Writing and the Stewardship of Time

I posted a question about sermons in an ELCA clergy forum on Facebook, but would like to hear from other folks as well so I thought I'd put it up here to get your thoughts:
"A recent question here asked about time spent on sermon prep. Eight hrs/week was mentioned, as was the "1hr per minute" rule. MLK Jr. apparently clocked in at 15hrs. I confess, this makes me wonder about the stewardship of time. What if, say, even once a month, you took 6 hours and spent them with a group of three people instead. Maybe 2 hours at a time on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Talk with them about their lives and faith, pray and study scripture together to see what Jesus is saying to them these days. Then on Sunday, the four of you spend 20 minutes in worship as a group sharing with the congregation what God has been up to among you over the past week. Question: would that be more beneficial to the Kingdom than the usual 8 hours and a sermon from you? Be sure you factor in the value of life-change experienced by the three people (and you!) over the week. What do you think?"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Church - and life - can be different

Came across this article today about some house church folks who are doing what is sometimes called "incarnational ministry" in Kansas City.  They and others have intentionally moved into a "blighted" area of town.  It reminded me of what I wrote in part of my Facebook profile: "Christianity may be a religion, but following Jesus is an alternative lifestyle and faith is a lived relationship."  Check it out if you'd like a little window into different ways to live the faith.

Cultivating community: Church members forsake suburbs to put down roots in struggling urban neighborhood