Posts Tagged ‘Potluck’

Day in the Life (8/1/10)

Tomorrow’s Plan:

7:15am: Brush teeth, get dressed, eat a bowl of Cheerios and blueberries, pack up my computer, make sure I have my sermon, kiss my kids goodbye.

8:00 – 9:45: go to church building, unlock the gate to the back parking lot, set up sound system, plug in the coffee maker, prepare for communion, sing harmony while Lee gets the songs in order, fine tune the powerpoint slides, run through sermon, turn on the air conditioning in the building, unlock all the doors, put the offering plate on the front row of chairs.

9:45: prayer with Lee and whoever else wants to join us.

10:07: promplty begin our worship service

11:09: give a benediction and invite everyone to mangle the chairs I set up so that we can turn our worship space into a potluck zone

11:15am-12:30pm: eat potluck food.

12:30-1:00: shut down the church building, usher my children into one of the cars.

1:00: go home and prepare to leave again.

1:38: get into the van alone and go fill it up with gas, and buy some M&M’s for the road.

1:50: launch out alone for a drive to Lee, Illinois.

6:00: arrive in Lee, Illinois and meet the people who own the house where a concert will be happening.

6:30: sit down and listen to the musical stylings of Andy Gullahorn who travelled from Nashville, TN to do a radio gig with Andrew Peterson on Monday, but came a day early to do a house concert for a small group of people who love good music and great storytelling.

I consider this time professional development because Andy Gullahorn knows how to tell a story.  He does a lot of things in his songs that I want to be able to do in my sermons.  It’s a two hour preaching workshop disguised as a concert.  And…since I haven’t gone to any big conventions for pastors to develop professionally – I have it in the budget to drive to Chicago area and pay the $18 for a ticket to pure bliss.

9:00: say goodbye to my new friends and hop back in the van for the drive home.

9:15: stop for more gas and M&M’s and find the local NPR station on my radio (and hope it’s not the kind of NPR station that only plays classical music, because that will totally put me to sleep).

1:00am: push the garage door opener and park the car, stagger upstairs, brush my teeth, flop into bed a happy man.

If you are interested in joining me for almost any of this (you are not welcome to brush my teeth) get a ticket at this website.



July 12, 2010 1 comment

There will come a point when Embody doesn’t fit into our existing building all at the same time.  There are a couple of options:

1. Two Services: This means more work from our musicians.  It could also mean a better opportunity for some semblance of Sunday School for both kids and adults.  It means an early and a later, and it brings about a difficulty for our enjoyable potlucks.

2. New place to worship: this means finding somewhere else to go.  Not easy in our area – there aren’t many options.  We like our space and feel pretty happy with where we are.

3. Purchase the building and add on: This means having money and being a little more financially sound than we are right now.

4. Build somewhere else: This means that we would still have to deal with our space issue while we raised money, bought, and built.

Of all the options, going to two services makes the most sense right now.  I think purchasing and adding on makes sense, too, but that also would entail going to two services for a while.  All of this needs to be balanced by the ongoing question of where should our money be placed: into buildings or into people who need our help.  This is an ever-present discussion.

Of course…we have to get enough people to need to go to two services first.  I think we will get there in the fall when people come back from vacation and we do some more inviting.

Just thinking through the whole thing makes me excited and a little tired. 🙂

Categories: The Slow Grow Tags: , , ,

Snow-headed Saints

I don’t know how many people worshipped with us on Sunday.  250? 300? 350?  I don’t know.  All I  know is that it was beautiful.  There were so many grey heads out there, I thought maybe it had started snowing.  In reality, it was foggy and cool when the forecast had called for a pretty good chance of rainstorms that morning.  So, I’ll take the fog…and I’ll take the snow headed saints.  There were loads of people with brown and black and blond and no hair, pig tails and buzz cuts, but it’s the white hair that most encourages me.

I got a big hug from my friend Betty (plenty old enough to be my grandmother) who said something that absolutely blew my mind.  She said, “This is a big day for me.”  It’s not what I was expecting.  My egocentric mind expected that she would think it was a big day for me (Jim) or for our church, but that’s not what she said.  She said it was a big day for her.  This is proof to me of what I’ve known for a year and a half about Betty – she is praying like crazy for me and for our new church.

She has owned this ministry to such a deep level that all the preparation, all the potluck food, all the weather, all the audio and video, all the songs chosen by Lee, all the games planned, and every person who showed up were weighing on her heart.  I’m confident that Betty prayed far more than I did for our big outdoor service.  It was a big day for her.

The day was great.  I can’t say it large enough to express it here.  The greatness is measured (in my opinion) by the number of smiles, the friendships created, the God worshiped, the good feeling and mojo that covered the whole area.  But I think the greatest thing that happened for me personally was hearing what Betty had to say in the middle of that parking lot hug, “This is abig day for me.”  God, help me pray that hard about things.

Half a Rant

Where Andrew Peterson and the Captains Courageous are Playing

What do you do the day before an enormous event?  Tomorrow we’re having a joint worship service with our parent church.  The worship will be outside and we’ll follow it with a huge potluck meal and then games for everyone.  Should be great fun.  Of course there’s a big chance of thunderstorms…but I can’t control that.  We do what we can and make a decent plan B.

So what would you be doing on the day before something like this?  Here’s what I’m doing: going to a summer celebration at Cran Hill Ranch (RCA summer camp) that is topped off by a concert from one of our favorite artists: Andrew Peterson.

Here’s my rant: I have delegated all the things that need to be done.  My job, then is to preach and lead worship.  I can’t control every detail.  What kind of church would we be starting if we began putting into the DNA of the congregation that you just let the professional minister take care of everything?  I’ll answer that: not a church that any pastor would ever want to serve.  So, I surround myself with people who are gifted and passionate.  I help them with the things I can help them with and then let them do their thing.  I release them for ministry without too many constraints.  People are made to serve; why would we restrain them. 

Here’s what’s going to help more than anything this week – I listen to an artist who talks about the Kingdom of God.  There are far too few of those in the “Christian” arts.  Sorry.  That’s a rant for another time. 

So…Andrew Peterson tonight!  If you heard his music, and that of some of the guys he has around him like Andy Gullahorn, you’d be totally jealous right now.

Yay, you’re going to let me be myself!

One week from the moment of this post I plan on taking a nap.  It will have been a busy day full of all our church activities x6 or so.  Our plan is to have about 300 people out at our church building for a joint worship service of Embody and First Reformed Church (our parent church).  After worship we’ll have a huge potluck.  After the potluck we’ll have a few hours of playing games and fun activities.  It’s a big BIG undertaking. 

As a church planter, here is what I’m good at: providing an atmosphere that is warm and inviting, inviting others to participate, preaching, and having good conversations. 

Here is what I’m not good at: organizing and planning.

Here’s what thrills me: being involved in the process of people recognizing God in their midst and encountering God in a way that challenges them to trust and take the next step with a living, engaging God.

Here’s what scares the bajeebees out of me: trying to make all the details of this happen.

Here’s the story: after worship today a group of about 6 women met to discuss details.  They began firing great questions at me regarding what will happen next week.  It didn’t take long before I had to make this confession – “I have to admit to you all that this area is my weakest point.”  Then I began to ask this – “Could I just let you all work the details?”  But I didn’t get that far.  I got this far, “Could I…” Then I was interrupted by a wonderful woman who extended a bucket of grace to me by saying, “Could you just walk out of the room and let us do our thing?”  or something to that effect.

I walked out of the room and put my forehead into the shoulder of a good friend and said, “Thank God for the body of Christ.  I am not gifted to do that stuff, but they are.”

It’s a tough balance to walk: the tightrope between delegating according to giftedness and relinquishing all responsibilities.  I am grateful for a family of faith that will allow me to be who I am and not force upon me the things that don’t fit with who God has made me to be.   

                                                                      * Bonus points for anyone who can tell me where the name of this post came from

Lucky Me

We eat together.  I think this is one of the things I like best about Embody.  We eat together.  We’re never fancy…it’s super-informal, but it’s us.  It is becoming a defining action of ours.  Potluck dinners…well, lunches mostly.  After communion we have lunch.  We don’t have an oven, so there aren’t a lot of casseroles, but we do crockpots and salads and hot dogs for the kids.  It does a lot for us.

There is something about breaking bread together.  It’s something everyone has in common – eating.  We all do it, and when we do it together there is a bonding that happens over the food.  The conversation is about life outside the four walls of the building we meet in.  Some kid (or adult) spills their food all over the carpet.  The kids finish early and play around the building while the adults spend time together.

All the tables are mismatched, the silverware and dishes were donated, the chairs are the ones we sit in for worship (rearranged), the weather keeps us inside or outside – depending.  But there we are…breaking bread, laughing, being honest, sharing dreams and jokes and stories about the everyday.  And Jesus is present.

Jesus seems to make an appearance where food is involved.  I think I like that about Jesus a lot.  After his resurrection he becomes evident to his disciples on the road to Damascus when bread is broken (this is when they realize it’s Jesus).  Then, while all the disciples are hiding in a locked room he just “appears” in the midst of them.  And what does he say?  “Do you have anything to eat?”  Of course, when Peter is out fishing he sees Jesus on the shore cooking fish and jumps into the water to join Jesus on shore.  And what did Christ leave for us to do? – one of the things he commanded us to do? – eat and remember him.  In fact, he used the simplest of foods for the element – bread (something found in every culture).

This is what we do.  We eat together.  Potlucks.  They’re perfect for the poor in the congregation who bring nothing or the rich who bring the normal or the single mom who just needs a break on the weekend.  Potlucks bring a much-needed change of pace for many people.  It’s not a strategy I’ve put together…It’s just what makes sense when God’s people get together.