Faithfulness and Fruitfulness: Cultivating Ministry 1. Tilling the Soil

June 17, 2018

Last week Dan and I worshipped in a large non-denominational church outside of Chicago where Dan’s parents attend.  They have a pattern of running both a contemporary and a what they call a “classic” service at the same time—one with a live preacher and one with the preacher on video.  They have been in the middle of growing pains which include construction to make a bigger space for contemporary worship and expanded parking and adjustments to their classic worship services (large choir, organ music, and a majority of worshippers my age and older) to consolidate and strengthen participation.  They have prayed, asked for input and discussed ideas among the leadership for some time, and are trying to find the right ways to keep their classic worship services full while their contemporary services are growing.

Churches of all stripes pay a lot of attention to the number of bodies in the pews.  We Presbyterians keep close track of members, count worship attendance and Christian education attendance and report our averages to the General Assembly each year.  We get grouped in the small church category, because our worship attendance is under 100.  Continue reading

A House Divided

by Ruling Elder James Parks,

June 10, 2018                                               I Samuel 8: 4-11, 16-20; Mark 3: 20-35

Since we last worshipped in this house, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, two icons of American culture, two people who had everything we’re told we should aspire to—wealth, fame, security—committed suicide. The leader of the Baltimore Police Department’s elite Gun Trace Task Force, who was sworn to protect us, was sentenced to 25 years in jail for corruption that the prosecutor called “breathtaking” in its scope. We commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy separated immigrant children from their parents at the border herding them into shelters.

It’s enough for me to join with Marvin Gaye when he proclaimed:

“make me wanna holler,

And throw up both my hands”

 

It’s as if we have lost our way, as if our moral values have become unhinged. What’s worse is that we have become used to this moral quagmire. We seem to be in a time when it is acceptable to openly and proudly display your anger, fears and hatreds as if they are badges of honor. Continue reading