Over the past few days, I have continued in prayer for Charleston. I want to share a portion of my response to the Charleston Church Shootings which I preached this morning at First United Methodist Church. I believe it is important and inadequate. You can find the entire sermon and manuscript online here.
Let me be clear:
God never intends us to choose evil.
The Charleston Church Shootings were not part of God’s plan.
Racism, murder and tragedy will never be God’s will.
Evil is never, ever God’s plan.
Each one of us has choices to make every day.
We choose between good and evil.
We choose between forgiveness and resentment.
We choose between light and darkness.
The choices that we make – both big and small lead us closer to God or further away from God.
Choose light and life.
Choose to follow Jesus Christ, Emmanuel – God is with us.
I am preaching this Sunday at Resurrection West. I am looking forward to the opportunity to share good news with the congregation. I am particularly looking forward to it as I did not have the opportunity to preach while serving as Pastor of Resurrection Online.
We are in the middle of a series in which we are reflecting on the events of September 11, 2011 through the lens of the Christian faith. I am preaching on Living Without Fear in an Age of Terror and will be using verses from Psalm 27 and Mark 5. If you are interested, you can follow my progress in the days ahead at the Google Doc – http://j.mp/pTdEht It is pretty rough right now and won’t be in a finished form until some time Saturday night. If you take a look at it, will you please share your thoughts feelings or opinions? I would love to hear from you.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14, NIV).
These words are very familiar to me. I remember hearing them before every Sunday sermon that my Dad preached. I do not remember wondering about their origin while I was growing up. I heard them as a prayer both for the congregation and for the preacher. While I don’t preach on a regular basis in my current role, I believe that this prayer from the Psalms while be part of the regular ritual when I am in a role of preaching every week.
I have been working on the next steps for Resurrection Online and in the proces have developed 6 options for church online that might be helpful for you. Will you please share your thoughts feelings or opinions about these options? What is most helpful? What could be improved?
Option 1 – Regional Campus
A regional campus in a multi campus setting has the opportunity for people to live out the purpose of the church online. This option would seek to build opportunities for people to live and grow in Christian community online. In person connection would be encouraged out of the online community, however there would be a focus to create every possible opportunity online for people to grow in their faith and engage in community.
Church online as field preaching would use a model similar to the early Methodists practice of field preaching or of more recent crusades / campaigns / revivals. With this option the focus would be to create the best possible worshipexperience to engage online worshipers in worship. The next step from worship would be to connect worshipers with a local church. This could be the host church or a network of referrals inside or outside a denomination.
Option 3 – Worship Venue
Church online as a worship venue would focus on helping the current congregation stay connected in worship when they are unable to be present physically. The experience would focus on a great audio / video experience and not have additional connection opportunities or features, as these would be expected and experienced in person.
Option 4 – Tool for Worship Groups
Church online as a tool for worship groups would focus on creating the best possible experience for streaming of worship to a large screen using a set top box, i.e. Roku box. The experience would not be available via a web browser. This would be a tool that could be utilized by current congregants, other congregations and ministry areas.
Option 5 – Teaching Venue
Church online as a teaching venue would enable a church to expand the opportunities for expanding discipleship online while connecting in person for worship and community. There would not be an online worship experience. Additional possibilities could include overlapping the online and in person group experience.
Option 6 – Second Screen
Church online as a second screen would seek to build apps and engagement on mobile devices to increase real time engagement of the current congregation during worship, throughout the week and across campuses. This would encourage our current congregation to use technology to engage with others and their faith.
Nearly every class I have taken, seminar attended or and piece of guidance that I have received about preaching has encouraged me to craft a sermon that is well written and smartly crafted. However when Paul reflects on his ministry, he writes:
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1 Corinthians 1:17
How do you make sense of these, seemingly opposite sets of guidance?