Monday, October 24, 2011

Two Church Services

I started my second sermon with a joke. "Sorry if I sound repetitive: I already gave this sermon once today." No one laughed. For them morning I was acting as guest speaker (actually, I was introduced as "friend speaker," because I was more than a guest) at Winona Lake Grace Brethren. The bodies and bustle in their Sunday morning requires two services.

Where I experience church life, we all worship together. And if any families are missing, we take notice. We are a small congregation. Dividing into two services would turn us into two small groups.

Nonetheless, splitting into two services is an intriguing concept. It simultaneously expands and dillutes a church's effectiveness. A second service alleviates the need to for more space, but it requires more volunteers. It presents God's word more efficiently, but may lead to factions (and repetition). In any attempt to please ears and meet budgets, we may relieve people from making sacrifices of personal taste.

These are not new thoughts (any church that made the triumphal leap from one service to two has certainly weighed pros and cons more than I intend to), but this was a new experience for me as a guest preacher. And as a new experience, I wanted simply to reflect on a few observations:
  • I used twice as much gum as I usually do following a message.
  • My voice was hoarse by noon.
  • Battery life of the PPT remote may not last two services.
  • Gaffs and distractions from the first sermon do not have to wait until next week for a reprieve.
  • It is not a noble goal to make the two sermons as different as possible (while keeping the same outline) just to satisfy my desire for novelty.
  • Earlier services have a higher median age than later services.
  • Later services invite more participation.
  • It is not good to create competition between the early and late services. If the gospel can reconcile Jew and Greek, slave and master, it can bring early-risers and late bloomers together.
  • I am exhausted.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Solving Hunger


Last Sunday night, as my children complained about their empty bellies, and I lamented the depleted pantry at my in-laws, I made a game-time decision. I ordered carry-out from Pizza Hut. With my coupon I saved four dollars. And according to the box, I may have saved lives.

The newest push to stave off global hunger is the most appetizing to date. Apparently, eating Pizza Hut is humanitarian. Never before have I been so motivated to practice gluttony. Never before have church youth groups experienced such potential for social justice.

What Pizza Hut has deemed "Sharing a Slice of Hope," is a clever marketing tool. Teaming up with World Food Programme and Zynga (an online gaming platform that blends virtual play with actual relief), Pizza Hut has harnessed our culture's favorite pastime (i.e., eating) for global healing.

America: the land of the free-market and the home of the obese.
America: where football is a fantasy and grease is charitable.
America: where hope is in slices, and everyone can have a piece of the pie.

Eat up, America. It's game time!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Adoption

My wife and will have a home study in a few weeks. I should really clean up the puddle of sewage in the basement. They assured us the inspection is more about our parenting, emotional health, and personal backgrounds than the state of our home, but I've already filled the mop bucket.

What I know about adoption is akin to what I know about Hebrew. I can't brag about it, shouldn't blog about it, and know it requires a lot of spit, sweat, and furious effort. The agencies we work with, both nationally and internationally, are interested in why Liz and I want to adopt. They will want to know our rationale and plan.

What inspired us to adopt? What assures we'll parent well?

These are thick questions, and I hope the answer translates well. The quick and easy to both question is prayer. Unfortunately, this answer will not suffice for every question related to adoption:
  • How will you discipline? "Prayer."
  • How will you pay for this? "Prayer."
  • How will your family adapt to becoming bi-racial? "Prayer."
  • How will style your adoptive child's hair. "Essential oils and Prayer."
I don't want to be naive. Neither do I want to over analyze the process. We do this because the love of Christ compels us. Our plan starts with cleaning up the mess on the basement floor.