Sunday, March 29, 2009

Outreach: What Works Best

Here are some interesting results about witnessing, sharing one's faith, and the best way and time to do it. I know in the UCC, we don't talk much about personal conversations about God and evangelizing. For some, such a conversation brings back scary images of door-to-door encounters that made you feel trapped and judged.

But such door-to-door antics do not define evangelism. A simple conversation about why church is important to you or why God is important to you is enough. You don't have to stand on the street corner, with Bible in hand, to share God's message. A gentle letter to a friend letting them know you're praying for them or an invitation to a church event or worship service is evangelism in and of itself.

And a recent study conducted by LifeWay confirms that most folks don't like going door-to-door or being the evangelized in such a matter. In fact, most enjoy and are receptive to evangelism in the following ways:
In the same study, people were asked when they would be most receptive to someone 'sharing their faith' and the response is interesting. Most folks are receptive:

As you can see, the holidays can be a wonderful time to invite a friend to church--and such an invitation can have lasting benefits.

In short, these studies tell us what many of us already know. Rather than through various methods of advertising, the best results come through personal contact. You are more likely to influence the people you know for the gospel than a tract, billboard, commercial, TV or radio preacher. Those other things may help, but relationship is central.

h/t Ed Interestingly enough, this Southern Baptist expert in church growth is leading a workshop for UCC church leaders in Nashville. It'll be interesting to see how Stetzer's methodologies translate in UCC settings.

The Dangers of Fundamentalism

During our Lenten season, we've been watching a video series on Wednesday nights called Living the Questions. The video series is a discussion about how to interpret being a Christian from a progressive or liberal perspective and how to find one's faith in it.

This morning, I discovered that YouTube has several segments of the video series. I discovered this one from John Dominic Crossan. We saw this one in our first segment.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pastor's Health Update

Hi everyone. I am sure by now you know that I have been in the Englewood Hospital. On Wednesday of last week, I came down with serious chest pains both in back and on my front coupled with difficulty breathing. Fearing the worst, Jay took me to the hospital where, after a CAT scan, it was determined that I had a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is basically blood clots in the lungs. It's a very serious situation.

I was admitted to the hospital and immediately given strong drugs and was subject to a plethora of tests. I was also told to eat, sleep, and that I'd be there for several days. As it turned out, I was only there until Friday night when I was released. I was told to take it easy for the next few days.

And so that is exactly what I am doing. I go back to the hospital for the results of the various tests this week. The doctors have not been able to discern why I had blood clots. Hopefully they'll find out. In the meantime, I am taking Lovenox injections in my stomach (Ouch!) and am on high doses of Coumadin (a blood thinner). The hemotologist was confident that they'll find a cause for my blood clots and said that I may not have to stay on the drugs indefinately (my doctor, however, wasn't so optimistic and told me to expect to stay on Coumadin for the rest of my life). Who should I believe? Who knows. I don't have enough information yet to make the right kind of decision.

In any event, I am home. If you were in church on Sunday, you'll have noticed I didn't preach. The Rev. Paul Bryant-Smith gave a wonderful sermon and Lauren Vanderwerker, our seminary intern was the liturgist. I'll be back in the pulpit next week.

I would like to thank everyone who has been so kind and thoughtful these past few days. I have been the recipient of such grace and warmth that I feel fortunate to be blessed by such pastoral ministry from the very folks I am called to serve. From Howard baking me meatloaf to Cindy and Mark's generous oatmeal cookies, to Henry and Hattie's chocolate to everyone else coming to visit, to calling me, to texting me (don't you just love technology!), I am very fortunate to serve such wonderful people.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Video Weekly, Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You may notice an unsyncing of video to voice. Hmm...I don't know why that happened. If you don't notice it, then please disregard what I am saying. ;)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Geoffrey Black: The New UCC President?

The search committee for John Thomas' replacement as President of our denomination, the United Church of Christ, has recommended Geoffrey Black. Geoffrey is currently the New York Conference Minister and has held that post for nearly 10 years. Personally, I know Geoffrey and I cannot imagine a better choice to replace John Thomas. He's a great guy with a heart for the Gospel. To learn more about his great guy, follow this link and read up on him.

UCC bylaws require that Black's nomination be affirmed by a two-thirds majority of the Executive Council prior to his presentation to the General Synod for call by election.

Something to Dance About

Here is a YouTube clip about a T-Mobile commercial set up by unsuspecting commuters in London. It really is something to 'twist and shout' about.

h/t Opal H.