Friday, November 30, 2007

Are you ready to vote??

January 15th is slated to be the day Michiganders vote for their parties candidate for the next President of the United States of America. Yep, January 15th. That seems really early to me. Does anyone think that, too? Now, there could be some legislation that would change to a later date, but I haven't heard anything about that. Have you? I have heard a lot about the Iowa caucus which is going to be held on January 3rd, but I haven't heard much if anything about the dozen or so other states having primaries in January as well. I have also heard that the people who actually run the day of voting in Michigan could not get ready in time to meet the Jan. 15th deadline.

Assuming that January 15th is the Michigan day of voting, then where is all the mudslinging and add campaigning? I have only seen a few commercials and very few yard signs. It seems to me that in the past we would have been inundated with TV adds that most of us either tuned out or changed the channel only to find another political commercial. I also remember pulling yard signs out of the ground for some candidate that I really didn't like only to turn around and find another one from a candidate I didn't like even more. Come to think of it, I pulled the signs out for the people I did like because I never gave them permission to put one in my yard in the first place.

Most of you might not be too surprised to know that my political tastes lean to the right side of things. I consider myself to be a conservative when it comes to religion and politics. I look for candidates that reflect a conservative fiscal outlook and a conservative social agenda. I have to admit, I'm not sure I know enough about any of the policies from any of the candidates, both Republican or Democrat, to make an informed decision on January 15th. I have seen some of the commentary from the debates that have taken place, but I've never been all that informed by thirty second sound bytes. I haven't seen a voter's guide put out by any PAC or anything from the two big parties that explains each candidates position on all of the hot issues. I have, however, seen a cool add spot about how Mike Hukabee would protect our U.S. boarders (! Well, it appears that I'm gonna have to do my own research and look up the candidates voting records and personal policies all by myself with just a little help from Mr. Google and Mr. Yahoo.

Let me know what you have seen or who you would endorse if you had to pick someone you like on January 15th.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What to do?

I know it's been a while since my last post. By the time I get to sit and relax and do something I want to do (as opposed to what I have to do) I really don't want to have to think very much. Between preparing Sunday messages, ordination prep and the all too real human factor, my brain is pretty much spent!

But... something keeps coming up that is worth bringing me out of my self imposed semi-retirement from the blogosphere. The issue that keeps coming up is the Willow Sunday Morning Experience. I am struggling with how much weight to put on all of the comments that have been made, both positive and negative.

I have been given solicited and unsolicited feedback about every possible aspect (and some I would never have thought of...) regarding the Sunday morning worship service, so much so that the comments seem to be contradicting themselves. Here's a good example of what I'm noticing: recently I heard that the music was totally awesome and filled the room just right and then I heard that the music was way too fast and a little too loud. Keep in mind that the people speaking to me were speaking about the exact same service! Now I know that taste in music is very, very personal, so I don't read too much into those comments.

If I followed and applied all the advice I've received just over the last few months, I would have to make sure that we sing mostly rock-n-roll worship songs because that keeps people excited and gives new people something to identify with and do mostly hymns because that helps people remember what God has done for them in their past and allows new people to understand the theology of past church fathers and to learn how to read music from the hymnal and turn up the sub-woofer because people need to "feel" the music and that the bass needs to be very soft in the background just to give the music a little depth and to read a Bible verse or two before or during the music portion of the service because people need to know what the songs are referring to and to not include certain portions of Scripture because new people wouldn't understand what was read because they may not have heard it before and that we need to read creeds in order to express the beauty of the ancient church's liturgy and that we need to read creeds that agree with everybody's theology and that would lead to people growing in their understanding of God and that we need to be careful what creeds we use because we could lead others to be confused about what we believe and that I need to come down off the platform once in a while so people don't think I'm lording over everybody and that I need to stay up on the platform because coming down could be very intimidating to visitors and that I need to preach deeper messages so Christians can grow in their understanding of their God-given purpose and I need to preach messages that are not too deep because that will discourage new people who aren't as mature in their faith as seasoned Christians and that I need to quit worrying about the length of my messages and just let God be my clock and not go too long in my preaching because people tune out after about 30 minutes and I shouldn't use terms like preaching because our culture hears that word as negative and that I should use any of the words that are in the Bible because Jesus used them and that makes them fair game. Oh, I forgot to mention all the advice I've gotten about what version of the Bible we should use during the service and that I shouldn't even use the Bibles in the pewbacks and just put the words up on the screen so everyone can see them and read along with me from that and that I need to have a "sermon notes page" available with a three point outline and that would help people stay engaged with my thoughts and that I shouldn't use three point outlines because that is going to restrict the Holy Spirit from speaking through me what He wants me to say and that I need to be very aware that I don't speak about stuff that may be uncomfortable for new people or visitors because we want them to come back a second or third time and that I need to be the only person to speak from the platform so people know who is the pastor and that I should let more people speak from the platform so we can put out a team effort for people to see that we are all about others exercising their gifts and purposes and passions and that we need to be very careful about using words like gifts, purposes and passions because those words mean so many things to so many people.

I said all that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek! I don't mean to offend anyone. I believe that for every person who says something about anything there are at least a few who think the same thing. If you see yourself in any of the statements above, please understand that I have heard you and that I have considered your thoughts, but please also know that I have to look at everything in light of what I think God wants. If your suggestion doesn't make it to reality, then know that it was considered and, in most cases, prayed about. I truly welcome suggestions, observations and criticisms because I do need to know if the purpose and message of Willow Community Church is getting through. Let me know if you have anything you would like to add to the list above or if you would like to take issue with anything on the list.