Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I've been doing 'something different' since Easter so have no sermon to post. On Easter IIB I invited 'doubting Thomas questions' and had them collected. Then I answered them from my week's study of scripture (expecting certain typical questions) and just from experience. I had hoped to create more of a conversation but made the mistake of trying to answer them myself so I could get through more of them.  It worked, but the conversation didn't really happen (my fault) until lunch. Then I heard from others and really enjoyed it.

Last Sunday we did "Earth Day" and had two reflections. I used earth911.com for pictures and some text and gave our "report to Jesus" on the earth. My daughter read The Lorax (and I projected pictures for all to see.) and a great guy, Jonathan Stauffer, currently a BVSr serving at our Washington Advocacy and Peace Witness office, gave the final reflection on Earth's Season of Doubt. (Which I will shortly publish at arlingtoncob.org)

This week, well a return to something more normal, but as one congregant said, "What's normal?" I took that as a great complement!

Meanwhile, I continue to struggle to understand how to reach out. Attendance was great on Easter and down since then, especially during Sunday's heavy cold rain. I discovered an article on Church Planting at Christian Century that addresses my enthusiasm for our Monthly Service Project as out reach. Then read a comment that addresses my concerns. Here's my reply to Bob Francis, Alexandria, VA comment:

I serve at a small mainline church (church of the Brethren) and I agree that there is something missing in the church-planting movements that capture small aspects of the local population. I am starting to think it is in the initial connection itself. Perhaps it takes the spirit of an evangelical "missionary" to get these things/churches started. We (ACoB) are trying to reach out by offering a monthly service project which connects to established community ministries AND is ecumenical in sponsorship. We get a small mixed response. When our connection is individual and personal, people respond positively. What we can't seem to do is get through the "din" of packed email boxes, and a multitude of requests for people's time.
The traditional response of the church has been to say worshiping God should be a priority, we make time for what is important. I'm not sure that holds anymore. Many people have trouble prioritizing and other than demanded deadlines (work, kids' school) they respond to what catches their attention in the moment they are making the decision. How can we 'be there'?

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