Tuesday, July 22, 2008

CCR as a Ministry Tool

I am sitting at my desk in downtown Tulsa, working late, trying to catch up from last week's hectic schedule. I am listening to our Pastor's iTunes account; a little Credence Clearwater Revival is good for the soul every now and then. In moderation. I can only listen when the maintenance staff has left for the evening- even they frown upon my chicken-wing and limp-legged dancing style.

I also am wondering about the scope of ministry of the church. The big "C" Church, not our family of faith in downtown Tulsa. I confess that I don't understand all the dynamics of ministry, nor the appropriate parameters for ministry, nor the cost evolved in a lack of ministry. We focus so much time and energy on what we purport to be ministry, and I have to ask myself the same question asked at the conclusion of Jim and Casper Go to Church, where the atheist asks the minister "is this what Jesus asked you guys to do?"

I don't really care for the book or its premise. Nonetheless, I seem to be haunted by this theme in my own life and "ministry". Eric- what you are doing- is that what Jesus asked you to do?

I sit in a comfortable chair at a high-quality workstation with cool computer hardware and software, plenty of music equipment, and the freedom to use it all in ministry. And I stay very busy with it all.

As for my call, I do feel this is what Jesus would have me do right now. I use the gifts He gave, in the position I am in, to serve this church family. I get that. I'm all over that.

As for ministry... now there's the rub.

We as a church constantly evaluate ourselves in service, ministry, education, worship, fellowship, finances- you name it, we measure it. We invest resources in measuring program effectiveness, program potential, and return on investment (now that is a sore subject for another post...). However, I continue to look downtown and around town and see unchurched people. Lots of them. They play golf at courses I pass on my way home from church. They are at pools and sports fields early on Sundays so they will have their Saturdays free. And I wonder to myself, what lengths should we go to try to reach those families?

And what about the intelligentsia of the area- those who consider themselves too intellectual to consider the necessity of a Savior even a remote possibility? They can be found at any time of the day at Starbucks and Panera Bread and Barnes and Noble and other hang-outs for smart people. (I am smart enough for the drive-through,that is about it.....). Not to mention our friends and acquaintances who wear black all day long in 100-degree heat; those for whom goth has given a unique persona. Those who give no consideration to the hereafter or to a Creator who passionately wants to Love them face to face.

But in thinking through all this muddle, these two questions battle for my attention:

How far should we (as a church) go to gain the attention of the lost and unchurched?

Once we have their attention, when and where does the ministry occur?

I'd ask for your input (the three humans who read this blog) to these questions. I am not taking a poll, and will not use your answers in research. I am curious for other people's opinions.

They directly relate to my first question... Eric, is this what Jesus asked you to do?

We'll delve further into these questions in a later post. Now I need to go- "Bad Moon Rising" is next on the playlist.

Life is good!

Monday, July 21, 2008


I have been thinking.

Specifically, I have been thinking about our friends. We are blessed to have friends all over the southern states, some in foreign places like Wisconsin and New Jersey. What has forced my delightful consideration of our friends? A few things...

One, the list of friends to contact when my Dad died. I realized there were friends who would come at the drop of a hat, with no consideration of time or distance. Those friends are a beautiful and valuable part of our lives.

Another was born from joining cyberlife on Facebook. As of this writing, I have 78 friends on Facebook, and I don't even go to it every day. However, I have found and been found by people I have not seen in 20 years, but through this social networking site, I suddenly realized the scope of our friendships over the past 22 years of our married life.

We have discovered old college friends, work acquaintances, choir members, and girlfriends (We don't dwell too much on that...). But we (I do most of the surfing) thoroughly enjoy becoming reacquainted with folks who come complete with fond and beautiful memories.

Another source of this chain of thought comes from planning my sweet wife's birthday event. This is a big milestone, and I have considered how to include friends and family from the depth and breadth of our marriage in the celebration. I began a mental list of friends I would like to include, and the problem soon made itself known. I called to mind friends from former churches; friends from college and seminary; friends from home, friends from here. As I mentally tallied the list, I thought that it must be nice to live in one place all your lives, and only have to manage a small set of life-long friends.

It didn't take long to realize what a mis-directed thought that is....

While thinking, the reality of this blessing dawned on me- the blessing of having many friends in many places. And it is a unique blessing, for I believe in every church we've served, in college and seminary, there is at least one family who would respond to our crisis in a moment's notice. As the song says, "you find out who your friends are...."

Some of our oldest (I mean people with whom we have been friends the longest) are coming to Tulsa this weekend. Our beautiful friends have been friends for 20 years now. These are the kind of friends you can vacation with, and not wear makeup. These are the friends who are friends, even when you haven't seen each other for a year- you just pick up where you left off. The McBrides are a priceless part of our friendship family, and we are better because of their friendship.

I admit that managing friendships across several states and two decades is a daunting task. However, I am discovering the joy of warm memories while counting our blessings... one friendship at a time.

Life is indeed, good.....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Life's Been Good to Me (So Far.....)

Well, ok. Now you've done it.

I hope my recent hiatus has served to offer some fresh perspectives on life in general, and writing, specifically. I hope to regain my writing momentum and offer my simple nuggets of wisdom on a more regular basis. Now that I think about it, nuggets are really just small bits of something larger. A nugget is just larger than a flake..... better to be a nugget than a flake....

Anyway..... Life is Good.

It was announced just yesterday that the world-renown recording group known as the "Eagles" will play the opening concert in our not-quite completed Bank of Oklahoma Center. That concert is in September, and I know where they will sell at least 3 seats.

My family plays their DVD from the Melbourne tour quite regularly, and quite loudly. And so, to honor the lyrics from that wonderful Joe Walsh song....

Life's Been Good to Me (So Far.....)