Something really exciting has been happening over the last year. Short video vignettes are being created for biblical books, Bible themes, and theological topics. Really high quality stuff that is super inspiring. Let me offer a few examples.
At the top of my list is the Bible Project. Two guys have gotten together to do narrative drawings (my best explanation) that help explain books of the Bible. Check this one out on the book of Judges. They did an outstanding job of explaining an overview of the book along with key themes.
Look on their YouTube channel and find other books along with Bible topics like “The Image of God”, “Covenants”, and “Atonement.” I’m always inspired to watch their simple explanation of God’s word.
I also recently discovered videos on topics related to theology. Try this one from Boston College Professor of Philosophy, Peter Kreeft on “God and Suffering.” He has a whole collection of these on common questions related to God and theology.
I applaud some really creative people who are finding succinct ways to engage and teach a new audience! Love it!
I have been noticing something. People attend their home church less than in years past. By this, I mean fewer times on average per year. And I am talking about Christians who love their church!
At first, I shrugged off the observation. Surely it was merely anecdotal. But it seemed that the observation and trend grew.
Then I began to read more and more about others also noticing this. And I began to talk to other pastors who were noticing the same. So what’s up? What are some possible reasons for this seeming shift?
Kudos to Carey Nieuwhof for his excellent blog about this topic. http://careynieuwhof.com/2015/02/10-reasons-even-committed-church-attenders-attending-less-often/. Carey brought up some potential reasons that I had not considered. He gives 10 reasons that are truly worth the read.
The two that most resonate with me are “higher focus on kids activities” and “disappearance of guilt.” In the past, kids activities gave space for parents to attend church AND participate on a sports team or kids club. Those days are gone. Fields are scheduled non-stop, and Sunday morning is scheduled just as often for kids activities as any other day of the week.
My favorite story of this happened a few years ago. My daughter was on a high school dance team. They made it to state competition. Guess when they scheduled the playoff games? Easter weekend!! That’s our culture today. And Christian parents often face this challenge of wanting their kids to participate in weekend sports that collides with attending church on Sunday morning.
I also think Carey is onto truth with his observation that there is a “disappearance of guilt” over not attending church. Honestly that was never the best motivator anyway. Increasingly it is the job of leadership to help the saints to see the value of corporate worship and to actively engage with God. When corporate worship feels like just another entertainment option, the church loses – and so do individual believers.
Check out all of Carey’s points. My guess is that you will find this especially helpful if you are in church leadership.
In this age of video everything, it is hard to imagine an event as big as the Super Bowl that has no media footprint. But that is exactly the case from Super Bowl #1 from 1967. Believe it or not, the game did not even sell out and it was broadcast on two networks simultaneously (NBC and CBS). Ironically, with both networks broadcasting, neither kept a video record of the broadcast!
So everyone thought that there were some still pictures from the game but that video was lost. Then Troy Haupt’s best friend remembered that they had seen reel to reel tapes in his attic that said Super Bowl 1. Haupt’s father had taped the game at work on reel to reel tapes. With some coaxing, he went into the attic and recovered them.
The tapes had sat in the attic more than 40 years! They had suffered some heat damage, but there in herky-jerky motion was the Packers and the Chiefs dueling it out for the championship.
Haupt rightly imagined that his discovery could be worth a lot. How much would someone pay for the video of the first Super Bowl? Haupt imagined $1 million for the tapes. As reported in this article by the New York Times, Haupt’s imagined newfound wealth became like lost treasure.
We have all seen the disclosure run during a football game that says that all the rights of the game are owned by the NFL. The NFL learned about the tapes and offered a low price to purchase them. When Haupt and the NFL could not meet on a price, the NFL lawyers went to work threatening Haupt not to sell or otherwise distribute the tapes. This priceless treasure seemingly just became nearly worthless! Haupt said. “It’s like you’ve won the golden ticket but you can’t get into the chocolate factory.”
The tapes still have some intrinsic value, and the NFL is the right buyer for the tapes. You can imagine seeing snippets of that tape at the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton. I’m hoping that the NFL is willing to pony up and buy the discovered treasure. Would be a cool conclusion to the story. As it now stands, it seems like the bully is winning with threat and intimidation. That works on the gridiron, but falls flat in real life.
This Sunday at church, a collection of children will perform a church ritual that has gone on for years. They will act in a Christmas play to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. Many churches still honor this important tradition.
Dads will jostle with cameras to capture the moment. Mothers and grandmas will oh and ah. A sense of Christmas rhythm will spread throughout the congregation like the sun rising across a meadow on a cold day.
Kids will have some butterflies. Some will be nervous that they might forget a line or stand in the wrong spot. Little do they know that this is often what makes the whole thing so special. The surprises are what we remember and celebrate. Like the little girl one year who lifted her dress throughout most of the performance. To be clear, the little girl was wearing leotards. Yet the mother was nonetheless horrified while the congregation laughed heartily. Priceless!
Christmas musicals with children are never meant to be perfect because they reflect the nature of Christ’s coming to us. He entered a world filled with our fumbling. He came into our chaos and did something astounding – He accepted us. He gave us a family where we belong. From the cradle to the the cross, He forgave all our imperfections and best intentions. The children remind us about the important maxim from Jesus, “Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of God” Matt. 18:3.
Join me in watching the children this Sunday. They have much to teach us about God’s great gift and acceptance of His people.
Fall is here. It is a good time to move some plants in the yard. With cool wet weather coming, many plants can be transplanted now with a minimum of trauma.
So I was looking at a plant that acts like ground cover. For the life of me, I could not remember the name. It was driving me crazy.
Look what I found! A super plant finder. http://www.hgtvgardens.com/plant-finder/.
In a matter of minutes, I found my plant. It is Barberry, also know as Kinnikinnick . Maybe you have a plant that needs to be identified? This cool website sure makes it easy.
I was digging in my garden the other day. I found a little green ball. It is the size of a BB and is made of green plastic. There it was staring at me in the dirt. Almost taunting me!
Took me back twelve years ago. Jon, my son, was very into “airsoft.” This is a game for young boys where they basically shoot things, and often each other, with airsoft guns. They are not quite as strong as a pellet gun, but they can still sting a little. I harped on Jon to wear goggles!
I also had several other speeches I’d give to Jon about airsoft and BB’s. They were all over the place in the back yard. Green and white seemed to be the popular colors.
And I knew they were made of plastic so they would “never decompose.” I wondered why they could not make some kind of biodegradable BB. I’d ask him and he would shrug his shoulders like , “really dad?”
Today I saw that little green ball… and I was glad it was not biodegradable. Kids grow up too fast.
July is here. And some of my favorite things. First off, it is time for the Tour de France. I know this sport is on the “outs” with most Americans. They say, “did they ever clean up the doping in that sport?” Answer is Yes, significant strides forward have been made. But I just enjoy the sport because it takes such a team effort. Every tour winner must have a team of people willing to “spend themselves” to move the key men forward. It is simple, No team-No win.
Second in July, my strawberries come off – along with other vegetables. To be honest, this year the strawberries came about three weeks early due to all the heat in Seattle. But the strawberries are absolutely the best – red all the way through. It is a reminder of what fruits and vegetables are supposed to taste like. In a rare summer, we may actually have enough heat to produce ripe tomatoes!
Third, in July we celebrate our country’s independence. On the 4th, we also celebrate my daughter’s birthday. So it is always super special. I still don’t take for granted a country that allows freedoms like speech, assembly, and worship.
Fourth, July is the month that our church goes to Family Camp. This is the church’s 25th anniversary of this iconic event. Basically about 200 of us go to a hot spot on the water, Lincoln Rock State Park. We spend time talking together, eating together, laughing together, praying together. Reminder of why the Body of Christ is so important to my spiritual health.
The heat of summer is here… and some of my favorite experiences.