I am emerging

Bruce Reyes-Chow sent this twitter earlier today.

""I am emergence" post coming today. Want in? In 140 WORDS or less, blog/FB about it WITHOUT defining by what you are NOT and I'll link back."

I twittered my response in exactly 140 characters.

I am emerging since I am in an ongoing and incomplete process of questioning and answering what God calls the church to be today

Then I noticed that he said 140 words, not characters.  So,

I am emerging because I am in an ongoing and incomplete process of questioning and answering what God calls the church to be today.  Specifically, questioning and answering what God calls the particular church that I serve to be.  I am emerging in my current and local context, because that is the only way I know how to be emerging.

I wrestle alongside others in my church with what it means for this group of Christians to follow Jesus' calling in a world that is like and unlike the world in which our faith was formed.  Honoring our context means we can't simply throw everything out and start over, at the same time it means we can't simply do what we've always done and truly be faithful to our calling. 

Adoption News


We have been in process to adopt a girl from Ethiopia since mid-2008.  We have now received word that we have been matched with a three and a half year old girl, and that we can expect to travel to Ethiopia to meet her and bring her here in about 5-6 months.  We are obviously overjoyed to be at this point in the process.  After this long wait, we now have her name, a couple pictures and some other information about her.  It is really exciting to think that she will be with us by the end of the summer!  While at the same time, we are sad for her and the circumstances in her life that have led to her being in need of adoption.

I’ll be posting more about my thoughts and feelings during this time, as well as information and details about our upcoming trip.  But I won’t be posting much about B., including her name or photos.  Partially because I don’t like to share personal details of any of my family in a public forum like this, but also because the Ethiopian government has requested that any personal or detailed information about children in the process of adoption not be shared publicly.  This is mainly to protect the integrity of the adoption process, and the rights of the child.

At some point after she is here with us, I will certainly post her photo because she is beautiful!  In the meantime, I hope you will send prayers and good thoughts our way as well as to a little girl in Ethiopia.

Couch to 5k

On December 3 I started a running program. Last Thursday, I ran 3.17 miles without stopping.  That’s eight weeks for me to go from non-exercising couch potato to running a 5k.  Although running is a pretty strong word for my 5.3 mph pace.

Yesterday, I ran this distance again and shaved a minute off my time.  A new PR!  That’s lingo that us runners use, it means Personal Record (I think). 🙂

Several people have asked me what program I used.  I followed Couch to 5k which sends you out three times a week for thirty minutes.  It begins with intervals of walking and running (mostly walking), and shortens the walking intervals until they are gone completely.  I used a Couch to 5k  IPhone app that would tell me when to run and when to walk.

After the walking intervals disappeared and it was all running, I switched to the the free version MapMyRun app.  This app will track your run on Google maps, calculate your distance covered, speed, elevation, and associated stats.  As you run it will tell you how much time has elapsed, what your average or current speed is, and how far you have run.

Here is the map from yesterday’s run:

I’m glad that I’ve stuck with this.  It’s the first regular exercise program that I’ve stuck with since…ever.  I can’t say that it’s fun or that I enjoy it, when almost every step of the way my only thought is, “Can I stop now?”  But I enjoy the fact that I am running, even if I don’t enjoy running.

Not just a river in Egypt

I'm taking an online course right now through Pittsburgh Seminary about using digital media in worship services.  Thankfully, I am at a church that uses projectors in all three of our worship services.  But this is the first church I have served that has the capability to use digital media throughout the service, so I am taking this course to become more fluent with images and video in worship.

I just finished writing a response for the class and wanted to share a slightly edited version of it here as well.

"This is a conversation I have been in countless times:

Person A asserts that we need more current music or media in worship to reach younger generations.

Person B responds that they know someone who is young who doesn't like <insert new thing here> and prefers <insert traditional thing here>.

Person C says they know someone young like that too.

Persons B and C see no need to change and go back to their congregations where 80% (or more) of the people in the worship services are above 65.

So often in these conversation people use anecdotal evidence to say why these "sweeping generalizations" about younger generations and media are wrong.  In my experience, almost all of these anecdotal examples are only anecdotal and never represent the general trends and demographics.  

"There are many 30 year olds that like contemporary worship, and many who don’t." I would bet a large sum of money that there are more 30 year olds that like contemporary worship then there are 30 year olds that like traditional worship.  And that's not even getting into the fact that most contemporary worship services aren't that contemporary anymore.

The need for digital media and updated music especially applies to people who have never been to church.  Your typical unchurched younger generation member is going to feel very strange in a traditional service with a pipe organ, "thee and thou" hymns, and talking head liturgy.  But if the service is styled in the media and music they experience every day their barrier to entry will be much lower.

Are we going to lose younger generations without digital media in worship?  This won't be the only cause, but it will be a big part of it.  Just look at churches that use digital media regularly in their church life, vs. those that don't.  The demographics speak for themselves.  We've already lost a generation or two, in part because we haven't changed our traditional worship services significantly in decades.

I'm looking at "The Worship Book" right now, which was published in 1970.  This was the worship guidebook for Presbyterian congregation.  The order of worship, liturgy, and music suggested is nearly identical to what the majority of Presbyterian churches use today.  Worship hasn't changed significantly in over 40 years.  The large majority of young people aren't watching movies or shows, listening to music, reading books, engaging in pasttimes, or doing much else that was popular in 1970.  So why do we think that a church service from 1970 will appeal to them?