April 30, 2009

Greg Ogden Discipleship Workshop May 8-9

Posted in better disciples at 10:11 PM by alexlozada

Greg Ogden, author of Transforming Discipleship as well as several other books that are MCC staff favorites, will lead the Mt Zion Discipleship Workshop Friday evening May 8 – Saturday afternoon May 9, hosted by Mt Zion United Methodist Church (Bel Air).  From my reading Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time, I appreciated his emphasis on “Take a long term view. Slow down. Do it right.”  In a church blessed with Yay God! numerical growth (250 baptisms last Sunday), I’m often pulled in the opposite direction of “we need lots of new programs right now!” instead of nurtuing fewer, more time-intensive, and ultimately more better-disciple-making relationships.

For the Mt Zion information sheet (including detailed schedule) check this link: Ogden_Bulletin_Insert.  Registration is FREE but the hosts are asking people to please register by Monday May 4.  Email the Mt Zion church office or the event coordinators, or call the church office 410-836-7444.

This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in being a discipler, especially MCC current and potential small group leader and coaches.  Another benefit for this workshop will be connecting with discipleship-focused servant-leaders at other Harford County congregations.  I’ll miss Friday evening attending the third anniversary of MCC’s Celebrate Recovery ministry, but I’ll see you Saturday!

April 29, 2009

forecasting Christianity in America: cynical optimism

Posted in culture, the Northeast at 11:40 PM by alexlozada

MCC’s exec pastor Rob Kastens forwarded our staff this recent Newsweek cover story and Albert Mohler’s follow-up blog post.  Dr. Mohler posted another follow-up, commenting on Stephen Prothro’s crititque of Newsweek’s original analysis.  One of my favorite bloggers Seldom Wrong Never In Doubt points to this Wall Street Journal critique, as well as adding his own “cynical optimist” opinion.

Earlier this week, I submitted a book review for my online church history course @ Cincinnati Christian University on Philip Jenkins’ The Next Christendom.  In the spirit of SWNID-style cynicism, this Jenkins quote, “modern Western media generally do an awful job of reporting religious realities, even within their own societies.”  Likewise, in the spirit of faith-and-historical-fact-based SWNID optimism, Jenkins concludes, “”Whether we look backward or forward in history, we can see that time and again, Christianity demonstrates a breath-taking ability to transform weakness into strength.”

April 24, 2009

“Two Windows: Baptism” Apr 26 message resources

Posted in MCC resources at 11:07 PM by alexlozada

Study guide download available now, with message notes to come by Sunday afternoon.

April 23, 2009

Group Multiplication Not Always Adding Up UPDATED

Posted in better disciples at 11:09 PM by alexlozada

My teammate Debbie Zink showed me a book excerpt from the Spring 2009 print version of Leadership(haven’t found it online yet) titled “Why Small Groups Boom then Bust.”  Larry Osborne writes in Sticky Church (available local bookstore),

For decades an unquestioned canon within the small group movement has been that healthy groups multiply by continually growing and splitting into new groups. . . . Yes dividing to multiply can (and often does) work in the short run. But it usually takes only a couples of cycles of join / make friends / split before the process loses steam, then stalls out. . . . I am convinced the boom-and-bust cycle of small groups could easily be stopped if those who lead small group ministries would simply remember why we started them in the first place and then ruthlessly stick to our original mission:  helping people develop authentic and transparent Christian relationships

On my office wall for the last few months, I’ve had a highlight from a brochure for the 2009 Saddleback Small Groups Conference.  It says,

Relational, Not Multiplying: Small groups need a simple mission. Too often small group ‘theory’ dictates that groups should be constantly multiplying. These strategies often place too much pressure on an average leader to be a ‘church strategist’ instead of deepening relationships with his or her neighbors.

I confess I’m a both sides of the coin type: I’m skeptical of schedule-based multiplication but I acknowledge that my first small group experiences (and in some ways the ones that still resonate the most in my life) at Cincinnati Bible College were college calendar driven.  Both Osborne and Saddleback-Serendipity come to the same conclusion: “relationships.” With a nod to Joe Myers, I’ll further confess – plenty of life change relationships bear fruit outside of small groups.

I found the link to an article Larry Osborne wrote last year that expands on the quote above.

April 17, 2009

“Three Chairs” Apr 19 message resources

Posted in MCC resources at 9:55 PM by alexlozada

Study guide revised from last year’s Feb 3, 2008 message. Message notes here. Christian teacher and author Bruce Wilkinson pioneered the Three Chairs theme.

For MCC small groups that enjoy a humorous opener, here’s a video from the message:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "untitled", posted with vodpod

April 15, 2009

multi-site both/and multiplying disciplers

Posted in better disciples, more disciples at 11:52 PM by alexlozada

Today’s pastoral staff meeting balanced “both/and” . . . .

Celebrating Good Friday + Easter “yay God!” stories AND acknowledging ways that our staff didn’t go the extra mile to make all 8 services “as Mountain as they could be.”

The Spirit is opening some exciting doors for possible campuses elsewhere in Harford County “both/and” the perfect fit of what our hard-working search team has sought all along AND the perfect stretch of an opportunity beyond our racial zone.

At the same meeting we explored the short-term programming challenges to multi-site (need more volunteers, more equipment even on tight budget), we “both/and” talked about the challenge of remembering our call to go beyond merely programming.  Making better disciples through meaningful, intentional, spiritually-insightful-question-asking relationships is why MCC has groups.  Mac Lake, of multi-site Seacoast Church, writes about orienting towards discipling (rather than programming) in these blog posts.

April 11, 2009

Flat-line Apr 11-12 small group resources UPDATED

Posted in MCC resources at 11:20 PM by alexlozada

Small group study guide here. Message notes here, perhaps useful for leaders who don’t want to use entire study guide, but refer to the message OR leaders using the message-based study guides who need more material.

Lyrics for the special music “What If” written by Nichole Nordeman © 2005 Birdwing Music.

And the humorous opening video “Stethoscope” 🙂

April 10, 2009

It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming

Posted in better disciples at 11:00 PM by alexlozada

My family participated in MCC’s Good Friday Experience – thanks to all the people who worked to provide this blessing! The theme his year was “Present at the Cross”, and both the greeter and the hostess emphasized that we can be physically present in body, but not genuinely present in heart and mind.  I tried to leave behind the workday, but wrestled with the pull to observe & critique, instead of walk alongside & experience.  The a cappella music differentiated this year’s Experience from MCC’s previous events – it helped me focus because I enjoy that style.  As in years past: the dimly lit New Life Center; Communion celebrated w/ unleavened bread dipped in one cup; the re-creation of the Garden of Gethsemane; the stark B&W drawings of Jesus at the traditional stations of the cross; ending w/ low-key worship choruses to slides of the crucifixion – altogether a moving evening.

My family lingered afterwards to visit w/ friends, and then helped w/ tearing down the set & props from the Good Friday experience to get the New Life Center ready for others who will complete the prep (chair setup @ 9a Saturday AM for anyone wanting to help!) for 6 weekend services later Saturday and Sunday.  The contrast between the somber, reflective mood of the Good Friday Experience and the joyful serving together afterward reminded me of this video:

Invitation to work and to walk

Posted in better disciples at 8:40 AM by alexlozada

Good Friday – Easter weekend pulls Christian servant-leaders in at least two directions – balancing the need to work so that others may worship AND the need to walk, meaningfully and personally, to the Cross and the Empty Tomb.

For the people we shepherd, worship this weekend is one of the most uplifting joys of the year.  For the people-Jesus-misses-the-most, this might be one of the only times they are open to spiritual influence during the year.  This means event prep is so important:

BUT if this weekend is only about necessary ministry tasks, we may struggle like Martha in Luke 10, so caught up in preparations we miss the Messiah.  My teammate Rob Kastens this Ruth Haley Barton article to help our staff and elders walk, as well as work, this weekend.

April 5, 2009

Beyond Me Apr 5 resources UPDATED

Posted in Beyond, culture, MCC resources at 3:05 PM by alexlozada

I finished the message-based study guide late so the online draft is available here, and the MCC website version posted some time next week. Message notes here.

I don’t know the small group discipleship use for this, but here’s an extended length version of the video from today’s message 🙂

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Ben C – American Idol spoof“, posted with vodpod

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