September 30, 2010

Americans Don’t Know Much About

Posted in better disciples at 11:44 PM by alexlozada

… religions, according to a recent survey by Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released Tue 28 Sep 2010. You can take an online version of the survey at yourself (its shorter than the one used in the actual survey administered earlier this year). I’m conflicted about posting my score, my answers were the same as what I would have given before I read the article 🙂 If you’re that interested, post a comment or send me an email 😉

The AP / Yahoo article noted that atheists & agnostics knew the most about other religions, while white evangelicals ranked second to Mormons in the scores of the 12 questions in the full survey specifically about Christianity. This and other surveys which make the similar point that Americans in general, and Bible-believing Christians in particular, don’t know much about the facts of Christianity.

Answering questions on a survey is NOT the same as following the living Jesus, but Christians are called to “know the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) MCC’s current & recent series “Are We There Yet” & “Reason to Believe” nudge our members to think & act, as well as feel. Small group leaders and other MCC volunteers should keep an eye out for upcoming announcement about a GrowingU equipping event Fri 15 Oct – Sat 16 Oct that will include tools to help people know more about the word of truth, and the Word who is Truth.

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September 26, 2010

“Avoid Potholes” 26 Sep message resources

Posted in MCC resources at 7:22 PM by alexlozada

Ben Cachiaras continued w/ the MCC series Are We There Yet with a message centered on Proverbs 27:12.  I had double duty today, taking notes on the message from backstage at the 808a service, then driving to Creswell Christian Church to preach an adaptation of the opening message for the Beyond series.

In my small group leader email about last week’s video teaching segment, I wrote that this week’s version would be a be posted earlier and be better quality – well one out of two isn’t bad. In order to get the video posted Sunday PM (unfortunately still not in time for adult small groups that meet simultaneous w/ Student Ministries FUEL or shortly after), I filmed at home at the end of a long Sunday. For those who won’t have access to the video during their small group time, my message notes include a brief summary (including the Bible verse citations) you can print out to supplement the study guide booklet.

September 25, 2010

Another online Bible resource

Posted in small groups, tech at 11:08 PM by alexlozada

I’m using YouVersion.com for MCC’s “Are We There Yet” messages series resources for small groups, and as tool with the sermon I’m preaching Sunday 26 Sep at Creswell Christian Church, a nearby sister congregation. My MCC teammate (and sometime fellow blogger) John Sarno had recommended it back in the spring when our men’s Wed AM small group was talking about Bibles for various phones. I was still clinging to my trusty Palm TX and its (free!) Bible+ and BibleReader (from Olive Tree Software some translations free, others paid). Besides being free (!), I could use those w/o an internet connection – handy in many situations.

My go-to online Bible resources were BibleGateway.com (my usual link for Bible references on my blog or FB) and BlueLetterBible.org (for background info like Greek / Hebrew, Bible dictionaries, public domain older commentaries, etc.) At a recent MCC brainstorming meeting on more effectively using tech in the life of our church, my teammate (and brother-in-law) Patrick Gerber recommended YouVersion again, having seen another church use its online-community / Web 2.0 features. I’m going to give it an extended try, and am curious if there will be enough interest from other MCC people to merit forming our own YouVersion group. As always, post in this blog comments or send me a FB message if you’re interested in an MCC group OR if you already have a YouVersion group for another church / specialty group.

September 20, 2010

“Stay in the Right Lane” Sep19 message resources

Posted in MCC resources at 4:27 PM by alexlozada

Ben Cachiaras started MCC’s Are We There Yet series with the message “Stay in the Right Lane” (audio available now, video soon to come). For this series, I took these my notes on the message, and included extra tips for follow-through discussion in a small group, or possibly private reflection if you’re not in a group. (But with so many opportunities to connect, there is no good reason to miss!)

For the first time, I also recorded my own teaching video as a supplement for groups that wanted more material than I could squeeze into a 500 word study guide 🙂 I uploaded the four-week combined version (minus graphics & nice layout) earlier. This week video is about as rough-draft as you can get, I hope to improve the quality of both video & content for next week!

September 18, 2010

clergy burn-out, congregation demands, culture negativity

Posted in better disciples, culture at 11:06 PM by alexlozada

The NY Times printed an op-ed by clergyman Jeffrey MacDonald “Congregations Gone Wild” which was a response to a recent study on increasing burnout among American clergy. At the MCC pastoral staff meeting I blogged about earlier, our senior Pastor Ben Cachiaras also observed that for a large chunk of America’s history, clergy had a respected standing in the community – “the home team” – but the last several decades have seen a culture shift. Pastors, and Christians in general, are viewed with increasing skepticism.

Speaking from experience, we who are in vocational ministry sometimes do have a tendency to “superhero” overwork. As Jeffrey MacDonald notes, some congregations do view ministers from a consumer mindset, “what can this church (and pastor) do for me?” I think another factor in clergy burn-out could be the discouragement that comes from being bombarded by so many negative cultural depictions of Christians ministers. Think about how often Christian pastors in movies, TV, and the news are comic buffoons, hypocrites, or close-minded bigots. While tragically there are real-life examples of all those behaviors in the ministry. How often do we see or hear about the majority of pastors who are genuine, compassionate servants?

We shouldn’t be surprised at our culture’s negativity. After all, Jesus told us the world would hate us because it hated him.

September 17, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Posted in better disciples at 11:36 PM by alexlozada

MCC starts a new “pre-alignment” message series, Are We There Yet? Partly influenced by Andy Stanley’s Principles of the Path (link to Harford local Christian retailer Christopher Matthews), more strongly influenced by Parkview Christian Church’s similarly named series, I’ll be trying some web-based features for this message series, including both Facebook-Twitter posts, and some simple web-based video 🙂

For small group leaders or members who don’t pick up a study guide at the Mountain Rd or John Carroll campuses this week, here’s an online version of study guides for all four weeks, without the nice formatting and graphics of the print edition, but able to fit on 4 printed pages (landscape, 2 columns).

September 16, 2010

Jesus is the only way “Reason to Believe” 12 Sep 2010

Posted in MCC resources at 11:37 PM by alexlozada

Ben Cachiaras reminded MCC “Jesus is the Only Way” as the conclusion to our Reason to Believe 4 week Sunday messages series. I took these notes while I was backstage at New Life Center (I hosted the service as a way to feature MCC’s adult small groups). Here’s video for Luke Erickson’s message from Labor Day weekend’s Sunday service, “Can We Trust the Bible?”

The backstage experience is very different than participating as part of the large group worshippers. On the surface level, it feels like “work” because I want communicate my (small) part as best I can. I’m often harder on myself than others are – the previous time I hosted in the NLC, I forgot to turn on my wireless mic before going out for announcements during the 9:49a service. People good-naturedly teased me about it for weeks 🙂

September 2, 2010

“How Do You Carry a Cross Professionally?”

Posted in personal at 2:08 PM by alexlozada

Ben Cachiaras shared a passage from John Piper’s Brothers, We Are Not Professionals at a meeting I attended yesterday. My first memory of the quote is from hearing it recited by one of my ministry mentors, David Roadcup, in a message on John the Baptist he preached during my long ago student days at Cincinnati Bible College (a/k/a Cincinnati Chr University). Somewhere in my messy office, I still have a cassette tape of his sermon – its the copy I had in my coat pocket the day I was ordained into Christian ministry at Staten Island Christian Church.