Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Online Church?

Last week I attended the Oregon/Idaho annual conference in Boise, Idaho.  I met Sophia Agtarap who is the daughter of Fred Agtarap who served as interim pastor of our Homer UMC this past year.  Sophia works for United Methodist Communications in a new position that resources churches interested in developing online faith communities. 

Some interesting questions arise over how we do church in a virtual internet arena.  How do we "count" people?  We United Methodists are obsessed with counting things!  How are the sacraments celebrated?  Are ordained elders needed to consecrate virtual bread and juice?  What is the nature of Christian community with people who may never meet in person?

I don't know the answers.  But I do know that our churches need to be thinking about ways to engage others via the internet.  So here's what I am going to do.  I plan to lead a book study of an amazing book I am reading now:  "Speaking Christian," by Marcus Borg.  I am aware that many young people are turned off by organized religion and they will not come to our church buildings even if the programs we offer peaks their interest.  So I will plan this study and advertise on Facebook.  I'll ask young people I know to share it with their Facebook friends.  I suspect there may be people from various parts of the country and perhaps the world.

I have this thought that if we Christians are willing to engage young people and their honest questions about God, that real spiritual growth will happen, and perhaps even Christian community.  So I encourage us all to think of ways we can use social media to create new places for new people for Christ.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Value of Spiritual Disciplines

I don't always keep up with my daily spiritual disciplines.  What I have learned over the years is that I seem to need variety.  I can't always do the same routine day after day.  This doesn't mean that I don't try to maintain a spiritual discipline routine.  But I can't keep it up for a long period of time before I need a change of some kind.

The problem is that during that change mode I am tempted to abandon or lessen my daily routine.  For the moment there is a freedom that comes with changing my rule of life.  But as with any void something will get sucked into that space...people, things, ideas.  And God gets squeezed out.

The reason why maintaining spiritual disciplines is a good thing is that they mystically place me in the best possible position to listen to the voice of God and receive the grace of God.  I think of the times when I am not centered and in a moment of distraction, temptation, or willfulness, I miss a beautiful God moment.

It is entirely possible that the God moment awaiting us tomorrow may be linked to our decision to place ourselves in a prayerful position today.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Family Joy

My heart is full of joy for two reasons today.  I am still feeling the afterglow of the Alaska annual conference.  Celebrations of our leaders, meaningful worship, capable episcopal leadership, sad farewells, truth telling, and the most raucous reading of appointments ever!  I do hope we as an annual conference will become more than the fun we experience together.  I'm talking about the hard work of holding a mirror to our congregations so we can face our current reality.  In doing so we need to not allow the anxiety of our people deter us from our mission of disciple making.

The other reason for my joy is the news that one hour ago at this writing on Monday, June 3, our grandson, Camden Robert Keller, was born to Rob and Lauren Keller in Idaho Falls.  8.5 lb and 20.5".