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Recently, folks across the region of the denomination that I will be ordained into in a couple of months were asked the question:  “What do you understand your parish’s  goals/priorities to be at this time?”

If you scan their responses (I’ve pasted them to the end of this post), you’ll notice that almost all of the answers are about 1) buildings 2) fiscal debt or 3) scarcity of people.

At a recent gathering of the same denomination, the numbers person reported on the numerical health of those same parishes.  I can summarize her report by two words: decline and deficit  (you can watch the report here starting at about the 4 hour 26 minute mark until 4: 32 if you don’t believe me).

On the surface, this is not good news. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m always on the search for interesting worship music.
Recently, I stumbled on some songs from Church of The Beloved, a Lutheran Church plant across the pond in Edmonds, Washington. Beloved is on my bucket list of nearby Churches to visit in the next couple years. (Beloved is also sister parish to Church of the Apostles – also on the list – and, at least from what I’ve heard, the two represent some of the more interesting younger church plants in the Anglican and Lutheran traditions – and both compose a lot of their own worship music – but I digress.)
One of the songs from Beloved that I downloaded to my iPod a while back is based on the words of Martin Luther and is called “Come Holy Ghost”.
 
One day, it randomly started to play while the kids and I were driving in the car.  The words, backed by a haunting tune went like this:

At a recent church meeting, a colleague noted that in Europe the Churches are empty, but the pilgrimage sites are filled to overflowing.

I’ve just come off of the West Coast Trail – 75km of God’s best hiking – an epic, remote, rugged coastline walk that runs from Bamfield to Port Renfrew on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The trip was a pilgrimage of sorts for me – in part to mark the start of my 40th year on this planet. Nine of us brave souls spent six days walking and building community together.

As I think back to my last week, there were many kinds of markers along the way.

Read the rest of this entry »

A response to Grant McKenzie

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Ina recent issue of Monday magazine (a weekly news and entertainment mag here in Victoria), editor Grant McKenzie decided to take a bit of a stab at organized religion.

Read the rest of this entry »

Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze have written a compelling book about what they call “Walk Outs Who Walk On”. Here is how they define these so-called “Walk Outs”:

Walk Outs are people who bravely choose to leave behind a world of unsolvable problems, scarce resources, limiting beliefs and destructive individualism. They walk on to the ideas, beliefs and practices that enable them to give birth to new systems that serve community. This is the story of an emerging movement of pioneering leaders and communities around the world who are self-organizing to create healthy and resilient communities.

Does that speak to and challenge the church today, or what?

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About 10 years ago, I was part of starting an experimental, hip, alternative worship service under the umbrella the then-budding emerging-church movement.  Relevance was our mantra.  “How can we make the church more relevant for ‘native post-moderns’”? we asked as we consumed designer beverages at our planning meetings.

Though the experience of starting that worship was a good one, I do have to confess that 10 years on I’m skeptical about the very notion of relevance. I’ve learned that a desire for relevance – especially in the church world – has too much to do with performance, about keeping up with (or mimicking)  the culture and ultimately about making worship a commodity to feed a client base.  It is too often a last-ditch attempt for congregations or denominations to fight with futility against their own imminent death, by simply injecting a little ‘relevance’ into their worship.  Heck, maybe the youth will even show up!

And that might even work – at least for a while.   Read the rest of this entry »

I waited patiently for the Lord. - Psalm 40

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