It’s hard to return to something you did regularly in the past. I thought of it in the context of blogging, but it struck me that it’s not unlike returning to church. Often, people will fall away from the church for a bit and then feel awkward going back. Then they don’t go back for a while and it gets more awkward.
The thing is, we’d love to have (the figurative) you back! It might be weird at first, but that passes after a bit. And we’re not judging you for being away, we’re just glad to see you again!
But I’m talking about blogging, really, and my return. Hope you’re glad to see me again and not judging my absence.
One of the things about blogging that seems to be true is that the more you read, the more you write. I suppose it’s true for other forms of writing too. I’m certainly finding it to be true myself.
One of the reasons I haven’t blogged much in the past two months is that I haven’t been reading many blogs in that time period. There are lots of reasons why, but I can certainly see the truth of the statement. Lately, I’ve been reading blogs again and find myself with more to say. Huh.
Here’s a snippit from an interesting post I read the other day, from Craig Groeschel:
When I meet people from our church, they often tell me more with their words than they realize.
They almost always say one of two things:
- “I go to your church.”
- “I love our church.”
People who respond the first way generally just attend the church. People who go the 2nd route tend to be the church.
The spiritual connection: Are we attending or being church?
WordPress recently upgraded their comment system so that we can have threaded comments. You can see an example of it in their announcement. I’ve turned it on for this blog, which should help for replying to comments. Enjoy!
I got an offer to write about incorporating new “tools’” in youth ministry. The working title they sent along to me is: Are you Afraid of the iPod?: Learning to Use New Tools. I’m not sure how many items I’ll be focusing on, but one of them will surely be blogs. Any ideas what else would be good to include?
Thought you might like to know about some new blogs from people associated with First Trinity:
Just finished catching up on (that means scanning titles and reading a few) on over 600 blog posts while I was away at Workcamp. Here are some of my favorite:
- Top Reasons for Church Attendance at Church Relevance
- The Bait and Switch by Seth Godin
- Fun Parenting Idea by Mark Batterson
- Fun Wallpapers (Includes 50 Each: Nature, Fish, Rocks, Waterfalls)
Also of note, is this first post in the latest addition to the First Trinity blogging club: Pastor Whited! Be sure to head over and drop him a comment about the new blog. I can’t wait to see what shares with us.
Information wants to be free. I know people want to make money on their information, but the Internet has really changed the old model. “Pay” information is still useful. For example, I’m more likely to trust Britannica over Wikipedia if my life depends on it, but the gap is narrowing between the two. For most things in my life, Wikipedia is just fine.
I also want information to be accessed how I choose. I’m told Steven Furtick has a great blog, so I subscribed the other day. But I only get about 4 lines of each post in my Reader, then I have to click through to his website to read the information. I quickly unsubscribed because I couldn’t get all the content how I wanted and I wasn’t willing to change my habits (and maybe that’s bad) to get the content.
This is why I like Digsby so much. It’s a good start at software that allows me to follow Facebook/Myspace the way I want to, not the way they make me. I can use Facebook Chat through Digsby, allowing me to communicate with people without having to keep Facebook open.
The sermon this weekend looks at making a lasting change in our lives. Part of that is setting good goals. Mark Batterson gives 10 tips for goal setting that serve as a good preface to the topic this weekend.
Tim Stevens of LeadingSmart.com posted a follow-up note from the recent Christmas Eve service at Granger Community Church. Their Advent/Christmas series was titled “Let It Be Christmas” and looked at some songs by the Beatles and what the Bible has to say on the topic. Their Christmas Eve service is online for viewing. Check Tim’s post for the details.
I watched it yesterday and found it to be quite entertaining. It’s not exactly a traditional Christmas Eve service, but I think I would have enjoyed it live.
I got this shirt from my good friends, Eric and Carlin, over at Life Resources. I love the shirt because it’s a great tool for teaching the 7th Commandment. While I couldn’t find it for last night’s class, I still enjoy the pic and thought I’d share it with you.
“You Shall Not Steal” is a huge commandment. Beyond the obvious stealing, we also talk about dishonest gain. Plagiarism is a growing concern in schools, especially as more and more papers become available online for people to read. Profiting on someone else’s work, whether in school or the real world, is forbidden in this commandment.
Also forbidden is file sharing. I use James 5:4 as the Bible verse for it. It reads:
Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
When you download music, movies, television shows or other copyrighted material, you are stealing from the people who made that material. I’ve heard lots of rationalizations for the behavior in my seven years of ministry. Some of the highlights:
- Everyone else is doing it!
- Why would they make CD Burners if we couldn’t burn music?
- Why do they put the music online if not for me to download?
- I wasn’t going to buy the CD anyway, so it’s not like they lost money on me!
- My friend and I split the cost of the CD and I got the copy. What’s wrong with that?
- They charge too much for CDs anyway!
My favorite by far, however, came up last night. Katie shared it with us during class. She had been told that sharing music online is like helping the poor. The ones that can afford the music buy it and share it online so the poorer people can download it for themselves. While very noble, it’s still wrong. It made me chuckle though.
Jaime hates the subject, but I love it because it meets students where they are, confronting a real world sin in their lives. The discussions I’ve had with youth around this issue (and the larger issue of sin in general) have been great for helping students in their walk with Christ.
If you’d like to hear the full-blown, knock-down drag-out version of the lesson, it’s available on our podcast. Or, for your convenience, you can listen below by clicking play (NOTE: If you are reading in a reader like Google or Bloglines, you’ll need to visit the blog to see the play button). Be warned, however, the lesson ran 55 minutes–30 minutes longer than usual, thanks to all the questions. I tried to amplify the student’s questions as best I could, but until we get a new sound system, the student portions are much harder to hear than me.
When I first started teaching Confirmation, my least favorite topic to teach was the Commandments. I accepted that they are important, but I didn’t think they ranked up there with Communion, Baptism, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. I’ve done a 180 on this in the last few years. Now, they are my favorite. The students interact with the Commandments in a real way as they are challenged to evaluate their current lifestyle in light of God’s Word.
And now we’re into the really good stuff. Last week was murder, including hating someone. Tonight we covered Adultery. The points, with links to the Scripture passages we use to talk about them:
- Sex is a gift from God
- Sex outside marriage is sin
- Divorce is sin (We also stress that there is forgiveness for divorce)
- Impure thoughts are sin (we also cover how we dress, especially as it relates to girls’ dress habits)
- Homosexuality is sin (And no different from lying, stealing, cheating or killing in God’s eyes. God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.)
The lustful thoughts and how we dress conversation is always interesting. Phil Morris, one of our small group leaders, is a great resource here as he shares his thoughts with the kids. He’s younger than me–and much cooler–so when he backs me up, the students really listen. Jaime passed along a great website that specializes in fashionable clothing and swimsuits that are more modest than the standard offerings at the mall. Check them out at DiviineModesTee.com and show your kids.
If you want to check out the full audio recording of the class, it’s available on our Podcast. Directions for subscribing in iTunes can be found on our website. There’s even a funny interruption around the 25 minute mark in the podcast. You can also download the current homework as well.
I’ve written about how much I love our youth in the past. I’ll probably write about it again in the future. It’s a real joy to work with them. I often hear from people about how they could never do my job. A number of them fear for their lives around youth. Some of them just don’t understand youth. Others think youth do stupid things and don’t care about anything spiritual. I guess it’s just an example of everyone having different gifts.
Well, I’m thankful (and I think many others are as well) that I enjoy working with youth. One of the highlights of my ministry is teaching Confirmation. Many people, including Lutheran Church Workers, hear that and think I’m crazy. And my favorite part about Confirmation is teaching the Commandments. For whatever reason, students connect to the Commandments in a way that really makes them think about how they are living their lives. I had rehearsed about 15 minutes worth of teaching, which is usually about 20 minutes long when we add in student readers and jokes I don’t make during the rehearsal. Last night at Cornerstone, we spent 45+ minutes on the teaching time because of all the questions that the students asked. As a teacher, it’s a real joy to have so many youth seeking to know the truth of the Scriptures!
You can listen to the whole teaching time online. Check out the Cornerstone Podcast for the audio from last night. You can even subscribe using iTunes or your favorite RSS Reader, just like you would do for this blog.
About six months ago, I purchased The Blogging Church from our local Christian bookstore. It looked interesting, so I had my friend Carlin order it for me. I promptly moved it to my car where it stayed until about a week ago. During a recent road trip to Cleveland, I noticed the book in the trunk while getting my school books out to study on the drive down and grabbed it to read between study sessions.
I made it through about 5 chapters on the way there and was intrigued by the concepts in the book. I came back and shared some of it with my teammate, Sue, and we’ve been chatting about it all week. She ended up ordering herself a copy and now we’re both reading it. It’s not only helpful for learning about blogs, but I discovered several great ideas for ministry from some of the excerpts that were quoted in the book.
I don’t consider myself an avid blogger (just check my Livejournal…), but it seemed like it would be worth trying again. I’m currently looking for a blog home and giving TypePad a trial since the author uses it and really likes it. We’ll see how it goes!