Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Meeting Needs/People Where They Are

I saw this one just the other day, and it got me thinking about how I want to be sure that we are reaching the people of the Ojai Valley where they are, and helping them with their needs.

This was particularly striking, as I think about chasing after some things, but not others when dealing with what ministries we want to support, and which we really just disagree with. 

Following my post the other day about being open to hearing what God may want, even if it isn't within my frame of "normalcy" for how I understand God, I had to stand back and consider what might happen if the church were to embrace this kind of ministry to the hurting people of the world. Is it offering hope, or furthering despair?

The story is about a woman who organized a "Divorce Fair" to help folks gather resources for their pending divorce, or current divorce, similar to a "Wedding Expo". Check out what she did, how she framed the problem, and consider what your church might have done in response.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Position Papers

Dr. Riley Case is a very helpful and insightful leader in the church.

He and I often are at crossroads in our thoughts, and derive different positions based on the conculsions others have drawn.

I found this piece, via Brett Royal, to be of interest.

It says that churches without strong purpose and vision tend to decline rapidly. Dr. Case argues that it is due to loose moral obligation and sub-standard "inclusiveness".

I want to posit that taking a stand in the face of overwhelming opposition, and standing for something "right" is really at the core. It is when churches tend to stay out of it, bicker and fight, and choose not to take a stand for fear of offending that it begins to weaken and fail.

So, I wonder what would happen if there were churches that took a stand for what was "wrong" in American society, but that showed open and clear "love of neighbor", even, and especially, when that neighbor is Homosexual, Homeless, High on Drugs, Hated, Abusive, or otherwise difficult for us to wrap our head around the "right" that God sees in them without imposing our overwhelming sense of "right" upon them.

I apologize for not being as eloquent in presenting my arguments as Dr. Case, but I see a different view, and hope I challenge you to think about standing up for a cause that doesn't necessarily fit with your worldview, but might in God's.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sermon Notes March 22, 2009

Using the text from Numbers 21:4-9 we looked at stumbling blocks to Vision, and what this model teaches us about facing those stumbling blocks.

I look at this through the lens of having a Vision before the community. God's Vision for the Israelites was to get them out of Egypt into the promised land. 

Our goal at Ojai UMC is to leave the declining church behind, and enter into God's promised Kingdom. Our Egypt is rather loosely defined, and as yet the promised land is without words to define the final Vision. Seems a little more work is in order next week.

When the people left Egypt they thought they would get a chance to run right into the promised land, safe from Pharaoh. Instead, they went wandering in the desert. They ate quail and manna that God provideed, but after a time they began to grumble about that. Gamey, they said. Dry and pastey they said. 

You know Moses had had enough of them, and he didn't know what to do. They even got angry with him, and gossipped and poormouthed Moses. "Why can't he figure out where we are going?";  "Does he even have a license to lead?"; "Someone said he talks to God, are they certain?"

I find it interesting that the way the scriptures read, God sent snakes into their midst. Okay, blame it on God. But what I found more interesting was that God didn't order the snakes to bite the people of Israel. I think the snakes came up with that idea on their own, using their freewill.

This was right after Moses had tried to get through Edom, and been refused by the king. So they now had to go around Edom, the long way, to get to the promised land. No wonder the people were cranky and upset. We are going to have to do some of the long-way-around work too in effecting our future Vision. I am sure many of you know the old adage that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line; and its corrollary - the longest distance between two points is a committee.

The challenge came as the people came once again to Moses to do something about the snakes. Moses saw that this was not going to work if he had to deal with all the little snake bites and scares in the Israelite community of almost 400,000. He needed to get them to do the work directly. 

Just so you know, as we move forward with the Vision, we are going to work on connecting people directly with the mission areas they are to serve, and the people that they relate to in order to convey the message of the Gospel.

The real lesson in our text this morning is that Moses made the people deal directly with their problems. As a church, we are going to have to face our sins individually, raising complaints against one another directly. If we have a corporate problem, we are not going to be able to run from them, as we might have before, but instead we will have to face the challenge head on.

I tell these stories as a precursor to naming a Vision because I want you to know that stumbling blocks will occur on the road to achievement. That God is greater, and that the best way through is to confront those issues head on, and work through them to keep moving.


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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Assessment of the Local Church

When I came to Ojai UMC, I was given a task of completing the Vision. This was in essence an effort to determine an assessment of the local congregation. I was relieved and enlivened to see that this is a moderate change from previous Discipline language. It is far beyond time for all churches to see that we all need assessment and reVisioning, even when we are on the upward climb, starting to slide, or on a plateau.

Here is the language to see what THE UMC thinks about Local Church Assessment, as outlined in the United Methodist Book of Discipline

CALMS Discipline Changes
Created on 8/19/2008 1:07 PM by mcunningham
Page 217 of 1477
New Paragraph Number: 213
Original Paragraph Number: 213
Version: 1
Calendar Item: 274
¶ 213. A Process for Assessment of Local Church Potential- Since every congregation is
located in a community in some type of transition, every local church is encouraged to study
their congregation’s potential. Upon the request of the congregation the district
superintendent shall appoint a study task force to assist in an extensive study of the past,
present, and potential ministry of that local church. Alternatively, the district superintendent
may appoint such a task force when the future viability of the congregation is in question or
whenever he/she deems it necessary for other reasons. The task force shall be composed of
an equal number of lay and clergypersons and shall include persons from that congregation.
1. This study shall include, but not be limited to: a) unique missional opportunities and
needs of the community; b) present ministries of the congregation; c) number of leaders and
style of leadership; d) growth potential of the surrounding community; e) fiscal and facilities
needs; f) distance from other United Methodist churches; g) number and size of churches of
other denominations in the community; h) other items that may impact the church’s ability
to fulfill the mission of the Church as stated in Chapter One, Section I.
2. The findings shall be published and presented to the congregation with
recommendations as to how best to fulfill the local church’s call to ministry and to optimize
the stewardship of the ministry resources available. The recommendations shall explore
options for serving the community with nurture, outreach, and witness ministries as an
organized church (¶¶ 201-204) or cooperative parish ministries (¶ 206) or ecumenical shared
ministries (¶ 207); or give special attention to redevelopment, relocation, or discontinuance.
Those invited to the presentation shall include: the members of the congregation, the
Comment [MCD174]: #274
Deleted: In static, declining, or
changing population areas, local
churches may take the opportunity to
Deleted: do
Deleted: 1521
Deleted: 1521
CALMS Discipline Changes
Created on 8/19/2008 1:07 PM by mcunningham
Page 218 of 1477
pastor(s), the district superintendent, and members of the district board of church location
and building (¶ 2518).
3. a)The members of the local church shall consider the recommendations and develop
goals and a ministry action plan in response to the recommendations. The district
superintendent shall report the results of the study and the congregation’s response to the
cabinet, with recommendations for the allocation of conference staff, resourcing, financial
support, or other resources needed to undergird the congregation’s efforts to reach its
recommended potential. Such annual conference support shall be committed no longer than
three years. b) In urban churches where the reported average worship attendance for the
previous two conference years is below 25 or is unknown, the District Superintendent may
convene a special session of the conference to take action concerning the ministry
recommendations. In addition to the local church charge conference membership, the
members of the District Board of Church Location and Building will be present with voice

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Ojai UMC

Hey Friends,

I wanted to let you know that the Ojai UMC webpage has undergone a significant transformation over the past few months and is now live. We have a number of photos that have been added along with a great assortment of pages that tell of our ministries, including a helpful calendar page. I am excited to share about Noah's Ark Preschool on our page, and look forward to the days ahead when their own website goes live.



Thursday, March 26, 2009

If you are reading this...

And you are over 65, you are WAYYYY ahead of the curve.

And you are 18-24, with this as part of one of your networks, you are on the curve.

For more read this from Pew Internet

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Monday, March 23, 2009

Head hunters

I had an interesting conversation the other day. I spoke with a Board of Ordained Ministry person who was not pleased with the state of the pastors in the church. It got me thinking...

What if the church started to employ headhunters to seek out dynamic leaders to be pastors? What if we placed the external call on folks before they heard the internal call? What if we challenged youth to lead us now? What if we took off many of the constraints of "doing it the right way" for "being faithful to God's call in the individual's life"? 

Would we be mired in the same arguments we have been mired in for more than 20 years? Would we be able to hear God's call in the midst of those who may not have "heard the call" yet? Would we find many people mid-way through their ministry like Wesley, with his heart "strangely warmed" knowing that in that moment his salvation was sure, unlike it had ever been before?

Just a question or two...

P.S. I got an interesting comment or two on this when I twittered it. 
1) Look to Scripture:

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Clergy Debt

A few years ago I started working on a project to bring to light the problems with our current clergy salary system here in Cal-Pac. I came from the North Alabama Conference, as a Candidate who transferred in, had to restart the process of Candidacy and keep going. Fortunately the change in Candidacy did not affect much of my financial goings-on.

But, I read with concern and alarm the post from Will Willimon, the Bishop of the North Alabama Conference as he posted on their salary and indebtedness concerns. Particularly, I am concerned because I know that North Alabama is one of the Conferences with the best record of helping to defray the cost of Seminary, and student indebtedness, along with a substantial increase in salary from what our Conference offers on the base salary level, to be able to repay that debt following graduation from Seminary.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sermon Notes 3/15/09

From the text 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

The text reminds us of the foolishness we need to have as Christians in a viable and active church.

The proclamation of the Gospel was foolishness to Greeks and to Jews. The idea of a Crucified God made no sense to either. 
-To the Jews, it was that God had been cursed. If God were actually God then God could not be cursed.
-To the Greeks, it was foolishness that God could or would die. If Jesus had truly been God, then he could have pulled himself from the situation and not been crucified. To have died meant that this was not actually God.

Our message of the Gospel today is also foolishness, especially as we seek to live out a Vision here at Ojai UMC.
-First of all we proclaim Christ crucified, not because of what I can gain, but because of what someone else can gain, and what I have lost. I have lost my slavery to sin and death. Someone else can gain life and that abundantly. They can gain hope. They can gain eternal life.
-Secondly, our message is foolish because of who they are and how we claim them for Christ.

THEY are young people ages 18-35 in the Ojai Valley who have no church. (after all we are not in this to be stealing sheep).
THEY are older people 60+ who cannot get to church.

(I then asked if they agreed that these were two unreached, unchurched populations in the Ojai Valley, and if they were willing to reach out to them in action)

It is foolishness for us to reach these people for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because to the world, we look like fools when we are choosing to reach young people 18-35. They claim people the age of this congregation, in this worship style, do not have anything to offer to young people in that demographic. We will find the ways to reach them, and we will use the gifts God has given us to do so. (I then asked if they agreed, and would act accordingly)

It is foolishness to reach those who cannot come to church, because the world tells us that IT IS ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS. If people are not coming to church, then we don't have the numbers to reflect that we are reaching them. We will be fools, and we will reach them.

We are also going to care for one another. (Are we agreed that we need to care for one another along the way too?)

We are going to be implementing an outreach that heads us in each of these directions.
-First we are going to make cluster groups of about 4-5 active members of the church. We are going to ask you to call on each other - by phone, email, snail mail, personal visit, or some other method I have not named - every two weeks. (Can you do that?Will you commit to doing that?)
-Second, we are going to ask you to bring in names of people you know who are not coming to church, in either of the focus areas we have named - 18-35 year olds, and 60+. We are going to assign those throughout the membership no more that 2-3 per person. (Do you think you could call on 2-3 other people every two weeks?)
That gives us no more than 6-7 people to reach out to every two weeks, and begin to be in ministry.

This is not door-to-door evangelism. We aren't going to hand them and pamphlet telling them about our programs. We are going to build relationships. When Jesus taught the Great Commandment, he said "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus did not say, "Invite your neighbor to the next program we have, or tell them about the great music we share". It begins with relationship. 

Our Vision will have to encompass these areas:
1) Reaching Young People 18-35
2) Reaching Older People 60+
3) Caring for one another

If we do not do those things, we are not being true to who we are. We are not being true to who God is calling us to be. As we frame the Vision in the next few weeks, the ways in which we can do this effectively with the gifts we have, and the needs of the community will come together very clearly.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Raising Micah

I wanted to share with you a great opportunity for area churches to be looking at their family ministries. I am hoping to partner Ojai UMC and Raising Micah for just such as they have named as their mission.

Raising Micah www.raisingmicah.org

Raising Micah is a family ministry open to families of all shapes and sizes who are raising children from ages 0 to 18.  The mission of Raising Micah is to excite, equip, and empower families, churches, and communities to raise children who will do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.


You are invited to come learn more about Raising Micah and how they might be able to help your church in its family, children, and youth ministries.  Raising Micah is sponsoring a “Spring Planting” event on Sunday, March 29th, from 3:00 to 5:00 PM in Pedersen Hall of Ascension Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks, CA.  At this event, there will be great locally grown fruits and vegetables, fair-trade coffee and tea, and the giving away of several garden-goodies.  Children and youth will have an opportunity to plant flowers while adults learn about the vision of Raising Micah and how to be a part of it!  Everyone will also receive a copy of a new magazine called Conspire.  Conspire is organized by a group called “The Simple Way” in Philadelphia.  Raising Micah was invited to be a part of this new quarterly publication that is dedicated to helping communities across the country live in a deeper relationship with Jesus and our neighbors.  To RSVP for the event, email raisingmicah@mac.com or call (805) 300-3456.

Rev. Chamie Delkeskamp
Raising Micah

(805) 300-3456


Thursday, March 19, 2009


I have really been enjoying Jason Womack on twitter, along with several other folks in the Ojai Area, and beyond

One of the great things that Jason offered is something I want to put in motion as we move forward with a Vision at Ojai UMC. We want to filter things through the Vision, and ideas are just that. We have some things we are going to need to do to solve the problems we are facing. Jason helps set us on track for that. 
IDEA: Take 12 and 1/2 minutes (yeah, set a timer!) and generate as many ideas as you can as possible solutions to a situation your facing.
From these ideas we can filter them through the Vision and take what we need to move forward with action to achieve the Vision with some practical solutions (and maybe some impractical ones too)


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Youth Culture"

Reading through blog posts yesterday the question I found began fairly benignly...

"What percentage of your youth grow in mature adult Christians?"

The answer I found was even more astounding...(courtesy of this blog)

The fact that there is a "their" culture is largely "our" doing. Who worships youth? Adults. Who makes the shows, the songs, the technology, etc. forming/facilitating "their" culture? Adults. Who made even 'big' church into something that 'entertains then entertains some more?' Adults. Who made following Jesus into something you can supposedly do while remaining loyal to consumerism? Adults. Youth groups are just amped up versions of big church, trying to 'reach' a more media sophisticated, less religious, more energetic group.

Our adult lives say that Jesus and mission are a side dish on the buffet of life. I don't think youth ministries (or Western churches) have much hope outside of articulating a serious and compelling call to discipleship that involves naming and letting go of our various attachments and practice in the harder ways of Jesus, and pursuing that in very small, committed groups.

It is from this perspective that I think we have to look closely at what kind of church we are hoping to develop. We keep hyping the "youth culture", and I do appreciate and want to participate in songs that are lively, preaching that is "hip" and passionate, and ministry that takes an effect.

I disdain the model of church that separates out the classes and the ages. I want us to be a whole church, defined by our passion for the ministry and life of Jesus Christ. I realize that doing so means working within the existing constraints to try and push at the constraints where they are weak and need repair, removal or replacement. 

Now to get cracking on making the church the whole church.

ht: Erika


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nursery Attendant

The Ojai United Methodist Church has an immediate opening for a Sunday Morning Nursery Attendant for infants and children to 8 years, who will be actively involved with play and storytelling with older children.  Must be at least 21 years of age. Current CPR and basic First Aid Certification preferred.  Please send resume to ojaiumc@gmail.com, fax 805-646-8222, or deliver to church office at 120 Church Road, Ojai, CA 93023


Monday, March 16, 2009

Ministry of the Laity

I noticed a few things while reading through the United Methodist Book of Discipline recently.

I tend to read through the changes in the Discipline with the Red Letter Edition, after going through the Discipline with a quick scan of the entire hard copy. We added a new Paragraph to the Ministry of All Christians. We added a segment laying out the explicit need for the Laity to have ministry.

I am excited about this and I am capitalizing on the change in language with the Visioning process for Ojai UMC. Tomorrow I intend to post on the sermon notes from Sunday, with an eye to the commitment to ministry the people of Ojai UMC have made.

In the meantime, here is the language change.

CALMS Discipline Changes

New Paragraph Number: 126
Original Paragraph Number: 100.53
Version: 2
Calendar Item: 53
¶126. The Ministry of the Laity—The ministry of the laity flows from a commitment to
Christ's outreaching love. Lay members of The United Methodist Church are, by
history and calling, active advocates of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every layperson is
called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is
called to be missional. The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday
living as well as the sharing of their own faith experiences of the Gospel, is the
primary evangelistic ministry through which all people will come to know Christ and
The United Methodist Church will fulfill its mission.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Big Change

I have been seeing the seeds of Systemic Change necessary for Ojai UMC, and the Vision is just the tip of it.

I have been struggling with what that means, especially as some of the little changes that have been made or are being put forward now are met with more resistance than is really necessary.

Then I saw the follow-up post to Transforming Power from Bishop Willimon. I was able to gather sone strength and encouragement from it, and wanted to share part II with you as well.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Geek Breakfast Ojai

Are you into computers, photography, social media, web design, or tech-related networking?

Ojai is going to start a Geek Breakfast.
A Geek Breakfast is a monthly community-driven meeting for local (and visiting) technology-minded people. Each month attendees congregate over bacon, eggs and plenty of coffee to discuss topics like social media, digital marketing, design, programming, and ways to better their communities. 

March 18th
6:30AM-and we are out for sure by 8:30AM
Come for all or part
Eggs N' Things
1103 Maricopa Hwy
Ojai, CA 93023
in the Vons Shopping Center

Want to know more about Geek Breakfast, check out http://geekbreakfast.org/
or contact David Camphouse, david dot camphouse at gmail dot com

I look forward to meeting with you. Please share the news with any and all that are interested.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Computer Class

Designed for Beginners & Casual Users
Class Sizes are Limited—Sign up Early to Secure a Space
LOCATION: Ojai United Methodist Church
120 Church Road, Ojai
(off Highway 33 across from Nordhoff High School)
FEE: $75 per Course
REGISTER: Kathy Davis (at Ojai United Methodist Church)
(805) 646-3528 (Office open 9-1 or leave mssg)
INSTRUCTOR - Deborah Hardin
20 Years Computer/Software Training & Consulting
Corporate, Legal, Medical & Private Clients
College Instructor: Alpena College, MI (Computer Dept)

3 Hour Course
Tues, March 24, 2009 | 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
(arrive 15 min. early to set up)
Class Limited to @ 20

Unique introduction & brief history to Computers
to remove mystery, create comfort, be enjoyable
& make learning more possible
Explore the Computer environment—where to
find things
Customizing keyboard, screen & mouse to
develop a comfortable working relationship that
encourages you to use the computer.
Create a simple letter using WORD (word processing
software) to experience cursor movement,
deleting text & several editing functions. (Note:
this is not a class that aims to teach the WORD
program —we will cover only a few features to
introduce the concepts & produce a basic letter)
Explore efficient ways to name your documents,
organize files and how to search your computer
to find, edit and print them.

3 Hour Course
Sat, March 28, 2009 | 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
(arrive 15 min. early to set up)
Class Limited to @ 10

Brief overview & history of Internet & Browsers
How to find things on a web page
Searching on Internet—successful techniques
How to find what you are looking for
Purchasing Online—useful protocols
& ways to compare prices before buying
Overview of Financial Uses on the Internet
(Banking, Pay Bills, Getting Statements, Budgets)
Google Features you could be utilizing
Overview/Concepts of Social Networking with
Family & Friends (e.g. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter)
Overview/Concepts of sending your daily news or
blog content to one location from which to read
Tour of best sites for different areas of need or
interest & MORE . . .

• • • • •
For Fast Arriving “Paperless Only” Society
For Ability to Take Online College & Vocational Courses
For Job Skill Improvement
For Personal Enjoyment and To Connect with Family & Friends

COMPUTER Manufactured 2000 or Newer
Any Laptop/Notebook
Fully Charged (bring cord just in case)
If you have a separate Mouse & Pad—bring them
iMac or Dell “All in One”
Bring cord
Microsoft WORD

Wireless Card is functioning
“Browser” to access Internet is working
(e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari)

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Quote of the Day

Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.
  - Laurence J. Peter

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Churchianity "Why?" Part II

If the choir robes question was not enough on robes, here is one for the pastors:

Why do pastors wear robes? (and what are all the things they wear)

-As a sign of Office. This is a holdover from the days when the Levites got dressed up all nice a pretty-like to preside over the Temple sacrifices.

-This has persisted as it was a sign of education as well, since the clergy were often the most educated folks in the crowd, and they needed to display that.

-Simply a version of pomp and circumstance. People loved the idea of the clergy being dressed up for services.

These days the debate rages on about whether the Robe is Good or Bad. I suppose the same arguments could be made for Good or Bad regarding the use of clergy collars too.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sermon Notes Marc

Drawing from the text Romans 4:13-25 we encounter Abraham this week.

I was particularly struck by the fact that we find him here in the middle of our Lectionary at the time when we are exploring Visioning.

Abraham is a great example of seeing an over-arching Vision: "To be a great nation"

God then inserts little Visions along the way for Abram/Abraham to step out in faith, for which Paul says, "it was credited to him as righteousness".

-Abram had to step out in faith to leave Ur. Everything that was comfortable and known and "the way it had always been done before" was left behind.

-Abram had to step out in faith to go where God would leave, and even more so when Abram arrived in the place that God had showed him would be his country for all generations, only to be sent on further.

-Abram had to step out in faith to take his concubine to his bad and have a child. He tried to take his own will and impose it upon God. He then had to take a bigger step of faith when God confirmed that this was not the way God intended for Abram's nations to be made.

-Abraham had to step out in faith when Sarah was told in her 90s that she and he would have a child. This was unheard of.

-Abraham took another step of faith when he was asked to take Isaac to the mountain top and sacrifice him, knowing Abraham was almost 110 years old, and wouldn't be able have another child unless God provided. Still he trusted and was willing to accept God's covenant.

-Abraham took each of these steps along the way to achieve little Visions. This is the nature of a Vision, it is achievable. Sometimes the Vision changes as the situation changes, and the needs of the community change, as well as the gifts that we bring.

Ojai UMC has had a common Vision since the beginning. We are "To be God's Children, in the Beloved Community"

-Along the way we have had some little Visions.
1) To be a United Methodist Church in the Ojai Valley
2) To be a church that rebuilds, our church, community, and individuals
3) To be expanding the preschool.

They have been accepted by part or whole of the church, and effected by the force of those who have worked hard.

It is time for us to have a new Vision. This will mean that we will leave a lot of things behind, but we will still always be striving to achieve the ultimate Vision. "To be God's Children, in the Beloved Community."

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power. Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Quote of the Day

"There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender."

- J. Michael Straczynski

Saw this on a friend's Facebook page. It sums up what we are doing in the church, now in renewing our vision, and when the church itself is healthy and doing things right.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Quote of the Day

My favorite, quoted back to me this week.

This too shall pass

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Churchianity "Why"? Part 1

Question: Why do choirs wear robes?


I will first borrow from the faithful who have sung in choirs as to their responses.
Choirs wear robes to represent that we are a unified group.
To keep from being a distraction for the worshipers hearing the message of the anthem 
To keep people with hypothyroidism like me warm.
'cause their so purty (sic)

Then some of the understandings I have gained.
It provides a common clothing for the group, and makes it as though the group is one, as the choir should sound like a single unit.

-To provide "appropriate" dress for all.
Not everyone has nice clothes for church. In some cases it is to keep the choir from "competing" with their clothing. In other cases it is to keep everyone with the same "amount" of clothing...wouldn't want the men wearing the boxers and short shorts, or the women in the Jennifer Lopez green dresses now would we?

-To stand out from the congregation.
The choir wants to make a statement that they are different from the rest of the congregation, and have a different role to play in the service. A similar dress code makes that apparent.

And some actual historical answers.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Opening More Doors

I watched this video from UMCom.

I hope you will watch it too.

And check out the partner site.

At the end, I want you to consider what would happen if church held you more accountable. What if each week, rather than just an inspiring message about what you ought to go and do, it also had a moment in church where each one had to share with at least two other people what you had already done the week before for God, and Jesus Christ, and proclaiming the Gospel in the Holy Spirit.

Dave Warnock in the UK has a similar kind of vision for the Methodists.

Time to get moving, acting, and living the message, with words as well as actions.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Everyone Else

I seem to be on the short end of new ideas these days.

For that reason I am grateful that others are doing good reading, creating new ideas, and generally helping me keep sharing something on this blog.

This time the hat tip goes to Kim, at Sandpiper's Thoughts.

Her review of Dan Dick's latest book, Beyond Money, is helpful as I think about what has been happening with establishing our role in Discipleship, and establishing good stewardship.

This was the best excerpt of her review.

He says that discipleship is the process of learning to be a Christian (I'm paraphrasing). We sit at the feet of Christ, and learn how to live the life God would have us to live. Stewardship, on the other hand, is the next step. Once we have learned about Christianity, and how to follow God, we are called to use our gifts for the transformation of the world. It's the next step. 


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Geek Breakfast Ojai

Do you have a passion for things Geek?

Do you live in the Ojai area, or happen to be visiting?

Do you want to connect with others who have similar passions and interests, talk Geek, and have a bite to eat?

Geek Breakfast is for you.

Geek Breakfast Ojai
March 18th, 6:30-8:30AM
Come for all or part
Eggs N' Things
1103 Maricopa Hwy
Ojai, CA 93023
in the Vons Shopping Center

For more information contact:
David Camphouse
david dot camphouse @ gmail


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Paul Borden Via Bishop Willimon

Is this what I am doing? Intervention? Really? Ouch.

Now to see if we can effect the changes we know we need.

I hope I don't get taken to task too badly for quoting directly...

Lessons We Have Learned in Leading Transformation

Time and again, Paul Borden has been so helpful in North Alabama in offering his insights on pastoral leadership and congregational change. Recently, Paul and I contributed chapters to a book on leadership that is edited by Hugh Ballou (who served a church in North Alabama a few years ago). I offer some of Paul’s insights that I found to be challenging and helpful:

  1. Congregations that have been on a plateau or in decline for more than three years require intervention to produce any significant change. Without intervention these congregations will continue to be disobedient to God’s Great Commission for the Church
  2. Leadership is essential. The pastor must be a leader or have the ability to exercise leadership behavior. However, most pastors cannot lead such change alone. Pastors need help from the outside. A key and fundamental role for denomination personnel is to stand with leader pastors and risk the loss of congregational dollars and affirmation.
  3. Pastors and denominations that do not want to disrupt comfortable congregations must understand they are abdicating their responsibilities as Christian leaders to serve God well. Enabling and helping congregations to continually exercise sinful dysfunctional behavior means that such pastors and denominational leaders are practicing carnal co-dependent realtionships that work against God's mission for the Church.
  4. The ultimate issues in congregations that fight and resist change relates ultimately to people wanting to hold and control the power (to influence the congregations), money, and turf.
  5. Leading congregational transformation is much more difficult than starting new congregations. However, the investment is worth it when one sees expensive facilities sitting on valuable properties being used to achieve grand missions that produce changed lives and communities.

-- From Transforming Power – Stories from Transformational Leaders for Encouragement and Inspiration, Compiled and Edited by Hugh Ballou, Discipleship Resources, P.O. Box 340003, Nashville, TN 37203-0003

Will Willimon

Monday, March 02, 2009

I could post, but...

Sometimes someone else's words are better.

I will say that I have been grateful that I have not been met with "We haven't done it that way before" as a way to stall or stop new things, so far, at Ojai UMC.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Pastor's Corner March 2009

The Emerging Vision

The Visioning process of Ojai United Methodist Church is well underway. We have had a number of great meetings, and opportunities to share. Now comes the part where I get to share them back with you, and you with one another. From them, we will find a common Vision.

First: What is a Vision?
A vision is a desired future reality, a hoped for result, that captures the heart and mind in such a compelling way that people are willing to commit their resources of time, talent, and treasure to make it a reality.
As such, it is a "To be" statement.

We have claimed a number of Visions in our cluster gatherings.
"To be a ministry to the elderly"
"To be open to younger families"
"To be a church that serves."
"To be a church that disciples Christians"
"To be a church that acknowledges the other"
"To be in community with one another"
"To be a survival aid for today"
"To be welcoming and gathering of youth"
"To be a resource"
"To be Christian examples"
"To be encouraging & invitational"
"To be a church that takes the church to the world"
"To be a church who survives"
"To be inviting community"
"To be joyous"
"To be equipping our people for ministry to the Ojai Valley"
"To be healers"
"To be just, merciful, and walking with God"
"To be evolving in meeting needs."
"To be recognized and appreciated"
"To be filling others with meaning and happiness"
"To be a church that brings people closer to God"
"To be in fellowship"
"To be building respect for one another"
"To be a diverse faith experience"
"To be a challenge to improve on self"
"To be so welcoming as to experience the love we have for one another to stay"
"To be every member a minister"
"To be visiting the sick and in prison"
"To be caring ans supportive of each other"
"To be connecting God's people"
"To be providing safety and security"
"To be the beloved community"

Now I want to challenge you. These statements are great, but only a few of them actually ask us to stretch, and are something we are not already. This is key to a Vision statement. If we are going "To be", then it is something we are not already. Talk them through with one another. Find the ones that resonate with you. Share them with each other, and with me. Find the common ground, and begin to lift out the core of the thoughts to find that deep connection with who God wants us to be at Ojai United Methodist Church.

To try and help with some perspective Ojai UMC has had two other Visions I have recognized during their 50 years. The two Visions they had were lived, but because they were not articulated often and well they died out. My hope is that we will not let this new Vision die out. We will need to articulate it well, and often. We will need to filter all of our activities, and the needs of the community through it. And when the time comes that we have almost achieved it, we will need to create a new Vision.

And, for the record, the two Visions Ojai UMC has had during its lifetime:
(1957-1962: Start-up) To be a Methodist Church in Ojai.
(1971-1973: After the arson that destroyed the sanctuary, and during the pairing of Ojai UMC and HELP of Ojai) To be a church that rebuilds [which meant lives, communities, and our physical plant]

I want to recognize too the other Vision that a small cadre of people at Ojai UMC had as a Vision. It was implemented successfully, but was never taken up by the whole church, and therefore has left it still standing slightly off to the edge. That Vision was "To be expanding the Preschool" (circa 1988-1990)

I will be reflecting on these in the sermons in March. We will begin to lift a common Vision for Ojai UMC, and we will move to claim a Vision at the end of the month. From there we will begin the "boots on the ground". We will reflect our current church and community through the Vision. This will begin with our Mission Statement, To make Disciples of Jesus Christ in Faith, Fellowship, Tolerance, and Spiritual Growth”. Then we will look at the programs we already run, the finances we spend, and the needs of the community, to find those places of intersection - where our greatest gifts and the world's greatest needs come together with our Vision. That will dictate the programs we need to concentrate on, and the ways in which we can make the best impact on our community for Jesus Christ.