Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quote of the Day

Lesson one never under estimate your own child if you are smart, they are ten times smarter than we are (Found on Facebook Comments)


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Third Spaces (an update)

Third Space is that space that is neither yours nor mine, but one where each of us comes in contact with the other, and each is allowed to feel at home.

Some of the most common Third Spaces we know surround familiar brands. Starbucks is a place for encounters of long friends, and long-lost friends, not to mention making casual encounters where the “decaf, vanilla, mocha, latte, grande” becomes a person named “James", who works at the jewelry store in the mall, which you always pass by, and never go in, pining for what you might be able to give to or receive from that special someone. The Third Space I came across most immediately in Santa Maria was my local Albertson's. I have had some great meetings there, impromptu and planned, because it is a hub for the activity of Orcutt.

Some of the increasingly popular Third Spaces are online communities. We have a few in the church name, with a Facebook Fan page ( )and a Twitter account ( ). Facebook and Twitter have evolved from such early adopters of online communities as MySpace, Friendster, and even Yahoo Groups, which are email chatboards. Use of these media allows the participation in a conversation, unlike a static webpage does.

The difference might be akin to the difference between a map, and having a GPS with the sound turned on. For each action you make, the media responds with its own action helping to update and change the way you interact and get about in reaching your intended goal. These interactions have become so important that the church, and Christian communities have also created some similar forums, like 7Villages (A United Methodist Online Forum), MyChurch and Xianz, which were created as “sanitized” versions of MySpace and Facebook. Yet the overwhelming reality of being “in the world, and not of it” has prevailed as pastors, and Christians of all varieties have turned to the larger community, and shared what God has done to help others in those communities meet Christ.

Santa Maria St. Andrew has a commitment to helping people meet Christ where they are, and reaching out to our larger communities, Orcutt, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County, California, the United States, and our world. As the spaces for social networking have changed, from the town square, to the local barbershop, to the Church, into the realm of Service Clubs (like Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and Elks) and back to “town-square” type of venues, like Starbucks and the local bar, developments in the internet have allowed Third Spaces to generate even around the world in a central location based on topics of common interest.

As we come together in these Third Spaces, my hope is that we will find ways to display our hope in Jesus Christ, being transformed by the work of God within us, and thereby bringing about real and meaningful change in the community. One of the great advantages to gathering in Third Spaces is that the needs of the people are bared clearly before us, as long as we choose to use these Third Spaces as places to interact, not only with one another, but with others who enter into such a space.

I am reminded that we go into Third Spaces with a goal in mind. Our goal is spelled out in our Mission and Vision statements, developed for Santa Maria St. Andrew UMC. They define how we intend to live as people of Christ in the world we live. Mission Statement of Santa Maria St. Andrew UMC, To serve God by sharing, teaching and living the Word”. Vision Statement of Santa Maria St. Andrew UMC, Build Disciples; Grow in Faith; Serve in Christ's Name”

I have been so struck by Third Spaces, that I am adding a little more background, and a testimonial of Third Space, for you to read and consider.

Facebook as the new “Third Place”?

Filed under:Church, Facebook, Mission, Web/Tech posted by Ryan Bolger on February 12, 2010 @ 11:15 pm @

In his book The Great Good Place, written almost twenty years ago, Ray Oldenburg wrote about the great “third place” in our lives — not home, not work, but a third place where we relax and socialize with others– barbershops, coffee houses, parks, etc. A place to have civil discourse with others in our locale — talking and shooting the breeze both with those who think like us but also with those who do not share our perspective on all things. Oldenburg laments that these third places are diminishing in popularity.

At the same time, some have suggested that maybe we should not call for coffee shops to return but perhaps it is churches who ought to re-create this third space – that besides work and home the person ought to be deeply connected to a faith community. The characteristics of the third place: a source of renewal, banter, serious discussion, all happening within walking distance from the home, ought to characterize the church — not just the secular third place.

No doubt, we must agree with Oldenburg — our participation has diminished in third places. Where are we spending our time? We are not just bowling alone, as some would say. Many are finding a sense of community online. They are spending their free time catching up with their friends and acquaintances on social networking sites, and increasingly that is Facebook. Has Facebook become this third place? Quite possibly, with some major tweaks. Although it is a place of deep connection and identity formation, it is definitely a different kind of space than the barbership or the physical church building.

As danah boyd (intentionally lowercase) has said, “networked publics” differ from physical communities in at least four ways: persistence, searchability, replicability, and invisible audiences. Persistence – people have access to you 24/7. Searchability — people can find you and what you are up to. Replicability – what you write/say/photograph/video can be copied again and again. Invisible Audiences — you have no sense of who is staring at you – who is reading your wall – is it your friend, boss, or grandma?

Clearly, these four aspects of online social networking offer a different understanding of community than Oldenburg — they limit some aspects and augment others. Could it be that we are seeing not a poorer sense of community, just a different kind of community emerging?

Just as some envisioned the church as Oldenburg’s type of community offline, what about envisioning what the church can be through boyd’s categories? Clearly, to dream of Oldenburg’s community in an online environment is nostalgic and misses the mark. How about dreaming about what God might be doing in these four new aspects of ‘networked publics’: cultures of persistence, searchability, replicability, and invisible audiences?

To compare online community to offline community has limited benefit. Online community will always be significantly different than its offline counterparts. But might we see God’s goodness there, might we see practices of forgiveness, service, love of of the other? Of course, redemption is possible in any culture. Better than holding up online community to an arbitrary standard, perhaps we need to spend some time re-imagining what the reign of God might look like in these new virtual cultures.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Off-site "Office" hours

I have for a long time, wanted to have "office hours." But since I work from home, my office is just another bedroom in my flat and it is not practical nor comfortable for people to "drop in" to see me. Or not as comfortable as it is when a pastor has an office separate from their home.

In the International Church, our bible studies, prayer groups and fellowship opportunities happen in our members' homes and many of our events happen in the west of Hamburg, which is about 45 minutes from the city center. But many of our people live in the North of Hamburg and the 1 1/2 hour-drive or the convoluted public transportation route discourages those people from participating in our various groups and activities. SO I decided to begin "office" hours in the north of Hamburg at a local Starbucks in a new mall. The meeting area is large and open and nobody keeps track of how long you sit in their chairs and how many drinks you order...

So, after my first "office" hours I made the following observations:

· In Germany, Starbucks doesn't open until 9:00... how much business happens in the US Starbucks' before 9:00... probably most of it!

· I got to the mall pretty early and as I set up at one of the tables and waited for the Starbucks to open, I watched the cleaners at the various stores. It was fun to see them “line the field”, getting ready for the day.

· "Oh" I thought, "They opened a new Apple store downstairs."

· Like many coffee shops, I like to witness the mix of regulars and transient visitors

· I sat and worked for about two hours, people watching and working on my sermon, expecting to run into someone I knew... When one of my people showed up I was surprised. "Hey, someone came to visit me!" It was a good feeling.

In this manner, I will continue to meet with people in my off-site "office."

Posted by Krista S. Givens at

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Youth Group Program

Valentine's Youth Group
February 14, 2010

Welcome: Welcome the youth to this time of celebrating Valentine's Day with the church family built around love.

Scripture: 1 John 4:7-10, 19-21
God's Love and Ours
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son[b] into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[c] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Theme: We love because he first loved us. And we follow the Great Commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself"


Heart Ring Toss: Supplies: the heart shaped bracelets, and a wooden kitchen spoon. Have the youth split into pairs. Pick one to be the thrower and one to be the catcher. Game explanation, "Sometimes it feels like someone flings our hearts around. In those times we need someone else to look out for us, and help catch our heart and give it back. In daily life, we have Jesus who does this for us. We also, as we care for one another, have the chance to do that for our friends, and neighbors. This game will be an active reminder of how we are given to care for one another in love." Game play: Have pair face one another at about 8 feet apart. Give the thrower 5 heart bracelets, and the catcher the wooden spoon. The goal is to try and catch as many of the thrown bracelets on the wooden spoon. You might offer a prize to the team that catches the most bracelets.

Heart Drop: Supplies: A chair, a bag of chocolate hearts, and a #2 can. Game Explanation, "During the course of life there are many ups and downs in caring for one another. There are times when our heart just drops out. (You might tell of a time when your heart just sank - when you encountered a homeless person, when your child was sick, etc) We hope in Christ, and have the vessel of faith to catch our heart when we fall. This game is an active reminder of what happens when we hope in Christ." Game Play: have each student stand on the chair, facing over the back of the chair, with the #2 can placed at the bottom, and each student holding 5-10 candy hearts. The goal is to get as many of the hearts in the can as possible, while standing fully upright, sticking the arm out and dropping the candy into the tin. Leave all candy in place, as the students play. Keep track of how many each student gets in the can. Offer a prize of candy to the winning student. Game Lesson: After all students have dropped their candy from height, there will be a mess of candy around the can. Remind them that we talked about how if our hope is in Christ, we will always have our candy secured by God. Tell the students, "Christ acts like this (pick up all the candy that has fallen outside of the tin and place it all back in the tin). Christ even helps pick up the pieces when we miss the target of faith, and hope"

Orange Pass: Supplies: Oranges. Divide the group into teams of 5-10. Have them line up shoulder to shoulder. Hand the orange to the person in the front. Game Play: The goal of the game is to pass the Orange from the front of the line to back of the line. No hands may be used, and the orange is to be passed from person to person trapping it between chin and upper chest. Consider a prize for the winners.

Candy Care: Save this game for when the students pass out the Valentines. Provide a bunch of the SweetHearts Canddies with all the little sayings for Valentine's Day. Have the students pick one for each other student and give it to the other students when Valentines are passed out.

Writing Valentines: Supplies: Pens, Valentines (or supplies to make Valentines). Have the youth make Valentines for each student present at youth group that day. Set them aside once done until the time for passing the Valentines

Dinner Prayer:
Offer a prayer for dinner, and for the love that has gone into the preparation and care of the students this day.


Highs and Lows:
During dinner, have the students share around the circle, seated about the highs and lows of the week.

As a group ask the youth to tell a high and a low of the week. (My general plan with this is a maximum of three highs and lows, and that you must have at least as many highs as lows. Such that let’s say Jeanne has three things that were lows that she wants to share, she also needs to share three highs. A student can share more highs than lows.) Prayer.

Passing of Valentines:
Have the students pass out the Valentines they made earlier, and pass out the Valentines from the Leaders as well. Make sure the students also play the Candy Care Game, at the same time they are passing out the Valentines to the other students present.


Numbers 6:24-26 (New International Version)

24 " ' "The LORD bless you
and keep you;

25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;

26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace." '

New International Version (NIV)

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica


Monday, February 22, 2010

Youth Group Updates (part 1)

Back in October/November we saw the need for a youth group at St. Andrew UMC, and began to revise and re-vision for a resurrection of the youth program.

In order to establish a baseline of activity, and interest, I invited anyone who was feeling called to work with our youth group to join me on a Sunday morning to work out some of my expectations for the coming months, and whether we had enough leadership to proceed.

At that time I laid out my desires for stages of involvement, the curriculum I intended to use, and we decided on a time to gather, with the plan to gather every week, until Christmas.

The basic outline I have for bringing people into leadership is this:
-Observe: Just watch
-Mingle: Get to know those who are present, and let them get to know you
-Integrate: Begin to participate in the activities and question/answer dialogue
-Lead: Take on a role where you are helping orchestrate the activity
-Train: Teach others to do what you have been doing (youth and adults)
-Recruit: Invite, welcome and integrate new persons into the group (youth and adults)

I know that each person has the right to opt out or stop progressing on this scale at any time, but my goal is to help each person grow into the next step.

In conversation with the adults last night I realized that I have a whole lot of adult and youth leaders who are at the level of "Integrate", and able to take the next step into "Lead", if I would lay out the expectations for them to step into that role.

So I am working on what my expectations, the adult expectations and the youth expectations of youth group are to better train and lead into the next stages of growth.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Scout Sunday Supplement

This from Kim, over at Misplaced Midwesterner

Words To Live By

Trustworthy: 75% of Scouts agree that Scouting has taught them to always be honest and to be a leader.

Loyal: 88% of Scouts are proud to live in the USA and 83% say spending time with family is important to them.

Helpful: 8 out of 10 Scouts surveyed believe that helping others should become before their own self-interest.

Friendly: 80% of Scouts say that Scouting has taught them to treat others with respect and 78% to get along with others.

Courteous: Almost 9 of 10 Scouts (87%) believe older people should be treated with respect

Kind: 78% of Scouts say that Scouting has taught them to care for other people.

Obedient: Boys in Scouting five years or more are more likely to reject peer pressure to hang out with young delinquents.

Cheerful: 78% of Scouts are happy with their schools and their neighborhoods.

Thrifty: 82% of Scouts say that saving money for the future is a priority.

Brave: 80% of Scouts say that Scouting has increased their confidence and 51% rate their self-confidence as excellent.

Clean: 79% of Scouts say that Scouting has taught them to have more respect for the environment and their physical fitness.

Reverent: 83% of men who were Scouts for fire or more years say attending religious services as a family is very important.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

What if...?

Realizing I am only taking a soundbyte; maybe this means cutting church to 1x month. Get sign-ups for "being in the world, not of it" for the rest of the month.

From: @clarkfrailey
Sent: Feb 9, 2010 11:04a

"Our problem is we're teaching too much, which leads to people to 'think' they're getting it." -Rick Warren @ Radicalis #fb

On Twitter:

As part of the ongoing 10thousanddoors campaign I saw this from UMCOM

Change The World Event

What if... on one weekend all around the world, 11 million United Methodists came together to work in their local communities?

What if... we unite globally to fight a preventable, treatable disease that kills one child every 30 seconds?

Would You Help?
April 24-25, 2010. Build community locally. Fight malaria globally. Change the world.

As we Rethink Church...are we getting it? What does "getting it" really mean to the way we worship celebrate and live church.

As continued fodder for thought ponder this...

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