Friday, October 28, 2011

Crazy - Perhaps

Yesterday, as I was standing at the copier waiting for a few more copies to come off the press for a Finance meeting at the church I spied out the front door of the office a few youths with a video camera and a bike positioned at the top of the stairs from the street into the church parking lot.

I admit we have one of those signs that prohibits any kind of skating, biking, etc on church property. I also freely admit that we sometimes provide a safer environment to allow some stupidity than other areas of the city, and so I am a little more relaxed about all this.

So, as this young man was on his bike at the top of the stairs I noted that the rail along the side of the stairs was pretty tight on the concrete block wall. Even more dangerous is the fact that the railing is straight while the block wall is stair stepped down. That is to say, trying a rail ride on the pegs of the bike would invariably end up in a major calamity.

I quietly walked out to the boys, where the cameraman was sure to turn the camera on me to get the reaction I had to their coming stunt. I simply checked in with the boys to see what their plan was...simply to ride the stairs down, and I admitted my fear that they were going to try something truly stupid and railride the obviously problematic handrail/stepped block wall combination.

As I turned my back to walk back inside the young man on the bike made a tremendous jump and cleared the approximately 12 steps in a single jump. He did not ride the rail and he did not simply ride the stairs down.

No injuries, to him, or anyone else. I often wonder what the real insurance concerns are with this, how liability plays in, and whether I am doing anything of real worth with the young men and women who come to our church (or any church I have served) to find a safe and somewhat interesting landscape to try their tricks.

What is your position, understanding, etc?

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The Mission of the Church is to SERVE

I have been involved in a number of conversations of late about the structure of the United Methodist Church, especially as the local church relates to the Conference and General Church.

One of the primary concerns raised time and again is that the Local Church is the Basic Unit of Instruction for this to take place. The Discipline has this to say in ¶ 120. “The Mission—The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.”

The Mission Statement of St. Andrew UMC offers this understanding, “To serve God by sharing, teaching and living the Word”.

The United Methodist Church is currently working through a structural change as outlined in the Call to Action Report, which can be found online here:

The California-Pacific Annual Conference is also undergoing several changes to the structure, including the organization of committees, the number and size of Districts, as well as local Mission Areas.
With all the changes proposed to the District, Conference and General Church, a number of people around me are asking questions about what the actual purpose of a church is. This is especially heightened when finances are tight, as they are now, in local churches, right on up to the General Church. I have mentioned lately in my sermons that we need to consider this same question for St. Andrew UMC.

Ultimately, Jesus Christ gave us a fairly direct answer. Matthew 28:19-20 says this: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We, the church, local, and national need to get out of ourselves. We need to care more about the people who aren’t in the pews of ANY church, than we do about ourselves, and the survival of our institutions. The balance we strive for is to maintain enough institution to provide for the needs of others as a collective service agency, such as a preschool, a food pantry, disability closet, international missionary or other avenue of service, while also coordinating the efforts of the greatest resources available to any church or organization, the people who are there. We come to serve – our God and our neighbor.

David Camphouse

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Neighbors

What kind of relationship do you have with your neighbors?

Then think about what kind of relationship you have with the neighbors of your church or work.

I got to thinking about it a little more today. We had outside worship, at a strange hour, with lots of animals, dogs, cats, a bunny and a horned toad. You see today was World Communion Sunday, and for the life of St. Andrew UMC, we also celebrated the Feast of St. Francis with a Campout last night at the church, followed by a Blessing of the Animals during worship today.

We don't really know the names of our neighbors. We prayed for them all last year about this time as we walked the neighborhood. But we didn't meet them at the door to say hi. (There were a few chance encounters of folks out to check things). We have since hosted a wedding reception for our most immediate next door neighbor, but don't have much we have done to engage all of our over-the-fence neighbors, or even those within two blocks of the church.

Part of the communication plan for this coming year probably ought to involve something to engage those neighbors, so we can communicate with them, about special events, and how to manage those things (including perhaps the HS and College Football games held at the HS across the Street), as well as concerns and issues as some have noted in the past - like sprinkler (or lack thereof) issues, and trees that may be fall hazards.

Have you engaged your neighbors at work or church? Do you have a plan of action for this? What has worked, and been most effective in talking with these the most immediate of you neighbors?


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