Friday, February 27, 2009

40 Days

Images are by Si Smith, an artist in the UK.

It's An Awesome Youth Moment. . .

. . .when a youth comes up to you. . .looking all nervous, like you might actually answer "no" to his question. . .and says, "_______ told me you did a Bible study with him. I was wondering if you would be willing to do that with me."

This Wednesday I had one of those moments. I had already been meeting with this teenager one on one, but not as a scheduled sort of thing. It was more random (although still intentional), meeting for a snack type stuff.

I can't wait to start the Bible study with him!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Church Projector Images, Again

Playing with shadows (again as per Nate's suggestion). I may have played a little too much with the shadows. I'll keep working at it.

More Church Projector Images

Another design I played with (same look with different looks). Notice the title is at an angle (as per Nathan's suggestion).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another Church Projector Image

Was playing around in Photoshop. I'm not totally sure I'll use this one. . .or I might do some more work on it. Got any ideas?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Being Judgemental

At a recent gathering of seminary professors, one teacher reported that at his school the most damaging charge one student can lodge against another is that the person is being "judgmental." He found this pattern very upsetting. "You can't get a good argument going in class anymore," he said. "As soon as somebody takes a stand on any important issue, someone else says that the person is being judgmental. And that's it. End of discussion. Everyone is intimidated!"

Many of the other professors nodded knowingly. There seemed to be a consensus that the fear of being judgmental has taken on epidemic proportions. Is the call for civility just another way of spreading this epidemic? If so, then I'm against civility. But I really don't think that this is what being civil is all about.

Christian civility does not commit us to a relativistic perspective. Being civil doesn't mean that we cannot criticize what goes on around us. Civility doesn't require us to approve of what other people believe and do. It is one thing to insist that other people have the right to express their basic convictions; it is another thing to say that they are right in doing so. Civility requires us to live by the first of these principles. But it does not commit us to the second formula. To say that all beliefs and values deserve to be treated as if they were on a par is to endorse relativism -- a perspective that is incompatible with Christian faith and practice. Christian civility does not mean refusing to make judgments about what is good and true. For one thing, it really isn't possible to be completely nonjudgmental. Even telling someone else that she is being judgmental is a rather judgmental thing to do!
- Richard J. Mouw, Uncommon Decency, pp. 20-21.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Church Projector Image (Re-Worked)

I'm touched up the brown border around the title. I still feel like it's not quite right, but I do think it's doable, so I'm going to go with it!

Church Projector Image

Pretty simple, but took a little while to make. I think I need to re-work the brown frame the title is in; it doesn't look quite right to me.

Monday, February 9, 2009

25 Signs of a Healthy Church (Part 3 of 3)

Sign #17 The church trusts, respects, and supports the pastor. Every healthy church recognizes that their pastor is called by God to lead their congregation. Though there is a legal employment status, he is not viewed as an employee. Even as he's evaluated, he is encouraged and enabled. Members respect both the person and the position, removing hindrances to his leadership.

Sign #18 The church has effective, ongoing communication. There is openness anytime it's appropriate. Vision, goals, ministry needs, and other aspects of church life are clearly and consistently shared with the congregation through a variety of means, public and private.

Sign #19 The church has a clear vision, priorities, and plan. These churches know where they're going and how to get there. They know that they can't afford to waste their resources or promote ministries that don't fulfill God's purpose for their church. The vision drives all that they do, helping them determine priorities and establish plans.

Sign #20 The church trains and empowers people for ministry according to their giftedness. There is a recognition that every Christian is gifted, just not in the same way. Healthy churches utilize people's gifts in appropriate areas of ministry and avoid "filling vacancies" with anyone they can find. These churches would rather have a vacant position than have the wrong person in it.

Sign #21 The church constantly develops leaders. Healthy churches recognize the crucial importance of leadership in all that they do, and plan for both attrition and future ministry needs. They constantly work to expand their leadership base and develop existing leaders for more effective service.

Sign #22 The church is outwardly focused. Effective churches resist the temptation to turn inward. They grow larger and stronger themselves by focusing on others.

Sign #23 The church finds or creates connecting points with the community. Healthy churches engage their communities. They keep their focus on ways to connect those who are outside the church with the message and ministry of the church.

Sign #24 Church members are intentionally evangelistic. The Great Commission compels healthy churches to reach the lost through various methods. These churches don't see evangelism as a program, but as a passion. They make opportunities to share the gospel with others they encounter.

Sign #25 The church is producing congregations. Healthy churches, like healthy people, plants, or animals, reproduce themselves. They look beyond themselves, and find joy in birthing new congregations. They plant the DNA of reproductions in congregations that will reproduce yet more congregations.

(Written by Marvin Owen, the church health strategist for the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention, Casper, Wyoming.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

25 Signs of a Healthy Church (Part 2 of 3)

Sign #9 The church practices accountability and maintains high expectations - for themselves and for others. In healthy congregations, members help one another mature as Christians. They never lower the requirements of membership or discipleship to appeal to the uncommitted or to draw larger crowds. Their growth may not be immediate, but it is certain. And it is both numerical and qualitative.

Sign #10 Don't try to do everything, but what they do they do well. They utilize a team approach, using the gifts of individuals. Healthy churches prioritize, and they intentionally neglect those things they should not do or that they cannot do well.

Sign #11 The church has focus and purpose. They're intentional and only do those things that move them toward the fulfillment of that vision. They understand and distinguish between the essential and the extraneous.

Sign #12 The church is proactive, not reactive. Healthy churches help create their future. They do not wait passively to see what will happen. They're constantly praying and assessing their present and their potential.

Sign #13 People feel accepted, encouraged, and included. An important characteristic of healthy churches is the way they include others. People who visit these churches find a genuine welcome and a compelling sense of community. As a result, they want to be a part of the church.

Sign #14 The church builds families (including singles). No church is stronger than the families and the individuals that make it up. Because of that, churches do well to help build their members into growing, vibrant, balanced, relational Christians. All are considered important. Regardless of the church's size, appropriate ministries are provided for every age group and life circumstance (singles, blended families, empty-nesters, etc.).

Sign #15 Conflict is handled positively and redemptively. Realistically, no church can expect to avoid conflict. It's a part of life. But there are differences in the way conflict is handled and the degree of impact it has. Unfortunately, in some churches it's like an Olympic competition - fierce and unyielding. Those churches that handle conflict well actually grow stronger and are better able to withstand whatever may come.

Sign #16 The church is forgiving, but not compromising on sin. These churches aren't judgmental, but always show genuine compassion and concern for people. However, they leave no doubt about God's high standards or their absolute commitment to living according to those standards.

(Written by Marvin Owen, the church health strategist for the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention, Casper, Wyoming.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Photo Shoot

Sarah and I decided to goof-off with the camera a bit. We're both experimenting and trying to get better with angles and lighting, but here's some of the ones I liked the most.

25 Signs of a Healthy Church (Part 1 of 3)

Sign #1 The church seeks to know and to follow God's will. They never lose sight of the fact that it's His people, His power, and His purpose and plan. They are committed not only to God's will, but God's way.

Sign #2 Christian growth is emphasized and facilitated. Healthy churches are intentional about helping their people realize God's potential in their lives. They accept the Great Commission - to make disciples - as their reason for existence.

Sign #3 Church members have an attitude of servanthood, not seeking control, power or status. These churches foster a climate where everyone is useful in God's work. They acknowledge Jesus as Lord of the church and know that whatever positions individuals hold are for His glory and the extension of His kingdom.

Sign #4 Church members are faithful in stewardship of time, talents, and treasures. Healthy churches foster a climate of giving, not a concern for getting. Members look for opportunities to help with all that God has entrusted to them.

Sign #5 The church is a place of vibrant, engaging worship. The styles may vary greatly, but their worship touches the heart, engaging and involving people. Those who attend worship in these churches do not doubt that they've been in the presence of God.

Sign #6 Members model purity and integrity and do not ignore sin in the body. They deal redemptively with people, realizing that we're all imperfect. But healthy churches also hold high the standards God has set and they seek to live by them. They don't allow willful, flagrant, unrepentant sin to continue.

Sign #7 The church is adaptable and flexible - willing to change. They don't compromise or seek the latest fad, but they are teachable. They have an unselfish spirit and are pliable in the Master's hands. Leaders and members each have preferences, but they forgo their "rights," desiring what's best for the church and for the lost.

Sign #8 The church emphasizes the positive and never dwells on the negative. They celebrate victories. Even where there have been disappointments, they don't allow that to monopolize their focus and permeate their thinking. But they learn and benefit from mistakes.

(Written by Marvin Owen, the church health strategist for the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention, Casper, Wyoming.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lilly, A Little Photo Attention

I figured since Frodo got some blog attention I needed to give Lilly some so she didn't get jealous. Here's a few photos.

Begging to get up (like always).
Frodo was saying, "back-off Lilly, this is my toy".

Frodo's New Shirt

Thanks to Tricia for the oh so cute Big Bird t-shirt for Frodo! It fits perfectly and he seems to like it. In fact, he slept in it the first night he had it! So cute! Thanks Tricia, Nathan, and Gwyn!

Sarah Elizabeth