Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Does Membership Matter

I was scrolling through email and deleting the mass emails that I get regularly (sometimes I read them, sometimes I don't) and saw an article title that got my attention: 'Does Membership Matter Anymore?"

I appreciated the article because it resonates with me.  His questions are questions I ask myself regularly. It speaks to so much of how I feel and think about membership in my own church. I wonder, "Why bother?!" when people who never "join" but actively participate already consider themselves members because they have a sense of belonging And others, who never attend, or give, or help, are tied to the church because they grew up there, or their family is still there or they attend once a year and are still considered "members" even though for all intents and purposes they aren't acting members.  Honestly, we have out of town visitors who participate more intentionally. 

There have long been critiques of churches who "padded" their membership roles by allowing anyone and everyone to join the church.  One joke I heard when I first started ministry was "Back in the day, if you golfed with the pastor, you were added as a member."  I definitely think membership should mean more than numbers.  We offer membership classes once or twice a year and invite people to join.  But we don't set strict requirements (after all, how could we when we have people who participate minimally that are considered members?)  And, as I mentioned above, we have others who have never officially joined the church, but attend regularly, give generously, help in active ministry, and consider the church "theirs".  So what's the difference between the one with the title and the one who doesn't?  And what is the reason for advocating for church membership?  The title of member doesn't make us a better disciple. It doesn't make the Bible easier to read.  It doesn't make the marginalized less off-putting.  And it doesn't guarantee relationships that matter or strengthen us. 

So if the title of member isn't what transforms us, what is? And why should we continue to advocate for membership?  Don't worry, I'm not refusing to allow folks to become members. But I do genuinely struggle with what our role is as the church and what difference it makes to be a member or not.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pad Thai

This recipe was originally found on Allrecipes.com.  I used input from several reviews and did some of my own thing and came up with the following recipe.  It was delicious and pretty easy to put together! 

Pad Thai (Modified recipe)

1 (12 ounce) package rice noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sesame oil (optional)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken
breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 green onions, chopped
1-2 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp olive oil (plus sesame oil if desired)
4 eggs
3 tablespoon white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons fish sauce
5-6 tablespoons white sugar
Tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3-6 drops hot sauce (optional)
1-2 tbsp peanut butter
1-2 cups bean sprouts (optional)
1-2 cups shredded or thinly sliced carrots
1/4 cup crushed peanuts
1 handful cilantro chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

1) Boil water. Add rice noodles and boil 1 minute. Turn off heat, let sit 5 minutes.  Rinse in cold water. Drain. Set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp oil (and a couple drops of sesame oil if desired) in a wok or large heavy skillet. Saute chicken, with garlic, and green onions until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove, and set aside. Heat additional oil in wok over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into hot oil, scramble, and cook until firm. Stir in chicken, and cook for 5 minutes. Add carrots. Add softened noodles.
3) Mix vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, peanut butter, hot sauce and red pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Mix while cooking, until noodles are tender. Add bean sprouts, and mix for 3 minutes. Add cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Mix and serve hot.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sermon accomplished!

Earlier today I posted about my struggle in writing my sermon on John 19:1-16a. It may not be Working Preacher worthy, but here it is. As I researched and read for this passage, I found the internet world woe-fully silent on this passage (ah the irony) and figured that despite it's failings, at least there would be another something out there to help another pastor somewhere along the line.  

Preaching struggles

Sometimes it's hard to write a sermon. Sometimes I lack time to study. Sometimes I lack the drive. Sometimes I find too many things to do instead of preaching.  And sometimes it's a hard text to work with.  Last night as I worked to put words on paper I found I had writers block. So I started here instead:

I’m having a heck of a time trying to make something come from this scripture (John 19:1-16a). I’ve spent more time with it than I have any text in recent months.  And yet, it’s not giving me anything back.  It’s just not working.  Normally as I start to retell a story it comes to life and in that life is Gospel, sometimes satisfying and sometimes unsettling, but the story comes to life. But this story sucks.  It doesn’t inspire. It doesn’t reveal God. It sucks.  At the very least it doesn’t give life.  And maybe somewhere in there there’s hope or good news or something. But it isn’t coming clear to me. 

The manuscript is being revised and finished for worship this morning. Hopefully I will get it posted later today.  May God's Word speak to you today! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My angel

Our kid plays hard pretty much non stop all day. She's all go all the time. And then she sleeps and it's always been one of the most beautiful and precious things to me. The lighting and sheets at the Welk resort made her look just like an angel.