Thursday, July 31, 2014

eformation- When the Communication Format Changes

#2 in the eformation Series

Taking some time in the next days
 to toss in some resources and observations
 about the world of church, communication, 
and this continually adapting digital age.
What may make that more palatable-
the visual images
 from the gardens of my siblings.
You can ask my family
 and they will ALL tell you-
the least likely person 
they could think of to be involved in
with social media,
 or any digital technology, yup- ME.
Think that is part of the story 
where God chooses the least equipped
 for the job- 
so that I can't claim the Glory.
 Anything even a tiny bit successful-
 is His doing.
I am simply not techno-smart 
enough to take the credit.
On the other side of the equation was
  a true look at my lacking skills,
 as I was called to lead and be an encourager 
to a larger group of comrade disciples
 in the Kingdom.
I needed a mentor, coach, 
and someone willing to work with me
 at the beginning level.
A shout out to my friend, Nancy, 
who has been all of those things.
I could not be the road block
that kept the door closed 
for possible ways that the Holy Spirit 
might be led to use me. 
That led me to LOTS of reading,
LOTS of research, and 
fearless questions.
One of the early fascinating stories
 was how our church body- (Lutheran LCMS) 
dealt with a lay movement
 to use available technology
 for the sake of the Gospel. 
This was about the cultural upheaval,
 angst, and fear of change
 with the coming of radio communication.

"On October 2, 1930, the first broadcast of The Lutheran Hour® radio program was aired, with Dr. Walter A. Maier as speaker. The Lutheran Laymen's League, which had formed thirteen years earlier as a financial support organization for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, had a vision of spreading the Gospel message using the young technology of broadcast radio. For more than 80 years, the call of Christ has been carried around the world by radio waves to share the Good News."
Our denomination went through
 the same growing pains- AGAIN,
 with the coming of television. 
It was a commonly voiced opinion
 that combining the use of this new media 
with the Gospel message
 would mean the end of the "established" church.
Well, all sorts of shifts happened
 when the church moved
 into mass-mediated communication.
We became a one-direction broadcast
system for faith formation.
Citing encouragement from Martin Luther, 
we became veterans at print media
 sent out to be consumed by believers, 
and hopefully also fall into the hands
 of a non-believer or seeker.
Our church body rose near the top
 to ride out the tide of this movement. 
In fact, in 1957, 
only 47% of religious broadcasts were paid.
(yup, they were free)
In 1978, 92% were paid broadcasts.
The tide was shifting already.
Then came interactive media.
Individuals now had the ability
 to receive communication, and also respond.
And the church was at a loss, AGAIN.
Churches were still using computer technology
 for desktop publishing, creating the bulletins, 
and tracking the always changing membership files.
Leadership struggled.
 A conversation?
Virtual relationships?
It's frivolous, too time consuming,
and we can't control the direction or outcomes.
And we were right back into the unease
 that frazzled the church
 in the early days of radio and television, 
or maybe right back to the printing press.
Bottom line?
I love my brick and mortar church.
I love to be present for worship
 and Word and Sacrament ministry.
I love my in-real life community
 of friends in faith.
I love to gather for Bible study
 and faith formation activities.
And I don't want that to go away.
But, I have come to terms 
with the realization that many of those
 who don't know Jesus,
will never grace the doors of a church building.
 As church, we have planned to be in relationship
 with all of those people when they walk in the doors.
The statistics are brutal- they are not coming to us.
Discouraged folks often head to God's Word for Hope.
 Looking at the master of Gospel communication, 
we see that although Jesus spent time in the synagogue,
 he was generally hanging out where the people were.
In the neighborhood.
Where they worked.
Where they gathered.
And that becomes the directional blueprint
 in this age of 
interactive media.
Hangout where the people are,
and they are online.
It is really not about the elimination
 of one way to connect,
 but the addition of opportunities for informational,
 formational, and transformational interactions.
I don't have viable predictions for the future,
but I can attest to this "trust stance"
that connects me to a God
and allows me to ride the wave
 when communication formats change.
After all, He's got it.

statistics from Faith Formation 4.0- Julie Lytle
 some of my reading resources
are gathered here:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

eformation--When the Message is the Same

#1 in the eformation Series

I have a sister that has a green thumb, 
and happens to work at a landscaping business.
She has access to great raw material
 for planting flower containers,
and uses a fearless good-eye for combinations.

Then explores some great containers-
like this old wash tub. 

My time visiting with her last week
 has me stewing about plants and containers.
 Seeing snippets of this,
 as it relates to the eformation2014 conference
 that I attended in June-
 at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA.
Got to meet and hear many of the authors that I had 
read in my research last summer- 
about Social Media Gospel.

eformation is learning about the
 electronic spiritual formation technology
 that God has advanced 
for the sake of His kingdom.
 It is the same message-
 but the method changes.

It might be the same ole message (plant)
but when packaged together (container),
someone, somehow just might see it differently.
A fern looks different when nestled 
against an unusual
companion-Persian Shield,
 and catches the eye of someone
 who might otherwise miss it. 
The common and ordinary
 finds itself with a new neighbor,
 and perhaps a new conversation.

The tension the church faces as it ventures
 into the social media realm
 is the fear of not being "in control"
 of how and where and when
 the message gets shared.
Perhaps something found normally
 in the "shade"
has new found light.

Or, the movement is maybe a bit "wilder"
as the message of Jesus Christ-
Lord and Savior
for ALL people,
 dances with the power and whimsey 
of the Holy Spirit.

When our lens is changed,
and we step back to see the overall vision,
maybe we can begin to see that this obedience to
share the centuries old message
 of the Love of Jesus
 for His people,
will not be dishonored,
 if we group it a bit differently
 than has ever been done before.

I believe it is worth the risk
 of every mistake we might make,
 to repackage this gift,
 for the sake of those
 who have never seen it quite like that before.

Are you ready to plant some new combinations,
that just might allow the Holy Spirit free-reign
for the sake of the Kingdom of God?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Here and About- Roanoke, Indiana

On a country road not far from where I grew up,
 this bridge leads to the town of Roanoke, Indiana.

A place where hometown heart shows pride

and those who made a difference are remembered

and a legacy of blooms lives on

a sleepy town where new vision 
has brought new verve
for lunch options
featuring Wagyu Beef

or Four Star Fine Dining in the evening-
Joseph Decuis

for some retail therapy-
 Roanoke has some great options
the Trove
with Melani Wilson
Cosmopolitan eye and display

don't miss Treasure hunting out back at the Trove

Dahlia Sage
designer- Donna Holloway
 Apple Blossom Antiques
owner- Sharon Kempfer

Paper Moon
Decor, gifts,
 toys, Vintage jewelry

Rescued Relics- 
A Mix of Old and New

Grandma Sue's Pies and More
If you are going straight home- 
take a frozen pie to bake!
(they have Rhubarb Crunch and Gooseberry!)

you may also want to check out:
The Silk Purse-
reimagined goods

Real Deals Roanoke-
a touch of the eclectic

an accessory and clothing store- 
opening full time- August 2014
Roanoke- a great mix
 of MidWest Americana
and small town optimism.
Just 16 miles from downtown Fort Wayne- 
off of Highway 24.
Worth a morning or afternoon jaunt.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

When Understanding Comes Later

A personal favorite flower- (or weed)
  Queen Anne's Lace
 They grow carefree and in wild abandon
 in the countryside.
Real life is not so free and easy.

A certain daughter has a birthday today.
Been a year of blessings and gifts.
And a number of "closed doors" 
to opportunities that she thought would be good.

This week she spent wound up tight and 
rolled into a ball of jagged nerves.
And the phone call came- again.
Not this job.

And hope seeps out,
and the sky grays a bit.,
edges weather.

And life seems a bit blurry,
not so crisp and defined.

From my favorite devotion book-
"In this life, we have an incomplete view of God's dealings,
 seeing His plan only half finished and underdeveloped. 
Yet once we stand in the magnificent temple of eternity,
 we will have the proper perspective
 and will see everything fitting gracefully together!"
Streams in the Desert- July 25

If God could just give us a word
 or two in the sky-
 just a clue, 
 we could rest a bit easier.

so in waiting we hope-
"By faith we eagerly await through the Spirit
 the righteousness for which we hope." 
Galatians 5:5

this plan we have not seen fully-

"You do not realize now what I am doing, 
but later you will understand."
John 13:7

Grab His hand, dear one.
Rest assured to Follow.
He leads you well.

Friday, July 25, 2014

When Sidetracked is a Good Thing

We have been talking a bit about serendipity.
 Leaving some "whitespace" in our lives
 for unexpected fun and explorations. 
There is a covered bridge that we have passed by
 in our travels in Pennsylvania for 27 years
 on our trips back to Indiana.
 I said I wanted to stop to see it this time.
 So we pulled off at the next exit when we spotted it. 
 Drove around for over an hour-
 never found that bridge,
 but found a lovely substitute.

Hewitt Bridge
A Bedford County Covered Bridge
near Chaneysville.
One of 14 covered bridges in the county.

Some history of the Hewitt Covered Bridge

On a day with brilliant blue skies- 
and sun dappled edges,

a bit of water ripples over the rocks,

and green melts to water's edge,

and an unknown road bids us forth
 under cotton ball clouds.
Maybe a bit of delay, 
but some time that danced in praise, 
and hearts that
rest in His Goodness.

"Awake, north wind, and come, south wind!
 Blow on my garden,
 that its fragrance may spread abroad."
Song of Solomon 4:16

Monday, July 21, 2014

Decade Launch- When God Blesses a New Beginning

Yup- This guy- 60 years old today.
As the new decade unveils  
we give thanks to God
 for the years of blessings.
For good health.
For kind heart.
For gifts of hope.
For a laugh.

For the willingness to walk alone.
To carry the weight.

Or the compassion to work on a team in Haiti.

or this- the patient waiting-
 learned with living for a good share
 of the 60 years with 4 women

We actually celebrated with all the kids
 at the beach earlier this month.
 Not so easy getting the troops 
together anymore.

We "girls" had an idea from Pinterest.
Old mismatched playing cards.
With some old book paper added-
(our stash happened to be French),
 and then painted over.
And 60 squares for adding what
We Love about YOU, John.
Or snippets of the stories.

Holes punched.
 O Ring added.
and of course- the jute twine 
and colorful yarn.

We divided the stack and each of us took 15 cards.

And here are just 10 of the things we love.

Some stories only make sense in our family.

So today we give thanks to God for you.
And as we celebrate we pray:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26