A Story, a Craft, and a Cookie

preschool.jpg I was poking around some old draft posts and found this one — I probably wrote it at least two years ago.

I’m on record belittling certain forms of children’s ministry, the forms which are entertainment-based. The ones which focus on keeping the kids busy and out of their parents’ hair while they have their sermon. The ones which are more concerned with the kids having a program than with the kids having spiritual formation. I summed up it up by saying these were only concerned with the kids getting a story, a craft, and a cookie.

You have to admit the formula is familiar. These three elements are of course the basic arsenal of the children’s ministry worker. And, I must grudgingly admit, they’re not inherently wrong.

Small Group Ministry vs. Church… What IS Church?

stbernard_chapel.jpg I’m thinking about small group ministries that so many churches offer these days. Many seem to be based on good principles of mutual care, and some are based around the idea that the small group or cell is the basic building-block of the church. At one time I might have said that a church without a small group ministry is missing out on a critical element of church life. In my CLB, we were all about small groups, at least in the earlier days (they became more mechanized than organic nearer the end). I remember a lot of the cell church material as well, and the attempts at hybridizing the purer forms of cell church and the megachurch mentality. I wonder now if a church with a small group ministry isn’t sometimes an oxymoronic expression of community, an attempt to replicate in smaller units the thing that’s fundamentally missing from the larger context… but since it’s fundamentally a program, its makeup cuts across the formation of organic relationship and true community.

Measuring House / Simple / Organic / Missional Church, Resumed

Church and House Alright, pop quiz time! Can you find the church in this picture? (Hint: it’s a trick question.) There was some discussion following Philip Edwards’ post on the End of the House Church? last week, as well as on my own post on the subject. Philip has posted some followup thoughts today, and I wanted to do the same, as I don’t think we’ve yet gotten to the heart of the real conversation we could be looking at on this issue… which I hinted at in my opus reply to the comments there.

By the way, if you were cautious about my question concerning the church in the photograph and said “both”, you’re wrong. Bzzzt!! Thanks for playing. The church is a people, not a building. The image shows two of the types of buildings where the church sometimes gathers. (Hey, I warned you, it was a trick question.)

Measuring Converts in Simple / House / Missional Churches

churchpews.jpg First it was Mark Driscoll saying, “And all the nonsense of emerging, and Emergent, and new monastic communities, and, you know, all of these various kinds of ridiculous conversations — I’ll tell you as one on the inside, they don’t have converts. The silly little myth, the naked emperor is this: they will tell you it’s all about being in culture to reach lost people, and they’re not.” Then recently I found a post asking if it was End of the House Church? This from another insider, who notes, “I am beginning to wonder if the ‘reemergence’ of the House Church Movement that has happened in the last three or four years has stopped before it really got going? The reason I wonder this is because in the four years of being in organic Church nothing much seems to be different in regards to numbers and the vibe I am getting around the place from way back in 2004.

A Question of EMasculinity

Male The subject recently came up on a mailing list I follow, and then a related item popped up in my feed reader from an unrelated source a couple of days later.

First it was an article on men and church which suggested that men were leaving church, or churches other than Orthodox churches. It proceeds to speculate why by generalizing about what men like and how the Orthodox church provides it like nobody else. The article quotes Leon Podles in The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity and explains,

Stockholm Syndrome

People Contained By A Bubble Okay, right off I’m going to grant you that I may just be too cynical for my own good… but yesterday I was driving along and thinking about past (bad) church experiences, and what causes us to stay in those situations, even thinking that they are normal or acceptable. We feel affection for or affinity with the leader, we’re “in it together,” and we’re “on the same team” and all that. Then suddenly — sparked by a news story on the radio I think — I found myself thinking about Stockholm Syndrome.