Deviation from the Series – A Word on Websites

April 12, 2006

Tony Morgan had an exceptional entry this morning on Good for Nothing Websites on his Simply Strategic Blog. Read it yourself, but the bottom line question is what purpose does your church website serve, and how well is it serving? I agree that too many churches today throw up a site because everybody has one, but they fail to make it a value to those who they hope will use it. A website should be an asset, not a liability. If you, or your board are looking at it with disdain and contempt, your probably not ready to commit the time, resources, and energy to move it from the latter to the former, and you will do yourself a service by waiting until you get there.

That, and I love the Pontiac Montana analogy!

Church and Society – part 2 of ? – Christians in Business

April 12, 2006

Ok – We recently talked about how the Church, and Christians in general, should be effecting society and should have a presence in the world. The next question to pose is: What does that look like? Also, is there a right and wrong way?

Enter my drive home the other day… I am heading down a main street in suburbia, and suddenly my eye is drawn to a full 4×8 readerboard with 1′ Neon Yellow lettering screaming “CHRISTIAN”. Driving closer, the finer print becomes readable…” BANKING IS COMING”.

Christian Banking

Alright. I get it. I know the bank immediately. I know that they have had great success with this marketing strategy. They promote themselves as the “Christian” alternative to normal banking. They have drawn a percieved line in the sand that the “Big Banks” can’t and won’t cross. I don’t belittle them for repeating what has proven to be a successful strategic positioning decision. My curiosity, and my initial thought, was whether or not this positioning was solely self-serving. Does it in any way help the cause of the Church? (which I am asserting to be the fulfillment of the Great Commission for the purposes of this discussion) For that matter, does it need to?

It seems to me that while this may be a plus for them, and their business, it has a counterproductive
“Christian ghetto” effect in polarizing the rest of the world. What is “Christian” banking anyway? Is it merely giving your money to a “Christian” management team? Are those going to non-Christian banks expecting anything less than honesty, integrity, and fair treatment from their bank? Is it merely to say “if you’re not a Christian, you’re not our target market, and if you are, we are the only bank that will make you feel special about it…” I believe, and I think the success of the bank in their opening of the second branch proves, that it is the latter. For some reason, that saddens me.

I will stop there for this moment. I reserve the right to add my own commentary to my original thoughts as I see fit. But how about your thoughts? After all, isn’t that part of what this is for?

The Church in Today’s Society – Part 1.5 of 3

April 10, 2006

Lunchtime Revelations, but not quite part 2.

I took lunch today, as it was a beautiful day, at a local park/nature conservation site known as Kathryn Albertson park. It was built as a memorial to the life of, who else, Kathryn Albertson (of the Albertson’s Grocery family). On my way to that park, I passed by a graveyard full of tombstones and grave markers, tributes to hundreds whose lives have now ended in this world, and have moved on to eternity, one direction or the other.

Cemetary

As I drove towards Albertson Park, I was struck by the following curiosity: “How many people whose names are on rocks in that cemetary had plans for their lives and for the Kingdom that they never executed on?”

Thought II- It was this thought that was still on my mind when I rounded the corner at Albertsons parking area, where you are greeted by not one, but several rocks, engraved in memory of Mrs. Albertson. Quite the memorial. Whatever she did in this life, those who thought her worth remembering did it in a big way.

Albertsons Park Entry

Now immediately, some will say that it was merely the money that made the difference in the representative lives here, and I’m sure, to some degree that is valid. But lets go a little deeper. I’m sure that there are those who had equal financial opportunity as Mrs. Albertson whose memory is restricted to that cemetary, and those few who go there to visit it. Yet, for some reason, Mrs. Albertsons memory was taken beyond the space where she may have been laid to rest, and brought to the community at large for its consumption. They made a place where everyone can enjoy remembering what she did, or learn about it, or ask the question “who was she??” (remember, I’m don’t need the life of someone to be spiritual to learn a lesson in a spiritual context from their life… that’s where I’m coming from here.)

Point or Proposition- The Church should be making such a memorial through our actions that causes the world to want to visit, learn about, and ask the question “who was He” about the man whom we believe so deeply in, that we are willing to make our lives a living memorial to what He has done for us. And when we do it, our memorial should be a park with acerage, not an indestingushable plot next to 2000 others. Your comments??

The Church in Today’s Society – Part 1 of 3? (at least 3 at this point)

April 10, 2006

Christianity and Black Holes Christianity and Two Black Holes in Space

And so we begin… While my wife was reviewing for me the things that made headlines of late, she mentioned one that stated "Pair of Black Holes Locked in Death Dance" (from cnn.com) Stick with me on this one. It takes a little while, but like a good mystery novel, there are clues to the plot along the way, and if you haven't gotten it yet, I give it all away at the end…

Here's the money quote…

Black holes can't be seen. Their presence is inferred by their gravitational effects on their surroundings and by radiation from near the black hole, where a feeding frenzy superheats gas so much that it emits X-rays.

Determining that these two black holes will collide involved other indirect evidence, drawing data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

OK!!!! Did you get it? What on earth (bad pun) does a black hole have to do with Christianity, the Church, and Today's Society? Lets look at the first sentence in the quote. Remember that this is a major international news source talking about something that "Can't be seen" and whose existence "must be inferred by their "effects on their surroundings". You there yet??? Try this on for size…

The Church is not a building. It is not merely a person, nor even a collection of people, for if it were, every collection of people could be called a Church, and rightly so. It must, therefore have a distinguishing characteristic that separates it from a mere "gathering". What is it?

How about its EFFECT on the society in which it exists? Paul said to the church at Corinth in 1 Cor 2 4-5:

4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

He was asking them to have faith in something (Heb 1:11 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen) they could not see (God, God's Power) based on evidence (demonstration) that was given them in support of that something's existence. He was basing its existance on a purponderance of the evidence. For there to be evidence, there must have been some resulting effect. Lets see Exodus 4:29-30 for another example of the EFFECT of the unseen force of God, through His people, on their surroundings…

29Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed.

I find it no small thing that the statement "and they believed" comes after the performance. The evidence begat the belief. Ok…. Summing up before I start preaching…

I believe the key point of the black hole is that the world, whether we believe it or not, is willing to accept the existance of something that they cannot and will not ever see with their naked eye if we are willing to give them enough evidence of its existance. To do that, we need to be living lives that have an effect on our surroundings, and as a Church, our grouping and gathering needs have the same, if not a magnified effect.

May it be said that there was enough "other indirect evidence" in our lives and our churches that it causes others to ask, ponder, and maybe even, to join us and believe. Who knows. Maybe we will see the Church in a headline on CNN that says that "a collection of great bodies with a super-supernatural power that you cannot see appear to be coming into allignment to potentially effect millions of the bodies within the scope of their unexplainable gravitational pull" — And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. -John 12:32

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. – Mat 7:20

Up Next: Christians in Business

I Feel a Series Coming On…

April 7, 2006

Today I will begin the creation of what I know is going to become a theme for at least a few days on Christianity, The Church, and how we as Christians present ourselves to the world. I have been inspired of late by seemingly every little thing I trip across that there is a thematic continuity to all of this, but I've not yet been able to put it into a basket so to speak… Just know that its brewing, and coming soon.

Investments and Returns – God Economics

April 6, 2006

Mark Wilson recently posted a comment about "Making the Investment" into our relationships with Christ, and the rewards that come from doing so. Making the investment is the key to growth and confidence in Christ. To parallel the financial world, it is not until we place that which we have in the “trust” of another that we begin to see a “return” on that “investment”. As always, with any scenario, there is a seemingly large amount of “risk” in placing your life in the hands of another. However, as we spend more time in His word, getting to know Him, fellowshiping with Him, (hey- there is that “investment” again…) we come to realize that, in reality, He has already taken all the risk, and we are left with nothing but assurance and gain… “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (investment) and all these things will be added unto you (reward)”. Sounds like a we get a great deal on our side!

Moving to WordPress

April 6, 2006

I am shifting my blogging to chadhouck.wordpress.com, though I will be leaving this blog up for at least a little while…

I will also be redirecting the ChadHouck.com domain name there as well, but if you want to get back to here, it will be in the blogroll, so look it up as "My First Blog"

I have not yet decided if I will migrate the posts here over to there, but I am definately interested in some of the wordpress features and flexiblity.

See you there soon, and, Mark, if you are reading this, well done on sharing your word with everyone in your last post… I have been waiting for more!

Its a small world afterall

April 4, 2006

The last several days have seemed so hurried that I realized I've not posted anything since Wednesday of last week. So much happening and so little time to write about it.

One thing, however, stood out today that I think worthy of comment. I was speaking to a friend in California about a concept ministry project that we have been working on for several months, and expressing my concern about finding the right programming know-how, platform, and people to pull off this project. I was shocked when he referred me to a website, and more specifically to a pair of guys right here in my own "backyard" so to speak as a potential next step for conversation. Ironically, I had just recently stumbled across these same names on my own.

My point, however poorly focused, is this: There are more Christians around than we either know of or give credit for, and some of them are doing some amazingly cool things. What would it take to finally get us together on the same page, working truely toward the same goal, pulling in unison so to speak? It doesn't seem like it should be that insurmountable of a task… I guess I'm due to find out…

Hello world!

March 29, 2006

As of 4/5/06, all set up and ready to roll
It will likely take a short while for me to get used to the new functions and features here on WordPress, so in the mean time, please take a look at my ChadHouck.com blog on Blogger. Thank you!

Ejection Seats of Divisiveness

March 29, 2006

The United Church of Christ has recently released their newest ad campaign zeroing in on growing their congregations by focusing on those rejected by the church. The ad is featured on their website, "RejectionHurts.com" and shows people being selectively "ejected" from the pews. Those ejected include a mother with a crying baby, the man of whatever ethnicity he is (at right), a homosexual male couple, and a handicapped person, among others, and then follows with the screen text: "God doesn't reject people". The site is supposed to have testimonies, of which there were only 8, (mind you that all 8 of these are valid and deserving of attention) however I was curious if they would post my opinion that I took the time to share with them. For editorial integrity, I have posted it below:

First, to all of those who have shared their absolutely valid testimonies and stories of how they have been wronged by the church, Thank you for your openness, and on behalf of myself and my family who call ourselves by the name Christian, we are sorry for your experiences.That said, to the directors of the "United" church of Christ, can you explain to me how this website, this commercial, and this campaign is anything but divisive? You are not solving the problem, but merely propegating it by drawing the "Us and Them" line even further apart.

I am saddened by the fact that you have chosen to attack the ecumenical church as a whole in order to grow your own cause in the name of tolerance. Poor practice in my book. I am curious – since I disagree, will you have the integrity to post my opinion, or will you yourselves choose to play the role of that which you so disdain, and "eject" me? If you truely want to effect change, than engage in the dialouge that creates it. Otherwise, you are doing nothing more than adding to the noise. Lets see where you stand, as the ball is most respectfully in your court.

I will post any replies I receive to this blog, so check back.

Please feel free to do the same, and to comment. This was brought to my attention by Todd Rhoades on his Monday Morning Insights blog. Thanks Todd.


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