It IS possible to stay relevant amid today’s changing culture!

I read this morning that Sears has put out a statement saying that they have “substantial doubt” that its company’s doors will stay open.  Other retail giants that have been main stays all my life, anchor stores in mall across the country, have been closing stores in many locations.  They’re not doing anything like the business they did just a few decades ago.

I wonder what folks would have said fifty years ago, if someone had suggested that these giants would close?  I suspect there would be a chuckle at the idea.  Sears was founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1886 for heaven’s sake!  It’s been a retail center in cities and towns across America for 130 years.  It will always be here would have been the natural assumption.

But then came as well as lots of other .coms.  Then came Walmart and Meijer.  I looked at my own Amazon account and realized that I made my first purchase from them in 1999 when they were primarily a book company.  I had three orders that year.  Last year I had 66 orders for everything from Altoids to computer parts, and clothes to vitamins.

There are other factors, I’m sure, that have affected Sears and other companies.  But the fact is the world of buying and selling is changing like so many other things in our culture, and some of those institutions that we once thought would always be there, are simply going by the wayside.

And the analogy to the Church is not a hard one to make, is it?  The world has changed and it is changing for us too.  There are many shifts that we could name.  Worship itself is one of them.  From the day of the week we offer worship opportunities to the location where we offer them, things are by necessity changing.

By the way there is a BIG worship training event on our District this Saturday with Kim Miller in case you hadn’t heard!!

Click → HERE ← for details!

Giving in the church has changed too.  If your congregation doesn’t offer at least automatic withdrawal from a bank account, if not instant giving on a web site; if you are relying only on people writing checks or putting cash in the plate,  then you are missing a significant portion of potential givers.

These are just a couple areas where our world is different than it was in the past, and if we don’t pay attention and move with the shifts we may well find ourselves ─ someday soon ─ putting out our own press release indicating our “substantial doubt” related to our ability to keep the doors open. And more importantly to carry out the mission of sharing Christ’s love in a broken and hurting world.


December 9, 2015

The day before Thanksgiving we had two new babies born into our family.  One to my niece on my wife’s side, one to my niece on my side of the family.  It was a great day!  Lots of Facebook activity and celebrating and pictures.  A wonderful day for rejoicing over the gift of these new lives.

Both children were very healthy.  Each mom received the good nutrition we would expect for pregnant women in our country.  Both had excellent medical care facilities where they gave birth.  It was just as we expect for those of us who live in this part of the world.

And while I’m very grateful for those wonderful gifts, and the multitude of other benefits we have as citizens of this wealthy nation, I am dismayed at times by the fear and unwillingness in some circles to offer even the basics of life to those most in need.  This is still true for far too many who live within our borders, but it seems especially true as we allow fear and greed to keep refugees from entering “our” country.  I can’t help but wonder what God must think of our behavior.  As we bask in the glow of our warm homes and abundance this Advent Season, millions are in need of care around the world.  Many refugees need safety, health and hope but instead are finding closed doors and the threat of a lengthier process than the already very lengthy and ineffective process that’s in place.

Scripture is very clear about the responsibility we have as Christ followers to care for the least and most vulnerable among us.  Scripture is very clear about the need to risk and even to give up at least a portion of what we have for the benefit of others.  In this season when we are preparing to receive again the gift of the Christ who let go of the glory of heaven for our sake, it is a sad state of affairs to see the firm grip with which we are seeking to grasp our own glory.

So may this season of Advent turn us, as individuals and as a nation, toward the goal of welcome and hospitality.  May we choose to let go of fear and overcome evil with good.  May we share out of our abundance with those in need, down the street and around the world.  May we be those who live up to our calling as followers of Christ to love actually and not just in theory.