What happens in Vegas…

...stays in Vegas.Clever ad slogan. The guts of it apply to lots of things.During the times I experienced intense church conflict in the past, the battles were weighted in my mind with what was eternally important: theological big stuff like the proper way to preach about repentance were freighted with far more spiritual gravitas than the absurd power struggle over the placement of bulletin boards in the foyer.That was, perhaps, my first mistake. I didn't realize that everything carried the … [Read more...]

Book review: The Bible As Improv

I heard Dr. Ron Martoia speak last month at the Story Chicago conference (I mentioned him in #12 of my blog post about the event here). I happened to receive an advanced reader copy of Martoia's new book a couple of days after the conference, and was really looking forward to reading it after hearing his talk.The Bible As Improv: Seeing & Living the Script in New Ways (Zondervan, scheduled to release in March, 2010) did not disappoint. He tackles the way most of us have learned to read and … [Read more...]

Together In One Place

I've heard of church and community leaders coming together in the wake of a crisis (weather, violent crime) to serve and to pray. And I've heard of pastors coming together in small groups to encourage one another. Crisis or ministry affinity often brings together believers from different backgrounds and church traditions.But yesterday's Catalyst Forum brought over 350 church and community leaders from Lake County, IL (and beyond) together for a time of spiritual refreshment and … [Read more...]

Mirror, mirror

‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ - Matthew 18:11-12 NLTIt is oh, so obvious that the religious expert who prayed that prayer is miles off from understanding himself rightly, isn't it? I revel in Jesus' contrast of this man's prayer with the prayer of the tax collector.It occurred to me today that this self- … [Read more...]

Come to the table (Part 2)

Read part one here.True fiction for church leadersPart 2:The board put the PR machine in high gear – the machine Jeff had painstakingly assembled in the name of Excellent Communication – to massage the message they’d be giving the congregation about Jeff’s impending departure. Frank made sure Jeff understood that his generous severance package was tied to Jeff’s flawless performance of the leaving rituals they’d choreographed for him to execute.“We’d prefer to tell the congregation that you and J … [Read more...]

Come to the table

If you've ever been involved in church leadership, the following work of fiction might read like a true story...(Part 1)Jeff was parked in his ancient recliner, wearing a shapeless pair of gray sweats and an “In It To Win It” T-Shirt. Sections of the morning’s super-size paper surrounded his chair, forming a moat of newsprint. Jeff stared at the tube as the Sunday morning talking heads debate the president’s latest economic stimulus package, each insisting they just wanted to help the American pe … [Read more...]

Story reprise

Slices of StoryChicago:1. "Weakness brings liberation. Confession transforms" - Dave Gibbons2. "Propositions will not save you." - Chris Seay3. Note to self: Get that Frederick Buechner book already (Telling The Truth: Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale) since it keeps coming up in conversation.4. "We censor our stories when we only talk about our success." - Mike Foster5. A drumline is a great way to announce the beginning of a session.6. "'Be the person God designed you to be'. I don't … [Read more...]