Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary has an interesting article about taking the church into the community. An issue that is extremely relevant to the work I have been doing for the last few years.
I am just going to put this here, so I don’t forget to look at it later.
Langt fram yfir miðja síðustu öld var það tiltölulega algeng skoðun í evangelískum kirkjum í Bandaríkjunum að líf hæfist við fyrsta andardrátt. Byggði sú nálgun m.a. á hugtakinu lífsandinn sem kemur fyrir margoft í Biblíunni. Við sjáum þessar hugmyndir um lífsmörk endurspeglast m.a. í sálmum á Íslandi.
Einhvern tímann af “einhverri” ástæðu breyttist þessi nálgun í mörgum evangelísku kirkjunum og sönnunartextarnir um upphaf lífs urðu m.a. köllun Jeremía og Sálmur 139, sem virðast leggja áherslu á að Guð þekki okkur áður en við drögum andann í fyrsta sinn. Skilningur sem átti sér vissulega lengri sögu í rómversk katólskri hefð.
Það er nefnilega ekki til staðar einfaldur og einn Biblíulegur eða kristinn skilningur á upphafi lífs, sem afgreiðir umræður um þungunarrof. Nema jú, það er alveg ljóst að hugmyndir um að möguleikinn á að greina hjartslátt fósturvísis í móðurkviði sé mark um líf á sér engar Biblíulegar forsendur. En það er um þessar mundir tískunálgun sumra prédikara hér vestanhafs og sér þess merki í lagasetningu í sumum ríkjum.
Í umræðum um þungunarrof stöndum við því frammi fyrir vali milli þess að þröngva okkar trúarskilningi og túlkun á upphafi lífs upp á aðrar manneskjur eða virða sjálfsákvörðunarrétt einstaklinga. Þegar við höfum í huga að túlkun á upphafi lífs er margbreytileg og Biblían virðist bjóða upp á fleiri en eina túlkun, þá er ég alla vega ekki nógu hrokafullur (lengur) til að krefjast þess að allir fari eftir því sem mér finnst. Eins hef ég tilhneigingu til að treysta fólki til að leitast við að gera það sem það sjálft telur rétt þegar kemur að erfiðum og flóknum ákvörðunum.
Hugmyndum um að stjórnvöld eigi að hafa síðasta orðið um að skerða sjálfsákvörðunarrétt einstaklinga þarf alltaf að nálgast með gagnrýnum huga og spyrja hvaða raunverulegar ástæður liggja að baki inngripinu. Trúarsannindi geta vissulega verið gild ástæða til að taka persónulega afstöðu í fjölmörgum málum og auka réttindi og lífsgæði fólks, en þau eru að öðru jöfnu ekki góð ástæða til að skerða réttindi. Sér í lagi ef trúarsannindi eru notuð til að skerða réttindi þeirra sem aðhyllast aðrar hugmyndir en ráðafólk.
The unhealthy and damaging sexual education that is offered to children, youth, and young people in many churches and some religious communities in the US, is being address in Nadia Bolz-Weber’s upcoming book Shameless.
This damaging and narrow education is not bound to the US, and I am guilty of both participating in enforcing an unhealthy sexual understanding and of being on the receiving end of a judgmental narrow minded behavior by a patriarchal leadership.
Anyway, Shameless has been published and a good reason to check it out.
For a while I have been gathering articles and texts I have been planning to read and disect to understand the changes in our religious landscape, mostly wondering about the declining role of the church.
On a regular basis I am confronted with this reality. There are many empty pews on Sundays, not only in Europe but in America. There is also a declining interest in theological education in formal seminaries. So as the church decline continues there is even a more rapid decline in people willing to serve, which might accelarate the church decline.
There are writing about this issue from various perspectives and some of them are listed here below.
Michael Lipka looks at the religious landscape based on a study by The Pew Research Center. He looks at 5 Key Findings about the Changing U.S. Religious Landscape.
Some people try to find an obvious reason that makes all the difference. One of those is to blame some aspect of the multifaceted tasks that pastors have. One aspect that is fun to blame is pastoral care. Carey Nieuwhof writes an article, How Pastoral Care Stunts the Growth of Most Churches. In it, Carey Nieuwhof points to reports by Barna Group that is interesting and helpful.
The Barna group reports the average Protestant church size in America as 89 adults. Sixty percent of Protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2 percent have over 1,000 adults attending.
He then adds that when churches grow to more than 200, the pastoral care demands become unbearable and unsustainable, leading to a failure.
Dr. Marjorie Royle writes an article, Denominational Identity – A Plus or a Minus?, about church planting and different attitudes towards denominational identity.
Heather Hahn writes: What draws people to church? Poll has insights. In the article she looks to Barna Group, a research done for United Methodist Communications.
Carlos Wilton reminds us that the declining church participation is not a new concept in the article, Are the Pews Half Empty or Half Full? Lessons From 734 A.D.
Here are three articles about what might slow down the decline.
- Common Cathedral is an outdoor church for people experiencing homelessness, and their friends.
- @FatPastor shares Six Reasons I Share Communion with Kids.
- A Country and a Church for Women by JK Montgomery is about women in ministry in Iceland and talks about The Women’s Church, non-parish based community in an otherwise parish based church model in Iceland.
Here are two articles about what might accelarate the church decline.
- “What a Total God Shot!” Understand that? Then you speak Christianese looks at insider language among self-proclaimed Christians in America.
- The role Franklin Graham is taken on as The Evangelical Id, and his distortiton of Christianity.
For some time I have been interested in using story-telling and anecdotes from congregants as an assignment or project for Sunday school. There are various ways of doing this, having congregants visit our children during Sunday school hour to share with them there personal stories, having the children ask and collect stories in coffee hour, or doing a more ambitious project like having the kids create a podcast about the congregation. The possibilities are endless.
At one time I collected few links that could be helpful for this project:
- http://www.toldstories.com – is a website for a story-telling forum that met and might stil meet in Cleveland.
- I came across and interesting story in New Jersey Jewish News.
- UUA has an interesting and helpful resource that can be used as a model for sharing stories in a congregation. – https://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/children/windows/session2/144144.shtml
- http://www.raycaspio.com is a teacher in the art of story-telling and has worked in Cleveland, might even be from here.
- An article on NPR about Stories [as] a Key To Human Intelligence.
Let the words of my mouth and
the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
The Owners of God’s Word
Phil 3:4b-14, Matt 21:33-46
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.
We tend to see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear, don’t we? And when I am forced to hear what I wish I didn’t, I try to change the narrative. Particularly, if I have the power to do so. Continue reading The Owners of God’s Word – Sermon at Pilgrim Congregational UCC (10/08/2017)
In this post I have gathered at one place various possible solutions to WordPress issues I have been challenged with recently. Continue reading WordPress Issues and Possible Solutions
Few weeks ago I started driving part time for LYFT. It has been an interesting and mostly fun experience, the customers are way more diverse than I could have imagined, be it an organ donor flying in for a yearly check-up at Cleveland Clinic, a 9m old pregnant woman nesting, and needing help with her purchases of children’s stuff, a mom searching for a birthday gift for a 13 year old, a teenager late for her job at a fast food chain, or a musician going catching a flight to audition across the country. Not to forget drunk Roman Catholics celebrating St Patrick’s Day a week early. Continue reading Driving for LYFT
Comparing Film and Text(s)
When learning to read and understand the Biblical text, it is helpful to look into the writer’s motive. This simple study guide provides few questions but no answers.
Read Genesis 6-9, and try to see at least two different accounts of the flood narative intervowen into the text. If you are up to it, you might even try to disentangle them.
- What is the film maker trying to say/teach us?
- What is/are the Biblical Story/ies trying to say/teach us?
- What is the right story of the flood and why?
- What makes a story RIGHT?
Hans Rottberger was born and raised as a Jew in Berlin, Germany. In 1935 he traveled with his wife Olga and the two year old Eva on the passenger ship Godafoss to Reykjavik. They were fleeing what they considered a volatile situation in their home town. Mr. Rottberger and his family got a temporary visa in Iceland, he learned the language, and built a company with a local resident. The family grew, a son was born in 1937. Continue reading And the Home of the Scared
As part of my website building projects I try to stay up-to-date on simple tools to use for my clients. One model that could be helpful for churches is a connection to the Amazon Affiliates program. A neat example would be for a Book Club discussion, were the church would be able to get a 4-6% referral rate on each sold book through a link on its website.
So for example, if a book club would like to discuss , the link would bring the user to the book on Amazon, and the church would receive a certain percentage of the price paid.
Á mánudögum sit ég heima allan daginn og sinni verkefnum sem hafa ekkert með Bandaríkin að gera. Eftir að ég hef komið börnunum í skóla og konunni í vinnu þá sest ég inn á heimaskrifstofuna og sinni verkefnum fyrir sjálfstæða reksturinn minn. Continue reading Nýr dagur í Trumplandi
Á lestarpallinum á leiðinni í vinnuna í gærmorgun var ég spurður, “How are you, today?” Spurningin “How are you?” er einhver sú marklausasta í enskri tungu og eftir 10 ár í Bandaríkjunum hef ég lært að svara “Fine and you?” og ganga síðan framhjá viðkomandi. Continue reading How Are You Today?
Hér fyrir neðan er handritið að fræðsluerindi sem ég flutti á Sæludögum í Vatnaskógi sumarið 2016. Það er alltaf nokkrum vandkvæðum bundið að færa erindi sem er flutt munnlega inn á bloggið, viðbótarútskýringar sem ég bætti við í framsögunni og viðbrögð úr salnum vantar en innihaldið er í grunninn óbreytt. Continue reading Forsetakosningar í Bandaríkjunum og hugmyndir um Guð
Eitt af því sem hefur um áratugaskeið verið eitt helsta einkenni Vatnaskógar sem uppeldismiðstöðvar er að því sem næst allir starfsmenn sem koma með beinum hætti að uppeldi drengjanna á staðnum eru karlkyns. Það tækifæri sem ungir menn hafa í Vatnaskógi til að vinna sem uppalendur er ómetanlegt ekki aðeins fyrir einstaklingana sem hafa sinnt þessum störfum heldur ekki síður samfélagið í heild. Continue reading Smáþankar um starfsfólk og kynjaskiptar sumarbúðir
I heard a bird yesterday in the attic. Let me be clear I love birds. I even have a bird feeder outside my living room window. I really care for birds. However, I don’t like them when they enter my attic. My anxiety started to set in. I imagined the bird plotting against me. Planning to leave marks all over my furniture. Continue reading The Bird and The Donald
In English Below. Eftir að hafa notast við www.ispeculate.net/writings.síðan 9. október 2012, þá er kominn tími til hreyfings. Í tengslum við aukin umsvif á sviði vefráðgjafar hef ég komið mér upp ágætis heimasvæði á . Ég hef fært bloggið þangað í heild, en mun enn um sinn leyfa færslunum hér að standa. Nýja bloggslóðin mín er
I have been using www.ispeculate.net/writings, enabling me to use the blog as a laboratory for various themes and plugins.since October 9th 2012. As I have been taking on various projects involving more specified wordpress installations, I am moving the blog to
Little over a month ago I was asked to write a short overview of the National Church in Iceland and the theological landscape in “a historical light”. Well, this is it.
The National Church in Iceland, or The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Iceland, was a State Church until (at least) 1997. Today it can be argued that it still shows strong signs of a state run religious entity. Salaries for priests are paid by the government as a part of an agreement between the church and state, which involves a complicated land swap deal from 1907. According to a recent supreme court ruling in Iceland, priest are considered government workers with all rights and obligations of such employees. Continue reading The National Church in Iceland