Saturday, April 22, 2006

Don't Like The Weather?

Yesterday, it was a bright and sunny spring day. The temperature got up to 78 degrees. It was beautiful, if not a bit warm. We haven't seen that since August.

Today, it's only supposed to get up to 58 degrees with rain and thunder showers. Later on, it's supposed to snow! That's a 20 degree difference in one day. Tomorrow it's forcasted to be 43 degrees.

We've got a saying here in Montana that goes like this..."Don't like the weather? Just wait ten minutes!"

Friday, April 21, 2006

About the New Windows...

The new windows are part of our expansion of the auditorium. They're actually wonderful. They let in natural light; a lot of it. They're big; about 2-and-a-half feet wide by 10 feet tall with normal glass. They have some attractive decorative molding around them.

The windows do several good things for the worship space of our auditorium...
  • They let in natural light (already mentioned)
  • They can open to allow airflow in summer (we don't have air conditioning)
  • They make the auditorium feel more church-like (whatever that means - this assumes that the church is really a building and not a people)
  • They orient the room well (without the windows, it's just a big square-like room - the windows give it direction and lead your eyes toward the front)
At the same time, I am really struggling with some things that are not good about the new windows...
  • They let in so much light that you can't really see the screen. You know how much I believe that the visual aspect of worship is as important as the spoken word or music.
  • They seem to be a distraction in worship. People are looking outside and not focusing on the service. There are lights and reflections flashing in all the time. I've noticed we are less engaged in worship since the windows went in. I have even see this in videos I've taken of our services - it's really strange, but also really evident. (In contrast, Good Friday and Easter were very focused when the windows were covered temporarily.)
  • They also have some strange sort of emotional attachment, already. We covered the windows for Good Friday and Easter and people were apparently really upset. (It concerns me when people are more concerned about windows than they are about worshiping God.) On the other hand, I was pleased when the widows were covered because people were much more focused and participatory in those services.
  • They seem to be too big to cover with window coverings that do not cost a fortune. The window coverings we used on Good Friday only cost about $65 total for 5 windows. Unfortunately, they can't stay up due to complaints. Nice 10-foot-long blinds will cost about $300 per window.
Windows or not, I just wish we could use the visual aspect of worship to its full potential. I also wish we could focus on our worship instead of the many other distractions around us. As much as I really like the aesthetic aspects of the windows, they are a another big obstacle to the worship life of our congregation.

I know it seems petty, but look at the times when Jesus was most angry - they were times when people and things got in the way of allowing people to worship God unhindered.

Being Proft...

I'm not sure what being proft means, but I think it has something to do with being witty and sarcastic (even annoying). This site I ran across has a number of fairly funny lists and "how-to's." My favorite is "How To Be A Successful Overlord." I'll list the links to their site, because it's kind of heard to navigate (I think that's on purpose - they're being "proft")...

How To Be A Successful Overlord (My Favorite)
How To Be Proft At Wal-Mart
How To Be Proft At Work
How To Handle A Telemarketer
Proft Cure For A Bad Day *Language Warning*
404 Error Page (Proft Style)
Proft Home Page


Easter Worship Recap

Well, here's an update on Easter.

First, Good Friday was an amazing and powerful service. We had a good amount of people there, maybe about 80% capacity. The youth did the explanations and setups for the prayer stations and did a great job. For music, we tried a semi-acoustic approach with guitar, piano, drums, and violin. I think the three songs (Beautiful Scandalous Night, In Christ Alone, and At The Cross), really helped add to the mood. Finally, we put long curtains over the windows. (Did I mention we have new windows in our auditorium? More on that here.) It's still pretty bright at 6:30pm so we needed to do something to create an more reflective atmosphere.

Easter was a wonderful contrast to Good Friday. Both services were packed (about 90%-95%), but no overflow was needed (we only had 3 seats left in one service). Taking the reflective mood of meditation on Christ's passion, Easter took the next step of celebrating the resurrection. The message of the service was right on cue (you know I mean all the messages, not just the sermon).

The visual background depicted a seedling growing out of the ground to signify the new life Jesus brings. Through the service, the seeding would grow into a viable plant. There was a video clip called "Erase" that depicts the sin we may carry (neglect, pride, lust, adultery, hypocrisy), shows it erased, and then shows it replaced by Jesus' love and righteousness. Pastor Crosby spoke on how the resurrection is a fact and can be proved. The point of the service, however, was that God is in the process making us into the people He created us to be. We are being remade. We, too, are being resurrected; not to death into the old life, but into an entirely new life in Christ. We encourage you to "Experience the Resurrection" in your life.

One last note...I drew heavily on concepts from Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis. Some deep stuff, even seemingly controversial, in the book. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Experience Easter

It seems like it's been forever since I last left a post - I've been really busy getting ready for Easter.

I've been really inspired and excited about Easter this year. First, we're having a Good Friday and two Easter morning worship services. They are themed "Experience the Cross: Prayer Stations of Jesus' Passion" (Good Friday) and "Experience the Resurrection: He Makes All Things New" (Easter).

Our Good Friday service will be a reflective time with a large portion of time set aside for seven prayer stations. If you are not familiar with a prayer station service, the room is set up to have a multisensory experience that involves the physical body in the act of worship. One station, for instance, might involve a table you can go to that has ice cubes in bowls. The instructions might suggest picking up and holding an ice cube as long as you can. As it begins to hurt, you can imagine and meditate upon the pain Jesus felt upon the cross; then pray in gratitude for the far worse pain and suffering that Jesus endured for our sin. So you can see that we will literally be "experiencing" some of Jesus' passion.

For Easter Sunday, our theme is directly related to this graphic I "borrowed" from a peer review on Church Marketing Sucks. The graphic depicts the transition from death to life - the Resurrection. But the title "Experience the Resurrection" speaks both to Jesus' resurrection, and also to the new life we can have through Him. Jesus' death and resurrection mean nothing to us if we're not being transformed into a new life - the life that God intends.

Whew! May you have a wonderful Easter - full of joy, celebration and new life!