25 October 2012

Animate Faith: Finally, An Adult Formation Program I Can Love (Review)

Posted in Emerging, Church

Animate logoI generally run away from pre-packaged adult formation programs. I experience them as stiff, watered down, answer-oriented, and too focused on theological orthodoxy.

So, I am naturally skeptical when a “Wonderful! New!” adult education program rolls out.

Yet, I was hopeful when I heard about the new program Animate | Faith from SparkHouse. The speakers, including Brian McLaren, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lauren Winner, and Lillian Daniel, encouraged me to give it a shot, and they did not disappoint.

We are currently doing the Animate series this fall at our church. So, I have reviewed all the sessions myself and done about half of them with our congregation.

And I have to say - I love it.

Here are the things that I value most about Animate:

22 October 2012

How to Get Your Church Podcasting on iTunes

Posted in How To

on-the-airIf you create audio recordings of sermons or educational programing at your church (or want to start), its a great idea to podcast them in iTunes.

In today's web, its not enough to just make your content available, you want to serve it up in a way that makes it easy for people to access and listen. Podcasting on iTunes is great for this. With iTunes, people don't have to sit at the computer and listen for 10, 15 minutes or more, they can subscribe and get them automatically delivered to their mobile devices - which makes them more likely to actually listen.

Setting up a podcast on iTunes is a very managable process, you just have to know where to begin. iTunes provides an extensive information page. In this post I break it down into five steps and include some advice for getting the most out of your podcast. I just set up my own podcast for my sermon blog using this process and it works like a charm.

17 October 2012

How To Host Your Own Beer and Hymns Night

Posted in How To, Emerging, Spirituality, Church

beer-and-hymns

There is something very cool about singing Beautiful Savior, Amazing Grace, and A Mighty Fortress in a pub.

Sure, its partly the novelty of it, but it also worshipful, spiritual, intimate, fun, great outreach, and an affirmation of God's presence in our daily lives - in all the places we gather, including pubs.

I've helped to host four Beer and Hymns events. They've each been a little different but they have been great experiences. The singing is beautiful, the environment is relaxed, it takes us into the community, and it opens something up for people spiritually.

Beer and Hymns has been popularized in Lutheran circles by Nadia Bolz-Weber and House for All Sinners and Saints. Jodi Bjornstad Houge and Humble Walk Church also regularly host Beer and Hymns. Jodi writes about their experience here. I've included several links at the bottom of this post with examples of how people have done Beer and Hymns and what it means to them. 

Here's my version of how to host your own Beer and Hymns event:

12 October 2012

Our Amazing Experience of Digital Prayer

Posted in Digital Ministry, Church

prayer votiveI've always been a big fan of praying for people on Facebook and I have done a lot of it, but it wasn't until my son broke his leg and needed surgery that I really felt the power of digital prayer for myself.

I've prayed many times for others Facebook as a care giver, but to receive prayers as the parent of a sick child was a different and powerful experience, one which I will try to capture in this post.

In short, it was like this: all those comments, likes, direct messages, as well as email and texts - they were each like a votive prayer candle that was lit for my son, and, though we are separated by time and miles, it was like all those candles were all lit in one place. My Facebook newsfeed resembled the rows of prayer candles you often find in Catholic churches and monasteries - visible symbols of the thoughts and prayers of many, bringing us warmth, comfort, and light - lifting my son and family up to God.

Thanks so much for your love, support, and prayers. It means more than we can say.

Here are a few other things I noticed through this experience of digital prayer: 

02 October 2012

I Love to Tell the Story: Use Podcasts to Improve Your Preaching

Posted in Resources, Social Media

old radioPhoto by Andrew TaylorIf you want to keep your preaching fresh but don't have the time or money to attend a big conference, consider using podcasts to spark your imagination and become a better preacher.

At its heart, preaching is storytelling - whether its retelling the Bible stories, the story of what God is up to now in the world, God's people, places, or encounters.

However, storytelling is becoming a bit of a lost art. We have less time these days to sit and weave together tall tails and stories. We are not as steeped in story as we used to be and, I fear, if only for myself, losing something in our proclamation.

Podcasts are a rich resources for modern day storytelling. They are schools for storytelling, if we listen not only what they say but how they say it - the pace, timing, wordsmithing. Best of all, it's free and you can listen from home, on a run, or in the car.

In the last year, I've made it a point to listen to storytelling podcasts, and I have definitely noticed an improvement in my story telling and preaching.

Here are three of my favorite storytelling podcasts:

28 September 2012

Should Ministry Leaders Post About Politics on Social Media?

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Social Media

vote lovePhoto by Ally AubryElection season is in full swing and social networks are crammed full of all kinds of political messages. There has been a collective groan across Facebook and other social networks as many people share their sometimes surprising political convictions.

Ministry leaders often wrestle with how to respond and also how much to share their own political convictions, personal and pastoral considerations - how much to advocate, persuade, share news, be snarky, when there is so much at stake - even more so in the height of an election cycle.

So, should ministry leaders post about politics?

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