The Deacon...Blues In G

Brandon will be leading worship at Crossroads UMC and currently is serving at Due West UMC . I'm always amazed and blessed by what God has done in his life. God has truly given us all a gift. I hope you enjoy his talents and what he has done with them.

Big or Effective?

I ran across this over at The Pew View. We could ask the question posed ("Do you want to be big, or do you want to be effective?") regarding the individual churches or...what about the denomination?

As the UMC conducts the business of General Conference, might we ask the same question, Do we want to maintain our bigness or do we want to be effective? Are we afraid to eliminate bloated systems and obsolete admin positions or streamline? Are we willing to say no to good things and projects (don't have an idea of any exactly) for the best...
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB)

Just a view from the pulpit...

The Three Ring Circus...Government

As I was working on our citizenship beltloop and pin with my Cub Scout Den, I ran across a bit of School House Rock.

It is hard to remember all the stuff from school but in an election year, we need to remember that it requires all three rings of the circus. No one branch needs or should have too much power or usurp the power of other branches.

I have to disagree with one line in the song, we are not the audience, that is one of the biggest misunderstandings. WE are the ringmasters! Those in government are elected to serve according to the Constitution...WE THE PEOPLE...and when the circus gets out of control, WE have the power to enact change.

Traditional Better than Contemporary? Really?

Church Solutions recently peeked my curiosity with LifeWay Research that was released. The research is a poll of unchurched folks regarding their preference of worship space.

They surveyed,
...1,684 unchurched adults, and the respondents, when given photos of churches with varying styles, elected the Gothic-style cathedral by a 2-to-1 ratio over contemporary design churches.
Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, said, “Quite honestly, this research surprised us."
One respondent wrote, “I like the smell of candles burning, stained-glass windows, [and] an intimacy that’s transcendent.”

What surprised me was that Dr. Stetzer was surprised. As I have visited new churches with members of our launch team, many of whom have come back to church in recent years themselves, one thing we've all been looking for is a church that creates sacred space.

So far, City On A Hill UMC in Canton, GA has done the best of anyone I've seen. It wasn't just a feeling about being in church but an anticipation there was something bigger than a concert about to happen.

Young people in the survey overwhelmingly preferred the gothic design and the older adults preferred contemporary. Stetzer seemed to think it had to do with history and while that maybe true, I think it had to do more with meaning. Contemporary tends to strip the meaning and imagery from the sanctuary. One of the best classes I ever took in Seminary was Professor Don Boyd's "Servant as Liturgist," where we learned about the meaning of worship space and the order of worship.

I think this is an excellent insight and one not to be brushed off as easily as the article seems to. It seems to me the unchurched recoginize the mystery and wonder of God and faith. You can't manufacture that or market it - it must be lived.

May I Ask: What religious symbol is most meani ngful to you? Why do you think that is?

May I Suggest: Visit the site Symbols in Christian Art & Architecture to learn more about the symbols used in Christianity.

Blessing of Animals

This is a new one for me but I'm excited about the opportunity for Crossroads UMC to participate in a Blessing of Animals this Saturday, April 19th from 11am-2pm at the Bentwater activity field. It is part of the Pet Adoption and Doggie Fun Day. I think the whole idea for the day was a great one especially since it came from a local Brownie Troop.

My first exposure to doing a Blessing of Animals came from watching the Vicar of Dibley, which is still one of the best BBC sitcoms. But as a UMC, we also have a liturgy for such a service.

In the UMC archives, Rev. Dan Benedict writes...
With other Catholic and Protestant denominations, we United Methodists do not teach that animals have souls and therefore need redemption and forgiveness or heaven in the same way that humans do.

However, we do teach that "All creation is the Lord's, and therefore we are responsible for the ways in which we use or abuse it [including the animals and diverse forms of life on the planet]." (¶ 160, 2004 Book of Discipline)

Further, "We support regulations that protect the life and health of animals, including those ensuring the humane treatment of pets and other domestic animals, animals used in research, and the painless slaughtering of meat animals, fish, and fowl. We encourage the preservation of all animal species including those threatened with extinction." (¶ 160C, 2004 Book of Discipline)
It seems to me, animals have a way of revealing our humanity (and inhumanity). There is a whole Jewish cosmology that I need to explore more. While I'm comfortable with doing the blessings, I'm not sure my cat will feel the same way!

May I Ask: Where do you stand on the spiritual life of pets and animals?

May I Suggest: It is worth considering not just the liturgy but the theology behind. You may also consider whether it is in the best interest of your LOL Cat whether they need to be present at such an event! ;)

The Idol of the Market

Sometimes a picture says so much more...

h/t The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus

UM Clergy Becomes Catholic

For those of you who may not be aware, Allen Hunt, of the Allen Hunt Show announced he would be leaving the UMC to become Roman Catholic. While I've been aware of this for sometime, I just happen to be cruising around and found there was a great deal of celebration in the Catholic-blogosphere regarding this announcement.

Allen's decision really doesn't bother me. What is surprising is the poor journalism in reporting the announcement. On numerous sites, it is a headline that Allen was at the third largest UMC in the world.

For one thing, since the 2007 Annual Conference, Allen was no longer the Senior Pastor at Mt. Pisgah. A visit to Mt. Pisgah's site would have confirmed that.

Second, according the statistical tables of the North Georgia Conference, membership at Mt.Pisgah in 2006 was 7,010. That is behind Roswell UMC @ 7,272, Cascade UMC @ 7,252, Ben Hill UMC @ 9,826, and Mt Bethel UMC @ 7,951. The statistical tables are public record at

Having served with Allen, my prayers are with him and I wish him and his family all the best.

Get Up And Go South!

"But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, 'Get up and go south...'" (Acts 8:26 NASB)

First and foremost anytime God tells you to go south that is a good thing! But seriously, when preparing for my Wednesday night Bible study I came across the words of Adam Clarke which provide the real gist of the text...

How circumstantially particular are these directions! Every thing is so precisely marked that there is no danger of the apostle missing his way. He is to perform some great duty; but what, he is not informed. The road which he is to take is marked out; but what he is to do in that road, or how far he is to proceed, he is not told! It is God who employs him, and requires of him implicit obedience. If he do his will, according to the present direction, he shall know, by the issue, that God hath sent him on an errand worthy of his wisdom and goodness.

Some times you're just not sure. It isn't you're not sure your doing the right thing but your concerned about doing the right little things. There are times, especially as we get closer to starting Crossroads, I wonder if I've been doing those little things. The road is marked out like Clarke said what to do and how far to go are up in the air at times.

As I talked this over with my good friend Heidi, who btw, is one of the most encouraging people I know, she said to me, "Pastor Ken, this maybe a word and prayer for you...'God, stop me if I'm doing the wrong thing.'"

She was right, it was a word for me and maybe for you too.

Now, get up and go south...

May I Ask: When was the last time you got a word, sign or kick in the rear? Did you follow through? What happened?

May I Suggest: Be on the look out for people who might have a word but be ready when it comes - you may find yourself going south!

Jedi Master Pastor on the Mic!

This past Sunday night I dusted off my microphone and stepped on stage with the youth choir of Due West UMC to perform the rap from Sister Act 2's song, "Joyful, Joyful."

It is kinda strange that I can get up in front of any number of people and speak for 20 minutes every week but I got nervous just rapping for 35 seconds! I guess I just need to do it more. Anyone have an opening?

BTW, I love it that fellow blogger, Ashley from Thoughts from me..., was right behind me in the picture. Ashley - you rock! We'll have to do it again at Crossroads in a few months!

Never Leave the Death Star Without It...

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