Thursday, April 29, 2010

Presbytery Long Range Planning Task Force

This past Tuesday evening I participated in the first meeting of our Presbytery’s Long-Range Planning Task Force. This Task Force was appointed by the Presbytery Council.

When I started as the Organizing Pastor of Chain of Lakes Church I told myself I wouldn’t participate on any Presbytery committees for three years—I believed and still believe that dedicating my life to starting a Presbyterian Church constitutes sufficient Presbytery work. However I decided to participate on this group because I believe some changes need to happen in the Presbytery. I wrote about a few of the changes that need to happen in a post dated January 11.

Besides me, the people participating on this Task Force are Carol Anderson, Julia Carlson, Jerry Ganfield, Phil Gebben-Green, Jin Kim, Andy Lindahl, Karen Morey, Phil Park, Jo Rinnggenberg, Kara Root, Chaz Ruark, Ward Sessing, and Joann Simser.

Our team is being led by Karen Morey of Results Coaching, She is taking us through a planning process called Best Year Yet. When Chaz Ruark served as the Interim Executive for Missouri River Valley Presbytery he worked with Results Coaching when that Presbytery did some long-range planning.

For part of the meeting on Tuesday we were asked to talk about our dreams for the Presbytery. Each of us was asked the question “If we were meeting in 2014 to celebrate an amazing 3-year journey, what would the headlines be?”

I shared four responses to the question. I said that:
• We are committed to each other as people and followers of Jesus and this commitment is more important than our own views on theology, ideology, bureaucracy and polity
• We have a new name.
I made the perhaps overly strident remark that the name of our Presbytery, Twin Cities Area, is pathetic. In retrospect I wish I hadn’t used that adjective. Our name isn't pathetic, but it needs to be changed. When I preached at Chaz Ruark’s installation at the Presbytery meeting in November 2008 I suggested the name I would like, Hope Presbytery.
• That we are developing and re-developing new faith communities
• We have a set of values that bind us together

Our next meeting will be a day and a half retreat in June.

One of our assignments for the retreat is to respond to the question, “What did we [the Presbytery of Twin Cities Area] accomplish in the past year?” We were told that we can ask that question of anyone we want. So I am asking you, this blog reader, to respond to this question.

This is your opportunity to help shape the direction of our Presbytery. Please share your response in the comments section of this blog. I will bring all responses to the Retreat.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Exponential 10

Last week I attended Exponential 10, a national New Church Conference that was held at First Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida. This was the second year in a row that I’ve gone to Exponential. Over 3,000 people from all over the country attended. The Big Idea from the conference is “Transformation Starts In The Heart Of One.”

The workshops I attended were “The Checkpoints of Spiritual Vitality” led by Brian Bloye, “The Jesus Adhesive: Disciples that Stick” led by Matt Chandler, “Worship Ministry from the Ground Up led by Mark De Ymaz & James Wafford III, “Sticky Teams” led by Larry Osbourne, & “Fostering Age Appropriate Spiritual Formation through Small Groups” led by Rick Howerton. The Pre-Conference session I attended was called “Simply Strategic Volunteers” led by Tim Stevens of Granger Church, a United Methodist congregation near South Bend, Indiana.

As with most conferences my head is still swimming with all the information I received. I am still typing up all the notes I took. When I finish them I’ll put them on the Chain of Lakes Scrbid site so anyone can access them. During Exponential I attended five plenary sessions, five workshops and a pre-conference session.

I very much enjoyed hanging out with Ray Jones and Craig Williams. Ray leads the Evangelism Ministry for General Assembly and Craig serves New Church Development in San Clemente, California.

Last Tuesday night a group of Presbyterians from the Presbytery of Tropical Florida. Many of their leaders gathered to talk about church transformation and what they could continue to do as a Presbytery. That Presbytery had a large gathering of people attend Exponential. I was very encouraged to see their commitment to new church development.

This conference just continues to light my passion to see churches, especially main-line churches, start new churches and redevelop churches.

Monday, April 19, 2010


For the next four days I'm in Orlando attending a New Church Development Conference called Exponential. I'll look forward to sharing thoughts about this next week. Until then I'm taking a brief blogging break.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What a day! First experience of Target Field

Yesterday #1 Red Head (my wife, Amy) and I experienced Target Field for the first time.

We traveled to the ball park via the train. North Star is running extra trains to select Twins games. We arrived to the North Star Station in Coon Rapids with plenty of time to spare. The ticket was a steal—$10 for a round-trip ticket for the two of us. We ended up with extra time, so we got ready for Target Field by shopping at Target. I joined Twins Nation when I purchased a bright blue Morneau T-Shirt for the game.

When we got back to the train station I felt like I had been transported to a New York City subway station. The platform was crowded. We were able to get on the train, and encountered standing room only.

Minnesota Nice wore off when the train arrived at the Fridley station. When the train pulled up and the doors opened, a few folks loudly told the large group of people on the platform that there was no room on the train. I guess some Minnesota folks really do have the East Coast in them. Fortunately everyone got on the train, and we all lumbered down the track towards Target Field.

When we got out of the train we followed the crowd and voila, Target Field was on our left. I didn’t know what gate to enter—at the Metrodome we could only get to our seats by entering specific gates, but discovered that at Target Field fans can enter any gate.

We were certainly wide-eyed as we walked around the main-concourse of Target Field. We walked slowly and soaked in an experience that baseball fans have waited for since it became apparent in the early 80’s that the Metrodome was a football stadium and not a ballpark.

Our seats were in the lower level of left field, seventh row. We sat on an aluminum banch, but didn’t care. We couldn’t see the score board, but again it didn’t really matter. We were sitting outdoors on a warm day at a ballpark watching the Twins.

I left my seat to walk around. I can understand why people want to walk around the ballpark and snoop. There is a lot to take-in. Because I am a partial season-ticket holder (some neighborhood buddies and I are splitting a 20 game package), I was able to pick up some detailed program guides.

Oh yeah—there was a game. Twins lost 6-3. The difference in the game was we had the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and the man whose name was on the back of my T-Shirt popped out; the Sox had the bases loaded in the top of the eighth and Hermida cleared them with a double.

In the accounts of the game the media mentioned the rain. Our seats in left field are under an upper deck, so we stayed dry. Fortunately there is plenty of room in the concourses to stay dry during rain—plus television stations are all over the ball park.

We eventually went to the Metropolitan Club—I discovered that as a season ticket holder we had access to this fancy place. In the future I might come early and pay an extra five bucks and sit at the tables outside this beautiful restaurant.

For the last two innings we sat with my nephew and his college roommate in seats down the left-field line. We implored the Twins to rally. They did give us some hope. I was a screaming with the crowd when Thome came up as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth. We had two on in the ninth and Cuddyer’s hit initially was a long fly ball to deep in the outfield, but ……………… died in the mid afternoon air for the final out.

In between the top and bottom of the eight, I found a Murray’s Steak sandwich. The price was $10.50. It was the worst decision of the day—the sandwich was okay, but it was cold. I should have figured that out. Who is going to make a fresh sandwich when the game is almost over?

We sauntered around the main concourse after the game. We saw Anthony La Planta and Ron Coomer give their post-game analysis. We went to Target Plaza and said goodbye to my nephew. Eventually we found that gate that leads to the North Star train platform. We got on the 4:20 train. We were able to get second level seats in the car. We enjoyed listening to a grandfather teach his three grandkids play cards. They each had their faces painted.

I'm amazed at how far the Twins have come as an organization and as a team. It was only nine years ago that Carl Pohlad tried to contract the team. (I have to admit that as I was enjoying Target Field yesterday a voice inside of me shared that none of what I witnessed would have happened if Carl Pohlad had his way.) Now Minnesotans can enjoy a beautiful stadium while watching a quality team.

What a day! I had the privilege of spending most of the day with #1 Red Head, taking a train, and experiencing much of what Target Field has to offer. What more could a Minnesota guy ask for in a day?

I posted 20 pictures on my Facebook page. If you are not my Facebook friend, send me a friend request.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Accompanist at Chain of Lakes

After worship yesterday the Worship/Education team at Chain of Lakes church affirmed the decision of our Accompanist Hiring Committee to hire Kellie Burriss. Kellie will start as the Accompanist at Chain of Lakes Church on Sunday, May 2.

Kellie works as a Minnesota Court Certified Spanish Interpreter. She graduated from the University of Minnesota last December with a degree in Linguistics, Political Science, and Spanish Studies.

She has an excellent musical background. She’s received training in voice, piano, flute and music theory. In her resume she shared that she has a passion for church music. She’s worshipped with us at Chain of Lakes twice and both times significantly added to our congregational singing.

Our Accompanist Hiring Committee chose Kellie because we believed she would be an excellent fit at Chain of Lakes Church. In her interviews she shared that she appreciates a balanced style of worship—a style into which we at Chain of Lakes are growing. She said that she is looking for a congregation that is thought provoking, collaborative and children friendly. These are elements that are already being lived out in our congregation.

In the cover letter she wrote when she applied for the position, Kellie wrote, “if you’re looking for someone with a huge variety of musical and life experiences; who can equally happily lead a service all by herself playing and singing or give up the piano to a volunteer and play, I don’t know, tambourine instead; who loves and can perform many different styles of music; who can select service music and arrange it for different instruments if needed; who could conceivably get involved with other ministries such as children’s groups or Spanish language programs; and who is just bursting with energy and enthusiasm and lots of ideas… then I’m your accompanist.”

We are thrilled that Kellie is going to be the Accompanist at Chain of Lakes Church. It’s exciting to envision what can happen in the future.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Reading Dreamers of the Day

During the past two weeks the E-mail Book Club in which I participated discussed Mary Doria Russell's "Dreamers of the Day."

Dreamers of the Day is narrated from the afterlife by Agnes Shanklin, a schoolteacher from Ohio. After her family died in the flu epidemic of 1919 she took her dog, Rose, and traveled to Egypt and the Holy Land where her sister was once a missionary. While there she met Lawrence of Arabia, Winston Churchill and Gertrude Bell. Those three are very involved in the Cairo Peace Conference, a Conference that organized the boundaries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel & Jordan. Agnes met and fell in love with Karl, a German who she discovers at the end of the book is a German spy. The novel chronicles Agnes relationship with Karl, her travels through the Holy Land, and her sense of coming alive as a person.

I found Agnes' travels and her description of the Cairo Peace Conference to be fascinating. But as I shared with the rest of the Book Club, I can only take so much travel narrative until I fall asleep. It's hard for me to read about travel experiences--I would rather see pictures or watch a video.

In the last section of the book Agnes narrated the book from the after-life. I wasn't sure if the place was purgatory, the after-life, or just a creation of the after-life as Mary Doria Russell believes it to be. I found this part of the book the hardest to swallow. Russell is an agnostic—so it didn’t seem quite right to me to have her set a part of the book in the after-life. For me it would be like someone who doesn’t like football writing a story about a football team. Or a non-musician writing about a symphony orchestra. Or a Democrat setting a novel about a John Birch society group.

This led me to all sorts of questions. Do novelists have the duty to believe in their settings? Does it work for people to write about something in which they don’t believe? Does a novelist have to have a connection to a setting for it to work in the book?

I’m not sorry I read Dreamers of the Day, but in three years I doubt I’ll be able to tell you much about it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Resurrection Prayer

What a wonderful first Easter worship experience we enjoyed at Chain of Lakes this past Sunday!! I shared with the gathered community on Sunday that at Chain of Lakes we will be worshipping on Easter until Jesus returns, whenever that is; however we will only have one, first Easter service. The people who came this past Sunday were part of that first service.

This past Sunday w enjoyed a very large attendance—69 people. We barely had enough room in our sanctuary to seat everyone. Not counting the Grand Opening, when many people came from other Presbyterian churches, this was by far the largest worship attendance at Chain of Lakes.

The service went very well. Many people made positive comments about the sermon—which is posted at:
My daughter, Hannah, sang with grace (and I’m certainly biased about her singing), and the baptism of Bill Fink was very special. I am especially touched that the first baptism we celebrated at Chain of Lakes was an adult baptism. The picture above is of Bill being baptized.

At the end of worship everyone was given a card with a Resurrection Prayer that I wrote. The prayer is as follows:

I choose to be a person of resurrection orientation
Because of the resurrection I will look for hope in all situations
I will ignore the messages of despair that I hear so much in the world
I will intentionally nurture this resurrection orientation in me
I will go out of the way to help others experience this resurrection orientation
I acknowledge that the 17 words from the angel can change the world
I pray this change begins with me.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter at Chain of Lakes

Today the world stops to pause the worst event in the history of the world—the intentional murder of God. Despite the solemnity of this day, I can’t help but look forward to the celebration of the resurrection in two days.

At Chain of Lakes we have a wonderful Easter worship experience planned. I shared last night with the group who gathered at our Agape Feast that we at Chain of Lakes will be celebrating Easter every year until Jesus’ returns, whenever that is. But there is only one first celebration of Easter for a congregation. This Sunday is that day for us.

During worship we will celebrate the baptism of Bill Fink—the first baptism at Chain of Lakes is an adult baptism. We will enjoy listening to a trumpet play during our congregational singing. My daughter, Hannah, will be singing. And we will be celebrating Communion. I’ve worked all week on the Easter sermon that I’ve entitled, “17 words.”

If you are reading this blog, I encourage you to join us this Sunday. We will enjoy an Easter brunch at 9:45 a.m. and then worship at 10:30 a.m. at the Lino Lakes Senior Center, 1189 Main Street. Come eat at 9:45 and then stay to celebrate the resurrection. The day promises to be something that we will never forget!