Friday, July 23, 2010

Outward Focus--it is about attitude--our own

This week the esteemed Stated Clerk of Minnesota Valleys Presbytery who is also on the City Council of Redwood Falls, Minnesota who is also my little sister sent me a link to a blog written by Landon Whitsitt, the new vice-moderator of our denomination. He wrote about what it means to be an open-source church. The blog can be found here:

Landon compared the church to Wikipedia. The process is simple--one person writes about a topic, another person edits the topic, and the process keeps going. According to the blog, Wikipedia is clear about its own identity and also has clear guidelines for handling disputes. In bold letters, Landon wrote that “being an open source church is not so much about content but attitude."

During the last 24 hours, I’ve written a devotion about Chain of Lakes’ Core Value of “Outward Focus.” This summer I’m preaching on the eight Core Values of our new church. (Links to the sermons and the devotion I write for each sermon can be found at our web site—

It’s fascinating to me that the challenges of having an Outward Focus are certainly not new. I think that we humans are predisposed to focus on ourselves, our own problems and the internal interests of our own communities. This isn’t a 21st century problem—just read some of the stories in Acts—the story of Peter in Acts 10 or the struggles of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. These stories illustrate the different attitudes that people had towards having an Outward Focus. Peter was hesitant to eat food that God wanted him too; a sect of the Pharisees had problems with the outreach to the Gentiles.

Self-centeredness is one of the hardest sins to overcome. It afflicts all of us no matter what our theology (conservative or liberal), our politics (Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc.), our denominational affiliation, our … you get the picture.

Perhaps the key to the resurgence of the Presbyterian Church is all of us acknowledging the following, “ I am powerless over self-centeredness.” All recovered alcoholics know how hard it is to move through that first step. Perhaps the pastors and elders in our denomination can acknowledge the same challenge. Being open, having an open-source attitude is not about judging others—it’s first recognizing the forces in ourselves that limit our attitude.

Thank God, we have God on our side!! For myself, I can’t imagine successfully negotiating this first step without the help of God.

Can you?

Next week I'm off with my family to Synod School in Storm Lake, Iowa. I'll be taking a short break from blogging.


Landon Whitsitt said...

“ I am powerless over self-centeredness.”

One thing I never understand is walking into a worship service that has omitted the Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Pardon.

thanks for the reflections.

Chainoflakesncd said...

I so agree, Landon.
Are we so afraid of being described as judgmental that we don't have a time to confess our sins?
Our theme for worship this Sunday is "Outward Focus." The following is our Prayer of Confession:

Forgive us and the church for not being more interested in what is happening in the world.
We admit and confess that we can be so consumed with our own lives that we don’t focus on what is happening in the world.
We admit and confess that our own sense of self-interest can overshadow our interest in what is happening in other people’s lives.
We admit and confess that the church can focus so much on institutional needs that we don’t take risks in meeting the needs of the community.
Help us see beyond ourselves—as individuals and as a community—to have an Outward Focus. Amen