Monday, August 30, 2010

Minnesota State Fair

Last Friday, Amy, Hannah and I made our annual visit to the Great Minnesota Get-Together—the Minnesota State Fair. Since Amy and I met each other in 1998 we have only missed the fair once. Going to the fair is an annual tradition for our family.

Instead of driving to the Fair and parking there, we parked our car at the parking lot of Presbyterian Church of the Way. While we waited for the bus to arrive, we very much enjoyed talking with folks from the church. The parking lot was almost full. I appreciated that we could park for FREE and then take a bus to the fair.

For me the power of the fair is its tradition. I attended the fair as a boy, as a single young adult, and now as a father and husband. When I walk around the different areas of the fairgrounds many memories come to me. I remember listening to Steve Cannon at the WCCO-radio booth; I remember going to hear Kenny Loggins sing at the fair in 1985. I remember the first time Amy and I went to the fair. We stayed late and sat in the bleachers at the WCCO-TV booth to watch the telecast. We were both still giddy about meeting each other. As we watched the telecast Amy called her family and friends to tell them to turn to Channel 4. I remember hauling Hannah as a baby around in a stroller all over the fair. I have a memorable picture of her sitting on my shoulders eating a cream puff. I remember the year that statues of Peanuts characters were all around the Fair.

For me the challenge of attending the Fair is its tradition. I’ve attended the Fair so many times that I have a “been there, done that” attitude. I need to do new activities at the Fair. This year I decided I was going to eat new foods at the fair. I eschewed my traditional feasting on cheese curds, Greek gyros, and pronto puffs. Monica Walch—a former parishioner from the Plainview church—sent me a blog that contained a review of new fair foods. The link is here: I tried the lingenberry lefse—highly recommend it; the Granny’s Apples Strawberry Lemonade in the Food Building—again, highly recommend it; the Giant Juicy Turkey Sandwich from Turkey To Go—even though it’s received strong reviews the sandwich didn’t do much for me. I also consumed a half pounds of cinnamon almonds—Yum. No cheese curds or cream puffs this year.

The memory I’ll take from this year’s Fair was when Hannah participated in a DNA survey that some students at the University of Minnesota are doing. We stumbled upon the survey. It was late at night and the students were almost finishing up for the day. They asked Hannah if she wanted to do the survey and we said “sure.” The survey consisted of the three of us spitting into a tube, Hannah getting weighed, her height measured, her blood pressure taken, and some blood taken from her. Hannah had never had her blood pressure taken before. She didn’t like the pressure that the instrument put on her arm. The student taking the survey tried unsuccessfully three times to get Hannah’s blood pressure from her right arm. Finally he switched to her left arm—it worked. In participating in the survey we’re suppose to get two tickets to the Fair for the next two years.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wonderful week of Vacation Bible School!

Tonight is the fourth and final night of Vacation Bible School. We have enjoyed an outstanding Bible School at Chain of Lakes this year. Last year's Bible School went well, and this year's is even better. We've had excellent attendance-23, 19 & 21 kids--and we've had a few new families send kids to Bible School. Our adults have done an outstanding job of leading Bible School. Last night I watched Gary Wassam & Tiffany Godfrey lead three different groups in Story Time. The two of them did a marvelous job of having the children act out the story of Jesus healing a blind man. I was touched by the passion that Gary and Tiffany had for working with their groups. I've seen this passion on the faces of many of our adult volunteers this week at Bible School. Thanks to all adults who have given their time to help this week. Many adults have spent four nights at the Senior Center this week helping out. This commitment to our youth and children leads me to know that we at Chain of Lakes are well on our way to living out our Core Value of "Investing in Future Generations."

I'm also touched that the kids in Bible School have responded so well to the service challenge we gave them. Earlier this summer Manna Market shared with us their need for rolls of toilet paper. So though this might seem to be a bit of an odd service project, our Education Team decided to have kids at Bible School bring rolls of toilet paper. We set a goal of 350 rolls. This was a stretch goal, and on the first night the kids seemed a bit overwhelmed by bringing that much toilet paper. Now it appears we underestimated the generosity of our kids!! We already have collected 347 rolls and still have another night of Bible School left. James Chapman-the pastor of Son Light Church which runs Manna Market-was so impressed by this response that he is personally coming to Bible School tonight to pick up all the toilet paper.

Just like last year, Vacation Bible School has shared a vision of what our children’s ministry at Chain of Lakes can be!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vacation Bible School is tonight!

Tonight—Monday, August 23—we begin one of the best ministries of the year for us at Chain of Lakes—Vacation Bible School! I still remember the wonderful Bible School we held last August at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. For two nights last year we received a vision of what our children’s ministries could look like.

I’m anticipating an even better Vacation Bible School this year. We have a strong number of kids pre-registered; all of our volunteer positions are filled. Now it is time to enjoy this ministry!

Bible School will start with a FREE meal at 5:45 p.m. at the Lino Lakes Senior Center, 1189 Main Street in Lino Lakes. After dinner I will welcome the kids and share with them our service project for the week. I can’t share what it is, but let me say that it has something to do with “rolls.” Kellie Burriss will then lead the kids in our first Kid’s Choir. After singing the kids will break into three groups. Each group will enjoy games, crafts, and a Bible Story.

I’ve been encouraging all adults at Chain of Lakes Church to invite the children on their street to attend Bible School. I think that two families on our block are attending Bible School. Take some time right now to call a family on your street to invite that family to Bible School. If you need to offer the family a ride—consider doing that. Vacation Bible School is one of the easiest ministries in which to invite someone outside our congregation.

Please feel free to come by the Senior Center tonight to enjoy the energy of Vacation Bible School. We will be there until 8:00 p.m. Please also take some time today to keep this wonderful ministry in your prayers!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

National New Church Development Conference

I’m back in the office and blogging again after spending three days last week at the National New Church Development Conference at St. Pete, Florida. Approximately 200 people from around the country attended the conference. The conference was made up of two plenary presentations by Rev. Shawn Lovejoy, who is the organizing pastor of Mountain Lake Church in Cummings Georgia. He started the church in 1999 and today has over 2000 in worship. We had the opportunity to enjoy worship, six different workshop tracks, and a large group seminar. The workshop tracks were: Evangelism and Disciple Making, Nuts and Bolts of New Church Development, Spirituality and Prayer, Leader Development, Multi Ethnic Church Starts, and Churches Starting Churches. I attended the Churches Starting Churches workshop.

It was a privilege for me to attend this conference with four other people from Chain of Lakes Church. I have decided that I want to avoid going to conferences unless others from the church come with me. I have too much experience of getting all excited at a conference and then having my excitement die when I get back because no one shared the experience with me.

Ideas from the conference that resonated with me personally:
• We should pray the following prayer every day: “Lord I give this church to you. This is your church”

• The denomination has put together an excellent process for starting a new church. It’s a 16 session process. We at Chain of Lakes did part of this when we developed our Purpose Statement and Core Values. At Chain of Lakes we could benefit by getting on the same page about the following questions: “Who is Jesus?” “What is the church” “What is salvation” “What is evangelism?” We also could benefit by doing some site interviews into the community.

• The importance of protecting Purpose Statement and Core Values. We have to communicate this over and over to the congregation and also be aware of vision leaks.

• I saw some outstanding ways that Mission Insight—a demographic tool that we at Chain of Lakes have access—can be used

Congratulations to our National Office for putting on an excellent conference.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why go to the Dells, when you can go to Synod School?

Last week I spent the week with my family at Synod School held at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa. Synod School is an annual educational event sponsored by the Synod of the Lakes and Prairies. (The Synod is one of the four governing bodies in the Presbyterian Church. The Synod of Lakes and Prairies covers the Midwestern section of the United States.)

This was the fourth time I’ve attended Synod School—the first time I’ve attended at Buena Vista College. I attended three times at Grinnell College.

Synod School was a marvelous event which I completely enjoyed. Each morning we participated in worship. After worship children and youth were dismissed to their programming. When it was time to go to the kids’ program, my daughter, Hannah, leaped out of her chair. After worship Rodger Nishioka, professor of Christian Edcuation at Columbia Seminary, gave a morning lecture. This year he talked about what it means to be Presbyterian. We then had the opportunity to go to four classes. The classes ranged from academic—one class was on Greek tragedies—to the playful—another class was on Improvisation. During the evening we were able to worship again and then had many other possible classes in which we could go. In one evening class Rodger Nishioka did a question and answer session with whomever showed up.

My sister’s family and my parents made Synod School our family vacation. Instead of going to a resort or Wisconsin Dells we chose Synod School. Why go to the Dells when a person could go to Synod School?

On Sunday night we were greeted in Storm Lake by the first stage of R.A.G.B.R.A.I. This is the bike ride sponsored by the Des Moines Register across Iowa. Approximately 10,000 people were participating. My wife, Amy, and I were amazed at all we saw on Sunday night when we walked downtown Storm Lake. Bicyclists were camping all over town, a huge festival was being held on the main street, and the Johnny Holm band performed. Amy & I had a blast talking to some cyclists and absorbing many “interesting” sights.

The highlight for me at Synod School was listening to Rodger Nishioka speak. I’ve heard him speak twice before. He has gotten better. He has his pulse on the how young people view faith. He’s passionately interested in how we Presbyterians can share our message in a successful way with young folks. I know many people are worried about the future of the PC(USA). My suggestion for our doubters is to listen close to what Rodger Nishioka has to say.

Synod School is a wonderful family vacation. I can see why over 600 people participated. Why go the the Dells when a person can go to Synod School?

Congratulations to the Synod School Planning Team and Synod Staff for pulling off an outstanding event.