Thursday, December 20, 2012

Outdoor Christmas Eve celebration

We want to invite the community join us for an Outdoor Christmas Eve Celebration on Monday, December 24 at 4:30 p.m.  at our new property.
Outdoor Christmas Eve services might not be out of the ordinary for congregations in some parts of the country, but they don’t happen often in Minnesota.  After all, this is December and it is December.  But the beauty of a new church is we can try all sorts of new things.  What can be more new than celebrating the entrance of Jesus into the world in an outdoor setting.
Everyone who attends this celebration will receive hot coffee or hot apple cider.  Three fire pits will be burning on the perimeter.  We will sing carols, hear the Christmas story, light candles, and welcome in the light.
The property is located on the northern edge of the Lakes Development in Blaine.  It can be found from the intersection of Main (125th Ave) and Harpers by going south on Harpers, taking an immediate right on Marina Circle Drive and then turning right on Edison.
In case of inclement weather, the event will be cancelled.  We’ll share this information at
Come join us for this unique Christmas celebration!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Beginning and Newtown

At Chain of Lakes our theme for Advent has been New Beginnings.  We’ve talked about how God is always doing something new in our life.  We don’t have to invent these New Beginnings; our task is to perceive them.  The sermons can be seen here:
The horrible shootings last Friday in Connecticut have obviously revealed that our country needs a New Beginning with our relationship to violence.  Perhaps this New Beginning can start in congregations across the United States who resolve to find ways to prevent these murders.  I believe that God is working right now—just as God has always been working among us—to create a peaceful world.    
Let me state the obvious:
God didn’t create children so they would be killed in schools.
If we could keep the conversation right there and there alone I think we could develop the will to create a less violent world.  The solutions divide us, but this obvious fact doesn’t.  If we can stay with the obvious, then perhaps the hard work of finding the solutions won’t be so hard.
Sure, right now there is energy for meaningful gun control.  But I don’t think that meaningful gun control is the only solution to solving the problem of our countries relationship to violence. 
Yes, I do think that access to semi-automatic weapons should be limited; yes, I’ve never been in favor of conceal/carry in our state or country; no, I’m not for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment; yes, I do believe that people have the right to own guns in their homes (and I hope they store them safely); yes, I think hunters should be able to enjoy their sport; no, I’m not worried about the government having arms and the citizens not.
But if the only response to the shootings in Connecticut is the regulation of semi-automatic weapons the response is not complete. 
As long as teenagers have access to violent video games children will be killed in schools.  As long as adults don’t receive adequate mental health treatment, children will be killed in schools.  As long as Hollywood and television give us movies and shows where violence is glorified, children will be killed in schools.  As long as the media continues to be fascinated with the people who perform these evil acts, children will be killed in schools. 

The church is not guilty in relationship to these Mass Shootings.  We are more interested in stopping gratuitous sex than gratuitous violence.  I'm not in favor of either, but the consequences of our focus have been revealealed in incidents like the shooting in Newtown.  Our congregations don't offer sufficient Mental Health resources to the world, which is odd since Jesus has always been the great healer. 
The issues are obvious; the solutions are not.
I believe that the complete solution begins with God and then ricochets through the human heart.
I’m convinced that meaningful change can take place if church people get involved.  Our involvement can’t be around a partisan agenda; instead we have to bring people together to find a consensus on all these issues.  This will take perseverance even when the emotions regarding the Connecticut school shootings has withered.
I am happy to get involved, but I am first taking time to pray.  I have committed myself to praying every day in 2013 that no Mass Shootings will ever take place again.  This is my starting place; it won’t be my ending place.
I do believe that God wants a New Beginning in terms of our countries relationship to violence.  I don’t think a solution will happen unless we’re open to the movement of the Spirit.  This starting place could be our New Beginning.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Marketing and the church

Thanks to Jennifer Huehns, Chain of Lakes’ crack Administrator, a group within Chain of Lakes has been working on a Marketing plan.  We hope to be done by the middle of February when the plan will be presented to the Steering Committee of Chain of Lakes for approval.
This is really the second part of our Marketing plan.  When I came to Chain of Lakes I shared that we needed to develop a Purpose Statement and Core Values.  The Purpose Statement answers the question, “why do you exist” Each of the eight Core Values at Chain of Lakes is a principle, quality, belief, and or/attitude that is foundational to our community
Our Purpose Statement and Core Values have formed the identity of our new church.   We love our Purpose Statement and Core Values.  They can be found at  Not a Sunday goes by when we don’t reference them.
During our Marketing meetings it became apparent that Chain of Lakes needs a new tag line.  In our minds a tag line is a very short statement that describes our new congregation.  It has to be consistent with our Purpose Statement and Core Values.  A tag line could be used in a casual conversation by a person from Chain of Lakes with another person.  If someone asked a Chain of Lakes participant what our new church is all about then the tag line could be shared.
I realize that some people believe that the church should not even be in the marketing business.  The thought process goes that marketing seems like selling, and we shouldn’t be selling God.  God doesn’t need to be sold, branded or have a tag line like Coca Cola or Nike or other successful companies.
I agree that God does not need to be marketed; however I have no problem with a church or group of churches sharing a message.  At Chain of Lakes we want to communicate who we are, really our identity.  Our marketing ministry doesn’t replace our worship ministry or education or service or works of justice or any ministry.  Our marketing complements these ministries.   
It’s my experience that most churches do a very poor job of marketing.  It’s not an accident that a popular web site is called “church marketing sucks.”  The idea of the site is not that marketing should not be done; instead the idea is that the quality of church marketing is poor.
When I drove into work this morning I saw a gigantic red sign on the outer wall of the Blaine campus of Eagle Brook that said, “Try church again” along with the church’s logo.  I know that some Presbyterians would throw up if they saw the sign.  My first thought when I saw the gigantic sign was “that’s really good.”  Eagle Brook is obviously appealing to people who have gone to church in the past and might try again during the Christmas season.  That’s smart.
This past Monday our Marketing group was experimenting with different tag lines.  We experimented with a lot of them.  At the end of our gathering threw out this one, “Regular people discovering a place to belong.”  That phrase resonated with us. 
Yesterday I asked my Facebook friends their opinion of the tag line.  I received all sorts of comments—ranging from love to horror.  The comments can be read at:!/hmoorepaul  I have no idea what the ultimate tag line at Chain of Lakes will be.  I do know that every comment we receive about it will help us refine what we will ultimately use.
We in the church have a message about God and about our local congregations that can transform people’s lives.  If we do a poor job of communicating the message won’t make an impact.
I’m interested in your thoughts.  What do you think about the church “doing” marketing?  What are your thoughts about this possible tag line?