Stole Camp 2015

Rev ev speaking stole camp

This past Saturday I was privileged to speak at the Coastal Plains Area “Stole Camp” for their commissioned minsters.  I was asked to speak about the importance of hospital ministry and how ministers can help in the care process for the patient and their family.

Thanks to First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Houston for their hospitality.  Thanks also to the CPA for their asking me to be a part of this great educational event.

I would love to speak to you and your group/congregation, so check out the “Speaking” tab.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Lenten Devotional

In the Disciples of Christ we have a unique congregation that many people do not know about.  Fig Tree Christian Church (DOC) is an entirely online church… that’s right, online church. It’s a really interesting concept one that seems to be catching on; recently Fig Tree announced that they were accepting memberships.

From their website:

Fig Tree Christian is a place where we can talk openly about Christianity. It is a place where we can learn together. It is a new adventure in being a community of God. Spring is here and a new summer is on the way. We are Fig Tree Christian because it is such a time as this when we need to be the example to invite in a new summer.

I have been asked to contribute to Fig Tree Christian Church’s 2015 Lenten Devotional entitled “Scandal at the Cross.”   You can download the study now in PDF form (link) or if you are an Android user you can download the Devotional App via the Google Play store in the coming weeks.  Sorry iOS users the cost to get into the Apple App store is about $100 and Fig Tree couldn’t afford it this time, maybe next year.

During Lent I will post my two submissions on February 18 (Ash Wednesday) and March 18.

I am grateful to Fig Tree for allowing me to be apart of their devotional series and I hope that you are enriched by it this Lenten Season.

To learn more about the Lenten Series and the authors that contributed click here.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

Today we pause to remember a man whose faith and conviction propelled him to do more every day.

The world is a better place because of the life and ministry of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This does not mean we still do not have work to do; we must continue his mission of love, justice and peace in the world around us.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

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New Sermon Series: “The Forgotten Series”

TheForgottenSeries

In the Protestant Canon there are 66 books:39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament. Found with in the sacred pages are words, stories, sayings and teachings that have inspired billions of followers of Christianity spanning millenia.

The church today proclaims the teachings of the Bible through the giving of the message or sermon. Ministers from all walks of life go to the Bible to pull out a message from God about what it means to live a faithful life today. People turn to these words everyday as a way to hear the story of God anew and/or have a new hearing on familiar words.

However, over time the some ministers (myself included) have left out some books when it comes to these proclamations, either intentionally or not.  We tend to gravitate to certain books time and time again.  By doing this we have shrunk our canon from 66 books to only a handful.

Because of this I have decided to preach sermons from books that many people have more than likely never heard a sermon from before.

I am calling it “The Forgotten Series.”

Over the next five weeks, we will be exploring some of the lesser preached from books of the Bible to see what messages we have been missing.

The series will include (in no particular order):

  • 2 John
  • Philemon
  • Titus
  • Lamentations
  • Obadiah

I will be posting the Sermons page each week if you would like to follow along.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Photo Credit: “Old Spines” by Tom 7 via Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License 2.0.
Words added by Haley D. Work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License..
Creative Commons License

15 Things The Church Needs To Do In 2015

My latest piece picked up by Sojourners Magazine.

Edit 1/13/15: Also picked up by Church Leaders.


It’s that time of the year again, when we stand on the precipice of a new year and look forward to what is in store for us in 2015. Last year, I wrote 14 Things the Church Needs to Do in 2014, and many of them are still true for 2015. However, given the events of 2014, the church now also has a monumental opportunity to provide healing, justice, care, and compassion in new and exciting ways — ways I believe are important for the church in the upcoming year.

1. Review what happened in 2014. What worked? What didn’t? Where did we spend our money? How did we touch people’s lives? What one word would describe 2014? Take some time and objectively look at what transpired in 2014.

2. Honestly answer the question, “Why in the world would anyone want to come to this church?” I believe this is the biggest question that every church must ask itself. How one answers this question affects the ministry, outlook, and mission of the church. If you answer this question honestly, the answer might surprise you and scare you at the same time.

3. Answer, “If we closed our doors tomorrow, who would miss us?” Is the church a place to go on Sunday morning or an impactful piece of the community? Is the church a place that is finding areas of ministry that are outside the four walls of the church? Is the church a place of community building, fellowship, and service, or is it just merely existing? If the church closed tomorrow would there be a gap, a hole, a void left in the community or even a particular community?

4. Then ask the even harder question — “If no one would miss us, then what are we doing here?”

5. Speak up for the voiceless in our own backyard. Too often churches have a understanding of changing the world. Don’t get me wrong — the message of Christ has that ability. But instead of constantly looking at overseas mission trip destinations, are we looking in our own backyard? Are there areas that we are missing because we think someone else is handling the problem? There are needs in any-sized community — the church is called to speak up for those who cannot and be the voice they are longing to have. If the church cannot and does not speak to community, state, and national issues then we are missing a big piece of the gospel.

6. Have honest conversations about race. In Ferguson, Staten Island, Ohio, and everywhere in between, the complexities of race in our society has been thrown to the forefront of news, conversation, and lives. Was Dr. King correct when he said that 11 a.m. on Sunday was the most segregated hour of the week? For many churches that still does seem to be the case. How the church responds to the issue of race in the 21st century will be extremely important.

7. Re-evaluate missions. What is the purpose of missions? What is our mission as followers of Christ? Is the church supporting missions that support our mission? Reviewing how the work of the church is done will focus the ministry opportunities for 2015.

8. Remember that failure is not a bad word. So you planned and planned and planned some more and your ministry idea that was supposed to bring people the good news didn’t get off the ground. Well … that’s OK. Ministry is tough. Failure is never easy but it something we must see not as a negative but as a growing point. If we are holding back for fear of failure then we are limiting what God can do in that situation. Churches cannot simply just wait for “home runs.” Ministry is more about trial and error than it is an exactly science. So get out there and try something, get your hands dirty, be the hands and feet of God!

9. Love the people, love the people, love the people. And I mean no matter what. The church needs to strip away the cold exterior and welcome people — all people — with the loving arms of God. We need to love people for who they are not for who we want them to be.

10. Answer, “If someone came to this community for the first time what would their impression be?” Some parts of the church have a reputation of being an “insiders” club. For some congregations it is difficult for a new person to find their place or role within the community. If the same 10 people do everything in the church, how can the rest of the church have an impact? If someone were to walk into your faith community what would their first impression be? Is the signage correct? Are things laid out well? Is there someone to greet them yet not ask 100 questions and make them fill out a commitment card? Let’s look at the church with fresh eyes and see what happens.

11. Stop the bodies-in-the-pews game. There is more to being a ministry of God than painstakingly counting bodies in the pews. This is does not mean people who are missing are unimportant — it means the church needs to stop defining itself by numbers physically in attendance. What if we worried about how many lives we have touched, instead of the number of people that come on Sunday morning?

12. Pray for … everything. Patience, peace, mercy, safety, movement of the spirit, direction. Start praying and never stop. The church, the world, and our souls need it.

13. Increase giving. It takes faith to increase giving even during good financial stability but even more when it times are tough. Have faith, take courage, and step out and increase the giving of the church. It doesn’t have to be much, but it has to be some. Watch what happens when a little is given in faith.

14. Decrease complaining. Yes, there is a lot to do and few workers to do it. The budget may have its pitfalls and attendance is not what it once was 40 years ago, but that doesn’t mean we have to let it affect us and our life. We have a lot to be thankful for. Attitude is important — especially in the church. If people are always complaining — especially about insignificant things — then this will spill over to all parts of the church.

15. Don’t give up on the church. I know what Christ said — that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church — but there are times when this feels untrue. People from all walks of life have been shunned from or have run out on a congregation for differing beliefs or theological styles. As the body of Christ we need to remember that the church is made up of imperfect people who are trying to do the will of God. While we might not like the direction the church is heading we cannot give up on it. God has never given up on us — let’s not give up on God.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Happy New Year!

San Francisco New Years Eve Fireworks

Happy New Year!

May 2015 be full of love, grace, mercy, joy and happiness!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Photo Credit: “San Francisco New Years Eve Fireworks” by Wilson Lam via Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License 2.0

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Westboro Baptist Mentioned Me In A Tweet…. I Have No Idea Why

It’s no secret that Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) and I have very little in common theologically.

However, I was mentioned by them in two different tweets and I have no idea why.  They have been re-tweeted a few times by other official WBC accounts and members.

See below.

 

The links are to sermons about the soul and it is just a person reading different passages about the different ways the soul is mentioned throughout the Biblical record.  I’m never mentioned in them. Its bizarre that if this is a random selection that I was chosen; I mean of all the people on Twitter I was selected to be mentioned in a WBC tweet? :-/  Not more “high profile” Christian thinkers/pastors/bloggers, but little ol’ me.

 

For the record, I do not support, promote or condone the actions of this group. I am in no way affiliated with them. They are a hateful group that uses the teachings of Christ and the Bible as a weapon under the guise of “love” and “righteousness.”

I have tried to contact them to have my name and/or the tweet removed with no success.

So I guess my only recourse will be to hit the block button.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Advent Ends… Christmas Begins!

6387685667_3b0ae290c0_zThe Candle of Emmanuel, God with Us!

Come, listen, the sounds of God-with-us ring clear,
and signs of a cross in the distance appear.
The Word once made flesh, yet the Word ever near.
One candle is lit for the Christ-birthday here.

 MERRY CHRISTMAS!
GOD IS WITH US!


Mary Anne Parrott, 1988, © 1995 Chalice Press
(from Chalice Hymnal, no. 128). All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: “023” by Joe O’Meara via Flickr. Used Under the Creative Commons 2.0 License.

Missing Christmas?

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The final countdown has begun.

If you have children under the age of 7 you have known since Thanksgiving the number of days until Christmas Day.

So in the immortal words of “hide and seek,” ready or not here Christmas comes.

Gifts have been purchased, trees have been trimmed, lights have strung, travel plans have been made, and stockings have been hung with care.  We have been bombarded with Christmas carols since October and the news has been reporting on the “holiday shopping season” since “Black Friday.”

During this time we can start to fall into the trap of “Christmas as usual.”  Whether we know it or not we are creatures of habit and not just in our personal life liking having coffee in the morning or eating the same breakfast.

We can find these habits in our religious life as well.

Christmas for many people has become somewhat routine.

We know what to do, what to say, where to go, what to bring, what to cook and where to eat it.  It’s all mapped out; just follow the same the routine.   Christmas cannot just be something that is done in a secular fashion that is boiled down to shopping and pretty bows.

It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tradition but has Christmas become something that just happens instead of something we experience?

At my work I have been asked more than a dozen times this week if I am “ready for Christmas.” (what they are really asking is “are your children excited for Santa?”)

It’s a hard question to answer.  Sure I am ready to be off for a few days and see my family but am I really ready for Christmas?  Am I really ready for the coming of Christ into the world?

Can the in breaking of God into the world be celebrated simply singing carols and eating too much?

Has Christmas become just another day to, relax, eat good food and visit family or can it be something more?  As Christians we believe we have good grasp on Christmas; we have seen it played out in church pageants, recited the story in worship, we set up our Nativity Scene and even make a point to watch  A Charlie Brown Christmas.

It’s a familiar story and one that brings back great memories of family, gatherings and friends.

What would Christmas look like or feel like we were truly prepared ourselves to encounter Christ?  Forget about the gifts, the holiday ham and the miles to travel, but made the goal to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Would it mean more? Would we “get more out of it?”

Amid the sea of lights, packages, shopping carts and mad dashes to get everything done, have be lost sight of Christmas?

On December 26 will we be thankful that Christmas is over or thankful that we encountered Christ anew?  The story of the birth of Jesus is not a small piece of trivial history rather it is a monumental, deeply profound and theological statement; the God of all of creation came in human form and dwelt among us.  Because of this, the world, our lives will never be the same.  This story is something that cannot be encapsulated in gift bag or even in a song.

It’s sad to think that we can miss Christmas because we are celebrating Christmas… seems counterproductive right?

My prayer for you this Christmas is that December 25 will be more than just another Thursday, but a time when the story of the incarnation of Christ is made more real and tangible for you and your loved ones.

I hope that there is a moment where the world full of darkness, greed, injustice and hate would be replaced with the stillness and serenity of the Christmas story.  We need these moments; we need these moments where things are calm and bright.

Maybe it will be eating with distant relatives, hearing stories from parents/grandparent’s childhood, maybe it will be seen the excitement of children on Christmas morning, maybe it will be hearing the Christmas story with a new/renewed ears, maybe it will be visiting the cemetery of a loved one.

Whatever it is, may it be a moment that is undeniable that God is present and invading that time.  Hold on it, do not let the world take it away from you.

We all need a touch of grace, a touch of love and touch of mercy every now and then, so why not during Christmas?

Let’s not miss Christmas this Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Photo Credit: “The twinkling of the lights, the santa carols fill the household” by Katherine M. via Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License 2.0