Avengers and the Battle for Girls

This past weekend amid the Kentucky Derby, Game 7 of the NBA Quarterfinals and the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, The Avengers: Age of Ultron opened in the theaters.  This it the second installment in this series and one of many more Marvel films coming out in the next few years.

The characters of these stories have left the comic books and on to the big screen and are now used in marketing and advertisements.  From soda cans and t-shirts, smart phone apps and toothbrushes, the Avengers are everywhere and more than likely they will not be going away anytime soon.

In this world of super heroes and world dominating seeking super villains an interesting trend has emerged.  As noted by Rev. David Hansen, a Lutheran minister in the Houston area, girls are being left out.  Below is what can only we described as an epic father looking out for his daughter and girls everywhere Twitter rant.  This is not the type of rant we normally see on Twitter; Rev. David is not complaining about his Starbucks order or how much he will miss Zanye from One Direction, rather it is a heart-felt complaint about the lack of girls in the Avengers marketing.

In the first Avengers film there was only one character that was female, Black Widow.  In the sequel they add Scarlet Witch but as you see these characters are being marketed the same way as the “big boys” Thor and Iron Man.  Even Ultron the super villain gets more press than these two female characters.

I’ll let Rev. David take it from here.

 

 

Rev. David wants his daughter and I want my daughter and every girl to have someone to be their ‘super hero’ or even have something in common with their family members.  This weekend my daughter and I watched the Star Wars Clone Wars animated series and she loved it.  Had I told her “that’s a boy show” we would have never had a good time just sitting with each other watching something in common.  You haven’t lived until you have to explain to a five-year old what the force is.

The delineation of “boy” toys and “girl” toys needs to stop.  We have to stop categorizing toys, career options and colors to a dichotomy of this or that.  If my daughter wants to watch Star Wars then she will, if she wants to watch My Little Ponies then she will.

We can not tell children especially girls that they can do whatever they want when they grow up but then do not give them options that promote strong female leads in society and even in fantasy.  We can not lose a another generation to gender stereotyping.

Marvel has several more movies coming out in the next few years and they need to remember that girls are fans of Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and the Hulk as well.

We need to remember not only today but everyday that girls need heroes too.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

 

Advertisements

Easter 2015 Message

IMG_0490

Flowered Cross at Northwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Beaumont, Texas. Taken by Rev. Evan M. Dolive.

Below is my Easter sermon based on John 20:1-18.

Easter blessings to you and yours.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


[audio http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/p0yjor9ehs/easter_2015_Mission_after_christ.mp3|titles= Easter 2015: Mission After Christ|animation=no]

Ash Wednesday 2015 Sermon: The Journey Awaits Us All

2247224657_b244833cff_z

[audio http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/89bdmz112r/20150218-183451.mp3|titles=Ash Wednesday 2015 Sermon: The Journey Awaits Us All|animation=no|loop=no]

 

 

Tweet of the Week: Wait… What?

I know that a lot of people do not like the President’s policies or whatever, but this type of criticism is a new one for me.  I have heard people in passing joke about the fact that they think the President is the “Anti-Christ” (a word not even used in the book of Revelation but that is topic for another day) but never anything like this.

Happy Friday and happy tweeting!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

It Was Like This When I Got Here

This piece was picked up by Sojourners Magazine.


A lot has been written about the decline of the mainline church over the years. There are numerous theories have been passed around. Nearly every pew-sitting faithful Christian in America has her or his own opinion. As a minister I have heard a lot of these complaints from the masses; the request is simple. They want the church to be the center of social and political life as it seemed to be in the 1950s and 1960s. They want the pews packed with people, the nursery overflowing with babies, and the church to have the same level of particularity that it did years ago. The church today finds itself having to share time and attention with the rest of the world. Because of this (and numerous other factors), the church for the most part has seen the number of people attending the hallowed halls of a church house begin to decrease.

In an effort to find a culprit for the shrinking size and popularity of church, a scapegoat has been named and they are “young people today” — a catchall term for people under the age of 35 (or thereabouts) who have seemingly left the church en masse.

They are vilified as the sole reason and cause for the church to not be busting at the seams with people. If only those “young people” could just stop being so selfish on Sunday mornings and just come to worship God at 11 a.m. like people have been doing for years, the world might be a better place.

Maybe you have heard some of these gems before:

  • “Young people today don’t care about religion … unless they can find it on an iPhone.”
  • “Yong people today weren’t made to come to church and that’s why they aren’t here.”
  • “I know young people today like contemporary music but I don’t care for it.”
  • “Young people today would rather sleep than come worship the Lord.”
  • “Young people today are too busy with sports and extra activities. They are too overextended. If they can put effort into sports, they can put effort into God.”
  • “Young people will spend all day getting ready for a prom or a dance but show up to church in jeans and t-shirt.”

The list goes on.

How does a “young person” effectively convey the notion that “the church was like this when I got here?”

I have met some people who are deeply spiritual, caring, compassionate, loving people, but they don’t attend church. But young people for the most part do not have a problem with the church or with Jesus or even with teachings of church. So why the absence on Sunday morning?

For many people, the problem is the people who call themselves Christians but don’t live up to Christian ideals. They say the church focuses on the wrong things; why are some people so acutely aware of the “sins” of others but cannot see the hungry child in their own backyard.

If you want young people in your church, give them something to do. Young people are ready to go, do, serve, be, and extend the ministry of Christ to all people — but they have to a place through which they are able to do so.

There is a drive in young people who want to do something greater than themselves and to give and love, but when it’s met with pledge cards, committee meetings, condescending looks for wearing jeans and t-shirts, or saying they have to wait until they are 45 and have three kids to make a difference, then what’s the point?  I can worship God in my house or in nature just as easily as I can in a building with stained-glass windows.

Give “young people” the chance to and they will knock your socks off … I promise. You will see movements of God that you would have missed if you had “stayed the course.”

The decline of the church is not my generation’s fault. It was in decline long before I was born; it was like this when I got here. But that doesn’t mean it is too far gone. The church does a lot of things right and can still do more.

Let the “young people” lead; let them be the hands and feet of Christ in the world and watch what happens. Listen to their passions, listen to their concerns, and listen to where they feel God is leading them.

It’s not “young people’s” fault for the decline of the church, but they can surely be a part of the answer.

Keep the faith … all is not lost. ​

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

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

Missing Christmas?

10808872893_fafd7bc381_k

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

Stop Taking Attendance!

12221514614_296893354b_m

At a church I used to serve there was a well-intentioned person who after every service would tell me how many people were in attendance. “We had 47 today, Preacher,” he would say. I could hear the disappointment in his voice when he would have to tell me a low number like 35. A smile beamed across his face when we had more than 50. No matter the number, he would tell me without fail.

In every church that I have ever visited or served there has been an emphasis on the number of people that attend the morning worship services.
After years in the ministry I have come to the conclusion that the church needs to stop taking attendance, immediately.

For many churches the process of collecting attendance is to get an accurate account of people in worship, to measure how many people occupy space in a pew. Some churches have note pads in the pews so people can fill out their information and place it in a designated area. Others have a volunteer to manually count the people in attendance. No matter how small or big the faith community is an attendance is taken. Some congregations publish the number of people in their church bulletins or have it on a sign in the sanctuary to compare last week to this week.

For too long churches have measured their ‘success’ and ‘failures’ on the number of people that darken the door on 11am on Sunday morning. The quickest way to get people to wring their hands in worry is to tell them that numbers in worship have dropped. Visions of the church closing its doors will run through people’s minds inciting more and more anxiety.

It’s no secret that the church in the American culture is not where most Christians would like it to be. The church was once the central hub of the community is now a place where people go on Sunday mornings if they want to. The church has been in a decline for some time and I believe this has caused us to become more inward focused. As the church began to experience decline numerically the church’s reaction was to try making everyone left happy including the ministers, elders, deacons, lay ministers, organist and even the custodial staff. The boat was not rocked, things stayed the same, a course was laid in and no deviation would be acceptable.

I believe that this is the wrong approach. One time when I was interviewing with a church for a position they inquired if I had any plans that would help the church grow numerically. The answer I told them I believe with all my heart and prompted a bevy of puzzled looks. I told them that I was not a ‘numbers guy.’ I did not measure the success of the church in how many people showed up on Sunday morning. Is Lakewood in Houston, the largest church in America, a “more successful church” because they average several thousand people each week? No. Most churches just want bodies in the pews and babies in the nursery but this is the wrong approach.

I would rather have fifty people in church on Sundays that went out and touched a hundred people’s lives, than have a hundred people in church that only touched fifty.

The church has become too worried about having more people than the other churches in town. The church needs to stop looking inward and start looking outward. There is a world that is in desperate need of a Savior right outside the walls of the church. The time we spend in meetings or around the pot luck lunch table talking about how big the church was in 1947 is wasting everyone’s time.

I have to admit that even I can fall into this number trap. It can be disheartening when a minister prepares a sermon or the choir works diligently on a piece and only a handful of people are there to experience it. I have to remind myself that the people who are in attendance are there to experience God and worship and that is it. God can use all sizes of churches and faith communities to promote God’s message of love, peace, joy and reconciliation.

I want people to experience God in the same way that I do but I am not beholden to a number.

Let’s start taking a new kind of attendance, one that is centered on the other, not bodies in the pew.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Photo Credit: “Checked_tick” by Oliver Tacke via Flickr. Used Under The Creative Commons License 2.0.

Redemption In Christ

Redemption in Christ (Taken at FUMC- Orange, Tx)

Published via Pressgram