A Response to the Charleston Church Shootings

Over the past few days, I have continued in prayer for Charleston. I want to share a portion of my response to the Charleston Church Shootings which I preached this morning at First United Methodist Church. I believe it is important and inadequate. You can find the entire sermon and manuscript online here.


Let me be clear:
God never intends us to choose evil.
The Charleston Church Shootings were not part of God’s plan.
Racism, murder and tragedy will never be God’s will.
Evil is never, ever God’s plan.

Each one of us has choices to make every day.
We choose between good and evil.
We choose between forgiveness and resentment.
We choose between light and darkness.
The choices that we make – both big and small lead us closer to God or further away from God.

Choose good.
Choose forgiveness.
Choose light and life.
Choose to follow Jesus Christ, Emmanuel – God is with us.

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Director of Worship Arts – Welcome Sarah Newberry!

I am excited to share the news that we have hired Sarah Newberry to be the Director of Worship Arts at Resurrection West. Next week, I am hoping to share a bit more of the process with you. Until then, I wanted to pass along the update that Pastor Molly shared the news via email to the congregation:

“We welcome Sarah Newberry to our team beginning March 1, and we will have the opportunity to introduce her in worship on February 26.

Sarah comes from within the Resurrection community, she has been leading in the Vibe worship service at the Leawood Campus for the past year and a half, and she takes on this position as part of answering her call to full-time ministry.  Trained as a Music Therapist, Sarah comes to us from The Good Samaritan Society-Olathe, a senior living and care organization, where she has been employed as their Activity Director, Volunteer Coordinator, and Music Therapist.  In her job, she has worn many hats: music therapy, staff supervisor to a department, led and planned worship services in their facility, started new initiatives and programs to care for the community she serves, and coordinated volunteer teams for the community.  Sarah is a pianist, vocalist, and percussionist primarily, but she can play and teach pretty much every other instrument.  In addition to her Bachelor of Music degree in music therapy, she also studied music education, choral conducting, and vocal performance at Florida State University.  Sarah is personable, she has a great sense of humor, a humble heart, and she has a deep passion for leading people in worship of our God.  Oh, and she started a 5th grade praise band in KiDS COR at Leawood!

And because I won’t have time to tell you everything when I introduce Sarah in worship, I have to share with you one little story. A few weeks ago, we had a day in which we had four highly-qualified candidates in for a final interview and audition.  When Sarah sat down at the piano and started playing “You Are My King” (amazing love, how can it be, that you my king would die for me…), I was immediately drawn into worship.  Honestly, I didn’t expect that.  I went into our auditions prepared to listen, to critique, to observe their performances.  I wasn’t at all thinking about putting myself in a place to engage in worship through singing.  In an instant, I knew what it was that several other staff members and ministry leaders had gone out of their way to tell me.  There was something in Sarah’s voice, in the way she delivered the words, that made space for me to meet God.  All of the details of the task at hand were gone for a few moments.  That doesn’t happen to me very often.  I usually have to fight to set my duties aside–to stop evaluating or making mental notes of how to do things differently or what is supposed to come next.  I don’t even know that I can describe it that well–other than to tell you that I found the Holy Spirit in the notes through her voice.

For those of you that have joined us in the last few months, we have been conducting this search process since November.  In the past three months, we had more than 65 applicants.  We conducted phone screens, a couple of rounds of in-person interviews, and a final interview/audition.  We were blessed to have a great response and to have interacted with some really gifted leaders.  In the meantime, our volunteer worship teams have been doing an amazing job in leading worship each weekend at our three services.  I am so thankful for their hard work, and I’m excited to see where the next months in our worship ministry will lead us!

A Year Ago on Thoughts of Resurrection – October 2010

Here are some posts from Thoughts of Resurrection one year ago, that I think you might find interesting. Take a look…

Closing My Time with Resurrection Online

Yesterday, I led a workshop at Leadership Institute – Worship Online: What We’ve Learned in Three Years. Having transitioned my job responsibility to serve as Associate Pastor at Resurrection West on August 15, this was my final official role with Resurrection Online. You can see the presentation here:

I felt great about the presentation. I was able to share the thought, theological reflection and strategic decisions that had been made over the past three years that culminated in the decision to understand Resurrection Online as a worship venue of our Leawood campus and not as a campus where people would go to worship, grow, give, serve and find community. My friend Ben Simpson, asked if I would guest post about what I learned as Pastor of Resurrection Online. I hope to write this post soon, so to read some great writing (and my guest post at some time in the future, I commend http://www.benjaminasimpson.com to you.

It was a good finale. With the completion of that workshop, I feel that I was able to end well and close my time with Resurrection Online.

6 Options for Church Online

I have been working on the next steps for Resurrection Online and in the proces have developed 6 options for church online that might be helpful for you. Will you please share your thoughts feelings or opinions about these options? What is most helpful? What could be improved?

Option 1 – Regional Campus

A regional campus in a multi campus setting has the opportunity for people to live out the purpose of the church online. This option would seek to build opportunities for people to live and grow in Christian community online. In person connection would be encouraged out of the online community, however there would be a focus to create every possible opportunity online for people to grow in their faith and engage in community.

Option 2 – Field Preaching

Church online as field preaching would use a model similar to the early Methodists practice of field preaching or of more recent crusades / campaigns / revivals. With this option the focus would be to create the best possible worship experience to engage online worshipers in worship. The next step from worship would be to connect worshipers with a local church. This could be the host church or  a network of referrals inside or outside a denomination.

Option 3 – Worship Venue

Church online as a worship venue would focus on helping the current congregation stay connected in worship when they are unable to be present physically. The experience would focus on a great audio / video experience and not have additional connection opportunities or features, as these would be expected and experienced in person.

Option 4 – Tool for Worship Groups

Church online as a tool for worship groups would focus on creating the best possible experience for streaming of worship to a large screen using a set top box, i.e. Roku box. The experience would not be available via a web browser. This would be a tool that could be utilized by current congregants, other congregations and ministry areas.

Option 5 – Teaching Venue

Church online as a teaching venue would enable a church to expand the opportunities for expanding discipleship online while connecting in person for worship and community. There would not be an online worship experience. Additional possibilities could include overlapping the online and in person group experience.

Option 6 – Second Screen

Church online as a second screen would seek to build apps and engagement on mobile devices to increase real time engagement of the current congregation during worship, throughout the week and across campuses. This would encourage our current congregation to use technology to engage with others and their faith.

How to Launch Online Worship or an Internet Campus for Your Church

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This is a collection of posts from this blog that you might find helpful when considering beginning online worship or an internet campus at your church. These are collected blog posts from my experience as Pastor of Resurrection Online.

Before Launch

Launch

Continued Development

My Response to Top 12 Questions before Launching Online Worship

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A couple weeks ago I posted the Top 12 Questions before Launching Online Worship and received the request that I share some of our responses to these questions from Resurrection Online. These will be brief responses. For each of these questions there were long conversations that lead to these conclusions. In addition, the answers to these today may not be the same answers to these questions in the future. In any case, here goes…

  1. Why are we launching online worship?
    1. To build a Christian community online where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians
  2. Why does worshiping online make sense within the culture of our church?
    1. As a church, we try to do all things to connect with those that are not already connected with a church. We recognize that connecting with those that frequent online communities is a growing edge for our church. Resurrection Online begins to address these two areas.
  3. Will this effort be supported by all levels of church leadership?
    1. Yes. This idea was first initiated by our senior pastor and continues to be supported across all levels of church leadership.
  4. How does online worship further our mission?
    1. Online worship helps us connect with non and nominally religious people, as well as, helping our current congregation stay connected in an effort to become deeply committed Christians.
  5. How will technical issues be addressed?
    1. The Pastor of Resurrection Online will coordinate the efforts of our IT and Communications teams to address technical challenges.
  6. Of what will the worship experience online consist?
    1. Audio and video stream of worship, attendance form and online giving
  7. What impact do we anticipate on the current congregation?
    1. This will be a resource for those in our current congregation who are sick, out of town or have limited mobility to continue to worship with Resurrection.
  8. Who will own the initiative?
    1. The Pastor of Resurrection Online
  9. What resources, if any, will be used to provide opportunities to grow in faith outside worship?
    1. The Grow. Pray. Study. Guide will be available and additional opportunities for online classes and small groups will be developed.
  10. What resources, if any, will be used to provide care and support for those that worship online?
    1. The Pastor of Resurrection Online will be responsible for providing care and guidance for those that connect with Resurrection Online.
  11. In what way, if any, will persons be enabled or encouraged to give financially?
    1. Those who worship online will be able to give online through PayPal or through our church database.
  12. What will be the nature of the community encountered by internet worshippers?
    1. This will be a community of people seeking to become deeply committed Christians. It will consist of some members of our current congregation, digital natives, church leaders from other churches and others who are seeking God online.

How would you respond to some of these questions? What would be a better response?