The One Where I Stress the Importance of Sabbath

What is without periods of rest will not endure.” – Ovid

I’ll be the first to hop on board and tell you that I suck at Sabbath. Sure, I mean, I’m good at occasionally not accomplishing anything for a period of time. I’m great at neglecting some work to catch up on Breaking Bad or surf around my Google reader. But I’m not sure I could tell you the last time I took an intentional retreat time away from work and just focused on being.

One of the most commonly used words around our house is “screen time”. Almost always used in the context of “Wow, I’ve had way too much screen time today.” Or we’re asking if we have any ibuprofen because our head hurts from the close proximity of a bright screen.

Sound familiar?

In this month’s Atlantic, the cover story is a great write-up on the work/family balance that haunt a lot of career women. The writer talked about how she yearned for a time away from her work — whether in law firms, the Pentagon, or Academia. But even when she took this family time, her family was still running ragged.

I wonder what it would look like if we took time to be with ourselves. Granted, as an introvert, this is a particularly appealing notion to me. But when we break down the notion of Sabbath early on in Genesis, what is it? God spent six days intensely working to create, and then the Sabbath was initiated as a way of resting in creation.

Not only is Sabbath about rest, but it’s about keeping a finger on the rhythm of our lives.

It’s about settling down into an awareness of who we are, why we’re here, and ultimately gets us in tune with the very essence of our nature as human beings. It’s not just about time off, vacation, or not doing any work. It’s about resting. It’s about taking care of ourselves in meaningful ways.

But I’d like to take it a step further, particularly in our connected, technological age. I think today’s equivalent of the Jewish Sabbath would be Sabbaths from technology. I need this encouragement as much as anyone else.

Take a day — one full day — and set it aside as a time to rest, read, spend time with family and friends, drink wine. But with this one caveat. Try for a full day with as little screen time as possible. 

I’m embarking on a vacation back to the Midwest (as I type this, I’m just over 33,000 feet in the air probably somewhere above Utah). One of the primary things I’m planning on doing during this vacation is greatly reducing my amount of screen time. Even though in my carry-on I currently have an iPod, an iPhone, an iPad, and my Macbook. (It’s actually kind of sad when you list them all out like that)

But for a bulk of my trip, I’m going to cut down as much as I can. But we were not created to worry about our Klout score. I have some posts ready to go and I’ll be checking in periodically, but if you don’t hear from me, just picture me in a hammock by a lake. You might not be too far off.

I hope that if you need a Sabbath — even if just for 30 minutes — you’ll treat yourself to some rest. We work hard. We deserve a break every once in awhile. And don’t worry. The internet will be here when you get back.

Cheers,
Eric

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Moving Into Church 3.0

When the internet started, it began with Web 1.0. These were some of the first webpages that were up. Someone would put up a whole bunch of information for someone to consume and there would seldom be any interaction. For instance, if I wanted to write about Jesus or the Vikings, I would be the unequivocal expert on the topic. There was no comment section or any kind of feedback form. What one person says, goes. That’s web 1.0.

Web 2.0 was all about participation. It’s the social media version of the web. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter… All of these are centralized around active participation. The webmaster, instead of creating content for simple consumption, acts as more of an overseer of the content. Think of the relationship of Mark Zuckerberg to Facebook, the ever-well-known Tom to MySpace. Just so we have this straight:

Web 1.0 — Webmaster as authority.

Web 2.0 — Webmaster as overseer.

Web 3.0 is the webmaster as facilitator. We are really just getting on the cusp of this. Siri from iPhone 4s is an example of this. It takes information given and interprets it to give a different product in return. For instance, if I ask Siri “what are some restaurants in San Diego open on Thanksgiving?”. In a matter of seconds, a number of different results will come back with names of restaurants and phone numbers. Web 3.0 facilitates, interprets, and gives back.

This is how the web has progressed since its creation. And guess what? This is like church too.

Church 1.0 is the “standard” way of doing church. Pastor is the authority. What he says, goes. This leads to burnout like crazy. Also it’s entirely pastor-centric and pretty boring for everyone else involved. So church 1.0, not helpful.

Church 2.0 is pastor as overseer (catching a pattern?). This is probably the most common role of the modern church. Everyone in the congregation is empowered to do their thing and run the ministries, with the pastor as the overseer. The pastor doesn’t have to be actively involved in every little thing, but is still the centralized authority.

Church 3.0 is pastor as facilitator. In this model, the pastor is one of many decentralized authorities. The pastor helps identify different things that could help the community in articulating the shape and action of their faith journey. I think if the church has really any hope of surviving, this 3.0 model is what is going to have to become the prominent model.

What do you guys think of this? Where is your church in this spectrum? Does Church 3.0 sound like a feasible way of doing church? I’d love any feedback or experiences you have with these different ways of doing church.

Cheers,
Eric

For an excellent, yet briefly in-depth, study of Church 3.0, check out Doug Pagitt’s Church in the Inventive Age.

Instagram Friday: Preaching From an iPad

There are few things I get more excited about than new Apple products. That’s why when Megan got me an iPad 2 as a wedding present, I was stoked. Not only because I’d wanted one since the first day I saw the commercial, but I knew that since I was going on internship, I’d have a lot of opportunities to use it. Right after I got it, I Googled “Best iPad apps for  Pastors” and found a great blog post about all the different ways to utilize the iPad. One of those opportunities is in preaching.

I use the Goodreader app and have been really impressed with how smoothly it works to just flip to the next page. This picture I took is the sanctuary out at the Gold Canyon campus as I got ready to preach out there a week or so ago. I didn’t receive any negative feedback from the congregation, mainly because it went pretty undetected. That’s the key. As long as it flies under the radar and you don’t make a big deal about it, it can be a great tool for preaching, teaching and a lot of other things.

If you’re going to preach from an iPad, here are a few things to make sure everything goes well.

  • Turn the Mute switch off: You don’t want your alarms or other alerts go off while you’re preaching. It’s just easiest than worrying or waiting for an interruption.
  • Lock the Orientation in Portrait Mode: This isn’t an issue if you’re just setting your iPad on a stand or a pulpit, but if you’re walking around with it, you don’t want the orientation to change mid-sentence. That’s happened to me before, not good.
  • Set the Screen Auto-Lock to 10 Minutes or longer: this way the screen doesn’t turn off on you while you’re preaching (especially awkward if you are going from a manuscript)
  • Turn the Wifi Off: If you have it loaded on there, it can save battery. If you have a full charge, you’ll be fine. But if you’re running low, it’s a good and easy way to save battery.
There you have it. Everything you need to know about preaching from an iPad. For those of you who have experience with it, what are your pros/cons with it? For those who haven’t, what do you see as the pros/cons to using an iPad in the pulpit?
Cheers,
Eric

More Programs Aren’t the Answer

Earlier today I watched a mind-blowing TED talk by Simon Sinek (which you can find here) about how our brains work in controlling our actions. It’s an absolutely fascinating video and I hope you’ll watch it. The main thing he talked about was a group of three circles (as you can see on the left) labeled why, how, and what. He says most generic companies advertise by moving from the outside of the circle in, by telling you what you can buy and how it will make your life better. But they seldom explore the question of why. He says on the contrary, innovative companies that provide great leadership in their field work from the inside of the circle out. He uses the example of Apple.

Apple advertises by starting with challenging the status quo (why you should by our product). They believe in thinking differently. They challenge the status quo by making sleek, user-friendly products (how they challenge the status quo). We also make great computers (what they actually make). They end their commercial with what their product is. They move explicitly outward in this circle and it makes us want one all the more.

One of the big things Simon hammers home in his talk is that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

So let’s look at the church — particularly the youth parts of the church. The programmatic model of youth ministry seeks to answer the “what” question first. “Here’s what we do.” If we’re lucky, it moves into a how and a why. But a relational and theological look at youth ministry begins in the huge, messy, stubborn questions of why.

  • Why are we here?
  • Why is there something instead of nothing?
  • Why do I live the life that I do?

Then it seeks to assemble a how do we minister to each other that honors these deep questions about God and existence. Finally, we end with a ‘what’. With the what do we do about it? What is to be done?

Ministry that starts with questions of “what” will never get past the how into the why. And that’s where the real questions are. It’s only in the theological and existential questions of why that we can encounter the people we do ministry with in all their imperfections. It may just be the only way forward.

Cheers,
Eric

p.s. I didn’t even go into Simon’s stuff on brain chemistry and why this is such an appealing model. It’s fascinating, but it just didn’t seem to fit. Check out the video for more on that.

Listen to Millennials, Please

Nadia Bolz-Weber posted a great article this past week on Union Theological Seminary’s New Media Project about the Millennial generation in the church. I wanted to post the text of the article because I think it’s just that good. So here it is…

This past weekend I taught a class at Iliff School of Theology on Emerging Church in the US and the UK. Predictably the issue of social media came up as did some expressed discomfort with things like text messaging and Facebook interactions replacing “real community.” A couple of folks cringed when I said that I do a lot of pastoral care via text messaging, which brought up the issues of Millennial culture and authority.

I encouraged folks (as I usually do) to look at Pew Research Center’s work on Millennials and what characterizes Millennial culture. There even is an on-line How Millennial Are You? quiz one can take to see where you rank generationally and culturally. My goal in having people look at this research is to help them see the ways in which mainline Protestant churches are, for the most part, not located culturally in a Millennial context, and yet Millennial culture will only be taking up increasingly more space in the American landscape, not less.

The conversations I hear in the church about young people seem to be people over 50 trying to figure out how we can stop the church from dying—how can we “target” populations (please don’t ever, for any reason, use this term) who aren’t in church, how can we be more “relevant” (same goes here), how can we get young adults to be involved. I realize that these conversations, which happen all over the country, are in large part coming from a place of loving the church and wanting it to be around for the next generations, but I think these conversations are not really helping us. It’s like asking, “How can we make horse and buggies appealing to Baby Boomers?” Just because they may not be in any way interested in a horse and buggy doesn’t mean they don’t care about transportation.

Another way of looking at it is that you can try to market land-lines to teenagers till the cows come home. You can do as much market research as you’d like and lament the fact that kids just don’t care about phones anymore because none of them have land-lines. Or you can get some kids to tell you about cell phones and the ways in which they love to communicate with those they love even though their ways look different than your ways. What I mean is this: If younger generations are not coming to church, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about the Gospel. It just means that their understanding of what it means to follow Jesus is culturally different from what they see in most mainline churches. This is not to say that mainline churches are not a faithful expression of the Gospel, only that it is no longer a normative expression of the Gospel.

Conversations about how to save the church should maybe shift in this way: We should find all the people we can who rank high on the Millennial scale (they can be any age, trust me!) and who answered “very” to that one question “how important is it to you personally to lead a deeply religious life?” and then ask them “what does it look like to be the church?” Since they are native to the cultural shift in which we find ourselves, they have an authority to speak to a burgeoning ecclesiology that we may not yet be able to envision.

Here’s what I like about the New Media Project: They seem to recognize that while one side of the church is criticizing the use of new media as a sign of the downfall of the traditional church, the other side sees it as the “answer” which, if adopted quickly, can prevent the downfall of the traditional church. Neither approach is useful they seem to understand. So my hope is that the New Media Project will instead continue to ask those for whom new media is not “new” at all (those who are native to it) and who love the Gospel what it means to them, and how they see it as part of being the body of Christ. They are the ones who can tell us.

Nadia Bolz-Weber is the Pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado, one of the case studies of the New Media Project. She holds an M.Div. from Illiff School of Theology and is the author of Salvation on the Small Screen? She blogs regularly on Sarcastic Lutheran.

So what caught your eye in this post? What kind of stuff do you do to help incorporate this new generation into the life of your church?

Cheers,
Eric

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