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Simple Beauty…


I love simple beauty, I love simple things.  The simple beauty of nature, the natural power of a thunder storm, the nice burn of a simple Irish Whiskey on the rocks – nothing fancy or complex.  As I sit on Sunday afternoon writing today’s blog I am watching Rugby, a simple game of speed, strength, and brutality.   I like straight forward and direct – and yes, at times brutal.  I was an Infantry Chaplain, I’m a firefighter and Fire Chaplain – I have been trained to find and identify the problem, assess the problem, fix the problem.  During my Army days I had a Commanding Officer that used to say, “That’s one of the things I like about you Padre- why use a ball-peen hammer when a 12 pound sledge hammer works just as well. Your way may be primitive, but it’s effective.”

I have watched for years as congregations get older and get smaller.  I have watched as program after program come along giving the Church instructions that are more complex than an Ikea manual.  You know those instructions,  “Insert tab A into slot C making sure to not impede side B.  If tab A impedes side B the result will resemble Chernobyl.”

I have wandered through Seminary book stores or local Christian book stores and looked at the various books on Church Growth, Evangelism, Outreach, or today’s catch phrase, “becoming Missional” – again, most of these are complex theories and systems that require lots of education and of course the purchase of support materials or subscription to an online system of support and maintenance.  As I have sat here today watching the brute force of rugby vs the complexities of American football playbooks I am struck with the brutal simplicity of the Scriptural witness, “Go into all the world, preaching, and teaching, and Baptizing in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

I understand that many of us in the Church are operating out of a place of concern.  Denominational strife, parishes divided, aging congregations, struggling economies make for tightened belts.  I have a novel idea and it may work.  Now, it is multi-faceted, but not overly complex.  I propose four things:

1.  GOOD WORSHIP – whether traditional or more modern – small congregation or big congregation – guitars and video screens or pipe organs and hymnals.  It’s not about STYLE, it’s about being FAITHFUL and doing worship well in a way that engages the worshipping community.

2.  FAITHFUL PREACHING and TEACHING – Carl Braaten challenged a number of us a few weeks ago when he said, “At times I hear more cute stories about the Pastor than I do The Gospel of Jesus Christ.”  Preach Christ and Christ Crucified – It’s something I am working hard on improving.

3.  TELL OTHERS – Very simply, we tell folks about great restaurants, good movies, the best golf courses – but we need to tell people very simply about the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.




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