Moses and Errin’

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Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”  –Exodus 4:10

When I’m trying to quiet down a group at church, I know exactly what to say:

“Would anybody like to close us with a prayer?”

–Instant Silence–

That scenario plays out time and again, in my current church and every other church I’ve ever served.  It doesn’t really stress me out too much. Many folks don’t feel comfortable sharing their faith out loud, in prayer or testimony. I’m used to it.

I will step in and do my priestly duty, offering up a prayer to close out a meeting, but I wonder:  Who’s fault is it that Christians today struggle so much with this?

Maybe it’s God’s fault.

Remember the call of Moses?  When Moses claims he’s “slow of speech and tongue”,  God lets him off the hook, and allows Aaron to do the public speaking instead.

By this time, I think Moses had just worn God down with all his “No’s” for why he was the wrong man for the job.  God even offered to train Moses in how to share his faith publically, but Moses was resistant.  So God relented.

It probably wasn’t what God intended, but generation after generation has been using this same “slow of speech and tongue” excuse to avoid communicating in faith and prayer. If Moses didn’t have to speak up, then neither should we, right?

Hmm.  That’s our mistake.  That’s less like Moses, and more like Errin’.  Maybe it’s our fault for taking the easy way out.  Or the church’s for seeing this as “the pastor’s job”.

The truth is, many folks really do want to share their faith — it’s just a matter of know-how, comfort, and practice.  Of making it a priority.

This Fall, I’m launching Faithsharing 101 classes at my church.  In 4 short weeks the goal is to help people feel more comfortable praying out loud, articulating why they’re a Christian, and even sharing some about their faith story with others.  This is not a class in evangelism or door-to-door witnessing.  It’s a class in finding the right words, and feeling good about sharing them.

Can this be done in 4 weeks?  I don’t know.  Maybe God was short on time with Moses and didn’t have a month to set him on the right path.  It will at least be a good start.

I think God wants all believers to be able to express themselves.  To offer a prayer in the midst of those who are gathered.  To spread Good News through words and stories.

It took some time, but God helped Moses eventually find his voice.  And Aaron found his role in this new community of Hebrews, too.  God assures us that there’s a place for all of us, and sends the Spirit to help us find our voices.

We just have to practice saying ‘Yes” when God calls us.

Now…

Would anybody be willing to close us in prayer?

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Whisper

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The words and images in today’s devotion come from a popular app called “Whisper”.   Whisper is a social networking site where people can anonymously post whatever they want.

There’s plenty of flirting, goofing around, rough language, and immaturity (so be forewarned), but the site seems to actually serve a purpose, too:

This is where people post their real struggles, pains, fears, and confessions.   Things they might not even tell their closest friends.

People write their whisper, and the program automatically chooses a picture background based on the words.  (Sometimes the picture fits better than others)

Here are some of the posts I found that come from within a half-hour radius of my church, but be forewarned — it may hurt your heart to read them.

losingmyfaithnotskinnysinglemomhome

 

 

 

 

steroids needhelp hungry jobeliminated gambling heroin feelempty brokenhearted domesticabuse drunk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

depressed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow.  These are things we don’t generally mention during Joys and Concerns, right?

Just knowing that these people live and work within range of my own church makes me ache to reach out to them.  And then it occurs to me:  Who’s to say these people, or people like them, aren’t already a part of my congregation?

The truth is, everybody has pain, and secrets, and plenty of material for “whispers”.

We don’t give voice to our whispers because we’re ashamed of them, or because people wouldn’t understand, or because we don’t want to appear weak, or because we aren’t ready to change.

Maybe we don’t speak our whispers out loud because we’d feel too vulnerable.

So what can we do with our secrets, our fears, and our shames?

Well, that’s why we have covenant groups, and accountability groups, and support groups in the church.  They are places of high trust designed for sharing the deeper stuff.

And there are counselors and therapists and pastors who are willing to listen and help.

And of course, there’s prayer.

Whether they were intended as such or not, I consider posts on Whisper to be prayers.  Surely God hears them.

God hears your prayers, too.

As for Whisper, I think it may provide a place for ministry in the 21st century.  People can actually reply to a person’s whisper, so I’ve responded to a few, offering some encouragement and comfort.

And there are people out there who offer Good News in their whispers.

For every dozen desperate secrets tossed out into cyber space, you’ll find something like this in with the mix:

godislove

 

May you find a place, online or off, where you can whisper.

Have a great week,

Mitch

 

 

 

 

Liking, following, reblogging, pinning, and sharing.

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There are 1.01 BILLION people on Facebook.  Tumblr (a blogging site) cranks out 55 million new posts every day.

But only about 20% of U.S. citizens go to church on Sunday.

How do we get the word out to people who won’t come and listen to a sermon?

By liking, following, reblogging, pinning, and sharing.

You know those inspirational or  thought provoking posts you come across every day online?  Think of them as tiny little mini-sermons.  Not enough space to present the whole gospel, just enough to make an impression in the 2 seconds it takes to scroll down the page.

What if those little mini-messages amount to more than warm fuzzies? What if this is how the Gospel gets spread to people nowadays?

That’s what I’ve been wondering, so a month ago I started creating little one-panel quotes like this one:

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I posted them to Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and WordPress.  (Those are all different social networking sites, in case you aren’t familiar), and tagged them all with the name of my blog site:  AdventureChristianity.com.

I can only estimate, but in that amount of time, I figure thousands of people have seen some of these short messages.  Maybe more.

Have you ever stopped to think about what happens when you “share” something, on Facebook, for instance?  When you share an article, a cartoon, or a quote like the one above, everybody on your friends list sees it in their feed.

So when you share something inspirational, you’re actually practicing e-vangelism.  And then your friends have the possibility to like or share it for their friends.  That’s how some posts spread like wildfire across the web.

That’s fun on Facebook, connecting with your friends, but can be even more fun on a site like Tumblr where people search for tags you attach to a post, like #Christianity or #Change.  These are people you’ve never met, connecting with your Good News. Here’s a case in point:

Last week, Jan and I were driving in Kansas City and she said, “The World’s Not Falling Apart.  It’s just changing.”  I thought that was a great quote so I made this:

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I posted this to all the sites to see what would happen.  Within half an hour 3 people on Tumblr had reblogged the post for themselves.  One was a teenager girl, a Christian.  One was a teenage boy, recovering from cutting himself.  The third was a 30 year old gay man struggling to be accepted.

Wow.  In half an hour, not only were these 3 people comforted by Jan’s hopeful quote, but now that post exists on four people’s blogs.  And everyone who visits their pages gets to see it. And so on, and so on. Isn’t that cool?

Maybe you’re not an online person, if so this may sound like I’m speaking a foreign language. Sorry!

But if you are one of the vast majority who connect with others online, take this to heart:  You don’t have to create your own artwork or post your own quotes, although it’s fun and easy to do.  Just pass on to others the things that resonante with your faith.  And there’s no need to overshare, just a couple things a day will deliver the message.

If you surf the internet as an e-vangelist, you might find yourself passing on Good News to people you know, and people you don’t.

Again, the messages are shorter than any sermon you’ve ever listened to, but they can still be a glimpse of the Kingdom for someone who needs to see it.

Liking, following, reblogging, pinning, and sharing.

This is how Christians in the 21st Century

help Jesus go viral.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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http://AdventureChristianity.com