Tag Archives: letter

Gift Card, Bibles, Proposals, Letter from Lawyer – Monday Messy Office Report – June 30, 2014

30 Jun

My Friday tidy office is mysteriously messy on Monday. Here’s what I found today:

1. Note about lunch…because of a gift card!: The note was from my wife, Michelle, saying that she had taken the kids to lunch, and I could meet them there.  I attended a special meeting of one of our ministry committees after Sunday School, and I would meet them at the restaurant late.  For us going out to eat was a treat.  First, yesterday was our anniversary.  But Michelle and I had gone out for an anniversary dinner the evening before.  We went out again because, second, we got a gift card.  It came in the mail last week anonymously, along with a super nice anniversary card.  If you sent the card, and you’re reading this, we are so grateful!

2. Stack of Bibles: Our church has a decades-long relationship with a missionary based in the Philly.  We have regularly spent time with him doing outreaches of all shapes and sizes.  From sidewalk Sunday Schools in some of the toughest neighborhoods of the city to Christmas stocking giveaways at Philly schools. We’ve joined him for casual conversations with students on Philly’s college campuses as well as cleaning at a Philly homeless shelter.  Later this summer we’ll join him for a new outreach, working with homeless people in neighboring Camden, NJ.  Part of the process is that we’re collecting extra Bibles.  I already have a stack on my shelf.  But this new stack has been donated in the last week or so.  Have an extra Bible that you would be willing to donate?

3. Pile of proposals: In 2009 Faith Church started a strategic planning process, and yesterday we held a special congregational meeting to vote on one element of that planning process.  Leading up to that meeting we made proposal packets so people in our congregation could know what we were voting about.  Basically we are changing the way we select leaders.  My wife and I receive The Week magazine, a generous gift from a relative.  One regular column in The Week is “Boring, But Important” and it is usually something that happened in Congress or the Supreme Court.  At our congregational meeting we were voting to make rather sweeping changes to our church by-laws.  Very boring. Not nearly as flashy as changing something about worship.  Our church by-laws and governance stays pretty much behind the scenes, whereas worship is front and center every week.  And yet our by-laws, our governance is inestimably important.  I told our congregation after the meeting that if I had a do-over six years ago when I became senior pastor, this is the first thing I would encourage.

will4. Letter from a Lawyer: After nearly two years, we finally received this letter!  It could turn out to be minimal, who knows.  One of our long-time members passed away in September 2012, and afterward her lawyer notified us that our church was named as a 10% beneficiary in her will.  At the time, I had been at the church ten years and had not encountered that before.  The executor of her estate would have to make sure all bills are paid, and then the money would be disbursed.  Two years later!  Who knew it would take that long???  Late last week we finally got the letter from the lawyer we were waiting for, the form we sign and have notarized saying basically that we agree with everything.  Once all the beneficiaries return their signed forms, the executor will make payments.  Two years ago when I first received the letter informing us the church was named as a beneficiary, and now as we anticipate payment, I’m reminder of what a wonderful idea this is.  That even in her death, this lady wanted to bless the church.  I’ve heard stories recently about people like Sting, Simon Cowell and Bill & Melinda Gates who have purposefully written their wills so their kids don’t have trust funds.  So these people are using their wealth to make a difference in the world. And they want their kids to learn the value of hard work. Perhaps we should all think about that in regards to our own wills, giving a portion of our estates away to God’s Kingdom.

Now it’s time to clean up!

How do you write a letter to a church in a hyper-sexualized culture?

3 Jan

How do you start a letter to a church that is out of control?  What would you say?

Imagine you’re a leader of a group of churches.  Maybe a denominational CEO, a bishop, a district superintendent, a conference minister.  You are responsible for the spiritual health and vitality of the many pastors and congregations under your care.  To stay in touch, you visit them once each year or so.

You start hearing some strange stories from one particular church.  Apparently their worship services are wild.  People are interrupting one another, pushing each other out of the limelight.  And at communion, one group is gobbling up the food and drink, leaving nothing but crumbs for the rest.  But it’s not just wacky worship.  You hear stories of incest, inappropriate sexuality, and people suing one another in court. There are stories that some of them might be saying that your central teaching is being denied.  Resurrection is impossible, they say.  There are factions in the church.  You love these people, but you have to admit, they’re a mess.

You know you need to write them a letter.  Well, better yet, you know you need to visit, but a letter will get there quicker.  So you get a scribe and begin.

But you stall, not sure what to say.  These people are dealing with intense pressures.  They live in a town where the pressure to conform is great.  They number maybe 25-50 in a town of half a million or so. It’s a very religious town, with multiple temples, but it is an ungodly place, where the religion is basically sexual expression.  No wonder this church is struggling.  Following Jesus is so different from their culture, especially in the area of sexuality.  How can you help them without just saying “Stop it, you idiots?”

What would you say?  How would you start your letter to actually get their attention, so they would take you seriously?

That’s our task this Sunday.  We start a series studying Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth.  It was a tough place to be a new church, but the descriptions of Corinth are eerily similar to American culture in our day.  With all the twerking, sexting, porn at our fingertips, and just plain old regular TV, it is hard to be a faithful follower of Jesus in our day.  Especially in the area of sexuality.  As a father of teenagers I think about what to tell them, how to lead them.  I want them to be pure, but I admit I hardly know what to say sometimes.  “Just be pure!”  I just want them to get it, to buy into it, to see the emptiness of our hyper-sexualized culture easily.  But it isn’t easy.   It is deceptively difficult.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I see Paul begin his letter to the Corinthian church is a very thought-provoking way.  We’ll take a look at his intro 1 Cor 1:1-3 to see how he starts his letter to a very troubled church.