Biennial: Day One

6:45 p.m. Major internet outage. Here are my notes from the afternoon celebration:

Rev. Dr. Gary Nelson, a Baptist:


1950’s 75% of people thought it was a good idea to go to church.

Less than 10% of urban Canadians now attend

Now, Canadians not mad 80% believe in God but 83% believe in God.

The church needs to reintroduce its self to the community

Luke 19 – Zaccheus

  1.  Jesus is in the crowd, not synagogue (God is a seeking God)
  2. Jesus knows him by name (Walmart syndrome: greet people at the door, greet at the church)
  3.  Jesus identities with this man.

Are you willing to be in the crowd? We are not to judge what has been.


Differences between Canadian and US?  – Context Urban vs. Country – Still a sense to go to church in US, not so much in Canada.

“Borderline Church” – book

How do I challenge people to cross the cultural border?

Faith, unfaith, and other faith intersect – Borders

Don’t change a congregation that you don’t love.

“Missional church conversation occurs with 50 year old white guys.”

2:00 p.m. “What is the lifespan of a church? When should a church die?” – Good question

Question: Where are the young people in ministry? (My public comment: Young people are going into ministry but the future of the traditional M. Div program is changing and seminaries and churches need to know the new changes.)

1:45 p.m. People still flowing in.  About 75 in the room now. Glad I found a spot by a power outlet.”What are the current trends and needs in culture that need to be addressed?”

Comment: “Have faith” from the pulpit not working any more.

Comment: Communities are changing with diversity. How are we to change?

Comment: “My church is growing and have young and old.”

Comment: Emerging and missional churches are future. Moderator: How many are a part of an emergent church? A few people raise their hands.

1:30 p.m. Statement of Concern: Envisioning Our Church in the 21st Century. This gathering is an open conversation on declining attendance and income for church budgets, changing societal norms and needs, the struggle to be relevant to younger generations, waning denominational loyalty, and inability to recognize and respond to new opportunities for ministry.

Good mix of young, old, culture, and geography.

Awaiting moderation and comment.

10:30 a.m.  The San Juan convention center is new and beautiful.  You are greeted with local music. Very festive in here.  Great to see many American Baptists. There are few kinks to work out with registration and arrangements.  The expo room is open. Check back for more posts.  3:00 p.m. starts off the celebration time. This location is wonderful. Remember to use the hastag on twitter #celebrate11 for updates and interaction with others.

Looking forward to the “The New Normal” event which will feature Dr. Peggy Kendall, associate professor of Communication Studies at Bethel University, and author of Reboot: Refreshing Your Faith in a High Tech World.  Dr. Kendall also hosts a website on Technology and Faith ( Friday morning’s session will feature Dr. Gary Nelson. An urban missiologist, Dr. Nelson is President of Canada’s Tyndale University College and Seminary, former General Secretary of Canadian Baptist Ministries and author of Borderland Churches: a Congregation’s Introduction to Missional Living.  Both sessions of “The New Normal” will encourage conversation among Dr. Kendall, Dr. Nelson and those in attendance.

My Social Media in Puerto Rico

Check out the blog this week as I will be live blogging at the American Baptist Churches Biennial in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For you Baptist folks, or observers, I’ll give all the live coverage of events, business meetings, votes, and festivities.

In addition, I’m giving an interactive lecture on social media entitled, “Sink or Swim: Treading the Sea of Social Media” on Saturday at the Pavilion Experiences during the Biennial. Three 50 minute repeating sessions 9 – 9:50, 10 – 10:50, 11 – 11:50 (morning) on June 25th at the Puerto Rico Convention Center. The immediate application will be how to better connect and integrate social media for you, your church, non-profit, or even business.

Make sure you stay tuned into On The Bema and follow me on twitter: @alanrud  Here is a little sneak peak of a social media tip we’ll talk about:

Prayer for Trinity Sunday

Creator God,
you created us a little lower than the angels,
but elevated in your love.
Bless us with your presence,
your whole presence:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
so that we may experience the full measure of your grace.
Sustain us with your Spirit.
Redeem us through your Son
Guide us by the Father.
In the strong name of the triune God,
we pray, Amen.

Alan R. Rudnick (c)

Feel free to use this prayer, but please give credit.

Trinity Sunday A

A Taste of My Own Pastoral Medicine

As I write this blog post I’m traveling on a plane heading to 37,000 feet and living in fear. I wonder when I will become dizzy, experience vertigo, pass out, lose my breakfast, or if my head is going to explode. Gross, I know. I have never been a woozy air traveler, but everything just changed.

After waking up one morning last week with maddening ringing in my head and unable to hear in one ear, I found myself sitting in a doctor’s office. “Well, we don’t know what you have but we have some good ideas. We need to run some more tests. Until then, I would not recommend loud places or air travel.” My doctor said.

Gulp. “I have to fly next week and I’m leaving the country the week after that.” I said. The doctor rolled his eyes and asked, “Do you have to fly?”

As I sat and listened to the extended directions on medications, tests, dangers of flying, and theories into sensory hearing loss from my physician, I could not help but think of the sermon I just preached to my congregation:

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Why 9 in 10 Believe in God but not Church

Many in the religious right have been running for the hills because this “godless” nation is become too secular.  The rhetoric of our nation’s direction is flawed by the growth of atheists and secularists is over played.  It seems a recent Gallup study confirmed what has simply is unknown to many: We are still a religious nation.  More than 9 in 10 Americans still say “yes” when asked the basic question “Do you believe in God?” Perhaps even more encouraging is that 84% of 18-29 year-old segment and 94% of 30-49 year-old segment answered in the affirmative.

And this is not a statistical bump, but historically, since 1943, the vast majority of Americans believe in “God”.

It would seem that we are still a religious nation, but obviously church leaders want to know how many of those 90 plus percent are Christian. Logically, many ask the question, “If we are such a God-believing country, then why is church attendance so low?”

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5 Lessons Learned from Weinergate

I think we knew all the long that Rep. Anthony Weiner sent “that” (eww) picture through Twitter.  His ambiguously worded answers to direct questions regarding his involvement in sending lewd messages and pictures made us all suspicious. His behavior was bizarre, but we have seen Weiner lash out before. And, yes, the Weiner jokes have supplied talk show hosts with endless material for comedy.

This has been embarrassing for Weiner, his wife, and their families. It’s also embarrassing for us! Gosh! A congressman can’t control his urges and flirts with woman online with pictures of his body? Both Democratic and Republican parties have had naughty politicians, so we cannot say it’s about liberals or conservatives. It’s really about confronting our flaws.

Through this whole scandal we have learned some things about ourselves and our society:

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35 Things to Know Before the World Ends

This end of the world/rapture business is getting out of hand.  I was interviewed on News Channel 10 on Thursday about why the world will not end. I can’t believe a guy like Harold Camping and his crazy predictions make news.  CNN followed his crusade and I think they are helping it be news worthy.

If you want to know why the world is going to end, here is the back story from my March 6, 2011 Times Union blog post.

If you believe it’s true, you better get ready! The rapture is happening soon!  Get your dogs and cats a place to stay!

There are a lot people getting into this rapture business. So ‘d thought I’d help with a little guide for the end of the world on May 21, 2011:

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Why You Should Listen to Brad Pitt on Christianity

In a recent Q & A for his upcoming film, The Tree of Life, Brad Pitt said:

“I grew up with Christianity, and I remember questioning greatly some things that didn’t work for me, [and] some things did…I grew up being told that God’s gonna take care of everything and it doesn’t always work out that way, and when it doesn’t work out that way, then it’s God’s will. I got my issues man, don’t even get me started…I got my issues… Many people find religion to be something inspiring. . . . I myself find it very stifling as an individual.”

Clearly, this preaching/teaching that Brad Pitt received was way off base. If his perception of Christianity is about “God’s gonna take care of everything” then his church, parents, and pastor failed him. Has anyone listened to his issues? Or, have people just preach “at” him?

Is this why Christianity is failing people? Is the wrong message being communicated? Does no one want to listen? No one wants to listen to other people’s struggles?

If Brad Pitt has issues with this type of Christianity, then I do too.

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Liturgical Evangelicals

I’ve made the case many times on this blog that several Baptist/evangelical/congregational churches are becoming more liturgical: printed prayers, responses, confession, creeds, lectionary, robes, candles, and hymns.  Evangelical and Baptist churches are following the Liturgical Calendar and worshiping in several non-traditional worship styles.  Notably Taize and Iona. Robert Webber wrote in 1985 that Evangelicals were beginning an attraction to the liturgical church.

What are we to make of this? Are these Evangelicals trying to be something they are not? A gimmick? Two articles are worthy of your attention on this trend to answer these questions.

The first is by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (fellow Eastern University grad) who writes in Christianity Today: [Read more…]