Why I Wear A Clergy Collar

As many in my church know, I often wear a clergy collar for hospital visits.  When I visit parishioners or when I’m asked to give an opening prayer at a fireman’s dinner, the collar goes on.

For those who are versed in denominationalism or protestant traditions, you know that vast majority of Baptist ministers do not wear clergy collars. Those funny looking white tabs or rounded white collars that ministers wear are most identified with Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran traditions.

If collars are not required for Baptist ministers or not a part of the Baptist tradition, what is a Baptist doing wearing one?

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'Banned' Religious Super Bowl Ad Airs

A Super Bowl ad that was originally “banned” by Fox Television because it was potentially  offensive aired during the big game. The ad features several people watching a football game and the camera zooms in on the television. A football player’s eye black displays “John 3:16″. The people watching the television wonder what it means and one man says, “I’ll look it up.”  Watch the video here:

Of course, John 3:16 reads: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (NRSV)  This verse from the Bible is used by Christians at sporting events. Tim Tebow was known for scripture verses on his eye black during his college days.

Who is behind this ad? Larry Taunton, the executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation explains: [Read more…]

An Apology To Readers

Here's my "I'm sorry" gift basket.

I must fess up. I’ve neglected my blog for the last two months. I’m sorry to my readers. What keeps a blog going are consistent posts that are thought provoking and timely. My blogging output was seriously deficient the past two months.  I apologize and owe you an explanation.

Several things have held my attention. Namely, finishing my book manuscript on associate minister ministry for Judson Press was paramount. Writing, proofing (thanks to Kristen Champion-Terrell for her help), and completing 159 pages was an exercise in patience.  My editor was gracious with my revised due dates. Finding time for manuscript writing was a learning process. Every writer has their process and I discovered mine.

Being a pastor and writing a book is no small task.  I am fortunate and thankful for a thriving congregation. Putting writing off for late night hospital visits, retreats, evening meetings, and other church events was a constant reality. If pastoral work was not enough, certainly my duties as a General Board member for the American Baptist Churches and serving on the Board of Directors for the American Baptist Home Mission Society took up a few days here and there.  Finally, attending my Lewis Fellows meetings takes away writing time too.

Don’t get me wrong. All of this good, really good. I’ve learned a lot and connected with many new people to help broaden my ministry. However, I discovered a few important realities when trying to write a book and balancing work, life, and family: [Read more…]

Forgive Me iPhone, I've Sinned

The ever growing bridge between technology and religion is expanding everyday. No longer will digital Bibles apps be the only religious tool that populates Blackberrys, iPhone, and other electronic devices. A newly released iPhone app allows uses to connect to a “confession” community to admit personal transgressions.  The app description explains:

The fundamental manner in which Penance differs from other confession apps is that it is structured to create a self-sustaining community rather than be a simple whiteboard for posting confessions (that can at best be rated by those who view them).

Apparently, download users must be over age of 17 in order to download the app. This suggests that users can face some racy confessions. It appears there is a gimmick to the app because like 4square users can earn destinations based on use:

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What ‘Blood Libel’ Means

In a newly released video, Sarah Palin reacts to the shooting in Arizona and responds to critics by using the phrase “blood libel.”  Watch the 7:43 minute video:

Palin states in the video: But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.

As I noted in my last blog post, clearly the few comments or use of a graphic depicting targeting sights could not be the single cause of the shooter’s motivation.  Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post outlines the issue:

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Don't Blame Talk, Blame Crazy

The events that unfolded this past weekend in Arizona are truly troubling.  A federal judge, a 9-year-old girl, a political aid, and bystanders are dead.  Many more injured, including a congresswoman. The gunman, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a crowd of people.  He planned it and talked about it on Myspace, YouTube, and other internet sites.

The media quickly jumped on who to blame. Who is responsible?  Many were quick to blame talking heads, such as Sarah Palin and her use of ‘gun targets” that targeted political races.   Glenn Beck responded had words. Even the Pima County (where the shooting occurred) Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, blamed the country’s explosive rhetoric on Rush Limbaugh:

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Christmas: Peace In the Midst of Chaos

Melissa was enjoying dinner with her husband and their three children at a restaurant recently—until the waiter disappeared for 20 minutes. Her husband, Tim, began muttering. Melissa braced herself. “Uh-oh, here it comes,” she remembers thinking.

“EXCUSE ME!” he screamed across the room to another waiter, then stormed off to complain to the manager. When the original server finally returned to the table, her husband yelled, “Where the hell have you been for the last 45 minutes?” and continued berating him until the man walked away.

Chaos ensued.

People at other tables stared. Melissa put her head down and a hand over her eyes. In the car on the way home, she told her husband, “You know I hate it when you do that. It ruins the dinner.”[1]

Who has not experience such an event? When you are enjoying a nice dinner and something sets someone off? All of sudden you go from peace to chaos in a matter of seconds.

Dealing with chaos during the holiday season is almost a fact of life. The family is trying to enjoy a nice dinner and Aunt Bettie complains about her divorce.  Uncle Bill is angry about his job.  Grandma is yelling about how her neighbors are stealing her trash!  Grandma, come on who is stealing your trash?

I’m sure scenes like this play out in your family sometimes.  Chaos in the midst of a well indented peaceful family dinner.  What is it about families that bring out the best and worst in us?  All of us have some sort of dysfunction in our families. All of us must have an embarrassing family scene we remember?

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Time for a Break

I’m taking a break from blogging.  I need to allocate my time to finish my Judson Press book on associate pastor ministry. However, don’t be surprised if you see me throw something up that is juicy. Expect me back sometime around January 1, 2011.  Peace.

-Alan

Guerrilla Marketing for Shelters of Saratoga

Original Post:

Above, is a picture of a guerrilla marketing campaign for Shelters of Saratoga, a ministry that First Baptist Church supports. We just had Shelters of Saratoga at our mission fair and we send groups to serve there. I found this pic on Twitter.  This is a great way to get the word out about this ministry and to bring visibility to homelessness in Saratoga County.

A few questions:

  • Was this official or done by an individual?
  • Chalk or paint?
  • Are we going to see more?

Send me your pics if you happened to grab a shot: blog (at) onthebema.com

New #Palio guerrilla marketing awareness campaign for Shelter… on Twitpic.

UPDATE 1:30 PM: via Twitter: @ps_saratoga 1:39pm via Web

@alanrud It’s a coordinated effort that will be replicated in about a dozen locations downtown to mark Homeless Awareness Week.

Thanks Post Star for the update!

UPDATE: 2:51 PM:

From the Skidmore College website:

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Help Kids & Family Fun TONIGHT

I want to tell all the families in the Capital Area about a wonderful event going on tonight.  If you are looking to support a great cause and searching for a family event then come to TreePaad tonight!  One of my church members, Colleen Pierre (Malta Mama) is helping to coordinate this family event to raise money for To Love A Child.  This organization helps children impoverished children and their families throughout the world.  Colleen’s husband was born in Haiti, was there in January and survived the earthquake, and still has family there.

KidsGiving is a children’s charity event benefiting local non-profit, To Love A Child and co-hosted by Malta Mama.  The event is taking place TODAY Friday, November 12th at TreePaad in Malta.  In addition to all the fun at TreePaad, KidsGiving will feature crafts and games for kids, live music, a silent auction, world handicrafts, a bake sale and more.  It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about how to help underprivileged children in Haiti and Zimbabwe and to raise money for an amazing charity organization.

Tickets are $12/child, and kids 2 and under are $8. Your ticket price includes two hours of unlimited play at TreePaad (including laser tag, rock climbing, and the other ‘extras’).  Contact Colleen (colleen@maltamama.com) for tickets or stop by TreePaad to purchase.

Me and my family will be going tonight!  I hope I can see you there!

Churches Stop Decline in UK

For years we have heard reports and studies tracking how churches are dying and God is slowly “disappearing” from Europe. Personal stories persist too. Despite what Fox News and other news outlets like to spin, there are counter reports that suggest otherwise. In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that churches are growing in the face of modernization:

Most scholars used to believe that modernization would extinguish religion in the long run. But that view always had trouble explaining why America, a nation in the vanguard of modernity, is so religious.

One study, by Christian Research, who published a widely-respected Religious Trends survey discovered:

…that Church of England attendance has held steady for the past decade (not including Fresh Expressions), the Catholic Church has held steady for the past five years, and Baptist Union attendance has actually been growing.

Secularism is often also thought to contribute to empty churches and forgotten stories of God’s people. However, it is not an issue concerning if people in the United Kingdom believe in God, it is their participation.  The following graph shows some surprising facts about Christian belief in the UK:

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The Fruits of Stewardship

The decline of giving to churches was well documented during the Great Recession.  Larger churches particularly struggled with giving.  The graph here shows regional declines in giving.  Many churches struggle with a vision on stewardship.  Many churches guilt their people into giving or force the concept of tithe.

Viewing giving through the lens of stewardship is helpful for churches and Christians.  Having a theology stewardship is key for churches to build a fruitful plan for giving.  If we start from the idea that everything we have comes from God then we can see our money, possessions, talents, and time as gifts.  Americans are very possessive when it comes to our property.

However, churches often ask the question, how can we encourage giving?  Cynthia Woolever gives three ways pastors and churches can encourage giving:

[Read more…]