Bits & Pieces of Signs of Life

As I mentioned in the recent update about our efforts to plant New Community Covenant in Bronzeville, time has become a luxury commodity this summer.  Typically the summer months lend themselves to a slower pace for me, one that allows time for reflection and evaluation.  But, as my church planter friends have affirmed, the early months and years of a church leave little time for these things.  Even so, there have been signs of life, bits and pieces at least, that I’ve enjoyed recently and offer here in brief.  As always, I’m interested in what items you’ve experienced lately that would make your signs of life list.

The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime has become my standard book of prayer each summer.  It’s been particularly helpful this year to have an aide for prayer and meditation to counter the ever-present list of tasks hovering in my head.  If you’re unfamiliar with fixed hour prayer, this is a great volume to begin with.

I’ve been savoring- and that’s the best word- Eugene Peterson’s Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ for the past couple of months.  In some ways a commentary on Ephesians, Peterson is giving me language to describe the discipleship process.  In this regard both Peterson and Dallas Willard are some of the secondary sources influencing our current sermon series through the Gospel of Matthew about transformation in Christ.

My sister and brother-in-law gave me a subscription to The Believer, a beautiful publication that describes itself as,

A monthly magazine where length is no object.  There are book reviews that are not necessarily timely, and that are very often very long.  There are interviews that are also very long.  We will focus on writers and books we like.  We will give people and books the benefit of the doubt.  The working title of this magazine was The Optimist.

The first article in the current issues is remarkable essay is about Nina Simone (whose music I was only recently introduced to by Michael Washington) from her recently discovered 1960’s journal.  Anyone else read The Believer?  I’m only a third of the way through and already looking forward to the next issue.

I’ve seen two thoroughly enjoyable films recently, Exit Through the Gift Shop and Cyrus.  Attempting a description of either would be confusing, but I laughed during each and Maggie and I talked for 30 minutes after Exit about what we had, or hadn’t, just seen.  Unless you’re lucky enough to have an indie theater in your town you may have to wait for each of these to be released on DVD.  (Not that I’m recommending you watch them.  I don’t recommend films unless you and I know each other very well.  And even then…)

Those are a few of my signs of life these days.  How about you?

2 thoughts on “Bits & Pieces of Signs of Life

  1. I’m still in the middle of it, but thus far I’m really enjoying “Simple Church: Returning to God’s Principles for Making Disciples” by Thom S. Ranier & Eric Geiger. It’s about (potentially) radically downsizing the programs and “activity” at one’s church, in the name of creating a simple process for all staff, volunteers and the congregation to have a clear, simple process, all pointed towards moving closer to Christ-likeness. It’s about remembering that “churching” is about discipleship, not attendance (although attendance seems to trend higher, and retention is higher when churches “get simple”) or the number of flashy programs offered.

    It’s awesomely challenging, because obviously no church is doing programming for programming’s sake (intentionally). Yet, the idea of literally dropping dozens of programs for the sake of simplicity and a clear focus on discipleship is daunting. It’s being read by a lot of the staff at PCC and I’m excited for the possibilities, should it be taken seriously (which indications point towards).

    It’s just a refreshing take on things, and it challenges the current popular notion that churches that are successful, both in numbers and in Christ-following, need to have programming that caters to as many lifestyles or niche segments as possible.

    It’s a simple read (go figure) and I’m excited to finish it this next week while I’m on vacation. And yeah, that’s another happy thing too, that vacations still exist. 🙂

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