Thursday, May 23, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jesus is Not a Rockstar

This is a blog about what Jesus is not. . .not a blog about what other preachers may or may not be (Just a brief word to those of you expecting something else. . .)

Have you ever met someone famous? Or remotely famous?

Did it go the way you imagined it?

Pretending this famous person is your favorite musician/band, I imagine it went something like this:
You bought tickets to see them, spending more than you usually do on entertainment.
Surprisingly, you saw the musician in public, completely available for fans to meet, maybe after the concert for autographs or at a restaurant before or after the show.
You gather the nerve to engage them, and you approach, words forming in your worshipful mind, as your eyes register what they really look like up close. . .
Wow they look way rougher than I thought, OK, don't mess this up, don't say anything stupid, wow, wow, I can't believe I'm actually getting to do this. . .

And out from the mental portal known as the mouth comes some combo of the following:

"Hey, I'm a big fan. I love your music."
"You're so awesome. I've followed you forever."
"I have everything you've ever done, even the hard to find live stuff. Don't worry it's all been legal."
"I still have a pick you threw into the crowd when I was in 7th grade."
"Can we get a picture with you?"
"Will you sign_____________?"
"That was a great show."
"Thanks for making great music." 
"I'm from Rhode Island too!"
"I love you I love you I love you so much!!"

After your initial contact, they say something gracious and practiced (unless you interrupt them as they bring a bite of broccoli to their mouth, in which case it goes to Awkwardsville real quick.) They give some combo of these kind of statements:

"Hey thanks. We really appreciate the support."
"Awesome. Who should I sign this to?"
"Of course. YOU are awesome."
"We have the best fans. It's why we do what we do."
"Oh yeah, Cleveland always rocks."
"Thanks for the support. We have a new record coming out soon."
"Excellent. Are you on our email list?"
"Thanks so much for coming out."
"Rhode Island. Sweet. Where at?"
"Well, I love you too."

If you're lucky and you set them up well in conversation, or wore a homemade T-shirt with flashing glowsticks, you might get a few more seconds of airtime and interaction, but inevitably, The Pause happens. . .the moment when you both know the brief collision of your worlds is over. And for the fan, it was too brief, but for them it was one more random connection in a bottomless pool of faceless interactions, an affirming moment objectively assimilated into their matrix of what it means to be adored.

Nothing particularly awesome or witty or insightful happened. No phone numbers or home addresses were exchanged. Your short dialogue didn't convert them into one of your texting buddies. Your families still never share picnics on Sunday afternoons, lying on blankets in the sun discussing the beauties of the universe. . .

But you did get a story, a moment when you met someone Famous, an anecdote you can pull out the next time someone says "Oh I love_________!"
"I got to meet them. The lead singer signed my larynx! And he was eating broccoli! With a fork!"

When I listen to the way many people talk about Jesus, particularly younger folks, they talk about Jesus like He's a Rockstar.

They describe some moment they had with Jesus (but usually they say God and not Jesus) at some event, where for one brief moment they got to see Him, and IT WAS SO AWESOME. And when God's name comes up, they pull out a story from some event and speak of the moment they got to encounter the famous God.

Fans that follow bands will debate the awesomeness of certain shows and concerts, compare band members and set lists, and dissect the legitimacy of alternate versions of tunes for hours and hours in conversations and on message boards.
"Oh, ____________'s vocals rocked so much harder at that festival in '09!"
"You had to be there. Sweet venue, great sound. Best ever."
"Since they got ____________ as a drummer, it's just not the same."

The way some of us talk about God and His awesomeness is similar to these discussions--God tied to an event and a brief encounter you had with Him, an encounter ending when the venue closes, and all you have is a story to blurt out when His name comes up.

I know there is a popular book out now called Not a Fan that stresses the idea of us being followers of Christ rather than fans. I don't think I'm re-tooting the author's horn here, nor going down the path he does. I think believers are both followers and friends of Christ. My bigger point is Jesus is not some Rockstar we only get to worship from afar, being satisfied with intermittent encounters with Him at special moments.

I don't think He died and rose again so we could have awkward moments in the autograph line with Him, not knowing what to say, but being completely satisfied we have a story for our friends which is verifiable on Facebook by a grainy pic of our arms around Him. 
"Hey thanks Jesus, you rock!"
He is the opposite of the Rockstar: you are not some faceless entity He interacts with as long as you affirm His gifts, moving you along quickly so He can meet all His fans. He is Immanuel, God with us, but we transform Him into God on stage. He doesn't exist to entertain you by giving you your latest sensational buzz--He exists in a goodness He freely shares in Christ, a goodness not contained in isolated moments on mountaintops but a Presence with you in all of Creation.

I think He died and rose again so we can know Him. Not just know about Him and not just adore Him from a distance. Not just meet Him but walk with Him. Redemption and Reconciliation mean we can discuss the beauties of the universe with Him lying on blankets but we also can walk through valleys with Him, intimate and personal, hopeful and trusting. We don't have personal trust with Rockstars, we only have a separated appreciation.

This is good news, this is great news, this is Gospel. This is what we live, sharing the eternal shine of the King who leads us from the inside-out.

If Jesus set up a table in your church to sign autographs, what would you do?
What would you say?
You know what I would do?


I already know Him.

And He knows me. I say that gratefully and as an invitation for you to experience the same.
He'd probably laugh if I asked Him to sign my bible--oh wait, I would probably get in line to do that--just so I could hear the King of the Universe laughing. . .

Matt O.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Right arm! Left arm!

"Father Abraham had many sons! Many sons had Father Abraham!
I am one of them and so are you! So let's just Praise the Lord!
Right arm! Left Arm! Right. . ."

I hear the children yell-singing along with me as we act out the motions to the simple melody. The intricacies of Galatians and Romans, the covenants of circumcision and grace, and the fulfillment of both law and promise the furthest things from our minds. We are hyper and alive in Children's Church today, delirious with an environment that allows us to shout the joy of being God's Chosen while marching in place like tiny, silly soldiers.


The truth that I can be a child of the blessing, one of the counted stars of the uncountable galaxy, a cherished grain of sand in the endless beaches of God's grace, comforts me often when I doubt my identity and position in Christ and His world. I probably should do a crazy little dance with my friends more often as we project our voices triumphantly, spinning around in amazement.

Yet sometimes I feel like old Father Abraham himself. . .
I pack up and leave the confines of the familiar, walking in lands not my home. . .
I cozy up to my bride participating in the sacred, intimate act, struggling to trust against common wisdom that the Lord's Word remains solid. . .
I saddle up the donkey headed to a mountain where my greatest fears wait for me. . .

What faith! How awesome! The Lord provides! So let's just praise the Lord!

But I also watch my servant work and see not just a female but a contingency plan, a way for me to bring about the Lord's wishes in my own way, in my own time. . .

And I am not just Abraham's son, I am the son of Sarah, laughing when I get a glimpse of what the Lord's plans might be, sprinkling in some (un)holy sarcasm for my own enjoyment, and rolling my eyes when my husband of promise stares at me with the eyes of the young. . .

I am the twin of Isaac as well, tramping along dutifully, doing the math in my head, asking Father where the sacrifice might be, except I ask quite a few times more than young Ike, and wonder what bonds I would let my dad tie me with, and whether I would lie still on the altar as his sun-spotted hands raised the killing blade. . .

So let's just praise the Lord!

Just praise the Lord--as I walk in my schizophrenic faith, my multiple personalities of Abraham, Isaac, and Sarah keeping the silent donkey company as we walk, waves of trust crashing into walls of doubt, steps of obedience tripping as they tango with sexier options.

Did Abraham have white knuckles as he gripped the rope guiding his beast of burden and trust?
Did Sarah allow hope to peak through the clouds of cynicism when Abraham placed his head on her chest and murmured the creed of promise given decades before?
Did Isaac feel pride in his dad's unwavering gaze towards the mountain even as he naively followed with arms full of wood meant to be burned under his own body?

When we are asked to fully trust God, we are still fully human no matter how much we shout the praises of the Lord. He asks us to follow Him, not to cease being human, and most of the time the following slogs through swamps where both faith and doubt reside. Maybe fixing our eyes on Christ in those moments has nothing to do with sight but with the ability to remember Gethsemane, whispering not-my-will-but-yours prayers in the midst of cups full of anguish.

Or maybe we need to stop praying and thinking so much, put down our Bibles, power down the blogs and just start swinging right and left arms, and start stomping right and left feet, as we spin around screaming our defiant trust that we really are children of the Good Father. . .

Matt O.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nominated the Conclusion

Our series on Nominated began with my startling discovery I was the Vacation Bible School Director at my church, journeyed through the dangers of the Warm Body Mentality in church programming, and now comes to some ideas and principles to counteract the WBM while also being catalysts for consistent spiritual formation in your church Body. . .

I will start with some disclaimers:
  1. There are no perfect churches, no perfect programs, no perfect methods for recruiting/training/keeping volunteers, and certainly no perfect discipleship methods.
  2. There are no one-size-fits-all, can't-miss techniques that can be used in every church, every culture.
  3. I am not perfect in my principles or methods either. Nor have I always followed my own advice, particularly with volunteers. Most of my principles come from my mistakes. And none of these principles are "re-inventing the wheel".
  4. God's grace sustains us all and His Spirit moves in many ways--even sometimes through Warm Bodies just going through the motions.

Off to the practicals now. . .

On Recruiting Volunteers
When you ask someone to be a volunteer, give them enough time to process the requirements of the position and to pray about it. Starting with a sense of urgency like "I need to know by tomorrow if you're willing to be our Children's Director for the next 80 years because I know you love kids because you have like six of them," is not a positive first step. I recommend a face-to-face conversation first with a follow-up email with all the details of the position including:
  • How long the commitment is for and when will they have an opportunity to step down or renew the commitment. Or if/how they can downgrade or upgrade responsibilities.
  • What kind of accountability they will have, who they are responsible to report to, and what the evaluation process will be.
  • What the time commitments are, including not just the start/end times of services/events, but what time they will be expected to be there both before and after the service/event.
  • All the rest of the duties spelled out whatever they may be (teaching, running sound, getting food ready, etc.) including any intangible expectations like "building relationships with teenagers", which may mean telling them specifically things such as "Do not sit on the back row with all the other adults but sit with actual students in the rows."
  • Give them a gracious way to say "NO" You're looking for volunteers who want to be there.
Also in your recruitment conversation and in your email, encourage them again to pray about the position, but also tell them the three things you look for in a volunteer. . .
  • Called: Some sense of peace, calling, or passion for this position but preferably all three. You're not looking for someone to do it out of guilt, because they really like you, or any form of the "I guess I need to get plugged in somewhere" mentality.
  • Committed: You consider this position a commitment and a covenant. If they say they're going to do it, then they need to do it. Whether it's tougher than they thought or whether or not they feel encouraged enough, etc. A commitment to the very end: if you sign up to lead a small group, then lead the group (according to the specific duties spelled out for them) no matter how small it gets. . .if it started with 14 and dwindles down to 4, it's just a smaller group. Same expectations apply.
  • Capable: Affirm why you asked them to serve in the first place: they have gifts and skill-sets, or sources of joy that you (and probably others) noticed. You wouldn't have asked if you didn't think they were capable.
After all that and your mighty Avengers are assembled, your duties then are the following (and here's where I have often failed):
  1. Pray for your volunteers
  2. Check in with them to see how they and the job description are lining up.
  3. ENCOURAGE them. Don't just use them as slave labor for the success of your ministry. Care about their spiritual development as well: suggest books to them, ask about their relationship with Christ, etc.
  4. Gently correct any behavior that is not in keeping with your expectations or that are in clear opposition to the agreed upon job description. Do not just swallow it and unload on them at the end of the year and do not just confront it in public right when you see it: set up a face-to-face meeting.
  5. Keep your end of the deal. Make sure you are providing them the tools they need to thrive: giving them curriculum or small group questions in a timely manner, making purchases ahead of time and not at the last minute, don't change their job description by adding on duties all the time, give accountability and evaluations as promised, etc.
And lastly, some miscellaneous thoughts about Warm Body Mentality and programming:
  1. What if you just had staff get to know their people and then discovered what Callings, Commitment-Levels, and Capabilities already existed in your people and then built your programming around them? A "Developing Unique Programs According to Your Unique People" vs. "Plugging People into Your Already Designed Programs"
  2. What about knowing a program will be healthy for your church but instead of starting it right away you take a year to train your volunteer leaders on what you want the program to look like? A good example is small group ministry: Instead of getting a dozen leaders to immediately start their own small groups after a one hour crash course on small groups, what about making a small group with those 12 leaders and you lead the group the way you want them to lead their groups? It is a long-view version of programming but I think it is a powerful, mature, and healthy way to really start something well.
  3. What about having a good program going but letting it "make due" a little bit with not enough volunteers rather than letting it suffer with too many poor or unqualified volunteers? Which is worse: Not having a youth praise band right now OR having a band but none of them really care about holiness off the stage?
  4. What if instead of looking at every program as a permanent part of the structure of your church life you thought of programs as seasons? And seasons change. Except in this case you ask yourself: In this season of our church (or particular part of our church) is this program still the best way to be utilizing our volunteers for the spiritual formation of God's Kingdom people? If it's not, change the programming.
Hope these help some of you church staff/laborers out there. But if you ever find yourself directing VBS against your will, just remember the big 3:  Goldfish crackers, Finger Jello, and Popsicle Sticks.

Much love.
Matt O.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nominated Part Tres

We still have two questions to answer about the Warm Body Mentality that exists in how churches often recruit volunteers for programming. . .
2. What if we didn't have those programs and we had visitors come in and they left because we didn't meet their needs? 3. Why do you believe the WBM is dangerous and detrimental?

2. This one is not very hard for me to answer: I think we make too many decisions out of "fearful hypotheticals." We create a scenario in our minds that we are scared might happen and then react as if that situation has already occurred or is a worst case scenario. There might be this visiting family who has this one 6th grade boy who doesn't play well with students outside his peer group and needs a 6th/7th grade Sunday School class but we don't have one so the family might leave. . .so let's get that Sunday School class started. This may sound exaggerated to many of you--but I've heard very similar detailed reasons given like this in many a meeting about not only volunteers, but about new ideas, and even about some theological points. (If "A" is true we're worried that "B", "C", "D" will happen so "A" obviously can't be true or we refuse to acknowlege it to be true because of fear of B, C, D.)

I think making fear-based decisions is rarely a healthy thing for a people led by the Spirit.

I also think that maybe we elevate the concept of "meeting people's needs" above the concept of "called and capable" people leading a particular program. If my car needs to be fixed and I try to get a well-intentioned and willing accountant to fix it, the attempt may be made but the car will probably remain unfixed. It is hard to meet a person's spiritual needs with someone unequipped to do so. When forming our programming to meet people's needs we should ask ourselves "What needs are we able to actually meet?" as well as "Are these people's needs or their preferences/desires?"

I do not expect volunteer leaders to be perfect at their jobs, (there are no perfect mechanics that I know of), but we should expect them to be competent and have some sense of calling and passion for their position. Lastly, as for the fear of people's needs not being met because of a lack of programming and them leaving: It's OK. God is a pretty big God with a ton of local churches out there. If you're not ready for that family yet programming-wise it is OK. Children should only be given matches when they're ready to use them responsibly not when they're scared they'll never feel the warmth of a fire. Bad things happen when you give matches to kids who aren't ready to use them. . .which brings us to our final WBM question to answer. . .

3. Why do you believe the WBM is dangerous and detrimental?
You can probably tell from my previous answer where this one is going. Should an accountant work on my car? Should a toddler play with matches? In most scenarios, of course not, unless said accountant is a proverbial jack-of-all-trades and the young tot is a pyro-savant. And why is the answer no? Because of the harm that comes from folks messing with stuff they don't know about.

When you have someone who is a nice person and a willing person but doesn't know the Lord real well or the Word real well, you do not have a Sunday School teacher.

When you have someone who wants to direct a committee or serve on a board but doesn't have a real prayer life or hasn't demonstrated wisdom in their own personal lives, you do not have a leader.

When you have someone who has kids and shows up regularly on Wednesdays, but doesn't know how to hold a conversation with a teenager or share their personal testimony in a meaningful way, you do not have a youth chaperone.

I said above that making fear-based decisions is rarely a healthy thing for people led by the Spirit--I said rarely because I think there are two kinds of fear we need to have more often:
A "fear of the Lord" where we respect His desire for His children to bear His image and a "fear for the spiritual health of our sheep" that supersedes our desire to have any ole pasture (program/leader) for our sheep to graze in.

I believe much of the lack of spiritual vitality in our congregations and much of the exodus of our churched youth from further church life and involvement can be traced to putting warm bodies in positions of spiritual influence who had little to no spiritual lives themselves. They went from being nice unsaved people to plugged-in church people rather quickly--without much training or observation of the process of spiritual formation in them by their spiritual overseers.

If we want the steak and potatoes of the faith to be eaten by all but place babyfood and milkbottle Christians in a majority of our influential positions, then we can expect our spiritual Outback to go out of business. When people (young people especially) don't see the fruit or the fire in their leaders, we cannot expect their faith, fruit, or fire to manifest magically on its own. In fact, when people (including myself) see the lowest common denominator being accepted it is very easy and natural to set your own standards to the same level.

I know this is not the case in all churches so do not be offended by the observations--but I know these descriptions are very accurate for many congregations.

In the final post, I will offer some positive and viable alternatives to the WBM. . .

Matt O.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nominated Part Dos

We introduced the Warm Body Mentality (WBM) in the last post: the idea that churches decide what programming and activities they need (or have always had) and then find the warm bodies necessary to keep those programs going. WBM gathers volunteers not because of their spiritual fruit or proven giftedness, but by a willingness to say yes.

I ended the first post with two symptoms of the WBM which I believe are harming our churches: the lack of spiritual vitality and the departure of many young people from the church.

Isn't it good that we have volunteers running those vital programs? What if we didn't have those programs and we had visitors come in and they left because we didn't meet their needs? Why do you believe the WBM is dangerous and detrimental?

I will answer those three questions asked by my hypothetical deacon of defensiveness:

1. Isn't it good that we have volunteers running those vital programs?

I want to respond with Jesus' words in Matthew 19 to the rich young ruler: "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Ha. Seriously, what is "good" when we're talking about church programming?
Does good mean simply functioning? Does good mean it is still operating the way it was 20 years ago? Does good mean it has a lot of participation?

I believe if we're going to use the adjective good when describing church programming it should mean the activity or program has demonstrated proven long-term results in helping folks become better followers of Jesus Christ. Some would call that discipleship or spiritual formation. It is the reason we should have a program in our church--not to just make folks happy, keep folks coming, maintain a legacy of existence, or to make places for people to get plugged in--but to create environments where healthy spiritual growth takes place.

And how do we know if a program is beneficial to the spiritual formation of its participants?
Great question and a tough one to answer, one I would answer with more questions:
Are relationships being formed that exist outside the programmed event?
Do people get there early and want to stay late?
Do people participate in the process or just spectate?
Are you seeing the fruit of the Spirit in conversations?
Can you observe increased humility, forgiveness, grace, and hope? Increased trust and vulnerability?
Do people talk specifically about Christ and knowing Him or vaguely about God and pleasing Him?
Is there a sense of commitment and faithfulness, of increased interest?
Do people come prepared, bringing their bibles or curriculum or having read the required reading?
Is it something people want to invite others to rather then being told to invite others to?

Those diagnostic questions are helpful but not perfect. They are also tough to apply to our children's programming and much of our student activities. It has been proven over and over that often our kids and teens come and get excited about our programming not because of Jesus but because they are kids and teens--and we give them a space to be that.

We beam with pride when our kids sing the songs in front of the congregation, or answer the Sunday School questions correctly about who lost their power when his hair got cut, or when our youth group is busting at the seams of their boisterously painted youth room. And all of those can be legitimate sources of pride and joy. . .believe me, no one loves a kids choir special on a Sunday morning more than this guy. . .but. . .

I don't just want our kids to answer questions about Jesus or do the nice things because they're scared of Jesus not letting them go to heaven--I want them to share their cookies because they love Jesus. I want them to say "I'm sorry" not because we make them say it but because they've seen us parents practice grace, humility and forgiveness. This isn't a blog about child psychology and age of accountability or a plea for a particular type of curriculum--but a blog about our markers, our diagnostics, for what is good often having little to do with loving Jesus and neighbor and a lot to do with the appearance of a successfully functioning religious institution.

Most teenagers want a place to be themselves, see their friends, and get a little loud and crazy every once in a while. Snacks and music would be great in that place as well. Our churches provide that exact desired environment. Is a youth program good just because it has teenagers in it? Is a zoo good just because it has animals in it? Is a movie good just because it has some cool explosions and attractive actors? Decades of church statistics show us that successful youth programming (having lots of teens participating) often does not equate down the road to young adults who love Jesus and are committed to a local church. Yet, if the youth room is full and the students are having a great time and not getting caught doing the big bad things (Sex, Drugs, Alcohol) then it is a successful and vital program. Do not hear cynicism in that statement--hear instead the observational accuracy of over 20 years of student ministry experience and verified expectations of countless conversations with pastors, youth pastors, and parents.

Back to the original question, "Isn't it good that we have volunteers running these vital programs?"
I would say not necessarily--a program that is just being run for reasons stemming from the desire to see "apparent success of the religious institution" is rarely a healthy fulfilling of the Great Commission to make disciples who obey Christ and His teachings with the whole of their lives.

We only have space to answer the first question today, I will address the other 2 questions: What if we didn't have those programs and we had visitors come in and they left because we didn't meet their needs? Why do you believe the WBM is dangerous and detrimental?in the coming posts as well as offer some ways to combat WBM while presenting some alternative perspectives on church programming.

Matt O.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


It was a dark and rainy Wednesday night at the church.

OK, it wasn't.

It was the normal bland and chaotic night of mid-week programming at the church. Adults shuffling through the required routines, children screaming delight as they run aimlessly, sometimes screaming just to hear it echo off steel rafters, a lone staff person weaving through it all, juggling expectations and volunteers in a barely watchable circus act.

The solo minister is approached by a Deacon. . .

"Hey there, Matt."
"Oh hey, Donnie."
"I was wanting to talk to you about the youth this summer."
"Ok, it's February though."
"I know. We were just talking about Vacation Bible School this summer."
"We were thinking the teens might not need a class this summer, you know, they're getting kind of old for it--"
"I couldn't agree more, Donnie."
"Well, you think the older teens could help out then with the younger VBS classes, you know, like be assistants and help the older teachers?"
"I was thinking the same thing! I think the teens are ready for something like that."
"So you don't have a problem making that happen?"
"Not at all Donnie, I think it's a great idea."

The following Sunday morning was dark and rainy.

Ok, it wasn't.

It was the normal rhythm of a practiced people, an intermittent parade of sincerity, intentions, plaid shirts and patterned blouses. The organ drew them into their reverent stupor, calloused hands ceasing  greetings, hard candy being reached for, and restless children already seeking the confines of imagination only found on the church carpet below the pews.

This Sunday, however, was Nominating Sunday, a particularly Baptist custom, run by the Nominating Committee--which of course, makes absolute practical Baptist sense. Nominating Sunday consisted of the Nominating Committee announcing who had accepted the nominations for the various volunteer positions in the church for the coming year: everything from the Ushers to the Sunday School Teachers, the Senior Saints director to the Holiday Decorating Committee. Unveiled before the church in awkward glorious display came the vast network of ministry labor leadership, a creatively stretched minority of the flock, a select few spirits whose sacrificial demeanor made them perennial favorites of servitude--or targets, depending on your perspective.

Deacon Donnie, chairman of the Nominating Committee, stood shifting from foot to foot, expelling name after monotonous name, waving the fuzzy-headed microphone like a lollipop long bereft of flavor or joy.

I sat in my pew, ready to poke out my ear drums with a carefully pointed offering envelope, but opted instead to grab the hymnal in order to find weird words in random verses of forgotten songs. I never did find "mine Ebenezer", for Deacon Donnie's voice pierced my trance as I heard the following words--

"And we're real excited this year about our Vacation Bible School, our VBS director this year is Matt Orth."

The youth pastor sat stunned for a moment, the hymnal falling from my grasp in slow motion, not unlike the scene in an action movie when the hero's partner (or girlfriend, etc.) is shot by the bad guy and the camera zooms in on their hand releasing the gun/necklace/flower, etc.

Donnie and I made eye contact across the golden-harvest-colored pews, his look letting me know what our conversation had been about and surely I knew that, right?

I laughed, bending over to gather to my wits, and stood dramatically, bursting forth from the rows to stand in majesty with the rest of the assembled ministers, a mismatched crew of excitement and duping. I thought it appropriate that I stand next to the Person Who Counts The Money This Year and the Family Life Center Scheduler, thinking in my heart that perhaps their conversations were something like mine (Do you like money? Good. Have you ever used a calendar? Excellent.) and maybe we were soul mates in the unpredictable world of volunteerism.

The Nominated turned into the Dedicated as Deacon Donnie blessed us with a prayer chock full of KJV pronouns for the "upbuilding of the Lord's earthly Kingdom" during the next twelve months.

I directed VBS that year and I don't remember much about it. I'd guess finger jello, catchy four note songs, and church adults poorly dressed as Bible characters were involved somehow. Oh yeah, and popsicle sticks. I bet there were a bajillion popsicle sticks.

 Over the years, the Nominating Sunday became symbolic to me of what eventually I named the "Warm Body Mentality" in many congregations. The Warm Body Mentality (WBM) is where a church decides what needs to happen program-wise in their church Body life and then they just find any ole Warm Bodies to make it happen. Calling, Gifting, Genuine Needs and intangibles like Faithfulness, Fruit of the Spirit, and Relevance don't enter into the equation of acquisition. What matters is a YES and a Warm Body making whatever the desired event or programming is actually happen.

I firmly believe it is one of the reasons we often sense a lack of vitality in our fellowship and concurrently a reason why so many young people often leave the flock never to return. . .

In the next post we'll cover some sources and dangers of the WBM, as well as some counter-cultural alternatives to combat it. . .