Thursday, May 28, 2009
"FORT COLLINS — Tired of competing separately for new members, churches here recently sold their properties, pooled the money and bought the largest movie multi-plex in town. They now meet in its various theaters, and for most, it's a lesson in stiff competition.
"There is a Darwinian element, but on the whole we're much stronger together than apart," says Foursquare pastor Len Reed, who rallied the churches behind the idea.
The 30-screen Grand View Cinema Multi-Plex, which last year showed The Hulk, Legally Blonde 2 and other Hollywood fare, is now home to every Christian congregation in Ft. Collins. The advantages, pastors say, are the simplicity of having a single ad in the yellow pages to appeal to on-the-go church consumers; substantial financial savings in sharing a facility; and most importantly, sending a message that Christians are on the same page — or the same screen, in this case.
Each sermon is advertised on one line of the marquee. Ticket booths serve as information desks. Congregations share ushers and child care, which is housed in a separate building. "Customers" start arriving at 8 a.m., filling the parking lot and choosing the church they wish to attend. A bank of monitors in the foyer displays what's happening in each theater.
"We usually go to the Baptist church in theater five, but if it looks like they're having a good time in theater four [the Pentecostal church], we'll go there instead," says 17-year-old Helene.
Some people attend worship in one theater, then sneak out to catch the sermon in another. Theater-hopping is tolerated, if not encouraged.
"People were changing churches every week anyway," says one pastor. "Now they can just go across the hall, and the kids get the benefit of staying in the same nursery."
Some patrons have found themselves attracted to churches they might never have visited before.
"I was on my way to the Catholic theater when I heard the preacher in theater 19 tearing it up," says Ramon Lopez. "I went in there and got saved for real."
Other churches, like the liberal-leaning Episcopalians, Methodists and Presbyterians, have watched their attendance plummet as members are drawn to livelier meetings with more fundamentalist teachings. The mainline churches now meet in a combined service in the employee break room with about a dozen people each week. They hope the addition of a Unitarian congregation to their combined service will boost numbers.
Other differences are less theological. Some churches allow drinks and movie candy like Mike and Ike's. The Catholic church has suffered because of its strict rule against popcorn. The rich, buttery smell, they say, interferes with the gravity of Communion. Other churches, like the up-and-coming Vineyard congregation, offer free "gargantua-tubs" of popcorn to first-time visitors.
When congregations grow to 800 people or more, they qualify for a time slot in the largest, 1,000-seat theater which is currently dominated by a seeker-friendly church built on Rick Warren's purpose-driven model. It boasts THX worship, reclining seats and, of course, a massive movie screen.
Despite some inner tensions, the unique partnership is holding together.
"I love coming to church because you get that sense of anticipation and excitement walking down the hallway to your theater," says 43-year-old Sandra. "The ushers even tear a little notch in your bulletin, like they're taking your ticket." •
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I was just reading online about how to plant these once they've sprouted and found out that these trees that you grow from a pit DO NOT produce fruit.
Now that's the pits!
"It is good to sing praises to our God, for it is pleasant and a song of praise is fitting" (vs. 1) - It really does help my perspective to sing (or even just think of the words) a song of praise. A good reminder as I go through the rest of today.
"For the Lord builds up...
He binds up wounds...
I purposely left off the second part of each line 'cause that's what struck me today. "He builds up" - I want to be one who builds up (and not tear down). "He gathers"... I want to be one who gathers (and not scatters) people. "He heals and binds up wounds"... I want to be one who helps and heals and binds up wounds (and not one who tears down, who wounds and then pours salt in the wound!) "He gives"... I want to be one who gives (and does not take).
"Great is the Lord and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure..." Wow! He understands! He is powerful! I want to be one who understands (I know I'm not powerful!).
"The Lord lifts up the humble"... I want to be one who lifts up those around me.
"He covers the heavens... He prepares rain... He makes grass grow..." He does it! I can't make it rain. I can't make grass grow (we usually kill all living plants on our property!). God makes things happen!
"He gives food"... such a basic thing. He provides food! He has provided for us this week in very practical ways!
"He strengthens... He blesses.... He makes peace... He fills...". These are all positive things and all things that I want to emulate! I want to be one who strengthens others (as He strengthens me) and blesses others (as He blesses me). I want to be one who makes peace (as He has made peace with me). I want to be one who fills and doesn't empty.
This gives me plenty to "chew on" for the rest of today.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
"Don't let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.
Do not make God's Holy Spirit sad. He marked you with a seal for the day when God will set you completely free.
Get rid of all hard feelings, anger and rage. Stop all fighting and lying. Put away every form of hatred. Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive each other, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done." (Ephesians 4:29-32)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Words of wisdom from Ron Hutchcraft... things have been stormy lately. I'm hoping to see some good!
"THE GOOD THING ABOUT BAD STORMS"
"When my wife gets her hand on the TV's remote control, which is seldom, she usually chooses something educational. The other night she was watching a feature on what the host called "good things hurricanes do." Well now, having seen some of the bad things hurricanes do, I was intrigued to hear about this. The feature told about these Australian pine trees that had somehow taken root in a place in Florida that hosted attractive plants which, in turn, attracted many beautiful birds and small animals. Well, as those pines grew and got tall (by the way, an experience I have never had personally!), they literally created a canopy over those plants, and they blocked out the sun. What had once been an area thriving with gorgeous plant and animal life became a stretch of sterile underbrush...until the hurricane hit. The storm literally snapped those trees in two. And the sun is back. The area is now a beautiful park with pools, greenery, flowers, herons, and lots of interesting wildlife. But it took a hurricane.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Good Thing About Bad Storms."
The storm blew in and removed what didn't belong there. I understand that. God has sent or allowed storms to come roaring into my life over the years, often with that same effect. It's true in nature, it's true in our lives - what devastates can also be God's tool to cleanse, improve and beautify!
There's a picture of that in Acts 27 , beginning with verse 14, our word for today from the Word of God. The Apostle Paul is being transported to Rome for trial on a large cargo ship that's carrying 276 passengers. They suddenly get hit by a massive storm system that batters them and threatens to destroy them for two weeks.
The Bible says, "A wind of hurricane force...swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm...and we were driven along...We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands."
Eventually, Paul is visited by an angelic messenger. Here's how Paul reported that visit to his fellow passengers: "Keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar, and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.'"
Storms clarify the things that really matter and the things that really don't. In this case, they threw overboard cargo that they thought they needed but they didn't really need. Maybe that's what God is trying to get you to do as the storm's battering you; set some new priorities, get rid of some cargo you've accumulated - even some sin you've taken on - your stuff that just needs to go. Just as God clarified for Paul what really mattered - his life mission and the people on the ship - it could be that God wants to use your personal hurricane to get you to focus on the things that really matter. The ship may not make it, but it's the people who matter anyway! Maybe people you've been neglecting because you've been all about the ship and you've been all about the voyage. And your life's mission is what matters - the things God has given you to do that also may have been marginalized recently. That, too, will survive the storm.
The hurricanes of God seem devastating sometimes and they can hurt. But He also sends them to accomplish things that might not happen any other way...the cleansing that your life needs. The new priorities your life needs. He's removing what's been blocked the sun so something beautiful can grow there."
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I'm doing it. I'm taking the plunge and reading this book. It's been recommended to me by my best friend (who has been through plenty of "messy times" with me) and a few others.
I just started reading this. It's good. It's hard. I really DON'T like some of it, but I know that what the authors are saying is true. I'd like to just take an "Exacto Knife" and cut some of the things out of the book but those are the sections I need the most.
We're actually going to start a small group (of ladies) to read/study this book together. I'm hoping it will be good, but it could get "messy"!
So many things come down to just the basics, like, being kind, giving people room to grow, FORGIVING (that's sometimes a hard one for me!), giving grace to people instead of judgment and condemnation, being patient, etc.
Sadly, I find more grace and love coming from those who do not happen to share my faith in God. AND, unfortunately... from those who call themselves Christians I quite often find judgment, condemnation, and whatever is the opposite of love and grace. Hmmmm. (And I do my share of dishing it out, too.)
Jesus said the world will know we are HIS by the love we have for each other. What does the world see, then, when they look at "the church" and see people gossiping, judging, condemning?
I have a lot to learn. This book is challenging me and scaring me at the same time. When relationships get messy I want to just run the other way. True love and commitment shows in people who stay in a relationship (whether it's friendship or marriage or family, or church) and work through the messy stuff.
So, (deep breath)... here I go.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
"The answer to that depends on one's definition of work. It is necessary to know what a thing is for in order to judge whether it works. It would be senseless, for example, to say that if a screwdriver fails to drive nails into a board it doesn't "work." A screwdriver works very well for driving screws. Often we expect to arrange things according to our whims by praying about them, and when the arrangement fails to materialize we conclude that prayer doesn't work. God wants our willing cooperation in the bringing in of his kingdom. If "Thy kingdom come" is an honest prayer, we will seek to ask for whatever contributes to that end. What, after all is said and done, do you want above all? Is it "Thy will be done"? If so, leave it to Him.
Is it "My will be done"? Don't waste your time and God's by praying. Have it your way."
Monday, May 4, 2009
But just a few thoughts...
When you are trying to get a proper diagnosis about something you really need to have ALL the facts and see every angle of the person (or problem) I watch "HOUSE" from time to time and there's always one little thing they miss, that they find in the last 7 minutes of the show. They suspect all kinds of things and try things, some of which almost kill the patient. Even with my health right now... I have as many "diagnosis" from people as there are people! One friend jokingly said "well, let's not rule out Feline Leukemia" :) There are so many different facets of everyone's life, or health. Lots of people have ideas about "what's wrong" with everything, from health, to government, to churches, to schools....
So what am I getting at? Oswald Chambers says "there is always one more fact in a person's life about which you know nothing, therefore, judge not." In the movie "Pollyanna", the main character (Pollyanna :)) shows the minister a necklace she has from her father (who, with her mother has passed away) with a quote from Abraham Lincoln; "If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.. ". It's best to look for the good in people, and yes, I guess in situations.
So.... [deep sigh]... I'm back to trying the glad game again while at the same time fixing my gaze on the only ONE who's opinion truly counts and listening to HIS voice. His "diagnosis" is the only accurate one for anything because HE is the Only ONE who knows the whole store inside and out.
There... that has calmed me a bit...