This afternoon I am attending the first of four seminars scheduled for HU’s new program in worship leadership. The seminar will bring together senior pastors and worship pastors “to encourage greater mutual understanding between the roles and personalities that are mutually dependent on each other” (quote from a letter announcing the seminar). So I have been giving some thought to worship.

Here is some of what I believe abut worship.

First, it is always for an audience of One. Regardless of the size of the congregation, whether one or thousands, the audience of the worship is still just One. The audience is always God! It is for His benefit, for His pleasure. It is not about me, it is all about Him. Yet when I have been privy to worship wars, it is amazing how much of the argument is about what “I” want, what are “my” preferences, and what makes “me” feel good. Not a lot of thought about God in all of that.

Now, we all have our own preferences, and that is fine. But when we presume that our preferences are also God’s preferences, I think we have pushed our preferences too far. So we argue about our preferences, things like whether or not there should be drums in the sanctuary, or electric guitars, or a Praise band. Is drama okay, or video clips from who knows where?

Should we sing the Doxology or do responsive readings, project song lyrics on a screen or use hymnbooks? Or should we _____ (you fill n the blank). The argument about worship becoming entertainment is a shallow one as well. Worship is all about entertainment! Not for our entertainment, but His!

Now, if God truly is the audience of One, don’t you think He ought to have a “dog in the fight” so to speak? Don’t you think we ought to seek what God wants? “Yeah, and just how do you suppose we are to find that out, come on,” you may say. Well, what about searching the Scriptures? For example, what is worship like in Heaven? You can get a glimpse of it in the book of Revelation in those scenes of what happens around the throne. Go back and read those passages and ask yourself whether any of that resembles your worship. Worship is much more than which instruments we play or what songs we sing or whether or not we use hymnals. Worship is really about engaging with God and doing worship for His benefit. Worship is not primarily for me, it is for Him because He is worthy. We do act and talk sometimes like worship is really about me and for me.

Second, I believe that if a local church does not truly engage God in worship on a regular basis, that church will become very inward focused. When we begin to focus so much on what “I’ want in worship, that selfish attitude carries over into other areas of church ministry, such as, say, evangelism. You will never see people around you as “lost” until you see God in His majesty and holiness. Don’t believe me, check out Isaiah 6. Our empty altars and baptismal pools attest to our lack of truly engaging God in our worship.

Third, I believe that true worship is for the corporate Body as it gathers together, but it is also for me as an individual. There is power when the Body joins together in true worship. I am energized by my brothers and sisters as we engage God together. But I can also engage God in true worship individually. True worship is why I was created, to enjoy God and worship Him forever.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about our need to be outward focused. I still believe that. But engaging God in true worship may be the very first step to becoming outward focused.

The conference council of Central Conference met Saturday, November 18, to sign the papers to officially dissolve the conference effective January 1, 2007. The annual conference voted in July 2005 to disband, but couldn’t do so until the conference was dismissed from a lawsuit. The conference council was authorized to take care of any business in the meantime.

In September, the conference was dismissed from that lawsuit (which involves the Good Shepherd UB church in Greenfield, Ohio), and Superintendent Tom Brodbeck quickly took the steps needed to dissolve.
Several items of business needed to be handled by the conference council:

  • Legal papers were signed to make Camp Cotubic (Bellefontaine, Ohio) an independent entity (as has been done with the former Mid-Atlantic Conference and Michigan Conference camps). There will be two separate corporations: one to be a holding company for the property, the other to handle operations.
  • The Center for Church Planting in Central Ohio (CCPCO) will continue to function. The title to the property at Kettering, Ohio, once a UB church, was transferred to the CCPCO. Another church has been meeting there since 1985, having purchased the property for $256,000. They still owe $120,000, and pay $2000 a month. Payments will now go to the CCPCO.
  • The Harwood Loan Fund, which has provided ministerial scholarships since the 1960s, will be used to establish a $10,000 scholarship at Huntington University. Superintendent Brodbeck will take care of setting this up.
  • The council distributed other cash assets, including $3000 to Laurel Mission, $7000 to Camp Cotubic, and $2500 to Scioto Youth Camp.

Huntington University work dayOn October 21, Huntington University students plunged into the community for the annual Fall Work Day, a tradition since 1996. Volunteers divide into groups, usually by dormitory floors, and are assigned a location and project.

Huntington University work dayFall Work Day has averaged about 425 volunteer hours a year. This year’s 222 volunteers, up from 186 in 2005, gave 777 hours of community service. One group went to Huntington’s Head Start to help with yard work–pulling weeds and raking leaves. Another group went to the YMCA to assist with organizing and cleaning rooms. Nichole Wolf (right), a freshman educational ministries major, took donations for the Boot Shake, a Red Cross fundraiser. Maggie McWilliams (left), a freshman elementary education major from Franklin, Ind., helped with cleaning at Good Shepherd UB church.

Community organizations and individuals who need help contact the college’s Joe Mertz Center. The JMC, a student-directed organization founded in 1992, has become an integral part of campus life. More than 70 percent of resident students are involved in some form of volunteer service, and more than 10,000 hours of labor are contributed by the campus community each year.

We lifetime churchgoers have our own lingo, with inside-the-Bible-Beltway terminology seldom used beyond the church walls. And some words, though they get used in the secular world, adopt a slightly different connotation when used in a church context. We all know that, but ingrained speech habits are hard to break.

Last Friday I attended a Communications workshop at Granger Community Church. Since they focus laser-like on unchurched people, they force themselves to use language which the world understands. Now, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to get too uptight about this stuff, but it is worthwhile to be sensitive to it. So, here are some terms they avoid at Granger, and how they replace them.

Churchy Word Replace With…
Fellowship Community
Intimacy Connection
Ministry Group
Target Guest or visitor
Go deeper Next step
Need Opportunity
Program Experience
Maturity Growth
Recruit Invite
Pulpit Platform
Sanctuary Auditorium
Foyer or vestibule Lobby

I was reminded of this a few months ago when I attended a funeral at a Lutheran church. They used terms like “chancel” that weren’t part of my church experience, and I felt like an outsider. Yes, I was an outsider. But a church shouldn’t remind someone of that. We need to help people feel comfortable, find ways to put them in their comfort zone. As Kem Meyer said in the workshop, a person’s comfort zone may be behind a cup of coffee or sitting in front of multimedia. But much of what we do in churches does not make an outsider feel comfortable. We don’t inflict this discomfort intentionally; we’re not thoughtless or cruel. We just keep stumbling into our familiar ruts, and kinda forget where other people are.

Thinking about the words we use is a nice start in helping visitors feel comfortable in our midst.

saints never surrender

Saints Never Surrender. Tony Biard is on the far left.

The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel newpaper published an online article about the concerts held at Anchor Community Church once or twice a month, with a couple hundred kids usually showing up. It includes a bunch of photos.

Tony Biard, a member of Anchor, heads up the concerts. He is also lead singer for the Christian hardcore band “Saints Never Surrender.” The band was recently signed by Blood & Ink Records.

HealingtheHeart.jpgIn the last post I mentioned the idea of a corporate time of prayer and confession for sins of the past in our church. Well, I was directed to a great resource, a book by Dr. Kenneth Quick titled, Healing the Heart of Your Church. Some of you might be interested in reading it for the insights it could provide for your local church situation. The publisher is Church Smart. You could order it direct from them or you could order it from our bookstore here. It is worth the read and will give you some insights as to why I possibly began to think about such a time at the National Conference 2007.

Been gone a lot during the last of October and so far in November…but I did want to let you know about the book and in case I don’t “see” you before, have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. One of the things I will miss this year is the annual Thanksgiving Eve Communion and Baptism service we had each year at Main Street. Those were some of my favorite services of the year. EJ and I will most likely travel to Wheaton to visit our daughter and her family. Looking forward to that.

Bethel Band in Honduras

The Bethel Band performing in the Central America Marching Band competition.

The Bethel School Marching Band took first place as Overall Best Band in the recent Central America Marching Band Competition. Bands from seven countries participated. David Raudales and his father, Honduran Superintendent Francisco Raudales, are the band directors.

The Bethel School is an educational extension of Honduras Conference, with several thousand students in La Ceiba, Honduras. Maira Raudales, Francisco’s wife, is principal of the high school.

In preparing for the 2007 National Conference, it has been impressed on my mind that I need a core of people who would be willing to join me in prayer that God would meet with us in a mighty way during this conference. We can do good planning, but in the end we get just what man’s planning can do. But if we seriously seek the face of God, we will get what God can do.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like God to show up and put his fingerprints all over the planning and the conference itself. If you would be willing to join me in seriously praying for the conference, email me at and let me know how and when you will be joining me in prayer.

By the way, I have been thinking about sins of the past and how they affect the future. The thought has crossed my mind that some corporate sins, maybe from a long time ago, are affecting our ability to move forward as a church. In reading the General Conference minutes for the three or four quadrennial meetings after the 1889 division, there is evidence of great sin. Maybe that has happened in other times as well, where corporately by sinning we grieved God and some of what we face today is a consequence of unconfessed sins in the past. This is certainly true in an individual if they carry unconfessed sins. Has anyone else been thinking or ever thought about this? I would like to have some dialogue about the subject.

The National Conference 2007 dates are May 31 – June 3. The location, the Sawmill Creek Resort, is situated on beautiful Lake Erie near Huron, Ohio (one hour west of Cleveland). The conference will open with a Thursday evening session with Brad Powell, pastor of Northridge Church of Plymouth, Mich. He will be the speaker for both the Thursday and Friday evening sessions. The concluding session will be a worship and communion service on Sunday morning, June 3.

The primary focus of this conference, as I see it, will be to refocus our denomination and local churches on the main task. Somewhere, somehow, it seems to me that we got way off the path. Some churches are struggling to survive, some are fighting inconsequential battles within the body, and many have just lost focus of the primary mission. In my opinion, we desperately need this time of coming together as a denomination to refocus and recommit ourselves to the mission. Thus, business will be at a minimum. Revising the Discipline over and over hasn’t helped us in the past to stay focused, and it won’t now. Structure and rules are not our problem. Being dead-set focused on the mission is!

We will need every church to be represented by its delegates and pastors for this very important conference, which could be a “defining moment” for our church. Every UB church can send at least two delegates: the senior pastor, plus one layperson.

The cost is reasonable. Rooms are just $90 a night (plus tax). There will be slight a registration fee of $25 per person or $45 for a family. You can go online and view the Sawmill Creek web site. I’d encourage you to do it.

This will be a very different National Conference…you won’t want to miss it!

Challenging speakers. Inspiring worship. Seminars covering topics you can use by seminar leaders who are getting the job done. Times of relaxation and fun (including the UB Open held on the beautiful golf course, so get your teams lined up). All rolled into one three-and-a-half day period.
Looking forward to meeting you there!