Pentecost is 50 days after Jesus raises from the dead and about 10 days after he ascends. Have we made a close study of what happens, how it links in with God’s fuller plan through the Old Testament and completed in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection? The story is found in Acts 2. The coming of the Holy Spirit is told in four verses:
I recently conducted a workshop at a nearby church that had quite a sophisticated audio system. Line arrays that covered the sanctuary with front fills, under balcony speakers, personal monitor mixers for the vast array of musicians and a 48 input digital mixer. As I was observing their rehearsal, I noticed the sound operator was sound mixing with all of the console’s inputs. Yes, he was sound mixing with forty-eight faders. Some of you may be asking: “Is there another way to mix?” Yes, there is an easier method and it will save you hours of frustration if you will take some time to learn how to do this. It won’t take long.
Most business travelers depart on Sundays. What can your church outreach do to minister to them while they’re away? How many people go to your church? Chances are you’re pretty informed on the subject. Perhaps you don’t know the exact number, but at a moment’s notice you’re likely prepared to share a rather accurate estimation. One reason for your confidence on this matter likely stems from the the reality that you’ve been asked this question about a million times since entering ministry.
Arguably, the largest trade show in Anaheim, California is the NAMM–or, the National Association of Music Merchants. I have attended many times over the years as a musical artist, guest of a manufacturer or as a representative buyer for a house of worship. Besides “geeking out” at the latest gear from all over the globe and soaking in performances in small venues of musical giants there is the reconnection with musicians that you don’t often get to hang out with due to distance and schedules. Our group of friends waited a rather long time to be seated in the hotel restaurant, but we finally ordered our food and immediately began chatting and perusing the menu. Before we were too deep into our lunch one of our table mates got our attention as he put his cell phone face down in the center of the table. His buddies quickly followed suit. I grudgingly stacked my phone, last on the deck as I saw the smirking glances in my direction. As an avid social media user I would have to engage in human conversation as unmediated by smartphones. What a shock and a way to go through potentially scary withdrawal symptoms. To add incentive to comply with the rules, the penalty was that whoever reached for their phone first would have to pay the entire bill. There were about seven of us–so, that would be an ouch on the bill. Most of us at the table peered at the stack of phones as one of them would buzz from a text every so often. But, we did not dare grab our phones for fear of a hit to the pocket book.
I just finished a conference call with a church tech director and creative arts pastor. They are having issues with the sound in their church and the two of them, together, want to make a difference. They are looking for suggestions as to how to take it to the next level. There was no shifting of blame or finger pointing one to the other, in fact, the worship leader was very adamant in his support for the tech team and how dedicated they have been in their quest to make things better. Refreshing!
A few years ago, I went to Northampton, Massachusetts. My naive hope was to see the spot where Jonathan Edwards preached the Word of God into so many hearts during the First Great Awakening. There’s a small rock with a few words about Edwards. There’s a fifth church, rebuilt in 1877, which stands on the same hallowed ground. My surprise wasn’t the minimal recognition or even the newer building. It was the moral choices made by the First Baptist Church and First United Church of Christ who share the historic property and call themselves the First Churches. There’s a reason for my surprise, as you might well know, due to the convicted life of Jonathan Edwards.
Luke shares a timeless question in Acts 1:11 that we might miss if we’re not reading closely. It’s the moment Jesus is exiting on a cloud bound for Heaven. They are staring into the sky, wondering, waiting, stalling. They are amazed and bewildered, like a deer in the headlights or a cartoon character who runs off a cliff, then pauses to see his fall is eminent. “What now?” they must be asking themselves. “Now, we’re alone… all alone!” The angels speak into their gaping silence with a question: “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?”
In combing the web and finding our favorite well-designed church websites, we used the following criteria to guide our decision: We looked first at visual design. How well is the site designed and laid out? Does navigation make sense? Are visuals overwhelming with no purpose, or do they serve to inform and guide the user? We looked at load-time and the size of image content. Then we looked at page structure and navigation. Is it clear? Is it simple? Does it make sense? Then our most important criteria in picking these church websites were church information and content. Is it clear what the church is about? What’s their mission, vision, and mandate? Who makes up the ministry team? Is there adequate contact information? All of these are important guidelines when designing functional and beautiful church websites.
What we bring before the Lord matters. We read about it early on with Cain and Abel. It’s the pleasing sacrifice that brings atonement. Genesis 8:20 tells us the first thing Noah does after the flood; He “built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” The story doesn’t stop there. Verse 21 says, “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans.'”