Wednesday, November 17, 2010


So prayer is kind of a big deal. I've been working on improving my prayer life. For several years now it's been shaky at best. What are your favorite prayers? Do you have prayer you say every day? Here's Luther's Morning Prayer that he would say every day. I read/pray it pretty frequently. Im always amazed at how connected some people are/have been to their own spirituality. Gives me something to shoot for.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You.  For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things.  Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


So @FranciscanChris challenged us this week in his sermon. He made a statement that was both simple and infinitely complex. He said that God has called everyone to change the world. Simple enough, until he asked us what we were going to do about it. Go out, he said, and change the world. It can be something small, something huge, or anywhere in between, but we are called by god to go out and change the world.

This reminds me of the Buried Life show on MTV. A group of four guys got together and wrote a list of things they wanted to do before they die. Each week on the show they set out to cross something off the list, and as they do they help someone else cross something off their list. Changing the world in the name of Christ isn't exactly the same as a bucket list but there is a certain similarity in the mission. Every day millions of people just go about their life. Just live. Get through this week til we get a little break in the weekend then back to the grind, later, rinse, repeat. But there is more to it than that, and I'm constantly searching for what that means. So Chris' sermon inspired in me more drive to find that.

So what am I going to do about it? I don't know yet. It would be easy to say my wife and I bought a hybrid to reduce our carbon footprint and save the planet, but honestly it was a decision made more by economics than anything else. I could say that I'm preparing myself and my family for the upcoming birth of our son but lots of people have kids. And while bringing a little me into the world will certainly have an impact, I'm looking for something more. Something bigger.

So I'm opening this up to my little corner of the interwebs. How would you answer this challenge. What are your ideas? dreams? Where do you see the church and the world meeting and what needs are there? Help me out on this, we could be on to something big here.

Cheers, Mike.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just for Fun

What were you for halloween? What factored into you picking your costume?


I've made an observation about this fledgling postmodern Lutheran experiment. Lutherans are very reluctant to join the technological revolution. I've seen some of the most basic twitter users and the occasional good blog or two, but why aren't we digging deeper? Why aren't we using these tools to make ministry better? How many of your have your church listed on foursquare?

Aside from that, how are we making our worship experiences as innovative as the world around us? I consider myself as a person/minister called to stand at the intersection of the church and the world. If that is the case how can i reconcile being a part of a tradition so stuck in the past? It is my mission to find out if I can still be completely Lutheran and postmodern at the same time. In doing so I have a couple of goals.
1. Utilize technological advances at any opportunity.
2. Expand the priesthood of all believers to actually include all believers.
3. Reach out to a variety of ecumenical partners, not just Lutherans.
4. Continually broaden my education, even if it means being uncomfortable.

What do you think of the list friends? What would you add/remove? Im very interested in everybody's opinion on these matters. Post your comments and we'll talk soon!


Thursday, October 14, 2010


I wonder sometimes if our technological advances in the church are limited to twitter, facebook, and a clover site webpage. Don't get me wrong, I think all of these things are very useful. I've been on facebook and twitter already today, and I love the site we've built through clover. But is that all?

What other areas of technology can we use in the church? I believe innovation is good for God's church. I believe that I am called to be on the cutting edge of the church's technological revolution. But it seems that there should be more options. What are you using? What else is out there? Which direction do I need to look?


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Artists part 2

I had an interesting conversation today at the Center. It's interesting on two fronts because to me it is a delicate balance between post modern church and Christendom as well as a balance between artistic and more practical people. This is a slight on neither, just observation and hopefully a conversation starter.

I had suggested that we invite artists in our congregation to take part in our worship by adding their art in whichever capacity that meant. We've been good at recruiting new singers to add their ministry, but what about the artists that used other mediums. the painters sculptors poets dancers etc. And the conversation came up, what if it doesn't match the vision of our congregation?

This is a fair question. What if a given person's artistic vision didn't match that of our congregation. It would be insulting to turn away their gift and that could cause a rift/division that could be harmful to that persons relationship with the church. But on the other side of the coin it would be difficult as a person working at the church to lift up something that didn't fit along with the vision of the church.

The other interesting aspect is those in our congregation that are more traditionalist and interested in becoming "just another Lutheran church." Would they outright reject any new artistic expression during worship or in our worship space?

Lots of potential issues here. I'm certain that this kind of debate has kept creative arts out of worship spaces across the world. What are your experiences with artistic expression in worship? Positive or negative experiences?

i'm going to keep pondering this a while.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A New Confession

The 16th and 17th centuries are loaded with confessions. Every major protestant group leaving the Catholic church did so by writing down their particular beliefs and creeds. Looking around today, you don't see much of that going on anymore. Most famous pastors and preachers have great self help books. There are volumes on the post-modern and emerging church. Every political group of Christians has their own writings and you even see religious fiction popping up all over the place.

Are we content with our current confessions?

In her book the Great Emergance author Phyllis Tickle (best author name ever) wrote that we are currently in a time similar to that of the Reformation. That every 500 years or so the church goes through a major overhaul. Constantine, the Great Schism, The Reformation and now here we are, just shy of 500 years later and the emerging post-modern church looks set to explode. Where are our Luther's and Calvin's hanging out? Who is the voice of this movement.

Certainly Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis have found their way to the top of the heap. Reggie McNeil laid out a plan to change the scorecard in the church, but unlike previous movements there doesn't seem to be a defined opponent. Much like the war on terror differs from WWI this movement lacks traditional definition. There isn't an evil empire church we're striking out against, we're fighting on the transformation of ideals. We're bucking a system, not an institution. So where does this leave our tightly held denominational lines?

I still consider myself a Lutheran, but the church I attend and lead worship at doesn't look or sound like any Lutheran church I've ever been to. Am I any less Lutheran because our signage doesn't say Lutheran on it? We've had more missional support from the local Episcopal church than any Lutheran congregation. We've even gotten along with a Missouri Synod congregation. Is this an anomaly or a sign of things to come? Join in this conversation, I plan on writing more about our need for a new Confession as we further our understanding of this new expression of Church. 

Cheers, Mike.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I posted on twitter yesterday a quote from Robert Shaw that said "In the medieval world, the church saved the artists. i think in the future it may be the artists that save the church." It seems to me that there is a very profound truth to this statement that many people are overlooking. You see across Christendom the resistance to any kind of change. Further there's a resistance to creativity and artistic notion. If we haven't done it throughout history why start now? A pipe organ was good enough for Jesus and his followers, why would we use a guitar. Why would we use spoken word? Why would we use poetry, painting, murals, and mosaics in the span of the church?

Conversely it is interesting that the vast population of the artists in the world are so intently against religious institutions. It's been my experience that people deep in the world of the arts, whether it be physical art or writing or music or theatre or whatever, tend to be largely uninvolved and uninterested in the world of the church. As a worship leader I want to start integrating church and art again. I want to see beautiful new expressions of the gospel without feeling like my tradition is under threat. I want to encourage artists to embrace their medium as a form of ministry for something beautiful.

What forms of art does your church utilize? What would you like to see done in the church? Are artists an appropriate piece of worship? Im interested in your thoughts! Until next time, Cheers.

@MikeCelebrating on twitter

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What I Believe

Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying. -Martin Luther

I’ve noticed that as a Christian in this day and age people who are not believers seem to like to tell me what I believe. I had an experience a few weeks ago that I’ve been sitting on and processing for a while now. I knew almost immediately that I would need to write about it but it hasn’t been sitting well with me.

I was at the pub hanging out with a buddy and a girl who worked at a restaurant down the street came in and sat a few seats down. I didn’t much notice as people tend to come and go quite a bit, but she struck up a conversation with the bartender who happened to be a good friend of mine. We talked about geek stuff, sci-fi shows and tattoos and she seemed very pleasant. Strike that, she was very pleasant.

She talked about going back to school and mentioned that she considered Texas A&M. I told her that I had lived in College Station before and jokingly said it would be a great town if it weren’t for all the Aggies. (Don’t get mad Aggies, it’s just a joke, you’re wonderful people… most of the time.) She said it wasn’t the Aggies she was worried about, it was all the Christians.

I chuckled. It’s not unusual to have conversations with non-believers. I have many good friends who aren’t believers, but the way her attitude changed when I told her I worked at a church was disturbing. My position is that if somebody is open to religious conversation or interested in my faith or any faith I’ll gladly have a conversation with them, but I always make sure to be respectful of their place in faith’s journey. Whether it be not believing anything or believing things differently than me, I truly believe that it’s not my place to change their mind, but to live and converse and represent my faith well. This was not her outtake.

She began telling me what I believe. She criticized the weak minded and archaic systems I believed and railed against the oppressive systems that I believe in. She looked at me with genuine pity in her eyes and tried to console me for being such a sucker. It was one of the most insulting moments of my life. Clearly she has had some incredibly negative experiences with the church in the past but why she felt the need to take it out on me was mind boggling.

Now I’m not recounting this story to belittle this woman. I still believe she is a perfectly pleasant person. I tell this story because it has occurred to me that there are so many misrepresentations of what Jesus actually taught. It is my goal to move more in the direction of what Jesus taught and commanded of us rather than to appease Jesus’ followers. I also tell this story because it points out something that I believe Christians everywhere are guilty of. I don’t like being told what I believe. My experiences and the direction my life has taken shaped my beliefs and regardless of what the perception of the church is, my personal beliefs may or may not be in line with that. They certainly are not defined by popular opinion.

Because of this and other similar experiences I think it is time that we as members of the body of Christ decide that we adjust our perspective. This woman looked down on me because that’s how somebody in the church had previously done to her. I think it’s time that we call out all Christians to start treating everybody with the respect we expect to be treated with, the respect I was denied. I have long been anti-conversion. Rather than looking for souls to save, maybe its time we let our lives be the beacon. Strive to be more Christ-like in your actions and let that be the influence for others to convert. Meet people where they are in their faith walk and don’t assume you know what they believe. I’m not saying this will significantly change the world, but I do recall Jesus saying something about treating others the way you would be treated. Maybe this can be one small step in a more peaceful and understanding world.

follow me on twitter @MikeCelebrating

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Small Groups and Intersections

So anybody involved in the modern or postmodern church understands how involved we have become in making small groups central to our activities. At Celebration we say that small groups are central to the core of who we are. Having never been fully involved with a congregation that had small groups I have to admit that I don't know if they are central to the core of how I see the church, but we're going to give it a try. 

Rather than a Bible or sermon study I decided to organize a group based on film study. The flicks I chose aren't necessarily "Christian" movies which would make waves in some congregations I've been involved in before. There will be harsh language, violence, sex, drugs, rock and roll, and a number of other things that aren't considered acceptable in polite Christian circles.

I picked the movies because I think we need to stop pretending that we are not living in the world in which we are. Romans 12:2 says "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Clearly we're told that we aren't to be "of the world" but we are in the world so how do we as 21st century Christians comply with scripture but also avoid a compound lifestyle somewhere in east Texas? 

I believe it is my job as a minister in a postmodern setting to sit at the intersection where the church and the world meet. My interpretation of this passage tells me that I am to be transformed in Christ without succumbing to the pressures of the world. My interpretation of the life I have lived tells me that people outside of the faith aren’t interested in believing in a God that doesn’t understand them where they are in their life. So how do I as a minister introduce the two?

On facebook my minibio says that I am a fan of Jesus and Beer and anyone that partakes in either regularly. That’s true. I’m a believer that beer brings the world together and have had more theological conversations at the pub than I have at any church. These experiences have pointed out to me that I need not be of the world to be a citizen of the world. I can set my sights on Christ while having my feet planted firmly on terra firma. So here I am, a citizen of the world ever changed by my experiences and relationship with a God I can’t understand. I don’t know how I will reconcile the two, but I believe that God isn’t only found in the church. So we will watch controversial movies and I’ll keep you updated on where the Lord shows up. I do believe it will be in surprising and unexpected ways.

Cheers! Mike.
follow me on twitter @MikeCelebrating

Friday, August 13, 2010

Big C, little c

Forgive me father for I have sinned. I have never been to confession and the last time I attended mass was when I was 10 for my Aunt's funeral. The fact of the matter is I'm not a Catholic, but on the first Sunday of every month when we say the creed I confess in the holy catholic and apostolic church. Now before you lose interest this is not another Lutheran-centric Pope bashing session. I actually don't have a lot against the Catholics. Like I said my Aunt was a devout follower and influenced my faith in ways I'll never be able to express. One of my favorite stories of my childhood is kneeling down to pray with my aunt at my uncle's funeral and without missing a beat, my aunt producing a second rosary for me to hold while we prayed. I can't say I knew what I was doing, but I do know the symbolism of the moment was profound for both of us. 

So I have a very healthy respect for the big-C Catholic church. That being said there are very specific reasons I am a Lutheran. I believe that most of them are either political or dogmatic and pale in comparison to what we have in common, but they are differences nonetheless. The part that strikes me is the language we use. The word "catholic" very simply means "universal." It comes from a root in greek and as Wikipedia put it protestant churches use it that "believe that their churches are catholic in the sense that they are in continuity with the original universal church founded by the Apostles."

I truly believe that the universal church is far more expansive and amazing than I could possibly understand. It is in this church, the joint body of Christ, in which I believe. After watching the Tom Hanks movie Angels and Demons tonight I found myself feeling slightly nostalgic for the pomp and circumstance of traditional Christendom (as strange as that sounds for an emergent worship leader.) I remember the impact the church had on my aunt and on myself as a young person. Its because of this nostalgia that I think its of the utmost importance for us to continue in the conversation of the missional and emerging church. What I now call church may not have a confession or rosary or pope, but it is a genuine expression of the body of Christ. I believe it is unique in the Lutheran movement and hopefully it will be contagious and catch on as a new expression of Lutheranism. But more than any of this, my prayer is that the catholic church will continue to grow and thrive in the post modern world. Not my church, but the church - with a little c. 

follow me on twitter - @MikeCelebrating

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Unity not Uniformity

I was having a conversation with PC the other day. He made some comments that really resonated with me and have been rolling around my head a little bit. He said we needed unity, not uniformity. That made me start thinking, whats the problem with the church nowadays?

We have these incredible organizations and hierarchies and power structures that continuously legislate from on high. We call them denominations.  I've been a part of the Lutheran denomination for my whole life and part of that seems to come preset with a certain condesention to other denominations. Maybe its only my issues but why can't we all just get along? I realize that I am on the fringe left of what is considered "polite christianity" but i believe that my belief and faith are just as valid as anybody else's so why wouldn't I extend the same courtesy to people who don't agree with me. I believe its time for followers of the Way to get their act together.

At the Exponential conference in Orlando this past spring author Regie McNeil asked the collective group "How many churches are in your home town?" I automatically thought of our own church, St. Aiden's the Episcopal Church, St. John's and Messiah the other Lutheran churches and before I could think of anymore he yelled "ONE! There is only ONE church!" Wow. Reality check anybody? I was blown away that I could be so stupid a.) not to see it coming and b.) to box in the power of God in my community and in the world.

So I'm one of those people who doesn't like to be a complainer without having any sort of answer for the problem, but this is kind of a big one. I dont presume that I will be able to reunite the church in the world and have us singing Kum Bah Yah by the end of the year, but I think I can start by changing my attitude and charging people around me to do the same thing. Here's what I propose. 1. I'm going to do everything I can to withhold judgement and criticism from other churches... yes that means even pushing myself to stop rolling my eyes every time I hear Joel Osteen or Rick Warren's name. 2. I will make every effort to eliminate politics from the life of my ministry. 3. I'm going to actively look for ways to work in ecumenical coordination with a person or ministry that is not Lutheran. 4. I'm going to ask all of you to keep me in check on this. If you hear or see me breaking one of these, call me on it. That isn't to say I won't be critical of any others if I feel something seriously damaging is being done in Christ's name or that I won't be open to discussions and conversations with people of differing opinions. I love the debate and discussion and talks that can happen, but what I am going to mindfully and intentionally do is remove the superiority from my attitude. I'm not a perfect person, I'll be the first to admit when I fall short, but hopefully I'll be able to keep taking baby steps and move in the right direction.

Unity, not uniformity. What do you think? Do you think that this is something that can be achieved? Do you think I will be able to live out these goals? Anybody want to attempt these with me? Leave your comments, questions and speculation in the comments section, all comments are welcome!

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Corporate Worship Songs

Hey guys, had a great worship this morning and headed to book study at the Ministry center tonight, but I wanted to take a couple of seconds to share this video with you. Anyone who is into worship music or any worship leaders out there should get a kick out of this.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I suppose it is proper for an introduction and a small explanation as to why I am starting this blog. The first reason is simple, I really enjoy blogging. I write a regular sports blog and have been contributing to my wife's baby blog as we prepare to welcome our first little one into the world. Since this is one of my interests I figured it would be appropriate to use this amazing medium to share my thoughts experiences and stories as I continue my walk in faith.

This may seem strange to people who know me because I'm not the type of person who wears my faith on my sleeve, but I have been feeling a call in a way I've never noticed before. The call to stop being passive. The call to stop holding back. The call to rearrange my life in a way that is more in tune with what I perceive as the Holy Spirit telling me to stop running away from my faith and embrace it for all it is worth. I don't know if I am ready or able to do that just yet, but I do know that I have a voice and opinion on the church the world and how the two interact. So here it is. My little corner of the internet to discuss matters of faith, life and whatever else happens to come along. Thanks for reading along, feel free to leave comments. I think of my walk with faith as a discussion. We aren't able to grow and learn if we aren't challenged from time to time so I even welcome comments if you disagree with me. Grace and Peace to you all.