Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Distracting Myself From Ordination Questions

I am loving this technology. I finally decided to open up the pen and to give it a whirl as a method of distracting myself from what I should really be doing (finishing my ordination questions).

Seriously, Livescribe has blown my mind. I really wish this technology would have been available when I was sitting through lectures by Steinmetz, Hayes, Hauerwas, and most of all Dr. Warren Smith.

I am planning on using it for church committee meetings (some do not understand my usage of a laptop all the time and so now I will bring paper and pen), but most importantly I plan on using it for the "Outreach Winona" project that we got a grant for. Conversations with those out in the community will be integrated into my notes so I can go back and listen and compile all the thoughts as we look towards new ways to connect with those we have failed to connect with.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why Every Pastor Should Have To Play Risk.

My posts have been sparse because of family obligations and work demands as Central UMC is working with McKinley UMC on cooperative ministry plans and what that might mean for the future of the two churches in ministry, identity, and well everything.

Having just started this process of discussing merger possibilities, cooperative parish models, and everything but doing the "same old thing," I have been reading many leadership books and doing a whole lot of reflection. As I look at the road ahead I am fully aware of the vast amounts of work both physical and mental this is going to put on the pastors of the churches and on the people of the churches. It will take lots of planning and strategy to move into a new culture of being.

That is where I believe every pastor should have to play Risk and learn the nuances of strategy and negotiation. For those who might not know what Risk is it is a board game in which the goal is world domination. All of the players are given territories on continents that they own but then could lose in battle, etc. Each turn you get more military based on the amount of territories you own with bonuses coming from owning entire continents. The game goes on until one player has conquered and owns every territory on the board.

So why do I believe it is important that every pastor should have to play Risk?

1. You have to be strategic. You need to look at the territories you own and see where you strengths and weaknesses are and then you have to plan on how you will fortify and then advance your domain.

Many of the same principles apply to the role of pastor. You have to be able to look at the big picture and see where the strengths and weaknesses of the congregation are and then you have to figure out how to address those to best go out in mission to the community around. However, as a pastor your goal is not to "force" takeover of people's lives but the goal is to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and to help Christ transform lives. To do that just like in Risk you have to be able to see the map of your community and the needs/opportunities. In Risk you might really want to take-over Europe, but realistically Europe is a hard continent to hold and you strategically could should yourself in the foot. It is the same in our communities. We have to look really hard at the entire picture and see the opportunities in need and really assess our strengths and how we can use those to fulfill the needs. If we spread our gifts/strengths into a place that really isn't a strong need well then we have just spread ourselves thing and expended time and energy into something that in the game of Risk would have caused us to lose.

2. You have to relate well to others and do some relationship building.

To be successful in Risk you have to be able to work with another person and develop a treaty/truce in order to position yourself better in the game. You have to gain their trust and show them how the move benefits them too. It is the same for pastors in the church. Really to be successful in transforming lives we have to be skillful and building relationships and showing our congregations and also those in the community how what God is offering is beneficial to their lives. This doesn't "just happen" people have to gain our trust and trust is almost always built through relationship. If I don't know a new player in Risk I am very hesitant to do a treaty because I don't know if I can trust them, in the same way we could be offering something of great value to the community but if they don't know us then they are more than likely going to be hesitant to trust us too (both pastorally and as a congregation/community of disciples). I have to admit this is something that I am still developing as a pastoral leader. The introvert in me moves slowly in building relationships and some of my personality can be misinterpreted. However, I recognize it and am working on it because I know it is vital.

3. You have to be willing to change directions/strategies quickly

In Risk you can just look at the board at first and then say this is my strategy and plan of attack and then go forward at all costs. If you do you will lose. The landscape of the board quickly changes and what at first might have looked like a good plan (and probably was) no longer is a good plan at all. This can even happen in the middle of a turn. You might be attacking South Africa but the battle thinned out your armies and you quickly have to think about how that changes your plan of attack. You might have gone into a turn expecting to take over Africa but the battle didn't go as planned and now you have to look at the reality mid-turn and readjust your strategy if you are going to continue to be successful.

It is the same way in ministry. Pastors may enter a congregation, take stock and realize the strategy for helping the church grow in Christ, but if a pastor goes forth at all cost more than likely that could backfire. Why? Because the landscapes of churches, communities, and people are always changing. Life is always causing things to change and that means what might have been a good plan 6 months ago may no longer be applicable or best for the situation and to proceed would lead to failure for true growth in Christ. Pastors must always be evaluating the situation/ministries/vision/plans and looking at the current context and taking stock. Prayer is the central practice that pastors should use in taking stock of the changing landscape and needs and we must be willing to realize that what might have been great at the onset no longer applies and be willing to change strategies or directions.

4. You have to be patient, but not too patient.

In the game of Risk you have to be patient and build up your forces while fortifying your territories. If you move to quickly then you just decimate your armies and open yourself up to defeat. However, if you do nothing more than wait and fortify your territories you get stuck and while you might last longer in the game, really you aren't going to win because eventually the other players left will have larger armies and be able to quickly build them to destroy your well built up fortress. You have to balance aggression and conservation.

Pastorally, the same principle applies. (Trust me I know because well, I am impatient) If a pastor goes into a situation and tries to implement too many changes too quickly (even if they are needed and in the long run would help the vitality of the congregation) disaster will ensue. People may not be ready, etc. However, if you just sit back and wait and don't implement any changes and try to build up the total solid foundation where you then think you can start to implement changes, well guess what the time will have passed. As a Pastor one has to be skillful at discerning the situation and really understanding how much a congregation can handle in change, but the fact is change does need to occur. Churches aren't going to just change themselves it takes and outside influence to change. (I mean seriously if I could eat fatty cheeseburgers and pizza my entire life I would, but an outside influence of a doctor telling me that my arteries are full and blocked will force me to re-evaluate the inner reality and what needs to be changed) Risk helps build those skills of being aware of how quickly one can move and how sometime one has to hold back. To be honest, this is something I am still developing also. I am impatient and I am learning to develop patience through prayer and guidance from God.


The list continues and I might come back and write some more later. Really playing a game like Risk helps develop skills and ways of being that easily translate into the vocation of pastor and that is why I think every pastor should play Risk.

Now as a disclaimer, I sometimes throw caution to the wind in Risk and because of situations I get bitter/mad/angry and go kamikaze on friends just to make sure they don't win the game if I am not going to. It isn't good sportsmanship and it is horrible gameplay, but that is me being honest. That way of playing Risk would be a horrible translation into the life of pastor and leading a church. Could you imagine kamikaze pastor's who approached leadership that way and said if I am not going to have success in ministry well then none of you are and devoted all their energy to making sure that another didn't have success. That would be horrible. So my dear friend, Joe (who will read this) I apologize for my kamikaze missions against you and I vow to never again do that when we play Risk.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Questions Every Church Should Ask Regularly

1. How well do we know our story as contained in the Holy Scriptures?

2. How often do we read our story as contained in the Holy Scriptures in our day-to-day lives?

3. How often do we pray to seek out God's will for our lives?

4. How often do we share our faith with not only our friends but strangers?

5. What role does our faith play in how we view the world and how we act within the world?

6. How often do we live into our story by being the hands of God extended to the world to transform lives?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hiatus and Ordination Puzzlement

So yeah, I have been on a hiatus from blogging. Something about getting campus ministry started, changing dynamics of Methodism within the Winona community, and having a 6 week old to pair up with our 4 year old has left me focusing on other things then this blog.

I have missed it, but I wanted to posit a musing, no, a question for my post today. I am preparing all of my stuff for ordination this year and started to look over the questions to really think on them for a bit. This caused me to run across one of the questions that we must answer and to wonder how should I answer it.

The Book of Discipline poses in paragraph 335.c.1 the following question:

"How has the practice of ordained ministry affected your understanding of the expectations and obligations of the itinerant system?"

Okay, lets really think about this one.... (those of you who are Methodist and understand the whole process of the movement towards ordination might have caught it already)

Here is how I would like to answer that question:

Considering I have not "practiced" ordained ministry at this point in my life I do not feel equipped to answer this question.

Short. Sweet. Blunt. To the point. I am not ordained so how in the world can I answer a question about the practice of ordained ministry? Well there are a couple ways one could look at this question.

1) This question is a remnant from the old ordination process where one was ordained a deacon and then was ordained an elder later. If this is true well then as the process has changed those in charge of unifying the implications of change within The Book of Discipline have missed a very big edit. I have to be honest, I don't have old copies of the discipline and am a tad too lazy to go and try to find an old copy to see if this is what the case is. If this is the case, well then I might just answer the question with my italicized response above.

2) "Practice" refers to the provisional period where one is not "ordained" but is rather "practicing" like one would for a game. (I use this term for practicing because the type like a "practicing" doctor would bring us back to #1.) Honestly my gut is that #1 is the reason for this question, but I could see how it is #2 also, but if it is #2 I am a bit troubled. Is that really what provisional membership is? "Practice"? Theologically this just wouldn't do and so I am inclined to say that the reason for this question is #1. (Of course I am a proponent that we should be ordained instead of commissioned and have "full membership" with guaranteed appointment and all its concerns as a separate review step or something. If it is #2 then my response would be totally different.

However, whatever the case might be the answer I want to give addresses the faultiness of the question and not the "intention" of the question and that could cause problems. Do I just take it as it is intended and give a 3rd response that they would like to see? That is what I will be thinking about for the next couple of days.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Encountering Christ in the Stranger

So I have been on paternity leave the past two weeks to be with my wife and our second son, Kai, at home. It was a wonderful chance to be with family and to see how our first son, Micah, continues to adjust to this change in his life. However, something also happened while I was on paternity leave that I wanted to share with you all.

Last Wednesday, Stacy and I went to Target to fill a prescription for eye drops to clear out Kai's tear ducts and as we were leaving we saw something that I had yet to see in Winona in my 3 months here. There was someone on the corner holding a sign. We couldn't read it until we passed by and it read: "Traveling Need Food & Money." Well we don't have cash and we had a full car with two car seats and so we headed home. However, I have been really thinking about what it means to live into the life of a disciple and so as we drove home, I told Stacy that I was going to go back with my car and take the young man out for something to eat if he wanted.

Well I drove back to Target and the young man was still there, I motioned him over and asked if he wanted to go get something to eat and he excitedly said "yeah." So we were off. I introduced myself and he told me his name was Dan. I asked him what he wanted to eat and he said he didn't care he liked all fast food, to which I said that it was my treat and he could have anything and so we headed downtown for some asian cuisine. We started to talk and I found out he was traveling from Massachusetts to California and he mentioned he was traveling with 5 others. So I asked where they were and he said over in the Wal-Mart parking lot flying signs and so I said lets go get them. So we headed off and I said why don't you all come over to our place for supper and so the journey began.

The whole group was traveling from a "Rainbow" gathering in Massachusetts and were heading to California. All of them were from the ages of 19-23 and were stuffed into two vehicles. We ended up having a great time together as we headed to the grocery store to pick out some food for supper (we had grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, and fresh fruit---strawberries, grapes, and pineapple) and then came back and got everything ready. I got to hear some interesting stories of their travels and how they approached the weird looks they get from time-to-time since they don't fit the societal norm. As we gathered around the table I shared with them that in a sermon on Labor Day weekend I had given each household in the congregation a loaf of bread and challenged them to use it to practice hospitality and enter into the life of another person and that this was one of the ways that our family was responding to that challenge. So we had taken the loaf of bread out of the freezer and unthawed it and to begin the meal we broke the bread and passed it around the table and I shared with them how as a Christian I understand that Christ invites us into the life of discipleship and part of that journey is gathering around Christ's table and I recounted to them the events of the Last Supper and then we invited them to dig in. We had a great time hearing some of their stories, hearing about their families, and just being in fellowship and communion with one another. Micah enjoyed "his visitors" (as he called them) and they were wonderful to him. As we finished the meal we hung out some more and I invited them to spend the night to which they said they were going to stay at Latch Island and so I said they were welcome to stay the next night if they were still around and that we could watch a movie. Plans were made.

Well the next day I ran over to the church and shared with David about the group I was entertaining at our house and wondering if the church would be willing to help me out by giving some money for bibles and some money for gas and food as they continue the journey. The church gave some money and I headed off to get some cards and bibles to give to our new friends. I spent the afternoon running to Rochester to find a Bible translation that used more everyday language of today (which I ended up getting the Poverty and Justice Bible which looked intriguing and connected with some of the things they cared about that I had picked up via our conversations) and then came back. I wrote each of our friends a letter sharing how I was thankful for the chance to meet them and how I wished them the best in their travels and why I was sharing with them this bible for them to take and then included some money for each to have. That evening we sat around the table to have some left-overs (we had made enough for 2 meals the night before) and continued our conversations and then at the end of the meal I shared with them how the Christ had reached out to me through the church when I was a teenager in need and why I was grateful for the opportunity to meet them and how what we were doing was in response to the love God had shown us through others. Hugs went around, etc. and then we went up and watched the movie "Saved" and had a great conversation afterwords. Cletus and Whitney spent the night at our place and the other four headed back to latch island.

Friday, they came to pick up Micah with me from school (something he had wanted them to do), but they arrived late. Micah didn't seem to mind and we talked some more and they let me know that they still planned to be in town on Sunday and so we talked about going to church together and so plans were made. They came to church and the church was very welcoming and extended hospitality out to them (which warmed my heart). We made plans for them to stop by our house on their way out and they did and we said goodbye, wished them well, and invited them back at anytime that they may be coming through again.

So why do I share this story? I share this story because Dan, Sean, Samantha, Seth, Cletus, and Whitney helped Stacy and I to begin to practice our hospitality. They helped us learn a little of what it means to be Christ in the world around us. They helped us to step into our life of discipleship. Did I convert a soul? No, and that was not my goal in practicing hospitality. We saw someone in need and wanted to show them that we cared and more importantly that God cared. We wanted to show them that Christ cared for them and loved them no matter how different their life was from what society expected. They helped us to take that first scary step of inviting a stranger into your home and Stacy and I were blessed by their presence and we hope to continue this practice with those who live in our community.

Seth, who is a Christian, took me aside that first night and said, "I just want you to know that I am so thankful for what you are doing. I have been telling them that their our Christians out there like you and this has helped them see it." I said thank you, but also responded by saying that Stacy and I are just trying our best to show other the love that God had first shown us.

They weren't perfect. They live life differently then many of us would. They smoke pot. They have been arrested.

BUT......They are God's Children too and nothing they have done negates the fact that they deserve to be treated just the same as we would treat our parents, siblings, or own children.

They helped me to understand that deeper. They put flesh and real stories to those intellectual realities I head in my mind and heart.

They became our friends. Stacy and I will continue to hold in our prayers each of them and trust that God will continue to work through others that they might meet.

From Left to Right: Cletus, Seth, Dan, Me, Samantha, Sean, Whitney

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wrestling Thoughts: Public vs. Private

Over the past week I have really been mulling over a post on the micro-church written by Andrew Conard. Some of the comments really got me thinking about public life vs. private life. You can read the post and comments here.

Now I think there is some genuine wrestling with one of the commenters on the functionality of the "home" within the life of a faith community. The commenter states:

I am wondering about possible shifts in the concept of “home” from other eras when this worked in the past, like the early church or even early Methodism. Seems like we have a great many more public places to gather; resturants, coffee shops, movie theatres, etc than might have been available in the past. “Home” seemes even more private, intimate, vulnerable to me becuase of this.

I assume your concept is that it is easier to invite someone to one’s home than elsewhere, but isn’t it possible that it is also harder?

I think these are important questions to ask, but it really got me thinking about some thoughts I have had over the past few months. Why is there such an emphasis on privacy? There really seems to be the strong demarcation between public and private and I am wondering if our Christian Identity calls us to challenge those sentiments.

I constantly am reminded as a young pastor that I need to make sure that I take time for myself and my family. I know this stems from pastors in the past spending all their time at work or allowing their work to dictate their life to the point that it led to exhaustion and split families. However, maybe I am just wired different. I believe that our lives as disciples call us to journey with our brothers and sisters in Christ and to grow together, and I am sorry but isn't the best way to get to know someone in their home? Isn't there something about having someone over for a meal and having discussion? Isn't there something about them seeing the photos you have on the wall and asking questions about the people causing you to share a bit more about who you are? Have we lost this?

Why is the home avoided in so many instances within the life of the church? We gather with these same people on Sundays and yet for most members of the church they might not even be able to tell you where most of the people live, let alone their story? Pastors have an interesting position in that they can do home visits, etc. and get to know those within the community better, but shouldn't this be what we are all doing? How can anyone feel comfortable sharing their struggles if no one truly knows who they are? Isn't it in these interactions in the home where intimacy between individuals is fused?

Public life seems to have allowed us to be totally anonymous while still feeling connected. We do have so many public places, but that makes it to easy for us to "feel" connected to people without really connecting with them. When I invite someone to my home that means that I care enough about them that I am willing to open up a space that our culture has made almost exclusively private. People can see the photos (even those embarrassing photos that show the fashions of times gone by), people use the bathroom (and you risk them seeing that place where you trust they will not snoop--the medicine cabinet--or in our case the "drawers"), you allow them to see how you live, what you value. People enter into your life. Not only that but when you invite someone into your home, you don't just welcome them and then invite them to take a seat on the couch while you make the meal, serve it, and then speak only to your family (wouldn't that be awkward?....oh wait that is probably what it feels like for many to come into our churches...oh snap). No, you invite them in, you talk to them, you ask them questions, you allow them to enter into your life by getting to know you intimately.

Perhaps that is why I have structured part of my campus ministry the way I have. Each week (beginning in October after I get back from paternity leave....whenever this 2nd son of ours arrives) we will gather at my house to have a meal and to celebrate the Eucharist around the table. People will get to know me and my family and I will get to know them as we journey together to understand God and how our lives interact with our faith. This intimate discussion just couldn't happen in a public setting because it is just too easy for us to remain anonymous.

This means that some of my "family" or "private" time is being invaded by my job, but you know what....my wife and I would have it no other way. We, as disciples, are fed by connecting with and learning from other disciples. These students are part of our family and we know of no other way to know them intimately than to invite them into our home where they can see all of our warts and blemishes but also really know who we are.

Perhaps we do really need to look more deeply at each faith community's relationship to public and private life. If most of our members have never been to other member's homes we might have to ask ourselves what type of community we are?

Just thoughts I continue to wrestle with.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Need Your Help

So last night at the Outreach/Missions Committee meeting they were talking about T-Shirts for the Church, etc. and debating whether or not to do them as a fundraiser or to just have them for advertisement. Well I decided to interject and proposed that we do something different. I proposed that we make T-Shirts with our name on the front somehow (however that will be done will be up to someone else), with a slogan on the back.

Here is the catch though. I wanted this to be more than about T-Shirts, I wanted this to be a mission opportunity and so I proposed that we make the shirts and every shirt cost $10 and all that money go to Nothing But Nets (a favorite of mine). So every T-Shirt purchased will buy a bed net to help prevent the spread of malaria. (Granted I now get to try and convince people that this is a worthy thing to support and that I can turn their donation to help make the shirts into a greater gift for the larger body of humanity, etc.).

BUT I NEED YOUR HELP. I need to come up with a catchy phrase on the back that references the fact that the T-Shirt the person is wearing is helping prevent malaria by paying for a bed net. I know I have creative friends and so please do help by posting your ideas in the comment section.

My goal is going to be to get the church to get 200 bed nets by selling 200 T-Shirts (plus then that is 200 people spreading the news about Malaria and how it can be prevented on the back of their shirts......again the reason it should be catchy and intriguing).

Thank you in advance.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stewardship and Church

I have really been mulling over stewardship and its relationship with the life of the church over the past few days. It was all sparked at our staff meeting over at Central UMC when a member led a presentation from Igniting Ministry. It had some very valuable questions that pushed the staff to reflect on what it means to be church and to move forward in ministry.

However, one thing really struck me. Throughout all of the material the church was referred to as "our church." Now I understand what was intended by saying "our church." The intention was surely to recognize the bond of the faith community, building, with the individuals who find themselves as members within that local context. However, I am starting to wonder if the "possession" of the church by its "membership" is somewhat misguided.

I have heard/read many theologians who push us to remember that all we have is given to us by God. Usually this language is pushed to get us to remember that the gifts we have and the resources (money, etc.) we accumulate are not fully ours but are given to us by God. In that way it really isn't "my money" it is rather "God's money" that has been given over to me to be a steward of. This was emphasized in my life by my mother.

You see I grew up in a single-parent household and we always went to church. However, when I was around 12 or 13 my mother ended up doing adult foster care for four gentleman with developmental disabilities. Sometimes it would happen that she couldn't bring the guys to church because one of them was having a bad day, etc. On those days mother would send a check with me to put in the offering plate. For the most part I would just drop that check in without looking, but one day my curiosity got the best of me and I opened the check.....$200....I was floored. You see money was very tight for us at all times growing up. My mother worked sometimes up to 4 jobs to pay the rent, buy us food, and maintain the car. She worked extremely hard for the money she got and I know as a young kid I always wished we had more money so I could have all the cool things my friends had. I can remember the moment vividly of my mind racing thinking of all the things we could have if mom didn't give away so much of "her" money to the church. I went home and asked her about it and her simple answer was this, "That money is God's not mine." I was left perplexed and stayed perplexed until I started to mature, had more conversations with my mother, and began to understand exactly what God had given me.

I have to admit that it took me a long time (until after college) for me to cultivate that same attitude, but I look back now and am thankful that my mother took the time with me to help me understand our relationship to God. Every year, Stacy and I are trying to increase our giving to God. There are times when I look at the checkbook register and realize that the money could have been used to decrease some of the debt accumulated in our early married life as student(s) but then I remember that I wouldn't have that money if God had not first given us the gift of life, the mental gifts for work, and the gift of faith so truly it belongs to God.

Now back to my original train of thought. When we use personal possessive pronouns in relationship to the church, I wonder if it doesn't reveal something about our thought. When I say "my" church or "our" church I am claiming some possession in it, somehow I am an "owner" of it. But is this right? I wonder when did the personal possessive pronoun come in to use when referring to church? These are questions I ask that I need to investigate some more, but they don't change some of the things I am thinking.

What would happen if we banned the use of personal possessive pronouns when referring to church. What if every church in its local context were referred to by it's name, but more importantly identified itself as "God's church?" Would attitudes begin to change? Would we start to really try and understand where God is calling us to and who God is calling us to be? Would we become less focused on "survival" and more focused on mission? Would our own lives be transformed in a way that realizes that we are but stewards of what God has given?

I have vowed this week to never again refer to the church I am placed at as "my" church (something we pastor's often do surprisingly) or as "our" church in any conversations. I will refer to them by title name only or "this" church when talking to those within. It is not because I don't feel a part of this faith community (I already feel very welcomed), but rather because I think we have to be very intentional in our language because in a way what we say helps transform and form who we are.

These are the thoughts running through my head. They are still at their beginnings and I still will be thinking about them and I would love to hear others thoughts. Am I off base? Am I missing something? Does it really matter?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Will "we" have that?

So today at lunch time I went down to the Guild Hall at Central UMC and had dinner with those invited to the "Golden Years Celebration" (read that as those 65+). It was a good time of food and distracting myself by texting the youth that were helping by serving the tables.

At the end of the meal they did a variation on a Hymn Sing. It was a variation because it really wasn't an open hymn sing where those gathered choose the music but rather was already planned out. Not surprisingly though many of the hymns included in the sing probably would have been chosen by those gathered. As I sat there singing with them and joining the tunes that I grew up hearing my mother play on the piano as she practiced for Sunday worship, I started to ask myself the following questions:

"What will be my generations "hymn sing"? Will there even be such a thing for us or even those a generation before me?"

Now I realize that there is a chance that some "praise" hymns could take the place of those old-time hymns, but I wonder about the staying power since none of the instruments used for "praise" hymns (outside of the piano) seem to have the same staying power as "the organ." Then I started wondering if we have lost our connection between music and spirituality. Personally, I don't think that connection is lost. There are so many songs I have heard by what some would call "secular" artists that explore the human condition and navigate the condition through relationship to God in some way. These songs feed my soul, but you know what they aren't part of "worship" within the church building and to be honest they weren't written to be sung by "all."

Have we as a society moved so far away from the corporate task of music in worship that all we have is the "old" hymns or hymns created within the "old" medium to help us join together in song? Obviously this isn't fully the case as many churches have other mediums than the organ and piano upon which they corporately join in song, but even when that occurs I can't help but have a feeling of passive reception.

I don't know if I will ever figure it out. This question is just one of the many questions I have been having about worship lately. As I myself seek to enter into authentic worship that comes from celebrating the presence of God in my life and the community around me, I can't help but wonder about what worship will be when I am in those "Golden Years." Will my authentic response to God within the medium of Worship evolve and change as my life changes? I have to believe it will. When I was 17, I had a better chance of connecting with God by interacting with those who had music that connected with the my teenage angst, but now I connect more with the mellow reflective music (granted I still love punk but only in smaller doses)?

Which leaves me with the following question to ponder: When we stick in one pattern of worship to we cease to authentically engage with the presence of God within the work of worship?