Even The Opera?

Even the opera is getting in on the multi-site movement

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If you don’t know what I’m referring to, the multi-site movement pathology dvdrip download is a trend among churches to use technology to meet in multiple locations at once.

And now the opera is doing it too.

So what do opera and the church have in common that make them both ideal for a multi-site experience?

Valentine's Day – Chi Alpha Style

Some of the Chi Alpha fellas made a Valentine’s Day video for our Chi Alpha gals. I thought it came out well: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Bs34q2K91Po download lena baker story the online

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It's Been One Of Those Days

Before starting the workday this morning, I finished online traffic school (you can do that in California) due to a speeding ticket from the end of last year. One of the more profound lessons I learned – and I quote – “do not drive with nails in your tires.” I guess I was speeding because I lacked that knowledge. Good thing I got that cleared up.

After finishing traffic school I headed for the shower. Upon emerging, I discovered that Dana had very nearly broken Xander’s finger by slamming the door on it. His pinky was compressed to about 1/4 of its normal diameter and was a dull gray in color. Even after it returned to its normal size and color, we were still a little worried. Fortunately, he had a scheduled doctor’s appointment and the doctor confirmed that his finger was A-OK. And then gave him three shots. Poor guy.

On top of all that, Paula was sick.

And I got around to answering a letter from my district asking me to serve on the Parliamentary Committee at District Council. That’s right – the Parliamentary Committee. I am officially that guy. I told them yes. If you’re invited to serve then you’re already that guy

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Good stuff happened, too. For instance, I got to talk with a Ph.D. candidate about faith. She came to the Francis Collins lecture and wanted to follow up with some questions. We had a great conversation. I hope I was helpful to her. She seemed quite touched when we prayed at the end of our time together.

But on the whole, it just felt like one of those days.

It's In The Snake Bag

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and I had an email conversation about a worship team meeting tomorrow. The following is an excerpt.

“Where’s the tamborouine?”
“In the snake bag.”

As I wrote that, I felt like a stereotypical Appalachian Pentecostal. Of COURSE we keep the musical instruments in the snake bag. If our musicians don’t have enough faith to retrieve their instruments, then clearly they’re not worthy.

Alas, the real explanation is a lot more mundane.

The snake is a special type of cable frequently used by bands (such as a worship team). We keep ours in a bag. With our tambourine, since it fits so nicely.

But wouldn’t that be awesome to overhear when you’re visiting a church for the first time?

The Evolution of Faith

Dr. Collins, a geneticist who strongly believes in Christ, lectured on “God and the Genome” earlier this week. As a geneticist, he strongly believes in evolution. Watching the Christians on campus respond to his presentation has been fascinating.

A few thoughts:

1) I really wish Christians on all sides of this debate would realize that others are doing the best that they can with the knowledge that they have. As they update their knowledge, they update their views. For the most part, people on all sides really do love God and truth. In Philippians 1:18 Paul makes the point that he even gives thanks for false teachers: “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” In like manner, learn to rejoice in those who differ from you on this issue.

2) On the Bible side of things, I wish more Christians knew just how many different options there are for interpreting Genesis 1 – google for “Framework Interpretation”, “Gap Theory”, “Day-Age View”, and “Theistic Evolution” to get started. In the end you’ll likely conclude that some of the options are fairly implausible, but they are all worth considering. For the record, I’m fond of the Framework Interpretation. The idea that Genesis 1 might not be a chronology of creation isn’t some sort of knee-jerk reaction to Darwinian ideas. Way back in the 4th century Augustine was looking at the text and saying, “Something complex is going on here.” For a good summary of Augustine’s perspective, read The Contemporary Relevance of Augustine.

3) On the science side of things, I wish more Christians were open to the idea that scientists have good reasons for the things that they say. There is no vast anti-Bible conspiracy. Scientists are looking at reams of data and trying to synthesize it reasonably. That doesn’t imply that every single claim science makes is proven true in the long run, but it does mean that we should take scientists very seriously when they tell us there is overwhelming evidence that the earth is billions of years old and when we discover that there has been consensus within the scientific community about this for a while now. If you’d like to do a little more digging on the science side, these three websites are pretty good places to start: SciBel

is a fun little website with engaging articles, the Faraday Institute

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has some short but stimulating papers on essential topics, and the American Scientific Affiliation has a huge collection of articles from a variety of perspectives.

I’ll wind this down by quoting from an email I sent to my students last night.

1) There are two sources of data for Christians – the Word and the world.
2) Facts from the two realms don’t contradict one another, but the interpretations we use to arrange those facts often do.
3) We’ve almost always got more interpretative options than we realize (this is true of both sources of data).

And while I’m talking about science and faith, I’d like to recommend an article about Galileo’s dispute with the church. The full story is something you’ve likely not heard before: The Myth of Galileo download diamond dogs dvd .

Scientist Francis Collins Presents Compelling Case for Faith

I’m sitting in the green room (the room a speaker uses to prepare for a speech or performance) just after Francis Collins finished a phenomenal presentation on the compatibility of faith and science.

He was astounding. If you haven’t read his book The Language of God then I recommend you pick it up. We’ll be putting a video of his presentation up soon at http://franciscollinstalk.stanford.edu

. If you’re impatient you can see one of a similar presentation at MIT last year.

Our venue, Memorial Auditorium, seats 1,700. Our overflow room, Bishop Auditorium, seats 324. We had to open five additional classrooms. I’m confident we had at least 2,000 people turn out, but a police officer providing security was bold enough to suggest that the real total was 2,300.

My favorite part of the event? Looking at the program and seeing six lines.

Welcome: Lisa Ooi
PhD student, Chemical & Systems Biology

Introduction: Professor William Newsome
Chair, Stanford Department of Neurobiology the last house on the left online

Lecture: Dr. Francis Collins
Director, National Human Genome Research Institute

Those six lines sum up the whole event brilliantly – many very bright scientists see no necessary conflict between science and Christianity.

Oh – if you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you might remember Lisa Ooi’s name. She’s a longtime Chi Alphan who actually lived with Paula and I for a brief season. She did a great job and we’re very proud of her.

My second-favorite part of the event? Him showing the clip of himself being grilled by Stephen Colbert. Funny stuff.

Big thanks to Chi Alpha’s co-sponsors InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship blues brothers 2000 divx online (the real driving force for this event), the Catholic Community at Stanford, and the Veritas Forum divx push

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. We could never have pulled off an event of this scale alone. A big special thanks to Amy Chambers and Kyle Heath who shouldered a ridiculous amount of the administrative details, to Pete Sommer for raising a lot of money to make this happen, to Kyle Pubols and Andrea Romero for running microphones during the q & a so very well, to the many students who helped route people to overflow rooms on an instant’s notice, and to Lena Ho, Xianne Leiong, Hilary Dyer, Isaac Penny, and all those who sat through lengthy meetings to plan this whole thing. Oh, and Dr. Bill Newsome did a tremendous job. And thanks to the Office for Religious Life and Dean Scotty McLennan for giving us permission to go for it.

Finally, a special thanks to Clare Kasemset who did a great job on the planning side but fell ill at the last minute and was unable to make it to the event. Hope you enjoy the video, Clare. Get well soon.

I’ll try to get some photos and more thoughts online later. Right now I need to focus on getting ready to preach a sermonic perspective on the same themes tomorrow night. I’ve got some big shoes to fill.

When Copies Are Free, What is Valuable?

Kevin Kelly, an influential thinker about all things digital, just posted an essay called Better than Free.

It’s quite good.

The gist is that technology is making copies easier and easier to create. In fact, copies of most things are so cheap that they’re essentially free.

In his words:

When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable

Well, what can’t be copied?

There are a number of qualities that can’t be copied. Consider “trust.” Trust cannot be copied. You can’t purchase it. Trust must be earned, over time. It cannot be downloaded. Or faked. Or counterfeited (at least for long). If everything else is equal, you’ll always prefer to deal with someone you can trust. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy saturated world.

Kelly identifies 8 similar difficult-to-copy qualities which add value to products and services:

  1. Immediacy: getting it now (as it is produced or created)
  2. Personalization: getting it made just for you
  3. Interpretation: having it explained in a way that makes sense to you
  4. Authenticity: knowing it’s the real deal or a copy of the real deal (as opposed to a song being done by a cover band or something)
  5. Accessibility: it’s convenient to experience
  6. Embodiment: it’s something you can experience on a uniquely intense level (you can shake the hand of the athlete who just scored the game-winning point, etc)
  7. Patronage: you believe that by consuming it you’re enabling more of it (whatever it is you value) to be produced
  8. Findability: it gets on your radar somehow

Kelly is mostly speaking about business in his essay, but it occurs to me that this is a pretty good checklist for ministry.

A sea of ministry copies is floating around your community. There’s Christian radio (carrying copies of some the best worship music and preaching to be found), there’s Christian television (carrying copies), there are Christian books and magazines (carrying copies of wise people’s opinions and Bible interpretations), and there are blogs that give everyone the opportunity to interact with any number of other esteemed Christian leaders. On top of that, there’s the multi-site church movement which at its heart is about copying ministry.

And this is to say nothing of the ministry clones that abound in every community. You know the ones I speak of. They are the Starbucks of churches, the McDonald’s of ministry. Each of them looks and feels the same no matter what community they nominally inhabit. They could care less whether they are in El Paso or Austin. They will treat Boston and Springfield, MO alike.

In this copy-laden context, what true value does your ministry offer?

There are certainly other things we need to consider than Kelly’s list. Some of them are of exceeding importance, such as whether we’re proclaiming the gospel clearly and faithfully.

But his list still nags at me. It seems to me to be a helpful way to examine ourselves from a purely pragmatic perspective.

I think ministries do well by these standards. For example, most ministries I know are strong at

  1. Immediacy: people are there while we preach it – live. Our worship team is performing – live. Our prayers are spontaneous. People are operating in the gifts of the Spirit – live and without rehearsal.
  2. Personalization: people are meeting with mentors who are showing them how to understand the Bible given their particular situation in life (although they’re not usually called mentors – they’re usually called youth sponsors, sunday school teachers, next-door neighbors, friends, co-workers, or something else that’s not very trendy to be callled)
  3. Interpretation: people are not only given a Bible, they’re given a whole learning environment with it – sermons, Bible studies, Sunday School, seminars, conferences, Christian media, websites
  4. Authenticity: it’s become cliche to knock around the established church for being inauthentic, but I just don’t see it. Most people love their pastor for a reason. Notable examples aside, most ministers aren’t hypocrites and are serving up the goods of a life lived in humilty before God.
  5. Patronage: giving in the offering pays the salary of the pastoral team and allows the ministries of the church to operate. Giving in offerings allows missionaries to take the gospel around the world.

I think a lot of ministries could use work on the other parts of the list, however.

  1. Accessibility: we too often make ministry inconvenient for the people we say we’re trying to reach. Our service times are funky. Our dress code is off-putting. Our lingo is difficult to decode.
  2. Embodiment: too many churches seem obsessed with making church as bland and palatable as possible. This is especially true of my Pentecostal comrades: we’ve become embarrassed about our spirituality. To them, I can only quote Curt Harlow: don’t tone it down, sincere it up. Make coming to church significantly more lively and rewarding than watching a church service broadcast on a big screen tv at home with surround-sound.
  3. Findability: not nearly as many people know about your ministry as you think. Existing is not enough to produce awareness.

So to my ministerial friends, I pose this simple question: in a world of copies, what makes your ministry valuable? Is it something that can’t be copied out from under you?

The things I find myself obsessing over are all too often the things that are the most copyable. Did my sermon sound like one of Rick Warren’s/John Ortberg’s/John Piper’s/etc? Does my worship team sound like they just rolled off the Passion Tour/IHOP Prayer Room/etc?

What I should be asking is: if Rick Warren set up on my campus, would I still be adding value to students’ lives? If Dave Crowder decided to lead worship for another ministry on my campus, would I still be adding value to students’ lives?

What’s not copyable about what I’m doing?

Anyway, just some off-the-cuff thoughts inspired by his essay. Read the article ladykillers the download free .

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