Monday, January 23, 2012

Snow Storm

Midwestern Lutherans know more about snow than Cape Cod Lutherans.  They deal with it through the winter and into the spring.  I grew up in Michigan, so I am used to having snow on the ground for most of the winter.  We do have snow on Cape Cod, but it usually doesn't sit around very long.  Also, more than a few inches seems to throw off the DPW.  There are too many little side roads that lead to homes that were build with seclusion in mind.  However, this past weekend we did get a good seven inches of snow on Saturday (January 21).  A number of our members couldn't get out of their driveways so Sunday church attendance was low.  We also had to postpone our annual meeting because we couldn't get a quorum. 

It does beg the question as to whether it was the snow or the prospect of the annual meeting that lowered the attendance.  My theory is that the best attendance at an annual meeting would involve the element of surprise.  Use the awkward moment that happens when there is no Postlude to signal when to get up and leave.  The organ doesn't play.  Everyone looks at one another like a waddle of penguins deciding who will be the first to plunge into seal-infested waters.  No one moves.  The president stands and suddenly, there's the annual meeting and there is no escape.

The picture attached to this post is my car after the Saturday evening plowing.  I think it looks like my car must have committed a great offense such that God smote it with snow.  Either that or it's the winning float in the Mashed Potato Festival parade.  (It's also available for the Marshmallow Fluff Days Parade).

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Windows Continued

So this past Sunday morning (January 8) we did make a decision about the sanctuary windows at Christ Lutheran Church.  The current windows are standard military issue windows, circa World War II, reflecting our building's history as a chapel at nearby Otis Air Force Base.  In the early 1960s, the founding members of the congregation disassembled the chapel after it was decommissioned by the military and moved it to its current location on Brick Kiln Road.

We gathered in the sanctuary, with its pebbled glass, multi-paned windows.  We gathered around technology that the founding members probably couldn't imagine being in the church fifty years ago: a PowerPoint presentation projected onto a portable screen.  This alone was somewhat momentous as it is the first time we have used our projection equipment in the worship space itself.  We have always reserved it for special meetings in the fellowship hall.  The suggestion that the projector might somehow be used in the worship setting has been greeted with general suspicion, as though technology might cheapen the worship experience.  After all, if there is no bulletin, where will the sermon-inspired doodles go?

Our decision came down to a simple vote between two options: a style similar to what we have currently:

And a more contemporary style:

We picked the more contemporary style, I think with the hopes that it will represent a new way of being for the congregation; a sense of greater openness toward the community.

For me as pastor, the best part was that, even though it was not a unanimous decision, the vote was peaceful.  I came into the meeting fearing that there would be passionate displays of emotion (yes, even from Lutherans)  I thought I would have to function as a moderator between two sides, traditional versus contemporary.  I feared I would have to put the lessons of my webinar on conflict management to good use. 

Instead, we voted, we accepted the results and we moved on.  Perhaps there will be some parking lot grumbling.  Perhaps there will be some buyer's regret.  Yet overall, it was a fine moment for Cape Cod Lutherans.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Small churches and structure

I've been thinking a great deal about how to structure a small church.  The Lutheran churches on Cape Cod are smaller than most in the Midwest.  My church is the smallest of the three ELCA congregations out here.  We get caught up in structure: committees, councils and good order.  It sometimes feels like we try to adopt the structure of larger congregations so that we can feel like we are average congregations.  But the structure gets in the way.

I am 5 foot 6.  I wish I were 6 feet tall.  Being in my early forties, I don't think I'm going to get taller.  It makes no sense for me to wear with a 36 inch inseam with the hope I will grow into them.  I will trip over them.  I will look foolish.  I will not get taller.

I would be happy to hear from anyone with good ideas for structure in the small church (or bad ideas that need a home.)