Nice House. Who Built It?

Before I begin, I want to offer a few words of gratitude and background.

First, thank you for welcoming me to your congregation and this pulpit. I appreciate the trust that Deb and Steve have shown along with the Elders of Central Christian church.

Second, I’ll let you know how much I have admired the varied ministries of this congregation, from your thoughtful integration of modern technology into a very traditional sanctuary and worship service, your engagement with the community through the dog park, community garden, theatre programs, nesting of a young congregation Spanish language congregation, ….

Lastly, I’ll note that Deb filled me in on some of the big decisions that you all are facing as a congregation. While these are challenging times for all churches, your particular decisions are quite striking. They really do significantly impact the long term direction of the congregation. Let me say at the outset that whatever decision you make, God can and will still continue to be at work in and through you wherever you find yourselves if you will humbly yield yourselves daily to seeking the Lord in all things. Beyond that, I would not presume to suggest which direction is preferable. Even before Deb shared this information, I was intending to preach from the Lectionary. How interested I was to find that two of the four texts make mention of the construction of places of worship. I invite you to be curious with me as to what these texts might have to offer you, and us together as part of the One Church, in the midst of this Emergent/Missional shift.

The importance of our houses: Do you notice the builder’s signs in the yards, or the ads in the newspaper or online and even on billboards? They are all around a growing city, in urban, exurban, suburban and rural communities. Whether it is a large national builder like David Weekly or a local one like M. Christopher, Bella Vita, or Robert Elliot, for many people the name brand recognition of the designer and builder matter. It has become like the brand of car we drive or the shirts and shoes we wear or purses that women carry. Who designed and made it matters. Certain names denote attention to detail and quality.

Even the archaeology research of prehistoric man suggests that we have, as a race, always cared about the places we lived, and have customized them beyond mere functionality. We have carved niches in cave walls to hold small figurines, and have painted murals to tell stories of what matters most to us in our life. It is no surprise then that when humans turn to creating other kinds of spaces for other purposes, they would follow the same practice. And the more important the story, the more significant in our lives the relationships, the more effort goes into the construction and decoration of these spaces. Often it is believed that the space not only tells the story, but literally impacts how we experience life in relationship.

And we are not the only creatures who carefully construct homes, nor the only ones who decorate them. After all, there is a reason we use the phrase “feather your nest” to describe bringing into a home items that offer comfort.

Only humans create worship spaces: While we are not the only creatures to carefully craft homes, we may be the only ones who feel the need to do the same for God. And this seems to be a universal human need found in all cultures among all races. David and Solomon felt this need to create a permanent worship place. The Jews in Israel and everywhere they went build synagogues out of this same desire. Even spiritualities that do not really “worship a god or gods” such as Buddhism still put wonderful creativity and effort into constructing houses of prayer and meditation. Spaces and places matter to us.

Our two texts for today, both of which actually are appointed lectionary texts, may have something to say about this topic. Let’s listen for the word of God in our Scripture Readings from  1 Kings 8:22-30 and Luke 7:1-10.

The Second Temple – From 1 Kings 8:20-30 – regarding Solomon’s Temple  – the first Jewish in Jerusalem.temple

If we go back in this story to 2 Samuel, we read about David’s desire to build a temple, and the Lord’s instruction that he should not, but that his son may build it. It is interesting to note that the LORD never commands that the temple be built. Rather, he permits that which the king desired to do. David is motivated both by a sense of guilt that he dwells in such a fine palace while God only gets a tent, as well as desire for pride among the neighboring nations with their gods. David, and Solomon after him, are interested both in doing something nice for another, as well as maintaining stature in the community – i.e. keeping up with the Joneses. Moses and the prophets us a similar argument with God when trying to persuade the LORD to save the people, basically asking, “What will the other nations say about you if you can’t even save your own people?”

And who built the Temple? From where did the craftmen and laborers come, along with the materials?  Hiram of Tyre was the lead metalworker. The timbers came from the cedars of Lebanon. The King of Tyre send the materials, along with laborers to join the Israelites and the Gebalites in the work of building the Temple. It was paid for with grain stores from Israel, but much of the work, and the artistry, were done by non-Jews.

And you may recall that Nebuchadnezar destroyed the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem (2Kings 24-25). 70 years later, Cyrus of Persia sent the Israelites home from Babylon, and he and Darius provide for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the construction of the Second Temple (Ezra). This time the wealth of Persia paid for the construction of the temple of the Jews in Jerusalem.

The Synagogue at Capernaum  – Now let’s shift forward and hear from Luke 7:1-10 – an account mentioning.synagogue

Obviously the focus of this story is the healing miracle that Jesus works in response to the faith of this unnamed centurion. Yet in the midst of that, given as a justification for why the citizens are so motivated to support the centurion’s request, this brief notice: “he built our synagogue.”

Wait a minute. Let’s back up. Capernaum is a provincial sea-side town, filled with fishermen and trades. It is a town where people go to and from the gentile territories of Gennesaret. That means the town is diverse in culture and religion – far more than a place like Nazareth, for instance. It is a happening place, a place to which people want to move.

Centurions were Roman citizens. This man was clearly wealthy enough to be a benefactor, and he had some kind of interest in helping the Jews. Perhaps he was like Cornelius of Caesarea about whom we read in Acts 10 when Peter goes to visit him, prompted by the Holy Spirit. There Cornelius is described as “a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. 2 He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God.” (Acts 10:1-2) Maybe our centurion of Capernaum from Luke 7 is a similar kind of fellow.

Tear down and rebuild: Where I live in Collin County, most of these homes are in new neighborhoods, where all the neighbors have the same builder. Here in the Park Cities areas, they are frequently tear down and rebuilds, where people pay up to a million dollars for a small house on a lot, only to destroy it and build a new one lot line to lot line. Interestingly enough, in studying the history of churches and synagogues, we find that this is often the case. A new structure will be built on the remains of the old one, raised either by war or natural disaster, or perhaps by forward looking planners who see opportunity and possibility where others only see heritage and legacy.

Have you ever had the experience of entering a restaurant, looking around, and walking out, simply because “it didn’t feel right”? The ambiance, the ‘vibe’ was all wrong. There is a homestyle restaurant chain here in the Metroplex that we love. We tried a new location several years ago. Very same food, but we will never go back because the space was awkward and uncomfortable. We never felt at ease. Why do they remodel a perfectly good restaurant or store space when it is not deteriorating in any way? Because our tastes and attitudes have changed, or because they are trying to reach a new demographic who is attracted to a different kind of atmosphere.

Let me review and highlight a few themes that I think arise from these texts:cccdt

1)    God does not dwell in buildings. Even Solomon understood and affirmed that. Buildings are tools that serve our need, not God’s. God often says yes to our buildings, sometimes God says no or not now or not here. Ultimately, the buildings are for us, not for God, no matter what we tell ourselves.

2)    Houses of worship have often been designed and built by people who did not worship in them. They have even frequently been funded by those people, as in the case of the second temple in Jerusalem and the synagogue at Capernaum.

3)    Nothing is permanent. Nothing lasts forever. Rebuilding and starting over are common themes related to these worship spaces. In the case of both the temple and the synagogue, multiple structures were built over the centuries, with the previous ones being destroyed or dismantled, and the materials repurposed.

4)    The worshipping community always finds a way. The absence of a “place” may have temporarily disrupted but never eclipsed the people of faith.

5)    And one final thing, that you all have demonstrated time and again, and that is also found in both texts. The work of God is not contained within the walls of a building. Our buildings are hospitals and schools – places to heal and places to train. Both of these activities are ministry in themselves, but they serve the greater purpose of preparing us to go out, into our community and world, to proclaim in word and deed the Good News that in Jesus Christ we encounter the fullness of God’s redeeming and reconciling and all-consuming love.

Whatever you discern, I think it will probably be ok. Decisions open some doors and close others. David was not permitted to build the temple because he had too much blood on his hands from all the wars he fought. Yet had he not been victorious, Solomon would not have ruled a peaceful land where the Temple could finally be constructed. And be open to the miraculous ways that God might use others outside Central to help you fulfill whatever you and God set your hearts upon, so long as your intent is to honor God and build the Kingdom.

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OTHER NOTES:  This Sunday, July 2nd at 11am I’ll be preaching at Central Christian Church4711 Westside   Drive, in Dallas.

The scriptures for the sermon will be 1 Kings 8:22-30 and Luke 7:1-10. The Kings text templedepicts Solomon at the dedication of the Temple which he built for the LORD. The Luke text is actually a story about healing, with a surprising aside that the centurion featured actually built the synagogue in that community.

Churches over the last 150 years have taken on increasingly elaboratsynagoguee building complexes – think Prestonwood Baptist Church or even Lakewood in Houston. As our ministry has focused more on programming, we have built structures to accommodate this work. We are now moving deeply into an emerging/missional era of church history, where we hear God calling us out into the community away from our buildings and property, back to the streets, cities, and neighborhoods where we live.cccdt

What do these two texts from thousands of years ago tell us about their contemporary communities’ relationship to their religious buildings, and what might they say to us about our own property? What are your experiences of church property? How have facilities enabled ministry? How have they limited or hindered it?

Though I’m not going to address the politics, I am certainly mindful of the 2012 political conversation between the President and the Republican Party. He was trying to make the argument that even wealthy business owners who are “self-made” had immense help from various forms of infrastructure in our nation, from education to roads to utilities. The Republicans defended their view that in fact much of what they have they did build, with their own hard work, discipline, creativity, risk-taking, etc. What is true? BOTH! (Read more: http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2012/08/21/gop-convention-session-be-themed-we-built#ixzz2UpoDDPv3)

I introduced the theme of this sermon on a previous post: http://kengcrawford.com/2013/05/27/1st-sermon-in-4-months/

 

WBECS Coaching Summit

I’m writing this because I know you value life-long learning and sharpening your own leadership and coaching skills.

The World Business and Executive Coach Summit (WBECS) begins on June 12th.  There are very few companies in the world that give away as much complimentary content as WBECS does, they do so because they have a commitment to the development and success of the coaches across the world. You can probably feel their passion.

Now is the time to make a decision on whether you are committed to:
a) Your development as a coach.
b) The development of your clients.

If the answer is yes, then please purchase your early bird ticket here: https://modernmethods.infusionsoft.com/go/2013ticket/kckc
Highest quality of training for all levels
WBECS offers high standards of training for coaches of all levels, with specialist focus on growing your client-base, increasing referrals, improving your coaching skills and transforming your business by delivering significantly better results for your clients.

Specifically, the Summit is designed for coaches that fall into any of these groups:

*The Start-Up Coach: You’ve just begun your coaching journey and are looking to develop your coaching curriculum, method of delivery, and marketing system.  At the Summit, you’ll learn how to reach critical mass fast.

•The Break-Even Coach: You’re at a point in your coaching career where losing a couple of clients means trouble, while gaining a couple of clients means comfort. You’re looking at growing from being a good coach to a great coach. At the summit, you’ll learn how to stop the ‘feast or famine’ cycle by learning how to deliver higher quality coaching, helping you acquire and retain clients more effectively.

* The Next-Level Coach: You’ve already built a successful coaching business, and now you want to leverage your experience and content. You are looking for advanced coaching skills that take your clients to the next level and in the process take your 6 and multi 6 figure income to a high 6 and 7 figure income.

When you register for a Full Event Ticket you gain access to the entire two-week Live Online Event PLUS recordings of every session to watch offline or download and watch offline. You also get all materials for each session that applies: including transcripts, audio, slides and you also will be able to network virtually inside the member portal.

Check out the full lineup and agenda here: https://modernmethods.infusionsoft.com/go/agenda/kckc

This is your last chance as the Early Bird Pricing Expires May 31st Register Now for Priority Access and Save $400

EXTENDED EARLY BIRD RATE BEFORE May 31st $297
REGULAR RATE AFTER May 31st $697

Who is presenting at WBECS?

The online coaching event of the year will be bring together the world’s best coaching specialists and thought leaders to help drive the coaching industry forward, raise ethics and standards and improve the success rates of coaches both in your country and across the world.

Experts include:

Jay Abraham,                Dr. Marshall Goldsmith
John C. Maxwell          Frances Hesselbein
Daniel H. Pink               Pam McLean
Brendon Burchard      Verne Harnish
Katherine Tulpa           Karen Kimsey-House
Mary Beth O’Neill        Damian Goldvarg
Ago Cluytens               Susan Meyer
Aileen Gibb                  Hendre D. Coetzee
Andrea Lages              Howard Morgan
Andrew Neitlich          John Leary Joyce
Ann Betz                      Joseph O’Connor
Barry Posner               Krishna Kumar
Brian Underhill            Marvin Oka
Darren Robson           Myles Downey
Drayton Boyleston      Michael Bungay Stanier
Donna Steinhorn        Natalie Tucker Miller
Gary Henson               Patrick Williams
Grant Soosalu             Renee Freedman
Taki Moore

*CCE units for International Coaching Federation members

56.5 Hours CCE Units  =  30.5 Core Competencies and 26 Resource Development.

Available for pre-summit and Full Summit sessions. CCEUs can be earned through recordings although Any Core Competency session watched as a recording earns a Resource Development unit. Watched live it earns a core competency unit.

Complimentary Pre-Summit Final Week of May 2013

There is still a final last week of sessions from May 27- 30, which are all complimentary. These free sessions are perfect for you to get a taste of the high level of thought leadership from our industry.  There are five free sessions to attend this last week of May. Attend them here https://modernmethods.infusionsoft.com/go/presummit/kckc

We have a commitment to your development as a coach. Be sure to have a commitment to yourself too and join us for the Full Summit in June

Purchase your early bird ticket here: https://modernmethods.infusionsoft.com/go/2013ticket/kckc

If you have any questions at all WBECS team is on standby for you. Email ben@wbecs.com, sherrie@wbecs.com or nina@wbecs.com with any queries you have.

The team at WBECS has an absolute commitment to having a profound impact on the success of Business and Executive Coaches the world over. Please give them the opportunity to have a profound impact on your coaching success through their summit, if they don’t you can ask for your money back.

Kind regards,

Ken Crawford
214-288-1663
http://www.SynchronousLife.com
LinkedIn: kengcrawford
Twitter: @KenGCrawford
Facebook: KenGCrawfordCoaching

Living Your Faith At Work

“Religion and Politics” are the two things we don’t talk about in public. Why? because they matter. Because our convictions are often deeper than intellect, and thus difficult to articulate at times.

What are your experiences of faith and work overlapping? Where have they been good? Where difficult or frustrating, even painful? How would you want things to be different if you were more consistent at living your faith at work?

This conversation will include:

  • Why are you engaging this topic? Are you…
  • Challenges in this endeavor
  • TALK – One good approach to this or any sensitive topic… – Tell, Ask, Listen, Know
  • Decide what aspects of your faith/ /spirituality/ will receive your attention.
  • How can any career/job become a vocation, “a calling”?

Contact me to schedule this overview presentation in your organization or for coaching to help you to deeply integrate your faith/religion/spirituality/core values into every area of your life and work.

First sermon in 4 months

I know how to preach to the people beside whom I worship, pray, study and serve. The people God has called me to equip for ministry. I’m not sure I know to prepare a message for strangers who are also sisters and brothers in Christ. Obviously relying heavily on the guidance of the Holy Spirit (and the local pastor) in a way that is different from my past decades of preaching.

My last sermon was at Forest Grove Christian Church (DoC) on Feb 2, 2013, the final day of my 10.5 year ministry there. Now, exactly 4 months later, I will be preaching supply for Deb Chisolm @ Central Christian Church, Dallas. I’m grateful, excited, and nervous. I’ve not preached for a congregation where I was not also the pastor in almost 20 years. Also scheduled to preach @ Ridgelea Christian in Ft. Worth on July 21.

This has got me thinking about the responsibility and authority of a guest preacher, particularly when the home pastor is not present in worship for whatever reason. I have chosen to stick with the lectionary text for 6/2 (7/21 is TBD) as it takes some of the control out of my hands, rather like drawing lots or casting the Urim and Thummin. It also saves such a great deal of time wondering and wandering about the scriptures in search of the “right” text. This narrows it down to 4 (or in the case of this Sunday 9) upon which to meditate and pray and seek guidance.

For Sunday 6/2 I have selected 1 Kings 8:22-30;  Psalm 96Galatians 1:1-12& Luke 7:1-10. I know that Central has some big decisions ahead, so I am mindful of those and at the same time wary of stepping into a conversation that is not mine. These texts have some interesting things to say about where, why, who and how we worship.

What experience do you have with these texts that you want to share?

Contextual Leadership Formation

Leadership development is best done in context. We are formed as leaders through action and reflection, individually and in groups, with mentors and coaches who can guide us along the way and build into us capacities for strength and confidence in the midst of the incredible challenges that leaders face today. Internships provide leaders the opportunity to develop and refine their competence “in real time” with the supervision and guidance of skilled facilitators.

I spent the last several days with leaders from three different Christian organizations discussing and exploring the emerging “new monastic” expressions as a form of “contextual leadership formation” (my phrase). Ben Bohren and Patti Case from the National Benevolent Association met with Elaine Heath, Wes Magruder, Daryn DeZengotita, Justin Hancock and others from the Missional Wisdom Foundation and Jim Ellison with the Fund for Theological Education. At the lunch meeting Thursday this group led a conversation with more than a dozen Disciples of Christ leaders from the Christian Church in the Southwest, the North Texas and Trinity Brazos areas, Juliette Fowler Communities, South Hills Christian Church, Northway Christian Church, East Dallas Christian Church, and Ridgelea Christian Church, among others.

I have also been in conversation with business school leaders, including Paula Strasser from the SMU Cox School of Business and Brad Hancock from the TCU Neeley School of Business Entrepreneurship Center. I met with folks at Success North Dallas, an organization founded by Bill Wallace that seeks to deepen and strengthen leaders. And I got to have conversation with Candace Fitzpatrick, founder of Core Clarity, an organization that helps individuals and organizations thrive by understanding and focusing energy in the areas of greatest talent and strength.

One of the common threads in these conversations is the importance of quality contextual leadership formation that includes a coaching and mentoring components. Coaching and mentoring are different and complementary disciplines. Each have a place in leadership formation, at its initiation, and throughout our careers, regardless of our field – business, government, healthcare, academy, non-profit, faith based, congregational. Learning from books and lectures is immeasurably valuable, but limited. Much of the integration of this learning arises in the field, in context, and is facilitated by working with mentors and coaches. These experiences are often labeled as internships.

It is also most valuable to do this work in community, with a group of peers from the same or different disciplines, who can offer peer mentoring and coaching, support, encouragement, challenge and accountability. The best programs (like the ones mentioned above) combine these practices of individual and group mentoring and coaching.

When have you struggled for lack of this kind of support? What was that like, and what did you do about it?
Where have you experienced good mentoring and coaching, individually and as part of a group? How did those experiences help to make you a better leader?