Church, Meanderings

We Care More!

The church must rise to this challenge from Seth Godin in every age!

Here’s a sign I’ve never seen hanging in a corporate office, a mechanic’s garage or a politician’s headquarters:

WE HAVE AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE:

We care more.

It’s easy to promise and difficult to do. But if you did it, it would work. More than any other skill or attitude, this is what keeps me (and people like me) coming back.

Church, Culture

Being White and Christian in America

This past week I had the opportunity to hear Robert P. Jones, Ruby Sales, and Michael W. Waters discuss race and religion in the church. It disturbs me that religiously unaffiliated white folks are more likely to see the racial discrimination the way that black Christians than white mainline Protestants, white Catholics, or white evangelical Protestants. While Paul proclaims one Lord, one faith, one baptism … Christians are not obviously of one mind. Guess who needs to move?

Read John Goehring’s “What Is Wrong with White Christians?” for further context.

Church, Practices

Run Your Race

The comparison trap distracts you from becoming the person you were created by God to be. Robert Madu calls us to pay attention to the goal, not the competition:

You know another reason why I don’t like running on the treadmill? I don’t know if you noticed this when you’re on the treadmill, have you ever noticed that you’re doing a whole lot of movement, a whole lot of breathing, but you’re not going anywhere? You’re in the exact same position.

What a beautiful metaphor for comparing yourself to other people. Whenever you compare yourself to somebody else, all you end up doing is exerting a lot of psychological, emotional and physical energy trying to keep up and compete with somebody you were never called or created to be. And at the end of all of it, you realize, “I’m in the exact same place I was when I started.”

Church, Culture, Meanderings, Practices

Tell the story to the ones who will listen …

The market isn’t always ‘right’, if right means that it knows how to get what it wants in the long run. Too often, we are confused, or misled, or part of a herd headed in the wrong direction.

It’s almost impossible to bring the mass market to its senses, to insist that you know better. What you can do, though, is find discerning and alert individuals who will take the time to understand. And then, if you’re good and patient and lucky, they’ll tell the others.

Which is why, over the last thirty years, farmers markets and other entities have slowly grown in influence. Because happy customers tell stories about remarkable products and services.

When you see the corn paradox, label it and act accordingly. Tell stories for the few, help them to spread.

via Seth Godin’s post “The Naked Corn Paradox

Church, Meanderings

Seth Godin Asks a Crucial Institutional Question

At the congregation down the street, they’re doing things the way they’ve done them for the last few hundred years. Every week, people come, attracted by familiarity, by the family and friends around them, part of a tribe.

And just past that building is another one, a different tribe, where the tradition is more than a thousand years old.

This is not so different from that big company that used to be an internet startup, but all the original team members have long left the building. Work tomorrow has a lot in common with work yesterday, and the safety of it all is comforting.

Che, Jefferson, Edison, Ford… most of these radicals would not recognize the institutions that have been built over time.

The question each of us has to answer about the institution we care about is: Does this place exist to maintain and perpetuate the status quo, or am I here to do the work that the radical founder had in mind when we started?

via Seth Godin’s post “(re)Radical

Church, Culture, Gospel, Queen Street, Reflections

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

The following is yesterday’s column for The Free Press of Kinston, NC.

Won’t you be my neighbor?

By Allen Bingham, Columnist.

Published: Friday, August 2, 2013 at 20:34 PM.

Forty-six years ago, Fred Rogers stepped through the door of the American psyche, stooped to change into his sneakers, and sang to us “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine?  Could you be mine?”

Someone wanted to be a neighbor. Someone wanted to be my friend. I grew up with this invitation increasingly being ignored as we built homes that moved us in a different direction.

In the world of Mr. Rogers’ first neighborhood, most of us parked our cars in the driveway or on the street and walked into our homes. While we walked into our homes, we greeted our neighbors and swapped the news of the neighborhood.

As we added carports and ultimately garages, we saw this ritual transform into folks returning home to their castles and pulling up the drawbridges behind them as they closed the garage door. Being neighbors at that moment moved from being in relationship with each other to living next door to one another.

The transformation was made complete as we moved from front porch conversations with whoever passed down the street to invitation-only backyard barbecues. We chose our friends and tolerated our neighbors as long as they kept the grass cut, the trash can hidden and the noise down when they partied. Some of us lament the mobile phone for leading us into an increasingly self-absorbed world, but we were well on the way long before the first bag phone landed in the American car.

Being a neighbor has always been a vexing question. When Jesus was asked “Who is my neighbor?” he told the parable of the Good Samaritan as found in Luke’s gospel. And as he told the story, he revealed that neighbors are made known in their personal actions in a time of need and not their geographical proximity.

Several weeks ago the trial of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin saw the breakdown in neighborliness on full display. A person who coordinated the community watch did not know his neighbors well enough to know that “the Martin boy from Miami” was visiting his dad for the weekend.

When the screams of the struggle echoed through their backyards, folks called 911, but no one came to break up the fight. And when you kill your neighbor, for whatever cause or defense, the fracture of relationship is severed forever.

The verdict revealed further fractures with our neighbors around the reality of race relations in our country. The “some day” of “we shall overcome” still remains on the horizon.

We can and should talk about the events in Sanford, Fla. I am in conversation with other pastors to shape these conversations together. But here is a problem we need to deal with.

Can you tell me the names of your 10 closest geographical neighbors? Do you know where they work? Do you know their children and if they live at home? Do you know your neighbor?

I confess that I cannot answer all these questions about my neighbors, and I am going to work on that.

So here is your challenge this week. Meet your neighbor, plan a block party and make it an annual event. Help the single mother down the street make a repair on her home. Volunteer with each other at your local school or down at the soup kitchen.

Start asking “Won’t you be my neighbor?” AND BE ONE!