Tuesday, September 29, 2009

#66-Church Sound Men

When one goes to read I Corinthians 12 and Paul's commentary on the importance of the entire body of Christ and how no part of the body is more important than another part (Does the eye say that it has no need for a toe?), and how we need to appreciate every single person who is apart of the body, one's mind goes straight to the under-appreciated workers within the church...the custodian, the kitchen attendant, the snow shoveler, etc...

And then one ponders the sound guys and their ministry...They are an entirely different genre... A genre of people that no church body could be without, but certainly a genre that does not scream under-appreciated in comparison to the other workers mentioned above...

Why? Because the church sound guys make their presence known...And they, nor their equipment will be messed with...

I seriously feel like I could write an entire book about the Sound Ministry within churches...simply because it of how fascinating the world of the sound man is complete with politics and secret bickering between the sound men and the musicians

It's like they failed at musicianship, so they took the job in church that can dictate whether or not the real musicians will sound good...

I am convinced that sound room guys sit behind their sound board convinced that the whole success of the church rides on their magical fingertips and eardrums....

They tell you their job is extremely difficult and that only specialized people with a "trained ear" can run the sound. And throughout the worship services of church they twist and mangle and elevate different levers and switches behind their protected sanctuary of sound equipment as if they were on some top secret code mission, but yet 95% of the people in the congregation can't tell the difference as the sound is being rearranged...

And if one tries to hang out or around in the sound room (or section), they are immediately told to go to their parents and tell them you're in trouble (even if it's an adult they are speaking to)....Basically the sound room guys make you really believe that the location of Osama's whereabouts are secretly being kept and researched within the sound room itself...

I am not positive, but speculation is that 60-75% of all church budgets goes to the sound ministry and getting new gadgets and sound equipment and stuff that matters very minimally to the untrained ear...and they request for such funds in the name of necessity....

Except last year I joined the sound ministry at my church...(which is no longer like most sound rooms in terms of the fact that we don't take ourselves too seriously) and managed to handle the sound solely by looking at the sound levels on a lighted meter that accompanies the sound board and making adjustments accordingly. I didn't get any complaints and it was scarily easy, And i don't know a thing about music or sound boards...It was all a big joke....

Which leads to the conclusion:

The sound guys want to hide their ministerial roles and projects and equipment magazines in a cloud of privacy and secrecy so you can think what they do is more important than it really is. They stand in the back of the church behind a giant board of thousands of switches (most of which will never be used), where their presence is mostly unseen, but their influence is heard through the speakers...

They are the Wizard of Oz.

Monday, September 28, 2009

#65-Being Free musically....

A few years back, Israel Houghton released a song entitled "Say So" that reached Apostolic fame everywhere (meaning it was played every youth service and every-other adult service for a solid 8-24 months)....

And there was something different in the song...it was catchy...really catchy...like "does this qualify as worship catchy?" But yet the lyrics were really good and while we were debating whether or not a song can be too "poppy" to be played in church, something changed in our ranks....

A catchy song per worship service become customary (unless the atmosphere demanded otherwise)....

And this "Say so" led the way for what is now routine in worship services: Being free....

A year after "say so" came out, Eddie James released the Titanic of catchy worship songs in "Freedom." (video above)...

And it has been put on repeat at every camp, conference, convention, and church service since....

Not only is this song catchy, but it brought all worshipers in emotional contradiction: "Should I jump or should I listen?"

You can't cry to it...you definitely can't stand motionless in prayer....the song demands action but how?

So we as young people arrive at awkward high jumping and louder clapping and a weird "whoooo" that qualifies as loud shouting with the adults wondering what happened to music of the good old days with verses that made you think...

And if we are being truthful about this song, and we really do jump higher every moment we claim we are jumping higher, and shout louder every time we claim that we are about to shout louder with a gradual rate of increase each time, after singing this song ten times over, we should be the highest jumping, loudest shouting, loudest clapping demographic on the planet in two months… Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom....

It was not long after this song (or was it the same time?), that the market on being free musically was capitalized with "I am free" (to run, to dance, to live for you)...

#64-Describing youthful hypocrisy as praying through at the Altar on Sunday only to curse and listen to rap music by Tuesday

Okay, so I had a whole post here, but as a few of you pointed out, it is definitely overly cynical so I have deleted it as you guys suggested. This won't be the case every time someone doesn't like a post (or this blog would be half as long as before)....but I did write this blog in a hurry this afternoon and completely agree that the tone behind it appeared to be more bitter than satirical....

With that said, I think the description in the blog title suffices as it is self-explanatory

Thanks for all the help guys....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

#63-"The Helping Hand" during prayers of lonlieness/breakthrough

Okay so this may not have been the exact picture I am looking for above, but it will suffice. Let me describe the ideal scene I have in mind:

It's been altar call for a good 10-15 minutes now (or a break through worship service), and the mood at the altar is somber. God is moving and you begin to anticipate that this could end up turning into one of those altar calls that has no temporal boundaries. It could go hours...the Spirit is lingering and the Pastor is whispering to God in his chair...Where this winds up is anyone's guess.

And suddenly you feel yourself being drawn to a quiet time with our Savior. So you quietly resign yourself from the altar and slip into the corner of the sanctuary in a pew hunched over with head in hands. Two occasions usually call for such a prayer: Either a prayer of confession and repentance, or a prayer for a cry of help in the midst of the storm....

Either way, it's you and God mono-e-mono....and you don't want to be disturbed...

And then after 3-5 minutes in silent whispering prayer, you feel it....


And by It I mean a soft hand on your shoulder!

"Why God why?!? I wanted it to be me and you...not me, you, and the hand on my shoulder."

Suddenly your mind escapes the intimate conversation and you begin to ask....

"Who is the owner of this hand that is touching me on my back?"
"Do they have a right to be there?"
"If it's someone I don't really get along with, do I stop praying all together?"
"What if they start drawing attention to me and soon gather a crowd to hover and pray over me?"
"God, where were we at?"
"Okay, but seriously, who in the world is in my prayer closet?"

So then, while still in crouched position you begin to play investigator....

-If the hand is moving in a circular motion on your shoulder in a symbolic act of attempted comfort, you know you have a female praying for you.

-Hand motionless? Slowly crack eye open inconspicuously and try to peak at the lower region of the person who is praying for you (if they are next to you). If you see pants or skirts, this should indicate gender. You then can peak at the shoes as well, but for people like me, that hint is pointless because I really don't pay attention to who wears what shoes....

-If the "helping hand" is clearly coming from someone standing up or sitting down behind you, you are in no man's land....just try to grunt through the prayer for a couple more minutes to be polite to their actions of intended support. And pray you don't get mobbed by a pray-gang (future post).

I understand that there are some people who do need support in prayer and would love nothing more than for someone to lend a "helping hand" to their back as they pray through their regret/anxiety. For these who enjoy the helping hand we thank you fellow helpers out there for all your patience as people pray their way to emotional/spiritual breakthrough.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

#62-Xtreme Youth Group Names!!!!! (*ROOOOOOOOAAR*)

Rule #1 for Apostolic Youth Groups: Have name
Rule #2 for Apostolic Youth Groups: Make sure the name mentioned in rule #1 is awesome

Basically it all starts out with usually a new youth pastor. And the new youth pastor is looking at kind of a fixer-upper in the youth group. They are bored of the monotony of adult church, and repulsed by the immaturity of Children's ministry (it's not all about having fun anymore).

So the youth pastor sits in his office drawing on his white board a big circle with the words "Youth Group" written very largely within this circle. There is also a possibility of a giant question mark pointing to the "Youth Group." It probably looks like this:

Of course we should be making the connection that the Circle wherein "Youth Group" is written is used to signify the actual youth group. The question mark pointing inside the circle is supposed to inform us that there is confusion about this youth group, but behind this confusion there is an answer to solve the madness....

So the youth pastor ponders.....and ponders.... and thinks deeply....and then day dreams of having a church of 500 people....and then ponders some more, when finally the aha moment hits and the light bulb goes off!

The problem with the teenagers in the youth group is they want an identity of their own. They don't want to be treated like kids but they don't want to be as boring as their parents....That's it! They needed an identity. And what better to give the youth group an identity than to give them a youth group name?!?!?

And here is where the dichotomy occurs:

The Relevant: The youth pastors who aspire to be relevant take a very action oriented approach to naming their youth group.
  • In the early 2000's, to be relevant meant to be different. It meant to be out of the box. It meant that the best identity for a youth group was to be sooo out there it was not only relevant to the crazy kids at high school, but it was just downright radical. The youth group would be so radical in identity that the radical kids couldn't help themselves but to check out the ridiculousness of the awesomeness of how out of the box the youth group was. Dare I say that these youth group names inferred that their radicalism was so insane that could never predict what they were going to do....which even included the possibility that they would Xtremely kick your butt. It was with this in mind that youth group names often were "Xtreme." And if they were not Xtreme, they ought to have an X somewhere in their name: "The X-zone,"eXplosion" "Xcellerate" were all permissible names to a youth group back then.
  • In the middle part of the decade, youth groups began to realize that the groups were just way too Xtreme and they needed to take a breath from the radicalness of using the letter X in the youth group name (which had never been done before). So the trend then grew to name the youth group out of an action or movement. Thus popular names became: Fusion, ReAction, the Revolution, Rush, Impact, Dynamite, Driven, Bridge...Basically the radicalness was taken out but the message was still clear: "We're here to mess some devil up and we'll be changing spiritually during this exciting time in our lives."
  • Now adays, things are just a grab bag of all of the above but also with a little less fear behind them...Teens like starbucks and starbucks is far from Xtreme or radical. So now some names are more myserious and also in a way slightly more biblical: "The community" or "Called" or "the gathering."
The Creative-By creative I simply mean that there are some youth pastors/youth groups out there determined to not be defined in their identity, nor stereotypical like all the rest of the youth groups. The entrepreneurs choose simply to define their youth group name by an acronym of some sort that usually ends up spelling a word. It's like the youth groups couldn't decide what to focus the purpose of their youth group on, so they choose an acronym named youth group wherein each letter represented a whole different element of what the youth group was supposed to be like.

#61-Having babies to hang out in the nursey during service

You know those families at your church that keep manufacturing babies almost every year, and if not every year, it's every other year?

It's like they produce so many babies that by the time the third baby debuts in church just in time for the fall-line of clothing at the baby gap, you make a conscious decision to stop attempting to remember all their names....Basically you just start categorizing the mass of brothers and sister's in that family by their last name alone: "Hey Smith kid."

And you wonder, why don't they use birth control? The most common response would admirably be that they don't believe in birth control, which is an entirely acceptable belief if you ask me (really I sincerely mean that)...

but I also propose to you today an alternative explanation of why some families are determined to birth as many babies as every family that has a show on TLC...

The theory: The moms like having an excuse to chill in the nursery during church...
It's like they have a club or something back there and the only requirement is to be part of the nursery club is to have a baby under the age of 2, and the moment the first birthday rolls around, you know the mother is growing in anxiety and hunger to have a new baby to be able to keep her membership card...

Want an excuse to not have to be so restricted of movement and verbal communication during church?

Have a baby.If you aren't married or don't have babies for whatever reason, but want to go into the secret Nursery club during church, make sure you are friends with someone who does have a newborn, then ask to hold it during service, and then after 10 minutes carry the baby out the back of the sanctuary to the nursery in a kind of hurried pace...even though you are not the mom, people just assume that the baby is sick or crying or something....but we know the real reason lady, and it kind of makes me jealous.

#60-Adventures in Odyssey

Okay, going into this post I fully admit the possibility that roughly only 10% of the audience may know/remember what Adventures in Odyssey was (to the rest I apologize, and ask you to continue on to post #59).

The Adventures in Odyssey was born out of the brain of James Dobson & his Focus on the Family group (see post #42). Essentially it was a Christian-themed radio series (made into a television series at one point) that focused on tales of calamity and adventures at "Whit's End" which was an ice cream parlor that Whit, an old man, would constantly be inviting a little boy and his dog to help overcome difficulties from bad guys and what not.

Typical Stuff for a children's program.

Except, my family was one of the rebellious families growing up that allowed television in the house.

So when it came time to go to a friend's house in church who was more Christian and thus had no TV to watch, the main form of entertainment outside of having a house that smelled like potpourri was to listen to the radio...

And my friend's preferred program of leisure listening was the Adventures of Odyssey. Needless to say for a kid who grew up watching Mark Summers having kids run in a giant obstacle of madness in Double Dare on Nickelodeon, I was not impressed by a talking box spewing out words of nonsense. I was more miserable than a misogynist in San Francisco (Although you must understand that I did not have an imagination whatsoever as a child so it was even worse for a radio to have me imagine a story in my mind without even pictures to accompany the effect) .

Be it as it may, I would go to church to find myself, the sinner, totally lost without a conversational base amongst my friends many a Sundays because they had Adventures of Odyssey in common. All I had going for me was that I was the house to go to to secretly watch MTV and movies that had fart jokes .

But alas, there was a savior...It was when Adventures in Odyssey released a cartoon series on video to accompany the radio program...And now I could enjoy the visual elements of the otherwise intolerable radio program with the approval of my friend's parents everywhere.

As for the show, it was alright. It was cool because they didn't preach to you, but yet the message was definitely one of a moral character...

However the animation was pretty basic, and if I had to watch a Christian television show, I would have preferred McGee & Me (future post) because within that show you had the incarnation of the world of animation (McGee) manifested in the real world itself.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

#59-Claiming your seat in the sanctuary as a seperate independent nation

I could have titled this blog, "Sitting in the same seat every church service" but that would be too boring...

But seriously, as part of the human condition we love routine. We don't like dramatic changes, and even a little shift in regulated seating can take us out of our element...

So we claim seats as our own....

Because if we don't, the Holy Ghost would never be ab
le to move as it desired because of how uncomfortable we would feel during service.

But there are different categories of the seat claimers:

The Possessive
These are the people who bring no one any harm i
n church and thus they think they deserve the same respect. They won't call you with their baggage, as long as you know not to do the same.

Likewise these people have their 3 foot section of pew trademarked and copyrighted lest anyone consider stealing the seat, and that person would then be sued for copyright infringement.

At best these people are mobile within their pew alone, and that is only under extenuating circumstances they are willing to vacate their immediate premises and move further down the pew (i.e. a guest). And even if one of these circumstances do arise, the possessive seat owner will make it well known via a scolding look that you are trespassing, and should you make the same mistake twice, you will be headbutted in the kidney.

The Territorial
If you are not that possessive about one special seat, then
at least you have a relative section that is declared your comfort zone. Of course you prefer a certain seat, but you are no way attached to it. You aren't as restricted as the possessive seat owner, and therefore think yourself more giving.

The biggest advantage of being more territorial of course is that if by some random chance a meteor shoots through the roof and destroys your pew on a non-church day, you will just move to the next pew and not even break a sweat.

The Restricted
These are the ones who long for the freedom of the normal people, but are forced to a restricted area of seating as if they were a baby i
n a playpen. In other words this is the youth group who has two options:
  • Sit near the front so that when people pull a certain youth to the altar, they won't have that far of a walk and also so it will be easier for the preacher to preach to the youth in the middle of a sermon when he so chooses to.
  • Sit with your parents which is completely not a cool thing to do. (in other words sitting in the youth section is the only option)
The Rebellious
The rebellious I am going to rant against are the rebellious who change seats only to pop up on a completely random pew in a different area of the sanctuary (and thus vacate their country in hopes to find new land). Seriously, I already mentioned how we love routine and thus like having our own little seat in the church....but part of this routine is also knowing where everyone else sits.

So when a family or couple or prominent church memb
er moves not only a couple pews away, but rather a whole section away from the original territory, it just messes everyone's mind up. We don't know how to function. We then gossip with ourselves in our head over what caused the emigration to a different continent...Perhaps Steve now has a crush on Sally and he wants a better eye view? Maybe Allan's body odor exiled the entire Connery family to the other side of the church?

Whatever causes the seat change, we don't like it...we want routine..

Let's initiate some third grade policy here: Let's just agree to have a seating chart.

And then have all new guests sit in a designated area in the sanctuary so we don't have to look around 3 times a service to see if there are an
y new faces....

O wouldn't life be grand?
Sufjan Christian song in honor of Sufjan Stevens week (see #53):

"Chicago" (sufjan's biggest hit, which the chorus is a gigantic thank you to Christ)

#58-The dimming of the sanctuary to watch a video/slide show in service

Not to be confused with the dimming of lights to create an intimate atmosphere to feel the Holy Ghost more in youth service during worship (future post), the dimming of the lights in the sanctuary during service usually occurs at a relaxing point in the service where everyone is encouraged to take their seats....The dimming of lights then occurs just short of causing the sanctuary to be pitch black.

Usually what is about to take place will be a video or a slideshow reflective of some concurrent presentation to inform or to persuade. Such presentations include but are not limited to:
  • Missionary Video (future post)
  • slideshow of a church resident's trip to some foreign land
  • A clip from a movie/tv show relevant to the sermon
  • A drama team's interpretation of a song
  • A sign language team's interpretation of a song complete with glowing sticks
But that is not what is important to this post....
What I am concerned about is solely that weird anticipation/excitement that grows in your body as the lights dim....

It's been going on since childhood...
And essentially, as best I can identify, this excitement is the anticipation that you are not only being allowed to relax during church itself but also that you may end up being entertained within church itself. It's not that church is not entertaining , but the entertaining that happens when the
lights go out is more like the entertainment you observe when you sit down to relax and watch a movie.

Seriously, I still feel immaturely giddy deep inside my soul every time I see the giant screen being dropped down and the lights are receded at my church, and a 5 minute presentation of the country of Sri Lanka begins to play on the screen.

The feeling as the lights are dimmed during church is very similar to that of the sound of the last bell you hear as school lets out for Christmas Break.

My posture and mood go from the serious demeanor of trying to get me some God to being transformed completely to chillin out and relaxin complete with slumped posture like I was Archie Bunker/Al Bundy..

I would not being doing justice in this post if I didn't mention the great temptation the darkening of the lights brings as it is an open invitation to fall asleep during church because most likely no one will notice...

So if you do not give into the invitation of the temptation to nap during church (should it be present), you will most likely be the first one to look around as the lights are elevated to catch any other perpetrators that succombed to the gods of napping.

Sufjan Christian Song for Sufjan Stevens Week (see Post #53)-
"Vito's Ordination Song"
(Someone needs to play this at their church)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#57-Not Rob Bell

(No Rob Bell does not have devil horn's in real life)

Every evil movement needs a face to be memorable. The Nazi's had Hitler, the Soviet's had Stalin, the Mongolians had Ghengis Khan, The Disney Channel had Hannah Montana, The VMA's has Kanye West, post-modernism has ellen DeGeneres, evolution has dinosaurs, and evil hyenas who hide out in elephant graveyards have Scar from the Lion King. I hope you get the point...

Well in recent years there has been a devil lurking amongst our midst waiting for the opportunity to invade every aspect of our denomination...This devil is the emergent church. We don't really know what it is, nor have we read many of their books, but we know they exist, they are in our denomination, and for all we know they could be in our house....but as pointed out earlier in this blog:

For a movement to be memorable, it needs a face....and the face of the emergent church is ROB BELL! The man who claims to stand for Christ, but in reality probably stands for nothing at all. The author of Velvet Elvis and Sex God, Rob Bell is a force our denomination cannot ignore.

Here's the weird thing, we talk about him and his mysterious movement a lot, but yet we probably know little about him. I have one source who says that Rob is brought up in many conversations at his bible college but yet none of the people who discuss him at length have read a single book by him.

And then the worst is when we sit down and happen to watch one of his NOOMA videos, which are scarily good...Really good actually....like chances are that if you are a youth pastor and watch one and can afford the NOOMA videos you'll want to show them to your youth group good....

Oh I forgot to mention that Rob Bell literally rejected any notion of him being emergent in his last book, and seemed to despise such a connection...but that would kind of ruin the point of having a face to a movement. So we'll stick to him as the bad guy.

Christian Sufjan Song for Sufjan Week (see post #53):

"For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti" (the best of the best in my mind)-

#56-The Notebook

The Notebook was to the UPCI what the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was to Japan.

If someone wants something to blame for the secularization of Pentecost, blame the Notebook. If someone wants to know where the revival went in their church, blame the Notebook.
If someone wants to know why that girl they are trying to date is so fickle all the time, blame the Notebook.
If someone wants to know why so many people in the UPCI wanted to advertise on TV all of a sudden, blame the Notebook.
If someone wants to know why the divorce rate is so high in America, blame the Notebook.

I am assuming everyone is either familiar with or has seen the Notebook...if you have been blessed enough not to see it, let it remain that way...

The Notebook was one of the main driving forces to why many young females have vastly overinflated expectations for what a relationship is suppose to be. Because of the Notebook some of these expectations for relationships now include but are not limited to:
  • Driving into a wooden fence to save your relationship
  • Having the guy want you so bad he will climb a Ferris wheel at a carnival for you
  • Making out in the pouring Rain
  • Lying down in the middle of a downtown mainstreet in the middle of the night without getting arrested for public intoxication
  • Making out in a rowboat surrounded by geese
  • Dying at the exact same moment
  • Alzheimer's Disease and/or dementia
  • Love conquering aforementioned Diseases of Alzheimer's/dementia
  • Buying Dream House
  • Renovating Dream House for the memory of the love that was lost in hopes that one day it will be reconciled
  • Making Out even more
  • Having 365 love letters written to you without you returning a single one
  • Learning to float about the city together on a magic floating carpet
Okay, so I added the last one...but you get the point....the girl's ate this stuff up in the movie....some guys even ate it up too and cried during it (if you are one of those guys, shame on you)....And the best part was the movie was only rated PG-13 so it was kind of okay to watch (since it was not rated R at least)...nevermind that there was nudity and sex in the movie itself, we can overlook/forget about that if the movie is good enough (which this apparently was)...

Seriously, when this movie came out, it had to have been a good 18 months after the fact that Apostolic girls would have sleep overs to watch this movie again and again which only led them to end up talking about which guy will be their ryan gosling, which led them to going to bed to praying to the Sweet Lord Jesus to send "the one sooner than later."

Sufjan's Christian Song for Sufjan Stevens week (see post #53):

Seer's Tower (So Hauntingly mesmerizing):


Aw, shucks, now. Apostolics like revival. We can't even say the word "revival" without adding "Whoo!" accompanied by a preacherly kick or holy fist pump or spiritual shiver. We like it so much that it has nearly turned into an amorphous abstract concept. But how did it begin?

Back in the day
To hear old timers tell it, it seems that the concept of revival actually started out as a series of services. These reminiscences usually start out with, "Back in the brush arbor days . . . " Wow. Tents, kerosene lamps, dirt floors, hard pews, weepy sinners, tongue talkin' and holy rollin' populate the narratives. Those were the days. Back when people weren't so caught up in their lives that folks had revival everyday for weeks on end. Back when sinners used to literally run up to the altar. JAY-sus. Those were the days. (Note: There still exists the concept of revival as a literal series of services, but it's much less common and tends to happen usually in more rural areas.)

But now . . .
But now the concept of revival has undergone a shift from a literal series of services to more of a metaphysical idea. First of all, now revival is ubiquitous. We're told that we need to have revival in our hearts and in our lives. We sing about having it from the "pulpit to the pew." It happens in various places all over the world. If a certain church has experienced a sudden increase in membership, we say, "Whoo! They're having revival over there!" You see, you just can't get away from it.

Revival is also thought of in various states of arrival. And no matter what state of arrival it's in, when announced, it always receives an enthusiastic response. Here are the most common states of the Apostolic concept of revival:

1. We need to have it. (Whoo! Yes, Lord!)

2. It's on its way. (Whoo! Yes, Lord!)

3. It's already here, we just needed to be reminded of its presence. (Whoo! Yes, Lord!)

You see, revival cannot lose. No matter where it's at, no matter what state it's in, whether it's a literal, back in the day hard-core brush arbor or simply existing in our hearts, Apostolics are going to get excited about it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

#54-John Maxwell/Lists of Keys to success

I am going to straight with this one: I don't like John Maxwell (not as a person, but rather in his influence). He has been the thorn in my flesh for much of my existence....

Quick summary:
He writes leadership books. And a lot of them...
His most famous are The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, the 360 degree leader, Leadership 101, and any other book that includes a numeric value and has leadership in the title.

To sum up his books and writing style, John Maxwell gives us very broad and obvious statements about leadership. He then tries backing up what we already know is true with a parable or actual story of a great leader or person who was courageous in spite of facing a difficult situation in their life. If the story is not directly inspirational, it will leave us in stitches of laughter.

Essentially John Maxwell writes Chicken Soup for the Soup books for leaders without the crying.

He also organizes his thoughts and points into lists: 21 irrefutable laws of leadership, 10 questions to put your dreams to the test, 17 irrefutable laws of teamwork, 11 ways highly successful people approach life & work, 25 ways to win with people, 12 daily practices to guarantee tomorrow's success, etc....

I am kind of paranoid to believe anyone who claims they can make people successful by a certain number of rules within the entirety of one book...the bigger question is why 21 laws of leadership? Are you sure there are not 22 John? Is there a 26th way to win with people?

But none of this is what is so painstaking to me about Maxwell....

The Lists to Success
You know those seminars we all find ourselves at within either our church or some other nearby church which teaches us how to be a leader or a prayer warrior or a good Sunday School Teachers?

While there is a lot of good stuff to take from these things, 80% of the time, the seminars will teach success based on the application of a certain number of steps (sound familiar?)...

5 steps to being a better Christian, 14 steps to emotional health, 4 steps to staying mediocre, etc....

And we sit there and go through the list as if within these exact points all wisdom of the topic is found...

If only we apply ourselves to the finite number of steps mentioned, then things will be heaven on earth...

But what if the teacher is missing a point?

And this is why I don't like John Maxwell's influence....Most of our classes/seminars about improving a certain area in our lives are organized solely by lists and we all have John Maxwell to thank for this trend. Sure the speaker maybe trying to simplify the message for us,

but I would argue that the tendency to make lists for success severely oversimplifies the problem, and places limitations on our capacity to learn. It tells us the the solutions to our limitations are single handedly found within these 7 steps when in reality the solution to success is much more complicated and much more in-depth than the lists would allow us to believe.

The worst part of defining success by lists is the list tells us how long until the seminar is over....so when we should be paying attention to the teacher, we are actually just agonizing how the speaker has been on step 2 for 20 minutes now and we still have 7 more steps to go.

Song for Sufjan Stevens Week (see post #53 for more information)

The Transfiguration:

#53-Breaking up at Camp/Convention/Congress

Not to be confused with camp dating (future post), breaking up at camp/convention/congress (from here on we will condense all of these evens into "breaking up at camp") is a very popular trend amongst Apostolics everywhere. Seriously, mark it on your calendar that during the next camp/congress one of your friends will break up with their mate. It's a lock to happen. It just happened with two of my friends at camp this past summer and we're in our 20s.

So usually the break up at camp ends with the following statement by the one who did the breaking up, "well we were fighting before camp a lot so this was going to happen eventually...."

But basically what really happened is the one who did the break up arrived at camp and looked around and subconsciously was reminded that there were indeed more fish in the sea than his short term memory could recall..

See in Apostolic circles near the home church, the options for dating are minimal. Usually One has no more than 3-4 possible mates on his/her radar. At camp, that number jumps, (if it's congress the number sky rockets), and this is all one needs to realize that they can't commit their entire lives to just one person...They're young and they're supposed to be having fun. They can't live like a married couple any more....

And thus the next couple days are spent with mounting tension, minor skiffs, a lot of seeking the Lord's will at the alter, a confession that the person who will be doing the break up needs to get closer to God, the actual break up, and eventually a long-hard cry from the person whose heart was broken up with. This is subsequently followed up by a never-ending circular consolation conversation with the best-friend in support of the one with the broken heart saying "I told you they were no good for you."


If it is a girl who is broken up with, the emotional aftermath is usually cataclysmic in proportions simply because the girl really believed that they were going to get married. She had names already picked out for their kids, and even wrote the kiss of death in that she wrote her name out in cursive repeatedly in biology class with her boyfriend's name as her last name in place of her own last name.

After the break up at camp she is usually quick to let it be known that her ex-boyfriend was a player to all who will listen. The female along with her best friend will also build a recovery support team of fellow male haters who will be on the lookout to spy on the heart-breaking male to see which girls he talks with and then subsequently secretly hating those female traitors from a far.

If the male is the one broken up with, the camp is usually spent with the participation in more athletic activities than usual. He may also try to create a recovery team, but more than likely his friends could care less and are probably wondering in their minds if it would be acceptable if they pursued their friend's ex. Lastly the male will have declared defeat when he declares that his ex was some one word comparison to her being a woman of the night.

Of course through all the heart-break and and tears and best friends becoming best friends all over again (since the boyfriend/girlfriend was such a barrier to this happening), there is bound to come a night a few weeks after camp wherein the one who did the break up makes a late night call saying that they would like to re-think things and is kind of missing their ex. Of course what this really means is that either

a) that it did not work out with the potential future spouse that the boyfriend/girlfriend had in mind to date when the initial break up happened
b) the number of fish in the sea went right back to being small and their girlfriend/boyfriend is better than nothing.

I am a man of few dreams in my life. However, one of my dreams will be fulfilled on Friday night when I get to see my favorite secular/Christian artist perform, Sufjan Stevens. Most people in the Apostolic community are not familiar with Sufjan, so I will dedicate this week to being Sufjan Stevens week on the blogs I post. This means I will end each one of my posts with my favorite Christian Sufjan songs...I have gone through most of my life not really enjoying the Christian music that is played at churches in terms of style. Sufjan Stevens showed me that Christian music does not have be done with shouting, nor a choir to back him up...He really made my transition back into church a tad easier....Here is "He Woke Me Up Again."

#52-Pajama Bottoms

I say pajama "bottoms" for a particular reason. The first thing one must understand when attempting to understand this phenomenon among some AP females is that they are pajama "bottoms," not pajama "pants."

See, we don't wear pants. The Bible says women shouldn't wear men's clothing and that men shouldn't wear women's clothing. Pants are for cootie-ridden boys. So, in order to justify our (and I say "our" because I raise my hand as one of the participants) donning a pants-like garment in good conscience, some explanation is in order.

Pants by day, pajama bottoms by night
If a woman were to wear a two-legged garment outside in the daylight, those are pants, hands down. No contest there. At that point, she may as well climb into the handbasket on its way to you-know-where. But if she wears a two-legged garment inside her house, they morph into a shaky but, depending on the amount of fire in the preaching she's used to, acceptable form of non-public attire. However, at night, she can breathe a sigh of relief and rest assured. They're safe, feminine pajama bottoms. Worn to bed and nowhere else.

And really, they have to be some form of pajamaesque two-legged garment that you would actually wear to bed. A pajama ensemble is preferred. Sweatpants, perhaps. But jeans? Girl, SAT down and go pray through.

Defining something like this is definitely not a science, but I think it's safe to say that the public/private dichotomy along with the amount of light outside are good indicators of acceptability.

The 5-year-old dilemma
But, this justification comes not without a few snags. For example, try explaining this to a 5-year-old.

5-year-old: (Upon seeing me in pajama bottoms) Ooh, you're wearing pants!

Me: These aren't pants, silly. They're pajama bottoms.

5-year-old: But they're pants.

Me: No, no, no. Listen. Pants are what boys wear. I'm a girl, and I'm wearing pajama bottoms.

5-year-old: But they look like pants.

Me: (sighing frustratedly) Pants are what boys wear outside. But girls can wear pajama bottoms to bed.

5-year-old: They're pants.

You see? 5-year-olds just don't get nuance.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

# 51-The Shouting Song

No Pentecostal worship service would be complete without the “shout down” song. A shout down service (future post) doesn’t occur every time a shout down song is performed, but one would argue that the performance of such songs is the Pentecostal equivalent of the opening of the corral gate at the running of the bulls in Pamplona.

Never mind that the lyrical and musical content of these songs is exactly the same every time. They usually start with a catchy intro of some strategically placed low notes and a heavy bass drum, a “walk up” followed by a very high energy verse about victory, freedom, battle or some other form of liberation.

Clint Brown mastered this art and won our hearts in the late nineties and early two thousands by placing a song following this protocol on every CD he put out.

But there is an entire sub genre of “shout down” songs within Pentecost: the Pentecostal Pride shout down songs. The genre has been on the decline since 2000 and saw it's hey day in the mid nineties.

When we sang "Born Again" or "Power, Filled With The Spirit" we were not only singing to God but we were singing about us!

If you think we get zealous when talking about "truth" you should us when we sing about it!

Most recently the CLC released a song entitled "I'm a Pentecostal" (see below) that has brought a resurrection of this genre of music, and boy has it caught on fire!

Choirs who lacked the musical tenacity to perform the songs usually accompanied them with their sign choir, which produced the same results.

#50-Denim Skirts

While completely agreeing with fellow blogger Joel on the denim jackets bit, let's keep it a hundred: Denim skirts are MUCH more integral to Apostolic female style and have been around much longer than its cousin, the denim jacket.

Without my trusty array of denim skirts, I would be a woman undone. Undone, I tell you. Most AP girls could whip out an array. To the unchurched mind, one denim skirt is enough, but Apostolic girls know better. Aww, naw. One denim skirt is NOT enough.

You've got your straight, long, ankle-grazing denim skirt.
Then you've got your just-below-the-knees denim skirt for warmer times. And heaven help you if you flash a bit of knee-cap.
Then you've got the tiered skirt.
Then you've got skirts that flare out at the bottom. These can be ankle-grazing or just-below-the-knee.

A common plus to having an array of denim skirts: Even though in your mind they're "dress down," to the secular mind, any skirt is "dress up." So you can go to work in a denim skirt, and even though you're in your kicks for comfort in your mind, in everyone else's mind, you're dressed to the nines!

Oh, and one denim skirt no-no: Either it's ankle-grazing or just-below-the-knee. Mid-calf denim skirts are out of the question.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

#49-To start praying when the preacher/minister starts walking toward your direction at the altar

You know the scenario....you're clapping to the worship music at altar call waiting for church to dismiss. You got your pray on and made everything right with the good Lord and you are ready to head out of the sanctuary.

But then you peak out of the corner of your eye that the preacher is praying for someone ten feet away and it appears he is heading your direction...

So you look around at those surrounding you, and once the coast is clear you very slyly close your eyes and half lift up your hands and begin whispering to Jesus....now the prayer we say at these times can vary greatly. Chances are they have nothing to do with the sermon, and are more than likely its a thank you to Jesus...Whatever your fallback prayer is (future post), it comes spewing out of your mouth quicker than you can quote Acts 2:38.

Now once those eyes are closed, this is where things get tricky....because chances are you (as I) do not pray so the preacher will actually lay hands on us, but rather we pray because we want the preacher to think we have been praying...and this is where the conundrum comes into play..

We don't want to play longer than necessary but we also don't want to get caught fake praying...

So, Just how long do you have to pray?

The answer lays in the half opened eye-lid (similar to the half-opened eye-lid of the worship leader between songs-----> see below)

There is a science to this eye-lid opening....

If you are like me, you are very impatient and you go to open your eyes at precisely the wrong time to see if the coast is clear...and as you open it, there the preacher is right in front of you and you make eye contact, and that's when you know your gig is up, so in order to escape the awkwardness of the eye contact, you go right back to your fall back prayer (this time your eyes may be open though to make it appear that you intended to open your eyes all along)

But if you are good at the eye-lid opening science, you have not prayed sincere enough to make it appear you are really feeling God (because this would invite the preacher to pray for you), but pray just long enough that he has walked right past you to pray with the more sincere prayer-er a few feet past you.

Sidenote: I just realized that I had been incorrectly spelling "altar" wrong the entire blog (i was spelling it "alter"). My apologies to the spelling perfectionists out there.

#48-Half sincere worship by worship leaders between songs

Okay, in reference to the above picture, if there were such a thing as a "worship school" for worship leaders...here is what a description of one of the classes would be:

Worship 320: How to Worship between Songs

The class would then discuss the ins and outs how these 15-30 seconds between songs can be either the most awkward 15-30 seconds of your life while on the platform or the most influential 15-30 seconds of your life...

So when the song ends...stick your hands up in the air and thank Jesus with all your might. Except more important than actually meaning it, is the fact that it looks to the crowd that you actually mean it.

Nevermind that when some of those very same worship leaders are not on the platform, you can see that they do not participate in worship for those 15-30 seconds between songs...so we know that the effort up there is not 100% honest (although they partially mean it)...

The worst kind of worship leader are those who worship between songs but at about the ten second mark of the worship, the worship leader half-opens one eyelid for a split second to look at reaction of the audience ...which is like saying, "have I worshiped long enough to go to heaven mommy?"

#47-Bowling as a social function after Youth Service

Add Image

I hope you enjoyed the introductory video which was taken after a youth rally with the bowling alley as the selected post-service social function last week. Special thanks to aaron hall on that one...

But as for the bowling...seriously, isn't it sad that the place that makes you feel dirtier than after leaving a bar is the one place that it is socially acceptable to have a youth event at?

To me the dirtiness (i.e. body odor) and confusion of the initial stages of puberty is best summed up with bowling alleys and glow bowling in mind complete with terrible music and weird strangers amuck....

And yet, "for 10 bucks we can get all you can eat nasty pizza and bowling after tonight's service. Please see the resource center for directions on how to get to the bowling alley...now let's all dive into the Word..."

But I guess if the purpose of bowling alleys after youth service is to keep you at the alter as long as possible because you dread the mediocrity of the bowling after the service completion, then bowling as the after-event does it's job...

Alright, last question: With all the bowling we do, how do not have any Apostolics in the PBA (Professional Bowler's Association)?

Friday, September 18, 2009

#46-Jean (Denim) Jackets

In the 1980's, jean jackets were invited into ApoPento world....holes, tears, and buttons on these jackets were optional but appreciated....It was stylish with the times but yet completely modest for our girls....

The problem was, no one has bothered to kick the Jean jackets out the back door after they overstayed their welcome....

In fact something funny happened in the Apo world with jean jackets in the late 80's/early 90's, the people who cared less about trends and being stylish started to adopt the jean jackets as their own, away from the the trendsetters.... Apparentely they are quite warm...

So whenever a fashion trend finds itself somewhere in between being considered stylish, and being considered very functional this only means one thing:

It's bound to be sold at Wal-mart! Which of course means that we will never see jean jackets leave our Apostolic denomination.....

Which means at some points Apostolic will be considered fashionable when the jean jackets do make their run at being in style, and at other times Apostolics will be wearing clothing that is considered 5 years expired.

Jean Jackets are here to stay, and whether the ladies got their jean jacket from wal-mart, forever 21, express, the Fashion Bug, or Lane Bryant, every Apostolic female has at least two and they wear them on several/many occasions: Mid-week services (what says informal attire better than jeans as a coat?) or fall youth functions or summer youth group or whenever they can't figure out something better to wear (which makes jean jackets the informal equivalent to leopard skin print for formal attire)....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

#45-Wedding Watches

Okay, so two of my good friends are getting married this weekend(the right way...when they were fiscally responsible and of mature age), and one thing that they are doing is tying the knot complete with putting on the wedding rings at the conclusion of the ceremony...which is the normal thing to do....

Except there is a trend out there that bans wedding rings in some Apostolic circles...so for those of you who are not familiar with this custom let me explain: Some think it is immodest to wear jewelry, and they consider engagement/wedding rings jewelry, and therefore a sin. Seems logical enough I suppose....

But then comes the kicker...instead of really engaging themselves in modesty by not purchasing jewelry which can be expensive and shiny (but I have no problem with this ), these people just consider themselves modest by moving the shiny instruments that declare a couples' love from their fingers to their wrists....that's right in order to be modest these circles believe it necessary to wear "wedding watches" (which then makes the jewelry functional and therefore permissible) and not wedding rings....Which I guess whatever God leads you to is okay with me....but the bigger point:

It was January of this year and I went to a revival service while I was visiting a city that will remain unnamed.....and naturally as a single guy getting older by the day, I naturally keep my eyes open hoping that God will just break through the heavens one day with a light shining on a female indicating that she is the one for me.....

Well long story short, at this revival service, there were about 7 of these females who could all be potential future wive! This statistically is a very large amount relative to other services back home where if there are 2 potential future wives in the audience I consider myself blessed. The best part about these 7 potential future wives was that none of them had rings....

The excitement of pursuit was already brewing in my head....At no other time had destiny been so much in my favor than at that point...

And as I sat deliberating on how I would convince myself to have the confidence to talk to these prospective future wives in the service, I looked at the church population as a whole....

And sooner than later the analytical side of my brain kicked in and it pointed out one terrible similarity within those seated in the congregation: None of the women had wedding rings!!! Even the older women who were clearly sitting next to their husband and their kids were nearby playing on the pew.

Forever my soul will remember that moment whereupon I cursed the gods of destiny in my head for I realized that I had discovered the biggest difficulty of wedding watches:

You can't tell who is married and who is not married!

I sat withdrawn amongst myself that evening knowing full well that should I work up the guts to end up trying to introduce myself to one of the prospective future wives, I could end up embarrassing myself by hitting on someone who is married..........

#44-Getting Married at a young age

I turn 24 in November....this is usually about the time that I am supposed to begin to think about thinking about getting married for secular young adults across the world. The average marrying age for college graduates is 26 years old these days....

However, in the Apostolic empire, where our universe does not run by the rules of the world, If I remain unmarried for another 2-4 years (which I anticipate), the whispers will begin to swirl around that "there's something wrong with that boy." Of course being my age and being a single young adult is not nearly as scary as being a female apostolic and being my age....If you find yourself a female and single and apostolic above the age of 25, Whoa NELLY!

So here's the scoop: This whole young marriage age trend can't really be a surprising when we got all these teenage girls running around reading Pride & Prejudice and Little Women and what not, with stars in their eyes every time they see a male....See where a male sees a potential girlfriend/possibly future wife in every girl of his liking, a teenage Apostolic female sees a house and five babies in her arms every time she sees a boy.

The boy sees the pursuit, and the hand holding and the kissing and the butterflies in his stomach, the girl just sees the finish line: The nursery during church service!

I mean who needs more proof of this phenomena than when a female brings a newborn into church for the first few occasions: She is going to be flocked by females aged 12-21...and every time one of those girls gets the baby in her hand her head is spinning with visions of the time that it will be her actual baby in her arms...And she would prefer that moment sooner than later: YAY YOUNG MARRIEDS!

Okay but seriously, it's weird enough to be 23 and living in my parent's house. I can't imagine being one of those countless young Apostolic couples who got married young without a way to support themselves...and having to live in a parent's house....but this is one of the prices Young marrieds will be when we emphasize purity (and thus get married young instead of fornicating) over responsibility (who cares if we have money if we have each other).....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

#43--Games played at the end of Sunday school lessons when the teacher runs out of material and the sermon is going far too long

It's about 12 o'clock (maybe earlier) in your local sunday school class, and the snacks have been consumed, the object lesson has been taught, prayer requests submitted, and even the main lesson has been completed, and retaught, and summarized all over again....

And one teacher keeps going in and out of the classroom to see if the pastor has dismissed his sermon...but when the teacher comes back there is horror in her eyes: The pastor hasn't even started closing on his sermon!

And the teacher of the main lesson just keeps talking in circles and looking at the other teachers with, "what do we do now? I got nothing!"

And the kids themselves are beyond antsy ready to take tear the head off a baby bird just to see some kind of action in their lives....

So another teacher steps in and one of two things happens:
1) If the weather is nice, the kids will be led outside where upon absolute anarchy will ensue within the limits of whatever game is chosen by the teacher for the kids to play....with being stocked up in a 12 x 15 classroom for two hours, they would be content to play chicken with cars racing by in the street.....

Most of the time the game that is chosen is either getting the children to randomly elevate and run underneath a giant multi-colored parachute or red rover which is easily one of the most fun games anyone could imagine. I still secretly curse the girl who got the game banned at my church when she broke her arm via some 175 lb 10 year old (how this doesn't happen more often in the game blows my mind).

2)If the weather is bad, the kids are instructed to take part in a rousing rendition of "father Abraham" ...if the kids aren't dead after the first go-round, a second encore of the song will surely follow whereby the hope is that all the children will be so tired of an overly exhaustive performance of the song, that they will pass out into a nap and the teachers can rest easy.

Simon Says also gets much publicity during these times although I always found myself getting really angry at the kid who would always cheat and hope that no one saw him mess up or the kid who would act like he was out and then jump back in a minute later hoping the teacher wouldn't remember the first time he was out.

The other game that can be played is administered by the cruelest of teachers: The silent game where the one who is quietest the longest wins.......A brilliant contradiction of morality for sunday school kids everywhere: Be competitive and possibly win a game, or have loud outbursts that are so natural to our demographic.....O the terror!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

#42-James Dobson & Focus on the Family

I grew up thinking this man was my uncle....at least I felt like I knew him better than I did most of my real uncles. Every afternoon my mom would have James Dobson's focus on the family radio program blaring like it was one of the original Apostles himself speaking. Which meant that for her and all of the other thousands of Dobson's fans, critical thinking was left at the door as Dobson's doctrine became their doctrine.

Dobson's program was where I learned that preaching did not have to be screaming.

It's also where I was told that America was secretly under attack by hippie liberal democrats who are trying to "gay it out" wherever possible, and that they will do whatever it takes to be allowed to "gay it out" as married couples and in public. These same God-hating communists are personally trying to see to it cause as many divorces as possible.

Dobson was the general to sound the alarm that being a Republican was a new requirement for salvation and this requirement would be the best way to punch the democrats in their lungs.

Save the sarcasm, he is a very kind-hearted man who genuinely means well.

Here's the weird thing about Dobson: I am fairly confident that he is a much older version of Zac Efron for post-menopausal woman everywhere. I really can't explain it, all I know is I have never heard a man go up to another man with stars in their eyes saying, "Did you hear Dobson today? He was sooo good!"

#41-Animal Print Clothing/Purses

There is one fashion trend that will never die amongst Apostolic females and that is animal print clothing.

At every big Apostolic event (congress, conference, convention, etc...) females compete viciously for the title of best dressed. More time is spent getting ready for these big events than time that is actually spent engaged in the event itself. The females may claim they are trying to look good for possible future husbands, but we know guys could really care less on how a girl dresses. The truth is, the ladies dress to outshine each other. Death stares make their way across the venues as one female declares to her friend, "can you believe she wore that outfit?" when the female in her head is really thinking "I wish I had the guts to wear what she is wearing."

And the winner for best dressed: Women dressed like leopards
But out of this clash of egotistical fashion sense is a small demographic that will be present in at least 5-10% of all females at every big event: The animal print skirt/dress/blouse.

Be it leopard print or zebra print, the females who ally themselves to such a fashion sense are truly more than most saying "I am woman hear me roar." This makes perfect sense in the competition amongst females for best dressed as what says "I will win the vicious contest of feminine superiority" than dressing up like a carnivorous animal from Africa that eats other animals for breakfast?

Sticking out when trying to blend in
If this hypothesis about the popularity of leopard print (or the less violent but still aggressive zebra print) is not correct then I am clueless as to why animal print clothing/purses is so popular....It's like the females, when picking out their outfits couldn't decide what to wear for church so their fallback is always trying to camouflage themselves into their surrounding environment not to be noticed....except the one problem is leopard print clothing camouflages itself in the African Savannah and not at church.

Credit for the idea of this blog can go to an unnamed source since I am not sure the person wants to their name to be outed.

#40-Compartmentalizing your Prayer Requests

The following blog was conceptualized and composed by Chantell Smith from the great state of Alabama:

The Churches
You know the drill. That quaint little time between announcements and offering where we bring our collective petitions before God--prayer requests. If you're from a podunk church, it's most likely done the old fashioned way: random folks informing the congregation of their aches and pains or, for the umpteenth time, calling out the names of the usual ne'er do wells in hopes that God will lead them to do right. If you're from a fair-to-middling church, you probably have a succinct mentioning of needs written (and submitted to the service leader pre-service) on those prayer request cards (the other side is for "victory reports"), and if you're from a slick, fancy schmancy church, you just flash them on the multimedia screen.

The Categorizing
But be Apostolic prayer requests from the podunkiest of the podunk or the fanciest of the schmancy, there's one thing they all have in common--categories. Apostolics like categorizing prayer requests. They're usually divided into 4 categories: healing, salvation, unspoken and special.

Though "special needs" are usually tended to during post-altar call with anointing oil, it's generally considered a catch-all that doesn't fall under either healing or salvation.

Are we better than the prosperity doctrine Charismatics because "financial need" is not one of our big four? Nah. We have financial needs alright. They're just tucked quietly away under "special."

The Unspoken
The one that gets me is the unspoken need. The reason this category exists, supposedly, is because we don't have to verbalize our needs since God already knows them. Yet, they're verbalized by the category's very existence. If one speaks the words "I have an unspoken need," isn't it, in essence, spoken? It definitely leaves one with an oxymoronic aftertaste.

The Special Unspoken!
But there's a curious hybrid category that must be mentioned. The granddaddy of all needs, the "special unspoken." It's almost an otherworldly, mystical need. Not only is it shrouded in mysterious special secrecy, it's altogether unutterable. While healing, salvation, unspoken and special needs are stated in normal, declarative voices, the "special unspoken" is stated just a bit above the decibel level of a conspiratorial whisper. Special unspokens fill our hearts with a curious thrill, and we don't want it ruined by speaking of them too loudly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

#39-Not the Council of Nicaea

If you are Apostolic then you know full well that the Council of Nicaea is almost as bad for Apostolic Pentecostals as Satan himself.

The Council of Nicaea is worse than Joaquin Phoenix's character in the Gladiator movie with Russell Crowe. If pedophilia was likened to a historical event, the UPC would be quick to cast the Council of Nicaea as pedophilia.

For Apostolic Pentecostals, the trinity is rooted not in early Christianity, but rather almost 300 years after Jesus died on the cross at the Council of Nicaea.

And at this council, a dispute rang out between Arius (and the Arians) who said Jesus was not divine at all and Athanasius who argued for a "co-equal" Trinitarian position. Athanasius won which meant that not only were Arians heretics, but anyone who denounced the trinity and would be considered a heretic in their theology for the rest of history.

All of this was then put into the Nicene Creed which put a stamp of finality on the situation...uh oh!

And that is how the UPC is hated by many other Christian denominations to this day.

And this is why we hate the Council of Nicaea.

#38-Greeting the People around you during church

(note: Exact timing of this moment in the order of service differs depending on church)

The worship service has just ended with minimal "shouting" which means there will be no "break-out service" whereby preaching would have been omitted from the service order. All this means that you know you are in it for the long haul.

The elder/pastor/charismatic personality strides up to the microphone and greets the audience with a smile. He welcomes the guests in attendance and then ......it happens......

"Take the next few minutes to greet your brother and sister around you and tell them you're glad to see them in the house of the Lord."

The next two-three minutes are some of the most exciting two-three minutes you will have all week. And it's not that the "meet and greet" is overly fun in and of itself, but the moment becomes fun in consideration of theserious context of the church service which surrounds the meet and greet.

In some services it seems like a gift straight from Heaven.

Remember if you will, when you were at school as a child. You are there to learn, but everyday in the midst of the chaos that was school, you looked forward to that one fifteen minute time slot in your day whereby all your anxieties and worries of the perils of elementary education are wiped away because you have: RECESS! And while that recess is only fifteen minutes, you make sure you enjoy every second of that time.

The "greet your neighbor" time during church is the exact equivalent for church service. It's like a miniature recess for people in their Sunday formals.

I am so excited during "this recess" that I'll act like anyone's best friend during this time and greet you with an over-enthusiastic smile and a semi-meaningful "how are you?"

However, there is one rule during the meet and greet: Always answer the "how are you question" with a positive answer. If a person answers the "how are you" question with a negative response like "not-so-good" or even a pitiful "okay" then you are violating chief rule number 1 of the meet and greet.

Further the perpetrator of the rule should know full well that he/she should not come to expect pity from the questioner since this is a meet and greet and not a therapy session. It's recess people!

Apologies to the non-social people who dread the meet and greet simply because they hate having conversations with no depth for two-three minutes