I've been reading, well, leafing through, Places of Promise by Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce. The tagline for this book reads, "finding strength in your congregation's location." So I'm expecting a book detailing ways to maximize potential wherever your church is located physically, or maybe some stories by churches who have done this, or whatever. Instead, this book is the result of an extensive survey of congregations and what factors contribute to their vitality, and for the purposes of this book the bottom line is that location is not a factor. The authors use chapter after chapter to break down how it's not a regional thing, or a red state/blue state thing, or even a denominational thing. Finally they share that it IS a methodological thing: churches that are intentional about being welcoming, who incorporate new members well, who offer "meaningful" worship, provide strong programming for youth, offer opportunities for "spiritual growth," and excel at a few other methodological factors are the ones considered "vital." Hey, look, no mention of "right theology." There it is in black and white, UCC critics. No "Do They Hold to the One True Faith" category to be found. But with guys like Joel Osteen around, you and I both already knew that. Due to the large amount and dissection of data, this is not the most riveting read. That's why I skimmed it. And I think that they could have packaged the information differently than just trying to disprove that location makes a difference. Still, very informative.
We watched Meet the Robinsons this past week. This is a silly movie about a kid named Lewis, who is left at an orphanage as a baby. He attempts to invent things in order to endear himself to potential parents, but they usually end up going very very wrong. He takes one invention with him to the science fair, where he meets a kid from the future named Wilbur as well as a mysterious evil guy in a bowler hat. The two kids zoom off to the future, and wacky hijinks ensue. We meet the Robinson family, all of whom have some crazy quirk. We learn more about Bowler Hat Guy (and it's easy to figure out his connection after a while), and hey! Adam West is one of the voices! We laughed pretty much through the whole thing: it's silly, it's touching, it's silly some more. Good stuff.
We went to Applebee's to use a gift card this past week, and I almost wept for joy when I glanced at the TV to see ESPN broadcasting a spring training game. Finally, the four-month drought is over and all is right with the world. Of course, since it was ESPN, one of the two teams were the Yankees. But when I got home, I found that SportsTimeOhio was broadcasting the Indians' game, so I watched that instead while I typed my sermon. Ah, sweet relief.
I highly enjoy my Over the Rhine CD.
Around the web, Lutheran Husker just welcomed his new daughter into the world. Go say congrats.