Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Bobcat Encounter

Deep Thoughts By Pastor Dan Schuttler
(brought to you by Computer Savvy Ruby Varghese =))

I've only seen one other bobcat in Kent in the 19 years we've lived here!

I was driving Claire to dance and we stopped to pick up one of her friends (Allegra), who lives in the country - a big estate near Lake Youngs. As we were waiting in the driveway, I saw a bobcat walk out of some bushes and walk around the side of the house. Beautifully black and brown - a young one, but almost knee high and two feet long and with a bobbed tail - smaller than Millie. I told Claire that there was a bobcat, but it had disappeared around the house by the time she looked up from her phone. I got out of the car to investigate and walked to the side of the house, but of course, no bobcat.

Allegra comes out of the house (her parents are at work) and wonders what is going on - I tell her and she says, "My cat is still outside!" I say, "We're not going to dance until your cat is back inside!" She starts frantically calling for her cat - "MALCOM!!" Claire joins the search.

I look toward the side of the house the bobcat disappeared and Malcolm (jet black, long-haired cat) comes screaming toward the original bushes with the bobcat in pursuit. Malcolm's eyes are huge and his fur is puffed way out. He's in deep doo-doo. I yell, "BOBCAT!!" and also head toward the bushes.

I can hear them in there and then they take off out of the bushes, across the driveway, over a fence and into a big bramble of blackberries. Unearthly and demonic cat-fight sounds are emanating from the bramble. I also vault the fence and begin yelling at the bobcat to go away (my knowledge of wildlife being what it is, he obviously understands English!) and puffing myself up to look as big as possible.

After a few seconds, Malcolm rips out of the bramble as if a rocket is attached to his backside. The bobcat decides not to pursue and he slinks away into the brush, not wanting to tangle with an oversized, English-yelling frantic dad. Malcolm heads straight for Allegra and jumps into her arms, tearing her sweatshirt in the process. He is more than a little upset.

Allegra peels Malcolm off her person and puts him back in the house and discovers about ten minutes later (in the car) that perhaps she has blood on her!
Hopefully, they check him out and get him to the vet - but I bet Malcolm uses the indoor privvy for the next few weeks!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Election is Now History

Yesterday, history was made in our nation in a way we can all celebrate. Regardless of whether you voted for McCain or Obama, the fact that “we the people” elected an African-American to the highest office of civil leadership in our country holds enormous historical significance. I will admit that it is hard for me, who grew up in “privileged” White America, to fully appreciate the sense of hope and joy this brings to our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Black community, who love the blessings of living in America, but who never believed they would personally live to see the day a Black person could become President.
Like many of you I watched the news programs this morning about the election. I saw (General) Colin Powell, a Republican who served in the Bush Administration, choking back tears as he spoke of what the election of Obama meant to him as an African-American. I heard interviews with other prominent Black leaders who spoke about their sense of wonder and amazement, some at a loss for words. I watched the congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (Martin Luther King’s church) celebrate with exuberant joy in their sanctuary. (For me that brought back memories of just a few years ago when I sat in that sanctuary as part of my Sankofa journey.) The importance of the day came home to me in a deeply personal way last night. I coach a basketball team my daughter Marisa plays on. We have several African-American players and they were absolutely giddy over the election results. It said to them that being “Black” or a “minority” in America need not be an obstacle to whatever they hope to achieve in life.
This is a good time to remember that Christians have had an important historical role in making this day possible. In the 1840’s it was devout Christians who began the anti-slavery crusade that coalesced into the broader U.S. abolitionist movement. In the 1960’s it was a Christian pastor named Martin Luther King who was so inspired by the compelling social justice message of the Old Testament prophets, and the determined love of Jesus extended even to His enemies, that he, Rev. King, was willing to make enormous personal sacrifices and to lay down his own life to bring an end to systemic racism in America.
Of course not all Christians voted for Obama, nor should we expect they would. The reasons we vote as we do are complex and involve many considerations. Rest assured, I’m not writing this to pass judgment on the way anyone voted. (It's everything I can do in an election to figure out how I should vote.) Yesterday was the day for voting our conscience. The electorate has spoken and regardless of how we personally voted, today is the day for all of us to celebrate the important milestone in history that has been accomplished. For that we can all be proud of our nation and thankful once again to be living in the land of opportunity that is America.
The real work is just beginning for President-elect Obama as he assumes the most influential position in our temporal world. He will not be perfect in all his decisions. No president ever has been. What is important is that we remember to pray for him and his family in the days ahead, as we remember to pray for all of our national and local leaders.

Gratefully Serving,

Keith Carpenter
Senior Pastor

Monday, February 11, 2008

Reflection on Raising G-Rated Kids Series

I hope those who attended our “Raising G-Rated Kids in an X-Rated World” the last six weeks found the series helpful, no matter what your role in the lives of kids. It was not intended as only a parenting series (thought I hope parents got a lot out of it), the goal was to give God an opportunity to speak into the lives of everyone who has a role in the lives of children—parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, Sunday School workers, coaches, group and scout leaders. I also tried to make it clear that (though it may sound trite) it really does take the whole church to raise a child. Meaning, it is God’s intention that the whole church shape and spiritually form the lives of those who grow up and participate here, and this is a responsibility our church needs to take seriously. I am thankful to be part of a church that is deeply committed to children and youth ministries. Let me urge you again, when you see one of our students in the hallway, say “hello,” and ask a few questions about their life. Show some interest. Then leave them with a warm handshake and an affirming comment (in the Bible that’s called a blessing.)
I took some of my inspiration for the series from an outstanding preaching pastor in the Covenant named Ray Johnston. Ray is the senior pastor at Bayside Covenant Church in Roseville, CA. Ray’s series was 10 weeks in length, mine was six, so I didn’t go into as much depth as Ray but I did get some helpful ideas from him in developing the series. He urged me to preach on this topic when I saw him last June, just before I did my July study leave and made my preaching plans for the year.
Whenever I offer a series like this I always get a few questions from the parents of kids who are struggling through their teen years or maybe are in their 20’s, and are not in any visible way walking with the Lord. In fact, they may appear to have turned their back on God and the church. If that’s your situation, I encourage you to hang in there, keep praying, and don’t give up. Maturing is a challenge for all of us. I have heard numerous testimonies over the years from people who walked away from faith in high school or the early adult years, but then came back with great passion a decade or so later. We have a great promise from Proverbs, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I said “tongue in cheek” that “when he is old,” means 75, at least. It’s hard to put a number on that statement but I do know this, it’s not 19 or 23 or even 30. Keep praying for you adult children who have wandered from the Lord, they will turn back and will find Him waiting with open arms, like the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, of whom it says he saw his son coming while still at a distance. In other words, this father’s love motivated him to be watching and waiting each day for his son’s return. Parents, you planted the seeds of faith in your son’s or daughter’s life, now give them time to grow, they will come to fruition.
It is now Lent season. We began Lent with a solemn and reflective Ash Wednesday service. We will now turn our attention to a few of the parables of Jesus as we move toward the great and wonderful celebration of Easter.

Gratefully Serving,

--Pastor Keith

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Starting an Alternative Worship Service at KCC

On August 29th we held an open meeting to discuss the initiative of starting an "alternative" worship service this fall, once a month, designed to reach people between the ages of 18 and 35. We had a good turn out and everyone present was very supportive and enthusiastic. The materials presented at the meeting are posted below. I encourage you to read them and you are welcome to write a response. The first two services will be held on November 3rd and 10th.

Kent Covenant Church Gathering to Discuss Reaching the Emerging Generations
August 29th, 2007

Theology of Worship in the Missional Church

In his book, Missional Church—A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, Darrell Guder, a missiologist who has studied and written widely on the subject of evangelizing the West, asks the question, What is the relationship between corporate worship and a community’s mission? Here are some excerpts from his answer. He lays a good foundation for understanding worship in a church that is missional (believes it is sent by God to reach the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ).

“..Worship must be primarily the people’s encounter with the God who sends. We meet the missionary God who is shaping God’s people for their vocation, namely, to be a blessing to the nations…

“..The presence of the unbounded centered community (‘seekers’ or the ‘unchurched’), if taken seriously, will profoundly affect the public character of worship. We need relevant communication, language that can be understood, music that relates to the experience of the worshipper, who as a seeker is genuinely open to God’s call… Our postmodern society has come to regard worship as the private, internal, and often arcane activity of religionists who retreat from the world to practice their religious rites. By definition, however, the ekklesia (church) is a public assembly and its’ worship is its first form of witness. This is the emphasis that the covenant (Christian) community brings to worship. The reality that God is proclaimed in worship is to be announced to and for the entire world. The walls and windows of the church need to become transparent.

“It is worship carried out by God’s called and sent people. But it also welcomes and makes room for the curious, the skeptical, the critical, the needy, the exploring, and the committed. It practices the hospitality that is rooted in God’s presence and invitation, made known and experienced in Jesus Christ. It is that inclusive and open-ended hospitality that recognizes in everyone, whether mature Christian or first-time visitor, a person for whom Christ died. That is the alien dignity that the gospel grants all humans and which Christian hospitality demonstrates.

“Above all, the public worship of the mission community always leads to the pivotal act of sending. The community that is called together is the community that is sent. Every occasion of public worship is a sending event… Communities need to learn to worship missionally… the conversion of worship to its missional centeredness will come about as communities are gripped by their vocation to be Christ’s witness and begin to practice that calling.

Reggie McNeill, Church Consultant and author of The Present Future—Six Tough Questions for the Church weighs in with some important thoughts, like this one.

“Missiologists know that people must worship God in their own heart language. North American church club members are quite willing to deny this privilege even to their own church kids in order to preserve the club culture… A continuing failure to engage the culture will doom the church into a death spiral as the members of the church culture die off in the next twenty to thirty years.

“A missiological approach to the emerging world will take into account the largest cultural shift under way and its implications for the church. It is the transition from the modern to postmodern world.

Cultural Relevance and Generational Issues

Seniors—Before 1925

--Fought World War II
--Created modern retirement
--Tom Brokaw calls them “The Greatest Generation.”

(65% say they are “born-again” Christians, according to Thom Rainier of the Billy Graham Center at Southwestern Baptist Seminary.)

--Largely inherited DNA of their parents
--Loyal and disciplined. Good team players.
--Change is difficult and they often feel like they’re defending the culture they built
--Tend to whine about change but prefer to work within the system. Sometimes called “Silents” because they didn’t protest anything.
--Like tradition because it feels stable and secure

(35% say they are “born-again” Christians)

--Inherited a world of rapid, dramatic change.
--A big group—76 million
--Economy moved from manufacturing to service oriented
--Experience focused. Gave us the sexual revolution and introduced the drug culture
--Competitive and driven to succeed. Initiated the 70 hour work week
--In work they’re often frustrated that younger groups don’t want to work as hard or long
--Saw the rise of the program church—lots of activity
--Realize that change is inevitable and most don’t resist too strongly
--Some divide this group into two camps: Early or “Woodstock,” ’46-’54 are known for their tough questions about life and social conscience ; and late or “Zoomers,” ’55-64 have a greater focus on self, not as interested in social causes.

Gen X’ers—1965-1983.
(Among a sub-category called Busters, ’65-76, 14% say they are “born-again” Christians.
Among the rest 4% say they are “born-again” Christians.)

--Relationally oriented. Like to spend time in small groups of friends
--Many opting for simpler lives, less materially oriented
--Marry later
--Bore easily
--Flexible and like independence
--Won’t stay with one job. May have six or sever careers. “I don’t work for the company. The company works for me.”
--Vote with their feet in work and church
-- Authenticity and relationships are important


--75 million of them, another large generation
--Don’t like institutions, want things to be high touch and have a personal feel
--Prefer to work and socialize in groups. Like group dating more than pairing off.
--Technologically literate!
--Respect authority more than Gen X but want a relationship those in leadership
--Want to change the world—“one person at a time,” not through an institution
--Service oriented
--Like what they have heard about Jesus but see the church as too much of an institution

Conclusion: Reaching each generation with the Good News require a distinct approach by the church

Questions to Consider (Small Groups)

1. Which generation are you in, and which of the above characteristics are most true of you?

2. How and when did you come to faith in Christ, and what impact did worship have on you leading up to coming to faith in Christ, and in your first few years as a Christian?

What was the music like?

How would you describe the preaching/teaching?

4. To which generations does our current worship appeal most?

5. How missional is KCC in the way we worship?

Hospitality—welcoming those outside the faith who are seeking

Cultural relevance—

· Use music and language that speaks to those not steeped in Christian faith tradition?
· Vary approach according to the generation we’re trying to reach

The Vision

Start a service and fellowship gathering at an alternate time—Saturday or Sunday night—aimed at people between 18 and 35 (generally Gen X’ers and Millenials) once a month for three months starting in October or November. (Right now we don’t have the people resources for every week.) Rob Seims, a Young Life Area Director, has been asked to be the speaker. Ruby Varghese of the KCC staff will begin coalescing a group of leaders and participants. Ruby’s hours have been increased to 40, with about 10 each week available to give to this project. Let Rob, Ruby and the leadership group they gather design the service, choose the music, and recruit the musicians. Neither Pastor Keith or Dan will be directly involved in leading the service. Rob and Ruby will maintain an accountability relationship with Keith, and Dan will be available as a music resource, if asked for help. After three services the Leadership Team will evaluate how it’s going and what to do next. Some possibilities are: Stay at once a month for a few more months; Increase the frequency to twice a month or more often; Discontinue if it doesn’t seem to be effective.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My First Blog--Sermon Point Three

Welcome to my first blog. People have been telling me for quite awhile that I need a blog. Here it is. I will use it to display information and to make comments about important events in the church and beyond. I'm going to start by posting the sermon point I didn't get to preach last Sunday (August 12th) due to time constraints. Here goes.

New Wine Needs New Wineskins

Luke 5:33-39

Point One: The Shift from Law to Grace
Point Two: The Shift from Modern to Postmodern

Point Three: The Shift from Churchianity to Christianity

A. In the modern era the church managed to hang on to its’ established place in the center of society. Most people went to church on Sunday. Businesses were closed on Sunday. Before the rise of public education churches taught most of the population how to read and write. Churches were the source of census information. They kept the birth and death records. Up until a few hundred years ago the church was vital to the functioning of everyday life in Western society. It was an institution. That’s all changed. Now church is an optional experience in the minds of people. Most unchurched people can’t imagine why they’d want to give up a weekend morning to spend at church when they could be out on the golf course, or camping, or hiking, or even grocery shopping. McNeal (in The Present Future:Six Tough Questions for the Church) says he likes to get church leadership teams into a popular restaurant on Sunday morning and then ask them, “now how many of the people you see got up this morning and said, ‘should I go to church or go out for breakfast?’” The answer is none. Going to church was no where on their radar screen. Why?

1. Because in the minds of a lot of people church is a club for people who look alike, talk alike, act alike, and vote alike. It’s a place where people go and put on a front, act like they’re better than they are, sing old music, talk in a religious language you can’t understand unless you’re one a club member. It’s a place where someone gets up, lectures everyone, and answers questions most people (outside of the club) aren’t even asking. (Post-modern’s don’t like being lectured or preached at. They do like interactive conversations about relevant subjects.)

2. The church in the New Testament was a movement. A movement with a message that changed lives, transformed whole communities, reflected the values of God, cared for the poor and the outcast. A movement where people who had failed in life were welcome and people whose lives were in turmoil could find hope and encouragement. A movement that offered people help and healing. It was a movement that took risks to reach people. A movement that depended day to day on the power of God.

3. I heard a great sermon last Sunday at Mars Hill, an emergent church. The pastor was talking about what happens to movements. Movements of God are sort of messy and chaotic and no one’s sure what’s going to happen next because God is in charge and He doesn’t reveal it ahead of time. The problem is, movements eventually become institutions. People think they need to get better organized and they want to hang on to all the great things they’ve accomplished, so they start to focus on knowing how many people are here, and how are we going to fund what we're doing, what are the membership procedures, and we need some better bylaws. That’s accompanied by a mentality of we can’t rock the boat or offend anyone or they might leave, and if too many leave what will happen to the funding and morale. Institutions are by nature change-resistant, which means they don’t want to take risks. They manage to hold their own for awhile, sometimes quite awhile, but they eventually move on the next phase. They become museums. Nothing can change. People talk about back in the 60’s, when God showed up, some great things happened. And weren’t those days wonderful! All the focus is on the past. And they ask why God isn’t doing powerful work now, when they’ve kept everything the same. Somewhere they lost track of the Bible verse that says, “See, I am doing something new.” And, “Sing to the Lord a New Song.”

4. McNeal says we have to de-convert from Churchianity and that means finding ways to become a movement again, to get comfortable with some chaos again, to welcome change again, to take some risks to reach people again, to get our eyes off of the past, and on to the present and the future. Amen.

I welcome your thoughts and responses.

--Pastor Keith