Pictures

A few pictures…

Lets start with some pictures i took the other night while walking around the neighborhood:

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Garnett Church of Christ runs a food pantry. Basically it is a distribution point for a big food bank in Tulsa. We get to help out sometimes unloading stuff and handing out food. We have a lot of fun with the church members that run it, and we usually get the hook up on some of the left over food.

All the food get sorted into bags to so that it is easy to pass out:

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The food pantry team:

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unloading the truck:

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giving thanks: 14

Today I am thankful for gentle reminders of God’s love.

These 2 quotes are ones I’ve been thinking about lately. They are from some of our reading materials from last month when we studied our Identity.

“…God wants me to be with him and not do all sorts of things to prove I’m valuable.  My life has been doing, doing, doing.  I’m a driven person, wanting to do thousands and thousands of things so that I can show—somehow, finally—that I’m worthwhile.”
Henri Nouwen – Spiritual Direction

“Nobody has to clean up his act in order to be forgiven or loved; all anybody has to do is believe (trust, have faith) that he’s home free already, and then enjoy the forgiveness he’s had all along by passing it on to everybody he runs into.”
Robert Capon – The Mystery of Christ
Thoughts?

Another idea for churches

Im reading a short history of the church we work at. It’s interesting stuff. Here is something interesting:

Can you imagine if churches across the country began opening the doors of their empty facilities and inviting the community to come in and do business, celebrate family events, hold seminars, or take advantage of a host of social services?  Imagine how it would change the perception of the church in the eyes of the community.  And imagine how it would force congregations to wrestle with what it means to be the church, and what it means to be Christ to the world.  It could even change the way church buildings are designed.  Rather than spending money on padded pews or stained glass windows, churches might install loading docks or even service bays used by an oil change business during the day and a repair service for the elderly at night.  It could change the way we deal with congregations located in aging communities.  We are called to feed the hungry and take care of the widows, the orphans, and the poor.  But many times, just as a neighborhood begins to need the healing touch of the church, the church takes it’s money and moves to the suburbs.  Imagine the resources that can be injected into an aging community when the local congregation becomes a business center, a mission point for wealthier congregations, and a gathering place for a wide range of people with a wide range of needs.

Another interesting line:

Many of you will remember our motto “We want to be the best friend this community has ever had”.

Those are amazing ideas to me. If we are called to love no matter what, then why can’t our church buildings be part of loving? How awesome is it that for a family in one of their greatest times of grief the place that served them was a church that is just a part of the community, no strings attached (well, there were some strings, they had to rent the space, but that is part of the deal, if your going to open your doors in a sustainable manner then somebody has to fund it in a sustainable way). And how awesome is it that I got to be a part of serving them.  There are churches doing this kind of stuff, it’s not unique to this place. And I don’t really think every church in the world needs to do this exact same thing (if anything there is not a big enough market). But what if every church just threw away the conventions and destroyed the box…and was bold enough to take the risk to do something truly new.

why not? To scary? To uncomfortable? Will it make to many people mad?

An idea for churches

I have talked to a lot of people during the last few week who have told me about the dechurced of tulsa…basically 20 somethings that have grown up in the church and left. There are a lot of issues around this of course, but for now im thinking about the church structures that make this happen. Part of this problem can be seen at Garnett Church of Christ. The church is great for families, but when it comes to 20 somethings not as much. Basically college students and 20 somethings dont have a great place to fit. Now…I have to say that overall I think there is a need for churches to have structures that make it so that everybody of every generation is plugged into real communities, and I think that ideally these communities should span generations. I have something to learn from people who have lived a bit more life then me. But I also recognize that sometimes what a 26 year old needs is not the same as a 45 year old with 3 kids.

Here is the next interesting part: In the last 2 weeks I have talked to 3 people staring churches for 20 somethings in Tulsa. One of the challenges of these churches is that they grow up. Eventually all there people get married and have kids, then they have the 20 something gap again.

Next interesting part: The Green Country Event Center is the location for 3 or so churches, including Garnett Church of Christ, and Doxa, one of the new churches for 20 somethings, are 2 of the 3.

Here is my random idea: what if churches stared adopting a model of always having a bunch of churches in one building. Kind of a church co-op. There could be some shared resources, but the bigger thing would be to create a culture of one body. So, if your family goes to the great family church but you are 23 you can go to the young hip church across the hall. Or somebody who goes to the young hip church and has a baby can put the baby in the childrens program at the great family church. I know this sounds like it would be like a big church that has several services for different demographics, but I think it is different. Garnett Church of Christ has its history and DNA. It will never be able to be Doxa. The mindset that forms Doxa is completely different. It would also be really cool if there was a really wide range of churches. What if a Catholic Church, A Bible Church, a Baptist Church, a young hip church, an Assembly of God church and 4 or 5 others for spice were all working together and learning how to share space, resources, and work together, it might go a long way towards helping people get over some denominational silliness.

Next Day Update ——————————

I have been thinking about this some. I still think this is an interesting idea. I think that sharing some resources and churches bumping up against each other all the time would be a good thing. Doing joint ministry would be even better. But I think that this: “I have to say that overall I think there is a need for churches to have structures that make it so that everybody of every generation is plugged into real communities, and I think that ideally these communities should span generations” is more important than I gave it credit for. One of the things I really appreciate about the church I grew up in was that it spanned generations. I learned a lot from hanging out with old people! So, creating a church community that somehow connects generations seems like a really good thing. It seems like there are 2 big things that it takes to do this: 1) My generation needs to get over its pickyness, need to be entertained and  aversion to all things traditional. 2) The generations above us have to be open to new things, new styles of leadership and new types of community.

Reflections on a weekend

I spent my first weekend hosting at the events center, it was a good (if long) weekend. Mostly I ran sound for 2 events, the first was a funeral. The lady who died was Hmong, which is an ethnic group who migrated to the United Stats from southeast Asia. The Hmong have a tradition of a very family centered funeral that spans 4 days. This seems long…but when you consider it is a family reunion rolled up into a funeral its not that long. I have to say though…mixing for a service that is several hours long and nothing is in English can be a bit tedious after a while.  That said, I appreciated being able to be an observer, and get to see a part of Hmong culture. The Hmong seem to be a very warm and inviting people, and I’m excited to get to learn about their way of life.

The other thing I hosted was a graduation, which was simple from a hosting stand point. The school is a college focused on people who already have families, kids and jobs who are looking to move into new jobs, mostly medical and office professionals. It was cool to see a lot of people who have gone through a lot to graduate. I think they probably appreciate there own accomplishment a lot more then those of us that did college right out of high school before we had families.

So, good weekend…

My week

Part of my week is spent working for the event center hosting groups….keep that in mind. Here we go.

wednesday – check engine light comes on in car

thursday (day off) – take half a day off.  get flat tire. eat chili.

friday – fix flat tire. host funeral (just as an aside…i have mixed audio in some relatively stressful situations. This one topped them all and all it was was one mic and a cd player. Why? none of the funeral is in English, so i have no idea what is going on)  at the church. After funeral push coffin to counting room. lock counting room.

saturday – put coffin back out into church for funeral (its a long funeral). Move coffin back into counting room for college graduation. watch lady almost tip her wheelchair off stage. coffin back into church for more funeral. drop big bouquet of flowers on floor. fix flowers. put coffin away. close building. go home. write blog post.  eat leftovers. go to bed.

Beths weekend: sleep until 10, buy phone, watch tv, go hiking, eat dinner, homework, facebook.

Let’s Dig a Well

Today was fun, we helped drill a well in the front yard of the church. Really. We did.

There is an organization called water4.org They are developing low cost, hand powered drilling methods to use in the developing world. The goal is to find ways to help provide clean water to the billion or so people who do not have access to clean water.

They came to do a demo of a new technique they are working on, so we all spent the day outside drilling. There were three basic techniques they are working on:

First is a basic auger. You just turn it around for a while and pull it out to get all the dirt out:

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The second one is a bit more complicated. It uses this bit:

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The brass valve on the left is one way. The basic idea is that you put water down the hole you are drilling and pound with the bit into the ground. The valve makes it so every time you pound the bottom of the hole water/dirt/sand/rock slurry is pushed up the pipe and is ejected from the top. The whole thing gets really heavy the deeper you go (you have to keep adding pipe), so you make is so a team can lift the whole thing out of the ground:

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Last technique. This one basically uses a pile driver on the end of a rope. The driver is made of two cylinders, one inside the other that slide.  Here it is:

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You attach one of several scary looking bits to the end…

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…and drop the whole thing in the hole, and use the rope to pull the top half up a few feet, and drop it on the bottom half which drives the bit into the ground.

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Every now and then you pull the whole thing up and the bit pulls out all of the dirt it has cut through.

They are also developing a pump to put into the well once it is done:

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It is made almost entirely out of PVC, so it is inexpensive, durable, and made form readily available materials. It reminds me a lot of a pump that Cliff from the Institute for Biblical Community Development at JBU demoed during a Perspectives class I was in.

It was a good day…we got to meet several people doing really cool ministry around the world, see some new technology that is going to make a real impact in bringing fresh water to people, and hear how God is being glorified through all of this.

One of the great things about being in this CQMissional program is that we are going to get to experience a lot of stuff and get to reflect on it. So, how about some reflection…

The big cool thing to see in all of this is how God brought the right people together to form 4water.org. It’s a cool story about people realizing what God has for them and stepping out in faith to see what God will do.

Another thing I was thinking about all day was that it is interesting to think about how one technology fits into the overall picture of poverty reduction and wealth creation in the developing world. It’s one thing for a group of people to go to a village with this stuff, dig a well, and leave. It’s a whole new thing if you take this technology and invest in people who can turn it into a local business. Suddenly you are doing economic development, creating experts, solving problems…the effects can go beyond water. Something I am learning about myself is that I think that stuff like a new drill is cool, but I get excited about seeing how it fits into  the whole picture…how it can be one piece of a big puzzle.

Last thing is my little marketing mindset always kicks in…it would be interesting if somebody started building a big community of people doing water projects, sort of like www.akvo.org but bigger. They could get churches, schools, camps and other groups all over the world to drill wells in their yards as tests. It would be a cool way to raise awareness and test lots of technologies, everybody could give feedback, collaborate,  and post improvements…open source for the water set, like Make or Open Source Beer. Just some thoughts. (all of water4.orgs stuff is open source and public domain…they want people to use it)

Ok, long post, time for bed.

First week…

We have kind of been out of internet touch this week…sorry for the lack of updates! Hopefully we will get our internet stuff sorted out this week and can post more!

Our first week was really good! We have been meeting lots of new people (which is honestly exhausting for me!), mostly at the church where we will be working. There are two big things we have been doing, first is staring the academic side of what we are doing, we went through some introduction stuff to what we will be talking about, and we have a big stack of books to read. I’m really excited out getting into the books soon, to start examining some new ideas.

We have also been talking to the church staff starting to figure out some ideas about what our projects will be. Most of the next month will be spent figuring out how we can most effectively get plugged in and impact the community we are part of now.

That’s the short update…we will start posting some specifics this week if we get our internet connection worked out. We will have plenty to write about!

Some details about CQMissional…and such.

Im working on an email to send out giving people some more details about CQMissional and our move…you get to see it here first….

We thought we would send out one last email before we move, giving you a few more details about what we will be doing…and some specific things we would love for you to be praying for.

As you know we will be participants in a new program called the Certificate in Missional Leadership. We want to try and give a good idea of what that really is, so here it goes (oh, if the pictures are small on your monitor just click on them, you will get a big version)…

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So, that is what we will be doing. For 10 months we will be studying, be mentored, and getting hands on ministry experience.

Next slide…

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We are the participants, CWMissional does the academic, coaching, and housing part (as well as facilitating the whole thing) the Ministry site is Garnett Church of Christ which runs the Green Country Events Center:

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Garnett Church is doing some really cool ministry by serving their community and reaching out to other organizations. But there is of course a reason for it all:

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So, the idea is that by serving people, building connections, and making sustainable impact God will be glorified and people will come to know Jesus Christ. This could happen through building relationships, people coming to and coming to trust the church…there are lots of ways that this could happen. For example:

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This is a real story! But see that stuff in the dreamy cloud? It has not happened yet. But someday it could, and it could have a huge impact on the Hmong community in Tulsa.

We will spend the majority of our time working at the church. Part of the point of all of this is to experience lots of things, so we don’t know yet exactly what we will be doing, but there are lots of possibilites:

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And of course one of the big questions is why? Why do we want to go do this? And of course we have a nice picture:

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Part of this is for us…it is a way for us to be equipped, challenged, and prepared for ministry. A big part of this is for CQMissional. We want to help establish the ministry that they have. We think it can impact a lot of people in the coming years and we want to be a part of that. And a big part of why we are going is that we want to continue impacting people for God’s glory.

So, that’s it! This is what we will be doing!

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There are a few more things we want to mention:

We are still in the process of raising money to help pay for all of this. (see this post on our blog for more info). If you would like to help support us financially just give us a call or shoot us an email and we would love to talk to you about that. Or you can download this pdf with some more info in it.

We will be moving to Tulsa on September 26, and the program officially starts on the 28th. If you want to help us move we would love the help!

We still have our cell pone, so that is the number to call if you want to talk to us.

We also have new email addresses im scared of spam, so let us know if you want them. Our NLR addresses will keep working for a while. Same thing with our new mailing address.

Some things to pray for.

We want to be open to what God has for us to learn. As we study, meet people, and serve the community around us we want to have receptive hearts and minds.

We want to embrace new and uncomfortable things as we serve people. Pray that we will not let ourselves get in the way of serving others.

Our friends are generous, and we have already raised about a 1/3 of our tuition, which is amazing!

Pray for New Life Ranch as they transition our positions to new people. The Ranch will be fine without us, but we want the transition to be smooth.

That’s it! We will send out a few emails in the coming year to update people on what we are up to, but mostly we will be posting to our blog http://www.benandbethwest.com. Thanks for reading our story and being a part of our lives!