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Eric Strader
Denver, CO
A preacher who tries to believe and share God in the joy and in the tension of life.
Recent Activity
Describe the nature and mission of the Church. What are its primary tasks today? These are my responses to the Discipline questions relating to our topic of mission as I answered them to the board of ministry. I found them relevant to reread during this class. The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. For me, the primary task here is to transform the world, to bring about the radical loving Kingdom of God into existence. The local church is both our starting point for understanding the salvation... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2010 at Always Believing
Marcus, Thanks for your comments. Why does unity have to be the greatest concerns? Maybe we need to recognize our heritage of splitting as necessary for unity. Can there be unity in separation, or unity within disunity? How does orthodox theology affect membership? Especially in light of the the three reasons research finds on why people leave churches: 1) Church stance on homosexuality. 2) Hypocritical nature of Christians 3) Relevance within the world. To me, these three seem to be in direct tension with an orthodox theology. To me, the research tells us to do something different. Not sure I know what that is........ Thanks for the dialogue. I do enjoy it!
Toggle Commented May 14, 2010 on UNITY IN EVANGELISM at Always Believing
DESPERATION OR GENIUS I have a solitaire program on my phone. When I find my self-having to be patience, or getting fidgety, I play solitaire. It helps calm me and relax. Well, this particular program has advertisements running on the bottom of the screen. Usually for other computer games but this one caught my eye and made me think about how evangelism is done via the internet. The ad: 4 Steps to God. I clicked on it, to see what the 4 steps were. Step 1. God loves you. Step 2. You are a sinner and sin separates us from... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2010 at Always Believing
“Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.” One of the lectionary texts a couple of weeks ago was 1 Corinthians 10. In this text, Paul is admonishing the Corinthians for having disagreement among them. But, can we truly be unified of the same mind and the same purpose, especially around theological issues and an understanding of evangelism? From the very beginning Christianity has had a relationship with tension, conflict and disagreement. Do you follow Peter or Paul? Do you believe in an evangelism based on saving souls or do you believing that evangelism is honoring the God presence in the other? How do we find a coherent mission and an agreed upon outreach? I’ve been reading my fellow classmates understandings of evangelism and the mission of Jesus Christ. And I totally disagree with some of them, which is why I love this class. We find ourselves when we engage difference, it only strengths our beliefs while challenging us to think critically. While this is fun in a classroom setting, I am concerned how it impacts the larger structures and doctrines of the church. Does division eventually lead to denominational splits? With the impact of the change in global membership within the UMC, are we headed towards a split? Where is the good news in this? I find this disconcerting because we need to not be so divided. We need to find some cohesion within this movement called Methodism. The continued divisions only enhance people’s perception of the hypocrisy of Christianity and our numbers are dwindling. We have lost 6.2 million members since 1969*. That is 151,000 members each year, 2900 members per week and 413 members per day. Division only invites people to leave, “if the Christians can’t get along, what does that day!” What is Paul saying? I think we need united in the same purpose. I’m just not sure, “making disciple of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” is it. What if we just transform the world? What if we lived as Christ has called us to live? What will happen if people see Christians, acting….well like they should, like Christ. Would this be enough for a revival? Or, is it making Christianity even more legalistic and a moralistic law? Here’s to the good news, however we define it! * These numbers are based on the 2007 UM census. Real Loss is based on population increase from the census if UM membership had stayed at a constant 5.3% of total US population. But, it has not and this makes the loss greater than actual loss of membership. Our actual membership loss from 1970 to 200 was 2.3 million members. Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2010 at Always Believing
What is the purpose of blogging in ministry? As Cathie said recently, “What makes for an effective blog? Are sermons and blogs different in their shape, movement, length, ...? Is the good news kind of like an advertisement, in that the venue may change (print, TV, net, etc) and yet the intent and content does not? Or is there a different message in itself that is one manifestation of good news, different for each kind of sharing (f2f, worship, over coffee, over Facebook or twitter or...)?” I’ve found my self questioning the purpose of Facebook and blogging and twitter. Am I doing these things for my own self-gratification? Or, is there an underlying evangelistic reason for posting sermons and thoughts? Are they available for people who are not in our daily lives to connect with us? Or, are they just continuing a systematic oppression of Christian evangelism? Does tweeting where I see the spirit really impact anyone? I had a friend who responded, “I’m getting tired of the posts about the spirit, can you stop?” Another said, “Every time you say spirit I’m going to say penis.” A fun take on the teenage ritual of the penis game, but reduces the intention to a funny name. Does twitting have an opposite effect when focusing on religious content? Is a more effective evangelistic tool to be real with the online communities? Real with our lives. Real with our faults. Real with our radical beliefs. This is especially relevant when people have the ability to create who they want to be in cyber world rather than reflect who they truly are. The Spirit flows into others when we are real, because people want truth and honesty, not a presumed holier-than-thou perspective. Maybe this is why I post my sermons, so they will be seen as an honest struggle with Biblical texts, theological constructs, and a progressive view of living the Christian faith. Are my tweets real or are they simply doing the assignment? Something to ponder… I’ve always thought the best evangelism is done when a relationship exists. Which begs the question, what relationship exists via the internet? Is it authentic? Can touch be incorporated into it (as I think touch is vital to a relationship just as Christ physically was touching people)? In a world where social media can be isolating, it is important to build relationships and not wall ourselves off from the world of reality. George Lucas, was quoted in an interview saying that Luke Skywalker must learn “not to rely on pure logic, not to rely on computers, but to rely on faith. That is what that ‘Use the Force’ is, a leap of faith. There are mysteries and powers larger than we are, and you have to trust your feelings in order to access them.” (Time, April 26, 99). Yes, technology is great but it is no replacement for relationships. A mouse is fantastic but it does not replace the handshake or the passing of the peace. A keyboard can seen essential but it cannot replace a heart touched by an encounter with the Holy. May we all have faith to recognize the role and purpose of technology in our ministries! Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2010 at Always Believing
Video poking some fun at how we understand evangelsim. http://www.highwayvideo.com/Evangelism-P838.aspx Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2010 at Always Believing
A STRUGGLE WITH GOOD NEWS I am waiting for an appointment. My wife was notified of her appointment almost two months ago. I am still waiting. While this wait is probably healthy for me, I experience the stress of searching for employment in a debilitated economy, I learn some valuable spiritual disciplines to cope with stress and anxiety, I will, in the end, be given an appointment. Our class assignment is to blog where we see the good news of Jesus Christ. Some days, this is hard. So, what is so good about the good news that we would want... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2010 at Always Believing
CONVERSION SERMON 4-18-10 What Was Your Blinding Light? Acts 9:1-20 Opening How many songs have been written about the light that opens our eyes to new possibilities? By Bruce Springsteen as recorded by Manfried Mann’s Earth Band Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night By Ace of Base I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes I saw the sign Life is demanding without understanding I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes I saw the sign No one's gonna drag you up to get into the light where... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2010 at Always Believing
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CHANGE IS GOOD NEWS! I spent 7 hours yesterday with a group of United Methodist Reconcilers who are working to change the church, to make it more inclusive specifically around issues of gender and sexual identity. The Pacific North West Conference, PNW, had 45 participants, which included allies, straights, gays, lesbians, parents and transgendered people. We were there to learn how to organize our churches to increase the movement, to give hope for membership and ordination for LGBT peoples. I am a National Trainer for the Reconciling Ministries Network. I was mindful of several things for concisderation in the continuation... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2010 at Always Believing
EASTER REFLECTION It is Monday evening and I think I know what Jesus must have felt. Resurrection is exhausting. Yet, it was a glorious day with love given freely and a community offering the hope of acceptance. I will never forget how the church responded to the "other" in our midst this Sunday. Almost every visitor had a name-tag. During the service, we served communion. My communion practice is to offer the gifts of new life from God by saying each person's name. When we hear our name evoked we are given a sense of being called God's beloved. One... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2010 at Always Believing
"If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men--you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead." — Thomas Merton (Seeds of Contemplation) Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2010 at Always Believing
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Jan 4, 2010