Friday, December 27, 2013

Broken Windows, Kmart and the Church... does the small stuff matter to anyone?

I went to Kmart recently because I needed to pick up something and I knew, since it was early morning, that I could get it done quick.  Walking up to the doors, I wondered if I was there too early because they were not opening.  I was standing there like a fool waiting for them to slide open when it hit me.  This Kmart, and I’m guessing many like it, do not have automatic doors.

Kmart was a pretty popular shopping option in the 60’s and 70’s.  My dad loved the place because they had a little of everything and the prices were good.  I bought many a Christmas gift from them over the years, including more than a few fishing lures.

Then something happened.  

Kmart became passe and started having serious financial problems.  It was as if with the introduction of Target and the growth of Walmart, there was no need for Kmart.  I wonder though, if it was something else.  Maybe Kmart forgot about the small stuff.

Bill Bratton who was recently rehired to be the Commissioner of Police for New York City calls it the “broken windows theory.”  This theory, developed by James Wilson and George Kelling, and which Bratton used to knock down crime in NYC says that you need to address stuff like broken windows on abandoned buildings and crummy sidewalks as soon as you can, otherwise they “advertise” that the area is open to crime.  In a nutshell, if a neglected area continues to be neglected, serious crime and problems will follow.

I think what Bratton understood was that the small stuff matters.

We can neglect the seemingly small things, but if we do, perhaps, like Kmart, we are in danger of some serious issues coming forward. 

Recently I was in a church and someone brought a box of candy to share with the congregation.  It was a great gesture and I’m sure not many people thought much about it, but it struck me.  I think because the candy was my grandfathers favorite candy.  It was tasty and wonderful, but it was candy from another generation.  Actually, it was candy from a few generations ago.  Again, it was my grandfather’s favorite candy!

I bring this up because I think church and churches are in danger of becoming like Kmart, passe.  Sadly, I believe we are part of the problem.

For a variety of reasons, many in the church refuse to acknowledge that society is changing daily and with it, people’s felt needs for things physical, emotional and spiritual.  Much like Kmart and abandoned buildings, our churches are becoming monuments of manual open doors, broken windows and dated candies.  Worse, we wear this reality as a badge of honor, longing nostalgically for the old days when we believed life was simpler and you didn’t have to worry about this stuff.

Unless and until we adopt a Bill Bratton attitude that says the small stuff matters, the church is going to struggle to attract new blood.  Oh, we’ll still get the underchurched, an invented word used to describe those people that have sort of an inherited history with us, but the secularists or the non believers?  Those folks will move on, in a sense to do their shopping at gleaming new Targets with automatic open doors and places like Amazon where you get what you want in seconds without having to deal with nostalgia or dated candies.

There are no broken windows in their world.  Why do we tolerate them in ours?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dear Santa... From Adventures in Life Ministry

Dear Santa, whatever you can do to make this list a reality for Adventures in Life Ministry would really be appreciated.  I know you're busy and everything, but who isn't these days.

Anyways, I've tried to be brief and give you some pictures to make it easier to understand.

1. A Few "More" Good Men... no, not the movie... we need a few more men for our Annual Oaxaca Men's Ministry, February 1 - 8, 2014.  We've got a roof to put up, a solar pump system to install, and a host of small electrical and plumbing projects to complete.  If you can help, and would like to join the bunch of guys pictured here, drop us a line ASAP!

2. An Eye Doctor in the House! Our Spring Medical Ministry, March 22 - 29 desperately needs an eye doctor or optician on the team.  Maybe you are the person that can help us round out this local church based ministry.  We pray with, treat, and really get to know the people we serve in the communities of San Pablo Guila, San Baltazar Guelavila, San Idelfonso Amatlan and San Pedro Amatlan.  Get in touch with us now to be part of this ministry.

3. A glass of fresh water... $100.00 will give a family a Sawyer Water Filter that will provide years of clean drinkable water.  This can literally be a life saver for a family that cannot afford to buy purified water.

4. Solar Panels for our ranch south of Oaxaca City... We need an additional four 245 watt panels [just like the ones in the picture] to install our solar pump for our well.  Your donation to this could make sure that AIL and Pastor Chable have the water available for our continued camp and agricultural ministries in this area.

5.  Send a kid to camp!  Want to make sure a child or teenager gets a chance to hear the Gospel at camp?  The cost is $100.00 for each person you want to send.  Want to sponsor the entire camp?  Only $7000.00 for between 50 and 100 kids.  Look at the faces below... you can help make it happen!

6. A new computer for AIL Ministry... here's the deal.  Our office computer is on its last legs.  It is from 2002, has a Celeron processor running XP and a paltry 1 gig of RAM.  Maybe you can bring us up to date.  We're looking at about $1500.00.

So Santa, that's about it this year.  Some big dreams, a few small ones and lots of ways to support our work and mission in Oaxaca, Ensenada and Guadalajara, Mexico. Here's a link to give directly to AIL online, or, if you want to mail a check, here's the address...

Adventures in Life Ministry
3243 East Warm Springs Road
Las Vegas, Nevada 89120

Merry Christmas to you and yours and have a blessed New Years!