Wednesday, October 8, 2014

In Defense of "Maintenance Ministry"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_Maintenance_Battalion
When a non-Lutheran Christian says "once-saved, always-saved," they're saying that once you become a Christian, you will never lose your saving faith. So if you are baptized or you accept Jesus in your heart, pray the sinner's prayer, or however it is they think it is that you become a Christian, no matter what you think or say or do after that point, your eternal destination is locked in and guaranteed.

Lutherans don't confess the idea of "once-saved, always-saved" because we understand that a Christian is able to renounce the faith. A child of God can choose to disown his family and reject his inheritance. Related to this, the Good News (evangel, Gospel) isn't just for the unbeliever who has been condemned by the Law, but the Good News is also for the Christian. The Christian continues to need to hear and receive the Good News, the Gospel, the Evangel, on a regular basis. Law and Gospel happens daily in the life of the Christian and at least weekly in the life of the Church. You never get away from it. Law and Gospel is not a one and done thing where you find a lost person, convict them with the Law, and then proclaim the Gospel to them, then they're a Christian and they focus on being a better Christian and converting others the same way.

We are sheep. Congregations are flocks, and pastors are shepherds (or undershepherds). Shepherds tend to the flocks. They protect and take care of the sheep. That's not to say that our pastors shouldn't be saying or doing anything to find lost sheep or to bring new sheep into the fold, but they shouldn't be doing so if they are neglecting their duty to the sheep that God has already entrusted to their care. Reach out to the lost without neglecting the flock.

Let's use a business parable. A man has a nice supper club (that's a restaurant for you non-Wisconsinites). Sales are alright but not off the charts. He doesn't have the fire marshal closing him down because he's over capacity, but business is going well enough. He has a good menu, good staff, a good customer base. It's all good. He has his regular customers and they keep coming back for more of the goods. Would he like more customers? Sure. He wouldn't turn anyone away, but his plate is pretty full, so to speak. 


What happens if our restaurateur stops focusing on keeping the business up and running and focuses on acquiring new customers? Maybe the business will grow in the short term, but disaster looms in the future: the regulars will stop showing up and the new customers won't stay. Why? He stopped delivering the goods. The goods are why the regulars kept coming back.

Another analogy. Some sort of medical doctor. A doctor can only serve so many patients. If he tries to serve too many patients, the quality of his entire practice suffers. You can't take on more patients when you're not taking care of the patients you already have. 

Whether a restaurant or a health care practice or the church, your focus isn't to bring more people in, your focus is the ongoing care of your regulars. This is maintenance. You maintain high standards. You maintain your focus where it belongs. You can do other things, but not at the expense of taking care of that which is already infront of you. Don't neglect your patients, don't neglect your regulars, don't neglect your sheep. Patients have ongoing need to see their practicioner, regulars get hungry three times a day (even if they don't always eat at your restaurant), and parishioners have ongoing needs that can only be met by God in His Divine Service on a regular basis. Parish ministry IS maintenance ministry.

Some use the term "maintenance ministry" as a pejorative. It means neglecting or hating the lost, the "unchurched," the non-Germanic, etc. It means that your church is a museum to the "old, dying" way of "doing church." If you're in maintenance ministry, you're part of the dying orthodoxy instead of the vibrant and exciting cutting-edge outreach methods or whatever. You're just defending the status quo, and the status quo is NEVER good enough!

Well, sorry, but if you're a pastor and you're not doing "maintenance ministry" as I described it (not the pejorative way) then you're not doing your job.

I'm not married to any outreach model, but I lean toward an uncomplicated plan: pastors take care of their people by preaching the Law in all its sternness and the Gospel in all its sweetness, faithfully administer the Means of Grace, the people receive God's gifts on a regular basis, and as opportunity arises, the people (in their various vocations serving their neighbors) spread the word about God at work in the Word and Sacrament ministry in this place. Pastors, give the gifts, people, receive the gifts, and the church will grow when and where it pleases God (despite our best efforts).

I'm just thinking that the pastor who makes a concerted effort to minister to the church in a Law and Gospel way will find that doing so will take up the lion's share of his time and effort (when he's not spending time with his family or pursuing avocations). And that's not a bad thing.

Final note: I'm not advocating non-evangelism evangelism, either. That's nothing more than trying really hard to look like you're not trying to "do evangelism." That's just stupid.

P.S. - What happens when you don't maintain your car? What happens when you don't maintain your firearms? What happens when you don't maintain your teeth? What happens when you don't maintain your retirement savings account? What happens when you don't maintain your lawn? What happens when you don't maintain good habits?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I'm Still Here

I haven't forgotten about this blog. I actually think about it quite a bit, but just haven't been putting pen to paper, so to speak. 2014 has been a year of change, more change than I had originally planned for. I should have another blog post within the next week or two.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy New Year!

Well, maybe a little early. But the new church year begins on December 1 with the First Sunday of Advent!

My writing has been dormant for a while now, and not just on this blog. I haven't even been writing for the church newsletter! It's pretty bad, you guys.

Anyway, it's time to breathe some life into this blog again, and I've had a few things on my mind lately. Some of those things will find their way onto this blog.

One little gem I've had in the back of my mind is a quote from John Jantsch which he shared on an episode of Kitchen Table Talk (the 13:20 mark of this episode): "If we manage our energy, we don't have to worry about managing time" and Chris Brogan distilled it to "Don't manage time, manage energy." Everyone is worried about time management, but I think energy management makes more sense. He explained it in greater detail here.

As I've been thinking about how I spend my time or my energy, I've noticed some themes have emerge over the last ten months or so, mainly that I commit almost all of my energy into the following four channels: my family, education, the church, and martial arts. Just about anything I do falls under one or more of these categories, emphasis on "or more" because sometimes there is substantial overlap. These are not four separate departments or divisions. So don't be surprised when my blog posts going forward include one (or more) of those four labels.

The fact that it is four channels is also screaming at me because of a book sitting on a shelf that I've been actively avoiding for too long. It's one of those things that I've kept putting off because the conditions weren't perfect, the timing wasn't right, or whatever. It's Seth Godin's updated and simplified version of Zig Ziglar's Legendary Goals Program. Seth calls it Pick Four. I received it as a gift from Rev. Tom Eggebrecht.

I also want to give a shout out to Gary Vaynerchuk, because his newly released book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook helped me find the desire to make a concerted effort to find my voice again in social media (I've been pretty hit or miss over the last six years or so). I've been reading it the past couple of days in the car (I have a long commute to my "day job" so I have a lot of time to "read" while I drive).

So this blog post is my way of saying I'm back. I hope that you find what I share here to be helpful, valuable, and if nothing else, entertaining.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Schroeder Diet. No Worms.

One of the things some Lutherans like to discuss on blogs and social networks is their diets. Each one says "I follow Paleo," or "I follow Primal," or "I follow Shakeology," still another "I follow Rachael Ray."

I follow four diets. Well, not really, but my diet is heavily influenced by four different sources, and there is a healthy chunk of overlap between them. Here they are:
The Slow Carb Diet doesn't allow bread (unless it's cheat day) but I allow myself special dispensations for the Renergy Sandwich 2.0:


Quinoa is also not technically allowed on the Slow Carb Diet, but I allow it under the bean / legume umbrella (my main two are lentils and black beans). Darya likes quinoa, so that makes it ok.

One thing that I started incorporating into my diet this year is hemp. Shelled hemp seeds, hemp oil, and hemp protein shakes (even though Dolce doesn't like protein shakes). I am pretty much dedicated to the Nutiva brand (I also really like their coconut oil).

Something else I started doing last year or this year is chia seeds. I mostly just put them in water and drink it. I usually get my chia seeds from Nutiva.

My main greens are probably baby spinach and kale.

I almost never drink soft drinks (Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola? how about they're both garbage), and the Slow Carb Diet says not to drink calories (except a glass of red wine in the evening), but my one exception is coconut water, which is claimed by some to be nature's sports drink. If it's good enough for the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu family, it's good enough for me for my martial arts. I go back and forth between four brands: O.N.E., Naked, ZICO, and Vita Coco.

Do I use supplements? Yeah, a few. When I'm feeling rich.

Daily multivitamin. I could do this online, but I came across a great shop a while back via Groupon. It's an independent local store called Apple Wellness. I get whatever daily multi jumps out at me after I've run out of whatever I was using. Sometimes I even shop there without using a Groupon!

I also like to get a month's supply of probiotics from Apple Wellness every once in a while, although taking them every day each month would be ideal.

The Slow Carb Diet calls for supplementing three things: calcium, magnesium, and potassium. But I don't go out of my way to supplement these because I should be getting sufficient supply of them from my diet (some which comply with SCD, some don't).

Otherwise there are two supplements I like from time to time for natural performance enhancement come from a company called Onnit. One is Alpha Brain and the other is Shroom Tech Sport. So for those of you keeping score at home, I'm taking hemp and Cordyceps Sinensis mushrooms to advance my athletic pursuits (not to be confused with marijuana and Psilocybins). What's that? Smoke a telephone pole? Challenge accepted.


In addition to the Four Hour Chef, you'll also want to check out the Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.

Mike Dolce also has The Dolce Diet: Living Lean which covers food, but also exercise and other lifestyle choices (he's a top-tier fitness and nutrition trainer for MMA fighters). He also has some holiday recipes for Valentine's Day and Christmas. The holiday titles are less than $5 for the pair in kindle format.

Sorry about the Diet of Worms reference in the title of this blog post.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Kindle Titles On Sale This Month, February 2013

Every month, Amazon.com has a list of 100 titles available in the kindle format on sale for $3.99 or less. Here are the ones that jumped out at me this morning (all aff links):

Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina. I own his book Brain Rules and I've checked out Brain Rules for Baby from the library before. At this price, I don't mind buying it and having it always on hand for reference. Medina adheres to the theory of evolution, but the advice he dispenses is based on replicable scientific studies. (For example, if he says the human body is designed to run 12 miles every day, even though this is his evolutionary belief, he has studies that can be repeated to back it up.) One of the points he likes to make is that there are no credible studies to support the notion that those womb sound machines have any beneficial effects for the unborn baby, so this book isn't just what to do with your child, but what NOT to do or what NOT to waste your time or money on.

Churchill : The Unexpected Hero by Paul Addison. I'm not a Winston Churchill fanatic, but I want to know much more about him than I do currently. Some speculate that he was dyslexic and/or had ADHD. This book is 300+ pages, so it's not going to be a fluffy overly-brief and generalized biography.

Remember, you don't need to own an Amazon kindle in order to read kindle books. You can download a kindle app for your PC, laptop, Mac, BlackBerry, Android, iPhone or iPod Touch and so forth. Just click here: free Amazon kindle reading apps. You could also buy a kindle, and if you just want a kindle for reading books, I recommend the Paperwhite (with which I will most likely replace my current kindle Touch):
 

UPDATE: Actually, I will NOT be replacing my current kindle with the paperwhite because my kindle has text-to-speech, and the paperwhite lacks this feature. So if you want text-to-speech, you pretty much need to buy a Kindle Fire.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012