Tag Archives: Lakeland Church

Christmas Eve

Every year for almost the last decade, Wendy, Mark and I have driven to Spiritwood for the Christmas Eve service. It was a fun drive up there but a long one back (if we had hit anything, we wouldn’t have been found until probably Boxing Day) in the middle of the night.

This year we thought long and hard about going to one of the downtown cathedrals to celebrate Christmas but after thinking it through, it felt like we were being ecclessial tourists. Instead Wendy and I are coming to help out at the coffee that New Hope Community Church puts on at the Salvation Army Community Centre. The church is in the building here and while it normally offers up some soup and sandwiches on a Sunday night free for the community, on Christmas Eve they are doing a special candlelight service and coffee house.

Wendy and I are just going to clean and help out in anyway that they need us to but we are looking forward to it. It should be a nice night.

Finally

Curtis Dagenais turns himself in and will likely spend the next 25 years in jail for the murder of two Spiritwood RCMP officers. Hopefully healing can begin and life can slowly return to normal for some members of my former congregation and the community.

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Neuropathy is back

I found out yesterday that I can’t travel more than an hour anymore.  Heading down and back to Toronto was pure agony physically but I kept wanting to blame other things.  I am still paying for driving to Spiritwood and back yesterday.  It wasn’t that long ago that I drove from Saskatoon to Edmonton back to Saskatoon to Minneapolis in under 24 hours.  No longer.

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Funeral of Elmer Bowes

Yesterday Mark, Wendy and I went to Spiritwood for the funeral of Elmer Bowes who is an old friend of all of ours and attended the church for years. It was a good funeral and a nice celebration of a life well lived. I think it was the biggest funeral I have ever been at which is a tribute to the lives that Elmer impacted. Martin Taylor had an excellent sermon and the two eulogies did a great job of conveying who Elmer was. Elmer’s live was a life very well lived and I was honored to know him.

The State of the Blog 2006

Over the last couple of weeks and months I have been thinking about this site and what I wanted to do with it.  It has been around in some form or another since 1996 when I launched my first personal site on GeoCities.  It started just a couple months after I started pastoring in Spiritwood and was a tool I relied on heavily when I was at both Spiritwood and Lakeview Church.  For me, it was an online database of resources, links, and unexplored ideas.

By the time I quit Lakeview Church, it had taken on a life of its own but recently I have been questioning it’s worth.  I am not pastoring and the need to keep track of my links can be handled pretty easily by del.icio.us  Yesterday a friend of mine sent me this in an e-mail.


are you as bored with blogging as i am? wondering what is next. once upon a time we were on the cutting edge, now every wallmart housewife is blogging. read your link to the future of blogging.
when will the future be now?
 
It’s hard to claim you are a part of the cutting edge when even MC Hammer is blogging away.  Venture capitalists are tossing a lot of money at podcasting.  Andrew Jones (who left the following in the comments) is saying, “The future will come when all the media associated with our life (audio, video, shopping choices, poetry, text, event attendence, web site visiting, menus, etc) is automatically and effortlessly made public (published online). When this happens, the work on our part is not uploading more data but rather choosing to filter what we dont want people to access. That is the future of blogging.”  While Marshall Mcluhan is right that the medium is the message, I think my dissatisfaction goes beyond the medium to the message itself.  I am finding myself increasingly bored with what passes and is written for the discussion on the emerging church.  It isn’t just the blogs, the books are boring as well.  Over the last couple of years a couple of friends have said to me that the problem with much of the discussion about the emerging church has been it is the same people talking about the same things that they have for years.  I am looking at a bookshelf of books that I have read over the last 12 months right now and I am counting and counting and counting the books that all feature at least once reference to The Matrix (and I am not counting Chris Seay’s book on the subject)  If we can’t move past The Matrix, maybe we are stuck and think that by spinning our wheels we are making progress.
 
My own personal fatigue goes beyond The Matrix.  When I was pastoring I felt surrounded at times with those that have a self-professed prophetic calling to the church.  Despite all of the people that claimed prophetic gifts around me, I know of three of them.  One person would deny any such gifting but has the ability to understand the future.  One had a God given talent for speaking prophetically in the Old Testament tradition of prophets and I experienced it myself when I was younger.  The third person was my grandmother Jenner and she could read tea leaves.  From what some friends of the family told me, she was quite good at it (and no I can’t reconcile her ability to read tea leaves and being a wonderful Christian leader either).  So many times those that have these prophetic messages hurt my eyes with a blinding flash of the obvious or so completely over simplify a situation that they have little experience in that it isn’t any help at all.  I want to move away from these conversations and to a degree, the people who think this way.  As Guy Kawasaki said in Rules for Revolutionaries, “don’t let the bozos grind you down”.  I am not saying that people can’t tell the church what to do and remind people of their problems and how all pastors like me have sold out for the money and posh parishes and only house church/emerging church/urban churches/purpose driven churches are the only ones that are faithful to God’s word.  I am sure that someone will be listening, it just won’t be me.
 
For me when I was happiest in life was when I was exploring outside of the Christian sub culture.  I went through some old reviews that I had posted on TheOoze.  Some books that at the time no one else had read or was reading and I forgot how much fun it was to explore a new area of learning and think through it.  My friend Jared Siebert got me listening to science/tech/sociology podcasts on topics I have no expertise in.  I don’t know what he gets out of them but for me, I loved the sense of exploring the unknown and the next and finding a couple more puzzle pieces that may or may not fit in the jigsaw puzzle that is my life right now.  Everyone is asking me how much I like work.  The first couple of days I was in deep over my head trying to figure out hardware combinations that I had no idea what people were talking about.  I liked that feeling of needing to find out more, understand more, and finally making progress.  That is what I want jordoncooper.com to be more like.
 
The big difference on the blog will be in content.  Some of what you have noticed already.  The Contextless Links will be replaced by that day’s Open Thread.  It keeps my number of individual posts down and makes it a little easier to find the mini posts that make them up.  For over a year many of you begged me to open the comments on my Contextless Links and now that I have, almost no one is commenting.   Excuse me while I call you all losers.
 
Another difference will be a lot more longer posts and fewer of the shorter posts.  I do have net access at work and I do post a lot of stuff to my del.icio.us page but that is often work related and is posted daily over at my link blog.  While I doubt that people would mind if I blogged occasionally from work, I am paid to work and while there are quiet times there with little to do, I would rather spend that time scribbling in my Moleskine (Darryl Dash sent me one and I am now a convert to them) than posting incomplete thoughts on Blogger.  Some of the longer posts and reviews will be reworked into some longer articles for Next-Wave, TheOoze, and the Resonate Journal.
 
I also want to spend some time helping tell the stories of what is happening in the Kingdom of God (or as Brian McLaren says, the “Enterprise of God”) in Canada and around the world.  While I am bored with the rants, I still find passion and hope in the stories that get told of what is happening.  I would love to have those stories of hope define the conversation about the Gospel and culture.  My contribution will be to link to those stories and hopefully tell some of my own.
 
There is my road map.  Feel free to pull me over for coffee if you like where it’s going and of course, there are a lot of places to go if you want to get off at the next stop too.
 

Unemployed

As of 12:01 p.m. yesterday I am unemployed and no longer pastor of Lakeland Church.  Decades fly when you are having fun.  I guess this means that as of today, I join the ranks of the church shoppers.  Do I fill out a form?

Sunday

Only two Sunday’s left in Spiritwood which is kind of hard to believe.  The last two Sunday’s have featured some emotion and for those of you who are INTP’s out there, you know we are often called undeveloped-feelers so you know how easy that was.  Last Sunday it was saying farewell to some good friends and this Sunday it was me.  At the start of the service while milling around I flashed back to everything and everyone that had changed over 11 years.  After the service we were the last to leave and finally it was just me walking around the building.  So much had changed.  It is the right time to go but there still are some feelings of sadness.
 
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A new chapter

Years ago when I was at Lakeview, we used the idea of different chapter in the church’s life for a metaphor for a building project.  It was called Chapter 6.  To reuse the metaphor (I should have copyrighted it), when I quit Spiritwood, it is the close of one chapter of my life.  On February 13th I won’t be a paid pastor anymore and I won’t be employed by any religious institutions any longer.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about what the next chapter of life would be.  Am I still called to ministry?  Is God tired of me?  What is the impact on the path that I am taking Wendy and Mark on. 

In my more frustrated and down moments, part of me thought about shutting down this site, selling everything and moving to Fort McMurray and just make a lot of money and just leaving everything behind.  Fighting illness has made me wonder at times how much quality time I left and I didn’t want to leave Wendy and Mark in a financial mess if something happened to me.  The untold story of the last year has been the train wreck that has been Wendy’s and mine marriage this year (not all years are good years).  It left us both wondering if a change in environment would be better for all of us. (Wendy is planning to post some more about this later on her blog)  During a difficult time, we spent a lot of time talking about what the future looks like for us.

One of the questions that we had to ask is that are we still called to building the kingdom and if so, what am I called to?  I have worked in a small conservative rural setting as well in a large suburban seeker setting.  I appreciate (and disagree with… the life of a contrarian) both of these contexts.  There are those that feel comfortable in bringing change from the center of an organization, movement, or denomination but for me, I am more comfortable on the fringes.  One of the great gifts given to me was by Jared Siebert.  Jared helped me understand myself by introducing me to the work of Grant McCracken (the first time he asked me if I had heard of Grant McCracken, I thought a dirty joke was coming).  McCracken introduced me to the idea of Flock and Flow in how society changes.  Basically it is the transition from…

  • Risk to Safety
  • Noise to Signal
  • Novelty to Form
  • Chaos to Certainty

As it moves from left to right, it becomes safer, more watered down, more structured, and in the context of the church, sold by Maranatha or put into a can by Group Publishing and sold across the country.  Those that were there when it started and when it was risky generally dislike the final polished product.  We see this happening already in the emerging church.  The money comes in, repackages it, makes it comfortable and in many contexts subverts the meaning of where it all started from.  Most churches start out on the left but move to the right over time.  So do most theological movements.  Most Methodist movements today look nothing like what John Wesley was trying to do. 

For me, I like it on the left side.  I like the risk, the struggle to find the signal, figuring out the novelty, and I really enjoy chaos.  Erwin McManus calls it The Barbarian Way which is a talk that everyone loves to hear and quote but no one is willing to live that way.  Growing up in a poor single parent home and my mom being sick a lot, stability is something that we really wanted.  Looking back, I learned that stability doesn’t always come from health, wealth, or the Saskatchewan Roughriders making the playoffs.

I don’t judge those on the other side of the spectrum.  Someone has to buy what Maranatha has to sell 🙂  God calls people all over the place.  I think there are those that bring about change in the middle and those of us who work on the fringe.  If truth be told, we probably both think the other one is crazy but I think that we are both needed.

Back to where God is calling me.  I am going to spend some on the left side of McCracken’s chart for a while in a couple of areas.  One of those areas is Resonate and we have some cool stuff happening there that is being worked on.  We are stealing some ideas from Emergent ™ and TheOoze as well as Jonny Baker that we will be rolling out in early 2006 that will be kind of fun.  The other thing is the worship.freehouse.  The Freehouse started out as an idea to do some creative worship events in the city and we have kind of done that.  I never really acknowledged this but it has also become a community of friends that all want to do something together for God.

Finally, there is the book that I am working on with Scott Williams and Darryl Dash with the working title of Fearless Honesty.  I am not sure how long the next chapter of my life will be or how it will finish but the introduction was just written.

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1995 – 2006

Today church was a little different than normal as it was announced to the congregation that I had resigned as pastor of Lakeland Church after ten years of being their Sr. Pastor (technically I asked my Bishop to be released from my appointment and he granted my request).  My last Sunday is February 12th, 2006.  Will talk about the future later but tonight is a quiet night thinking about the past.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

This morning Wendy wrapped up the last of the unwrapped presents and placed them under our Christmas tree. Mark was upstairs in trouble and Lee was working (The same Lee who was at work at 5:00 a.m. this morning). We had some Tony Bennett and Bing Crosby on the CD player and some tinsel was hanging off of Hutch.

Christmas this year will be spent in Saskatoon. On December 20th, we are heading over to Jerry and Gloria Reimer’s house for an early Christmas dinner. We have spent almost every Christmas with the Reimers since I started working at Lakeview Church. On the 22nd we are looking forward to getting together with Tamara after her return from Taiwan.

On Christmas Day; Wendy, Mark, Lee and I are going to be spending it at home. Like other megachurch pastors, I am not having a Christmas morning service in Spiritwood so we will be getting up early, open our socks and presents and then hanging out over breakfast and the Walt Disney World parade on television. A little Regis and Kelly with my Christmas breakfast.

Wendy and I bought Mark a sled for Christmas. As long as it is -15 or warmer, we will probably take him sledding. I looked for one that would be fast so Mark will be flying down the hill. Our nearby hill isn’t that nasty so he should be quite safe.

One Christmas tradition that hasn’t continued is that our outside Christmas lights haven’t been stolen. We changed the way we put them up and our lights are scaled back but unlike in previous years when we have had whole light strings stolen, not even a light has gone missing. Good but weird.

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When Christmas Falls on Sunday, Megachurches Take the Day Off

The New York Times is reporting on megachurches deciding not to have a service on Christmas Sunday.

Some of the nation’s most prominent megachurches have decided not to hold worship services on the Sunday that coincides with Christmas Day, a move that is generating controversy among evangelical Christians at a time when many conservative groups are battling to “put the Christ back in Christmas.”

Scot McKnight offers an excellent response to a lot of the criticism that the churches are getting.

Second, let’s ask a question at the heart of the discussion: Does the NT teach a Sunday morning worship service? Well, the evidence isn’t what some are making it out to be. We need to be fair here: there is a distinction between what is taught and what is mentioned or hinted at as something practiced. And there is no clear text legislating that Christians are to meet for worship on a Sunday morning.

And it ought to be observed that there is, whether some will admit it or not, no clear connection between Christian worship on a Sunday and the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of “rest” while the Sunday was a time of “worship.” (See here A.G. Shead, New Dict. of Bibl. Theol, 749-50.) Not one shred of evidence here. In fact, the Apostle Paul says in Col 2:16 that one’s judgment about Sabbaths ought to be kept to oneself – or at least it ought not to be used as an instrument of judgment. (I have a hard time, and you probably do too, thinking Paul is letting ordinary Christians render judgment about when they were to “attend worship.”)

There are, however, clear indications that Christians met on Sundays, the first day of the week: Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2. I’m not sure what Rev 1:10 means, and no one ought to be dogmatic about it, but I tend to think it is close to meaning “the Lord’s day (when on the first day of the week we gathered for the Lord’s supper).”

And there is the warning in Heb 10:25 that Christians ought to meet regularly with other Christians, though the author does not say this was to be on Sunday – we can assume it was, but it is an assumption.

This leaves us with this: no strong correlation between Sabbath and Sunday; no commandment to worship together on Sunday; the evident practice, however, of meeting on Sundays for worship and fellowship. The precedent, as Joe Thorn rightly says on Steve McCoy’s blog, is there; there is, however, no commandment. And Col makes me wonder if it is appropriate to correlate Sunday worship with Sabbath practice.

Lakeland Church is not having a Christmas service but a Christmas Eve one. We are a microchurch, not a mega one but we had a lot of discussion about the schedule and also how the majority of people did not want to attend church on Christmas morning but wanted to be with families. They have opportunities to attend church on Saturday night and many churches are having multiple services Saturday. I think a lot of the controversy comes from people just wanting to pick on megachurches.

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Elway Update

I spent the night up with Elway. It wasn’t as if I needed some sleep anyways. We watched some late night movies and he threw up all over me. It wasn’t good. He would take a drink, whine and then go to the bathroom outside. I was tired I fell asleep on the kitchen linoleum with a bag of Iams as my pillow. I don’t remember making my bed of dog food but I woke up a short time later wondering, what I was thinking? Can you tell I have had 13 of 14 nights with no sleep? Late in the morning he started shaking so I took him upstairs and wrapped him in covers on our bed. He seemed to do a little better this morning but @ about 4:00 a.m. I didn’t think he was going to make it. We are taking him to the vet this afternoon.

I got about 3 hours of sleep last night but I just had a long walk and am hoping I can fake the pain out long enough to get a nap while Mark is at his Halloween party at the school. For all you fundamentalists out there, I do let Mark go trick or treating. This year he is going as Rocky from Rescue Heroes (which despite being really popular do not have a website). Condemn me in the comments below. The only bad thing is that I can’t have any left over candy.

Back to Elway, we had to put down a couple of dogs. My first dog was Tigger. I think we got him before I went to kindergarten. He was a black poodle that I wanted to name Brownie after a horse in one my story books. My mom later joked that it was her first clue that I wasn’t going to be a child prodigy. A couple of years later, Lloyd decided to teach him to ride in the back of the truck (we lived in Calgary, everyone in Calgary has a truck). Anyways, he fell out of the truck and suffered brain damage (that’s my dad, never has been able to foresee the consequences of his actions) and had to be put down.

I still remember the night I got Misty (actually Misty II as she was named after my grandfather and mom’s favorite dog). We had just moved from Calgary to Saskatoon and I was having a hard time adjusting to a new school, a new city, and new life. I was at hockey that night and the family down the block whose son was my team mate and friend often would take me to the game. After almost every game, he would phone my mom and tell her that he was taking “the boys” (there were a couple of us he would jam into his car) out for “drinks” which meant some sodas and pizza after our hard fought game. This time he came back to me and said, “Your mom isn’t home” but he had phoned his wife and Mom hadn’t left a phone message so he assured me that she would be able to figure out where I was. I got home that night and Mom said that she had a surprise for me. I didn’t have any high expectations because we were broke at the time. The next thing I know is that she pulled this little Lab/Cocker Spaniel pup out of a box and gave her to me.

That night we had set up a box for Misty to sleep in. Blankets, a ticking clock because we heard that comforts puppies, and a little stuff lamb. Every time I put the dog in the box, Misty cried. When I put her on the bed, she slept. Box cried, bed slept. Box cried, bed slept. Box cried, bed slept. Box cried, bed slept. Box cried, bed slept. Box cried, bed slept. Box cried, bed slept. Box cried, bed slept. Box cried, bed slept. Box cried, bed slept. I was in grade five. I just wanted to sleep. From that night on, that dog slept somewhere on the bed for 15 years. Misty wasn’t supposed to be allowed upstairs. That dog crept step by step, inch by inch over a decade so she would be able to be in the formal family room. Later she would lay in the middle of it when we weren’t there and if we would catch Misty off guard, we would come in and see a dog with it’s head under the sofa and her entire body in plain view with her tail slightly wagging as if to say, “I can’t see them, they can’t see me. All is good”.

Misty never seemed to age but one day she cried and couldn’t get off my bed. I was in college and took Misty to the vet. They said it wasn’t a problem but $900 later, she had to be put down.

Wendy and I lived in an apartment when we were first married. The day we moved into our house, December 15th, there were boxes everywhere and I said to her, “Let’s go to the SPCA and look at a dog”. We didn’t see any but on the way out, they said, “What about this dog?” It was Elway and he was too big for a small house. They mentioned that he had been there for a long time and was going to be put down. I don’t know if that was true but Wendy started to cry and $100 later, Elway was riding in the back of our car into the city. I was pretty cranky and really felt manipulated. I was thinking of taking him back in the morning but that night Elway placed his pay in Wendy’s hand as she slept and by morning, there was no way I could have taken Elway back. Since then he realized who the big dog was and has become my constant sidekick. I love driving to Spiritwood with him. He doesn’t sleep but manages to put himself in a position where I can pet him while I drive.

His greatest moment came just after Mark was born. A large drunk man barged into the house while Wendy was feeding Mark. She hadn’t locked the door (we live in Saskatchewan, no one ever locks their doors) but Elway barked and snarled and held is ground until the drunk guy decided he didn’t want to mess with him and Wendy could call 9-1-1).

Elway is only 8 and I hope has a lot of years left in him. If he just hang on for a couple more days.