Planning our “Big Ideas”

My PhotoI spent about 4 hours tonight working through ideas for what we will teach on in the coming year at Suncrest.  This meeting is probably step 4 of a 6 step process.  Other steps have included getting ideas form other churches and from suncrest people and others on this blog.

In the meeting, I invited all 5 of us who teach on Sundays at Suncrest (me, Doug, Beka, Bobby, Jared), but this year we added some others who don’t live in church world.  It was amazingly helpful.  Here are some random thoughts coming out of the gathering…

-Most of us in church-world work hard at figuring out the issues of everyday people…but we still over-estimate our ability to do it.  I was especially thankful for Nathan, Gordon, Erin, and Cindy tonight!

-There are lots of good ideas to be explored, but a 30 minute sermon isn’t the best mode for exploring some of them.

-There are lots of good ideas that are better explored in a setting that had discussion, not just monologue…unless we can somehow create dialog more often????

– There is interest in the mysterious…especially spiritual realm and the Holy Spirit.

-Something about pain and suffering could come up every 6 months in the teaching cycle…and not be too much.

-It’s an overwhelming positive for the teacher/pastor to acknowledge he doesn’t understand everything from time to time.  (I know authenticity is powerful, but also feel that pressure to have a concrete answers for people).

-Trying to figure out how to help people to read the Bible for themsleves.  Can that be done on Sunday mornings?  How?

-Is there a verse in Bible somewhere that requires all churches to do a Christmas teaching series every year?  If we canned it this year, would people hate me?

I have pages of notes from tonight.  Hope to have it turn into a 12 month teaching plan over the next few weeks.

~ by Greg Lee on June 10, 2009.

5 Responses to “Planning our “Big Ideas””

  1. Hey just a thought about how to teach people to read their Bible at home. Let people know the scriptures you are going to teach about ahead of time. Then we can read about what comes before and after and get the background for that passage before we get to church. I was able to do this when we talked about Nehemaih last year and I felt like I not only got more out of the sermon but also I wanted to read my Bible more then I ever had.

    • Hi Greg:

      I read with great interest your blog on Big Ideas for the upcoming year. I would like to comment.

      I think it would be great if Suncrest would start encouraging our congregation to bring their bibles to church. During each service it would be helpful if we were asked to follow along while you, or someone else, read a verse, maybe even in unison. Perhaps we could be asked to read more of the chapter at home. I think just the act of taking the bible off the shelf and bringing it to church stirs a desire to dig deeper.

      Greg, I did not exactly understand the last point, about the Christmas Story. I think I might have misinterpreted it incorrectly. I feel it is imperative to explore the birth of Christ at Christmastime. I would actually love to see us dig deeper. This is, of course, just my opinion. In honesty, I am often in Florida at Christmastime, so maybe my thoughts don’t count as much as someone who is always here. I feel Suncrest is on the cutting edge of so many things, and has so many wonderful ideas, and message series. Still I think without some traditions, we stand to lose some credibility. Honestly, I have to admit that I long for a traditional Christmas service, whether it be here, or wherever I am at the time. Maybe it is my age? Would it be under consideration that Suncrest could make one of the Christmas services a Traditional one, and then people could choose?

      On another note completely, I know you will be at Faith on Sunday, which will be Flag Day. Wouldn’t it be great if during our service we could stand, acknowledge our flag, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance? It was good to have done that during the prayer walk.

      I hope you will find my comments given in the spirit of which I send them, in Christian Love,


      • Hi Linda,

        Thanks for your comments and sorry it took me a few days to reply to this. I know your comments come from your heart, so I love the feedback.

        I like the idea of people bringing their bibles to church, and especially think it might work very well to really focus in on it for at least one message series. We could use the message time as a workshop in some ways and help people get familiar with them.

        For Christmas, we are really working through the best way to handle the season. We love the Christmas eve services and get so much great feedback on them. Those will obviously stay very Christmas-focused. I’m wondering about doing a whole Christmas message series in December. Maybe it is the predictability of it that makes me feel like it has become routine or even stale. Or maybe we just need to simplify it instead of trying to come up with ways to make it creative all the time??? I don’t know.

        I mentioned this in response to Brenda’s post, but the idea of doing more than one type of service at Christmas eve is intriguing and also a real challenge logistically with our very committed volunteers who already over extend themselves in this season.

        Obviously I didn’t get this to comment until after Flag Day. I hope you were able to celebrate it in your own meaningful way, honoring Eddie’s memory. I think of him every year on this day.


  2. Dear Pastor Greg and idea staff,
    This is a note I composed in January of 2009 in regard to the Christmas Eve service of 08. I did not send it then. I feel compelled to use it as my comment to Pastor Greg’s blog on the idea if it is Biblical to have to have a Christmas message.
    I am writing in regard to the Christmas Eve service 2008. The tone was set for me when the cartoon of the nativity was shown. Several years ago I had heard Pastor Doug say that the stable was most likely a cave. OK, the baby was born in a cave. I had already watched the History Channel debunking everything I had been taught and performed in countless plays as a child. Is it important to know that Mary and Joseph couldn’t have possibly walked that far in such a short time, that they wouldn’t have had to go to Bethlehem for the census because they would have been taxed where they lived then, and then the “humorous” cartoon leaving everyone wondering if maybe we should be celebrating the birth in a different month.
    Next, the Ho Ho Ho , Merry Christmas and animal sounds. We only needed the L.C. cheerleaders to complete.
    I am wondering that with four services for Christmas if at least one could be more traditional, less politically correct. Celebrating Jesus’ sacrifice at his death in our Easter service is worshipful. Can his birth be worshipful also?
    Don’t misunderstand, the message was wonderful. I needed to peel away the fluff to put myself in a place to listen and learn from it.
    I was never going to send this note, but after reading Pastor Greg’s blog on service ideas, I am wondering if we are going to “can” the christmas message. I don’t know what the Bible says about having to preach about Jesus’ birth every December. I myself would like a heads up if whatever message we are on can’t be interrupted with Jesus’ birth. I have finally realized and feel my age. I long for a responsive reading, or, gasp, The Lord’s prayer. I remember repeating in Sunday school, The B I B L E, yes that’s the book for me.
    I left the service on Christmas Eve wondering where I belong. The idea of “canning” the message this year ahead of time at least gives me the option of going somewhere else for Christmas 2009. When I got home from service this year I furiously dug out my old dusty incorrect nativity scene.

    • Hi Brenda,

      No doubt I wish I Christmas eve service would have been a better connection for you. We always get feedback on things and I welcome that and always appreciate candor. There are probably a few things worth noting for me and then some places I think we may just have some different perspectives.

      To start, I may not have communicated as clearly as I meant to in the blog. We aren’t considering canning the Christmas eve services or the Christmas message on those nights. Like Easter and Good Friday, those services help us zero in on defining events that define our faith. The question I’m asking (to myself and others) is about doing a whole 3-4 week series of Christmas-themed messages in December. 95% of churches do, I think, but I’m wondering about going a different direction this year.

      The Christmas Eve services this last year attempted as strongly as ever to be designed for whole families. Obviously there were some child-friendly elements to try to accomplish that and I know we had great feedback from families who weren’t stuck just trying to keep their kids content for an hour while adult-oriented things happened the whole time.

      I’m not sure I was following the comment about the services being politically correct. If that’s a concern, I’d love to hear you flesh that out a little bit. The most important things to me are that we communicate the truth, not something that is just culturally accepted so that would be a great concern of mine if we are missing that.

      The idea of creating different types of services is something we have tossed around. Mostly it is logistical reasons that keep us from doing it at this stage, but we keep it on the radar. Between doing full programming for Sunday services and doing 4 services over two nights for Christmas Eve, rehearsals for each, and their own busy Christmas seasons, our volunteer musicians, singers, sound guys, PowerPoint programmers/operators, and service directors are giving us all they got. Adding more planning meetings and rehearsals just probably isn’t realistic at this stage.

      I hope that is helpful, Brenda. Feel free to reply. I love conversations that make us re-think things and ultimately make us better.


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