The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Search Results

Church for a new era

with 3 comments

Those of you following the life of New Oaks Church may find this story encouraging. Here’s Donnie Miller (pastor of the Trinity Family Church in Gardner, KS) telling of a change of direction:

A New Era begins for TFC

Donnie Miller

There was an energy level among the congregation on Sunday that I haven’t experienced for a long time. People kept telling me, through smiles and hugs, how much they love the changes that have just happened.

These changes have been a long time coming. Last spring, we began a numerical slide that has resulted in our Sunday morning worship attendance being between 2/3 – 1/2 of what it was a year ago at this time. Toward the beginning of that slide, after a very lowly attended Sunday in March, I spent a sleepless night talking with God and wrestling with my fears and hopes. My fear was that if we continued to “do church” as we were at the time, we might not continue to exist. That fear lead to a hope, a hope that TFC could stop focusing on “doing church” and become more intentional about “being the church.” At about 4 AM, I got a pretty clear picture of the changes we could make.

I began sharing those changes with staff, the board and then ministry leaders; everyone was on board with the ideas. Last summer, we polled the congregation to find out approaches were working and to gauge their openness to the potential changes. The surveys revealed an almost unanimous support of the structural changes our leadership was considering.

Discussion groups

In August, we took a big first step in introducing Discussion Groups to Sunday AM worship. To say these groups have been a success would be the understatement of the year. Every Sunday, over 90% of the congregation participates in discussion groups. This past Sunday, only ONE person skipped discussion groups and that was because of a family emergency. It was almost hard to hear the other members of my group over the dull roar of the conversations happening all over the commons. The introduction of Discussion Groups, as well as “Ask Anything” Sundays, have all been a part of our effort to take a more dialogical approach to Sunday morning worship.

Read the rest of this entry »

Iowa State Senators: “Grassley Should Start Listening to Iowans”

with 5 comments

The State Capitol of Iowa, featuring its golde...
Image via Wikipedia

The Des Moines Register:

“The will of Iowans and the rest of America is marching steadily toward reform.”

The following is a guest opinion on health care reform by State Senators Jack Hatch and Joe Bolkcom that appeared in Saturday’s Des Moines Register. [I encountered it as a reprint at Blog for Iowa – Monte]

As we head into August, a few Washington lawmakers are standing in the way of health-care reform that America desperately needs. While patients are denied crucial treatment and families go bankrupt from medical bills, Sen. Charles Grassley and a cadre of his Senate colleagues have provoked a stir by steadfastly refusing to support the most essential piece of President Barack Obama’s proposal: a public health-insurance option. We think it’s time for Grassley to start listening to Iowans and work with the president for real health-care reform.

A public health-insurance option would introduce much needed competition into the health-insurance market, extending quality care to as many as 300,000 Iowans, while providing incentives to insurance companies to offer their current customers a better deal. Unfortunately, in a July 30 Des Moines Register editorial, Grassley said he opposes giving Americans the choice of a public option “because it is a pathway to a completely government-run system.” Read the rest of this entry »

A letter from Guido

with one comment

Sometimes you come across a story so holy that your only concern is not messing it up.  This is one. Guido is a friend of a friend, Donnie Miller.  Donnie writes at One Church Planter’s Journey, where this note from Guido was published.  If you want a little background, follow Donnie’s “Love Wins” tag here.


As I get older I realize that a lot of my views on life seem to change. One of them is the subject of religion. I grew up thinking that religion was all about control of the people and if you didn’t fit the mold you were thrown to the other side of the line. Either you’re a good person or a bad person. Most of my experiences with churches have been bad ones.

Guido (at right)

I believed you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you. They criticize you if you don’t follow their rules even if you didn’t know the rules. From what I know of Jesus I thought he talked to all people and did not judge them but explained what they should be doing and let them figure out what they needed to change.

My opinion has changed over time but more in the past couple years. A big influence in my thought change has come about because of a couple, who years ago I would have judged as those church people and avoided like the plague. It all started one day when my door staff guy at work called me and said some church ladies were there I thought “Oh NO here we go again”. (Several years before some church ladies had been in our parking lot picketing and handing out negative brochures.) He said they were leaving some gifts for the girls. I think he asked them if they had paint bombs in them because he was also leery. After talking to the employees and the staff I found it odd they would bring stuff to dancers and thought what’s their angle? So this happened again the ladies came to the door dropped off gifts, smiled then left. I thought that’s nice so I had my bartender put together a basket of nice things for the ladies and drop it off. I later thought to myself “wow I’m interacting with church people”. Read the rest of this entry »

Former insurance exec tells how industry threatens elected officials

with 7 comments

Last Friday night, Wendell Potter, former head of Corporate Communications at CIGNA, told Bill Moyers of insurance companies’ tactics, and their fear of reduced profits should a Medicare-type system be enacted by Congress.
clipped from thinkprogress.org
BILL MOYERS:  […] “Position Sicko as a threat to Democrats’ larger agenda.” What does that mean?
WENDELL POTTER: That means that part of the effort to discredit this film was to use lobbyists and their own staff to go onto Capitol Hill and say, “Look, you don’t want to believe this movie. You don’t want to talk about it. You don’t want to endorse it. And if you do, we can make things tough for you.”

BILL MOYERS: How?

WENDELL POTTER: By running ads, commercials in your home district when you’re running for reelection, not contributing to your campaigns again, or contributing to your competitor.

[Saying he thought Moore’s movie “hit the nail on the head,” Potter describes it:]

[H]is movie advocated that the government-run systems of other western democracies produce better health care outcomes […]

Potter said he was driven to speak out when “it became really clear to me that the industry is resorting to the same tactics they’ve used over the years […]
The companies “biggest concern” is … “a broader program like our Medicare program” which “could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies.”
blog it

See part 1 of the interview here.

Indeed.  And we’ll see if our Congressmen and women will use government to further increase corporate profits or to begin to decrease the cost of healthcare to ordinary people. The industry’s spending a million dollars a day. Our only hope is in letters and letters and letters.

There’s link in the right sidebar.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

When atheists come to church (sermon of July 5)

with 4 comments

C Vonaesch - Femme Touchant Jesus

C Vonaesch - Femme Touchant Jesus

Last week, Jesus, pushing through a crowd, was secretly touched by a woman who’ d been bleeding for 12 years; her bleeding stopped.  She who’d been untouchable by the rules of the day touched him; she was then well, and he became untouchable.  She gets well. He takes on her “uncleanness.”

And then he touched a 12 year old girl who had recently died. He was now “unclean” twice-over (touching a dead body made him so a second time), but the girl was alive.   She gets life. He takes on her “uncleanness.”

Magnificent.

And the next thing that happens is that Jesus, the now-famous, compassionate, but scandalously irreligious traveling teacher, goes home to Nazareth. And while he’s been amazing everyone, at Nazareth, Jesus is amazed.

What could possibly amaze Jesus? Read the rest of this entry »