10 Sacramental Ideas For Church Renewal

With Guest Brannon Hancock, Ph.D. (Indiana Wesleyan/Wesley Seminary)

I asked good friend Brannon Hancock to write about the catalytic influence a deeper treatment of the Sacraments (visible signs of an inward grace), such as the Eucharist and Baptism, could have in a contemporary church’s worship life. With 10 reframing ideas, Brannon opens a sacred box for us all.

Could a generation ripe for “embodied stories” be craving worship that prioritizes the physical and the ritual to to engage the emotional and the cerebral? A generation swimming in emphases on the empirical and the immanent (see James K.A. Smith’s and Charles Taylor’s work) is responding to tangible worship practices and the enacted stories found in sacramental approaches.

Here are Brannon’s top 10 ideas, and every one opens up a world of its own. +

The Daily Examen

A Reorienting Rhythm For A Distracted Age

Every day, up to eight times a day, I silently perform a 1-3 minute spiritual ritual that is – quite literally – changing me. Now in my early 50s, I have decided it is the single most vital personal habit I have formed to date. According to my wife, I am becoming a different man.

photo courtesy of Anna Siran Wilt

Spiritually igniting, robust yet simple, the habit that is changing me is called the “Daily Examen.”

The Daily Examen is a daily prayer exercise that is integral to the Spiritual Exercises created by Ignatius of Loyola – the founder of the Jesuits (the current Pope Francis is a Jesuit).

The Daily Examen is just one example of Ignatian spirituality and, in particular, the Spiritual Exercises. The Examen is…

…A technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience” (www.ignatianspirituality.com).

Don Rousu: A Tribute

A Letter Written To A Friend Who Has Passed On Into Glory

Today, at the time of this writing, is the celebration of life service of dear friend, Don Rousu. He passed away on Sunday, March 19, 2017, at the age of 75 in his home in Sherwood Park, AB, Canada. This post, written in the form of a letter (a format I thought would best express my feelings), is my simple tribute to “Pastor Don.”

Don Rousu’s faith, character, and remarkable family have indelibly marked me – as well as myriad others. The legacy he leaves as he precedes us all into Glory is remarkable, and I decided that writing my thoughts out as if I was writing a letter to a friend would best serve what I’d like to say today.

Don,

Last Sunday, Nathan wrote a post on your Facebook profile. It said that you had passed on into the presence of Jesus in the early hours of the morning.

Do We “Bring” God’s Presence When We Worship?

A Theological Course Correction For Worship Leaders And Pastors

The following is, I submit, a theological course correction necessary for Worship Leaders and Pastors who lead in settings that intentionally welcome the Holy Spirit to be “manifest” as we engage in worship. It is for those who love when the presence of the Holy Spirit is experienced, at all levels, by a community who has gathered to worship.

First of all, let me affirm this: I love the Holy Spirit. I also love when the Holy Spirit is manifest in a room in a palpable way, and people are responding (aided by expressions of worship) to the invisible, yet overwhelming, presence of the living, loving, ever-present God.

But as pastors and worship leaders, we have a responsibility to think about the way we talk about that experience to our congregations. We may mean one thing theologically, but when we’re not careful with our words, we communicate another. Theological ideas can be helpful or unhelpful to the discipleship of Christians – what we believe about God and how He works – and the following addresses what I believe to be a theologically faulty way of talking about God’s presence in any given worship environment.

Do We Bring The Presence Of God When We Lead Worship?

Here is my answer: We don’t “bring” the Presence of God by our music, worship, messages, or prayers.

I believe such language is theologically faulty, and confuses Christians when we use it. It suggests that we ourselves are the primary actors in the worship story, and that our actions precipitate whether or not the omnipresent God is “there” or not.

The Willing God

Reflections On Healing From Mark 1:40-45

My hands were folded over my throat as I sat in the chair, quietly praying, and waiting for the doctor to enter. I was scheduled to have surgery the next week, and this was my pre-procedure scope. As the scope descended into my larynx and the ENT and I watched the screen, neither of us was prepared for what we would see next.

[Listen To The Full Audio Sermon below]

An Unforeseen Honk

I’ve been working my voice hard for over 25 years. As a songwriter, speaker, worship leader, radio communicator, and voiceover artist, I’ve made a living from my voice for decades. However, the winter previous, I pushed my voice to its limits – and the result left me with a damaged voice.

A large cyst had formed on the left side of a my vocal cord, and a small node on the right.

Surgery was the only option.