Thursday, January 13, 2011

Our New Newlywed Class

This week Karla and I (along with Paul and Sheryl Kyle) will begin teaching a Newlywed Sunday School Class at Central. It’s been a while since we’ve been newlyweds—maybe this class will make us feel like newlyweds again. Maybe it will make us thankful that we aren’t. In any event, preparing for Sunday reminded me of those early days of our marriage.

Karla and I were married while I was finishing my last semester of seminary. In fact, we were married smack dab in the middle of the semester. Why did we choose to get married with school in full swing? This might not be the best reason for moving up a wedding day (although there are far worse reasons)… but here was our reason:

At the time, Karla worked as a corporate travel agent. During her company’s annual Christmas gathering, she won a pair of free airline tickets to anywhere in the world—but the tickets had to be used by April 1st. (No fooling.) Waa-la… our June wedding became a March wedding.

So where in the world should a love struck couple honeymoon in March after a long, cold Kansas City winter? Hawaii? No. The Bahamas? Nope. Paris? Venice? The jungles of the Amazon? All romantic locations I’m sure, but no. We went to see John Wesley’s house (the founder of Methodism)… in London.
“Isn’t John Wesley dead?”
“Yes. He’s been dead for years.” (At the time of our wedding day, John Wesley had been dead exactly 197 years and ten days.)
“Then why go to his house? Wouldn’t the tea and crumpets have been a bit stale?”
“Well, it’s not just his house… there’s a chapel there, too!”
“Wesley’s house doesn’t sound very romantic even with a chapel on the property,” you say.
“Ummm… so I’ve been told the last 23 years.”
“Isn’t London in March cold and rainy?” you ask.
“Isn’t London always cold and rainy?” I ask back.
“So why go to Wesley’s house in cold and rainy London for your honeymoon, when you could have gone to a sunny, romantic beach in Hawaii?”
I have no answer to that question—other than to offer the excuse that I was a John Wesley geek. (See the above reference to the exact number of years and days our wedding day fell past his demise.) Truth be told, I am still a Wesley geek. But I am a wiser and smarter John Wesley geek than in those early days of my wedded life. By the way, I promised Karla that at some point in our married life we would get to Hawaii. We haven’t made it there yet… but Karla if you are reading this….someday we’ll get there, “cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye”.

All that to say, similar mistakes (and others much more important) are what we are hoping our young couples will avoid. That’s why we are starting this new newlywed class. (That and the fact, that our old newlywed class membership roster isn’t really filled with newlyweds anymore. I think they are sending their kids off to college next year. The last wedding in the class took place during the Reagan administration. OK, it’s not quite that bad, but they aren’t newlyweds.) This Sunday, all those who consider themselves newlyweds or “nearly weds” or those who are “just thinkin’ about it” are welcome to join us in Room 229 at 10 a.m. We will be beginning a study called “Building your Marriage to Last”. I am excited about young couples starting their married life off on the right foot, and I am excited about them meeting other young couples who are in the same place in life. I think this is going to be a great group; I just might not like sharing all of these old stories.

Monday, January 10, 2011

NIcaragua Team Returns

The last of our Mission team is to arrive back in the states today or tomorrow (the weather might keep them from Kansas City). But all reports from Nicaragua are good. The Church Building was built. Good things accomplished. And best of all 67 people committed their life to Christ! I love it! Next Trip: Jordan in June!

Mission Trips are worth it!

We had a brief discussion in the executive committee meeting on mission trips and church income. Does church income dip as people are paying for mission trips? Are they using their tithe to take a “vacation”? That’s the argument.

Let me just flat out say it: I think mission trips are worth it. One mission trip equals 52 sermons in my opinion. While maybe people shrink their tithe to pay for mission trip #1, I doubt that happens thereafter. Rather I think mission trips produce givers.

I’ve seen plenty of nominal mission givers become phenomenal mission givers after going on a mission trip. The way you get a heart of missions is doing missions. People need to experience missions first-hand. That’s why it is one of our main strategies in making better disciples. That’s why we want 15% of our congregation going on mission trips every year. That’s why we try to provide those opportunities. Besides, we've had quite a few Centralites return to the mission field after a short term trip-- a one-week trip turns into a lifetime calling (see David and Jodi Cooper as prime example #1 and our speakers on Sunday Brad and Nancy Firestone as example #2).

If you've never been you need to go. It'll change your life!

By the way, Dan Rexroth tells me he now has had 39 people expressing interest in the 30 spots for the Jordan mission trip! (I love these kind of problems!)