Thursday, August 24, 2006

Help Community of Grace Hire an Accompanist!

headshot_dan_adolphsonMost of you know this is Dan Adolphson, the Co-Pastor and Music Director (Cantor) for Community of Grace Christian Church. Right now Dan is pulling what little hair he has (and we do mean what little hair). You see, Community of Grace is looking to hire an accompanist to assist Dan with the music during our services. And with the help of my boyfriend Daniel, Dan found someone that would be a great asset to our team.

There is just one teensie problem:


So, this is where you all come in. For Community of Grace to hire this person, we need about $1000 to $1500. Some of this we will get through a grant, but we need to come up with the rest.

I'm asking you to consider giving what you can to help Dan out. Whatever you can give-even if it's $5 will go a long way to helping Dan hire this wonderful musician.

If you want to donate, you can go to the donation button that the bottom of this post. Please consider helping Community of Grace out. Don't let Dan have to tear those 10 remaining strands from his head. Thanks.

*Dan's going to kill me, but you have to have a sense of humor in raising money. You just gotta.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Money and the Church

There are times I want to believe that a church can be started and operated with little to no money. I want to believe the pastors and church musicans will work out of the goodness of their hearts with no concern for payment.

But the fact is, if you want to have an effective church, you do need some money.

Every so often, something happens that jolts me out of my happy thinking. I hit that on Wednesday evening. Community of Grace wants to have an accompanist that will work with our Cantor, Dan. I asked him where we were in the process, and he said that it was pretty much halted. The musicians want to be paid, and I can't blame them. You put in a lot of time and hard work, and you want to get some reumneration for that. Not to mention, church people have financial needs just like anyone else.

My boyfriend, who is a music director, has offered to help us in the meantime and I am thankful. He is a whiz at the piano. The only concern I have is he has a job in North Dakota and then drives five hours to see me. After a long day, I feel bad asking him to play again.

It's also hard to get accross to people the need for financial support. Our Region doesn't have a whole lot of financial resources, so we have to rely on the kindness of strangers. In this part of the country,it is hard to move people to support a new church like hours. You do try to tell people it costs to keep a website going or to get hymnals and the like and it seems to fall on deaf ears.

I also battle with the thoughts that all we have to do is meeting in living room and maybe listen to taped music or something. I remember attending an Anglican church a few years back that didn't have a pastor at the time. It was a very small congregation that was basically a house church. They never started on time and sometimes had a "community sermon" where people would talk about the scripture that day. At first, it seemed exciting. But after a while, it became boring and felt more like unattractive chaos. There is nothing wrong with being a house church; it's just that this isn't what I want. I would like some order and for church to feel like church. I did the meeting in living rooms thing in college and have no desire to do it again.

Then there is the fact that I or the cantor are getting paid. Neither of us are working in the church for the money. I can't speak for Dan, but I love what I do and would do it for free (as I have virtually done for two years). But the reality, is that I have bills to pay. Pastors have house notes, car notes and student loans just like everyone else. So, why do I feel like a leech when I desire to want to make even a small salary for all the work I do? Would I feel this way if I were a lawyer?

Blech. I wish money wasn't a concern.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Where is the Church?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to do my first funeral service.

It wasn't one I wanted to do. Someone well known in a subsector of the Twin Cities gay community committed suicide over Pride Weekend last June and his death sent shockwaves throughout the GLBT community and the wider community as well. The service was pretty emotional, to say the least. I didn't know this guy well, but I did know him and will miss him.

This person's death made me start wondering a lot about church and about our role in the wider world. In the past year, I've been busy trying to develop new and flashy services to get people into the church. The results at Community of Grace haven't been very positive. All of this caused a lot of frustration on my part. Why wouldn't someone want to come to our church? While I was kevetching about getting more butts into pews; there was a guy my age in deep emotional pain.

I'm not under any illusions that I or anyone else at CoG could have prevented him from taking his life. But I do wonder what would have happened had someone been there for him to talk to if he wanted to.

For the last year, I operated under the assumption that I needed to get people to church. I was wrong. Remember the Great Commission? Jesus tells us to go into the world and be his witness, NOT to bring them to church. As Christians, we are called to be in the community, to be witnesses of Christ to a hurting world.

And no, I'm not talking about sharing Bible tracks or telling people to "come to Jesus." I'm talking about entering our daily lives and being who were are: followers of Christ. It means being honest that we are Christians and being there for others. Maybe that means feeding a hungry person. Maybe it means being a listening ear to someone that just wants to talk. When we show love and concern for others we are being Christ's witnesses.

This summer, Communuity of Grace took a summer sabbatical to prepare for fall. I can tell you that the direction of church will change. Our worship services have to be less about packing them in and more about empowering people to go into their daily life at work and at play and "being Church" to others. It will be more about a church on a journey, instead of a destination.

It's sad that it took a tragedy for me to wake the hell up.

Where is the Church? Hopefully wherever there are people.