August 2009

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Transforming Grace is no more … on the radio.

For years now, every Sunday morning at 9:30, radio listeners in Baltimore were greeted by an SPEP sermon wrapped in the compelling theme music of Transforming Grace. (For those interested, it was “Point Reyes,” from Tim Janis’ CD, Water’s Edge).  Recently, however, WRBS decided to restructure their programming, and the 9:30 teaching slot was eliminated. They kindly offered us an attractive alternative slot, but the change gave us the opportunity to reevaluate our communication strategy. What do we want to communicate? Who are we trying to reach?

With decades of media experience between them, our own Craig and Andrew worked with other church leaders to help us through the necessary decisions to move forward. They helped us expand our vision to see the possibilities of an internet-based communication strategy. Consequently, the considerable money we planned to invest in radio over the next three years will, instead, be invested in developing the infrastructure and expertise necessary to record and transmit content over the web.

Some of our new goals;

  • Stream live (and recorded) worship video to shut-in’s and people who for some reason cannot make it to church on Sunday morning. This will expand Transforming Grace availability beyond the confines of one half hour a week in the Baltimore area.
  • Make teaching content of all kinds accessible anytime online. This would be great for us (think of making up one class at home instead of having to take a whole church course over), and great for anyone searching the web for good teaching.
  • Provide  training that is integrated with the web, providing some content at our convenience at home, thus better leveraging the face-to-face time we spend in discipleship.
  • Provide media to warmly welcome and orient local folks looking for a church home.

The same equipment and expertise used for these projects will also be available to create media for other venues if we so desire – such as CD’s DVD’s, TV and radio.

This is a three year plan that will require some cosmetic upgrades to our facility as well as technical upgrades behind the scenes. It may also present a learning curve for a number of us, so please ask God to give us grace.

Hopefully, it will all be worth it as we continue the legacy of Transforming Grace by making God’s Word much more available.

Q:You probably have already seen this video. [popular video of a wedding party enthusiastically dancing down the aisle]. My parents and I are at a disagreement over this video. They say that it’s in appropriate to enter the ceremony that way, that it’s a sacrament that’s meant to be taken seriously. I believe that God would want you to delight in such a union and as long as the actual vow part is serious it shouldn’t matter how your entrance is. I was just wondering what your take on this is?

A:Yes, I have seen the video. No surprise that it raises disagreements. The Bible talks about what a marriage is, but not about what kind of ceremony is most appropriate. Experience tells us that to a large extent, ceremonies are a matter of one’s culture. In America, culture is split not only along ethnic, regional and economic lines, but also – and largely – along age lines. What your parents might find culturally appropriate and what you might find so are two different things.

You might be interested to check out 2 Samuel 6:12-22, when David introduced energetic, joyful dancing into an extremely holy ceremony. The issue there was both his dancing and what he was wearing. Who was right, he or his wife? Notably, the Lord does not chasten David.

If this were an real issue in a family (i.e., planning for a wedding), I would encourage everyone to:

  • Think through what a wedding is, and how its nature can best be expressed. It’s one thing to disagree over how to express holiness and joy; it’s another to disagree, for example, on whether or not a wedding is a holy occasion at all. If everyone agrees on its nature, then the discussion will make better progress.
  • A couple can be married privately by a Justice of the Peace without any ceremony. The choice to have a wedding ceremony is a choice to involve many parties – the couple, the parents and relatives, the guests and the church. All of those parties must be appropriately considered.
  • Remember that God is honored when people show deference to each other (Romans 12:10 and Philippians 2:3-4).

I think that it is great that this video has prompted discussion over wedding ceremonies. I suspect that it will seriously encourage Americans to create ceremonies that move away from tradition and more honestly reflect their beliefs and sensibilities. This should give Christians the opportunity to make their ceremonies a more effective testimony of their faith.