Pastor's Blog

by Steve Borgard

September 22, 2017

New Sermon Series: A Thoughtful Faith

I will begin a new sermon series this Sunday.  

 

The origin for this series is my own imagining of the type of book I might write to help Christians rethink their Christian faith.    Over the years, my own faith has had to be reinvented at times; the old pegs on which I had hung my faith wore out, and new pegs had to emerge to help give my faith support and structure.   I hope you will join in this journey.  As the sermon series develops, I would ask you to send me your questions, wonderings and perspectives, so that together the sermon series unfolds as a communal dialogue.  

 

Best, 

Steve

September 15, 2017

Fall Schedule

This Sunday is Homecoming Sunday.  We will celebrate the kick off of our fall programming and celebrate the one year anniversary of our journey together as pastor and congregation.  

I thought it might be beneficial to highlight a few key aspects of the fall schedule and ask for your involvement.  

 

Hospitality Table: 9:40 am - Every Sunday 

 

It has been wonderful to have the hospitality table in the front of the church before worship services.  This provides a warm welcome, and I have bumped into people in the neighborhood who have mentioned that our church looks active and friendly because of the goodies they saw being served out front.  I’ve seen Carol Anderson, Judy Hitt, Carol Somerton, and others carry tables, set up, clean up, and bring food and drinks in order to make this happen.  You could help by signing up to bring food on a Sunday(perhaps to honor a birthday or anniversary) or to help set up and clean up.   Also, come early on Sunday and grab a coffee and welcome visitors before the service begins.  

 

Lunch Sundays: First Sunday of the Month 11:00 am 

 

The first Sunday of each month has been envisioned as a ‘Lunch Sunday.’  Traditionally, our Seniors’ Lunch is held on that Sunday and it will continue to do so.  We are planning to expand on that idea, and lunch gatherings will be our fellowship and learning opportunity each first Sunday.   The Bible Alive (elementary age) will have a pizza lunch with their program.  I am trying to arrange a lunch for the youth group and their families. (still looking for a local host)  Perhaps, you would like to host a group for lunch at your home, or be intentional in organizing a group to meet somewhere for lunch.  

 

Learning Communities

 

Adult Christian Education: Most Sundays at 11:15 am 

 

We will have our ongoing Adult Christian Education (ACE) class.  This will be a consistent in-depth Bible study.  This fall the class will be led by Ben Fraticelli and he will be leading a study 

 

of the Hebrew Scriptures.   The class will meet each week except: 1) The first Sunday of each month that will be ‘Lunch Sunday’.  2) The quarterly fifth Sunday of a month when we will offer an alternative program.

 

Inquirers’ Class:  11:15 am - Second Sundays of the Month 

 

Every second Sunday of the month, the pastor will conduct an informal class for new attendees who would like to learn more about the church.  

 

Pastor Chat:  11:15 am Third and Fourth Sundays of the Month 

 

This will be an opportunity to dialogue with the pastor about the sermon or other topics.  It will be informal and interactive.   For a more in-depth Bible study, you would be encourage to attend ACE.   But, if you are newer to church or to the Christian faith, this informal chat might be up your alley.  

 

Bible Alive: (Elementary Age)   11:15 am  Every Sunday 

 

The same great program will be even better as the new time frame allows for more outdoor activities, a variety of craft projects, and even service opportunities.   Spiritual lessons, Bible stories, prayer time, will be offered in age appropriate ways to guide our children in their faith formation.  

 

Youth Group: (Middle and High School)  11:15 am Every Sunday 

 

Activities  are still being formulated for the fall.  We are working to partner with First Christian Church of Concord, to develop some dynamic youth activities.  In the works are BBQ, Crop Walk, youth singing group, and more.   If you have a home near the church campus and would like to host a lunch, swim party, or other activity, contact the church office.  

 

 

Special 5th Sunday Activities: 11:15 am  

 

Approximately every quarter there is a fifth Sunday of the month.  On those dates we will try and plan special activities.  On Oct 29 (the next fifth Sunday) Rita Lilly will lead us in “The Benefits and Joy of Singing”.   This will be a program for the singer and non-singer alike, to learn how to use our breath, experience our voice, and get some positive neurons firing away.  Guaranteed to fun and beneficial for everyone.   

 

 

So, there is a little preview of the new fall Sunday schedule.  There are many more activities happening, so keep reading Grace Notes and checking out the website.   Get involved and together we will have a great fall season.  

 

Best, 

Steve 

September 8, 2017

Sermons: Not Just A Monologue

I receive many questions regarding my process for developing sermons.  At times, it is hard to explain. Probably, because it isn’t always the same. Also, it is deeply personal and flows out of my own life experiences and creative process. It’s difficult to describe what is going on in this brain of mine (it’s a bit messy up there). But I thought I would take a moment to write about my sermon process, and the role, you, as the congregation play in it, as well. 

 

By now, you probably have a feel for my sermon ‘style’.  I feel a sermon should be conversational in style, even if it is more of a monologue. Even without immediate feedback, sermons can be conversational in the sense that I’m not being authoritarian in my delivery. Rather, I hope to offer my perspective and what I consider compelling. 

I receive many questions regarding my process for developing sermons.  At times, it is hard to explain. Probably, because it isn’t always the same. Also, it is deeply personal and flows out of my own life experiences and creative process. It’s difficult to describe what is going on in this brain of mine (it’s a bit messy up there). But I thought I would take a moment to write about my sermon process, and the role, you, as the congregation play in it, as well. 

 

By now, you probably have a feel for my sermon ‘style’.  I feel a sermon should be conversational in style, even if it is more of a monologue. Even without immediate feedback, sermons can be conversational in the sense that I’m not being authoritarian in my delivery. Rather, I hope to offer my perspective and what I consider compelling. 

 

Hopefully, this sparks interest and dialogue. When religion gets ‘authoritarian’, it is not only obnoxious, it becomes quite harmful.   So, I know I share from my perspective and journey, but I am aware that I have never completely cornered the truth.  A really good sermon is one that the congregation finishes on their own.  Or perhaps, good sermons are never really finished, because we continue to wrestle with the topic.  

 

There are a variety of ways in which I can choose the sermon topic. Let me explain a few of them. 

 

Many churches operate from a lectionary. A lectionary is a thought-out calendar of scriptures, that rotate on a three -year cycle. The beauty of this method is that you journey with a vast number of other Christians, who are considering the same texts on that given week. The lectionary follows thematically the church calendar and the various Christian holidays. So, the texts are appropriate for the season.

 

I have preached from the lectionary before. I find it challenging, in that it forces me to consider texts that I may not otherwise choose. Lectionary preaching also allows for easier worship planning; everything is preplanned. The difficulty for me, is that if I’m not passionate about the particular texts, or it doesn’t resonate with current events, it can feel a bit forced and dry. Also, pastors who preach from lectionaries can have the tendency to ‘squeeze’ a text into what it is they really want to say.  There is both a beauty and a limitation to preaching from the lectionary. 

 

Current events certainly influence my sermon choices.  Preaching should address real world situations.  Charles Spurgeon famously remarked that a good preacher should have a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.   However, this can have its issues as well.  If I subject myself to whatever is ‘hot’ on the 24 hour news media cycle, I will allow others to set the agenda for my preaching and the church’s focus.   I can’t respond to every whim (or tweet) from a politician.  So, there should be a balance of us setting the agenda for our times of worship together, and being sensitive to what is happening in the world. 

 

Holidays, holidays and more holidays have an influence on my sermon topic. There are the obvious Christian celebrations: Easter, Christmas, Advent, Pentecost. But there are many more cultural holidays: Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc…  Quite a few when you add them all up. 

 

I try and honor holidays, but there is a point where I must set aside our cultural or national celebrations, otherwise the church calendar gets dominated by a national calendar.  Sometimes we forget that the church is global in its purview, not national.   

 

Lastly, I like to develop sermons based on what is happening in the life of our congregation, both collectively and as individuals. In 1 Corinthians 7:1, Paul writes, “Now

concerning the matters about which you wrote…”   Paul is responding directly to the questions and concerns that the congregation specifically asked him about. I like to preach sermons in this manner as well.  I enjoy receiving questions and suggestions that lead to the selection of sermon topics.  So, I invite you to be part of the sermon process, not just in the listening, but in the posing of questions, expressing concerns, and suggesting topics of interest.  My ‘inbox’ is wide open. 

 

I hope this gives some insight into how sermons chosen and developed for our worship services.  I truly see it as a communal process, and the more we share it together, the more nurturing it will be for all of us. 

 

Blessings,

Steve

September 1, 2017

Being the Church - Proactive Compassion

I once heard an old-timey preacher say, “belonging to a church is a bit like wearing a parachute - it can be a bit cumbersome at times, but when you really need it, you’ll be glad it’s there.”   

 

As Hurricane Harvey pounded the Houston area and caused massive flooding, we saw the resulting devastation.    I’m sure all of us began to pray, and wondered what else we could do. 

 

At Lafayette Christian Church, we are part of a larger connection of churches, our denomination the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Our denomination has a variety of agencies that work  year round, throughout the world, to bring hope, healing and wholeness to a broken world.   By working collectively with our fellow Christian Church (Disciples of Christ Churches), we are able to extend our reach globally and be prepared when disaster strikes. 

 

At our church, we take six special offerings annually to support this collective good work.  Each February we take an offering for Week of Compassion.  When Hurricane Harvey hit land, Week of Compassion was already at work, coordinating with other agencies, to bring relief to those who needed it most.   You can learn more about their efforts, by visiting their website: http://www.weekofcompassion.org/our-impact/

When a disaster hits, its nice to know that our cooperation and coordination with other churches in our denomination, is a proactive way of being prepared for such events.  It is a proactive way of being compassionate, to those who will need help.   When Harvey hit, “we” were already there.  Yes, we will need to continue to support the relief efforts, but thanks to your support of Week of Compassion, good work is already being done. 

 

Denominational structures and special offerings, may feel a bit cumbersome at times.  But, like a parachute, the people who are helped by these efforts, are really, really glad that they are there.

Steve

August 25, 2017

Fruit of the Spirit - Make It Memorable

My sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit concluded last Sunday.  We looked at each of the nine virtues listed in the Galatians 5:22-23:  the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  (some translations vary slightly).  

As a Christian, I have been encouraged over the years to memorize various passages that were to aid my faith: The Lord’s Prayers, John 3:16, The Apostles’ Creed, Amazing Grace, etc…   You might reflect on the prayers, hymns, creeds, or passages of scripture that you have memorized.  Why were these particular passages chosen?  What do those passages emphasize?  What does it reveal about the communities that committed those particular passages to memory?  

I have memorized the Fruit of the Spirit passage.  It has been a prayerful and meditative exercise for me to ‘ruminate’ on each virtue listed.   When I wake up in the morning, it is one of my first ‘prayers.’   As I go to sleep, I try to calm my breath, while repeating the passage to myself.  Also, it has been a ‘mantra’ throughout my day.  

I chose this passage to memorize because it reminds me of the qualities God wants me to exhibit in my life.  It is a gentle reminder of how to discover and embody what is truly sacred.  
 

 I appreciate the comments I have received about the sermon series.  I pray that it was meaningful and helpful to your spiritual journey.  

My one last encouragement, would be for you to make it “memorable” and find a way to incorporate the Fruit of the Spirit passage into your daily life. 

May we be fruitful, 

Steve 

Lafayette Christian Church        584 Glenside Drive  Lafayette, CA  94549       925-283-8304