29 April 2010

Relational connections

We listened to a three hour donor maintenance webinar today that was actually for the ministry we work for, but we couldn't help but draw the personal conclusions since we are in the midst of raising our missions budget.

We have another three hours tomorrow that I think are suppose to be more nitty gritty, so I will be interested to see the details.

A lot of what the firm is suggesting has to do with creating and developing relationship with donors that is beyond asking for money. The good news is that a lot of what we did last time we raised money was instinctively (or left over communications degree knowledge) relational. The only way we knew to work was to get to know people/churches until we finally met our budget.

But now it has to go to deeper. That's what we're learning. Lots of networking, somehow linking your communications medium together (like this blog - or maybe our official missionary one), websites, email etc. Communicating about things that aren't always fund raising. I don't know where to start or how. I want to be really good at helping people know how important their giving is and how much we appreciate their efforts.

What makes you feel connected and want to participate (in a financial or personal way) in a non-profit, charitable or religious organization?

22 April 2010

Ring of Fire

A couple weeks ago, I got to witness the spectacular prairie fires of the Flint Hills. During the day, these were marked by giant plumes of smoke billowing in the distance and then as we drew nearer we would see pockets of fire gnawing it's way across cattle country in thin lines. But then we saw them at night. Incredible - one of the new wonders of the world in my opinion. I'm so glad we saw them.

It was other worldly and surreal. Rings of orange fire burning on a totally black background and gray smoke differentiating the sky. The fire burns in small lines and uses up the dried winter wisps of prairie grass. It isn't a raging fire but pockets, lines, and rings. When it meets a damp spot or a gulley, it just dies out.
Prairie Fire 1

We read at the truck stop that the fires are set and also occur naturally as lightening strikes with the spring storms. Also the Native American's used to set the fires to have better grazing lands that would attract buffalo herds.

It also said that the fires are good for the vegatation. Apparently a variety of grasses and wildflowers are rooted 10-15 feet deep in the rolling hills and without the fires, the full scope of vegatation won't happen. A couple weeks later driving through the same section, it was already getting green and the parts that had not burned were still a tangle of brown winter grass.

I was thinking how as people it is so hard to change. We don't want the challenges and the suffering that life brings. I was thinking about the economic fire that is burning in the world today. What if we need the surface scorched off in a brief prairie fire in order to let the good, deeper things emerge? Will we know what is important and what our priorities are because we've had to go through this economic fire? God can use the scorched earth of these hard times to bring out the better and deeper things in us. Something beautiful, full, rich and green. If only I can see past the fire, to the wildflowers and bounty beyond.

13 April 2010

Green, green, green

After living in a very brown environment, Madrid, Spain, and after surviving the snow every other day winter of Kansas City, I am reveling in the green of spring. Mercifully despite a late snow, it didn't freeze out the flowering trees or bushes and everything has bloomed gloriously. I'm lovin' it!

While the tulip trees are shedding their brief moment of pink and white, I noticed today that many, many yards in the area are rioting with purple violet-type flowers or stalks of light purple flowers and the accompanying dandilions. Green, purple, and yellow. It's a beautiful pallet and I was delighted with it walking today.

Now, I know in, ahem shall we say, other neighborhoods this would not be acceptable. The grass would be a respectable deep green and there would be none of this frolicking of purple and yellow mixed in to the pristine green.

I love, love, love the flower mixture in a yard. It is so casual and happy, even if it is not what a yard is "suppose" to be. I've never had the perfect yard so maybe I'm biased.

On the other hand, a big patch of that perfect green, makes me want to disregard my dignity and roll on my back in the yard like a happy pouch. I guess me wallowing in the perfect greenness would take some of the prperness out of it, huh?

06 April 2010

Must we?

Lately I've been wondering why we can't all get along.

Recently I've come across several fairly vicious Christian criticisms of other Christians. I know in the course of the world the denominations of Christianity have split over a host of doctrinal issues. I have no doubt that the crucial doctrine in question seemed important enough to start a new church...but now we have a lot of name brands if you will that mostly agree on a lot of things. I'm not saying denominations should give up their differences what's bothering me is the individual attacks.

Take for instance the worship wars. The debate between old and new music. Style in my opinion but someone recently said the new style has no depth and is useless and not spiritual at all. I'm willing to say all things are not beneficial but much is about perspective and to right off an entire portion of the population because you don't like it is pretty rough stuff.  The thing is this goes both ways; the older people don't like the new music and the younger people don't like the old music. No one is happy. We can't look around and say, I don't like this but it ministers to someone here, so I will close my eyes and worship God and ignore what I don't like. I would argue it's style but someone recently told me - no,  there is no content. Wow.

A VERY popular book in recent years referred to as cultic, major hits by major radio/tv preachers at other really famous preacher guys. Emerging "style" or mega-church style versus old school. It's not an argument of style but an accusation of only tickling ears and leading people astray. Astray? So the basic tenet of Jesus born of a virgin, died, rose from the dead and he is the only way isn't common ground that you can say, "Hey, I don't like your style" and just go on?

Is there so little evil in the world that the Christian community has to resort to attacking itself? Is what in my perview is style so important that we send our fellow believers to hell on these things? I know sometimes the doctrinal issues pop up in these things. I went to a church for several years and finally one day had to say, that doctrine isn't lining up with my Bible. While I moved on and I'm uncomfortable with certain tv preachers and that version of Christianity, I wouldn't say those people are going to hell. I also wouldn't contributre to their ministry or encourage others in that path. But do I need to lambast them?

Nevermind the individual version of this where we judge people for hair or clothes or smelling of smoke or drink or whatever. We seem to be on the judging train both corporately for other versions of church as well as individually for those personal sins and issues as well.

What a shock that the people who don't go to church don't want to come.  I have tried to imagine the impact we human beings could have if we loved like Jesus, unconditionally and yet with such purity it makes sin run. I know I'm not doing that idea justice, what about you?