Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dawnings Process at Centerville

The Dawnings Process at Centerville Baptist Church

The following post comes from Kevin Ritter, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church in Chesapeake, Va. Centerville was one of the churches that participated in the Dawnings Pilot Group. You can learn more about Dawnings at the Leadership Institute at General Assembly.
dawnings the processWe were in new territory.  At our very first retreat with CBF personnel present, one of the main influencers in the congregation asked, “Why the ‘s’ on Dawnings?”  We were so fresh and green to this process that we had very little idea what to expect, what was going to happen next, how to plan or how to react.  We just knew we were there and ready to learn about this new process.  At the beginning of the process, our church would not have even considered itself a “CBF” church.  In short our thoughts were,“God, to what new land are you taking us?”
Before the retreat was completed, some of the aspects of using the spiritual disciplines were really catching our attention and we went away with a desire to see this process worked out further in our church.  So, we went home and gathered a group to be our first Dawnings Contextual Design Team.  We gathered folks from across the age spectrum.  We also wanted people with differing ideas as to what our church “should be.”
Once we started our meetings it was interesting to see how things worked.  One participant said:
“Through our meditations and Scripture readings, God invited me to see things in a fresh, exciting way.  He prodded me to look beyond the day-to-day, week-to-week.  God challenged me to “work smarter,” to examine what I think is important. . .”
The group covenanted with a challenge to plan 9 to 12 months of life together for our church.  We began to recognize that the kind of work we were doing is what churches should always be doing, but are often unwilling invest to the time and effort to fully complete.  Two main things seem to resonate from our time together:
1)  We have more resources than we thought we did.  There is absolutely no reason for us to operate out of a sense of inadequacy or scarcity.  A participant said, “I discovered that the church has a lot more resources than I realized. There are a lot of areas we can develop over time and this process was a great way to draw those to the forefront.”
2)  We desire unity and family, but we are not accomplishing that in our church.  This sounded tough to hear, but acknowledging this reality seemed to free us up.  It was like we did not have to keep looking over the obvious.
When it was time to implement the 9 to 12 months of life together, it was refreshing to see other folks dive into the creativity and energy produced by the Dawnings process.  We mainly worked with worship and we had a worship service in the fellowship hall so folks could talk around tables, not because the heat or A/C was out in the sanctuary.  We had a potter come and take over another sermon – the best sermon I never preached.  Everyone seemed to be watching God form them as she was forming the clay on the wheel.  We have seen new language being used about the mission/direction/purpose of the church and our leadership thinking more creatively and organically. There were many other benefits of Dawnings, if every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole blog would not have room for the words that would be written.
When asked if we should do it again, there was a resounding YES!  So, the best thing I can say is that through this process, God showed up.  He was waiting on us to let him guide us into His dream for our church and our community and our world.
One participant in his 60’s that has been in Baptist life all of his life said it this way:
“For me, this process renewed efforts gone nearly dormant. The enthusiasm of the participants was encouraging and contagious. Certainly, I heard (and, I’m sure, expressed) thoughts from previous attempts at a discussion similar to this, but without the depth and preparation of the participants. If we were an accurate cross-section of the church body, then there is a brighter hope for the future for this family, at least in my mind. Whether or not we are out of the wilderness that we earned a trip through, I’m not sure, but the light is becoming brighter through the trees. If there are enough Ryan’s and Maisie’s (youngest participants) in the Christian family, then God has a solid foundation for the future of His church.”
Thanks CBF for helping bring Dawnings to our church!
God Be With You In The Journey!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Reflection after 3 1/2 hours of voting

This is the first time in my ministry career that a church I serve has been a polling place for a Presidential election.  Here are some of my initial observations:

1. WOW - I estimate over 200 people in the initial line at 6:00 AM.
2. Wow - 4:30 am is early to be here to open up the church building.
3. Can I say it again? Wow - folks are very nice to one another in the voting lines.
4. The election officials are really nice too.
5. I was very pleased with most of the campaigns getting signs in the correct places.  One campaign that starts with an "R" did not follow directions.
6. It is taking about 12 minutes from the door of the fellowship hall to get totally done voting.
7. If the line goes down the main hall, wraps around the commons area, past the sanctuary entrance and halfway back up the hall, it takes about an hour to get done voting.
8. People like coffee in the voting line.  I went through 7 pots by 9:00 AM.
9. Our parking lot is almost not big enough for this crowd.  Amazing.
10. It feels good to be an American right now. Too bad the political process is not always this congenial.

God be with you in the Journey!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We stand for...

My name is Kevin Ritter, I am not running for office, and I approve this message.
When politicians first started putting their voice on adds and saying they were approving a television or radio ad, I thought it might make them a little more careful about what they allowed to go on in their name and with their approval.  I thought that maybe we would get more adds about what the candidates were for and not about how their opponents were wrong or bad or some other negative statement.  Isn’t that why we dislike election times so much?  All of the negativity.
That is also why many people dislike church and Christianity.  Many pastors spend most of their time explaining what “good Christians” should be against.  As most of you know, I am not like most pastors.  I am not mad at liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists, Gays, Lesbians, straight people, unmarried people, married people, workaholics, unemployed, civilians, military, sinners, saints, or any group of people that I can think of.  I will admit that I do try to stay clear of religiously self-righteous people because I do not want to get angry, but they even got under Jesus’ skin too. (That always helps me rationalize it)
So, what should we be for?  What and who should we stand up for?  In Jesus’ first sermon in Luke 4, he quotes Isaiah 61 when he says:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This says a great deal about what and who Jesus is for, but it does not say who or what he is against.  Jesus is for God (the Lord) and accepts the power God has placed upon him and that drives him to proclaim good and wonderful things to those in need and that are hurting.   Jesus went on to give his life for everyone on Earth.  When we are not focusing on those around us that are in need, when they are not who we are for, we are not standing for God.  This causes us to focus on our own situations (both good and bad) too much.  When we are serving others and proclaiming the good news with our whole life, and sometimes using words, then we stand for God and our own issues and worries do not seem so big. 
Therefore, I stand for serving those in need and people that are hurting in many ways, no matter what group they are part of.  Why, because Jesus loves me and I do not deserve it and if I claim to follow him, I am challenged to love and serve like him.  I am giving my life and the resources of this church for those that need to see and experience the good news.  I am sure that means we need to help and love one another inside the church too, but if that is all we do, we miss the point.  Who will you serve today?  Who will stand up for today?
God be with you in the Journey,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Biblical" Womanhood and More

Here is a video from a female blogger that should cause you to really think.  Think about how we use the word "biblical" and how we understand many things that we usually just take for granted.  I advise that you stay with the video until you hear her story about watching a video of an Afghan woman being killed.  You can hear more from Rachel Held Evans at:

I have been researching many different opinions about Jesus' Second Coming and though I had heard of Rachel's books, I had not read her blog.  I came across her stuff because she stood up to the big time pastor Mark Driscoll and called him a bully because he just throws around his words on facebook and other public venues without counting the cost of who may get hurt, especially women and gay people.  He too often forgets how Jesus approaches those that are different from him.  Rachel has helped me by putting my frustrations in much nicer and more Godly words and actions. I hope you
God be with you in the Journey!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Beautiful Things

I love this time of year.  I blog more because I get pushed more by events and situations in my life.  It is a time of transition as the kids are home everyday that they are not staying with friends at the Outerbanks or something like that.  The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Assembly always helps me see things new and hopeful.  Even though I did not attend this year in Fort Worth, I still was able to experience Daniel Vestal's final sermon online.  Last year I went to the first ever Wildgoose Festival at Shakori Hills, NC.  It was amazing.  This year I was only able to go to Sunday's concerts.  I went to see David Crowder, but I was really blown away by Gungor.  Lynnette found a video last night that uses Gungor's Beautiful Things song.  Take a look.  Maybe you could purchase it and use it in your church, home, work, school, etc.
Thank God that I do not have to live with the image I have of myself as the final word on who I am.  God's grace and love is truly amazing.
God be with you in the Journey!

Click here to see video

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Glory of God quote

Once you taste
the glory of God,
everything else
is plastic.
Daniel Vestal,
Final Sermon to CBF
General Assembly                     
 6/22/2012 in Ft. Worth, TX

Saturday, March 31, 2012

NCAA Bracket

I do not usually spend time on my blog talking about sports, but the Final Four, March Madness, etc. is one of my favorite times of the year.  Of course, football season is the ultimate best, but March Madness is great.  So many memories.  NC State's Jim Valvano running onto the court after beating Houston in 1983 is a classic that really brought me fully into the sport.  I had always enjoyed watching Norm Stewart's Mizzou teams win with Jon Sunvold and Steve Stipanovich.  But watching Clyde the Glide get beat by the original Cinderella Team really caught the excitement of the tournament for me.  Then so many great moments, the best of which was trying to lead a youth event in a basement in Taylorsville, KY, in 1992 while Kentucky was playing the favorite Duke in what many call the best game ever.  We gave up the youth plan and watched the game.
   Now, I am having a great problem:  Kentucky is my second favorite team (behind Mizzou, but I cannot yet talk about Mizzou's performance in the tournament this year) and Kansas is my most disliked team.  If Kentucky wins, I lose my office bracket game.  If Kansas wins, and Kentucky loses, I win the bracket game.  So, how can a good Missouri boy every cheer for KU?  I know Jesus tells us to love our enemies, but I guess I will just sacrifice the bracket game.
  I know this is not too spiritual, but I have to admit, it is on my mind.  I hope anyone that actually reads this far will realize it does not even really matter.  I just enjoy the game most of all.  Shoot, I may even get my nephew a Norfolk State T-shirt since he is a KU fan.

Have fun in whatever lifts your spirit today!

God be with you in the Journey!