Justin Bieber and Sarah Palin have love child

Not really.

As you know, this title is an example of what is called "click-bait". A tag or headline that is so shocking that it "baits" you to click the link thus driving up traffic. Since the risk of missing the story is greater than the energy it costs to click the link and be duped, we click the link. 

Click bait is what many people use to attract attention on a noisy internet. It is difficult to be heard on the internet and thus using headlines like this or "ten ways to..." or "3 reasons that..." or "23 pictures of ..." generally are the types of headlines we see on the internet. It should be no shock that the most visited post in the history of this site is titled - 10 WEIRD THINGS KIDS DO AT COMMUNION I WISH MORE ADULTS WOULD DO

If you attend churches you will see a church form of click bait in two places - Church signs and sermon title.

I don't have to point out all the sites dedicated to church signs and the crazy stuff that is put up on these marquees. Just google it any you will find all sorts of slogans. From the cheesy (Sign broken, message inside) to the appalling (Christmas: Easier to spell than Hanukkah). The point is that the roads, like the internet, is noisy and you "need" a church sign that stands out and gets people's attention. You need click bait! I guess?

The other and perhaps more frustrating to me is the click bait sermon titles. The idea for some is to have a sermon title that people will remember. So you get sermon titles like "Wait Watchers" or "You Can't Have Your Kate and Edith too" or "You Can't Win if you Don't Begin". What I don't understand is that if someone is sitting in worship, they are choosing to listen to the preacher. They can leave at any point. We preachers don't need to "warm up the crowd" or "get a joke in early" as a way to "engage the masses". So preachers, let us remember that if people are in the pew, they are choosing to be there. Lets stop giving fluff and start giving substance.

Finally to the non-preacher types:

On behalf of the church I am sorry for click bait in the church. I am sorry that we treat people like drones who need us to come up with quirky, silly or lame titles of things just to encourage you to visit/listen. 

Finally, I present - Justin Bieber and Sarah Palin's love child

Church and the person who tries too hard at the improv show

Recently I attended an improv comedy show here in Fort Worth, 4 Day Weekend with some of the church members of Saginaw UMC. It was a great time. The thing I have learned about going to an improv show or a stand-up comedy club is that if you are picked - don't try to be funny. Let the comedians do the funny stuff, just be yourself and let them play off your responses. 

It is really painful to watch a person try to be funnier than the people who make a living making people laugh. You can see they are trying too hard to be cool or be quick or witty. They are uncomfortable in their own skin that they feel they have to over compensate and be someone they are not. It sometimes seems like people are convinced they are not interesting just as they are and they feel they have to make stuff up to look interesting. And the irony is the more you try to look interesting the less interesting you are - see the Kardashian family.


In all honesty, it is not just in the clubs and improv shows that people try too hard to be interesting in order to draw attention. It happens all the time in our churches. And not just in the church sign fails that float around that force many of us to slap our heads in disbelief. 

The Church is really doing a disservice to the entire cloud of witness when we try too hard to be cool or funny. 

People want authenticity. People want real. People want honesty. People can see when we are trying too hard and it makes everyone uncomfortable and want to slap our heads in disbelief.

The story of God is interesting enough. We don't have to try to be something we are not just to get attention or try to keep up with all the other messages out there. Just be yourself.

You are interesting enough.  

Water into wine is not a miracle

Last week in the sermon at SUMC we had the makings of a dialogical sermon in which the community was asked for a number of responses to a number of questions. As we heard from the community there were a few things that struck me and while you can hear the sermon on the Saginaw UMC website, there is one thing that I would mention about the wedding in Cana story that came into my head as the conversation was going on. 

Jesus does not preform a miracle by turning the water into wine. A miracle is rather easy to get bogged down in. Either we are caught up in the mechanics of the miracle: I read a debate about this story in which one side argued that the wine Jesus made was not sitting long enough to ferment and so while Jesus may have made wine, it was non-alcoholic! OR we use science to dismiss the supernatural aspects of the story and we miss the point all together.

The water to wine is not a miracle because miracles are also centered on the miracle worker. When someone today preforms a "miracle" (from the miracle on ice to the miracle on 34th street) then it is that person who preforms the miracle who gets all the credit. The miracle stops with the miracle worker. 

But if the water to wine story is not a miracle, then what is it? Look no farther than what the story says - it is a sign

And by definition, a sign is something which points to something beyond itself.

So what is the sign of water to wine pointing us to? I submit the gospel writer leaves little guess work. Take a look at just a few of the connections to the wedding to another episode in the story:

  1. Jesus' mother appears only at the wedding feast and and at the crucifiction. 
  2. There are stone jars and a stone tomb.
  3. The wedding happens on the 7th day of the John's story, inaugurating a new creation.
  4. The wine (a connection to Christ's blood) is what replaces water that removes sin.
  5. The sign takes place during a wedding, a place in which a new a "new covenant" is established between two people.

Who cares?

Well, if the story is a miracle, then we cannot participate in the miracle. It is something that is locked in the past for us to debate and get bogged in the wrong conversation.

A sign is something we can participate in. You and I can be a sign maker. 

Related post: You may recall my efforts to stop random acts of kindness?