Archive for September, 2012

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Four Things Churches Can Learn From Dragon Con (Part 2)

September 19, 2012

 Continuing from my previoust post, we now go to the third thing that churches can learn from Dragon Con… 

  3) Passion!  An understatement to say the least.  Man, the energy that consumes the convention among the Brethren of Nerds and Geeks is absolutely overwhelming!  In spite of the     vendor halls promoting and selling tags, shirts, pins, and stickers bashing Christian’s (a subject for another time given I was there to celebrate our common interests) I have to really hand it to the crowd, they sure know how share their passion for white-knuckled fandom!  Everyone is having a great time and they let that energy pass from one high five to another.  Again, celebrating what makes them collectively tick and doing it rather well.  Not to say that a given Sunday service isn’t “always” exciting or spiritually elevated but I recognize the consistency by which my fellow geeks excel at it. It’s the kind of passion that really attracts one to see what they’re all about. Well, that’s the kind of passion I believe we need to consistently live out if we are to attract others to see what “we’re” all about.

A compelling attraction brought on by a true passion, demonstrating active compassion which can ultimately tear away the many stigmas’ inaccurately characterizing the faith these days.  We share it wisely; share it in acceptance and always in love. And in doing so, celebrate what makes us tick and then pass that kind of excitement from one waiting high-five to another! But that passion has to be active first in our own lives before we can ever offer it up to anyone else.  So it’s passion that naturally leads in to my final point of what churches can learn from the Con and that’s being…. 

 4) Unapologetically Bold     Listen, I truly believe Convention folks have re-defined this term in ways I can’t even describe.  Oh yeah! I mean in their exquisite costuming, people wear everything to almost practically nothing without a second thought. The same goes for those who collect books, toys, shirts, write short stories, play games till five in the morning, or whatever  fan track’s they commit to sitting through the entire weekend. It’s in their boldness that they lower their guard, lose any and all inhibitions, and unapologetically profess “Yo, I’m a Geek, I wear it proudly on my sleeve (or lack thereof) and I simply don’t care what you think of me!” And that stance is not only rampant but encouraged among the thousands present.  Why? Because there’s confidence and security in numbers.

When you’re among thousands of people with like interests and sharing it with excitement, you realize, you’re not the only geek out there. So you not only become bold for just those three days, you take that boldness or that confidence home with you and don’t go anywhere else without it. Well here we go…we should do the same. And no, I’m not talking about being odd for God or the zealot we encountered on the corner after a Con parade yelling “Turn or Burn, or you gonna Die and Fry!” No! There is a difference in boldly professing interests and hobbies than slamming your worldview in someone’s face. God expects spiritual Fruit NOT religious Nuts!

A brilliant quote from one my favorite Apologists just sprang to mind, “After you’ve cut off a person’s nose, there’s no point in offering them a rose to smell”. Any attempts profoundly undermines all pronouncements as to who we are as Christ followers. That said, we (as a church) cannot afford to play American Express and leave home without Christ.  If I claim to love His teachings, His sacrifice, and accepting a life in stride with Him…how can I possibly consider leaving my love for Jesus at home? That’s like saying to my wife, “Honey, I want to hold your hand, kiss and hug you, and tell you that I love you, but only when I’m at home with you. And wherever we go outside of it, you be sure to keep your distance…Ok?”. Seriously? And in adopting that idea how are we ever to demonstrate or share who God is?  I have witnessed those who claim the faith become more and more guarded when someone walks by their conversation about church or anything to do with a life in Christ. It’s a hush-hush knee jerk reaction! No, you’re not the only one out there. Grow your confidence by being among those who will encourage you and challenge your faith. Get connected into Life Groups and become active in fellowship through corporate Sunday worship or even through local missions.

That encouragement (along with committed studies) will grant you the confidence to talk out your faith and allow it to be heard.  Proclaim your statements boldly and in love so that the person overhearing it just might want to hear more.  And if they want to engage…receive them and invite them into your conversation!  Boldly Profess where No One Has Professed Before! Sorry, obviously could not be helped.  Also, stay compassionate in spite of any criticism. Understand that in many occasions, it’s in your reaction to such criticisms that will make the biggest impression. After all, you may be the only bible a person will ever read. So wear it well on your sleeve and don’t waiver from the message that endears us to those in need of hearing it. Church family, this is what’s needed to make an impact and if you read about it further; it’s all we’re supposed to do. We’re to boldly share our faith. It’s not up to us as to whether the person we share it with will accept it, a mistake I see way too often.  Once shared, that decision is solely between them and God. But we have to represent every area of Christianity as best as we possibly can and do it unapologetically.

Well, there it is in its entire splendor and I do hope you enjoyed this rather cheeky expose. Not expecting to have everyone agree with my views but it is just that, my personal views.  I believe we do things well as a church but there’s always room to improve and to learn universal principles from a given source.

The Con offered great experiences and great insight. There were many costumes and many wonderful coats adorned that weekend. And through all my excitement in those three days and dressing up in costume for one of those nights, the coat of Christianity is the one I’ve chosen to adorn daily and also for the rest of my life. I’m nowhere near perfect nor do I ever pretend to be.   I am just living out this life the best way that I can and I surely want to represent my fandom for Christ by loving on people (from all walks and all beliefs) as best as I’m able. Hopefully demonstrating what it means to wear such a coat.  And however long I’m granted to be here, I pray that my practice of essential unity, my knowledge and passion on the subject as well as my unapologetic stance, can be thoughtfully witnessed by everyone closest to me and by those I’ll meet only once.

So that in the end, their offered testimony is simply stated; “Daddy, Babe, Son, Bro, Buddy,  Geek, Tim Roman… you wore that coat well.”

Live Long and Prosper in His Glory and May That Force Be With You Always,

Your Puerto Rican Deacon

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Four Things Churches Can Learn From Dragon Con (Part 1)

September 17, 2012

I’m a geek. That’s no secret. I mean “Jedipastor.org” right?  And by the way, that’s me sporting the goofy grin next to Vader. I do probably announce that truth to our church more times than the members care to hear about it.  Most likely to the point where they’re saying, “All right, we get it Tim, you’re a nerd.”  Yes, yes I am. And like I mentioned before in one of my teachings, I’m not the most articulate fellow in the world (which extends to  my writing so please forgive any grammatical errors) and I didn’t go to seminary, or take a course in public speaking. But I know the subjects I’m passionate about. So if you want to ask me anything on (oh) say action figures, superheroes, movies, Jesus, art, and Star Wars (and not necessarily in that order) I’ll talk your ears off.  So it’s my passion for such things that have richly molded me into the person that I so proudly am today. Well, that’s what my Mom tells me anyways.

In gearing up to go to last week’s Dragon Con (the Super Bowl of geek conventions here in Atlanta), Howard Koepka half-jokingly suggested that my next blog should be an expose entitled The Six Things Churches Could Learn from the Con.  I was amused by his suggestion and almost wrote it off until I thought about it some more. “Hey, you know what? I think my pastor might be on to something here.”  So that weekend, I mentioned this idea to great friends of ours who were joining us for the Con and we took note to see what those things might be. Well, in mulling over this subject while there, I’ve condensed this list to four things. So with that established, let me share with you, what I believe, are The Four Things Churches Can Learn from Dragon Con…..

1)      Essential Unity    In churches today, there tends to be this “us against them mentality”. If you’re not a Protestant, Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist, Pentecostal, Catholic, or eve Non-Denominational, then you’re obviously not doing church “correctly”.  Each prescribing to their teaching and worship styles over the other. At the Con, I was among a variety of Geeks in those three days. There were Harry Potter Geeks, Star Wars Geeks, Trekkies/Trekkers (they know the difference where I do not), Gamers, costumers, artists…you name it! And over the years, I never once saw or heard from any of those factions’ attempts to try to convince a person that their brand of fandom was superior to another.  I didn’t see the Star Trek fan poking a Star Wars fan in the chest proclaiming Spock is wiser than Yoda or that Luke can flip circles around Kirk…which, by the way, He can… there were no contentions.  In the grand scheme of things, there may have been that kind of debating but I’m sure to say that it was all in fun and never in ostracizing fashion. You see, in this setting, those non- essential items( or preferences) didn’t hinder the essential fun fact that everyone was there to celebrate one thing. We’re all Geeks! Well, that kind of unity attracts. And churches could do a better a job in recognizing how the non- essentials tend to be a divisive obstacle we create for ourselves rather than focusing on the essentials which would enable us to celebrate who we are, lock arms, and share God’s light in a highly effective way. How much more positively influential can we then be? Bottom line, at the Con, denominations sure get along.

2)      Knowing Our Subject Matter    Geeks sure know theirs! I can assure you that whatever preference a fellow geek is in to( be it a game, movie, book, art, costumes, or a great Sci-Fi show), it’s not just watched, read about, played, and studied “one” day a week.   The fandom you witness at conventions is “experienced” daily in a geek’s life!  They soak this stuff up to where they know “who” said “what” played by “you know who”  on episode “so and so”  which aired on channel  “something- something” back in 1976 and it doesn’t stop there!  They know their movies, directors, books, and authors and on and on and on! And they breathe it to the point where it’s part of their very being. I mean the more they know about it, the more they tend to be fulfilled in sharing it with others just as excited about the subject or to those who’s never heard of it. Believe me, that’s me! Well, how about that? I truly believe we as a church (not the building for corporate Sunday fellowship but as the body of Christ) should absolutely aspire to do likewise! We tend to adopt apathetic beliefs and merely save what we “want to know” for only a Sunday setting. One day a week. Well, if we profess who Christ is in our lives, should we not also commit to the study and historicity of Christendom to the degree where we read it, study it, and breathe it daily? Shouldn’t we also Geek out about it in the same exciting way? And like the Con setting, it takes commitment.  And it should be a commitment that is the result of wanting to understand our history (His Story), grasp its truths and apply it fruitfully to our own lives. Listen the more we can learn, the more we’re likely to share that knowledge in a new, exciting way that can inspire people to consider our proposition and to look into it further rather than leaning on the un-inspiring and lazy “Don’t ask questions, Just accept it on faith” stance.  It can be done but we really need to make an effort to know our subject matter rather than having it dictated by someone who doesnt believe in it. So let’s hit the books!

Stay tuned for 3 & 4 in( part 2 )of what churches can learn from the Dragon Con…

Your Puerto Rican Deacon