What Is An Installation Service And Why Should We Hold One?

This Sunday, 16 June 2013, Bangsar Lutheran Church will also hold an installation service for its 2013-2015 Church Council, who were elected during the 12th Annual General Meeting.

As the Church Council seeks to be installed this coming Sunday, they covet your prayers – that God’s wisdom, grace and love will guide them in their responsibilities.

To understand what an installation service is, and why we hold one, here’s a great article by The Rev. Dr. Mark W. Oldenburg:

Until a few years ago it seemed that only church workers and home appliances were “installed.” This led to some rather lame jokes at receptions (“Well, we’ve got you plugged into the hot water and the drain now!”) and some real misconceptions. For instance, appliances are pretty much interchangeable — one new Maytag Compact Washer (model MAH2400A) is pretty much identical to any other. And installing a home appliance doesn’t really change either the home or the appliance. They’re just connected now. The same is not true of workers and officers who are installed. They certainly aren’t interchangeable with all other possible candidates. Nor do they, or the organization, remain unchanged by being brought together.

That’s why we’re luckier now, since we have another and better (still not perfect, but better) use of “installation”. It’s now not only church workers and home appliances that are installed, but computer software. And that installation is a more complicated procedure than installing an appliance, mostly because installing software on a system requires changes not only in the software, but in the system. The two are not only connected, but adapted to one another.

Workers and organizations, too, are both changed when they’re connected. The worker has different responsibilities; the organization has new abilities; there vill be new ways to communicate within the organization’s structure. That those changes are happening is one of the things recognized publicly at an installation. Neither the one installed nor the organization is exactly the same once the person is in place.

Certainly that’s recognized in the ceremony of installation. But there are other truths recognized, and other things going on as well. Looking at what goes into such a ceremony might help bring those to the service.

While services for the installation of pastors, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, certified lay church workers, associates in ministry or unrostered lay people are different, they are similar enough to talk about together. Certain items appear in almost all of them:

  • A presentation of the installee, with reference to that person’s appointment;
  • A description of the position that person will be filling, with passages from the
  • New Testament related to ministry within the church;
  • Questioning of the installee, regarding their faith and intentions;
  • Questioning of the people assembled, regarding their willingness to work with the installee;
  • Announcement of installation and the acclamation of the community;
  • Blessing of the installee;
  • Prayers for the work of the installee, the organization, and the whole church

The presentation of symbols of the person’s service may also be part of the ceremony.

Just by its form and content, the service of installation will, therefore, do several things:

  • It will provide an opportunity for the organization to reaffirm its mission, since that is implied in the description of the position, and often stated in the prayers.
  • It will recognize and honor the work of those who sought out a person who could honestly and capably make the promises included in the service.
  • It will affirm the mutuality of the relationship between the person being in stalled and the people present at the installation — other staff; board members, clients, and other stakeholders. The installee promises to be faithful to the trust shown in offering the position; everyone else promises to work together with that person to accomplish the mission of the organization. By applause and by prayer, the community expresses its support.
  • It will declare that God and the church are intimately involved and interested in the work of this person and the organization. The prayers, once more, will at least imply that that interest is on-going. Indeed, the service’s similarity to rites which take place in congregations will imply that the life of this organization is, itself, an expression of the church and a way of carrying out the mission of God.
  • Especially where there has been a difficult transition, the service will help cement the movement of this person now into this office.

Even when the transition has been natural and easy, beginning the relationship with public, common affirmation and prayer is not simply an empty form. Humans seem to be created in such a way that we are moved by ritual. Not only can rituals be emotionally important (why do you think that we cry at weddings, even of people who have been living together for years?), they also seem to help with the movement of people from one social role to another. Of course it is not true that, unless he is installed, a person is not really a chaplain. But being installed does seem to help settle him into that role, in his eyes and in those of others. As a rite of passage, it won’t magically accomplish an improvement in communication and mutual support. But it will help.

How Martin Luther Went Viral

In celebration of Reformation Day today, here’s a fascinating (though dated) article from The Economist about how Martin Luther was the first social media ninja and how social media brought on the Reformation!

It is a familiar-sounding tale: after decades of simmering discontent a new form of media gives opponents of an authoritarian regime a way to express their views, register their solidarity and co-ordinate their actions. The protesters’ message spreads virally through social networks, making it impossible to suppress and highlighting the extent of public support for revolution. The combination of improved publishing technology and social networks is a catalyst for social change where previous efforts had failed.

That’s what happened in the Arab spring. It’s also what happened during the Reformation, nearly 500 years ago, when Martin Luther and his allies took the new media of their day—pamphlets, ballads and woodcuts—and circulated them through social networks to promote their message of religious reform.

(Click here for the full article)

Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use

By Christian Piatt via Patheos:

We Christians have a remarkable talent for sticking our feet in our mouths. When searching the words most commonly associated with “Christian,” the list ain’t pretty. I think part of this can be attributed to a handful of phrases that, if stricken from our vocabulary, might make us a little more tolerable. Yes, these things may mean something to you, but trust me, non-Christians don’t share your love for these tried-and-true cliches.

So in no particular order, here are ten phrases Christians should lose with a quickness:

  1. “Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve heard this said more times than I care to. I’m not sure where it came from either, but it’s definitely not in the Bible. The closest thing I can come up with is “To everything, there is a season,” but that’s not exactly the same. The fact is that faith, by definition, is not reasonable. If it could be empirically verified with facts or by using the scientific method, it wouldn’t be faith. It would be a theory. Also, consider how such a pithy phrase sounds to someone who was raped. Do you really mean to tell them there’s a reason that happened? Better to be quiet, listen and if appropriate, mourn alongside them. But don’t dismiss grief or tragedy with such a meaningless phrase.
  2. “If you died today, do you know where you’d spend the rest of eternity?” No, I don’t, and neither do you. So stop asking such a presumptuous question as this that implies you have some insider knowledge that the rest of us don’t. And seriously, if your faith is entirely founded upon the notion of eternal fire insurance, you’re not sharing testimony; you’re peddling propaganda.
  3. “He/she is in a better place.” This may or may not be true. Again, we have no real way of knowing. We may believe it, but to speak with such authority about something we don’t actually know is arrogant. Plus, focusing on the passing of a loved one minimizes the grief of the people they left behind.
  4. “Can I share a little bit about my faith with you?” Too often, Christians presume we have something everyone else needs, without even knowing them first. Ask someone about their story, but maybe not the second you meet them. Christian evangelism often is the equivalent of a randy young teenager trying to get in good with his new girlfriend. When your personal agenda is more important than the humanity of the person you’re talking to, most people can sense the opportunism from a mile a way.
  5. “You should come to church with me on Sunday.” It’s not that we should never invite people to church, but too much of the time, it’s the first thing we do when we encounter someone new. My wife, Amy, and I started a new church eight years ago, founded on the principle of “earning the right to invite.” Invest in people first. Listen to their stories. Learn their passions, their longings, and share the same about yourself. Then, after you’ve actually invested in each other, try suggesting something not related to church to help you connect on a spiritual level. If the person really gets to know you and wants to know more about why you live your life the way you do, they’ll make a point to find out. Then again, if you come off as just another opinionated, opportunistic Christian, why should they honor your predatory approach with a visit to the church that taught you how to act that way in the first place?
  6. “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” As many times as I’ve heard this, I still don’t really know what it means. why my heart? Why not my liver or kidneys? This also makes Christianity sound like a purely emotional experience, rather than a lifelong practice that can never entirely be realized. But yeah, asking someone if they’re engaged in a lifelong discipline to orient their lives toward Christlike compassion, love and mercy doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it.
  7. “Do you accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior?” Again, this is not in the Bible. Anywhere. And for me, it goes against the whole Christlike notion of the suffering servant. People tried to elevate Jesus to the status of Lord, but he rejected it. So why do we keep trying? Plus, the whole idea of a lord is so antiquated, it has no real relevance to our lives today. Be more mindful of your words, and really mean what you say.
  8. “This could be the end of days.” This is one of my favorites. We Christians love to look for signs of the end of the world; we practically have an apocalyptic fetish. It’s like we can’t wait until everything comes to a smoldering halt so we can stand tall with that “I told you so” look on our faces, while the nonbelievers beg for mercy. Yeah, that sounds like an awesome religion you’ve got going there. Sign me up!
  9. “Jesus died for your sins.” I know, this is an all-time Christian favorite. But even if you buy into the concept of substitutionary atonement (the idea that God set Jesus up as a sacrifice to make good for all the bad stuff we’ve done), this is a abysmal way to introduce your faith to someone. I didn’t ask Jesus to die for me, and if I’m not a Christian, I really have no concept of how that could possibly be a good thing. he whole idea of being washed clean by an innocent man’s blood is enough to give any person nightmares, let alone lead them into a deeper conversation about what Christianity is about.
  10. “Will all our visitors please stand?” If someone finally is brave enough to walk through the doors of your church, the last thing they want is to be singled out. They probably don’t know the songs you’re singing or the prayers or responsive readings you’re reading. Depending on the translation of the Bible you use, the scripture may not make much sense, and they probably have no idea where the bathroom is. So why add to the discomfort by making them stand so everyone can stare at them? Also, calling someone a visitor already implies they are simply passing through, that they’re not a part of things. Instead of “visitor” or “guest,” try something less loaded like “newcomer.” Better yet, walk up to them, introduce yourself and learn their name.