Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Goals for 2016

It’s that time of the year when people start making up resolutions for the new year. I don’t do resolutions, because I can never keep them. But I do have some goals for 2016. Goals are easier to keep because you can catch up after you get behind. Here are my goals (in no particular order):

Write a Book

It’s been a while since I’ve done any significant writing, but I intend to set aside more time for that in 2016. Just making it a goal while probably be enough to convince me to watch less Netflix and play fewer games, so that I can complete my task.

Ride a Bicycle 4,000 Miles

That’s nearly 500 miles more than I rode in 2015, but it’s doable, if I don’t injure myself again.

Ride a Bicycle to Church at least 10 Times

When you think about it, it is a little silly that I live less than 2 miles from church and I use my truck to cover that distance. I probably drain more energy from the battery starting the engine than is replaced in the length of time it takes me to get to church. I’m not ready to start riding my bicycle to every service, but 10 times would be 10 times the number of times I rode my bicycle to church in 2015.

Ride my Bicycle to Work at least Once

This is a little harder than riding to church, since the roads to work have heavier traffic and I’m usually at work before sunrise. I would, however, like to ride to work at least once, just for the challenge of it.

Complete a Bicycle Ride of at Least 50 Miles

My longest ride of 2015 was only 44 miles. Six more miles isn’t a huge deal, but having it as a goal will force me to consider going somewhere farther from home than I’ve ridden before.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

When I stepped on the scale for the last time in 2015, my weight was right where it needs to be. I want to keep it that way. It took effort in 2015 to get it there. You might think that with so many of my goals being related to cycling, maintaining my weight shouldn’t be a problem. That is somewhat true, but it is possible to exercise a great deal and gain fat. So, I’m making it a goal, as a reminder to myself that I need to focus on keeping the weight off.

To Win Someone to the Lord

While I shared the gospel with people in 2015, I saw no one make a profession of faith because of it. My goal is to do better than that in 2016.

And One I Will Not Mention

I have a goal in 2016 that I will not post online. I’m not even sure I can call it a goal, since I have no idea how to accomplish it. I know many things that haven’t worked. Perhaps it is just wishful thinking on my part, but we shall see.

What are your goals for the new year?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cool Church

We’re beginning to see a push for walkable cities. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a walkable city is one in which an automobile is not a requirement. You can walk (or ride a bicycle) to the store. You can walk to work. You can walk wherever you want to go. It turns out that walkable cities are healthier cities, which is due to residents being more active and because of better air quality. Walkable cities are less stressful. Apparently, they are also cool. Walkable cities have more young people than other cities.

The cool factor of walkable cities got me thinking. There are a number of churches that structure their worship services around being cool. The preacher is more likely to have a tattoo than to wear a suit. The music is new. Their praise team uses lighting that would make a rock band envious. They offer classes focused on things that interest young people. But for all that these churches are doing to look cool, I don’t recall seeing any that are trying to fit within the walkable city model. If walkable cities are attracting young people, then surely a church that wants to attract young people should be walkable. But what does that look like.

As with cities, walkability is often an afterthought for churches. Ask most pastors where we make a first impression with visitors and they’ll tell you it is in the parking lot. Can I find parking near the door? Where is the door? But if the parking lot is the answer, then we’ve bypassed walkability. Before people ask where they are going to park, they are first going to answer the question, “How do I get there?” For many church goers, the only good answer is to get in a car and drive.

Here in Dallas-Fort Worth, we have a bunch of megachurches. The largest, I suppose, is Fellowship Church in Grapevine. It is built on a frontage road in an industrial park, across a major highway from a very large mall. The closest residence to their front door is a mobile home 1.8 miles away and it would take 35 minutes to walk, or about 10 minutes to ride a bicycle. I see that as about as extremely non-walkable as a church is likely to get, even though it is one of those churches that attempts to be cool.

Many churches have walkable features by accident. Small and mid-size churches are often surrounded by residences. Our church has the added benefit of a bus stop on the north side of our property. But there are some things that are missing. For one thing, the pedestrian walkway on our property doesn’t connect to the sidewalk on the street. That doesn’t prevent walkers, but it is like going to someone’s house and finding leaves blocking their front door, because they always enter through the garage. It just isn’t very welcoming. Another thing our church is missing is bicycle racks. It isn’t that there isn’t a place to secure a bicycle. The cages over the air conditioners are quite secure and near an entrance, but a bicycle rack near the main entrance sends the message that bicycles are welcome.

But to be truly cool, a church needs to be located in a walkable area. That means that a young couple can wake up on Sunday morning in their apartment building. They ride the elevator down to the street below and instead of getting their car out of the garage, they walk a block or two to reach their church. If they go by bicycle, they might go even farther. After church, they walk to one of the restaurants nearby. Then they walk back home. Other than the inability to purchase land in a cool neighborhood, it seems like a smaller church will find it easier to be walkable than a large church. I imagine a church in a walkable area might meet in a storefront. Parking would be along the street or in nearby parking garages and public lots. Bicycle racks and bike sharing kiosks would be nearby.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Alone. I spend most of my time alone. There are a number of people who assume that I prefer to be alone. I do not. I was at a wedding and an acquaintance asked me, “Do you wish it were you up there?” I responded in the negative, at which time he said, “I suppose you probably decided what you want out of life some time ago.” I didn’t correct him, but he didn’t get it. My answer had nothing to do with a lifelong decision. When he asked the question, my mind went to the woman who as getting married that day. She was the type of woman that I know I would butt heads with daily. If the guy she was marrying wanted to put up with her, I was happy for him, but I wanted nothing of it. I haven’t found many women I thought would be an acceptable match. Those that I thought might be didn’t agree. So, I am alone.

There is more than one way to not be alone. When I go to church, I am not alone. When I visit someone, I am not alone. Sometimes, just getting out in my neighborhood, I encounter enough people that I’m not alone. But at the end of the day, when the church services are over, the visitors have gone home, and all the neighborhood dogs have been walked, I am alone. Just as some people struggle to find a place of solitude, I find myself wearied in the effort to find time to spend with others. The exhaustion overtakes me, and I once again find myself alone.

Things aren’t as enjoyable when you are alone. Time spent waiting when you are with someone is an opportunity to engage them in conversation, but when alone, it is just time spent doing nothing. Alone, one can see something and appreciate its beauty, but it requires another person to be able to express that beauty. One seldom finds a reason to laugh, when one is alone.

One of the things I’ve discovered is that being alone is out of my control. Oh, I could go visit some of my friends and they would let me in the door, but I know that they would reach the point of asking, “Why does he keep showing up?” much more quickly than I would tire of their company. That and there are differences in what I enjoy doing and what my friends enjoy doing. At some point, I end up alone.

Given the situation, I see a couple of realistic possibilities. I can sit at home alone, reminding myself that it isn’t as enjoyable to do things when you are alone. The other is that I can be alone while I’m doing stuff. Not everything. There are some things that are no fun at all to do alone. But if I’m going to be alone either way, there’s no point in not doing something because it is less fun to do alone. There is no point in waiting to do something with someone else, when there isn’t going to be someone else.