Category Archives: Lafayette

Is it Discrimination to Discriminate against Discriminators?

Front Page Lafayette Leadership

My church office received an email today that called me out for what was printed in the local newspaper reporting on my involvement in the City Council meeting last Monday.

A woman named Kathy wrote this:

Dear Pastor Mikels,

Reading the newspaper Tuesday morning, I felt quite sad to read about your objections to our community protecting the rights of transgendered people and your positioning yourself as one who should judge them. I do not believe discrimination against anyone is right. Your suggestion that transgendered people are not submitting to nature or nature’s God–and therefore subject to discrimination–is highly and inappropriately judgmental and hurtful.

I hope you will refrain from this line of speaking about others.

The irony of our current social climate is that a person can say in one sentence, “I do not believe discrimination against anyone is right,” and then in the next sentence call someone’s behavior “highly and inappropriately judgmental and hurtful.” Not only is the first sentence pragmatically impossible, the accusatory tone of the second sentence invalidates the claim of the first.

Nevertheless, now that I have entered into this world, I’m committed to this dialogue. I don’t feel a burden to defend myself, but I feel a deep burden to help all of us think through these issues lovingly and rationally even if we can’t discuss them biblically.

It took me 45 minutes to craft a reply, but this is what I wrote:


Hi Kathy,

Is it okay for me to give you a phone call?

I’ve been working for months to build a dialogue with the Lafayette Pride office to express my love and concern for people in the LGBT community, and to have conversations about how the faith community can do a better job of showing that love even if we disagree with their lifestyles. They haven’t replied yet, but I’m still working on it.

Furthermore, I have friends in the LGBT community, and I think if you gave me a few minutes of human-to-human time, you would see me in a different light.

After all, that’s really what all of this debate is about between “religious freedom” and “tolerance.” I think it all really comes down to the fact that people aren’t treating each other as humans but as categories.

For example, you have categorized me as someone who believes I should judge transgendered people, and yet I do not judge them nor do I want to. You have also categorized me as someone who thinks it is right to discriminate against transgendered people, and yet that too is inaccurate.

Sadly, I don’t think you see me as a human being who cares deeply for the people around me both those who are like me and those who are different from me, and in that regard, I think you might be discriminating against me.

If we had a chat over a cup of coffee, I think you would discover some things about me.

  1. I don’t buy into statements that are given to me by other Christians without wrestling through them personally. As a result, I don’t buy the statement that some Christians throw around that gender confusion or transgenderism is a sin. Additionally, I don’t believe that granting civil rights protections to transgender people will suddenly endanger women in our society and increase the chances for sexual exploitation in our bathrooms. I firmly oppose both the fear-motivated statements and the naively traditional statements.
  2. I also don’t buy into statements that are given to me by the secular media or by the modern “spirit of the age.” As a result, I don’t buy the statement that the only way for transgender people to live is to fully express their “true gender identity” as opposed to the one they were “assigned at birth.” The reason I don’t buy that statement is that I have known VERY effeminate men who were able to find great joy in just being really sensitive men. I have also known at least one woman who lived for many years as a transgender man only to later realize that there was great joy to be found in embracing her biological femininity. She has since completely turned around and embraces womanhood as her “identity.”
  3. I DON’T oppose anti-discrimination laws for any category of people. In fact, I think there are many categories that are underrepresented. Our laws say nothing protecting the rights of people who cannot work on a Holy Day. Sure there are “religious” protections on the books, but at least in Indiana, an employer can fire an employee who refuses to work on Sundays. Furthermore, I think it is wrong for an apartment complex to refuse to rent an apartment to a biological man who is dressed as a woman.
  4. Finally, I DO realize that there are some forms of “discrimination” that are allowable (and encouraged) in a pluralistic society. For example, Hollywood is allowed to discriminate in hiring when it comes to personal appearance. More attractive people make more money. Should we outlaw that discrimination? I don’t think so. It’s sad that it exists, but it should not be illegal. Additionally, a college whose declared purpose is to educate students in the Islamic faith should be allowed to discriminate in hiring when it comes to a person’s adherence to the Koran, and I don’t think Purdue should be forced to hire professors who deny Darwinian Evolution. In other words, SOME discrimination in our society is necessary, and SOME discrimination in our society is healthy. In fact, in order to live in a pluralistic society, we CANNOT outlaw every single act of discrimination as if it were even logically possible to do so.

In conclusion, the reason I opposed the amendment was not because I want to encourage “discrimination” against transgender people but because I think the issue in the amendment is ill-defined and unclear in two ways:

  1. The scientific understanding of “gender identity” is unclear. Psychiatrists are still trying to wrestle with what the DSM-5 calls “gender dysphoria” and the right way to treat it. As a result, the societal implications of fully embracing “transgender” as a category of human being are unclear. Some good science indicates that transgenderism is actually a birth defect of sorts resulting from low incidence of androgens in the body during gestation and infancy (see my blog article for the link). However, there is other good evidence that gender dysphoria is a condition that can be remedied either through psychological counseling or religious experience. Therefore, to categorize transgenderism as a protected class would be to completely ignore the science indicating transgender people might actually be better off if they could find joy in their assigned gender.
  2. The religious exemptions in the proposed Lafayette HRO only cover issues of employment. If a church-run school or homeless shelter wished to have sex-segregated bathrooms, showers, or locker rooms, according to the letter of the HRO, those organizations could be found guilty of “discrimination” against transgendered students. I grant that Target should have the right to desegregate its bathrooms. Much of Europe already has only unisex bathrooms, and people live there just fine. However, I think churches, mosques, church schools, and yes, businesses run by conscientious religious people should have the right to create sex-segregated bathrooms if they wish.

The media tends to always put people in two camps. Either you are pro-choice or pro-life. Either you are conservative or liberal. Either you are for love or for hate. The problem is that no one is ever one or the other. We are all real people with pains, hurts, loves, and passions.

And if we all stopped calling each other names, we might be able to understand each other. Luckily, we now live in a society where the vast majority of Christians no longer use rude and offensive language when speaking of LGBT people, but we now live in a society where people of religious conviction and a social conservative perspective are labelled as bigoted or hateful.

No matter what you believe, I will show you respect and hear you out, so again, I ask if you would share a cup of coffee with me.

Attempting to live with Grace and Truth,
Jeff Mikels

P.S. If you are interested to read my statement to the City Council in full, I posted it to my blog here: http://jeff.mikels.cc/posts/my-statement-to-the-lafayette-city-council-on-gender-identity/

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My Statement to the Lafayette City Council on Gender Identity

Last night, the Lafayette City Council met to consider putting an amendment into the Lafayette Human Relations Ordinance. Some time ago, the city codified a “Human Relations Ordinance” to fight against discrimination in our town. It created a Human Relations Commission tasked with the job of investigating cases of discrimination in our city and offering suggestions and education to individuals and businesses found to be discriminatory.

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Professional Sunday Morning Video Presentations

Church Planting Front Page Geekery Lafayette Lafayette Community Church Leadership

In our new church effort in Lafayette, I set as a goal from very early on that we would attempt to do everything we could with excellence, and though we have had some hiccups with our children’s programming and with our music, we have been consistently high quality with our printed materials and with our video presentations thanks to some really great software.

On the printed front, we have been using Apple’s Pages for basic word processing and simple page design and Serif PagePlus 11 which is exponentially greater than anything else in its price range ($50 for features that easily surpass Microsoft Publisher and even rival PageMaker or Quark). However, that’s for another blog entry. On to what we do for video now and what our next steps are.

Video Presentation Hardware

  • 15″ MacBook Pro 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo / 1GB RAM
  • Draper Traveller portable projection screen with High Contrast Gray screen material.
  • DLP Projector (I don’t remember the specs right now).

Software

Description

ProPresenter is the best program we have found to display lyrics on the screen. It’s very easy to learn with only a few quirks that take getting used to. Together with the Mac, it is unbeatable in terms of visual quality of the text even with full motion high resolution video images in the background. On top of that, the programmers are very responsive to requests for improvements, and the software was designed from the ground up to meet the needs of touring worship bands like Chris Tomlin and David Crowder.

Keynote is the hands down winner in presentation software that understands the line between attention-getting and cheesy. Transitions, fades, and slide builds are unmatched in PowerPoint because Keynote does what it does with subtlety. It’s also much easier to work with once you learn a couple of its quirks.

Our current setup has us running ProPresenter and Keynote simultaneously on the MacBook Pro. ProPresenter takes over the projector screen and turns it black while waiting for us to begin. Navigation is done on the laptop screen, but lyrics and backgrounds are sent to the secondary display.

Just before my message, we hit F1 in ProPresenter to black out the projection screen, switch to Keynote without closing ProPresenter (the projection screen stays black during and after the switch), and hit “Play” on my sermon Keynote file. Keynote takes over the projection screen with my slides and also displays a “Presenter View” on the laptop screen. We turn the laptop to face me, so I can see my current slide and my next slide without ever needing to look over my shoulder.

Next Steps

Now that we are meeting in the Long Center (a larger venue), we want to make some changes to our setup so we stay on the excellent side of things.

  1. Replace our screen with a larger rear projection screen. We’re looking at the Draper Cinefold and Draper Ultimate series of screens for this.
  2. Consider upgrading our projector depending on its performance with the new screen. Most likely, we will just need to buy a new bulb.
  3. Purchase a new Mac to put in the sound booth. It needs to have dual external monitor capability, and the only Macs to have that now are Mac Pro computers or Psystar Open Computer Macintosh clones.
  4. Split the monitor signal from each monitor out to drive four displays (1). The monitor in the sound booth, (2). the projector on stage, (3) One monitor in front row pointing to stage duplicating what’s on the projector screen. (4) One monitor in front row pointing to the stage duplicating what’s on the screen in the sound booth. That way, the stage-facing monitors will show what’s on the screen and also show the “Presenter View” that Keynote can display.
  5. Use VGA cables or a VGA over CAT5e system to get video signal to the stage from the booth.

Final thoughts

If anyone is reading this post thinking that technology will save your bad presentations, think again. Websites like http://presentationzen.com are a great resource to help you rethink the how and the why of your presentations. Technology can make your presentations more effective, but it isn’t guaranteed to do so.

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Game On! Announcing the SCGTC

Front Page Lafayette Lafayette Community Church

On Sunday, I challenged my congregation to join me for a competition of spending time in the word of God. I called it The Southside Church God-Time Competition, and here are the simple rules:

  • At least 10 minutes a day with God, every day.
  • Time with God means something is read (from the Bible), something is written, and something is prayed.
  • There will be some kind of award given for the person who lasts the longest.
  • There will be some kind of award given for the person who accumulates the most individual “God-Times.”

I haven’t figured out the prizes yet, but I’m willing to take donations! If you want to sweeten the pot, let me know!

I’m also working on setting up some kind of online tool to track our progress and see how we are all doing. For me personally, I’m going to use my blog to record my progress.

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WHY Campaign

036 WHY: Life's Biggest Questions Front Page Lafayette Lafayette Community Church

For 6 weeks, we will be exploring the six biggest questions in life.

  • Why am I here?
  • Why should I believe in God?
  • Why should I trust the Bible?
  • Why is the world so messed up?
  • Why is there such conflict between Science and the Bible?
  • Why Jesus?

It’s going to be a powerful program combining dynamic Sunday worship experiences with casual but deep discussion groups. I’ve been looking forward to it for 3 months now!

In many ways, I’ve been thinking of this 6 week campaign as a re-launch of the church. During the summer, our attendance went down quite a bit, but now that school is starting up again, I’m really hoping that we can get a jump-start on this new year by launching this campaign.

I want every Sunday service to be a real event. More than that, I’m really eager to see us take the life of the church to a new level. Here are my personal dreams for the campaign.

  • That we would get more than 50 people solidly involved in a small group experience.
  • That our Sunday attendance would double.
  • That all our volunteers and campaign directors would be encouraged and excited all the way through.
  • That the campaign would launch us full speed into the Fall.
  • That we’d get a solid small group thing happening combined with memorable Sunday gatherings.

These things are so doable, and I believe God can easily accomplish them all. I’m eager to see it!

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Flying Disc Giveaway Success

Evangelism Front Page Lafayette Lafayette Community Church


find your center flying disc 2007

This week we executed a plan that I had been brewing since last year at this time.

You may already have read about our “Black Friday” Hot Chocolate Giveaway. On that day, we gave out nearly 500 mugs of hot chocolate or coffee to shoppers braving the local Wal-Mart on the day after Thanksgiving. Well, this week, we gave out flying discs to families at the fireworks show on Purdue’s campus on July 4. It was a blast, and it was a big success too.

The setup

At the top of this post, you can see the final design for the flying discs that we bought through <www.dollarimprint.com> for around 70 cents each once shipping was included. The design on the top is a gradual spiral (which looks really cool when the discs are flying) surrounded by the words “stop spinning, find your center, reach higher | southside church” our phone number, web address, and core value verbs are also printed on the top.

We ordered T-Shirts with a tye dyed look and a very similar logo design on the front and the back. Here’s a picture of what they look like.

Find Your Center T-Shirt Front
Find Your Center T-Shirt Back

The elements of the plan were simple and very much like the hot chocolate giveaway:

  • Give a free flying disc to every family out there until we ran out or it got dark.
  • Have two tables set up to take registrations for a free drawing to win an iPod shuffle or other prizes.
  • Have all our volunteers wearing matching T-Shirts.

I should soon have a picture of what the setup looked like.

How it went

In all, it was a very successful event. The volunteers had a lot of fun, the people who received the flying discs were very appreciative, and a large number of people signed our entry forms. I don’t have a final count yet of those who were willing to be added to our mailing list. It was so cool to look across the field of families waiting for the fireworks to start and to see hundreds of purple flying discs whizzing through the air all over the place. It was really exciting.

On top of it all, I personally was able to get in some good conversations with at least 4 different families who were very interested in checking out one of our Sunday Gatherings. Who knows if they will actually make it this week, but I believe we really put our name out into the community in a positive way.

I’m really eager to hear more feedback from our volunteers and also from people who may visit our church because of this outreach. If I hear some good things (or criticisms) I’ll post them here. If you would like to chime in with your opinions please add your comment. I want to know what other people think about this kind of outreach. I especially hope that events like these let people in Lafayette know that there is a church around here that cares about them and is willing to invest in their lives in a way that makes their lives a little bit better (and a little more fun too).

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032-03 — Dream Big & Work Hard (vision message)

032 Almost Isn't Enough for Me Front Page Lafayette Lafayette Community Church

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It’s my passion to see people get a big vision for what God is able and willing to do in our lives. I am convinced that God is bigger and more willing to do more incredible things than we give him credit for, than we expect, and than we are ready for. We just don’t have big enough dreams, but for those who do have big dreams the problem is often that they aren’t ready and willing to put in the effort required to see those dreams come true. Now I don’t have the answer to how to make your dream life come true other than a few simple suggestions I’ve picked up from the story of Joseph, but I do know that whatever your dreams are, if they are God’s dreams, and if you are faithful, they will come true.

At the conclusion of this message, I take a few minutes to just dream in front of the congregation about what Southside Church could become. I have big dreams for this church, and I’m pretty convinced they line up with the heart of God for this town.

How big are your dreams? Are you ready to work for them?

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Grand Opening Slideshow

Front Page Lafayette Lafayette Community Church

I thought you would like to see this slideshow. I have it posted on our church page at http://thesouthsidechurch.org/main but I know some of you haven’t been over there yet, so here it is…

I just want to thank everyone who has been a part of supporting Southside Church. Here’s a little slideshow of our first Sunday. Hope you enjoy it!

click here to download the slideshow

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031-02 An Even Better Life Is Just Around the Corner

031 What's in it for Me Front Page Lafayette Lafayette Community Church

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Today’s message is a message that has been on my heart for a long time, but I didn’t know it until earlier this week. I had come up with the title long ago when we sent in our postcards to be printed, and honestly, I originally thought of the sermon being one about how great the afterlife was going to be. In fact, the whole point of the message originally was going to be that no matter how good this life might get, the really good life is yet to come. It was going to be a message about the Kingdom of God!

I still want to do that message someday. I’m not sure when that might happen, and I honestly don’t know if I would be able to preach that message now anyway. I think I need some more life experience, more study or something.

Nevertheless, I was praying about this message earlier this week and all at once I realized (it was probably God giving me the thought) that the Bible is filled with “Corner Turning” moments and that God is often the instigator of those corner moments. The whole picture came to me at once that the “better life” I should be talking about is the life that follows God around whatever corner he brings us to!

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Listen up and tell me what you think!

The God who brought you to your critical moment has something for you on the other side

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031-01 How to Live Your Best Life Now

031 What's in it for Me Front Page Lafayette Lafayette Community Church

This is the first message in Southside Church’s Grand Opening series. It’s a short series entitled:

What’s in it for me?: How the Bible Makes Life Better

In this message, I talk about how the Bible contains the keys to living your best life now. There are three key things the Bible offers us that help us to live our best lives: Guidance, Encouragement, and something I call “The Secret.”

The audio can be downloaded by clicking below or subscribing to my podcast or you can watch the video online if you wish.


Click Here for Audio


 

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031-01 WHATS IN IT FOR ME? How to Live Your Best Life Now

This is the full video of our entire Grand Opening service!

My Odeo Channel (odeo/b7fe9b6d4f3e6629)

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150?

Front Page Lafayette Prayer Requests

What an incredible day!

Last Sunday was our Grand Opening service as a church and I am excited to report that we had between 140-150 people there. We never got an accurate count, but this is how we came up with those numbers:

  • 24 Elementary School Kids
  • 6 Babies in the Nursery
  • 9 Children’s Ministry Workers
  • 100 Bulletins handed out (when we ran out)

I’ve tried to be conservative and stick with 140, but my wife is pressing me to say 150! and I’m usually the one who does the exaggerating!

If you want to hear the message I preached or watch the video, it will be posted here soon or you can get to it by visiting our church audio page.

God is bigger than we imagine.

My coach told me a couple of months ago, “Remember, Jeff, no one loves this church more than you and Jesus.”

I was getting kinda frustrated because of the number of people I had been trying to recruit and the slim number of people who were responding. He told me that to remind me that no one would care about the church like I do, but that Jesus cared about it more than even I did. That really helped to encourage me.

And Jesus does care about this church.

On March 18, we had our final preview service and I had the joy of preaching to a crowd of about 15 adults. The very next week, I had the privilege of preaching a message to a crowd of over 100. It was utterly mind-blowing to me!

If you were there on Sunday…

I just wanted to say that if you were there on Sunday, I am so grateful for you. You could have spent your Sunday morning in many different ways, but you chose to come out and be a part of our Grand Opening Event, and more than that, you chose to take a risk and see what God might be doing in this brand new ministry.

God has something really great in store for us, and I believe he wants us to experience it together, but that isn’t all. I think the biggest thing he has in store for us is for us to find our identity in the process of helping other people to discover how much God loves them.

We are just beginning a journey together. It will be a bumpy ride at times, but it will certainly be an adventure.

If you have been praying for us…

You also deserve a special thanks. There have been so many of you praying for us and supporting us financially, that I really am humbled. I’m afraid I will miss someone here, but I just think you all deserve thanks. You know why:

Thank You

Jennifer Asinugo, Mike Atwell, Nellie Aujero, Alexandrina Balanean, Charlie & Lea Battleday, David & Carole Beckwith, Jim & Deb Cartwright, Brian & Melissa Chupich, Sonlife Community Church, James & Katheryn Cross, Herb & Paula Frost, Gloria Greene, Jodi Hanson, Gerald Hawthorne, Dorothy Herschelroath, Rynn Hill, Mark Jacobsen, Mike & Jill Kaminski, Rhonda Kerr, Gary Krebs, David & Stacy Laneve, Chuck & Amy Larish, Larry & Claudia Lasiter, Dan & Mary Martin, Mark & Linda Mikels, Keith & Marian Mikels, Sadie Mikels, Jason & Brooke Miller, Dr. & Mrs. Tom Miller, Marion Mockler, Tom & Chris Nalian, Rob & Chris Nelson, Mark & Amy Peterson, Stephen & Jill Puett, Ken & Cheryl Reynolds, Gary Rohrmayer, Dorothy Samorajski, Greg & Laura Shackleford, Jim & Wendy Sheely, Austin Smith, Jeff & Debbie Spencer, Lorraine Spencer, Joel & Becky Sutton, Josh & Valerie Thomas, Grant & Betty Tregay, Tommy & Bonnie Troup, Zack Turner, Mike & Tammie VanDeripe, Cindy & Rick Veith, Gloria Walker, Richard Wollard, Meadowland Community Church, Tim and Lisa Beavis, Bethany Baptist Church, Community Reformed Church, Tony Suitor, Kathy Abretske, Northwest Baptist Church, Irene Portokalis, Merrill Avenue Baptist Church, Hannis & Kim Thompson, First Assembly of God in Lafayette.

If I’ve forgotten someone, just send me a reminder email or post a comment, and I’ll put you on the list too.

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