A Holy Agitator. I think that is what I would call Bishop Will Willimon. There are a lot of people who aren’t afraid to speak their mind, but there is no one who quite has the theological mindset of Willimon. As I read through his most recent book Bishop: The Art of Questioning Authority by an Authority in Question, I found myself nodding my head frequently, shaking my head occasionally, and AOL (Amening out loud) often. (I just came up with that, let me know if that is dorky or cool, or a combination of both.)
This is not a book review because I’m not the book reviewing type, but I do think great ideas should be shared, so I’ll share some of what the good Bishop writes, and then add my own commentary. Just so you know I read it on my Kindle, so I’ll put the Kindle location on the quote. I highlighted many passages in the book, so this is just the beginning. I hope you enjoy, learn, and get agitated.
The most important appointment a bishop makes is the selection of district superintendents…Nothing moves in the UMC until a DS commits to leading that change.” KL 259-265 Continue reading
I don’t want to pass over others to leadership. I want others to pass their leadership over to me. I don’t want to be entitled to anything. I want to be empowered and encouraged for everything God has for me by the church that first recognized my gifts for ministry.
General Conference 2012 is currently going on, and as a 28 year-old commissioned elder in the Oklahoma Conference, I have been following General Conference largely from twitter via #gc2012. This is, of course, not the best way to follow General Conference. I don’t see the delegates talking, I’m not in the conversations, and I don’t experience the worship services. I read updates, opinions, and immediate reactions to events that happen that I don’t fully understand. (i.e. anything to do with Roberts Rules of Order, I don’t fully understand.) My experience of General Conference has largely been through a medium that lends itself to snarkiness and sarcasm instead of constructive criticism. Also the folks that are on twitter are overwhelming Americans, overwhelming white, and mostly young: characteristics that also define me.
As I read these tweets from people like me, I couldn’t help but think about one of my son’s favorite movies The Lion King and the song, “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.”
It is an oft-stated fact that since the merger in 1968, the United Methodist Church in America has had a decrease in membership every year. There is this sobering, yet hopeful video that probably many of you have seen that can share that information better than I can, and there are many reasons for our steady decline, but let me talk about one of them here: our failure to plant churches. Continue reading
I have a few suggestions to make Annual Conference a little more interesting. Feel free to add your own in the comments sections.
1. Use a scoreboard clock that counts down the allotted time for each report with a loud buzzer marking the end of the report, whether or not they were done or not. Continue reading
I thank God for caller I.D. Beginning in mid-February, every time the phone rang, I would get somewhat anxious… this could be the call that tells me where the next step in our journey would be. So, every time the phone rang, I would immediately look to see who it was, knowing that possibly there would be a 405, 580, or 918 (Oklahoma area codes) phone number that I would not recognize. Finally (and it would feel like a finally whether I had been waiting 5 days or 5 weeks), the phone rang, and I didn’t recognize the number, but it began 918. I looked at Heather told her this could be the call took a deep breath and answered it. “Aaron, this is Linda Harker.” Continue reading
“What more do we need to do?” That was the question that the white-haired, white-skinned gentleman asked our dark-haired, dark-skinned professor. We had been talking about Sunday morning at 11:00 being still the most segregated hour on Sunday Morning, and the hands and the blood pressures in the room went up. There were a variety of thoughts, opinions, and questions but this dark-haired, dark-skinned professor’s answer to his question is what stood out most to me. Continue reading
- Peculiar Grace- Sharing the immense grace of God through extravagant and creative means.
In the church, we like to sing about grace. “Amazing Grace,” “Grace Greater Than Our Sins,” and “Grace Like Rain” are just a few songs that come to mind, and as a United Methodist Church we especially love grace. We believe in Prevenient grace, the grace that is present before we know Jesus as Lord. We believe in Justifying grace, the grace that present at salvation uniting us with the Holy One. We believe in Sanctifying grace, the grace that continually transforms us in the image of God. And we believe in Glorifying grace, the grace that goes with us when we leave this Earth and enter that mysterious place called Heaven. Needless to say, grace is a big deal.
I like to define grace as anytime and anyway that God interacts with His creation, and I believe then that if the church should show anything, it should show grace. Continue reading
Spiritually Empowered- Embracing the gifts and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
If I was the Holy Spirit, I might feel a little offended. While Jesus gets a lot of credit (and deservedly so) for his coming to Earth, showing us how to live, and enabling us to live eternally through his death and God the Father gets a lot of credit for that small little thing of creating the heavens and the earth, the Holy Spirit can get lost in the mix. Thankfully I am not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit’s worth is not in what we give, but in the Triune relationship, and in that relationship the Holy Spirit is of equal worth to the Father and the Son. Continue reading
Relationally Founded- Right relationships are the heart of our lives and ministry.
My former pastor, Steve Bredesen, found himself faced down on the floor one day while he was in seminary. Now being face down on the floor is an awkward place to be. It is a place of helplessness from a fall, or surrender because of the fall. Steve was face down praying to God, and God gave him a word. A word to build his ministry around, and that word was Relationship. Continue reading
Mission Statement: “Transforming the broken into whole-hearted disciples of Christ signified by our loves and lives.”
Brokenness defines us. I wish it wasn’t so, but it is. We are each defined to some extent by our brokenness. We have all described people as “a little needy,” “conceited,” or “tends to be angry.” Especially, we know our own brokenness. Most of us know, to a variety of extents, of our brokenness, and if you don’t see any brokenness, then let me tell you one area of your brokenness is pride.
Broken, however, is not worthless. Our brokenness is worth dying for. Continue reading