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.”
I remember my first encounter with Wesley’s class meetings. It was in a church history class in college, and I heard about this strange thing the early Methodists did. They met together weekly with no agenda except to bear one another’s burdens. I heard about the rapid growth of the Methodists and the scriptural holiness that spread across the land. I thought it would be brilliant if someone could write a book that teaches us about the early method of discipleship of our Methodist fathers and mothers. Kevin Watson has done just that. His book Blueprint for Discipleship is an accessible, practical, and timely book for not just the United Methodist church, but the Church in general. Continue reading
Occasionally, God gives me a song. The song varies, but God gives me a verse or a chorus that continually fills my mind and soul. One time the song was “From Sunrise to Sunset.” It’s is a catchy tune, “From sunrise to sunset help me not forget all that you do for me. From sunset to sunrise help me keep my eyes upon your glory.” What a good song to have in your head! God has placed a different song in my head during these final days of Lent: “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.” The title of the song sounds like a fun song to have in your head, but this is the verse that God has graciously given me, “Behold the man upon a cross, my sin upon his shoulders, ashamed I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers.” Continue reading
“O let Him have the things that hold you.” After singing that line hundreds of time, it never hit me until today. I loved the “Spirit Song.” It was one of those songs that we sang at the traditional service that felt contemporary. There was something about singing out to God, “Come and fill your lambs,” that resonated with me. What a great prayer this is! I adopted a model of this as my breath prayer, “Come Holy Spirit.” During a good day, I will say that prayer many times. Other days, I don’t pray it at all. But yet, I still didn’t catch the line in the song that hit me over the head today. Continue reading
I think about preaching a lot, and I preach a lot. Now, normally it is to myself in the car, but occasionally I get to do it in front of people. Preaching is one of the moments in which I feel most alive. (Just so you know, if you are thinking about your identity, focus on those moments when you feel most alive.) I enjoy listening to sermon podcasts. Love going to church to hear preaching, and wish that I could take more preaching classes, just for the fun of it. So, I thought I would share my running definition of preaching and then unpack it a litle bit. “Preaching is essentially translating the revealed Word of God to God’s children.” Continue reading
So I preached a sermon for the first time in about 17 months this past Sunday. Preaching is one of my greatest gifts and favorite activities, and so it was with much anticipation that I walked up to the pulpit. Since the last time I preached, I have been through almost 47 hours worth of seminary with nary a particular preaching class, so I had gained a whole lot of head knowledge about God, the Bible, and such, but I hadn’t practically put that into preaching yet, and it showed.
Before I left for Asbury, I had a congregant who came up to me and said, “Don’t let seminary ruin your preaching. I like it the way it is.” Now, this has danger written all over, I know. But let’s get to the truth of his statement, which was the strength of my pre-Asbury preaching: connecting. Pre-Asbury, I could preach sermons that resonated and connected with others. God has given me the ability to hook people into the sermon and guide them through the journey through Scripture. At its best, the sermon connected with people where they were at and engaged their heart and mind in God’s Will. At its worst, it was a witty, well-crafted speech where people remembered my personal stories, and not God’s grander narrative. Continue reading
You asked me last spring at a wedding about entering into youth ministry. I gave you a short, but true answer about you need to feel that you are called to that ministry. While I agree with that answer, I think that that serious question deserves a deeper response.
I believe that every Christian is called. We are called by Jesus to follow him and be in relationship with him. Every Christian is also uniquely called to use their talents to serve God and God’s people through the power of the Holy Spirit. A subset of that unique call of every Christian is that for some are called to serve God vocationally. It is not a higher calling, but a peculiar calling. One more thing about call is that it is both long-term and short-term. I believe that there are some people who are called to be in vocational ministry for a season of their life, while others vocational ministry is throughout their entire life. So, you can have a long-term call to be in relational ministry throughout your life, while in the short-term that lives itself out in youth ministry, or you can be a youth minister your whole life. Continue reading