Living Without Fear in an Age of Terror

Ressurection of Jairus' daughter
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I am preaching this Sunday at Resurrection West. I am looking forward to the opportunity to share good news with the congregation. I am particularly looking forward to it as I did not have the opportunity to preach while serving as Pastor of Resurrection Online.

We are in the middle of a series in which we are reflecting on the events of September 11, 2011 through the lens of the Christian faith. I am preaching on Living Without Fear in an Age of Terror and will be using verses from Psalm 27 and Mark 5. If you are interested, you can follow my progress in the days ahead at the Google Doc – http://j.mp/pTdEht It is pretty rough right now and won’t be in a finished form until some time Saturday night. If you take a look at it, will you please share your thoughts feelings or opinions? I would love to hear from you.

Mission and Vision: Local Church (1 of 3)

A local church with a mission (Why do we exist?) and a vision (Where are we going?) is more likely to be a vital congregation. The clarity of purpose and direction helps shape the life of the congregation in both subtle and significant ways. With the lack of a clear statement that people can remember and understand the leadership may go from one “next best thing” to another in ministry and never realize their full potential as a congregation.

The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection where I am currently serving has as a mission (or purpose) statement: Building a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.

Should I Change Churches?

Sturko church building
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I recently read How to Choose a Church by Bruce Reyes-Chow and wanted to take time to share with you some of the things that I share with people considering either leaving Resurrection for another church or beginning to attend Resurrection from another church.

It really matter to me whether you attend Resurrection or not. What I care about is that you are part of a faith community where you are both comfortable and challenged. I don’t want you to dread coming to worship every Sunday, nor should participation in the community be a chore for you. However, I hoep that you would be involved in a church where you are challenged to continue to grow and develop in your faith. Each one of us is on a journey of growing in our faith and the church in which you participate plays a big role in that journey. If that place is at Resurrection, that’s great. If not, that’s okay too. I care most about you growing in your faith and living as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

How do you feel about this response? What conversations have you had with people leaving a church to attend another? What could be done better? What is good about this approach?

Can a Pastor Build a Friendship with a Congregant?

I hope to build deep social connections with others. I know that deep friendships have a great deal of positive benefit in my life. Friends are people with whom I can share encouragement, accountability, fun, conversation, support and a wide variety of interactions.

As a pastor, there are times when I feel the distinction when connecting with those that are part of the congregation that I serve. For example, when I go to young adult activities, I don’t just go as a young adult seeking connection with others, I go as one of the pastors of the church. At the same time, I have built friendships on

As a United Methodist pastor, I believe that some of the most enduring connections that I will have outside of my family are with fellow clergy in the annual conference. I am seeking to build those connections. However, the people of my congregation and community are those that I have the opportunity to spend time with on a more regular basis.

Can you be friends with your pastor?  As a pastor, can I be friends with someone in the congregation? If so, how? If not, why not? What are the limits and opportunities?

I believe that a pastor is able to build meaningful friendships with a small number of the congregation, while the broader less connected social circle will be found outside of the congregation. Will you please share your thoughts, feelings or opinions about the connection between clergy and congregant?

Scripture Monday – Luke 10:17

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, ...
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“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. … The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:1, 17).

The seventy-two returned to Jesus with joy. Their task was one that led to joy. I appreciate this perspective, as there are times that the work of ministry does not feel like joy. Maybe it is a change in perspective, change in task or change in remembering who is responsible and in charge. Whatever the shift may be, these followers of Jesus encourage me to approach God‘s work with joy.

Fruitfulness: Every Day Living (3 of 4)

Examples of bowls from boards

How do we help people live fruitfully in their day to day life?

Ultimately, the church is not about keeping a variety of interesting programs running and giving people something that to do that is segmented from the rest of their lives. We are about equipping people to live fruitfully in their every day life – at work, with their family, when grocery shopping or even when they show up to worship.

What are some practices that you have found that equip people for living daily the fruit of the spirit?

Resurrection Online: Extension or Campus?

One of the questions that people ask about Resurrection Online is this:

Is Resurrection Online one of the regional campuses of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection or is it an online extension of Resurrection?

In some ways it is both. There are people who are primarily connected at one of Resurrection‘s physical locations that worship online each week. These are people that are sick, out of town, recovering from surgery, have a sick child and any number of other situations that leads them to worship online that week. There are people who are not at all connected with one of Resurrection‘s physical locations who worship online most weekends during the year. For the former group of people, Resurrection Online is an online extension of Resurrection. For the latter, Resurrection Online is one of Resurrection‘s campuses and this is the way that these individuals connect with our purpose of building a Christian community where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.

While Resurrection Online may be experienced in different ways for different people, it makes sense to focus on one vision for the ministry and continue to move forward in that way. That vision is that Resurrection Online is one of Resurrection‘s campuses. Our goal is to move toward offering the opportunity to live out all the membership expectations of the church online and encourage people to get connected in person, when possible. I hope that Resurrection Online will be a tool for people to be more engaged in their faith and not less engaged. Developing the opportunity to grow in your faith outside of worship and serve God inside and outside the church are key areas that Resurrection Online are key areas ahead for this ministry area.

Resurrection Online is a campus of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. In the months ahead, we will focus our efforts on continuing to develop Resurrection Online to be a place where we more fully live out our purpose to build a Christian community where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.

Wise and Eloquent Preaching

Nearly every class I have taken, seminar attended or and piece of guidance that I have received about preaching has encouraged me to craft a sermon that is well written and smartly crafted. However when Paul reflects on his ministry, he writes:

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1 Corinthians 1:17

How do you make sense of these, seemingly opposite sets of guidance?

Words for a Holy Meal

I have heard these words from those who were officiating at Holy Communion, but for some reason had not realized that they were from scripture until recently. They are beautiful and true.

“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

What words help make meaning for you?

Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results – Review

I recently just finished Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results by Lovett H. Weems, Jr. and Tom Berlin. Along with other members of the senior staff, I read this in preparation for our semi-annual retreat today. I have been considering what it fruitful and effective ministry is like, especially in response to Kevin Watson’s post, Further Thoughts on Measuring Effective Ministry. I appreciated many of the principles put forth in this book. Here is a brief summary:

  1. Fruitfulness is part of the character of God and the story told throughout scripture.
  2. There is a clear difference between business and fruitfulness.
  3. Always be clear about why you are doing anything in the life of the church, i.e. We have worship each week, so that
  4. Alignment between God’s vision and the vision of the leadership is essential for fruitfulness.
  5. Capturing a creation story for an existing congregation can catalyze fruitfulness.
  6. The entirety of God sized visions aren’t always revealed at the outset.
  7. Fruitfulness is enhanced by the governing board, church staff and the congregation being on the same page about vision
  8. As a church leader, paying attention to how you care for yourself is of utmost importance.
  9. God gives the growth

Perhaps most helpful, I found a clear way to consider fruitful leadership:

“Fruitful leaders care about results because results are ways to go beyond merely filling a pastoral role to active participation in seeking results that we are convinced emerge from the gospel we preach.” (xvi, Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results)

In the words of LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow, “But you don’t have to take my word for it…”

Invitation ≠ Evangelism

John the Baptist baptizing Christ
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While there is some discussion as to whether the The Missional Church… Simple video is helpful, I found one point particularly helpful.

Invitation does not equal evangelism.

Inviting someone to show up to church to hear a ministry professional share the good news is quite different from sharing your own story of how you encountered Jesus and how life is different from following Him.