Institute: What’s the Point? (5 of 5)

I spent last week at a youth camp, Institute 2010: God’s All Stars, which is a ministry of the Conference Council on Youth Ministry of the Kansas East Annual Conference. This post is part of a series reflecting on the week and making applications for the local church.

I am unable to deny that there are some positive outcomes to Institute. I was still left with the question, What’s the point? It could have been:

  • Provide a safe place for students
  • Offer freely given love as part of a Christian community
  • Create a place where people are always accepted
  • Meet new people
  • Move forward on the journey of becoming a deeply committed Christian.
  • Have fun and play games
  • Create a culture of hearing God’s call to ministry

After a week, I am not sure what is the driving purpose of Institute. Those who come to camp become part of the leadership team that plans the next year. Students come year after year. Adults come to serve because they came when they were young. It has been going for 99 years…

I gained some additional insight from Notes on Camp and commend it to you as a great listen and insight into summer camp of all sorts.

Top Indicators of an Unhealthy Church

There are clear indicators of effective clergy that would ensure that she or he would receive an appointment regardless of whether her or his appointment is guaranteed in the United Methodist Church. There are also churches that are more and less healthy. In April, the Connectional Table of the United Methodist Church suggested that there are five areas to be measured in a church:

  • worship attendance
  • disciples engaged in mission
  • professions of faith
  • mission giving
  • spiritual / discipleship formation groups.

Unhealthy churches are those that are not breaking even or growing in these areas. Other, less official indicators include:

  • Requesting that 3 of the last 5 appointed pastors move in less than two years.
  • No clear mission or vision.
  • Unwelcoming to first time guests.

What would you add to this list?

Fractal Discipleship in the United Methodist Church

I had a conversation several weeks ago with Paul Watson and he talked about a concept which I dug up on reaching the online generation.

The concept is Fractal Discipleship.

According to Wikipedia, “A fractal is “a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole.”

The basic idea is what helps a new believer grow in her or his faith is the same as what helps a deeply committed Christian grow in her or his faith. This is a deeply methodist concept. The organization of class and bands were the same process for someone that was just beginning the journey or someone that had been on the journey of faith for a long time. Spiritual growth happens most effectively in community for both the non religious person and the deeply committed Christian. The means of grace, in which one opens one’s life and heart to God, are the same for someone no matter what level of commitment.

A great concept and an excellent way of understanding it.

What are your thoughts, feelings or opinions about fractal discipleship?

Zimbabwe: Worship and Discipleship (4 of 8)

One of the first sites that we visited in Zimbabwe was a revival at Prospect United Methodist Church. We walked into some of the most passionate worship that I have experienced. In the singing, preaching, dancing and response it was clear that the Holy Spirit was active. While I did not understand the language of some of the songs, I was clearly able to worship God.

It was refreshing.

I was also struck by the commitment to discipleship. 80% to 90% of the people who attended worship on the weekend were also active in a small group, which was called a section. When I commented that it would be fantastic if there there were 50% of a worshipping congregation also in a small group in the United States, my comment did not seem to make sense. The response was, wasn’t that how Wesley designed the class meeting? so that people could grow in their faith? This is the way to do that.


Too true…

What do you do as pastor for Resurrection Online? – Part Un

This is one of the most common questions that I receive since starting my new role as Resurrection Online Campus Pastor on November 1. The answer is most accurately answered in two parts and the first part has to do with the online experience.

Since November 2, 2008 there have been an average of 1,004 people worshiping with Resurrection Online each weekend at I serve as the pastor for this community and seek to provide leadership, care and guidance through word, order, service and sacrament. This online experience is built to connect with digital natives who are comfortable in an online space and are seeking meaning. Right now, I am interacting with this community primarily through email and I am working on a survey to gather more information about those who are worshiping online.

In addition, we are looking at ways to increase the interactivity on the website to allow for community to begin to form. I believe that this will most effectively be through existing social networks and tools that people use to interact online and not force people to create a brand new login and profile. Any website improvements will be social to begin to build community around the shared experience of worship. In addition, they will also seek to improve on the experience of spiritual formation of those that are online.

Other next steps as pastor for Resurrection Online include:

  • My video presence before, after and / or during the worship experience online with a specific message for those online.
  • Developing opportunities for people to grow in their faith outside of worship.
  • Equipping people who worship online to serve in the communities where they are located.
  • Providing pastoral care and guidance to those who worship online.
  • Clearly articulate the ecclesiology of the experience from a United Methodist perspective.

Ultimately, I hope to be part of building a Christian community online where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.

Will you please share what you hope I would be about as pastor for Resurrection Online?

Church = Spiritual Formation

I believe that the primary role of the church is spiritual formation.

Through worship, teaching, classes, serving, conversation, care, accountability and many other specifics the faith community that is the church is about forming the souls closer to the image of God. This journey of sanctification moves us closer toward perfect love of God and neighbor.

In Matthew 28, Jesus sends the disciples to:

  • go
  • make disciples
  • baptize
  • teach

All part of spiritual formation.

Do you agree? Why or why not?

Micro Church: New Church Start (5 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

While there are many different settings in which micro churches might thrive, I believe that the greatest potential may be in planting new churches. As micro churches continue to multiply and grow, leadership would increasingly be pushed to the local level. A pastor could be appointed to oversee a network of 20 micro churches and serve as a circuit rider in ways that are similar to early Methodism. This allows churches to be planted with little overhead and initial expenditure of resources and for healthy congregations to more easily birth congregations than may otherwise be possible.

I believe that micro churches will have a significant impact on the way that churches are planted in The United Methodist Church.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at these posts: