Director of Worship Arts – Welcome Sarah Newberry!

I am excited to share the news that we have hired Sarah Newberry to be the Director of Worship Arts at Resurrection West. Next week, I am hoping to share a bit more of the process with you. Until then, I wanted to pass along the update that Pastor Molly shared the news via email to the congregation:

“We welcome Sarah Newberry to our team beginning March 1, and we will have the opportunity to introduce her in worship on February 26.

Sarah comes from within the Resurrection community, she has been leading in the Vibe worship service at the Leawood Campus for the past year and a half, and she takes on this position as part of answering her call to full-time ministry.  Trained as a Music Therapist, Sarah comes to us from The Good Samaritan Society-Olathe, a senior living and care organization, where she has been employed as their Activity Director, Volunteer Coordinator, and Music Therapist.  In her job, she has worn many hats: music therapy, staff supervisor to a department, led and planned worship services in their facility, started new initiatives and programs to care for the community she serves, and coordinated volunteer teams for the community.  Sarah is a pianist, vocalist, and percussionist primarily, but she can play and teach pretty much every other instrument.  In addition to her Bachelor of Music degree in music therapy, she also studied music education, choral conducting, and vocal performance at Florida State University.  Sarah is personable, she has a great sense of humor, a humble heart, and she has a deep passion for leading people in worship of our God.  Oh, and she started a 5th grade praise band in KiDS COR at Leawood!

And because I won’t have time to tell you everything when I introduce Sarah in worship, I have to share with you one little story. A few weeks ago, we had a day in which we had four highly-qualified candidates in for a final interview and audition.  When Sarah sat down at the piano and started playing “You Are My King” (amazing love, how can it be, that you my king would die for me…), I was immediately drawn into worship.  Honestly, I didn’t expect that.  I went into our auditions prepared to listen, to critique, to observe their performances.  I wasn’t at all thinking about putting myself in a place to engage in worship through singing.  In an instant, I knew what it was that several other staff members and ministry leaders had gone out of their way to tell me.  There was something in Sarah’s voice, in the way she delivered the words, that made space for me to meet God.  All of the details of the task at hand were gone for a few moments.  That doesn’t happen to me very often.  I usually have to fight to set my duties aside–to stop evaluating or making mental notes of how to do things differently or what is supposed to come next.  I don’t even know that I can describe it that well–other than to tell you that I found the Holy Spirit in the notes through her voice.

For those of you that have joined us in the last few months, we have been conducting this search process since November.  In the past three months, we had more than 65 applicants.  We conducted phone screens, a couple of rounds of in-person interviews, and a final interview/audition.  We were blessed to have a great response and to have interacted with some really gifted leaders.  In the meantime, our volunteer worship teams have been doing an amazing job in leading worship each weekend at our three services.  I am so thankful for their hard work, and I’m excited to see where the next months in our worship ministry will lead us!

Living Without Fear in an Age of Terror

Ressurection of Jairus' daughter
Image via Wikipedia

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.

Scripture Monday – Zechariah 4:6

Under the Branches
Image by dino_b via Flickr

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty (Zechariah 4:6, NIV).

I appreciate the reminder in this verse that it is by God’s Spirit that I am able to make an impact on the lives and world around me – not through my own strength or intellect.

The Scriptural Holiness League

Last week I sent out this message on social media networks in which I am involved:

http://twitter.com/#!/andrewconard/status/90893551919038464

I heard back from people who had ideas for what this might look like and I want to try to take the next step. Generally I am not very interested in groups that cohort, advocate or politic within The United Methodist Church. However, I am interested in connecting with people across the connection who are seeing evidence of God‘s work in their lives and in the lives of the communities where they serve. I want to be part of a group that:

  • shares stories of life change
  • offers encouragement and accountability
  • is committed to continually growing in faith
  • seeks to spread scriptural holiness across the land
I believe that this type of network happens within an annual conference. However I believe that there could be great value in connecting people from across the denomination for these purposes. Will you please share your thoughts, feelings or opinions about the possibility of this type of coalition?

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?

Ministry Expenditures ≠ Outcomes

This week, I read The Importance of Outcomes by Gil Rendle and Susan Beaumont. I commend this article to you from The Alban Institute and want to share a key quote:

“The number of hours, visits, calls, reports, and so on is not a measure of what is produced in ministry but rather a measure of what is expended in ministry.”

I was confronted by the blunt reminder that doing things does not necessarily bear fruit in the kingdom of God. God calls us to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all the tasks, visits, calls and reports will follow or may not be necessary.

Resurrection Online Stewardship

This is the first year that we will intentionally collect annual giving commitments from those who worship with Resurrection Online. I am excited to offer this opportunity to grow in faith for those that worship online. This also will help us plan for ministry in the year ahead. If you would like to help support Resurrection Online, please visit http://www.rezonline.org/giving. I created a series of videos to share more about this possibility.

Do I have to subscribe to all the beliefs in Christianity to be a Christian?

There are some things which one needs to believe to be a Christian. They are what makes Christianity distinct from other religions, systems of belief or unbelief. One of the most basic guides to the Christian faith is the Apostles’ Creed. This is a statement of faith that helps to set the guidelines or the boundaries of what it means to be a Christian. While one may not understand the entire text, belief as outlined in the Apostles’ creed is necessary to be a Christian. The text of the creed as found in The United Methodist Hymnal:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Trinity as a S’more

I heard this way of considering the Trinity for the first time recently from a co-worker.

If you take out the graham cracker, chocolate, or the marshmallow, you do not have a s’more. Each is integral to the reality of the s’more.

Each person of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is integral to the reality of the Trinitarian God of Christianity.

While I am more of a fan of using scripture to consider the Trinity (i.e. Mark 1:9-11, Jesus’ Baptism), I found this to be a pretty decent novel explanation.

Will you please share your response to this way of considering the Trinity?

How does God lead us individually?

God leads us through the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is active speaking directly to us, through the community of faith, in friends, neighbors or people that we may not even know.

How do you find that God leads you?

I recently met with a congregant who shared some deep questions with me. I asked for permission to share them on this blog to more broadly share my response.

Changing the Atmosphere

Nicole and I recently purchased a dehumidifier for our basement. After it’s arrival, I set it up, plugged it in and turned it on. When I checked on it the next day, the water reservoir was full and the atmosphere was noticeably different. I knew that it needed to be dehumidified, but was still surprised at the tangible difference that I felt when I walked back downstairs.

The dehumidifier changed the atmosphere.

I believe that one of the key roles of a pastor is creating an atmosphere in within a local church in which disciples are formed.

There are many actions that could contribute to a change in the atmosphere and one of the most significant is tending to my own spiritual formation. If my soul is not thriving, it is difficult for me to lead others in their journey of faith in a way that can be used by the Holy Spirit to produce fruit.

What are other ways that the atmosphere might be changed in a local church?

Discussions on The Shack

Last night, I had a great time leading over 100 people in discussions on the book, The Shack by William Paul Young. Thanks to all of you who were there.

You can find the handout, notes and schedule that I had prepared before the class at this link. Feel free to use it to lead a class of your own or for your own information.

One of the best parts of the class was the opportunity to respond to questions from those who were there. Below you will find all the questions that were asked by the group. Look for my response to questions beginning today and continuing on Monday.

So the collective wisdom of the crowd led to these questions in no particular order:

  • When did the vision take place? (when did it begin – at mailbox or at car accident)
  • What was the significance of red spots on rock when they found her – any Christian signifiance?
  • How does the church react to the portrayal of the Trinithy and their characteristics? i.e. God as a black woman, the group as a fun loving, joking entity as a whole.
  • Is there a part of the book that may be theologically incorrect?
  • Explain the character of the Holy Spirit Sarayu.
  • Comment on the books view of the trinity and perspective on lack of hierarchy.
  • The book’s viewpoint on eternal consequences is challenging and hard to accept.
  • Where would this book misguide (mislead) me in knowing God?
  • Would the church recommend this book to nominally religious people?
  • Why was God a woman? Why did He reveal Himself that way?
  • A lot of people suffer in grief… What about Mack’s opportunity to view his daughter after her passing?
  • What is the background of the author?
  • Why do you think Mack didn’t take his wife to the shack?
  • From your perspective, what aspects of the book are not compatible with Methodist theology and tradition?
  • Does the church have any problem with Poppa being portrayed as a woman? And is She really a good cook?
  • Does the church have a problem with all of the members of the trinity being on equal standing?
  • Was the accident before he went to the Shack? (Friday vs. Sunday)
  • Is it sacreligious to put God in another form? (for instance, Papa as an African American woman)
  • What is your perspective as clergy regarding the comment that this book is dangerous for “babes in Christ?”
  • Where does it not fit into theology?
  • What mentioned theological things did you disagree with?
  • Responsibility named in the BIble?
  • P. 205 – Does religion use law to empower itself and control people?
  • Was this a dream? a vision? or reality?
  • How do you like how the trinity was presented?
  • Do we expect too much of people we love? Agree or disagree
  • Why was Papa (God) against organized religion?
  • What was the significance of the description of the characters?
  • How was shack transformed from place of evil and Missy’s suffering and death into a place of God’s sanctuary and salvation?
  • Was it a dream or did it really happen?
  • What was the author’s purpose of giving to the character’s their role, name, etc. so out of the unusual than what we would normally think of?
  • Why did she call him Papa?
  • What was the author’s denomination?
  •  What gave him the idea for the story had he experienced something in his background – autobiographical?
  • What theology do you feel does not align in the group?
  • P 99-100 What was Jesus true nature while on earth with regard to healing?
  • Papa being a female. Why?
  • Why was food so important?
  • Elaborate on noun verse verb? pg 205-206
  • Elaborate on being a Christina? pg 183-184
  • Explain who Sophia is?
  • Thoughts on God being depicted as a woman.
  • Was Mack’s experience a dream or did God suspend time?
  • Where the book conflicts with the UM beliefs?
  • What does “The Shack” represent?
  • Why doesn’t God make Himself more real and visible to us like He does in the book?
  • How do we cultivate and accept that kind of intimacy with God? (cooking, eating, etc.)
  • When we die will we see and will God present in accordance with our personalview of how we envision him / her?
  • Does God punish evil on earth or does he / she wait until the evil doer is judged or dies (Chapter 11)
  • How do you think the author came up with the characters to represent God, Jesus and Spirit?
  • What is your response / opinion of when Mack asked Missy if she was in Heaven and she said she “was in the waiting room.”