Blog Reboot: An Ideal Target Person (2 of 4)

I have been using Lift as a tool to help restart this blog and I thought I would share with you some of that process. One of the steps is identifying an ideal target person – someone for whom this blog is written. So, here goes:

The ideal target person for this blog is Methodist clergy, church staff or committed layperson.

Q: What are they passionate about?

  • They are passionate about spiritual renewal in the people and congregations of the United Methodist Church.
  • They care deeply about introducing people to Jesus and helping others grow in their faith.

Q: What are their goals?

  • They want to be effective in their ministry in the local church.
  • They want to have a fulfilling personal and professional life

Q: What are their fears?

  • They are afraid that they have to be on the extreme right or left to find theological companions on their journey.
  • They are afraid they do not have the resources they need to be effective.
  • They are afraid that the United Methodist church is doomed.
  • They are afraid that they are the only ones that don’t have it all figured out

Q: Why should they care about your blog?

They should care about my blog because they will find:

  • resources which they may need for effectiveness
  • encouragement and guidance to be fruitful in ministry,
  • examples from someone who has gone before them in ministry
  • new ideas for day to day life

So, dear reader, does this describe you? What is on target? What is missing?

Perhaps, most importantly, what are your answers to some of these questions?

You Can’t Lead Beyond the Leader

Cape Resurrection
Cape Resurrection (Photo credit: DCSL)

Last week, someone shared with me an insight that they had gained serving as a volunteer at Resurrection.

You can’t lead beyond the leader.

If you are not ultimately responsible for a ministry area, worship service, congregation, or nearly any other grouping of people there is always some limit on what you can implement. The leader has to make space for engagement, different perspectives and empower those that are being lead.

As a leader, equipping others is one of the most important things that I do.

As a follower, patience, encouragement and service are valuable in making progress.

Mission and Vision: Local Church + Annual Conference + Denomination = ? (3 of 3)

 

It is important for organizations to have mission and vision statements to guide the future of the organization. I currently am serving as part of an organization that has three different mission statements.
What is the best way to navigate these differences? What takes precedence in ministry? Who best decides how differing mission statements are integrated, adjusted or ignored? Why do these statements need to be different (or the same)?

Mission and Vision: Annual Conference and Denomination (2 of 3)

Like a local church, an annual conference and denomination with a mission (Why do we exist?) and a vision (Where are we going?) are more likely to contain vital congregations. The clarity of purpose and direction helps shape the life of the community in both subtle and significant ways.

The United Methodist Church has a mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World. The annual conferences where I am currently connected have a mission or vision statement:

  • Kansas East – The Kansas East Conference’s mission is to connect and empower people and churches in living out the Gospel‘s call to invite, nurture, equip and send forth disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • Kansas West – “As we make disciples of Jesus Christ, the Kansas West Conference calls God’s people to invite through radical hospitality, excite for intentional faith-sharing and unite in risk-taking mission for the transformation of the world.” – Kansas West Conference vision adopted May 2008

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.

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.

2010 #kswumc Annual Conference

The annual conference season has begun in The United Methodist Church. This week I will be attending the Kansas West Annual Conference in Salina, Kansas. I hope to post each day this week about annual conference.

According the the 2008 Book of Discipline ¶601, “The purpose of the annual conference is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church; all to the glory of God.”

I hope and pray that this gathering of the annual conference will be a means to accomplishing this purpose. Do you believe that your annual conference, Kansas West or elsewhere, fulfills this purpose?

PS – #kswumc is a Twitter hashtag for the annual conference. You can follow live updates from the conference by searching for that text at twitter.com.

Social Media Club of the UMC

I have enjoyed being involved in #SMCKC, the Social Media Club of Kansas City. I have learned a lot from others, particularly over the past few months in presentations on social media efforts from various local companies. In addition, conversations have proven to be fruitful.

So why not #smcumc? A Social Media Club for The United Methodist Church? A mission or purpose statement could be similar to that found at the #SMCKC website:

“Our primary goal is to help the greater Kansas City and sister communities across the country understand social media’s purpose, use and benefits. #smckc was founded on six pillars: Awareness, Education, Advocacy, Industry Leadership, Adoption of Standards, and Technology.”

I believe that the UMC at all levels, from local church to general agencies and general conference could benefit from better leveraging social media.

Who’s in?

What is God’s purpose?

The best response that I have to this is found in scripture:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.'” (Exodus 3:14, TNIV)

God is.

God exists in relationship eternally, with creation, humanity and individuals. Perhaps God’s purpose is to love and be loved in return.

What would you add to this response?

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.

Gospel according to BRGR

How’s this for an “About Us” page on church website?

First United Methodist Church (First UMC) brings you a fresh adaptation of the most classic faith concept around. The gospel of Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem and bred across the world as a way of reconciling people to God, but it’s grown up a bit, and has become an active part of bringing the kingdom of God on earth. Imagine the original gospel from early house churches, recreated using 21st century methods, and you have First UMC’s gospel presentation. First UMC (the forerunner denomination’s initials) is bringing “the gospel of Jesus Christ” into the neighborhood. Considering the current economy and the popularity of the burger, the founders Nicole and Andrew, decided to bring you a value-oriented church experience for the grown-up lover of God. At First UMC expect to get great worship made with fresh ingredients, focused service, and a little reverence for the classic gospel of Jesus Christ.

This was inspired a few days ago when Nicole and I were in the Corinth Square shopping center to get a couple pairs of Nicole’s shoes repaired at a great shop. It was about lunch time and we decided to eat at a new restaurant – B.R.G.R. Kitchen + Bar. We split the BRGR burger and it was the best burger that I have had in a long time, yes, better than Five Guys. In addition, the restaurant was an excellently designed space. When we arrived home, I checked out their website. This is where I was really impressed – their about us section reads:

BRGR KITCHEN + BAR brings you a fresh adaptation of the most classic restaurant concept around. The hamburger was born and bred in America as a convenient way to eat on the go, but it’s grown up a bit, and has become our country’s favorite food. Imagine those original burgers from classic burger joints, recreated using 21st century methods, and you have BRGR’s modern burger. BRGR (the owners’ initials) is bringing “the modern burger joint” into the neighborhood. Considering the current economy and the popularity of the burger, the owners Gaylin and Roberts, decided to bring you a value-oriented culinary experience for the grown-up burger lover. At BRGR Kitchen + Bar expect to get great food made with fresh ingredients, focused service, and a little reverence for the classic American burger.

How simple, yet how well executed.

4 Ways to Consider “Spiritualising the Internet”

Several months ago, I received a copy of several articles that explore the intersection of religion and the internet. I was fascinated. I had no idea that there was scholarly work being done on the subject. My background in biology and small experience in research combined with my current job description as Pastor of Resurrection Online lead to great interest for me. I want to record some of my notes on the articles and at the same time share them with you.

Spiritualising the Internet: Uncovering Discourses and Narratives of Religious Internet Usage by Heidi Campbell was published in 2005 in the Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet. You can download a PDF copy here. “Spiritualising the Internet means the Internet is seen as a technology or space that is suitable for religious engagement, whereby allowing users to include Internet-based activities into [the] rhythm of their spiritual lives” (2). Campbell presents four ways in which the spiritualization of the internet could be discussed:

  • “The Internet as a spiritual medium frames the Internet as a technology possessing, within the hardware and wires, an unseen realm where humanity can encounter the transcendent and spiritual experience” (13).
    • In this discourse, the internet functions as a ‘spiritual network’ (14).
  • “The Internet as a sacramental space discourse frames the Internet as space which can be shaped to allow people to engage in new or traditional religious rituals online” (13).
    • In this discourse, the internet can serve as a ‘worship space’ (14).
  • “The Internet as tool for promoting religion frames the Internet as resource able to connect with religious people and activities that can lead them to spiritual transformation” (14).
    • In this discourse, the internet is a ‘missionary tool’ (14).
  • “Finally, the Internet as a technology affirming religious life frames the Internet as a resource for building a communal or individual connection with a particular religious tradition or form of life” (14).
    • In this discourse, the internet supports ‘religious identity’ (14).

I very much appreciate Campbell’s treatment of the subject and find these four discourses to be a good classification.

The internet as spiritual medium does not make much sense to me and I do not believe that this way of spiritualizing the internet could come out of Christian tradition. The final three ways of considering the internet are all ways that Resurrection Online is seeking to spiritualize the internet.

  1. Resurrection Online seeks to encourage people to engage in both traditional and new religious rituals through the internet. Right now, this is primarily in the weekly worship service.
  2. Resurrection Online seeks to be an evangelism tool which can be used to connect with non religious and nominally religious people. I believe that this is a tool for those that are already connected with Resurrection to use when inviting others into the community.
  3. Resurrection Online seeks to affirm a United Methodist way of being a Christian with the flavor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection with a particular purpose, vision and journey.

What do you think about the categories that Campbell presents? How might Resurrection Online live more fully into these categories? Would that even be helpful?

Will you share your thoughts, feelings or opinions in the comments?

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?