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.
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)?
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
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.
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.
I have continued to pitch micro churches as a way of finding renewal within The United Methodist Church and building Christian communities where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians. I am currently working on training leaders to launch these faith communities. I hope that by the end of August there will be three micro churches worshiping regularly. I want to share with you the documents and presentation that I am using as a guide to train these leaders.
These continue to be works in progress. I am working on a document now to address sacraments and will post in a later post when it is prepared. Will you please take a look at these documents and offer your response, ideas or opinions?
I am excited for the potential that exists for micro churches to create new places for new people to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I am excited about the upcoming 40 Days of Prayer for the United Methodist Church. This idea was first mentioned by Ben Simpson in An Open Letter to Young United Methodist Leaders. I am excited about this movement because I believe that it will:
Bring clarity of God’s vision for individuals and communities
Be a common effort that will lead to different types of renewal in different places across the denomination.
Become a catalyst for a movement of young leaders in the UMC across the nation
Help me to be more intentional about prayer for leaders in the denomination.
Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.
– Japanese proverb
In considering the future of the United Methodist Church both vision and action is critical. Yesterday, I outlined a vision for renewal within the denomination and today I will tackle how I think it will happen.
I used to think that it was key to determine a clear vision that could be seen by people from across the spectrum of the denomination. This would be a clear directional arrow pointing the way forward for the entire denomination. I no longer believe that this is the best approach. It does not matter whether one particular renewal / revival effort becomes the one that gains huge momentum and spreads across the denomination. What does matter is that many people see a positive vision for the future and take action around it. Some of these efforts will have ongoing significance and some will not. But together these efforts will form the directional arrow pointing the way to renewal within the denomination and spiritual revival among United Methodists. I initiated this idea on paper in a conversation with Ben Simpson:
I have been reading The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations and am becoming increasingly convinced that what is needed is a multitude of leaders taking action toward a vision. Some of these efforts will fall along the path, in rocky places, among thorns and some on good soil. (Mark 4) I believe that sharing stories multiplies the action that is being taken and serves as inspiration.
Some examples of vision and action of which I am aware: