Making the Network Work

Over the last several years, the Great Plains Annual Conference has introduced Networks into our life in ministry together. These are groups of congregations that share a physically contiguous mission field – all the churches in an area. The church which I serve, Berryton United Methodist Church, is connected in a network with Big Springs UMC, Highland Park UMC, Lecompton UMC, Shawnee Heights UMC, Stull UMC, and Tecumseh UMC.

I have the opportunity to serve as the Network Leader which means convening the pastor and a lay person from each congregation so that we can make progress together and reach our mission field more effectively. I am committed to making our network work. I don’t have time for to add a meeting to my schedule in which we are getting together only to “check the box” that we have completed the task.

We met for the first time as a Network last week. If you are interested in the agenda, click here to download it as a PDF. I believe that our network has the opportunity to be the most innovative in the Great Plains Annual Conference. I am looking forward to building relationships with colleagues and friends and working together to share God’s love with our neighbors and live boldly into God’s dream for southeast Shawnee and northwest Douglas county.

Four Keys to Business and Entrepreneurship from Ray Pitman (2 of 3)

I have had the privilege of spending time with Ray Pitman, a member of Resurrection, over the past several months. Several years ago, I officiated at the funeral for his wife, Betty, and we reconnected this summer when I lead worship at Leawood one Saturday night. He has shared with me over and over his four keys to business and entrepreneurship. I have found them to be applicable in a wide variety of circumstances:

  1. Opportunity – Be able to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself.
  2. Vision – Have the vision to project that opportunity to where it might go; Be able to recognize if this is the opportunity for you
  3. Ability – Have the ability to make it happen
  4. Passion – Have passion for what you are doing.

Wisdom for Life from Ray Pitman (1 of 3)

Seal of Rockhurst University
Image via Wikipedia

I have had the privilege of spending time with Ray Pitman, a member of Resurrection, over the past several months. Several years ago, I officiated at the funeral for his wife, Betty, and we reconnected this summer when I lead worship at Leawood one Saturday night. Last Friday he invited me to hear him speak to an executive MBA class at the Helzberg School of Management at Rockhurst University. He has told his life as a case study to classes at the Helzberg School for several years and I wanted to share a few tidbits for life, work and ministry.

  • Don’t ever be afraid to ask. Don’t worry if you don’t have the money to accomplish a project that you have in mind. If the idea is great, there will be someone that will be able to help fund it.
  • Just because your back is against the wall don’t think that there isn’t anything to do about it.
  • What may seem to be tragedy at the time may be the best thing that ever happened to you.
  • Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you are and your horizons will be broadened by their abilities.
  • Sometimes its best to ignore the details and focus on the people who are caring for the details.

Labor Day 2011

Although today is the quintessential end of summer, I can’t really recall it having felt like that to me. Growing up, I was usually in school before Labor Day and this was really the end of summer. It may have been a chance to have a picnic or cook out in the backyard – kind of a last hurrah before the fall was to begin in earnest.

This year I have made a big transition to Resurrection West a couple weeks ago, so there isn’t much for me that is hinging on this date. It is looking like a day to relax a bit and spend time with a family. Although, I am not sure that we will be doing any laboring…

How will you spend Labor Day 2011?

Seasons of Work and Rest: Senior Staff Retreat (3 of 4)

"The Covered Wagon of the Great Western M...
Image via Wikipedia

The conversation around the  Call to Action: Reordering the Life of the UMC and the subsequent UMC Leadership Summit, as well as the conversation in Kansas and Nebraska about Great Plans for the Great Plains: A Vision (PDF Link), I have been reflecting on the time that I spent on the spring senior staff retreat at Resurrection in which we read together, Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results.

It is important to attend to seasons of work and rest. I am aware of this across the course of a year. As a pastor, there are seasons of the year when I will work many more hours in a week than others, for example – Easter and Christmas Eve. I have become better at paying attention to these ebbs and flows. What I realized on this retreat is that this is true across the course of a week and a day as well.

In a week, there will be days when work is more and less intense.

In a day, there will be hours when work is more and less intense.

From your experience, have you found this to be true? I would be interested to hear more – yes or no.

Nothing to Do but Save Souls in the UMC

Gwennap Pit

There is no group, connection, cluster or network of churches that doesn’t have issues. Being connected is part of who we are as Christians. There is no use complaining, but great value in working in God‘s kingdom and renewal within the church. I ran across this advice in a post by Matt Judkins from Tim Keller via DJ Chuang’s blog and found it valuable enough to pass along to you.

I wonder where you’d go to find a truly missional denomination? I don’t know of any. For missionally minded churches, any denominational connection will bring you into relationship with some other churches and ministers who downright embarass you. This will be true of any ecclesiastical body with more than 5 churches in it. I don’t think that going independent and only staying connected in to a missional ‘network’–which has no disciplinary authority–is the answer either.

My counsel: 1) inhabit a denomination with a historic tradition you admire (Reformed, Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist) 2) stay in a denomination if it gives you space to follow your calling, 3) don’t be marginal to it–be active in the denomination, but 4) don’t be too absorbed in all its workings and especially not in its politics.

I agree with Matt and would clearly add Methodist as a historic tradition. As John Wesley admonishes us, “You have nothing to do but to save souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work.”

Clergy: Will You Learn to Manage Stress or Burnout?

Stress Reduction Kit
Image by programwitch via Flickr

Last month, I read an article from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership about Myths about Clergy Burnout and Managing Stress. From the article:

Myth Three: Older leaders are more likely to burn out than younger leaders.
Recent research on clergy age seems to indicate that younger clergy are more likely to burn out than their older colleagues. In general, levels of mental health improve as people age. And older clergy are more likely than their younger colleagues to have learned how to manage their stress.

It seems that clergy that do not learn how to manage stress do not have the opportunity to be in ministry a long time because they burnout. How do you respond? In what ways do you manage stress?

Labor Day

Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New York, 1882...
Image via Wikipedia

Today is Labor Day, of which I did not know the origin until consulting Wikipedia, which reports:

“Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September (September 6 in 2010).

The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City.[1] In the aftermath of the deaths of a number of workers at the hands ofthe U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the 1894 Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with Labor as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike.[2]Cleveland was also concerned that aligning an American labor holiday with existing international May Day celebrations would stir up negative emotions linked to theHaymarket Affair.[3] By the 20th century, all 50 U.S. states have made Labor Day a state holiday.”

Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure. In any case, I hope you have a wonderful day of labor, rest or a parade (See picture of the first Labor Day parade).

Speedlinking – April 9, 2010

These are posts that I enjoyed and recommend. Enjoy!

Zimbabwe: Chabadza (6 of 8)

I was deeply encouraged by learning about the concept of chabadza. This is a custom of the Shona people of Zimbabwe in which a traveler stops to help anyone whom they pass as they are going on their way. If I am traveling from village to village and see someone working in their field, I will stop to help, even just for a few strokes of a hoe. Then a conversation may start in which I may find directions from the worker and the worker may pass along a message for someone in the next village. It is a mutually beneficial partnership.

Chabadza means that someone is working in the field and a passer by works alongside in the same field with the same goal.

I believe that this is a healthy understanding of partnership and is an excellent model for partnerships between annual conferences.

Speedlinking – March 23, 2009