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We all need lessons in leadership. This video blog, based on a blog by Pastor Ron Edmondson, helps me to share with the leaders of the church, some of the harsh realities that often accompany church leadership. Please watch it and comment.
I know that at this time of the year I ask a lot from the flock. As your shepherd, I am trying to lead us into some ministry opportunities that only exist during the fall months. As a result, things tend to get a little bit hectic. Just take a quick look at what the Fall Schedule looks like:
Do you see what I mean about ministry opportunities? As a church, I expect us to work hard during this time of the year. Did you ever wonder why? Well, first of all, the winter months are so unpredictable. It is hard to plan an outreach event because we don't really know what the weather will bring our way. Likewise, it's sort of hard to plan things internally at the church for the same reason. So, those months are not strong ministry times for our church.
Next comes the spring. We begin to thaw out and usually kick things off with our United Methodist Men's Pancake breakfast and our Community Lenten meals, Holy Week services, Easter Egg Hunt, Easter Cantata and other spring type activities.
We pick up speed as we head into the summer months. The big item on the agenda during that time is the Vacation Bible School. We go all out for a few weeks and then slow down to catch our breath because we know that fall is just around the corner and with fall comes out biggest time of ministry and impact on our community.
These events and activities are important to our church, community, and ultimately God's kingdom. They allow us to meet people beyond our doors. They allow us to welcome people into our church. They allow us to share God's love. They allow us to share one another's burdens. They allow us to be the church in action.
All of these things are great places to start, but they are just the start. I hope that we will be able to continue to discover new opportunities to minister and reach out. I hope that we will continue to be a bright beacon in our community.We can. However, it requires that we work together to make these things happen. I cannot do any of these events or activities by myself. No one can. Only working together, as the Body of Christ, each person doing what he or she is capable and called to do, can we achieve what God has in store for our church.
So, in the days ahead, I need you to give an extra push. You may be tired. You may be sore. You may not want to get up and get involved, but your church needs you to get involved. Without you, we will not succeed.
Thank you so much for all the time, effort, sweat, and love you have already put into ministry on behalf of the church. Don't slow down now. There is still plenty that needs to be done.
I recently met with the Disciple Team and we watched the sermon delivered by Bishop Taylor at the closing session of Annual Conference. In that sermon she suggested that the strength of the church lies in the fact that we are/have: “One Church. One Team. One Plan. One Goal.” She was talking about unity of mission and purpose. This, also, went along with the theme from the book we are studying .
One of the biggest obstacles that our church is going to have to overcome is that of unity. Not delving too deeply into our past troubles. I think that it is accurate to state that when issues with pastoral leadership arose, the church lost its primary source of vision. As a result, some very capable lay folk came forward and filled the leadership vacuum caused by pastoral problems.
Unfortunately, the pastoral problems were not a one time event and the church entered into a period of several years of strong lay leadership (nothing unfortunate about that). It is unfortunate that as a result, there did not seem to be any common vision or direction. Different groups and individuals simply stepped forward and took control of the ministries, activities, and events. However, there was no coordination of those things and, as a result, I think that the church lost its singular vision and purpose for existence.
Using a sports analogy, the players started running the team and calling the plays that they felt were best and due to a lack of coaching oversight, the team floundered and had some less than successful seasons.
The Disciple Team will be examining this lack of core vision and direction and will begin writing a playbook to help us all get on the same page. Working together with a common vision I don’t think there is anything that our church cannot accomplish.
Please pray for us as we undertake this effort.
The NOW (Nurture, Outreach, Worship) Team seeks your input and your service. The NOW Team is the group that plans and carries out the various ministries of our local church. Everyone is invited to participate in the planning of these ministries. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the ministries of our church. Take a look at some of the ministries of our church:
· Related to Christian Education: Sunday School Classes for Children & Adults; Vacation Bible School; Special Bible Studies
· Related to People Groups: United Methodist Youth, United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women
· Prayer Team: ministries focused on prayer: Wednesday night prayer group; monthly prayer emphasis; Free Coffee Fridays curbside prayers
· Shepherd Team: Ministries geared to the members of our church
· Mountain Empire Bottled Water Giveaway; Great Cookie Caper
· Community Block Party; Powell Valley Primary School Back Pack Project; Appalachian Elementary School Warm Hands and Heart Project
· Chancel Choir; Special Worship Services; Special Worship Musicians
· Worship service opportunities: Lector, Announcements, Ushers, Greeters, Children’s Message, Communion Stewards
· Home Communion Ministry
· Baptismal celebrations
This is not an exhaustive list, but it does give you an idea of what the NOW Team does. We really want you to come and join us as we seek to serve God. The team meets on the first Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m.
· 1. To think about (something) with thoroughness and care.
· 2. To reflect or consider with thoroughness and care
If you are an astute listener, you will have heard me use the word “ponder” on numerous occasions since my arrival back in June of 2012. Lest you think, however, that it is merely some speech affectation, let me assure you. It is not. Ponder is a word that speaks to my soul. It is used numerous times in scripture.
Psalm 4:4:“When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent.”
Psalm 48:9: “We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.”
Psalm 64:9: “Then everyone will fear; they will tell what God has brought about, and ponder what he has done.”
Proverbs 15:28: “The mind of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil.”
Isaiah 14:16: “Those who see you will stare at you, and ponder over you: “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms,…”
Luke 1:29: “But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.”
Luke 2:19: “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”
As you can read, it is used in numerous passages and all of them, in one way or another, seem to point to pondering our relationship to God. Maybe you can begin to see why I like the word so much and frequently slip it into conversations. If I tell you I need to ponder some idea or a question that you ask me, don’t assume that I am trying to dismiss the idea or question. I want to give it serious thought and not give you a snap kind of answer. Ponder—it is a small and powerful word.
I pray that all of us would be more eager to ponder the things of God that are revealed to us in Scripture and the experiences of God’s presence that we encounter in our day to day lives. Ponder. You need to try it sometime and don’t be surprised by what might be revealed to you when you do.
Every now and then you come across that turn of phrase or that quote or passage that just sort of speaks to you. This week, I came across such a passage in an email from a web community called FaithVillage that was telling its members that it was having to close its doors because things had not worked out. To be truthful, I remember signing up for Faith Village, but I never really made it one of those sites I visit, even sporadically. Now it’s closing, but the founder and senior editor, Brad Russell, said the following to site members:
“Our FaithVillage journey has not been about media or technology as an end in itself, but rather about applying the latest technology to fulfill perennial ministry goals, to share compelling faith stories, to build community, to disciple and form faith, to disseminate art and ideas, to sharpen leadership skills, to build collaborations that advance Kingdom causes.
In a world with declining church attendance and institutional loyalty, myriad distractions from what’s truly important and cultural change that is exponentially faster than before, the church is challenged to engage people every day and not passively wait for the world to enter the church door.
All around us, religious institutions are challenged to respond to this dramatically changing world. Some are courageous; others are timid. Our technology was our courageous response. We will always be grateful for those who caught the vision and joined us.
I’ve long appreciated the wisdom of Eric Hoffer, who wrote: “In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.”
The only way to learn is to innovate. And as Peter Drucker says, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”
But we can’t be romantic about innovation. In the end, our most courageous efforts are subject to funding, timing, misperceptions, incorrect assumptions and a myriad other forces. As it’s oft said, if innovation were easy, everyone would do it.”
These words spoke to me because I think they speak to our current situation as a church. I sometimes think that we are the learned who are about to find ourselves “...perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.” That is one reason that I have begun a major push into social media in these now waning summer months. I think that as a church and denomination, we are on the brink of extinction because we fail to take advantage of the opportunities that exist right in front of us. I know that many of you do not engage in most of these social venues that I have been promoting. But there is a vast community around us that does. To paraphrase Drucker, “If we want something new to happen in our church, then perhaps we are going to have to change or stop some of the old ways we are doing things.”
Please share your thoughts with me on this issue.
First of all, in Methodism, baptism (along with Communion) is a sacrament. That means that they are an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. In other words, we believe that something actually happens in the sacrament. We believe that God imparts grace. I could spend countless pages trying to explain that one!
Secondly, a Sacrament is something that involves God’s action. In baptism, it is not the individual that is really doing anything. Neither the pastor nor the person being baptized are really in charge. Instead, it is God that is moving and acting. That is why we baptize infants. Baptism has nothing to do with the ability of the infant to understand what is going on. It has everything to do with the grace that God infuses into that infants life.
Thirdly, baptism is not repeatable. Some denominations allow for re-baptism. Some require it if you wish to join their church. In these instances, baptism is seen as a response on the part of the person. I come to know Jesus and I want to be baptized. In some churches it is seen as the way to membership. In both these cases, the focus shifts away from God and onto the person being baptized and a decision that he or she is making. It becomes a decision made by the individual rather than a grace filled action in which God is doing something.
I hope that these brief words have helped you to understand a United Methodist view of baptism. I think that it is very important for us to consider baptism and its role in making us stronger disciples. If you have any questions, then give me a call. I’d love to talk to you about this important Sacrament of the church.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. I received an email last week from Amanda Vicars. Ms Vicars writes for the Sunday Stories section of the Kingsport Times-News. She stated that, “We would like to feature Trinity United Methodist Church in our next Faith and Action segment, which highlights outreach ministries and mission work of local churches.”
I immediately gave her a call. After conversing for about 20 minutes, I agreed to send her pictures of events and activities in which the church had been involved. (Good thing I like to take pictures!) She sent me a copy of the article and I made some corrections and sent it back to her. On Sunday August 24th, we will be featured in a special southwest Virginia section of the paper. From the way she talked, it should be most of one page if not two pages. The text is substantial and she wanted lots of pictures.
I asked her why our church was chosen. She said her editor told her to choose us. I don’t know the person that is her editor. I don’t know why the editor said to choose us. As a result, I think that there must be some God moment activity going on in this matter.
I don’t want to read too much into it, but perhaps God is saying, “You’re on the right path. Keep walking it.” I don’t know how many people will see the article. I don’t know how many will respond to the article. I do know, however, that this is a gift to us. There is no way that we would be able to afford to purchase advertising that would get the same results as this newspaper article will get.
What I need is a big AMEN. God has done this for us. I did not and as far as I know, no one in our church made any kind of advances to the editor to make this happen. So in addition to an AMEN, I am even willing to offer a HALLELUJAH!!! Thanks be to God!
Pastor Terry Goodman
Here's the place to get an idea about some of the thoughts and ideas that are on my mind.