27 February 2007

Don't be Impotent

Perry Noble is pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina and I have recently begun to follow his blog and his ideas, this post is one of the reasons that I am ready to hear more of what he has to say. Thanks for bringing it, Perry!

Also check out Tony Morgan's synopsis of Perry's talk at a recent conference.


14 February 2007

Can Denominational Churches be Relevant?

As Willowcreek prepares for this year's Leadership Summit, they invited the host site pastors to spend some time with each of the speakers that will be featured during the 2.5 day event. Tim Stevens has a great synopsis of some comments made by Bill Hybels and John and Nancy Ortberg.

I wanted to draw your attention to one thing that John Ortberg said: "Leaders want three things...Freedom, Opportunity and Challenge. They want these three things way more than money or security. However, deonominations are set up to repel leaders."

John serves a Presbyterian church in California, so he knows about denominations. I serve a United Methodist church in Texas, and I know a little about the power that denominational structures have to quell creativity and experimenting. Can the UMC crawl out from under that structure to make a meaningful impact on the kingdom of God? Can we be both relevant and faithful to our denominational heritage? Or are we doomed to be enslaved to the system that keeps things the same?

NB - Trietsch is not a typical UMC, so most of the previous rant about the UMC does not apply to my current appointment.

I don't have all the answers, but I hope that the next 10-15 years of my ministry are creative, relevant, and transformational to a generation that despises organized religion and fake Christianity.


13 February 2007

February Staff Mission Project

This morning most of the Trietsch staff went down to CC Young to celebrate February birthdays and Valentine's Day with the residents. It was an amazing hour of serving those whom Christ loves dearly and the world often forgets.

As we served those beautiful people cookies, juice, crackers, and mixed nuts I wondered how I am going to live out the last years of my life. Will my children put me in a "home" to be forgotten? Will my family take me into their home so that I can live with them? How will I deal with the constant loss of life-long friends?

The residents at CC Young seemed happy and well taken care of and I am proud to have this facility as a part of the United Methodist connectional system. I even met the grandmother-in-law of one of the elders in our conference. Louise was such a great woman to talk to and I promised her that I would say hello to Kathleen for her. I know that you will probably never read this Louise, but I am very glad to have met you and to make a connection with you thru Kathleen - God's peace be with you Louise!

Well, our team has been charged with the April Mission Project, so I hope we head to Starbucks soon to begin planning! Especially after reading Mark's post about his recent trip to the drive-thru!


If you would like to support CC Young financially, click here. If you would just like to find out more about the facility, click here.

12 February 2007

Eradicate Poverty

Today I met with a small group of college students at the Denton Wesley Foundation to talk about Tony Campolo's new book, Everybody Wants to Change the World. My devotional time this morning brought this verse and these thoughts. Praise God!

"Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God." (Lev 19.10, TNIV)

When did profit become more important than protecting humanity? When did making a buck begin to supercede saving a life? It seems that God's provisions and instructions are clear enough so that we can create a sustainable economy.

Why did we stop caring for the less fortunate? Why does it take a government program to feed people in this country when the body of Christ should be on the front lines? If we all just followed the guidelines set out for a healthy world, then hungry people would be fed, sick people would get medicine, and homeless people would have a roof to call their own.

This doesn't seem all that hard. I can go without a $4 mocha each week. I can buy smaller portions of food. I can cook more meals at home. I can do my part to share what I have been blessed with in order to bless those who have not. If every Christian consciously took the time to understand more about what we can do to combat poverty, then we could make major changes around the world.

I need to preach this message to as many people as possible. I need to make sure that those around me are consciously aware of what they can do to combat poverty in our world, our neighborhoods, and across the globe.

Jesus, you love everyone - even those who have too much. I pray that you can take this spark and fan it into a flame that spreads throughout the Christian church. We, as Christians, need to respond to the plight of the poor with dollars, bodies, and fresh ideas - give us those resources O God, and allow us to spread you love. In Jesus' name. Amen.

06 February 2007

Preaching on Sunday

I preached this weekend at one of Trietsch's sister churches, Chinn's Chapel UMC. It was quite a different experience from preaching at Trietsch because the crowd was smaller, the sanctuary was much smaller, and I didn't have to wear a lav or speak into a mic at all (that's how small their sanctuary is).

I preached about Jesus calling his first disciples in Luke's Gospel (ch 5) and how living in the deep water was the best way to make major strides for the kingdom of God on earth. As I was preaching, I realized that I was challenging a church of less than 100 people to reach out their new neighbors, whom they have been avoiding like the plague, with the message that God loves them and that they matter to God. I wondered how wise it was to issue such a challenge, but that's one of things about ministry - I have been called by God to push buttons, poke, prod, and stir the people of God as much as I can in the name of kingdom advancement. It's my mission. It's my calling. It's my goal.

I guess, deep down, there is this longing inside of me to want to see people who have been passive in their faith take a big step out of their comfort zone and make a difference for Jesus in our world. I really believe that Jesus did not call us to be consumers of Christianity, but to be investors in Christ. And part of making that investment, is turning what you start with into more ... taking what you are given and doing all you can with it ... I think I read that somewhere.

What big steps have you taken lately?
How are you living in the deep water?