14 October 2010
13 October 2010
12 October 2010
11 October 2010
10 October 2010
09 October 2010
08 October 2010
07 October 2010
06 October 2010
05 October 2010
04 October 2010
14 March 2010
11 March 2010
08 March 2010
As much as all the churches have helped me grow in my ministry and the understanding of my calling to serve the UMC with all that I have, there is one person to whom I owe the largest debt of gratitude - my wife, Debbie.
When I met Debbie I had no idea I was going to follow a call to ministry - a call that would lead us to move more frequently in our first 5 years of marriage than she did her entire life prior to meeting me.
All along the way Deb has been my biggest support and my quiet cheerleader. She has helped my get up when I didn't feel like getting up any more. She has kicked my butt when it needed to be kicked. And she has done it all with grace, patience, and humility.
When we first started dating at A&M, Deb was an accounting major and I was an engineering major. She finished her accounting degree, I changed my major twice before graduating with an economics degree. She didn't complain when I told her that I was feeling a call to ministry and that would mean 4 years in seminary. She didn't complain when I told her how the appointment process moved pastors around as needed. She didn't complain when I told her how much seminary was going to cost.
We moved to Dallas, I started working for First UMC, Plano, she worked for AT&T Wireless, and we started saving for Perkins. It was during this time that she learned to love the back of my head because that was about all she saw of it during my first three semesters in seminary - and I love her all the more for it.
During my last year in seminary we moved to Carrollton so that we would be closer to the church I was working for during that time. We also added Caitlyn to our family during our time in Carrollton, but not before I got my first appointment as a local pastor. Now that Debbie was enjoying seeing the front of my head again I was able to talk with her about how to grow new programs, how to be a better preacher, and how to properly feed a newborn (all of which I still need work on!).
Now that we are in Wichita Falls I am so thankful that she has journeyed with me during these last 9+ years. I am thankful for the ability to rely on your strength, wisdom, and courage as we have faced challenging days both personally and professionally.
I love your wit, even when it cuts my pride (perhaps especially then).
I love your zeal for clarity.
I love your incredible "mom powers" - how in the world do you keep up with Caitlyn everyday?
Deb, you are the one I love the most and the only villager that I want to spend the rest of my days with. Without you, there would be no elder to celebrate this year. If it takes a village to raise an elder, then you are the matriarch of that village!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
06 March 2010
05 March 2010
Trietsch Memorial UMC, Flower Mound
How can I start to say thanks to the people of Trietsch? I learned so much during my 3 years in Flower Mound that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my ministry career. I am not quite sure how many different ministry areas I interfaced with, but I know that I had a chance to meet a ton of great people and made a bunch of mistakes that I could learn from.
The most significant group of lay people during my time at Trietsch would have to be my Lay Ministry Committee. This group of eight dedicated folks spent an hour with me once a month during my last two years to talk about my ministry, my growth as a pastoral leader, and exploring new ways of doing ministry at Trietsch. Alan, Betty, Chris, JohnS, JohnM, Patty, Michelle, David, Jaime (I know that's nine, but we swapped Jamie for JohnS during the 2nd year) helped me to discern my gifts for ministry and pushed me to take risks, love God, and serve with all my heart. I am deeply indebted to this group of people. I would not be where I am today without their influence.
The next significant group of lay people (and some clergy) would have to be the staff. I promise you that they made me look 100x better than I actually was on numerous occasions! I would never have laughed so hard, prayed so much, or served so faithfully had it not been for the wonderful men and women of the Trietsch staff. I can't begin to tell all the stories here, but if any of you reading this are members (or were members) of Trietsch's staff - I am deeply indebted to you as well.
Finally, I would like to say a special thanks to the dedicated folks who served as ushers, greeters, info desk volunteers, parking lot attendants, donut table volunteers, trolley drivers, medical team volunteers, Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, and small group leaders. On many occasions you went above and beyond the call of duty to serve the church and our community and I thank you.
Tomorrow - University UMC!
04 March 2010
Holy Covenant UMC, Carrollton
Of all the churches I have served Holy Covenant challenged me to grow in my understanding of God the most. I entered seminary theologically conservative on every issue. When I graduated from Perkins I considered myself to be theologically moderate, but politically conservative. When I finished my internship at Holy Covenant I considered myself theologically moderate and politically moderate.
Even after getting off to an auspicious start with my Lay Teaching Committee (sorry Susan!), this group of dedicated people met with me for two hours once a month to critique my sermons, discuss my pastoral care, push my theological thinking, and encourage me to be the best pastor that I could be. Susan, Charlie, Jan, Randy, Jim, Evan, and Cheryl spent many hours reading my reflection papers, discussing my sermons, and helping me to articulate my theological understanding of local church ministry. I am deeply indebted to these wonderful folks because I am a better pastor today because of the time they invested in me.
The congregation as a whole surrounded me with support as I learned how to find my voice in the pulpit, find my teaching style in the classroom, and find my way around the justice issues within our community. I even got to write a few book reviews for the Dallas Morning News thanks to a member of Holy Covenant!
To my Disciple 1 class - thank you for not falling asleep when I went off on a tangent about some random biblical fact that had little to do with our lesson and even less to do with your lives! To Sharyn, Jana, Becky, Carol, Denise, Debbie, and Don - thank you for allowing me to be part of your lives and for teaching me what it means to be part of a staff. To the whole congregation of HCUMC - thank you for loving Debbie and I while we were there and continuing to care about us after we left. Thank you also for giving this "greenhorn" an opportunity to stretch his wings and see if he could fly. Thanks for picking me up when I fell and teaching me grace in the midst of learning how to "do church"!
Tomorrow - Trietsch Memorial UMC, Flower Mound!
03 March 2010
02 March 2010
18 February 2010
16 February 2010
03 February 2010
02 February 2010
26 January 2010
Hmmm....I am pretty sure that I have never said any of these things!
"Oh, no, I couldn't eat another bite of that delicious pie!"
"I can't think of anything to preach!"
"I wish we had a church business meeting every week!"
"I'm afraid that our choir is at full capacity. Can't take anyone else."
"We'd like to start paying our Sunday School teachers next week."
"December is a boring month--I never have anything to do."
"I hate it when people volunteer!"
"I believe the Lord has called me to a smaller church."
"There will be no offering today--we've got plenty of money."
24 January 2010
23 January 2010
During the upcoming year I will be spending a great deal of time engaged in the Congregational Transformation Process through our partnership with Rev. Dr. Don Nations and his consulting firm, DNA Coaching, Inc. My hope is to learn all that I can from him and his associates so that I can help the Church Council lead our congregation into a brighter future. Rev. Nations and I have already begun to dialog about beginning a second worship service here at University, but we still have several questions to wrestle with before moving forward.
As I asked him about what would be necessary to begin an alternative worship service he asked me if I could answer the "why" question – "why do we want to do this?" The answer to that question begins to determine the direction that the new service will take. There are two possible answers to the "why" question that are helpful:
- Because a current service is approaching 80% capacity
- Because we want to reach out to an new segment of our community who is not currently being reached by our current worship service
If #1 is our answer, then we need to replicate our current service at another time (either on Sunday morning or at another time that makes sense for our audience). If #2 is our answer, then we need to design an alternative worship experience that meets the needs of the people we would like to see included in our congregation, but are not currently attending or participating.
I believe that #2 is our answer to the "why" question Rev. Nations posed. To that end I did some research through the Percept Group to find out about the demographics of the community immediately surrounding University UMC. The information I found out about the community within a 3-mile radius of our church was startling, eye-opening, challenging, and encouraging. Here are some of the highlights that might impact our decision to begin a second worship experience:
Current Population: 55,839
Households with No Faith Involvement: 29%
Average Age: 38.0 years
Overall Church Style Preference (Trad. vs. Cont.): Both
Preference for "Historic Christian" Tradition: 83%
Overall Faith Receptivity: Somewhat High
Overall Church Program Preference Category: Spiritual Development
This data (along with about 10 more pages worth of data) gives me a good indication that with the right team in place to launch a new worship experience here at University, we could double worship attendance (or more) within the next year.
If you would like to serve on the team that will strategize about this new worship experience, please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) indicating your interest before January 31, 2010. I am looking for 15-20 people to serve on this team.
Thank you for your generosity in our second offering Sunday morning! With your generous gifts, we will be able to help the United Methodist Committee on Relief continue its post-earthquake efforts in Haiti.