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Showing posts from January, 2008

Question: The Best Worship Experience Ever

Really, I will soon be reflecting on the Bishop's Convocation, and a million other postponed-posts. But one more question:

What's the best worship experience you remember having? What can you tell me about it? What made the experience 'the best'? Where were you? What was the context?

For my own answer, the first things that come to mind are two worship services where the sermons moved me to tears. I don't remember anything else about the services though, other than the sermon. I think the opening worship the first time I attended General Conference was very powerful - it was just overwhelming to be with a gathered global community of United Methodists. I remember several worship experiences during a CCYM retreat in high school that collectively were extremely powerful to me, and hearing Bishop Woodie White preach during Exploration '98, although I can't tell you much detail about what he said.

What's been your best worship experience?

The Pastor as Prophet

I'm at the Bishop's Convocation in Greater New Jersey right now, and I'll have comments to share about that later in the week.

But for right now, I've been thinking a lot about the pastor as prophet. Are pastors prophets? Two comments to consider:

In Leaves from the Notebookof a Tamed Cynic, Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, “I am not surprised that most prophets are itinerants . . . I think the real clue to the tameness of a preacher is the difficulty one finds in telling unpleasant truths to people who one has learned to love . . . Once personal contact is established you are very prone to temper your wind to the shorn sheep. It is certainly difficult to be human and honest at the same time. I’m not surprised that most budding prophets are tamed in time to become harmless parish priests.”

In contrast (of sorts), Rev. Grace Imathiu, preaching at the 2007 Festival of Homiletics on Ezekiel’s call, asked, “How does a priest function when they are stripped of traditions, robes, when b…

Question: What to read with the congregation?

Thanks so much for all the responses to my questions! I really appreciate the insights. Here's yet another: (next week, actual posts, really.)

Every year, the Ad Council at FLUMC reads a book together. I've got some possibilities churning in my mind, but I'm interested in your suggestions. What book would you most want to read together with your church leadership and/or whole congregation?

Another question: Youth Ministry

Another question for you all:

I’m teaching a workshop about youth ministry for the district this weekend. My personal experience with youth ministry is mostly at the conference and jurisdictional level (I'm the conference youth coordinator for NCNY) – I have, actually, comparatively less experience with the youth ministry of the local church.

If you could make sure people knew one thing about youth ministry, what would it be? What are the most important things to know about youth ministry?

I suspect many people want to know what to do with small membership youth groups. What do you do when you have two, three, four kids? My own initial youth group experiences were in a group about this size. My youth group leader, who was the pastor, let us focus mostly on fellowship and having a good time. As long as we could come and have fun, we stuck with it. Eventually, we grew into something larger, and could make bigger plans - trips, mission projects, devotional time.

What do you do with small…

Question: Committees and Structures

So, I haven’t been in a blogging mood lately – something about the post-vacation difficulty of getting back into the routine, I guess. I have a few things that I want to write about eventually: Transparency, ‘religious views’ on facebook, reviews of Church on the Otherside and Eden’s Outcasts. But for now, I’ll pose a series of questions for your help/input and comment.

First question:

How are the committees/teams structured at your church? What are the strengths/weaknesses of your structure?

For those of you who are United Methodists, are any of you familiar with the Nurture-Outreach-Witness model (NOW)? Have you had success with using this model in your congregation?

I appreciate your thoughts and comments!

back from vacation

I got back yesterday from my week's vacation in the Caribbean on a 9 day cruise with Royal Caribbean. I had a great time. I went with my mother, brother, and his girlfriend, and we visited Haiti (sort of - because of the weather that day we couldn't get off the boat - but I was in the waters of Haiti taking pictures of Haiti, so I think it counts...), the Dominican Republic, St. Thomas (picture at left) and Puerto Rico.

I didn't have a problem with seasickness, which I was worried about, although getting off the boat proved to be more difficult. I currently feel like I'm bobbing around on a rocking boat. I hope this feeling goes away in the next day or two, because I'm not enjoying it. My vacation was extremely relaxing. I have a bad habit of working through my vacations. Usually when I vacation, I take work with me, end up answering too many work related emails and phone calls, or spend time doing worship planning and sermon writing. I did have internet access on t…

United Methodist of the Year

The folks over at UM Portal have a post up about choosing a United Methodist of the Year.

They mention George, Dick, Hillary, and John, as well as Billy Bob Thornton, but I'm not intimidated. I've decided to toss my hat into the ring.

My qualifications:

* I always try to add more potlucks to the church calendar.

* I belong to the "We are Ridiculously Methodist" group on facebook.

* I was confirmed at age 10, and so have been a UM for a really big percentage of my life.

* My friends tell me I'm just like John Wesley.

* I survived the ordination process.

* I have three copies of the current Book of Discipline.

* I'm really into the doctrine of Christian Perfection.

So go put in a good word for me. If you vote for me, I can promise snow shovels and babysitting.

Too hard or too easy?

It's January 1st of a new year. Some people think a new year is no big deal. Some people don't make resolutions because they've failed at resolutions before and they think they're setting themselves up for failure. Some people are ready to have a chance, artificially marked or otherwise, to start fresh.

I think I am caught (we are caught) always between being too hard on ourselves and too easy on ourselves. So often I wake up in the morning to have my mind instantly start racing through the things I need to do that day. It's not a particularly relaxing way to wake up! I get a frantic start to my day, and then I get overwhelmed and end up hardly accomplishing anything I set out to do. it's a frustrating cycle, and I see it impacting different areas of my life where I hope to make changes - my personal life, in my social justice activism, in my ministry, etc.

Sometimes, I think we're way too hard on ourselves. We set up unreasonable demands of ourselves, and th…