Monday, February 23, 2009

Hug Time

I shared in my message yesterday that I am not much of a hugger, so I wanted to thank all those who came up after the service and hugged me. It is nice to be missed and I enjoy being picked on because that shows you care.
As I continued to think about embracing Christ and being embraced by him I do not need to look far for a picture of what this looks like. Helen loves to be hugged. She cannot get enough hugs, and so she often has time to just sit with our kids and hold them in her arms. They even have a name for this time, which I will not share because it is their time, but Jamison asks for this special time with his mom.
Although I again am not a big hugger, I can remember the times I have felt the need to crawl into my Heavenly Father's lap and be embraced by him. It as often been in times of pain and hurt. Times of disappointment and depression. I have need his embrace. There were also times of joy and excitement that I had to jump into his arms and celebrate.
Always remember the Lord wants to embrace you in good times and bad. Our Father wants that special time with you daily to hold you close and remind you that he is with you always.

Friday, February 6, 2009


The final book I have been waiting to read during my spiritual renewal time is Bill Hull's "The Complete Book of Discipleship." He starts the book with a thought-stopping quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. "Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ." Read that again.
His point is that if we do not have discipleship, learning from and following Christ, then we do not really have a Christian faith. God is still there and we believe in God, but if we are not following Christ, meaning striving to be more like Christ, then we are not really living the Christian life.
I have been trying to figure out a way to be sure our congregation is a disciple making congregation. (Do not get me wrong here, I believe we have many people that are following Christ. I believe as the pastor I have tried to disciple people, mostly through small groups and messages in worship.)
At this time we do not really have a good grasp of being able to show our discipleship is effective? Can we see that people have come to know God and then moved closer to God? Again I think this is happening, but as our congregation grows I think we need to get a coordinated system in order to both mark people's progress, but more important to help show people the direction in discipleship.
I want someone who is new to the faith to know what small groups to attend, what books to read, and what actions of service will help them get started in discipleship. I want someone who has followed Christ for 50 years to know what small groups to attend, what books to read, and what actions of service will help them continue in discipleship.
This book has promised to lead me in personal, small group and congregational discipleship. So I hope when I get back, working with the Education Ministry Team, we can develop a map on how to make disciples of Jesus Christ, so that we can continue to be a church where you can SEE Christ.

PS - If you would like me to personally disciple you please let me know and we can come up with a plan.
PPS - I will be away from the Internet for the next week, a little time away from technology will not hurt, so this will be my last blog until then.
God Bless.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Over the weekend I read “Church Leadership” by Lovett H. Weems, Jr.. He admits that leadership is a difficult subject to nail down. Some people think leaders are born, but others say leadership can be learned. Some think leaders are only a certain personality style, while others think a leader can be any style of personality. We also often focus on leadership as an individual, but to be a true leader a team is needed. Personally I stand in the middle of most of these where it takes a little from both sides.
As Weems talked about leadership he started by defining two words associated with leadership which are administration and management. He said, “Administration is doing things right.” “Management is doing the right thing.” He said these can be a part of leadership, but also just because you are a good administrator or manager that does not mean you are a leader. He then gave a nice three line definition of leadership, which I summarize as leadership is casting a picture of the right vision and helping others to follow that vision.
I was reminded as Weems spent one-third of his book focusing on vision that vision is a vital piece of leadership. He spends the other two-thirds of the book talking about team, culture and integrity. As our congregation is focusing on our vision this month I am praying God would help us to clarify our vision and come up with more specific steps to follow our vision. The vision actually will then become our leader instead of a person. (Although our vision is to help people SEE the person of Jesus Christ.)
So I want to find a question or questions that you will hear often when we are making decisions at St. Paul’s UMC. These questions will remind us to hold up everything we do to our vision to be sure they are in line with each other. I am not sure what that question will be yet, but it might be, “Will this help others to SEE Christ?” If the answer is “no” then we will not move forward with that idea, ministry or action. If the answer is “yes”, then we will continue to move forward. My hope as I repeatedly ask that question is that soon others will be asking it as well.
Leadership is a team effort of creating a culture where we follow God’s vision for us with integrity. I think Lovett Weems would be proud of that definition.