Thursday, May 10, 2012

#gc2012 Thoughts on General Conference & the Church

There has been a lot of conversations over that past few weeks in the United Methodist Church. These conversations have been at the local level, Annual Conference & even global level. There has been conversations about our structure, our treatment of certain people groups, gay & lesbian issues and much more. I am not one of those that in the past followed the policy makers and vocal on both sides of these stories. Trust me with ministry responsibilities right here at home; were busy enough just trying to love people and execute programs to reach more in the name of Jesus Christ.

However I did watch the Twitter feed way too much during General Conference. Listening to everyone on Twitter chime in about there own take and passions and decisions during this time. Most of the time the feed #gc2012 wasn't focused. People were all over the board off on their own little islands with issues, ideas and thoughts. This really bothered me. I was wondering where the like minded people were? Where were our common ground areas on these major issues? Why wasn't there more conversations than people trying to make a point or "one liners"?

I believe for us to be effective as a church not only locally, but globally we are going to need to come together and work somethings out. This doesn't mean that were going to have to agree on every issue. I don't think that is even possible or the desired result. We certainly need the church to be made up of people from all different background and ways of life. We need diversity. We shout these things from our little mountain tops. We tell the world that this is what were about, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty we want people to feel, act, talk and believe what we believe!

I think if we take a long hard look at ourselves before we start comparing ourselves to others and making ourselves better then them. When we do that we become the older son/brother in the parable of "The Lost Son" found in Luke 15. Oh yeah, Sarah and I preached on that last weekend. Missed it? You can still hear it at  

There are so many things that we don't agree on as individual in the church. Note that I am referring to the overall global church, those who claim to be followers of Christ. We need to drop our attack posters and agendas and come back to the table. We need to pray, talk, share and quite possibly pray again for God to speak and to nudge us into obedience with Him. We need to become connected and concerned about each other. Not just about ourselves and what we may "feel", but also what our fellow brothers and sisters are feeling as well.

Phyllis's Tickle has been in church circles for decades. She has spent much of her career in the publishing arena. Several years back I had the privilege of listening to her speak. She was articulate and inspirational in the area of our future as a church. She has deep convictions of where we are going as a church and what we must do to not destroy, weaken or even miss our opportunity in this world. A great read that has much of what she was referring to in her message can be found in her latest book "The Great Emergence".

Mike Slaughter was one of the gentlemen who came to General Conference for the United Methodist Church as presented along with Adam Hamilton an amendment on Sexuality in the Book of Discipline. Today he wrote his recapped thoughts on Annual Conference. There are several very good point he makes. Check it out here

There are two quotes that Mike has in his blog that I would like to quote as well to wrap this entry up. They are. . .

"I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out." John Wesley

"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."- Micah 6:8

Thank you, and may God bless us in our efforts and service to Him!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do I believe that God is bigger than me?

We are starting a new series next week at Grace Community based on the book Love Wins by Rob Bell. I have read this book a couple times. Read and listened to numerous of other point of views online and am currently reading Francis Chan's new work Chasing Hell which contradicts Bell's work.

What I am finding online in most of other people's opinions is a fear of the unknown and a fear of their own personal "Biblical World View". I think what Love Wins does well at is raising the question. To get people thinking and looking into scripture and what it really says. Too often we just take for granted what we have been told to believe, but we fail to grasp and to own our own beliefs, convictions and understandings of God and His ways.

I admit that God is way too much God for me to figure Him out. That every time I pick of the sacred texts (Bible) or any other work I read my own beliefs, assumptions and preconceptions into it. We need to take a step back and read with new eyes, unbiased eyes and hearts for God.

See I am writing the entry now so I can distance myself from the work before me. Not that I don't want to do it. But I sense I am in the middle of it and don't want Scott to be the center. This is the place for God to be. I want God to be the center of this study. As the book it titled "Love Wins". That God in the end will get the last word, He in the end will signal the end; He is the one who calls the shots. Not me and not you.

What I am finding in my reading and studying is that often we have made our beliefs, our theology and our dogma about Us and really not about God. Even though through our beliefs and theology we are trying to describe God, we are actually just falling way short of describing or explaining God. It is almost as if we are telling God, "...this is what your are to me...this is who you are..."

So maybe through this study of Love Wins we will be able to see who God truly is? Maybe we will wrestle with our thoughts and beliefs and come to new and better conclusions. Maybe after this all is set and done we will realize that God is much bigger than you and I and that we need Him more than ever.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New study released on Teens and media

This should be a wake up call to us who seem to take minutes or even upwards to 30 to 40 minutes to get our points across!

The article by Daniel Anstandig said this "Long-winded pitches and excessive ramp-ups to your point will result in losing the ear of your target. This is the first generation of consumers that speaks in bullet points. In 256 characters or less, a text message between two teens can plan an entire weekend. In 140 characters or less, a tweet can start a riot. Get your point across as efficiently as possible without sounding gruff." 

I'm not avocating that we start to form bible studies, devotionals or even sermons into 140 characters or less, but we should be concious to our audience and those whom are are trying to reach. This study focused in on teens 13-17. And I don't have to remind us how crucial it is to reach people prior to even high school and certainly college.

I wonder how long it will take the church, us youth directors and pastors to catch on to what main stream media and marketing consultants are already doing. We as the church has lost this battle over the past several generations, maybe we can get a step ahead of the next and take back some ground from the main-stream America and see what God can do with the generation coming of age! I can only imagine the possibilities. This generation is smarter, more creative, has every tool we ever dreamed of having and so much more.

How will we "stand out from the norm" according to this article? How will we make a difference in their lives? What will help them grasp the Truth of God for themselves? This is one servant who is certainly open to exploring the possibilities of how we are sharing the Gospel, communicating to this generation and how we may interact on a more productive level.

Read the entire article about the Nielson survey here. The Class of 2011: How Teens Interact with Media

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Preservation vs. Revitalization

The Church in America has been on the side of preservation for quite sometime. We are guarded and aware that we are declining and loosing members and resources at a rapid pace. We have a generation that is coming of age that is anti religion and see the church as useless and waste of time for most. What are we going to do about this? We can blame our leaders, our ancestors and those who have gone before us. Or we can take ownership of it. We can proclaim and name the issues and then seek resolving this issue that plagues our churches and denominations.

In recent times there has been a push of campaigns that urge the church to refocus or may I say "Rethink" the purpose and practices of church. The United Methodist Church has made this central to it's publicity and communication. But have we really made a refocusing or may I say a revitalization of our churches, our ministries and our focus.

Too often we are consumed with preserving and entertaining our congregations. We are bottled necked and strangled by membership maintenance, facility demands and ministries "sacred cows". What if we were free to dream, be authentic and seek the guidance and thoughts of this generation? What if we really and truly began to not just rethink but re-church or undo some of the wasted resources, time and black holes of our churches.

Don't get me wrong. I am a true believer in discipleship and making disciples of Jesus Christ. I take serious our call by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 where he commissions us to daily "make disciples" in His name. To be about the building of His kingdom on earth today. This requires a commitment of resources, time and often a lot of prayer and work. But if we continue to try "to make" disciples in the same way we have been were going to fail miserably. Now more than ever before I see and experience such shallowness of spirituality and theology in what our faithful believe. Our actions and attitudes are aligned with Christ. They contradict the very word we say and are calling our people to.

So who do we blame? Who is responsible for this? Everyone of us who are in the role of leadership. Who has been called to lead should take a close look at themselves. All I see is that I blame myself. I take responsibility of falling short and creating a safe place where the faithful can be stagnate and shallow. Where they are not challenged to change but always reminded that they are loved. Yes we are loved and God will continue to do so. But there is much more to it than just that we need to be "loving" towards others. He isn't going to change or waver in that. However because of His great love for us we should and are compelled to do something in response.

We need to be in the business of our Father's business. God's business is not about protecting or preserving the Church but about expanding it. He is about opening the front doors and inviting anyone who wants to come in to do just that. We have been about keeping our churches safe and respectable. Were going to have to step our in faith and be uncomfortable. Were going to have to invite the un-respectable, unlovable and broken spirits of this world. Were gonna have to abandon the safe corners of our communities and coffee shops and walk across the room and talk, share and love those who don't look, act or think like we do.

If were going to survive and be the church that God is calling us to be we are going to have to revitalize our beliefs, opinions and dreams of the church. Were going to have to change. And that change ends with us talking about it and actually doing it!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The future of the church depends of us

Read a recent survey by Lifeway which stated that 72 percent of Millennials identified themselves as "spiritual," but not "religious.". They went onto say that many didn't read the bible or any other sacred text. Seldom did they pray with others or go to church. Over half identified themselves as "Christian" but still didn't practice typical religious activity. And only about 40 percent felt a personal call or responsibility to spread the Gospel. (Survey found in Neuevemagazine Summer 2010 Issue)

Thomas Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources went onto to say, "The Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships."

So what does all this say about the future of the church? I just read an article today about Andy Stanley's church North Point in Atlanta Georgia has embraced the 3D technology in their Worship and Satellite campus sites. How cool is that! So we have churches that are growing and expanding as well as churches that are dying and closing.

Talked with a friend just the other day about their church is struggling because of its leadership. Usually you see churches that have members who don't want to grow or move beyond where they are, but here a church that from the outside looks progressive and growing. But in reality is stifled by its leadership.

As Church leaders and shepherds of the flock we need to be sure to not be apart of the problem. We need to be engaged with our congregations, involved in our communities, and leaders in spiritual practices. How can we ask and expect others to read the sacred scriptures, pray to the Almighty and be faithful church attenders (I suggest more than attenders but participants), when we don't even do that ourselves?

Our state of the church has a lot to do with its leadership, and I am one of them, so I am not pointing fingers but rather swallowing this myself. Is it really the Millennials fault that they see themselves "Spiritual" but not "religious"? Sure they have responsibility and are held accountable for their own behavior. But do I have some responsibility with or for them. How has the church embraced or pushed this generation further and further away. I have seen many personal friends and mentors fall in ministry. Have seen people leave the church over and over again. Many to their own follies and sinful choices. What example are we setting as leadership when we give up, close our doors and remain silent about these times were in.

I propose if we (I) as leadership start acting like leaders then things can and will change for our future. If we embrace this generation, their questions, their fear of the church we may actually find a generation that can take the church to the next level. If we as leaders fall back on what we know... reading and studying of the Sciptures, praying and loving those who need us. Then we will be the leadership that God is asking us to be. If we become as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 in which he became all things to all people in order to reach them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have the ability to shape the future of the Church, the ability to redeem Her and steer Her back on path. I pray and ask you to join me as we rediscover what it meant to be Christan Leaders and to LEAD as Christ leads us!

Monday, January 31, 2011


Community what really is it? How do you create it? How to sustain it? Is it really something that can be grasp? Is it really something that I want to be apart of? These are all very good questions. I guess there are many different answers and levels to those answers for each question. When it come to the basic question what is community? I might consider the city I live in Shreveport is a community or maybe the neighborhood where our house is. That is community. Or maybe our Church, Grace Community, is a community. It should be it has the word Community in it!!! Or maybe the youth ministry, maybe the small groups or maybe the little pockets of friends all over the world are our communities? I guess the this just raises more questions about community. And what about the Internet and the creation of communities like Facebook and Myspace and now Twitter. There is a language and understanding within these communities that is foreign to the rest of the world.

For example I am sitting right now writing this Blog and Starbucks. The great coffee chain that has changed the way we drink, interact, work and socialize around a Billion dollar enterprise all at the center. Across the courtyard there is a group of young people I say mostly middle school students and few high school who have gathered after school. But these are not a group that is hanging out after school together. They have a leader and they are speaking their own language and interacting with each other as a community. Maybe a bit dis-functual but still engaged with each other. Yes its a youth group. I have been in the middle of such group before, but as I sit quietly and try to write and ponder this question of community I am barraged by noise and laughter and often the strange off the wall comment from a 12 year old. This is a completely different Blog and conversation. Let's get back to community. So I don't know about you but I think I am just more confused now.

Here is what says,


–noun, plural -ties.
1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
2. a locality inhabited by such a group.
3. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually prec. by the ): the business community; the community of scholars.
4. a group of associated nations sharing common interests or a common heritage: the community of Western europe.
5. Ecclesiastical . a group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.
6. Ecology . an assemblage of interacting populations occupying a given area.
7. joint possession, enjoyment, liability, etc.: community of property.
8. similar character; agreement; identity: community of interests.
9. the community, the public; society: the needs of the community.

—Synonyms 1. Community, hamlet, village, town, city are terms for groups of people living in somewhat close association, and usually under common rules. Community is a general term, and town is often loosely applied. A commonly accepted set of connotations envisages hamlet as a small group, village as a somewhat larger one, town still larger, and city as very large. Size is, however, not the true basis of differentiation, but properly sets off only hamlet. Incorporation, or the absence of it, and the type of government determine the classification of the others. 8. similarity, likeness

So does that clear everything up? I suspect "NO"! So where do we go from here? How do we make sense of this much broader and loosely used word. It describes so much and quite frankly will mean different things to different people. So this is where I think we need to look. We need to rediscover what God's view of community is. What He is calling us to and what are our responsibilities when it comes to building and sustaining community? What power and life giving nourishment does community create for us? And what am I going to do about it?

I feel that these topics are to large for tackling all in one entry. So lets just look at a biblical picture of community first. I want to begin to look at the book of Acts and how Christian Community was formed and how it grew and was sustained. But we may have to backup and acknowledge that Christ had His own community already formed within the disciples. The 72 down to the 12 and even a inner 3 (small group) was formed. In Acts we see that Christ is immediately taken up before them. Peter and the rest of the disciples are left with each other. But that's the point. They are together. We see they already have common experiences, language, customs and understanding that links them together. At the center of their community is Christ. And soon they will have the Spirit of God resting on them. I want to jump ahead just a bit, past the anointing of the Spirit and Peter's great first sermon that brings in three-thousand people into this community. Picking it up in Acts chapter two.

"42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." -Acts 2:42-47 (New International Version, ©2011)

Here we see a few things that builds community and sustains their community. First they were devoted to the teachings and to their fellowship. The scriptures and the Truth of the Gospel were central for them. And they wanted to be with one another. They were devoted to each other. We can devote ourselves to all kinds of things. But what it means is that we take that serious, we are invested and that we are going to work at it. They made a commitment to each other that the other was important. I like the second part of vs 42 they broke bread together. They ate with one another. They share meals together. There is something special when we just simply do that. Think about the last time you had a meal with friends. The community and friendship that were strengthen around food. Like back yard barbecues or like us in the south Crawfish boils! And take for instance our holidays. What is one of the most central things in common with the celebration of our holidays? Yes, FOOD! We love to eat and share with each other. Then we continue to read that they had everything in common and looked out for each other. If someone needed something they provided by the selling of possessions to meet those needs. They didn't stop meeting together but continued that practice. Both large (temple courts) and small (homes).

Who knew that simply gathering together and sharing a meal would connect people. They had common experiences, customs, desires and were one. They continued to praise God and enjoy favor with each other. Now we could talk about what caused division among them and what splintered this community. But I think we need to take what is central here. So go and practice community. Have a meal together, spend time with one another, me of like minds and praise God for He is good.

You are the one who creates community. It takes initiation by you and others. It is sustained by you and the rest of your community. You must not neglect meeting with one another. Sharing with one another. Taking care of one another. And loving each other.

With that said I am going to go and share a meal with my Monday night friends at Grace and work at sustaining and building community. Need some friends? Maybe a warm belly? Join me at Grace Community tonight for a meal, conversation and some good ole Community building.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Be who you are

"Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ." Romans 1:5-6 (NIV)The Message says vs 6 like this, "You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!"Do you believe this passage? Do you believe that you are called to be who you are? God created you to be you; He created you as His child; a beautiful creation all to Worship Him. Know this and proclaim this in your life. Speak it out loud and write it on your heart. Don't listen to the world that tell you that you are no one. That you don't have what it takes. Ignore the jeers and ridicule around you and fix your eyes on Jesus Christ. The one who created you and loves you. Its His Gift to you!I remember when I was young; full of feelings that troubled me, feeling of not liking who I was. I didn't understand why I wasn't like the other boys in my class. I struggled with how I saw myself and didn't like what I saw. But the truth was that I wasn't much different than the other boys, what I wanted was to be like them.The problem was that I didn't believe in Who God Created me to be. It has taken quite sometime to embrace and understand who I am in Christ. One who is loved, the child of the King, precious in His sight, created to Worship God and love those who He loves.Listen to God. He is speaking to you. He is saying, "You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!"