When I finished my D.Min. degree earlier this year, I just knew that I’d have more time than ever. Of course, that spare time was immediately filled with other responsibilities and opportunities. I thought I’d write a quick post to update everyone on the latest events in my life.
This fall I had my first experience leading a major stewardship campaign. We developed and tried a different approach that we were really happy with. Instead of the normal focus on the importance of stewardship as a spiritual discipline, as important as that is, we focused on the difference giving makes in the life of our congregation. We developed four different video testimonies of individuals whose lives have been changed or transformed in the life of the congregation. We also continually reminded the congregation of the way our giving transforms lives through our missional involvement locally and globally. The campaign was called “Giving Changes Lives,” and we have had an incredible response, seeing increases in giving across the board for the first time in several years. We also had lots of comments about the different “feel” of seeing how our faithful stewardship makes a difference for Christ and his Kingdom.
After the major part of this campaign finished up, I’ve been heavily involved in a visioning process for our future. I’ve leaned heavily on Will Mancini’s book, Church Unique, which is probably the best book I’ve ever read on developing vision in a local congregation. In the back of our mind, we’ve continued to be influenced and inspired by Reggie McNeal’s work after hearing him speak at the UMC Large Church Initiative in San Antonio. We’re closing in on a vision framework that we’ll be presenting to our laity for final refinement in the beginning of 2011.
On a personal spiritual note, on November 30th I finally managed to finish a goal that I began on November 30, 2010. Along with my small group, I’ve been working through a one year bible reading plan using the Life Journal. As embarrassed as I am to admit it, this is the first time I’ve ever maintained this discipline for an entire year. It has been a transforming discipline to say the least. As cliche as it might sound, instead of just reading the bible for study, preaching, and teaching preparation, I’ve been reading the bible daily for personal spiritual transformation and it makes a difference. After this year, I am more deeply committed to the God revealed in Scripture, more fascinated with the incredible missional calling that Scripture describes and more committed to being a faithful follower of Jesus. If you haven’t began a discipline like this, I strongly recommend the Life Journal for 2011. If you’re like me, you’re definitely going to need a small group of committed Christ-followers to hold you accountable on a weekly basis to make sure you stick with your commitment.
Finally, life in my family is cruising right along with all the challenges and blessings of raising an 8, 5, and 1 and 1/2 year old. We’re busier than ever and learning how much work parenting can be! Fortunately, we have the support of a remarkable community of faith and a great family, which makes all the difference.