Hitting the Ground Running

I’m settling into my new position, but I’m also still learning something new everday.  Right I’ve taken over several of the major teaching duties that I’ll do each week.  For instance every Tuesday morning I am teaching through Romans.  It’s interesting because I took on this mid-stream, so I am starting with the men’s group in chapter 14, and the women’s group in chapter 10.  I’m spending quite a bit of time each week immersed in Romans getting prepared to teach these classes.

Another large chunk of my time is spent preparing to teach Sunday School classes.  However, I have yet to step foot in a classroom.  How, you might ask?   Each week I prepare a teaching vdeo and then meet with a group who gathers to study and discuss the scripture that corresponds with the Sunday morning sermon (right now we’re in Luke).  They then help me go deeper into the passage and prepare a series of questions to go along with the lesson.

One thing I’ve learned in all of this is how difficult it is to do high quality video teaching.  It looks so easy to see Rob Bell doing Nooma or when I’ve watched other folks doing video teaching, but in reality it’s ridiculously hard to look natural and deliver high quality content at the same time.  It also takes quite a bit of time to do this.  I’m definitely blessed to have tons of help from people who know far more about video and editing than I ever will, so that makes a difference.  However, I really think that this is a great means of being in several places at once to teach on a Sunday morning.  In fact, last week I printed off over 200 lessons for people using this curriculum.

There’s a lot going on with missions at our church too, but I’ll save that post for another time!

Know Your Strengths

I just picked Emma up from Warm World, and once again, we have exciting news.  She’s going to be in her first play!  The conversation went a little like this:

“We’re gonna have a play and I’m gonna to be in it.” “Cool,” I said,  “what are you going to be?” “I get to be the horse!!”  “That’s great, is that what you wanted to be?”  “Of course,” she said, “at first I wanted to be the black cat, but I didn’t know there was a horse.  So, after I knew there was a horse, I asked to be the horse, and my teacher said I could be the horse.”  “You’ll make a good horse…”  “Yep, ’cause I neigh good.”

It’s a great thing to know your strengths and work with them!

Minister of Discipleship

My official title is “Minister of Discipleship,” and when I share this with friends, family, and colleagues I am often asked, “So what do you do?”  I try to explain by saying I’m sort of like a teaching pastor crossed with a missions pastor.

As a staff, we are reading Len Sweet’s Aquachurch 2.0: Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture. This morning, as I was reading, I came across an insight that helps me define my position.  Len reminded me, “…the very word disciple means “learner.”  In Greek, mathetes (which we translate as disciple) comes from mathano, which literally means “student” or “learner.”

In a sense then, I’m the Minister of “Learners.”  That means that I’m not only responsibile for sharing information or knowledge in the teaching aspect of my position, but for helping people integrate that into concrete acts of mission and love of neighbor.  In other words, I think the multiple aspects of my position will help me remember that true knowledge is not just a “head thing,” but a “whole life thing.”


Over the years I have often heard about the virtues of small churches.  On top of that, over the years I’ve experienced the virtues of small churches!  I am deeply indebted in my faith to the small churches I’ve attended and helped lead as a pastor.  Often, with appreciation for smaller congregations, megachurches get a bad rap in popular comparison.  People say they are shallow, they are impersonal, they are shrines to consumerism, and so on, and so forth.

Most of you know I’m beginning a new part of my journey as the new Minister of Discipleship at Church of the Servant United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City.  Church of the Servant is a church of the mega variety.  On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of nine people who gathered to reflect on a passage of scripture and collaborate on a Sunday School lesson for this coming Sunday.  The discussion was riveting.  I was blown away, and even given chills at some of the deep insights from this group.  In one short hour, I saw nine contradictions to the assumption that megachurches create shallow, impersonal, consumeristic disciples.  Instead, I met nine folks who I found to be deeply faithful, incredibly personable, sacrificially committed disciples.

Don’t get me wrong, I have met these same committed folks in small churches too.  I just think it’s important to remind everyone that there isn’t a particular size of congregation that has a monopoly on producing faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.  Needless to say, I’ve had a great first week.

Settling In

Things are still going well after our move, even though it’s hard to get my mind wrapped around the fact that we’re not going to be traveling back to finish anything up in Quinton or Canadian.

Emma is still loving her new Kindergarten at Warm World, and Caleb is excited to have had me at home for a few days.  This morning he went with me to the bank and to get haircuts.  One thing I never missed about the city is paying fourteen bucks for a haircut!!  I think I’m going to buy clippers or a flowbee (to my surprise they still exist!) and do Caleb’s hair myself!

Nanci has been working hard to finish getting the house together, and we’re really pretty much moved in at this point.  We still need to do a few minor things, but it’s definitely coming together.  Before you think I’ve just been sitting in my chair drinking Diet Coke, I’ve been doing whatever has been asked of me!  I’m thinking about heading in and trying to get my office arranged a bit this afternoon, but I may just do it first thing in the morning.  We’ll see what happens.  Tonight is the big Hot Dog Happening at Warm World, so we’ll be going to that too.

OK, the girls are home with groceries and an office chair.  Caleb and I have been at home cleaning the garage and breaking down boxes.  I’ve got to run.

New Appointment

United Methodist elders are itinerant. Even though wikipedia lists itinerant alongside words such as vagabond, hobo, and vagrant, we United Methodist elders generally use it to describe the way we are called upon from time to time to move within the denomination from one place of service to another. This generally happens at Annual Conference, but this isn’t always the case.

Over the last few weeks, my life has been a whirlwind after learning that I am receiving a new pastoral assignment. In mid-October, I will become the Minister of Discipleship at Church of the Servant United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. This is our first pastoral move as a family, so in a way we’re new to the actual experience of itinerancy. Even though we’ve always known that United Methodist elders eventually move, it’s still strange to feel the excitement of new opportunities for service, ministry and relationships while at the same time feeling sadness over leaving wonderful relationships, ministries, and places of service. All in all, I am just happy that we are now able to talk openly about this big change in our lives.

This shift, and the question of what awaits ahead, reminds me of a story I heard many times growing up. A long time ago, a man rode into a small town on horseback. He came up to the first person he saw, an old man sitting on his porch, and asked, “What are the people like here in this town?” The old man leaned back on his chair, looked off into the distance, and said, “Well stranger, what were they like where you lived before?” The traveler said, “Those folks were the meanest, angriest, lying, cheating folks you’d ever want to meet. Why do you think I packed up and left?” “That’s pretty much what you’ll find here too,” said the old man, “ya’ might want to keep ridin’.”

The first rider left, and not ten minutes later another man rode up and asked the same question, “What are the people like here in this town?” Again, the man leaned back in his chair, looked out from under his hat, and said, “Well stranger, what were they like where you lived before?” The traveler said, “Well, they were about as good as you’d ever expect to find anywhere, kind-hearted, good-natured, friendly, and generous. To tell you the truth, I hated to leave.” The old man smiled and said, “You’ll love it here! The people are just the same as where you lived before.”

I really believe there’s a lot of truth to that story. So even though I’ll miss the wonderful, incredibly talented, generous, and grace-filled people I currently serve, I look forward to meeting another group of wonderful incredibly talented, generous, and grace-filled folks in my new place of service.