So, you may have noticed I haven’t been blogging much lately. There are a few different reasons for that (big move in October, D.Min. program, etc.), but here’s the main one. Last Thursday the 26th, we welcomed this little guy into our family! Who says babies can’t smile!?
As some of you know, I’ve been working on a video curriculum since I’ve been the Minister of Discipleship at Church of the Servant. Each week, since I can’t teach more than one class at a time, I film a short video teaching on the scripture that Robert uses in the main service. On Wednesdays a team of dedicated and devout folks come together to pour over the passage and listen to me teach a bit. We then work together to see how we think God might be wanting to lead our congregation through our “simple” process of discipleship: believe, belong, and become. On Thursdays, we post the video, and send out the compiled study guide to all the Sunday School leaders who are using the curriculum.
Out of curiosity, I went back and checked our curriculum print list from October 26th last year – my second week on the job. We were printing 105 copies for the five classes using Servant Walk at that time. This week we will be printing 305 copies for 12 different adult classes!
I’m definitely getting to reap a harvest that I didn’t sow. Others came up with this idea, and the lay team was already in place when I arrived. In fact, my first official meeting as a new pastor here was to teach that group on my very first day! Their hard work and vision is simply coming together in a way that’s making a big difference in our adult discipleship communities.
Working in a mega-church is very different in some ways from being in a small town two-point charge, but much of what you do is the same. I still teach. I still study Scripture. In a huge congregation, one of the most important questions is finding out how to do little BIG. This curriculum is simply a wonderful way to do the little things in a way that affects a much larger cross-section of the congregation.
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.
Every now and then I like to go back and look at the views for particular posts. It reminds me of some of my favorites from the blog, and it helps me figure out how I want to focus my posts in the next few months. So in the spirit of those musical one-hit wonders that release Greatest Hit albums far too early, here are five of my favorite posts of my blogging career.