Oct 02 2014

Pastor Darian's Musings: The Gospel According to Joey: “Cool” Changes

The TV show, Friends, reminds me of how quickly what’s “cool” can change.

In season 2, Chandler and Joey get into a petty fight that ends with Joey moving out. Since he is now a working actor with a regular gig on a soap opera, Joey moves into a “fab” apartment. The friends, minus a moping Chandler, come over to see his new “digs.” After a tour of a living room filled with statues of animals and leopard-skin rugs, Joey insists on showing them the bathroom. Apprehensive, the friends follow him. On the wall beside the toilet is a telephone.

Someone declares, “Joey, there’ a phone in your bathroom.”

Joey replies, “I know! Isn’t that so cool?”

Monica says, “Promise me you will never call me from that phone.”

Nearly 20 years have passed since Joey moved into an apartment with a landline in the bathroom. If that same apartment were “cool” today, it would need a Bluetooth speaker for a cell phone and a charging station. Joey would have the option of talking on the phone or listening to music or hearing the weather report. There may even be speakers built into the walls and a waterproof case for the phone to go in the shower. Joey’s boxy phone on the wall would no longer be “cool” by most standards.

The day that I graduated from college, the father of one of my friends asked about my plans for the future. When I told him about graduate school and a ministerial career, he nodded and said, “That’s rad.” As in a shortened version of “radical.” As in another way of saying, “Cool.” I remember thinking to myself, “That is so 1990, but at least he’s trying to speak my language.”

There’s a season for everything
And a time for every matter
Under the heavens…*

Ecclesiastes is wise in its simplicity: everything changes. Nothing stays the same. Cultures shift. Phones become computers. Computers talk. Language evolves. What’s “cool” changes and how we describe something’s “coolness” changes, too.

Like any other organization, churches find themselves with a difficult dilemma amid cultural shifts. Where are the boxy landlines in the bathrooms that need to be uninstalled? What sacred pieces of our history do we need to maintain?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is timeless. The message of salvation does not change. Much of worship services do need to hold on to some of the traditions that connect us to our past. What does need to change is how we communicate that story so that we can be relevant to different generations. Where many of our churches have stumbled is in speaking only the language of Leave It to Beaver when we’re trying to reach folks who prefer translations of The Big Bang Theory. We can also err on the side of ignoring listeners of The Andy Griffith Show and only talking to How I Met Your Mother linguists.

Followers of Christ have to be multilingual and adaptive to seasons. We can get very comfortable in certain times and seasons to the point of complacency. Complacency causes us to get stuck in a rut. If we’re not careful, churches will find themselves on a landline in a bathroom, oblivious to new ways of communicating the good news.

Let us be willing to grow with the changes of life. May the wind of God’s Holy Spirit keep us in the “cool” as disciples, as churches, and as children of God.

All good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

* Ecclesiastes 3:1 (Common English Translation)

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/the-gospel-according-to-joey-cool-changes/

Oct 02 2014

General Board of Global Ministries: Creation Care Team Brings Global Perspective

Newly-formed Global Ministries Creation Care Ministry works toward environmental justice and responsibility.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/creation-care-team-brings-global-perspective/

Oct 02 2014

Reflections on the The Word and World: The Same and Different


   A week ago, I held Everett Bates Carpenter in my arms about 20 hours after he was born. He came into the world weighing over 10 pounds. He is the second son of Bryan and Sydney, regular visitors to our church while Bryan is training at Fort Benning. Sydney is also my wife’s second cousin!

Kirk and Henry

   This Monday, I was so thrilled to hold Henry Carlton Hagan about 3 hours after he was born. He is the second child born to my brother, Kirk, and sister-in-law, Robin. Henry was born in Dublin, the closest hospital to Wrightsville, where my brother serves as the United Methodist pastor. Little Henry weighed a little over 6 pounds when he was born.
   I was amazed, standing there holding my nephew, at how little he is. Not just because he was just born, but because I had held another, heavier, newborn the previous week. We all come into the world in our own, unique form. We are different.

   We are the same. That was Ellen Murkison’s opening message to our congregation on Sunday as she set out to capture the work and grace of God through the retelling of their family’s amazing story of life over death. When Ellen said, “We are regular people,” I could sense every person lean in. [You can still purchase copies of her book, Prayers from Fiji, on Amazon.com.] Her message resonated with what we believe about Epworth. I continue to be amazed at how God has been preparing our next steps as a church through the work of our Vision Team earlier this year. Who knew then that our first core value, seen here, would be lived out in that very moment?

Epworth’s Missional Motives – Why We Do What We Do
• We are real people.
• We welcome all God’s children. 
• We love what we do.
• We seek Jesus in all we do.
• We serve to make the world better.

We all want to connect with people who are real. On Tuesday of this week, Glenn Griffin stopped me out front to say a word of appreciation for Ellen’s message. He said, “We all need to be reminded of good stories and God’s work.” Amen to that.

   We come into the world in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Soon enough, though, all of our stories come together to share many things in common: heartache, loss, triumph, betrayal, trauma, joy, delight, and connection. Epworth is filled with people who are different and the same. The greatest story of all, though, is the love of God for all of us. We are loved and saved back from the brink of destruction by the most powerful force in the universe: God’s love.
   Beautiful, saved, loved people – that is what we are becoming. Grace and Peace to you, Scott

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/the-same-and-different/

Oct 02 2014

In The Neighborhood of Holy: 365: Vision | Learning.

365 days. 8,760 hours. 52 weeks. 12 months. All of these equal 1 year. Less than a year from now Sunrise, a campus of Castleton United Methodist Church, launches as a new, stand-alone United Methodist church. July 1 of 2015. In the next three posts I’ll be unpacking the Vision for this new church…

Keep Reading

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/365-vision-learning/

Oct 02 2014

UMC Lead: Alanon, Churches, and Pastors: Part 1

The other week I had an opportunity to go to a treatment center and sit in on a friends and family session. In the session, friends and family members of individuals receiving treatment for chemical dependency were able to address their feelings and their realities as friends and families of the addicted. The sessions were […]

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/alanon-churches-and-pastors-part-1/

Oct 02 2014

Transforming Me: Lessons I learned from an illness

For the period of 12 months, I experienced a series of health-related issues. Those issues had an impact on my life and my relationship with God. These are simply some thoughts about that journey.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/lessons-i-learned-from-an-illness/

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