Sep 18 2014

ClergySpirit: October Mercy Street: Embracing Mental Health

See the video, Embracing Mental Health with Gregg Taylor.Mercy Street Info 

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/october-mercy-street-embracing-mental-health/

Sep 18 2014

Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Avoiding cult-like groups that use Biblical-sounding language

How can we identify such teachers or movements? There’s no cookie-cutter method for delineating between unlearned zeal and full-fledged cultishness. However, here are a few points I find helpful to keep in mind when encountering such people…

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/avoiding-cult-like-groups-that-use-biblical-sounding-language/

Sep 18 2014

UM & Global: Servants among the Nations: John Nuessle on Grace Upon Grace: A World Transformed by Grace

Today’s post is the latest in a series of posts that are re-examining the mission document of The United Methodist Church, Grace Upon Grace (Nashville: Graded Press, 1990). Various United Methodist mission professors and practitioners are re-examining this theological statement and how it can inform our corporate life in The United Methodist Church today. This piece is written by Rev. Dr. John Nuessle, retired from the leadership staff at the General Board of Global Ministries. Dr. Nuessle is commenting on the tenth section of the document, “A World Transformed By Grace.” Use the “Grace Upon Grace” tag to identify other posts in this series.

Servants defined as agents of God’s liberating and reconciling grace among the nations.  What a fantastic statement of Christian calling!  I could say quite a bit about what it means to be agents of liberation and reconciliation. I think, however, that the real essential genius of this passage, if not of the whole of Grace Upon Grace, is the recognition that transformed people in a transformed world are not simply a collection of nicely converted individuals, but rather our goal is to transform whole “people groups,” or in the Biblical term, “the nations.”  We are called to serve as agents of God’s liberating and reconciling grace among the nations, meaning that our call is to whole ethnic communities and affinity groups of God’s people.  All our efforts and focus as Christians should be toward offering grace to both whole people and whole nations – to all the persons in a self-identified cultural context, who thus see themselves as a unique whole.

So often our well intentioned efforts and strategies in mission and evangelism are focused on the old…and very theologically incorrect…idea of “winning them one by one.”  This style of Christian mission results either in total failure (very often), or in the creation of a strange type of Christian church in which everyone is out to get to heaven on their own good behavior, a perverse style of faith expression that is all too common in the United States.  Heaven help us if we continue to promote individualistic believers who only worship a God who is like themselves.

The call of this section of Grace Upon Grace is the same call to our mission and evangelism work that is found throughout the Scriptures.  That is, to call groups of humans into Christian community this is interconnected with all other Christian communities.  This is the New Creation Paul preaches.  This is how we relate people to their contexts and with interconnected contexts globally, a real witness to the whole Body of Christ, not a collection of body parts.

The work of the General Board of Global Ministries, in cooperation and collaboration with mission-supporting annual conferences and congregations globally, is toward development of  new faith communities – church growth if you will – and is always an effort to establish the church in a whole nation or among an entire ethnic-based contextual setting.  We have not gone forth seeking “individual converts” that would make “individualistic Christians,” a clearly un-Biblical notion.  We sought to call groups – families, villages, affinity groups, etc – into gathered Christian worshipping and serving communities of faith.  These localized communities would always be quickly interconnected with other similar bodies in nearly areas, as much as possible.  As the call of Christ in Acts 1:8, witnessing to the whole Word of God for the whole people of God, in Jerusalem (local), Judea and Samaria (nation), and to the ends of the Earth.

In all this we are servants of the community of God, known to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose grace is unreservedly shared with all who would be open to receive this new life.  Transformed; reconciled; leaving behind the old ways and old life of personal gain, individual seeking, and privatized faith.  We move into a bright new world of servants seeking to serve God and one another with justice, mercy, and forgiveness.

Is this an easy process?  Not on your life, new or otherwise!  It is likely the most difficult series of tasks and responsibilities we can encounter.  And this is partly because the cultural ground – the contexts of living – for all of us keeps moving and changing.  Just when we think we are on solid footing with our church plans and programs, with our strategies and methodologies, we discover that none of these any longer work.  We live in a dynamic world which requires our constant reassessment and evaluation of our life of faith and engagement in God’s Mission.

That’s why we have grace.  God loves us unconditionally, and then calls us to keep at it.  What a Mighty God We Serve!  What powerful Grace is ours, heaped Upon Grace.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/servants-among-the-nations-john-nuessle-on-grace-upon-grace-a-world-transformed-by-grace/

Sep 18 2014

Enter the Rainbow: Quantifying Church Camp as Leadership Development

One of the ideas floating around out there about church camps is that a lot of people experience the call to ministry in a camp setting. Not only pastors, but church staff members, team leaders, team members, and other leaders in congregations.

That idea indicates that church camp is a valuable tool for leadership development. However, as far as I know there is no assessment tool in place in the United Methodist Church that quantifies that correlation.

My friend Jason Carle, a Presbyterian pastor in Overland Park, messaged me recently to tell me that his Presbytery tracks camping participation as leadership development. He serves on his Presbytery’s board of directors for their camping ministries, and he says they “have numbers on our former camp counselors and campers who are now ordained as either elders, deacons or pastors in churches.” (The terms “elder” and “deacon” mean different things in the Presbyterian Church than they do in the UMC.)

Using this metric, they have a concrete numerical assessment of the fruitfulness of the camping ministry as it applies to the area of leadership development. Of course, church camp is not ONLY useful for leadership development, but leadership development would be one way to measure the fruitfulness of camping. And that assessment would not be all that difficult to achieve, if there was an intentional effort behind it.

Of course, leadership development is not dependent upon location, and it is quite possible that future incarnations of church camping in Missouri may result in as many (or even more) excellent congregational leaders as the current system has. But the truth is that we will never know for sure, since gathering that specific information was not a priority in the decision-making process of Missouri’s camping board.

I sent an email to the camping board and conference staff asking if any data had been collected correlating church leadership and camp experience. The replies I got indicated that had not happened in the systematic way my friend Jason described, while affirming that many (including some Camping Board members) were called by God into leadership of the church while at church camp. I am hopeful that information would be gathered in the future in a more systematic and (dare I say) “methodical” way.

The future leadership of the church resides in our youth and children, and many of them realize that while they are at church camp. I’d really like to know exactly how many that is.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/quantifying-church-camp-as-leadership-development/

Sep 18 2014

UMR: Will the Catholic Church change its stand on marriage and divorce?

Pope Francis made headlines this week when he officiated at the weddings of 20 couples, including some who had been living together and a woman who has a daughter from a previous relationship.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/will-the-catholic-church-change-its-stand-on-marriage-and-divorce/

Sep 18 2014

UMR: The NFL and the church share the same culture of silence on abuse

Too often, it can be easy to assume that some issues are less prevalent in the church. We forget that, as a collective of individuals shaped by the culture at large, sin is indiscriminate in whom it touches.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/the-nfl-and-the-church-share-the-same-culture-of-silence-on-abuse/

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