John Meunier

Author's details

Name: John Meunier
Date registered: March 3, 2012
URL: http://johnmeunier.wordpress.com

Latest posts

  1. John Meunier: How do we mold leadership teams? — January 27, 2015
  2. John Meunier: Do you need searching or encouraging? — January 21, 2015
  3. John Meunier: But why not in bulk? — January 20, 2015
  4. John Meunier: Going all-in for mission? — January 20, 2015
  5. John Meunier: The Methodist way of preaching — January 18, 2015

Most commented posts

  1. John Meunier: DeLong covenant document criticizes UMC — 6 comments
  2. John Meunier: Bishop Schol affirms loving, committed same-sex relationships — 5 comments
  3. John Meunier: You win or lose as a team — 3 comments
  4. John Meunier: ‘Ineffective’ bishop to fight on — 2 comments
  5. John Meunier: How do you respond to Ms. McEwen? — 2 comments

Author's posts listings

Jan 27 2015

John Meunier: How do we mold leadership teams?

Original post at https://johnmeunier.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/how-do-we-mold-leadership-teams/


Patrick Lencioni defines a leadership team as a small group group of people who are collectively responsible for achieving results for their organization.

Do our churches by this definition have leadership teams? Do we have a groups that understands themselves to be collectively responsible for achieving results?

I find these questions challenging. They challenge me because I wonder if we could even define what we mean by “results” in many cases. They challenge me because I am full of doubt about my ability to pull together such a leadership team. They challenge me because I sense that as pastor, the ministry of order calls me to do what I most doubt my ability to do.

What stories can you share about creating groups of leaders in church?

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2015/01/how-do-we-mold-leadership-teams/

Jan 21 2015

John Meunier: Do you need searching or encouraging?

Original post at https://johnmeunier.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/do-you-need-searching-or-encouraging/


Here is another case of John Wesley’s attention to the different spiritual states of men and women to whom he was pastor. It comes from some advice in a letter he wrote to a band leader in 1762:

As to your Band, there are two sorts of persons with whom you may have to do – the earnest and the slack. The way you are to take with the one is quite different from that one would take with the other. The latter you must search, and find why they are slack; exhort them to repent, be zealous, do the first works. The former you have only to encourage, to exhort to push forward to the mark, to bid them grasp the prize so nigh!

If we had to sort the people in our congregations into these two groups, could we do it? Do we know the slack and the earnest? Can we tell the difference? Would we like the results if we could?

Of course, a lot of our answers here will have to do with definitions. Without a clear notion in our heads about what it means to “push forward to the mark,” we will have a hard time identifying those who are and those who are not pushing forward. We will have a devil of a time sorting out who needs to be encouraged and who needs to be searched.

We will have an even more difficult time of it if we do not let our means of assessment settle on merely outward things. If we look for changed hearts rather than clean finger nails, it will be even more challenging. And yet, Wesley would say, that is why we were called to this work.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2015/01/do-you-need-searching-or-encouraging/

Jan 20 2015

John Meunier: But why not in bulk?

Original post at https://johnmeunier.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/but-why-not-in-bulk/


Someone gave me a copy of the Heidelberg Catechism published in 1902 by the Reformed Church in America. In addition to a translation of the catechism itself, the book provides some counsel to confirmands, including advice not to despair if they cannot point to a moment of conversion.

The book urges the reader to understand their intentional, sincere, and intelligent taking of the confirmation as a change of heart and true conversion.

This change is not sudden, but runs through years. You have not had any wonderful religious experiences such as you hear about in others; but the Holy Ghost has done much in you in a very quiet way. …

It is the growth of years (Mark 4:26-28) and therefore all the more reliable. You cannot tell when you learned to walk, talk, think and work. You do not know when you learned to love your earthly father, much less the heavenly.

This is the Reformed doctrine of “getting religion.” We get religion, not in bulk but little by little. Just as we get natural life and strength, so spiritual life and strength, day by day.

The appeal to intelligent conversion and reliable faith strike me as quite fitting for the Reformed church as I know it today. And I hear many arguments like the above today in the church.

But it rings hollow to me. It sounds like trying to talk people into assurance they don’t experience first hand.

What do you think?

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2015/01/but-why-not-in-bulk/

Jan 20 2015

John Meunier: Going all-in for mission?

Original post at https://johnmeunier.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/going-all-in-for-mission/


The latest E-pistle from my bishop. I added highlighting to one paragraph that really leaped out at me:


Our Extended Cabinet team of 14 District Superintendents, Directors and a couple of spouses has just returned from our trip to Mission Guatemala. That ministry is led by Rev. Tom Heaton, a clergy member of our Indiana Conference who began this mission work just four and a half years ago. Already that ministry has grown into several communities, helping provide health, nutrition and education for some of the poorest people in Guatemala. Our team visited ministry sites, worked hard on a couple of projects and learned from the passion, creativity and energy of Mission Guatemala. Truly Mission Guatemala is helping to transform the world in the name of Christ.

During one of our daily devotional times on our trip, Jennifer Gallagher, our conference treasurer, observed: “We need to be Mission Indiana when we get home.” We all agreed. We are not sure what all that means, but we sense this is our role as conference servant leaders:

  • We need to see Indiana as a mission field, even to realize that Indiana is a land that is underdeveloped spiritually, as much as Guatemala is an underdeveloped country.
  • We want to help every appointed pastor to see his/her appointment as an assignment to a community and not just to a church.
  • We hope that every congregation will see itself as a mission station to serve others, and not as a religious club where the members expect to be pampered.
  • We are ready, as the Extended Cabinet, to lead the way, to model a new sense of being on a mission for God and to seek nothing less than a transformed Indiana.

Our mission remains the same: “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” That mission begins with each of us, and it extends to Mission Indiana.

“Imagine Indiana” helped us to form a new Conference over the past five years, and so “Mission Indiana” may be the next logical step. Indeed our Annual Conference sessions the past two years have already focused upon the themes “Be a World Changer” and “The Outwardly-Focused Church.” Our theme this year will be “Sharing Our Story.” Many churches and many of our pastors and people have already caught this vision of being a church on a mission, making disciples and transforming the world.

Maybe it is time to release those who don’t want to be part of a mission movement – allowing them to go in peace. Maybe it is time to close any church which is not making disciples or reaching its community – and use those assets to start new ministries. Maybe it is time for us to help any pastor who is not “all-in for our mission” to leave with dignity and with support to find another career. Maybe it is time to get serious about our mission and to become Mission Indiana.

I invite you to think and pray about this, to consider whether or not you are “in,” and to discuss this in your congregation, cluster, and clergy covenant group. Are you ready to be a part of Mission Indiana?

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2015/01/going-all-in-for-mission/

Jan 18 2015

John Meunier: The Methodist way of preaching

Original post at https://johnmeunier.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/the-methodist-way-of-preaching-2/


By 1751, John Wesley had become concerned about a new kind of preaching that was taking hold in some Methodist societies. The men who were preaching this new way called themselves “gospel” preachers. The preached only the promises of Christ and none of the law. In Wesley’s account, indeed, they even mocked the original style of Methodist preaching that was careful to preach both law and gospel as warranted by the state of the hearers.

In his “Letter on Preaching Christ,” Wesley describes both the methods by which law and gospel were to be preached and decries the damaging effects of the gospel preaching. He points out that in several cities that once had thriving societies, the numbers had been seriously eroded by the gospel preachers. Without the starch of the law, Methodist zeal and discipline waned.

In contrast, Wesley highlighted the contrary example of a society in Yorkshire, which under the continued preaching of law and gospel had grown from 1,900 members to 3,000 even as other societies withered under pure gospel preaching.

Wesley described the Yorkshire preaching this way:

From the beginning they had been taught both the law and the gospel. “God loves you; therefore, love and obey him. Christ died for you; therefore, die to sin. Christ is risen; therefore, rise in the image of God. Christ liveth evermore; therefore, live to God, till you live with him in glory. So we preached; and so you believed. This is the scriptural way, the Methodist way, the true way. God grant that we never turn therefrom, to the right hand or the left.

I notice that in each of these statements the good news comes first. “God loves you; therefore, love and obey him.” This is the way that Wesley said he would preach to established Christians, those who have already had an experience of conviction and justification. The law is preached here as a pattern for a life that bears the fruit of faith. To the unconverted, Wesley wrote earlier in the letter, he would counsel leading with law to break up the complacency of those who have not yet felt the true forgiveness of Christ.

As always, I’m struck in reading Wesley by how aware he was that the state of his audience should determine the shape of his preaching. This is not “felt needs” preaching. It is much more like a medical diagnosis. Wesley had a clear idea what spiritual health and wholeness looked like. He had strong opinions about the various maladies of the soul and the phases a person must pass through to be “cured.” His observations about the spiritual state of his hearers then shaped his approach in preaching and teaching.

The Methodist cure was not for everyone, of course. At the height of the Methodist movement, it accounted only for a small fraction of the population of England. Not even Wesley would have argued that non-Methodists were necessarily out of step with Christ. But for many people, the Methodist way was the true way to Christ.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2015/01/the-methodist-way-of-preaching/

Jan 16 2015

John Meunier: Why they approve of our stand against sex trafficking

Original post at https://johnmeunier.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/why-they-approve-of-our-stand-against-sex-trafficking/


Last week, I got an e-mail reminding me that the United Methodist Women want us to raise awareness about sex trafficking.*

I don’t know why, but it got me wondering about the way the non-Christian world reacts to the church when we engage in such issues. Specifically, I asked myself this question:

Why do non-Christians approve of Christian work to end sex trafficking but oppose Christian teaching against fornication?

Here is one thought about that.

Our society lives and breathes a political philosophy that rose to dominance in the 18th and 19th centuries. The most common name for this political philosophy is liberalism, which is unhelpful in America because it creates confusion. In America, a liberal is most often thought of as a member of the Democratic Party. In political philosophy, though, nearly everyone in both major US parties are modern liberals — people committed to individualism, equality before the law, and social and political freedom.

Modern liberals operate out of a theory of the state that says it exists primarily to prevent one person from inflicting harm on another. “Your right to swing your fist stops at the end of your neighbor’s nose.” As such, liberals find themselves in a hard spot when trying to argue for public policies that appear to be strictly in the self-interest of individuals. Motorcycle helmet laws and seat-belt laws, for instance, are often defended because of the “harm” inflicted on the society when the costs of medical care or death from preventable injuries is taken into account. Similarly, the arguments for smoking bans are often argued in terms of harm caused to others by second hand smoke or the cost to the medical system of treating lung cancer and related diseases. When people propose such policies as good for the people being required to wear helmets or cease smoking, the reflex in our society is to say people should be free to hurt themselves if they want. Even as tobacco smoking bans take wider and wider hold in our country, the legalization of marijuana marches forward precisely because opponents, as yet, cannot come up with an argument against the drug that can be made on the basis of the harm it causes other people.

So, when an argument against sex trafficking is made, it can appeal to liberals if it is put in terms of protecting victims from harm. What you cannot argue with them is that we need to prevent sex trafficking because the sex traffickers and purchasers of sex are sinning against God and imperiling their immortal souls.

And here is the difference. Christians believe that people around us can harm themselves by their choices and that it is a violation of our Christian love to ignore the harm they do to their own bodies and souls. We also reject fundamentally the idea that this is “our” life or “our” body that we can do with as we please. All we have and all we are is a gift from God that should be used only in keeping with God’s will.

These claims and beliefs run directly contrary to the spirit of modern political liberalism.

For my part, I think we can hold convictions that fornication is a sin against God while still living at peace in a society that does not agree with us. We can live under a liberal regime and still be Christians, just as we can live under feudal monarchy and still be Christians or under atheist totalitarianism and still be Christians.

What is important, though, is that we do not fall into the trap of confusing the reasons we take the social actions we take with the reasons that non-Christians take similar actions.

When we engage in Christian works of mercy, we may find ourselves working side-by-side with people who do not share our convictions. It is important that we remain clear in our own understanding about why we do the good works we do, and do not surrender the moral courage to include in our public witness the convictions that arise out of our belief that men and women are accountable before God and their sins bear a price that is beyond the reckoning of any human system of justice.

Christians oppose the evil of sex trafficking, but even so we pray for the repentance of the people committing these crimes and paying to have sex with trafficked women and men. We are grieve both by the evil that they do and the damnation that they call down upon themselves.


*The UMW would probably remind me here that the broader category of human trafficking is a much more widespread problem.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2015/01/why-they-approve-of-our-stand-against-sex-trafficking/

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