Category Archives: Church Leadership

Church Leadership Inspiration St Paul's UMC United Methodists

My Address to St. Paul’s UMC, Church Conference 2015

Every year, each United Methodist Church conducts a Charge Conference or Church Conference to go over some business of the church. It’s also a time to reflect on the past year and dream about the future. Instead of having every committee share what they’ve done this year, they asked me to summarize the work of the church and share it at our Church Conference. This is what I said:

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Church Leadership Churches Inspiration

What Happened This Weekend

         Well, my daughter got her first hair cut, the Patriots won the Superbowl, oh yeah, and TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE READ MY STORY OF LEAVING THE CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE.

         Let me just say that having your story read by thousands of people you don’t know is nerve racking. At a certain point, you have no control of what people will do with you. Most people sent words of care and comfort. Some have shared their stories of staying or leaving. Some have questioned my story. A few have questioned my motives. As the number of views and comments grew, I prepared myself for some negative comments. But, you know, it’s still nerve racking.

I want to quickly say a few things and then share something that happened because of that post. read more »

Christian Culture Church Leadership Churches Life

Why I Left the Church of the Nazarene

          Thank you everyone for reading and sharing my story. The reach and response have been absolutely overwhelming! Thank you for all your comments on this page, on Facebook, and through private messages. I read all of them, though I may not be able to respond to all of them. Thank you again. I have also made one correction below: the church that I served and worshipped at while I was in college was an Evangelical Methodist Church, not a Free Methodist Church as I had thought. 
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          About 5 years ago, I left the denomination that introduced me to Jesus. I didn’t walk out of the Church of the Nazarene with fanfare, fireworks or middle fingers. My relationship with the CotN had more of a soft closing. But I did leave. I let my credentials lapse.  I’m currently serving, preaching, and pursuing ordination in the United Methodist Church. When I first left the CotN, I got emails left and right from different pastors and friends wanting to know if it was true that I left, why I left, and if I’ll consider staying. Eventually, those kind of emails stopped. Now, I get emails from young Nazarene ministers asking me why I left, if they should leave, where they could go, and how to leave gracefully. I haven’t been shy about this conversation in person, but I haven’t Facebooked or said anything publicly about leaving the CotN, mostly because I love the CotN and I don’t want to hurt my friends there or somehow appear bitter. But I think it’s time I shared my story because I am entirely uncomfortable caring for so many ministry hopefuls who feel like they can’t serve in a church they love.

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Church Leadership Churches Inspiration St Paul's UMC United Methodists

My Address to St. Paul’s at Church Conference

Every year, each United Methodist Church conducts a Charge Conference or Church Conference to go over some business of the church. It’s also a time to reflect on the past year and dream about the future. Instead of having every committee share what they’ve done this year, they asked me to summarize the work of the church and share it at our Church Conference. This is what I said:

I’ve been the pastor here at St. Paul’s for just over 16 months, and a lot of things have changed over those months. 

When we arrived to St. Paul’s in July of last year, our daughter Clementine was only 6 months old. She couldn’t say a word. She wasn’t crawling yet. We were still combing her hair in ways to hide her bald spots. Today, Clementine is different, and that’s a good thing. She has a favorite song, a favorite color, she goes down slides by herself, and this week she formulate her first sentence all on her own. She said, “I see snow.”

Before coming to St. Paul’s, I had no experience in being a lead pastor. I had been a youth pastor for 8 years. If you’re doing the math, that means some crazy pastor hired me, to be a youth pastor when I was only 20 years old. Before coming to St. Paul’s, I was only used to preaching at most, once a month. I had only ever done 2 memorial services, and one of them was for a gathering of 3 people. Today, I am different, and that’s a good thing. In my first year at St. Paul’s, I’ve performed 5 memorial services. I’ve formed sermons and sermon series that I pray God has used to inspire, move, and direct you to our loving Christ. I’ve held hands with people as we’ve listened to last breaths of their loved ones. I’m changed by St. Paul’s, and that’s a good thing. 

Today, St. Paul’s is different, too, and that’s a good thing. read more »

Church Leadership Family Life St Paul's UMC Uncategorized

30 Goals For My 3rd Decade (apparently this is my 4th decade)

I turned 30 last Saturday, and when I showed my ID to the woman handing out wrist bands as last week’s Zoo Brews (beer festival at a zoo = awesome), she burst into tearful laughter and told me I look way too young. I guess I’ve still got it.

Anyway, thinking about this next decade made me want to put together some goals, and I’m happy to share them with you. I broke them down into 3 areas of my life: career, ministry, and life. Here you go:

Career

1. Finish my Doctorate of Ministry (D. Min). I’m about a 3rd of the way through.

2. Receive ordination in the United Methodist Church. Pretty much just waiting on my D. Min.

3. Clean my office. I’m about a 3rd of the way through. read more »

Church Leadership Churches Life St Paul's UMC

My Work Week

What’s a Sabbath with you?

sabbath permission

God gathered up a people who only knew slavery in Egypt. As God started to shape them into a people that would bless the world, God gave a commandment to this group of former slaves: rest from work for a day each week. Imagine what it means to a group of former slaves. Their God is commanding them not to work. Beautiful. They are truly free. When Moses reiterates the 10 commandments in Deuteronomy, he adds this reminder to the Sabbath commandment: Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day (Deut 5.15).

In short, my sermon yesterday was this: Sabbath is a gift from God to proclaim our freedom and God’s provision. You are not a slave to anything. God has set you free. You don’t have to work non-stop. God provides.

We also passed out Sabbath permission slips, which I thought were pretty cute. You can have one too.

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Church Leadership Churches United Methodists

Religion Recovery

religionrecovery      It got in my head last January to do a sermon series on the ways people have been hurt by religion. Not a real novel idea. Move on over to google and you’ll find millions of posts about how religion, specifically Christianity, has let people down, done damage, and is making our world a mess. But what really got me thinking about doing this were all the conversations inside and outside of the church that I had will people. People who want to connect with God but won’t bring their children to a place where they are vulnerable to assault, people who want to connect with God but have been told by religious leaders that they won’t be joined with their dead children in heaven unless they change their lifestyle. You know the stories. You know the people.

      I thought, okay, let’s just address the ugliness head on. Let’s just call evil evil. Not in a way to disparage the church, but in a way to let the people we’ve wrong heal. Let’s talk about hypocrites, let’s talk about exclusion in the church, let’s talk about judgement and condemnation, let’s talk about abusive leaders. read more »

Church Leadership Churches Fun

Some Stuff I’ve Learned from Performing Weddings

I found Candice and Heath's lack of faith... disturbing.
I found Candice and Heath’s lack of faith… disturbing.

     So yes, yesterday Joanna and I celebrated 7 years of marriage, and I’ve got marriage on the brain! I love marriage, I’m not going to lie. I also love doing weddings. When you’ve worked a big beautiful downtown church, you kind of end up doing a lot of weddings. I’ve performed around 25 weddings, which is probably not a lot for the average pastor, but for me and my stage of the game, it’s a lot. So in my little journey, I’ve learned a few things.

     1. The rings only fit about 50% of the time on the wedding day. You get it. All eyes on you. Making the biggest commitment of your life. Your emotions are high. This is a big deal. And now your stinking little fingers are plumping up like microwaved hotdogs. So in many cases, the wedding rings don’t fit in that moment. This is a tip I got from another pastor. I always warn the couple at the wedding rehearsal, tell them to get the ring on as far as they can but not to force it or hurt each other. Most couples give it the old college try during the service, anyway. I’ve seen some pain. Don’t worry people. It’s not a bad omen. It’s just biology.  read more »

Church Leadership Churches Family Inspiration

Portland, Hotel Bathroom 3 am, Thoughts on being better

where awake parents are exiled to.
where awake parents are exiled to.

Good morning or whatever it is for you when you read this. I am currently in the bathroom of of our hotel room in Portland, OR, and the time is about 3:00 am. More on why I’m in the bathroom later, and more on why I am awake later. I have a couple blog posts in the hopper and will be getting them up soon. I’m also going to try my hand at some videos soon, but for now, I just have a lot on my mind that I feel like I have to get out.

Well, now is later.

I’m in a bathroom
So, I’m here in Portland to attend my church’s Bishop’s Symposium, a time for all the United Methodist pastors in Oregon-Idaho to get together, hear big speakers, dream, worship, and make plans on how to better equip people to be awesome. Joanna and Clementine are joining me in Portland. We have family and friends here, and Clementine has never seen the ocean, which is what we’ll do tomorrow today.

Things are never that bad with these two.
Things are never that bad with these two.

So why am I in the bathroom blogging away on my iPad? Because we haven’t quite mastered the fine art of traveling with a 9 mo old. The trip’s been a little rough for baby Clementine-lemon-lime. She pretty much didn’t sleep yesterday and is pretty frustrated that her english just isn’t where she wants it to be right now. I try to encourage her, but she’s pretty hard on herself. So, I’m in the bathroom because C-town is asleep in the hotel room we’re sharing, and when she’s asleep, only sleeping people can be in that room. All the awake people have to go to the bathroom. read more »

Christian Culture Church Leadership Inspiration Theology

How to Make Disciples and Why I Don’t Like the Sinners’ Prayer

     If converting people to Christianity was like buying shoes, the “Sinner’s Prayer” is like swiping the credit card and signing the receipt. It’s kind of the linchpin to a proselytizing session. The goal of all the selling, persuading, and smiling is to get the person that believes differently than you to say the “Sinner’s Prayer.” And like the credit card, the “Sinner’s Prayer” is an invention to make the transaction as simple as possible.

     I was trained as a teenager to proselytize my friends to my faith. I was trained to get into conversations, and the ultimate goal was to seal the deal by getting people to say the “Sinner’s Prayer.”

     My first encounter with the prayer was after a terrifying Christian play. I might have mentioned this before. I was 12 yrs old, and I attended a play consisting of something like 20 vignettes of people just before some sort of freak accident (like a brick wall falling on them). Each vignette then depicted the characters waking up in front of an angel with a book, and if they at some point in their life said the “Sinner’s Prayer” and really believed it, then the Hallelujah Chorus would play and they’d get to go to heaven. 

     However, the majority of the characters had not said this prayer, so Satan and his demons would slink from the wings to drag these poor souls, kicking and screaming, into a hell of cray paper and strobe lights. At the end of the play, some guy that I didn’t know and didn’t know me came out and told me that I needed to give my life to Jesus or I would go to hell, and then he led me and other scared children in the “Sinner’s Prayer.” Transaction complete, I even got a receipt.

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