Category Archives: Church Leadership

Christian Culture Church Leadership Devotional Thought Inspiration Spiritual Practices

Christian Living is Like Improv Acting

 Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 12.15.19 PMThe second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND… to me, YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.

(Tina Fey, Bossypants)

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   I love stories. I love hearing about heroes, conflict, growth, redemption, victory, and love. I especially love hearing true stories, stories of peoples’ origins, struggles, and family. Stories are how we understand ourselves. When we describe ourselves to new acquaintances, we don’t describe our dimensions! We tell stories. Stories are how we understand our world, each other, and even things beyond our understanding.

     As Christians, we are a people of a particular story. It has a beginning, middle, and end, filled with dynamic and round read more »

Church Leadership Churches Uncategorized United Methodists

Being a Pastor: My First Month

I can’t believe how people take such chances with me. I wonder if they know what they’re doing. Still, I thank God for all the people that have taken chances with me, believing in me, and seeing things that I don’t see. Thanks y’all.

      So, my situation is a little unique. I’m a young pastor in a denomination with some pretty stringent hoops to jump through to obtain that victorious stole of ordination. I haven’t completed all the requirements, but some people took a chance on me and appointed me to pastor a church as a Local Licensed Pastor (in the UMC, that means I can do all the pastory stuff within the ministry of one specific local church). Also, in the UMC, pastors are appointed to churches by an overseer of pastors, a Bishop, with help from District Superintendents. So, this church didn’t ask for me… they got me. There’s pros and cons, but in any case, I think these good people were surprised (to say the least) that they would be receiving a 28 yr old local licensed pastor, instead of whatever comes into your mind when you think of “pastor.” I know that the change has been difficult for many of them, but I have been absolutely blown away by their love, hospitality, and passion to “get to work” as we seek God’s will for our church and our city. Thanks y’all.

photo-7In My First Month

     Our first Sunday was tremendous. I remember talking to someone on the phone before I arrived. The plan was to have only one service because it was the weekend after the 4th of July and we anticipated many families being gone for the weekend. I said, “Are you sure?” Someone said, “We’ll have the room. It would be a miracle if we packed the place out.” Miracle? No problem. We packed the place out. The service was great before it began. I’m sure people were just curious about the new pastor, but it still felt good. I moved a few things in the order of worship, no one seemed bothered by it. Easy peasy.

     The biggest change that I’ve done so far, I haven’t done well. I always knew I would be encouraging the congregation to eventually receive communion weekly in the services. The read more »

Church Leadership Spiritual Practices Youth Ministry

3 Things Churches Must Learn From Youth Ministry

“Young people are among God’s most forthright, frustrating, and often unwitting prophets…” – Kenda Creasy Dean, Practicing Passion

Youth ministry, is actually a pretty young experiment in the churches of North America. It’s been a messy, kind of  “on the job training” situation for the last 50 years, and it’s effectiveness has been hit or miss, given the low turn out of young adults in worship attendance. Still, through it all, youth ministry has discovered and centered on things that make youth ministry vital for teenagers, helping youth groups thrive. I think the church at large can learn more than a few things from youth ministry, but here are three that the church must learn:

Friendship is greater than Order.

When Jesus prayed for those who believe in him to be one, I’m pretty sure he did not mean we should gather once a week, face the same direction, hear the same songs, prayers and words, then leave without talking to one another. Friendship is absolutely vital to the church being the church. Youth ministers have known this for a long time. Youth ministry at its core is building relationships. Rarely is there a youth event without some time for teenagers to get to know each other, through ice breakers, small discussion groups, team building activities, etc. Often, these activities introduce a little chaos into what you are trying to do! Youth group is a place where friendships are made. I know a lot of friendly churches, but a friendly church and a church where friendships can be made are two very different things. What is the process for making friendships in your church? Is it easy?

Participation is greater than Performance.

I prepare my heart out for the “youth talks” (sermons) that we do at our gatherings. I write some jokes, plan the topic, and have an end goal in mind, but what makes these sermons worth anything to the teenagers is not my expertise but their involvement. During the gathering, teens are free to raise their hands at anytime to ask a question, give their own analogy, or make it clearer for one another. Effectively, everyone gathered there makes the sermon, and it’s far more relevant than what I could do alone. This goes for music as well. Teenagers do not come to church to hear the most professional musician or speakers. Teenagers come to participate in something. Only a few churches can “perform” to standards that could sell out stadiums and win the attention of teenagers with their pure awesomeness. At their church, teens are not interested in the best music or speakers. Teens want to participate with a musician or speaker. A teenager is interested in a place and gathering that is effected by who comes and how they act. A service that will be ran the same way regardless of who attends doesn’t appeal or seem meaningful.

Experience is greater than Information.

My wife said that this one doesn’t sound like me because of how important I think good theology is. When I say experience is greater than information, I do not mean that my personal experience trumps Scripture or good theology. What I am trying to say is that as the Church, we must lead people to an experience with God, not merely information about God. Youth are drawn to experiences of God through various spiritual practices such as Lectio Divina, prayer journals, prayer ropes, imaginative prayer, fasting, etc. Youth ministers often give teenagers some sort of physical reminder of an inward grace that teens are experiencing, such as a stone, a bracelet, a nail, etc. Teens want to experience God, not just learn about God. I don’t think they are any different from adults in this respect.

Youth ministry, in many ways, have trained teenagers to expect a place where they can make friendships, where their participation matters, and where they can experience God. When teenagers grow into adults, can they expect these same things in the churches, or do they need to form their own communities?

What are your thoughts?

Cathedral of the Rockies Church Leadership United Methodists

Eric Geiger and Sue Nilson Kibbey: Awesome Church Leaders I Get to Hang Out With This Week

This week is our United Methodist Oregon-Idaho Leadership Institute. Churches from all over our conference will come together, here at The Cathedral of the Rockies, to worship, grow, plan, and dream for the future of our churches, our denomination, and our world. I am stoked for this week!

A huge reason that I’m so excited is that we get to host and I get to spend some time with our key-note speakers: Eric Geiger and Sue Nilson Kibbey.

Eric Geiger is best known for co-authoring the book Simple Church, named the 2007 Christianity Today Book Award winner in the Church/Pastoral Leadership category and was recognized by Outreach Magazine as the Best Outreach Leadership Training Resource of 2007.

Sue Nilson Kibbey is the Director of Connectional and Missional Church Initiatives for the United Methodist West Ohio Conference centered in Columbus, Ohio.  Sue is the former Executive Pastor at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, one of the most vital congregations in our little tribe, leading the way in social justice projects, small groups, passionate worship, and mission.  Sue is also the author of Ultimately Responsible: When You’re In Charge of Igniting the Ministry.

I’m pumped to spend some time with these fantastic church leaders, worship with them, and hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches through them! It’s going to be an exciting time. I’ll keep you posted.

If you are in the Treasure Valley this week, and are able to make it to any of the sessions, I highly recommend you come by (even if you aren’t Methodist). Go here for more info on the Leadership Institute.

Also, on Friday I will be leading one of the workshops on Youth Ministry. A little plug.

peace to your soul!†

 

-Ric