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Questioning NNU’s President, Part 3: The Vote of No Confidence

Photo by Brandon Hill Photography
Photo by Brandon Hill Photography

NNU’s President, David Alexander, is stuck. His actions, resulting in the firing of tenured theology professor, Tom Oord, have drawn attention from all corners of the the Christian academic community and the Church of the Nazarene. You can read my summary of the situation here. It is my personal belief, that the actions Alexander has taken in recent years discredits his reasons for Oord’s termination now. To demonstrate this belief, I have been writing this 3 part series on Questioning NNU’s President. You can read Part 1 and Part 2.

I was going to write a part 3 today. I was going to detail a faculty meeting with Alexander, where the faculty offered to forgo their raises ($400k) in order to abjure any layoffs (the means for the $400k). I was going to write how Alexander refused to accept the faculty’s plea, citing that no raises and no layoffs were a short-term solution.

I was going to write about that at length. But then something happened yesterday.

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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. 
____________________

          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 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 »

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 »

Churches Fun

“Fight Church” MMA and Jesus

Whoa. Check out this trailer for a Documentary on a Church that hosts and teaches Mixed Martial Arts. “Fight Church.” *Spoiler Alert* He was Tyler Durden the whole time.

What are your thoughts? Is MMA incompatible with Christian living?

Here’s the Kickstarter page to get this movie finished.