Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Last Lay Speaker Post

Been a long while since I was here, but I have not been without service or voice.  I did not feel led to blog anymore.  I posted the following in the Lay Speaker Facebook Group and for full disclosure post this here, as I can no longer be considered an official Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church. 
I am of a divided mind as I write this. I have had to move to a new conference due to my job, and have joined a new local church. I already face a challenge in that I need to have local church approval just to keep my previous credentials as a Certified Lay Speaker, yet alone show I could be a Local Lay Speaker. This would be the year I would renew my credentials as a Certified Lay Speaker had I not moved, but the new process is a burden I think I will choose not to bear.

The new rules:
"1. Pastor and charge conference approval
2. Complete the required courses for lay speaker
3. Interview with District Committee on LSM
4. Approved by annual conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministries
5. File annual report
6. Every 3 years complete 1 advanced course and interview with District Committee on LSM."

Well I have done the advanced course three times now, but I no longer feel led to do it for a fourth. The new rules say I am no longer qualified since I do not have the "...Required Courses:
Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts, Leading Prayer, Preaching, Living Our United Methodist Beliefs (UM Heritage), Leading Worship, Life Together in the United
Methodist Connection (UM Polity)"

I've only had one of them, maybe two. I've done 1, 5 and half of 6 for a while. I think I have done enough personal study to pass the others, but I have no "certificates".

I fear this is not a good thing for our church. I feel this is more control over laity who feel led to stand up and lead. I am not really sure it is required for Christian growth and education as much as to silence voices or an attempt to create more "Lay Ministers". I fear this will weaken the voice of laity. I pray I am wrong. I am and always will be a Lay Servant for Christ and His church, even without a title. I do not feel I need the courses for that, although they were great experience for my Christian education and growth. I am not sure I feel led to speak from the pulpit any longer given the new rules. So I no longer feel qualified to be included as a group member here. I pray the Lord lead me to the next path in our walk together.

Grace and Peace to all.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Book of Reso-what?

General thoughts crossed my mind recently in reading a post at another site I visit. The thread mentioned the Book of Resolutions created by the United Methodist Church General Conference. For any who do not know, it includes the stuff we Methodists are “resolved” about, and it appears we are resolved as a denomination about a lot of stuff. It’s not church law, but it does provide official position guidance for any agency that carries the United Methodist Church label. You can find the topics we Methodists are officially resolved about in the Table of Contents provided here at Cokesury’s website in only 18 PAGES! Eighteen pages of just Table of Contents!

It seems we are resolved to the tune of over 1000 pages of topics involving the Natural World, The Nurturing Community, The Social Community, The Economic Community, The Political Community, The World Community and ubiquitous "Other Resolutions".

Let's see... Should I read War and Peace ... or ... Book of Resolutions. Hmmm. Somehow, our General Conference is able to adequately discern the Spirit's message in over 1000 pages of resolutions? Perhaps our church bureaucracy has reached a point of diminishing return, to quote an Economic Community phrase. Is the only way to adequately express the Lord's work in our denomination by having to write down over 1000 pages of resolutions???? Really??? Are lawyers running the denomination?

So anyway...what follows is some of the questions that pour through my mind about the BoR .... and by no means am I an authority on the matter. In fact, I question whether any ONE person can be an authority. It would take 4 years to learn it, and then we change it again anyway!


How many United Methodists sitting in the pews throughout the world know that this thing called a Book of Resolutions exists?

How many know what is in it?

How many know what weight it carries in our denomination?

How many would join the United Methodist Church if they read it before joining?

How many would laugh at reading a 3+ inch thick book (at my last glance) of fine print?

How many members would leave if they knew what was in it?

How many would knock down the doors to join if they knew what was in it?

What does it do to make disciples?

Does it help disciples transform the world?

Does it cure insomnia, light a fire, or light THE Fire?

How much does it cost to purchase and if it does cost money to purchase, how do lower income people afford it? (Same goes for the BoD, as far as that goes).

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Put it in the light! Truth usually finds a way to be in the light!

"Out of ignorance and certain outmoded cultures and traditions, many people have died....I will do everything humanly possible to rectify those anomalies because the saying goes that 'he who conceals his sickness should not expect to be healed.'"

1 John 1:5-10

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

"After watching the stories of some people with AIDS and learning that the disease could infect anybody, no matter how sinful or holy one might be, he became an activist so that people would not be blindfolded, but educated and well-informed."

I refer you to an article in the UMC news feed.

When I was a youth, I would have loved this event. It's a camp out with friends. It is a wonderful way to provide food/funds for those trapped in homelessness.

As an adult, I am pleased "The youth paid $5 each as “rent” for their boxes and brought more than 300 cans of food" for community missions. It is also pleasing to learn "The youth also heard from speakers involved in agencies that assist the homeless". I am uplifted by the fact that youth are helping provide for "the least of these" as Christ taught.

Yet, something is unsettling about events like this. What is bothering me? Is it that I feel guilt that I have I have a warm bed? Is it that something like this seems almost "condecending" to the homeless who do not own sleeping bags. Who can not trust the guy in the next box over to not take whatever comfort they may have, not to say their life to get at shoes?

I am not trying to say I am opposed to such things, or that I do not support youth doing these type of things. Yet, why am I unsettled?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rethink Church!...(?)

Rethink Church was announced back in October with the goals as stated in the link. Since the new 10KDoors opened for business now, I guess the question on my mind is, will it work?

quote from the article...

Challenging the church

The Commission on Communication was “very enthusiastic” about the general concept for “Rethink Church,” said Bishop Sally Dyck, commission president, …

... Rethink Church is going to challenge every local church to think about what the meaning and purpose of church is.”

So I am wondering, are our local churches ready to accept the coming tide of those influenced by the new campaign to give the ole' local Methodist Church they drive by every now and then a try? Will they find the "Church is a verb" or "Church is a state of mind" concept or will they find the traditional "Church is a building for Sunday where we collect money"?

I have heard little passed on through our church except what I have read about myself. How can these large campaigns start at the top if the bottom is not ready for it? Training for the local churches is absolutely mandatory for these campaigns to work. Are we ready to recieve the people this might attract? Do we know what to expect at our local Churches?

You might say as good Christians and Methodists we already know how to treat newcomers and how to provide welcoming hospitality. Hopefully, this is the case. But still, are we ready for the different attitude? Are we ready to dig in and get hands dirty for the people who want to do Church as a verb? Are we ready "to Church" instead of just attending? Is your congregation set up to support those who want "to Church" or are you set up to have people attend events? Are you "Churching" outside of the walls of a building?

Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Leaving Covenant

Some time ago, I mentioned in a post comment I was going to go do some reading about Christian Ethics. I acquired three books but have not been able to read adequately. I started with Hauerwas’s Peaceable Kingdom. Alas, I may have reached too soon for this tome. I found myself having to re-read portions on a daily basis, and my current ability to sit and take notes while reading is limited. I put it down for another time when I could spend the quality time to give it a better reading and reached for something more digestible given my current reading habits.

I reached for the following book, a portion of which I quote below:
Lovin, Robert W. Christian Ethics An Essential Guide.
Nashville: Abington Press, 200, pp 53-54.

I came across the following paragraph on a page that I dog-eared immediately, as it seems to apply to some situations with which I have observed in a number of situations. I believe it applies at many levels and in many situations. I believe the paragraph sums up something that I have been living, but not been able to adequately express.

"Covenant does not preclude interpretations of ancient rules that help us to understand what they mean in new circumstances. What covenant precludes is an individualistic approach to this interpretative task that examines the rules and decides what to keep and what to discard according to ones own set of values and then acts on those decisions without regard for others. Interpretation in a covenant community always involves a great deal of listening, and the decision to act must involve choice; not only about what is right and what is wrong, but also about what course of action will sustain this process of communication for the future. The decision to leave a covenant is not made by deciding to do this thing rather than that. It is made by deciding to not try anymore to understand or to persuade."

I feel I may need to laminate this on a card for my wallet. I am wondering if I will need to read this paragraph quite a bit in the coming years.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Cost of Easter

The Lord blessed me with another opportunity to provide a message. This time for our Easter Sunrise service....

During the time I was thinking about the Sunrise Service message I was to deliver, someone pointed out to me an advertising campaign from Wal-Mart – “Easter Costs Less at Wal-Mart”. For some reason, I immediately knew where my message would come from. Was not sure what it was yet, but it was going to be based on this ad from Wal-Mart.

As I thought about it, my first thoughts were ughhh…now we are equating Easter with commercialism and spending money. It’s that way with Christmas and now Easter is under commercial attack! The most I remembered seeing before was the cute Cadbury bunny ads with the bunny clucking like a chicken and laying chocolate eggs or the newsprint ads displaying bargains on your new Easter outfit for Easter Sunday or the coming springtime fashions. But this seems different, flashier. The highest, most holy celebration of Christianity is now being sold as another reason to run to the store and buy stuff to save money? Is this a sign of our times?

There’s a message there, yes, but I was unsettled. That’s not a message for an Easter Sunrise Service.

Once over the commercialism aspect, I then was struck with the “cost” statement. Easter costs less at Wal-Mart? What of the cost of Jesus dying on the cross? Was this ad poking at that? A Wal-Mart Easter costs less than the cost of Jesus dying on the cross? Now I am feeling offended! How could someone dream up this kind of slogan for Easter knowing that the cost of Easter was the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross! How dare they! I feel like writing a letter! Boycott! Boycott!

That’s a message, but I was still unsettled. That’s not a message for an Easter Sunrise.

The cost thing…keeps tugging at me. Hmmm… I’m thinking Easter doesn’t cost anything. I’m distracted from what is really important. There is a story I read of Leonardo da Vinci, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it is said that after he completed his masterpiece of the "Last Supper", he took a friend of his to see his just completed work. The friend's first comment was, "Look at that cup! It’s beautiful. My eyes are drawn to it. It’s wonderful! It’s striking!" Without batting an eye, Leonardo took a brush and painted over the cup. "Nothing in my painting should attract more attention than the face of Jesus."

I was distracted by this Wal-Mart ad talking about the cost of Easter and it was drawing my eyes away from the face of Jesus! Jesus gives the free gift of new life! Jesus paid the price from Alpha to Omega, once and for all, so that we have NO cost at Easter. He will wipe every tear from the eye. The sting of death is gone and the old order of things is passed away. He paid with a cost that filled a tomb and then emptied it with a mark down that says “free for the asking”! To all who are thirsty He will give drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.

The One seated on the throne says “those who overcome the spiritual distractions of the world will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”

By worldly standards, "At Wal-Mart Easter Costs Less", but in the Kingdom of God, Easter is free for the asking!