LINK: Of all people to have an agile social strategy…

The White House announced that they are blogging on Medium now. 

I considered migrating my personal blog to Medium a few weeks ago, but thought it was too new and nobody would know what Medium was. Apparently I was out-stepped by the United States Government. Of all institutions to have an agile strategy, I cannot think of one that has more reasons to NOT establish a multitude of social media properties. But here they go, claiming more ground, reaching more niches, developing more authenticity. 

I don’t have that kind of confidence.

Maybe it’s because I am a pastor and I teach the Christian faith all the time, but I have a growing confidence in my inability to teach a faith that I am not constantly immersing myself in.

What is striking is that many people have a confidence that I don’t. That they can maintain their faith without filling up on a daily basis with the spiritual food that God has instructed us to feast on; that is, scripture, prayer and fellowship with believers. I’ve had seasons of my walk with God where I have not been diligent in these areas and I have wavered on the most basic of my convictions. 

I can see clearly that the seasons where I have sustained my spiritual fitness with a steady diet of the disciplines are always the high points, the peaks of my walk with God. Those are where I tend to take pictures, make memories and share with people who ask about my walk with God. 

Thanks to JD Walt for inspiring this post from his Daily Text this morning.

Mountain View

Prompt #1 - Refresh 12 

This post is the first of twelve posts as part of the Refresh 12 blog prompts. JOIN US

Explain yourself

I am not a cradle methodist. I have been reminded of this over the last 15 months as I’ve discovered parts of the hymnal that I never knew existed, not to mention I am expected to lead the hymns at our 8:30 chapel service. I discovered the United Methodist Church in 2005 when I started attending Central Avenue in Athens with a bunch of Campus Crusade friends. I didn’t start attending because of theology, but the longer I went the more I though how strange the character of Christian life seemed at Central. Strong belief, warm friendship, engaging music, great beards and sane preaching. It didn’t take but a year before the local church had my heart. I finished my degree in Industrial Technology and my business minor and packed my bags, married a beautiful woman and moved to Wilmore, Kentucky to start my M.Div. at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Very short history of how you ended up in pastoral ministry.

I heard the call to pastoral ministry in a local church setting loud and clear during my time at Reynoldsburg as a Next-Gen intern during the summer of 2008 and as a student pastor at Union UMC in 2009 under the supervision of Paul Risler. Without conference and local church leadership giving me a taste of pastoral ministry, I don’t see how I could have ended up as a provisional elder in the West Ohio Conference.

Ministry Situation

I am currently appointed to Westwood United Methodist in Cincinnati, Ohio. I serve as the Associate Pastor with responsibilities and leadership in the areas of discipleship, connections and education. I preach, teach and learn something new everyday. 

What good do you see coming from a young clergy network like Refresh? Why do you think being in connection is worthwhile? Or is it?

What has always impressed me is the infamous “connection” as we call it in the UMC. It is often touted as one of our defining and greatest assets as a collection of churches. It empowers laity to accomplish more with a single vision (like Imagine no Malaria) and it provides support, encouragement and accountability to pastors.

I see Refresh as a logical and necessary contextualization of the “connection” for 2014. Refresh is not reinventing anything, it’s not a new idea, it’s not going to save anyone, but it is the connection for a new day. We are just giving structure for the sake of inviting others and allowing people to see the great work that is happening across the conference.

Walls are crumbling everywhere, even in particular areas of discipleship. If people are going to share their junk on facebook, we should be sharing the best of our thought as well. How can a generation who’s primary language is the internet understand mature Christian conversation without it permeating the places where they spend so much time. I am excited to see what the Holy Spirit does when a bunch of young clergy share their walk with each other and the world. 

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It’s going to be an Old Testament kind of fall

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Over the next 12 weeks I am co-leading an Old Testament survey using the Epic of Eden curriculum that Seedbed just published this month. I am really looking forward to this because it seems like the perfect way to enter the season of Advent and I haven’t spent a lot of time in the old testament since our church read the entire bible in 2013. 

As if I didn’t have enough homework with this class and everything else, I am going to try something audacious that I haven’t had much success with in the past. Doing a straight read-through of the old testament. It’s one of those goals that you almost hate to admit out loud, but this is really important and I can’t shake the feeling that it’s what I am supposed to be doing during this season. 

Who knows, perhaps God has been putting this grand story of the faith that we have inherited on your heart as well. I have attached my daily checklist of what I need to read. It is six days a week, now through November 30th when we enter Advent. 

Warmly, 

David

Word Doc: http://bit.ly/Ye0aXp

PDF: http://bit.ly/1CpOErl

Whose band are you in?

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I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever. I can’t sing. I can’t play an instrument. It’s by the grace of God that I ended up in a church with a pipe organ so loud there is no chance anyone will hear me. Well, except at 8:30 service, and you can just ask them about how awful it is hearing me lead our hymns when I lead the service. Anyway, the question still stands, whose band are you in? I am in one. Yes, even though I have no musical talent, I am in a band.

I am of course playing on the word “band” because it is a word that John Wesley used to describe small groups in his Methodist societies. I recently spent three days in Franklin, Tennessee at a conference called New Room. It was a gathering of up and coming Wesleyan thinkers, scholars and pastors. As the Western church has gravitated back toward the traditional liturgies of churches of a by-gone era, there has been a rediscovery of the small group systems that the Methodist movement was founded on. I was captivated by Wesley’s own words on the subject in his document “A Plain Account of the People Called Methodists.”

He describes the three-tier structure of his “Societies” which was essentially the congregation. Underneath the society there were “classes” and “bands”. Classes were smaller groups of people that met from the larger society or congregation. Classes were groups of 12 people that were led by a class leader. This class leader was appointed to check in with his twelve weekly and as that proved a tall task eventually the twelve would end up meeting in the leader’s home on a weekly basis. The content of their meetings often included singing hymns, and inquiring into how each person’s soul is prospering.

Continuing the refinement of the system, Wesley later added “bands.” The bands were groups of five people. They were always broken up by gender and marital status so that the deep conversation regarding the “sins committed” by each member each week were safely shared with a common degree of empathy. Bands were where the tough business of sanctification took place in the earliest Methodist gatherings.

The Methodist movement was founded on the deep and lasting changes that God makes in the souls of his people. Being in tune with how we are doing spiritually is not just a personal discipline but one that becomes a powerful force of God when the status of our soul is shared with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

My encouragement to all of us who are in small groups, or “classes” as Wesley would call them, is to not shy away from disclosing your troubles with God, but to embrace the character of Christian community that Jesus Christ demonstrated for us. Where many of us have less experience is our involvement in “bands”. The closest example to a band would be Emmaus Share groups at our church. There are a number of us in those groups, but a much larger number that are not. I would challenge you to find someone who has experienced the power of being in a band, and what work God has accomplished through that ministry. I have been amazed at what God has done with the band that I am in. 

Warmly, 

Pastor David

Article first appeared in the October Chimes of Westwood United Methodist Church.