September 25, 2012

Wesley Sermon Chat

I am getting ready to host the second round of #jwchat, an opportunity to come together as a Twitter community to discuss John Wesley's sermons. Here are some details...

-Our Twitter chat will take place each Thursday night at 9:00pm EST starting on Sept. 27th.
-We will use the hashtag #jwchat for our Twitter conversations.
-We will read and discuss 8 of Wesley's sermons over an 8 week period, reading & discussing one sermon a week. You can find them online here and here. Here is our reading schedule: 

  • On Sin in Believers (#13) (9/27)
  • The Means of Grace (#16) (10/4)
  • Catholic Spirit (#39) (10/11)
  • Christian Perfection (#40) (10/18)
  • Of Hell (#73) (10/25)
  • On Family Religion (#94) (11/1)
  • On Riches (#108) (11/8)
  • On Love (#139) (11/15)
-We will use these 3 questions to guide our discussions each Thursday:
  • If you were to preach this sermon in 140 characters, what would it be?
  • How did you hear God speaking to you through this sermon?
  • What did you discover that is most relevant to your community?
Let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, or plan to join us.

September 10, 2012

Traditional Prejudices

As many of you know, I am a United Methodist pastor in the Indiana Annual Conference. Each clergy member within our conference is required to attend diversity training and professional boundaries class every four years. This past week I attended my diversity training class and walked away with a few observations and questions.

  • The barriers we build or maintain that keep diversity from happening go beyond the gender or race of people in the pews but also the physical space they are sitting in. The physical spaces of our churches can be active barriers to diversity. 
  • During the class I began wondering about the relationship between change and diversity. Does diversity necessitate change? Can diversity happen without a willingness to change? 
  • When we discussed various groups (white males, Asians, African-Americans, LGBTQ, women, American Indians, etc.) I was surprised how the two words “entitled” and “lazy” were used to describe almost each group. Interesting how stereotypes are shared from one group to the next. 
  • I also walked away with the realization of how homogeneous the majority of our churches are in Indiana. My entire table at this class consisted of white males, mostly older. I would guess less than 1/3 of those attending were women, which was the only place any racial diversity was apparent. Most United Methodist churches in Indiana are rural and smaller. All of this made me realize that even our prejudices are “traditional” in nature, by this I mean racial and gender focused. We never discussed prejudices between: urban & rural, economic classes, sexual identities, people with disabilities, big churches & smaller churches, etc. 
Overall I found the class to be helpful and believe we must have these conversations as the Church. We don’t all have to agree but we all have to be open to dialogue.

What thoughts do you have to share about diversity? What has your experience been?

September 7, 2012

Ten Years

Today is mine and my wife's 10yr wedding anniversary. It's crazy to me that ten years have passed already. While I do not claim to be an expert on marriage, never have and never will, I do think there are a couple (of course there are more than just these 2 but I didn't want to bore you too much) things that have helped to make the past 10yrs work for us.

I might also call this servanthood or submission but that would mess-up my attempts at alliteration. Striving to live in humility with each other has opened up the opportunity for us to not only serve each other and look toward the others interest but also say, "Sorry." This word is HUGE in a marriage. This may surprise you to hear this but you are not perfect, neither is your spouse. This fact makes the ability to apologize an important part of a healthy marriage. Humility allows you to not only live with each other but deal with each other in a graceful way on a daily basis, ten years and beyond.

I'm fortunate because my wife is hilarious. I'm surprised how many people don't know this about her but it has given us plenty of laughter over the past 10yrs. It is not uncommon for our sense of humors to feed off of each other to the point of being funny only to ourselves. Laughter is one of the sounds of love. Being able to laugh with, and at, your spouse (and yourself) makes marriage a lot more fun. Give it a shot and see what happens.