The Integration Paper

Although improvements to our Seminary curriculum have inevitably resulted in some shuffling, Week 14 of each semester has often been the week where MDIV students take all the research they have done throughout the semester and written a position paper on a pastoral issue, bringing Bible, theology, and church history to bear on the topic. The task of speaking to the issues of our contexts is both amazingly simple and immensely complex. For the prophet, it is amazingly simple. God gives you a word and you share it. Amos had no theological education. He was a businessman doing some business when he got the word from God. Oh that it was always that simple! Many more of us are not prophets. We just think we are. We stand up in the pulpit or on Facebook and present our words from the Lord. But all we need to is bring in

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How to Improve Your Welcome (Charles Arn)

Some time ago my family and I moved to a new house and neighborhood, and in the process visited a number of churches in search of a new place to worship. The experience reminded me of how other newcomers must feel in visiting a church for the first time. New faces…new places …new spaces. The truth is, it’s not a particularly enjoyable experience! Here are a few simple ways you can increase the warmth of your church’s welcome; and, as a result, increase the number of first-time visitors who return…and stay. For Starters… Don’t call them “visitors.” According to Webster, a visitor is “…a person who resides temporarily; one who goes or comes to inspect; one who makes a short stay at a place for a particular purpose.” May I suggest you instead use the word guest, defined as: “a person welcomed into one’s house; a person to whom hospitality is

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Cultural Brokers: Prerequisites for Cross Cultural Ministry (Dr. Kwasi Kena)

In 1995, my wife and I spent five months in missionary training prior to our departure to Ghana, West Africa, where we served as overseas missionaries four years. During our training, we took a missiology course at a local seminary, underwent group counseling to discover our strengths and weaknesses related to inter-cultural encounters, and participated in weekly lectures and discussions with educators and missionaries about ways to effectively engage people from other cultures. Of all the information presented, a single term remains embedded in my mind as most helpful—the cultural broker. Various disciplines recognize the value of cultural brokers “anthropology and ethnohistory, health education…education, [and] business” (Michiel, 2003).  The term’s origin dates back to the mid-1900s in the field of anthropology (Michiel, 2003). The cultural broker functions as a go between or an intermediary. In his article, The role of culture brokers in intercultural science education: A research proposal, Michael

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Lessons From a Pile of Rocks

There was a huge rock across the street from my grandmother Wilson’s front yard. As kids the cousins would gather at the rock to play, dream, and conquer. Climbing on top of the rock was a challenge but finding new stories to make up about the rock was an even bigger challenge. That rock was our space ship, home base, bank, and haunted house. Whenever the cousins get together today we inevitably talk about “the rock” and laugh at how small the rock became over the years! For kids rocks are great to climb and spur the imagination and stones are fun to collect and classify, but as adults we don’t typically have a whole lot of use for them other than decorative or to keep unwanted guests out. Joshua 4 gives a great illustration to the value in a pile of rocks and provides a wonderful story of faithfulness,

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Monasticism for Ministers: You Can Learn a lot from a Monk

30 Wesley Seminary students joined me recently for a course I designed called Spiritual Retreat for the Leader. The location for the course was a monastery in Kentucky. Shortly after my return I tweeted, “If I didn’t love my family, job, and ESPN so much, I would join a monastery and become a monk.” I think I actually meant it. The monastic life is appealing to me. I have taken several 3-4 day retreats at the monastery over the past 8 years. I miss my family so much it hurts every time I retreat. There is, though, a small part of me that wants to stay behind at the monastery forever. But God has not called me to be a monk. I am compelled, instead, to incorporate into my everyday “normal” life those monastic practices that most cultivate the soil of my soul for God, the gardener, to grow me.

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Worshipping God, or Ourselves?; or, Why Tradition Keeps Us Faithful (Brannon Hancock)

For 7 years prior to joining the faculty of Wesley Seminary, I gave oversight to music and technology in a church whose worship “style” is decisively “contemporary.” Congregational singing is accompanied by a guitar-driven “praise band” (drums, bass, guitars, piano/keyboard) and augmented by a choir and praise team (3-4 vocalists on individual mics; 25-30 in the choir). At the front of the sanctuary hang two large screens onto which are projected lyrics, scripture readings, videos (for announcements and illustrations), images and graphics intended to reinforce the sermon theme or other elements of the service. The majority of the congregational songs have been published within the past decade, and we add new songs regularly (about one per month). Although many in the congregation may not realize it, our services also incorporated many aspects of traditional or historic Christian worship. As a staff, we identified some “essential elements” of worship that we felt were important

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CHANGE Myths & a Myth Busting Solution (Bob Whitesel)

One of my favorite management magazines, Fast Company, devoted the March 2005 issue to the topic “Change or Die” (Alan Deutschman http://www.fastcompany.com/52717/change-or-die).  It is an important topic for firms to address, as well as for churches (as I hope you have seen from my book “Inside the Organic Church”).  The article “busts some myths” about change.  Here are two and an implication for bringing about change in your leadership collage. Myth 1:  Crisis is a powerful impetus for change:  Alan Deutschman, senior writer for Fast Company, found that “90 percent of the patients who’ve had coronary bypasses don’t sustain changes in the unhealthy lifestyles that worsen their severe heart disease and greatly threaten their lives” (p. 55).  The article points out that people just give up.  They say “what’s the use?” and prepare to give in.  So the import of this research is that a crisis will not “scare” 90% of

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Why the Name Change? (Luigi Peñaranda)

Two questions are typically asked when I introduce myself. Question #1: Are you Italian? The answer is: “No.” Question #2: Do you have a brother named Mario? The answer once again is: “No.” These questions are, in a sense, inescapable since I go by the name of “Luigi.” Truth be told… my name is not Luigi. The story of how I became Luigi, and why I still go by that nickname, is linked to a series of cultural and linguistic exchanges that have taken place over the course of my life. I share bits and pieces of my story here as an invitation to consider how multiculturalism has shaped – and continues to shape – the world. Moreover, I believe that being aware of the complexities that come with multicultural and multilingual exchanges could be very beneficial when reading the New Testament. My legal name is Luis Guillermo. I was

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Sabías tú …Did you know? (Joanne Solis-Walker)

There is something about this time of the year that automatically places me into a forward thinking mode. Perhaps it’s because once September hits, time tends to move at the speed of lightning. I start to think about where I’ve been and what the next year will bring. Can you believe we are a few months away from 2015? Did you know in 5 years we will enter into a new decade?   There is plenty of hype about 20/20 vision and I am not talking about eyesight! Many ministries have set goals and refined the vision. This past Sunday, I joined my husband Dan (Exec. Dir, Love INC Brevard) at a local church in Viera, FL and the pastor asked the congregation to consider the next 5 years and what type of changes they desire to implement in order to be the people God intends for them to be

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Identifying the Obstacles to Church Growth (Charles Arn)

Healthy people grow. Healthy animals grow. Healthy trees grow. Healthy plants grow. Healthy churches grow. Growth is a characteristic that God supernaturally breathed into all living things. And the body of Christ—the local church—is a living thing. So, when a church is not growing, it is helpful to ask: “Why?”  If we understand the reason for a church’s lack of growth, it is easier to accurately diagnose the cause and to prescribe the cure.  Here are the five most common “growth-restricting obstacles”… Growth-restricting obstacle #1: The Pastor. There are three different causes if the pastor is inhibiting the growth of a church: 1. The pastor does not have a PRIORITY. Churches grow when they have a priority for reaching the unchurched. When the pastor doesn’t, the church won’t. (See Luke 19:10) 2. The pastor does not have a VISION. Growing churches have pastors who believe God wants to reach people in their

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