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,

Read the full post

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.

Read the full post

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

Read the full post

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

Read the full post

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

Read the full post

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

Read the full post

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

Read the full post

Cultural Anthropology: It’s Time to Dig In (Kwasi Kena)

One of the joys of traveling is discovering the prevailing cultural idioms used by people. In the United States we often use the term “dig in”. Like many cultural idioms, context determines meaning. Dig in could mean “to start eating food with enthusiasm”, or “pressing hard into something else”. In combat, it could refer to soldiers “digging in, as in digging trenches awaiting attack”, or it could mean “preparing yourself for a difficult situation”. In the cultural contexts of ministry class I teach, we learn to become Christian cultural anthropologists; trained observers who learn to discover important things about culture. Before we begin to look at others, however, we must look at ourselves. We liken the practice of cultural self-examination to going on an “anthropological dig”. My Lens: One of Many Cultural anthropologists learn to look for cues that provide insights into what a people group deems as a virtue

Read the full post

Hybrid Class Experiment

This Fall, the faculty of Wesley Seminary are exploring ways in which we can enhance and publicize the advantages of coming onsite to do your MDiv. One experiment this semester is to have some of our online students join those in the onsite class real time. Thanks to those new students who were willing on a moment’s notice to try this experiment with us!  The first week, I thought, was a great success. Stay tuned for possible changes even as soon as January that might entice students in the area to come on campus instead of online or to entice any of you who might be just out of college who might consider moving to this area for the onsite program.

Read the full post

Projection or Presence: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Video Venue Preaching

Video venues are flying off the ecclesial griddle like hot cakes. Everyone seems to be doing it. Some with great success, if success is primarily determined by increased attendance at the multi-site video venue church. Many growing churches are getting behind this trend. Who knows if the trend is here to stay or merely a flash in the pan? Regardless, I am convinced that churches must carefully and prayerfully consider not only the short-term but long-term practical and theological implications of launching a site where the preacher is not present but projected. Here are some of the major pros and cons of video venue preaching. The question that must be asked and answered is, do the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa? Pros of Projection -The most effective preacher gets projected. Let’s face it, there are relatively few preachers who hit the sermonic ball out of the park on

Read the full post