You know I am an admirer and follower of the work Bishop Robert Schnase. He is the presiding bishop of the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church. He wrote the book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
. The five practices are: Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-taking Mission and Service and Extravagant Generosity. These practices may sound familiar to you because we have tried to use these practices as our standard for ministry. Bishop Schnase is also the author of Remember the Future.
Many of you have read this small devotional book; members of our Administrative Council read this book and it inspired our pruning and re-visioning work.
Bishop Schnase’s new book is Just Say Yes. It is a book about how churches can encourage more ministry and reach new people by creating permission-giving environments instead of perpetuating cultures of No. I read an interview of Bishop Schnase by Shane Raynor and thought you might be interested in it.
One of the questions that Raynor asked was: Why do so many churches seem to naturally follow the path of least resistance when doing ministry? What happens when they do? Bishop Schnase responded, “No is easier. Yes is messy. No means not having to learn. Yes means trying new things. No relieves anxiety and causes us to repeat ministries as we’ve done them before. Yes means change. No means stability, status quo, predictability, the same old thing. Yes brings uncertainty, resistance, movement, work and dealing with energetic and passionate people with different ideas. The decline of many churches can be recorded as a succession of No votes through the decades. The growth of many churches can be measured in a series of bold Yeses.”
You can read the entire interview here.
After you have read the article, I hope you will agree that Wesley is a church that says Yes. And that we could say Yes even more often – especially as we “consider the spiritual needs that will be met, the suffering relieved or the lives changed if we try something new.”
And if you are inspired to say Yes, I invite you to join me this Saturday morning from 8:30 am to 12:30 am in John Wesley Hall for our leadership retreat with Paul Pierce.
Just some thoughts – mine and others – along the way as we seek and find the holy in our lives and in church.
I am reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s new book, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong Places. Right away she reminds us “what makes us the saints of God is not our ability to be saintly but rather God’s ability to work through sinners. . . we believe in a God who gets redemptive and holy things done in the world through, of all things, human beings, all of whom are flawed.”
Wow! Doesn’t that give you some permission and encouragement? It does me. It reminds me that God can use even me — and you — despite my flaws and foibles. I spend a lot of time and energy worrying about being perfect and not wanting to do anything that isn’t well thought out and perfect in every way. I want everything we do here at Wesley to not only be our best foot forward but to be our perfect foot forward. I want everyone who meets us – to have the perfect experience of God and of our ministry.
And then . . . I read the statement that is on our website that describes us and I reminded that we already know we are not perfect. Here it is: We are a community of people from many different walks of life, who believe that God has drawn us together to be the visible sign of God’s wildly inclusive love. We believe that God asks us to boldly share God’s love with all people as we seek to follow the path of Jesus. We don’t have all the answers but we ask a lot of questions, we worship, we laugh, we cry, we pray and we serve. We welcome you to join us on the journey of growing in Christ as we seek to be bold witnesses of God’s love.
And then . . . I am reminded that God gets redemptive and holy things done through me (and you) and in spite of me (and you) and sometimes God uses me (and you) and sometimes I (and you) have to get out of the way because as Bolz-Weber writes, “I have come to realize that all the saints I’ve known have been accidental ones . . . .” No one sets out to be a saint. The title of saint is conferred not earned. Bolz-Weber writes, “it is not our ability to be saintly but rather God’s ability to work through sinners . . . people who inadvertently stumbled into redemption.”
May you stumble today! -vickie
“Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?” – John Bell
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (New International Version)
“Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” (Common English Bible)
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. “(The Message)
Brian McLaren urges us to seek to identify with the poor and those in solidarity with them if we want to be disciples of Jesus.
And if we do, will we find more God, the Holy, in us?
Sometimes the things that are near to us are overlooked. That is one of the reasons I started this blog three years ago. I wanted to encourage us to “find the holy” not only in the unexpected places but the places near us – like in a flower growing right outside the kitchen window. I find myself looking for the presence of God out there and ignoring the presence of God near me – as near and as intimate as my very breath. I find my self looking for the presence of God in spectacular events and ignoring God’s presence in simple pleasures and gestures.
Where is God near to you?
“There’s no place like home!” Who doesn’t remember that iconic phrase from The Wizard of Oz?
A place to belong, a place to go from, a place to go to, a quiet place, a place at the table . . . .
So many meanings for “place.”
There’s no place like Wesley!
The word for tomorrow is Wait.
“Do this in remembrance of me.” These are words from The Great Thanksgiving – the responsive prayer from the United Methodist Book of Worship. We hear these words as we break the bread and pour the cup during communion. The thing I love about The Great Thanksgiving is that it is a remembering of our faith journey – from creation to the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a rehearsing and a proclamation of our faith story.
“Gracious and Loving God we give you thanks for those who stand before you and before us to remember and celebrate . . . .” These are the words that I say nearly every Sunday as people come forward to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and other milestones in our lives.
Remembering is such an important part of celebrating.
Brian McLaren writes “faith was never intended to be a destination . . . it was to be a road, a path, a way out of old destructive patterns into new and creative ones. As a road or way (or path), it is always being extended into the future.”
I love the idea that our faith is not a destination – that as long as we are living, we never completely arrive – that we are always on the journey, the road, the way, the path. And Lent is a wonderful time to journey together.
Every Sunday is a day of celebration. There are 40 days in Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, not counting Sundays because Sunday is a day of celebration. Did you celebrate today? In worship? With family? Or friends? In community? At home? Over a meal?
I celebrated yesterday with family and friends over a meal. It was a bridal shower for my new daughter-in-law to-be. It was in her sister’s home with lots of family and friends. It was filled with hugs and laughter. It included food – hot dogs and nachos (it was a baseball theme)! We gathered to celebrate the her upcoming marriage to my son. It was fun, fun, fun!
And it was filled with moments that will be remembered and celebrated for years to come. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus each Sunday – we remember and we celebrate life – each and every Sunday.
Celebrate! Celebrate! Dance to the music!