January 27, 2011

What I Will Miss...

Mike, my husband, will retire after 37 years in ministry on July 1. Last Saturday morning, as I was at my desk, spending some time reflecting before going to the Y, I heard a voice downstairs. I knew Mike was home, but at first I thought he was talking on the phone. However, as I listened, I realized he was practicing his sermon. I should have guessed-- he's been doing that for years.

Then I remembered that when the children were home, they often asked, "Do we have to got to church? We've heard dad practice his sermon at least twice today." The answer to that question was always, "Yes."

There are so many rituals I will miss. The rhythm of the week-- Mike's day off on Thursday, watching him bring the sermon home on Friday, his being wrapped in the bulletin, listening to him practice on Saturday-- rarely scheduling anything social on Saturday night, so Mike can get to bed close to 9, and the peak time of the week, four Sunday services, with a gradual let down when he finally left church close to 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon. I can't imagine listening to anyone else preach. Mike's my favorite. I know the pattern of each sermon, carefully patterned after preaching professors at Duke-- Carlyle Marney and John Bergland.

A big change is on the way, and the one to which I look most forward is sitting next to Mike in church-- something I haven't done for 35 years.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

January 17, 2011

To move or not to move

Friends, as you probably know this is the time of year that Staff Parish Committees are meeting across the connection and voting whether or not to ask for their pastor to move or stay.

Although we have been asked to stay and want to stay, that is still no guarentee.

This time of the year is difficult for lots of reasons and I, perhaps like you, have spent much time in prayer during meetings such as these. If the church is healthy, the decision-making process is generally healthy; but if the church is toxic (and about two-thirds are) the process only demonstrates the church's sickness.

Please keep all these parties on your prayer list.

Grace, Kathy

Clarksville, TN

January 14, 2011

Need Your Help

I have recently been praying about the start-up of a national network of Tent Ministers for youth travel sport tournament weekends. Many well intentioned Christians miss out on Sunday worship due to being in a hotel miles away watching their children play soccer or cheer in cheer competitions or (name the sport). The idea is to set up a tent at these tournaments and offer several services on Sunday mornings. Many large churches could spare an associate pastor to meet this need AND to evangelize to the lost during these events.

The name I came up with is... T-E-N-T-S (Tent Evangelism Network for Travel Sports). Not married to this name, but you get the idea. Please pray with me about this ministry and let me know your thoughts or revelations.

Sincerely in Christ,
Scott E. Minnette, J.D., B.S.
Newburgh, IN

January 12, 2011

Peaching Academy

My husband, Mike, is spending the week -- Wednesday through Saturday-- in Louisville, Kentucky, at the National Academy of Preaching.

One of his friends from Georgetown College (Georgetown, Kentucky), Dr. Dwight Moody, asked Mike several years ago to become part of a vision that Dwight had for young pastors. Dwight applied for and received a Lilly Grant insuring funding for the academy. Mike is one of the conveners for sessions in which preachers as young as 14 years have come from all over the nation to present in front of peers and receive comments. Peer groups are also part of the agenda.

Mike called last night so excited. He described the group of young men and women from many denominations including Coptic. Their energy and passion for spreading the gospel were clearly evident in their preaching and conversation. I joked with Mike that he is probably one of the "resident sages" now that he is approaching retirement after 36 years in ministry. I could tell, however, in his enthusiastic reporting that he too, was learning as much from the students as they were from him.

The Academy is held about this time each year. More information as well as tapes of those persons preaching are available at http://www.academyofpreachers.net

Anyone interested in emailing Mike about future participation can reach him at mreed@fishersumc.org or 317-849-1805. (Fishers, Indiana)

God, I thank you for the gathering of those committed to ordained ministry who are gathered in Louisville. Fuel their passion for the gospel and open the hearts of those who hear.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

When do you cancel church services?

Just wondering. Has your church closed and not had Sunday services because of the weather this season so far?


January 7, 2011

Value of Practicing Our Faith

We had a great discussion in Sunday School. As we discussed David's desire to build a temple in II Samuel, the conversation went in an unexpected direction. We started talking about the value of church buildings. Now, you must understand all of these people are active members and many are at the church multiple times a week.

But what is the value of pouring resources into a facility when there is so much need in the world and so little money? True, we need a place to gather and worship. And we need a central home base for planning and housing equipment. But is that all? This question is especially important to us, because we are in process of raising big bucks to build. We have the wonderful problem of being out of space because we are growing.

We all know the church is the people, but it is also a place where the people can practice being the family of God. And we gather because of God, not the church. We all realize that, but living in community is different when you have to physically live together in shared space. It's the difference between sharing a room with your sister and having your own. When you share a room with your sister and get mad, you still have to share despite your feelings. When you don't share a room and you get mad, you can slam the door in her face as you retreat into your privacy.

When you share space you have to deal with things like children running in the halls (it was usually mine), juggling scheduling conflicts, taking turns cleaning up the kitchen or the yard, or even deciding if you're going to use the American flag in the sanctuary. When you get mad at people who you believe are disrespectful, uncaring, lazy, or unpatriotic, you still have to sit and worship together. You still have to share the same altar when you receive Communion.

While having a great big facility can be a blessing, it can also be a hindrance to ministry, especially in terms of using precious resources. But whichever, sharing space is one way we as a family of God can learn to practice our faith by living together. It can help stop us from acting like spoiled children, thinking our way is the only way. And then throwing a tantrum (or withholding our pledge) when we don't get it.

Understanding church this way might even help us detoxify some of our congregations.


Twit, Tweet, Twitter

You know, I really do get the whole Twitter thing, but frankly, most times I simply don't want to be that connected. I even enjoy going phoneless, where I nurse the illusion that no one knows where I am and I am free of social entanglements. But then, I immediately worry if my family might be trying to reach me...and so it goes. I take my phone and make sure it is charged up.


January 3, 2011

Beauties of Being Connectional

Mike (my husband) was enjoying his weekly Monday lunch on December 6, with six other clergy (his wonderful accountability/support group that has been meeting for fifteen years) when his cell phone rang. The caller's number was unfamiliar, but he soon discovered it was from a friend from Duke Divinity School, who pastors a United Methodist church in Raleigh, North Carolina.

His friend told Mike about a family in his congregation who were in the process of moving to Fishers, Indiana, near where we live. The friend asked Mike to connect with the family, not only to welcome them to the area, but to care for them as soon as possible. The family had just lost twins born at 23 weeks in November. There had been a memorial service in Raleigh, but the family wanted to bury the children in Fishers. Mike copied the husband's cell phone number and continued the ministry his friend started.

Mike mentioned the family in his mid-week message, asking for meals and/or other kindnesses to embrace the family at a very difficult time. That same day, enough people responded so that the family had meals every night for three weeks. Cards and visits came for the grieving parents.

When I spent time with the family after the short service at the cemetery on December 18, they commented that they didn't even know what the church looked like, but they surely felt God's love in a new town where they knew no one. I share the story because of the way our connectional system can access easily churches and pastors in a specific area. Although there are two United Methodist churches in Fishers, finding Mike's name as the pastor of one of the churches, made a familiar connection from the beginning.

I also know a United Methodist pastor at another church who leads a support group for parent's who have lost children. When I contacted her, she mentioned that there are two families in the group who had also lost twins this year. I plan to go with the family to the January meeting, hoping to make another connection that will provide a place for them to grieve and heal.

Reflecting on the series of events I was grateful for the way God's love transferred from one congregation to another without "lost time." I truly believe that the thread that binds all congregations and pastors together worked for good in this family's life.

God, we are thankful for the way you use clergy to make connections to keep the flow of your love moving toward hearts that need your care. Amen.

Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana