Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Worship Leader Survey

If you're a worship leader, choir director, or song leader, I'd love for you to take a few minutes and complete a short survey for me regarding how you and your pastor prepare worship together.

Crossing over to the pastoral side from musical leadership, I had very strong opinions on these matters when I was a worship minister, and I'm just curious about how things go for others!

It's anonymous and shouldn't take long.  Thanks in advance!

Click here to take survey

Looking Back: 2nd Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Sunday marked the end of our four week series focused on 2nd Timothy.  This week we see Paul's conclusion to this letter ... A letter of dubious provenance to be sure, but at the same time a beautiful summation of Paul's life in ministry.

Does it cheapen it if this letter was written by a student of Paul rather than Paul himself?  I don't think it does, actually.  If it was written by a student in Paul's voice, that might actually magnify it's impact in my eyes.

Wouldn't we all love to have lived the Christian life to such an extent that someone would write for us an obituary like this one?

Paul told his story, he poured and poured into God's children.  That is our closing challenge from 2nd Timothy.

October 27, 2013 - Celebration from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Lectionary Trap

Yesterday we concluded our October sermon series on the book of 2nd Timothy.  It was great to be able to dwell on this important book of the New Testament, and it was an edifying experience for those in worship to be able to read the letter, essentially from beginning to end in a month's time.

At FUMCA, we follow the lectionary, but we spin things a little differently in that we build sermon series out of the selected texts.  For instance, during the season of Easter, we followed the Acts stream to study how the early church was build.  For the Summer, we followed the Gospel of Luke.  Then, in October we switched streams again to 2nd Timothy.

In doing things this way, it forces us to deal with the tough stuff and actually have an extended bible study in worship.

For instance, in doing a month long study in 2nd Timothy, we were able to pick up a few simple points each week for surviving tough times in ministry.

  1. In the first chapter, Paul points Timothy towards his family as a source of an authentic faith.
  2. In the second, Paul suggests that if Tim is facing tough times, he can look no further than the example of Paul, who follows the example of Christ.
  3. In the third, and beginning of the fourth chapters, Paul tells his student to read his Bible.  Not rocket science there.
  4. And the fourth, Paul wraps up his life's ministry, reminding all of us to be telling our stories.

Through studying one book over a few weeks, we were able to actually go somewhere with the texts.  It does take preparation, to be sure.

The lectionary is an awesome tool for planning worship, it keeps pastors from just preaching on what they're 'feeling' (not that that's always a bad thing ...).  But I do wonder whether we do a disservice to our congregations when we hop from one lectionary stream to another on a weekly basis.  Do we avoid tough topics when we do that?  Do we avoid the narrative of a book when we do that?

As a rookie preacher, I'm just wondering!  I also mean no disrespect to my elders here, just asking the questions.

Preachers: How do you prefer to structure your scriptural preaching patterns?
Congregants: What do you feel you need to hear?  Would you rather jump around, or follow a stream?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Scripture ... useful for teaching

This week, our scriptural focus was again in 2nd Timothy, 3:14-4:5.

Paul here points a struggling Timothy to the Word of God, most notably the Hebrew Scriptures as a source of inspiration in tough times.  That the Word is useful not just for teaching, but also equipping disciples to know what's right and good.

So, how often do you read your Bible?

October 20, 2013 - Celebration from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Friday, October 18, 2013

If ...

We've just begun a sermon series on 2nd Timothy to carry us through October.  Our youth pastor kicked it off, and I picked it back up this week.

In this chapter, Paul is reminding Timothy of his pedigree in Christ, that he has a heritage in his witness that will carry him through these tough times.

And of course, regardless of how hard things are for Timothy, at least he's not in prison ...

October 13, 2013 - Celebration from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Friday, October 4, 2013


We veered off the lectionary a bit this week and stepped back to the Prodigal Son to close out our study of Luke.

I know it's probably my status as a dad of a toddler, but I see God as a parent everywhere I turn.  I just love this story.

September 29, 2013 - Celebration from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


A year and a couple of  months ago I sat down with my District Superintendent to talk about my call to ordained ministry.  I had been called to vocational ministry a long while back, but I had felt God pulling me to something new, that all of my ministry experience was prelude to a big change.

It wouldn't be long before we'd start talking about appointments, and of course, as a non-ordained person, I had a choice to say "No" at any point.  But I didn't, and with my family's support we took an opportunity to be in ministry with FUMC Arlington as a Lay Supply Pastor.  A big shock to the system.  I went from running an extremely well-established and awesomely diverse music program to living my new dream to be in relationship with my generation ... and the lowest man on the pastoral totem pole.  I am totally here to learn the basics to becoming a pastor in the UMC.

And I'm loving it.

I miss my old life in ministry sometimes, I had a ton of fun.  But ... I can finally announce that as of today, October 1, 2013, my appointment is official to FUMC Arlington as a Licensed Local Pastor, complete with all of the amazing responsibilities as a minister of word, order, and sacrament.  I've been warming up my preaching and teaching game for the last six months, but this Sunday will be my first to preside over the table.  Nervous doesn't even begin to describe things!

Sorry for the diary-like nature of this one.  But this whole thing just seems so undeserved.

I am having a total blast.  I'm thankful for the trust of my Bishop, District Superintendent, and the clergy and laity of FUMC Arlington.  I'm so thankful for the many pastors and mentors that I've been in ministry with over the last several years.

Of course, I wouldn't even begin to be on this new road without the support of my amazing wife and super fun kid.

Thanks be to God!