Clergy Services Connexion April 2020 â€” Volume 2, Number 2 A Publication of the Office of Clergy Services Of the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church
Church in the Age of the Covid-19 Virus
Table of Contents A Word from the Editor ............................................................................................................................. Rev. Terry Goodman Doing Church in an Age of Uncertainty and the Covid-19 Virus ................................................................ Rev. Terry Goodman A Letter from the Chair of the BOM .......................................................................................................... Rev. Mickey Rainwater 5 Emerging Trends Impacting Church Life—Leading Ideas ....................................................................... Doug Powe/Ann A Michel From the District Superintendent’s Perspective ........................................................................................ Rev. Jane Taylor
Spotlight on Finances -The Holston Foundation Director’s Article ............................................................................................ Paul Bowman -Holston Foundation Corona Virus Emergency Response Grant ............................................................ Paul Bowman/Larae Collins -10 Ideas for Church Financial Leaders Amid the Covid-19 Crisis—Leading Ideas .................................. Ken Sloane -The Annual Conference Has Provided a Way for Church Members to Give Online .............................. Rev. Tim Jones -A Word from the Treasurer ................................................................................................................... Rick Cherry Youth and Young Adult Ministries Article .................................................................................................. Larua McLean Missional Hubs Update .............................................................................................................................. Rev. Susan Groseclose Something to Ponder– The Changing Face of Worship Attendance .......................................................... Rev. Terry Goodman Numinous—The Spiritual Side of Life ........................................................................................................ Renni Morris Health and Well Being in the Midst of Uncertainty ................................................................................... Rev. Kathy Heustess Thoughts on Evangelism: Get Out of the Middle ...................................................................................... Rev. Jason Roe The Stations of the Cross—A Holy Week Worship Infographic A Prayer for the Denomination in Troubling Times ................................................................................... Mark A. Stamm Discipleship Formation– The Power of Next Steps .................................................................................... Rev. Susan Groseclose Camp and Retreat Ministries Report ......................................................................................................... Rev. Terry Goodman A Devotional Moment: Jesus Christ’s Model Prayer A Closer Look: I went to see a movie and instead I saw the future ........................................................... Jason Fried United Methodist News and Views: BMCR explores “reset” from past to future ..................................... John W. Coleman A Message from the General Secretaries: United Methodists Connected-In Hope and Healing Vanderbloemen Free Webinar Opportunities
8 Cardinal Rules of Running a Virtual Meeting .......................................................................................... William Vanderbloemen Connectional Ministry Corner .................................................................................................................... Rev. Mike Sluder
Who knew, three months ago, that this edition of the Clergy Services Connexion would be overwhelmed with stories that deal with something called Covid-19. Something so small we cannot see it unaided has wreaked havoc in our society and within our churches. Yet. It has. I can’t guarantee that the information in this edition will hold its “accuracy” or “relevancy” beyond the time you receive it due to the fast changing environment that this virus has created. I offer these things for you to consider. Some might be more helpful than others, but, aside from the standing columns (many of which also are affected by Covid-19) I hope to offer you some of the articles that have caught my attention and made me think about things in a different way.
I am no longer in the parish and I can’t imagine how this is affecting the day to day life of those of you on the front lines of ministry. Rest assured, that I am here to help in any way that I can. —Rev. Terry Goodman Publisher and Editor
A Word from the Editor
Doing Church in an Age of Uncertainty and the Covid 19 Virus I have just purchased a Chronological Study Bible. I am a geek when it comes to study bibles with all the charts and extra information. My goal is to do a slow and methodical read through over the next couple of years. Right now I am in Genesis and just finished reading the account of Noah. This Bible paints the figure of Noah as a patient person. God calls on him to build the ark. It takes 120 years for the flood to come. God puts Noah and his family inside the ark. There were the 40 days and night of rain. Then came the 150 days –still inside the boat—that he had to wait for the water to recede.
Written By: Rev. Terry Goodman
It might be a stretch, but in one sense Noah was in a self-imposed (God imposed) quarantine. Have you heard that phrase lately? With the Covid virus wreaking havoc on the lives of people worldwide, governments are asking— some are mandating—that we climb into our arks (our homes) and sort of hunker down. We are waiting for the waters of the virus to recede and to step back out into the sunshine of a new world that will never quite be the same again. Covid 19 has made its mark on all of us in one way or another. One way that it has impacted the church is through mandated closures. At the time of this writing, we had already had one Sunday of church closure within Holston and another was on the horizon. The CDC was saying no gatherings over 50 until May 11th. The President’s council was saying no gatherings over 10 for fifteen days and telling us to not go to restaurants, bars, or food courts.
How does the church be the church in the face of such a world? How do we minister to people when we can’t even gather as the body in a common place to worship? These are the questions that are facing us right now. Even as the Commission on General Conference tells us that General Conference will be canceled, we have to ask ourselves: How can we continue to be in ministry and share the love of Jesus Christ with all the world? I have to admit. I have had a hard time getting my mind wrapped around this whole Covid 19 scenario. Then, being the numbers man that I am, it struck me driving in to work this morning. If it has a 2% mortality rate (some might say more) what would that mean if everyone in America were infected? As of 2017 we had about 327 million residents. In my scenario of complete infection, that would mean that we would have 6.54 million deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017 there were 2.81 million deaths in the United States. Do you see the difference in those numbers? More than twice as many could die from Covid 19 as died from all other causes combined in 2017. It was at this point that my mind started realizing the immensity of this disease. Bear in mind though that this disease abnormally affects the aged. According to February 11, 2020 statistics, of those age 50-51 who contract the disease 1.3% would die. Those in the 60-69 age bracket face a mortality rate of 3.6%. Those in the 70-79 year age range face an 8% mortality rate. Those in the 80+ years age bracket face a 14.8% mortality rate. (as found at https:// ourworldindata.org/coronavirus#case-fatality-rate-of-covid-19-by-age)
This graph from the Pew Research Center, 62% of our members are age 50+. The impact that this virus could have upon our churches is significant. There is no getting around that conclusion.
But this is not all about numbers. It is also about faithfulness in a time of trial and uncertainty. Noah was living in a time of uncertainty. God had declared God’s displeasure with the way things were going in the world. Noah was a righteous man—apparently the last one—since God chose him out of all the peoples of the world to save. Can you imagine what it was like being Noah. Can you imagine the ridicule he must have faced for all those decades: “Hey Noah. Why did you build a boat in the middle of nowhere?” Noah did what was right and remained faithful to God—more importantly God remained faithful to Noah. I think that we need to consider that as we hunker down and that as we close our doors on Sundays, that God will remain faithful to us as we seek to be faithful to God and do the right thing. As we face the uncertain future, let me share some thoughts on how to keep on being the church. 1.) We don’t need a building to be the church. We are the church. The Spirit of God lives within us. Wherever we go we carry God and the message of God with us. 2.) Hunkered down and sheltering in could be a great opportunity for people to grow closer as a family but also to grow in their faith. I’d suggest that churches look for ways to help their people grow stronger. Provide Facebook Bible studies. Provide online packets with family devotions. 3.) Though we might be sheltering in, we are not cutting ourselves off. We are more connected than any other generation in history. This might be the time for the church to deliberately connect with people via email, social media, texting, etc. There is not a lack of connection capabilities out there. Some churches may be pushed into this digital realm for the first time. Others may find new and exciting ways to interact and flourish in the midst of what many might call a disaster for the church. 4.) Llook for those that might not have the connection that most people have. Sometimes, people come to church on Sunday because they need to have that face to face contact. If your folks know of someone like that then encourage them to double their efforts to keep in touch with such persons. They may have to resort to phone calls and cards, but we can’t overlook those that tend to fall into the cracks. God will be faithful. God will sustain us. I don’t know how many rolls of toilet paper Noah had when he was shut up on the ark, but I suspect that he had all he needed. That’s the kind of God we serve. One that meets our needs and exceeds our expectations. Don’t forget to honor this loving God and remember the things God has done for us and is still able and willing to do—even in such an age of uncertainty.
A Word from the Chair of the
Many professions have ongoing “continuing educ seem to embrace those expectations readily; they good of those they serve, ongoing or what is som essential.
Coming Events Apr 2 ............. Appointment Cabinet Apr 15 ........... Appointment Cabinet Apr 16 ........... BOM Spring Meeting (Alcoa, TN) May 20 .......... DCOM recommendations for Provisional & Associate Candidates May 22 .......... Appointment Cabinet BAC Review Jun 4 ............. Ordained and Commissioned Day Apart with the Bishop (Alcoa, TN) Jun 7-10 ........ HOLSTON ANNUAL CONFERENCE (Lake Junaluska, NC) Jun 17 ........... Move day for transitioning pastors
(Due to the uncertainty of future dates, no further dates for 2020 will be published in this edition. The dates above are subject to change.)
Forty years ago, when I shared in my college setti my professors (not a religion professor) called me was going to be. I told him I felt called to the Past whether I was going to be an educated pastor, or to me everything I needed (sarcasm was noted). ministry, as professional ministry, and offered me wanted an attorney, he wanted one who was app case law in order to handle the legal matter in qu wanted a doctor who was likewise appropriately t medicine (no pun intended)” to address the physi the most precious thing God has given me, and I w appropriately.”
I consider his words every time I go to the denti techniques and equipment. Every time I go to a m likewise is current on the latest treatments. And of pharmacist, and I often hear them refer to thei reassuring that my pharmacist is looking out for t
I believe the people we minister to-and-with thr who have chosen to be “life-long learners” in our Ministers Convocation, or other Annual Conferen “best practices,” webinars, or perhaps tools like th Year Assessment.” In order for us to remain excit called to, I urge you to identify and embrace ways our own soul and the souls of those in our care. ~Mickey Rainwater Holston Conference Board of Ordained Ministry
cation” expectations. The ones I know personally y seem eager to learn and they recognize for the metimes referred to as “life-long learning,” is
MINISTRY MATTERS A look at ministry related concerns of the Annual Conference
tting, I was feeling called to the ministry, one of e into his office and asked what kind of minister I toral Ministry. He replied he wanted to know whether I expected to pray and have God reveal He went on to tell me that he viewed church e an image I have never forgotten. He said if he propriately trained and up to date on the latest uestion. He said if he had a medical issue, he trained and able to practice “cutting edge ical issue at hand. And then he said, “My soul is want a pastor who is trained to handle my soul
tist, because I want a dentist who uses the latest medical specialist, I am looking for one who in the congregation I serve, there are a number ir continued training; and you know, I find that those they serve.
rough our local churches deserve clergy and staff r field as well. Whether that is through the annual nce opportunities, Churches that host on-site he EM360 that is a part of our emerging “Eightted about this “soul-handling” work we have s in which you continue to grow, as we tend to
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV
5 Emerging Trends Impacting Church Life By Doug Powe and Ann A Michel January 8, 2020 — Leading Ideas Article Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe and Associate Director Ann A. Michel reiterate the importance of nine major trends they outlined last year. They also name five other emerging trends ranging from the rise of digital ministry to the waning influence of denominational institutions.
Last year, we named some of the major trends shaping the contours of congregational life. (See 9 Top Trends Impacting Church Leadership). These trends are: 1. Changes in church attendance patterns including decreasing worship attendance across the theological spectrum and less frequent worship attendance among “regular attendees” 2. Changing lifestyles, particularly delayed marriage among younger adults 3. Growing income inequality and the disturbing tendency for lower-income families to be dechurched 4. Demographic shifts and increasing cultural diversity that jeopardize the future of congregations unable to adapt to changes in their communities 5. Changes in how people connect with congregations including the eroding paradigm of membership and the importance of entry points other than Sunday worship 6. The imperative of reaching beyond church walls in an era when fewer and fewer people are culturally predisposed to finding their way to church on their own 7. New more organic approaches to faith formation less dependent on traditional preaching and teaching 8. Creative approaches to church financing to enhance economic sustainability in an era when tithes and offerings may no longer be enough
Cutting-edge church leaders understand that the church must live on the internet in ways that go beyond online giving or streaming Sunday morning worship. We are just beginning to see how the internet has the potential to totally redefine how many people engage the Christian faith.
9. Changes in the religious workforce such as an increase in part-time and bi-vocational clergy and more laity in significant ministry roles as paid staff or volunteers We still see these nine overarching trends as dominant factors shaping the future direction of the church in this period of disruptive change. In the past year, however, several other trends have captured our attention. These changes are not wholly unrelated to the overall climate of change reflected in the trends outlined above. In fact, they appear to be consequences of these broader trends as congregations and other religious organization adapt to the evolving ecclesial and cultural milieu.
1. The move to the internet The internet has revolutionized every aspect of our lives — how we engage commerce, entertainment, and education. For digital natives, the virtual realm is real. It’s where they meet people and form and sustain (Continued second page over)
After the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, I started hearing the term “chief missional strategist” used for district superintendents. At the time, I wondered what in the world that meant. Then in 2012, additions were made to that understanding of the role of the superintendent, “The role of the district superintendent is best understood as an ‘extension of the office of the bishop.’ The district superintendent oversees the ministry of the clergy and the churches in the communities of the district, a task that requires pastoral leadership, personnel leadership, administration, and program leadership. The 2012 General Conference also made substantial changes to the ‘Specific Responsibilities of District Superintendents,’ highlighting the expectation that ‘the superintendent will be the chief missional strategist of the district.’ When I became a DS in 2019, I started really asking what it means to be a Chief Missional Strategist and how is that different from a plain ol’ District Superintendent? And… what are the leadership skills and ministry gifts needed in order to serve as Chief Missional Strategist? Is it two roles completely? In every aspect of our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ, relationship is primary — relationship with God and relationship with the world. Jesus’ words to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That’s what it’s ALL about, including Chief Missional Strategist. When we are able to build the relationships, we can be a part of supporting the church in kingdom-building work, living into God’s vision for us. The breath of the Holy Spirit is blowing change for the church as it has existed in the past. Following the lead of God requires District Superintendents, as missional strategists, to empower and deploy God’s people in the world today. The role of the DS is not just as supervisor, not just as extension of the Bishop, but a role that can adapt to the needs of the church and community. The Chief Missional Strategist’s primary function is to make disciples for the transformation of the world. That’s the mission of the church! That’s the primary function for all of us as United Methodists. Sometimes that means making tough decisions and standing by them in the face of criticism. That means that we all work together for the Kingdom of God. That means that we get out into the communities where the churches are. That means that we use the gifts God has given us for the good of the whole. The winds of change are blowing but hopefully in a wonderful direction for all the churches in Holston Conference! My prayer is that the church will be served and vital for a new day. God is about to do a new thing and it includes making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
From the District Superintendent ‘s Perspective By Rev. Jane Taylor Clinch Mountain
(Continued — 5 Emerging Trends Impacting Church Life) relationships. And cutting-edge church leaders understand that the church must also live on the internet in ways that go beyond online giving or streaming Sunday morning worship on Facebook Live for members who are home sick. From online Bible study groups that engage people across the street and around the globe to the formation of new faith communities that exist solely online and from worship services conducted exclusively for online audiences to the embrace of more savvy digital fundraising, we are just beginning to see how the internet has the potential to totally redefine how many people engage the Christian faith.
2. Decreased reliance on denominations The influence and role of denominations in church life continues to wane. For several decades, it has been apparent that people give far less weight to denominational labels in choosing what church to attend. Denominational agencies are shrinking, and many church-related institutions are struggling as their resources and clout diminish. Because of shrinking congregational attendance there are fewer opportunities for fulltime clergy. This translates into more clergy seeking nontraditional ministry opportunities often beyond the purview of denominational hierarchies. Today, even congregations firmly bound to their denominations are more likely to “go it on their own” when seeking educational and program resources, raising up and equipping leaders, and defining themselves on matters of theology, social policy, and practice.
3. New patterns of relating to property and physical location Many congregations, particularly in high-priced real estate markets, leverage the value of their property through rentals or creative space sharing arrangements with mission partners or community groups. But some innovative congregations are going even further in redefining how they live in relation to their physical space. While owning a building has long been a defining characteristic of a mature congregation, we have seen examples of congregations burdened with debt selling their buildings and renting commercial space to free themselves of maintenance concerns and focus resources on mission. Some congregations house their staff in co-working spaces while other congregations are hosting co-working spaces for community members. And some new congregations are investing in mixed-use properties with income generating potential or partnering with commercial developers or retailers to acquire needed space. While these approaches are still the exception to the rule, they may be clues to future financial sustainability.
4. The emergence of new staffing patterns One component of the changing nature of the religious workforce is an increase in paid staff. But it also seems there are notable changes in how churches deploy their staffs as a result of broader workplace trends and changing patterns of ministry. It is more typical today for lay staff to work in program areas like children’s ministry, youth, and music rather than just in administrative or support roles. Congregations increasingly look for staff with specific skills in communication, marketing, fundraising, and other needed specialties. The traditional role of church secretary is being reshaped, or in some cases replaced, due to advances in software and electronic communication. And newer approaches to religious education and Christian formation are less likely to rely on a full-time Christian educator, whether clergy or lay.
5. Changes in worship music According to the National Congregations Study, the percentage of congregations incorporating choir singing into their worship fell from 54 percent in 1998 to 45 percent in 2012. While choirs are still strong in black Protestant and Catholic congregations, the downward trend was pronounced in white Protestant churches. In 2012, people in only about one third of white Protestant churches heard a choir sing at its most recent
main worship service. Many factors could be at play â€” a trend toward more informality in worship, the rise in satellite services, aging voices, and fewer people willing to commit time to rehearsal. But another factor may be generational and cultural changes in how people experience and consume music. Scott Chrostek, pastor of Resurrection Downtown in Kansas City, says â€œIf you stop to think about it, the church is the only place where people are invited to sing aloud to songs they do not know in front of total strangers.â€? He says many of his Millennial worshippers did not grow up with group singing as a regular staple of family and community events, as their parents and grandparents did. There are, of course, a myriad of other forces at work in the changing landscape of congregational life. But these five trends rose to the surface in our work and research over the past year.
The Holston Foundation is committed to educating pastors, individuals, and congregations about the tools and techniques that individuals and churches can use to get their financial affairs in order. The Foundation is uniquely empowered by The Holston Annual Conference to administer, manage, and invest endowments, charitable trusts and special purpose funds. The Foundation is also charged with encouraging and promoting estate planning/planned giving options for individuals to support their local church and other United Methodist ministries. The Foundation’s resources are balanced between managing endowments and other existing funds and encouraging giving to the local church. We do not fundraise for the Foundation. We work
Spotlight on Finances
throughout the conference to promote better understanding of the various giving options available to individuals, and to provide an increased awareness of the many needs where charitable gifts can make a lasting impact for your church. Most individuals set up an endowment from their estate plan to memorialize someone or to ensure that the ministry that they care about continues after they are gone. Foundation staff enjoys working with individuals, crafting together a donor agreement that guides the administration and criteria of the fund. We often address the individual’s “hopes, dreams and fears” of leaving money to their church. Input from the church or the pastor is very helpful to ensure that the fund is in line with the church’s vision and mission. I frequently have conversations with pastors and church leaders concerning the endowments that were created years ago and that are currently benefiting a particular ministry or the general budget of the church. It is a joy to see how one’s thoughtfulness makes a difference in the lives of others. Promoting endowments or other legacy gifts in your church is simple-we do the heavy lifting for you. The Foundation’s staff will help you draft a strategy that involves customized materials, present the popular Provide & Protect workshop and pass an Endowment and Planned Giving Ministry charter through the church leadership channels.
We invite you to consider working with us in promoting life-impacting giving and potentially expanding your ministry as a result. Paul Bowman Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 20, 2020
Apply for Coronavirus Emergency Response Grants from the Holston Foundation Today The Holston Foundation announces $50,000 in Coronavirus Emergency Response Grants.
Grant funds are specifically for United Methodist churches and related ministries within the Holston Conference that are addressing the immediate impact of COVID-10 and meeting the needs of the community. Funding requests may be for existing programs that have seen an increase in need or for new programs developed as a response to the crisis. Examples of programs include (but are not limited to) food pantries, transportation needs and support for shut-ins. Grants awards will range from $500 to $2,000. The people of The United Methodist Church seek to help those who are sick, hurting and the most vulnerable among us. â€œChurches and ministries have stepped up to help fill in the gaps during this crisis to share the love of Christ and help meet needs. We are releasing funds from our reserves to come alongside the local church so that together we can respond to the crisis,â€? Paul Bowman, Holston Foundation executive director, said. To apply visit www.holstonfoundation.org. Grant applications must be received by Monday, April 6. ### Contacts:
LeRae Collins, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org Paul Bowman, Executive Director, email@example.com
10 Ideas for Church Financial Leaders Amid the COVID-19 Crisis BY KEN SLOANE ON MARCH 18, 2020 LEADING IDEAS
Spotlight on Finances
We hope that your church leaders have already discussed and put in place some steps to minimize the exposure of Sunday attendees to a highly contagious virus. However, if your plans have not included what you will do if you are not able to open your doors for worship on Sundays, you haven’t planned far enough. Numerous good resources are available for churches about how to prepare for the reality of the spreading COVID-19 virus. The following list of ideas is specifically directed to financial leaders across the church to help with sustaining the church and its ministry (and perhaps growing it in areas) as we live through these Coronavirus days.
1. The digital giving debate has heard the last word: Corona. If you have already set up for people to give electronically to your church, you have a head start in weathering whatever the COVID-19 storm brings. If you haven’t found a vendor and signed on, there is no time better than today. Start comparing providers, talk to other churches about their experience, and read reviews online. If you’re not ready to make a commitment to embrace online giving options, consider setting up something to get you through this difficult time. PayPal, just one example, will offer charitable organizations an online donation service with a low fee of 2.2 percent and .30 per transaction. Some of your members may already have PayPal accounts.
2. Encourage members to look into billpay. Ask your members to see if their banks offer a “BillPay” option. They can set up the church as a regular payment they make, and the bank generates an electronic check and sends it via USPS (United States Postal Service). The bank I use doesn’t charge for this, and it even covers the postage!
3. Give passing the plates a break. Position baskets in convenient places. Because of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, people need to be conscious of what they touch that has been touched by others; and in churches, that includes offering plates. During this time of heightened virus awareness, you may want to consider placing boxes or baskets (or the offering plates themselves) in convenient places, so people can leave their offerings without handling an offering plate that others have handled.
4. Counters handle dirty dollars. Take precautions. Unfortunately, offering envelopes and cash provide an effective vehicle for transmitting this very hardy virus. Provide your counters with hand sanitizer and gloves (be conscious that some people are allergic to latex) as they do their work of counting and recording. Make sure counters space themselves at a distance from one another. The image of a counter licking his or her finger before counting a stack of bills should set off alarms from your church to the CDC. Take precautions!
5. Sunday gatherings may become a problem. Have a “Plan C.” We hope that your church leaders have already discussed and put in place some steps to minimize the exposure of Sunday attendees to a highly contagious virus. However, if your plans have not
included what you will do if you are not able to open your doors for worship on Sundays, you haven’t planned far enough. Being prepared to have a worship experience via video streaming or Facebook Live (make sure you have proper licensing permissions), or through video or audio-conferencing technology to keep your congregation connected is essential.
6. Schedule giving reminders for Sunday delivery. If you are already using email for the delivery of newsletters and other church communications, it’s OK to set up a scheduled email to go out Saturday night or early Sunday morning to remind people that the need for their giving and support continues, even if the church has cut back or has had to cancel gathering and corporate worship services.
7. Be conscious of the income impact on members. For some of your members, the present Coronavirus crisis will not affect their incomes. Some will be offered the opportunity to work at home, which well be a savings opportunity. Not everyone, though, will be in that situation. Some will see their income seriously affected by the social distancing that is attempting to slow the spread of the disease. Things like traveling, going out to dinner, cutbacks in entertainment, reduced hours, or overtime all carry potential hardships for people who were already just getting by. Make sure your church is conveying this sensitivity in all its communications.
8. Older members seem more at risk. Reach out regularly. We have been hearing through media accounts that older people are more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus. Be sure that you are taking extra care to keep in contact with older members. Just as you develop a plan for worship alternatives, a strategy for pastoral care is important in these days. This does not have to fall totally on the pastor and staff, but laity who have the gifts can be recruited to call and check in on a list of older members on a regular basis. It’s not hard to imagine that fear of going out to even the grocery store may put some people in need of basic food supplies. Just because other programming may be affected by the virus precautions, your church needs to continue—and maybe even strengthen—these basic caring connections through this crisis.
9. Consider a coronavirus assistance fund. It’s a fact. In a time of hardship, people look for a place to give. Consider offering your congregation (or the community as a whole) an opportunity to provide designated giving to a Coronavirus Assistance Fund. A scarcity mindset may tell you that people will divert money they would give to your church operating budget, but this is rarely the case. Setting up such a fund will require a meeting of your finance committee to organize the fund and set guidelines; your church council may need to approve it. Both meetings could be done by phone or video conference, if necessary. You will be impressed with the generosity of people, and you will remind your members and community that you care and are ready to be in ministry no matter what comes your way!
10. Send messages of hope, encouragement, and impact. It seems clear that church life is going to be affected by this crisis. As you communicate with your congregation, be a voice of hope and encouragement – we will get through this. Knowing that one of the main reasons people give to any charitable organization is “belief in the mission,” try to celebrate in your communications that the church continues to make an impact. Tell stories of people your congregation has helped, of lives that they have nurtured and shaped by their giving.
The article was originally posted to the website of Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Used by permission.
Spotlight on Finances
The Annual Conference Has Provided a Way for Church Members to Give Online We have been working with Brick River, our website company, to create a way for your churches to give online. The following link, https://holston-reg.brtapp.com/ChurchOffering, has been set up for your congregants to be able to donate directly to your church. Once they click on the link, they will fill out their name, address, phone, and email. They will select your district from a drop down menu, and then they can select your church. Finally, they select the amount they would like to give and hit the blue button. This will take them to a screen where they can enter their debit/credit card information. The whole process takes about 1 minute. After discussing with our finance department, the decision was made to make this tool free, and the conference will pay all fees associated with online giving. This means 100% of the gift will go to your church. Disbursements will be made on Fridays. Please allow up to 10 business days for our finance team to process and send you a check. As of right now, this we be an emergency tool only, and we will continue using it while churches are unable to gather due to the coronavirus pandemic. If your church does not currently offer online giving, I would suggest two things: Take advantage of this free tool. Begin researching online giving tools to implement for your church. There are many tools and companies available for online giving. Below is an article and a few links to companies I know some of our churches are using. If you have any questions, feel free to reply to this email or give me a call at 865-293-4145. Thanks for all you are doing! Blessings,
Tim Jones Director of Communications Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church
I writing you this for three purposes.
One, to explain in very easy language how the online giving mechanism we have established will work. Two, to report the online giving as of 11:30 Friday 3/20/20. And lastly to let you know steps we are taking to preserve liquidity during this unprecedented time. First, very simply we have in place a system by which a donor can go online and donate money to their local church. We access the report and print the spreadsheet. All pertinent information for the donation A Word from the Treasurer entered by the donor (ie. Church name, address, donation amount and various other things). We are planning on processing the report and sending the donation directly to the church. We will accumulate the report Saturday thru Friday and the checks will be issued no later than the Friday following the week of the donation. It is my hope that we have a faster turnaround, but depending on volume it may take the full week to get it all complete. The church will be provided a report that indicates all the information of the donor and the church will include the amount on the annual giving statement. Currently, 65 persons have donated a total of $10,577.00. Following the above mentioned method, the church will receive the check for the donation no later than Friday, 3/27/20. I am actually encouraged that the response has been this well received thus far. Lastly, I have along with the executive team requested that only essential invoices and requisitions be paid as we navigate through this situation. Cash flow is ultimately important during this period. Reserves are depleted because of market volatility. Now is not a good time to draw down those accounts. Please do not hesitate to call me if you have questions. I am determined we are going to do this right and do what we are called to do, help the local church. Rick Cherry Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church Conference Treasurer and Director of Administrative Services 217 S. Rankin Rd/ PO Box 850 Alcoa, TN 37701 firstname.lastname@example.org 865-690-4080
As we venture into this uncharted territory with school closures, church cancelations, and social d feeling of anxiety and unknown future to the days following 9/11. I was in a student at Emory & H and the days following were scary and unknown, I think what helped me the most was the comm “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” We all know that commu of social distancing, how can we experience community?
I think this is an important question for all of us, but particularly for our young people. Their wor in the matter of a few days. If we can offer some community at a distance, I believe it will help ou that churches are already doing this.
-Bible study by Zoom video conference. Zoom offers free accounts for meetings up to 40 minutes you can share files, etc. -Create a hashtag for your group. Encourage people to share photos, tweets, and posts with that everyone is up to during their time apart. -Send daily scripture texts, emails, social media posts. Encourage people to post comments.
-Have a quarantined scavenger hunt and invite students to send their photos on Instagram or text Conference Youth Ministry’s (link https://www.facebook.com/HolstonYouth/) Facebook page. A you are aren’t meeting in person.
- Check in on the young people you work with and with their families. If there are needs that your
What has been working for you? Please share ideas on our Facebook page, or email them to me them.
distancing Iâ€™ve heard many people compare the Henry College in 2001, and while September 11 munity of which I was a part. Psalm 133:1 says, unity is an important part of life, but in this time
rld (like everyone elseâ€™s) has changed drastically ur students. I would love to share a few ways
s. Participants can see and speak to each other, hashtag so that all members can see what
t them to you. There is an example on Holston fun activity everyone can participate in while
r church can help meet, step in!
(email@example.com) so that I can share
Youth and Young Adult Ministries Laura McLean
A place where our churches connect, birth and nurture mission ideas, and engage in relationship-building ministries for the transformation of the community and the World. and experiences, as lead pastor at Impact Church in the Atlanta area, he led us to explore ways that Missional Hubs can have the greatest impact in our communities.
On February 28-29, 2020 Holston Conference Missional Hub leaders gathered for a time of learning, sharing, and designing ways to be creative and innovative. The training event began with Anne Bosarge affirming that God created each one of us to be creative whether as a systems thinker, musician, storyteller, teacher, organizer, communicator, relationship builder, artist, problem-solver, architect, innovator, provider, reconciler, or motivator. She led us to tap into our creativity through a variety of exercises and conversations. Check out her book, Get Out Of That Box: Realizing Personal Potential and Enhancing Team Collaboration To Move Ministry Forward or her blog at www.brightideasforchurchleaders.com for outof-the-box creative ideas and resources for your ministry. Olu Brown, author of Leadership Directions From Moses and 4D Impact: Smash Barriers Like A Smart Church led the group to explore ways to work within the creative tension that occurs during times of chaos, uncertainty, and difficult conversations. He reminded us to remember our â€œburning bushâ€? moments, deeply listen to where God is calling, and to see what God is blessing in our Missional Hubs and communities. Through personal stories
The ideator, Phil Schroeder, offered a multitude of effective, high-impact ideas to enhance and create fruitful ministries within our congregations and communities. We also explored ways to move beyond the time traps and soul sapping areas of ministry that often times prevent us from focusing on creativity and innovation. Phil is the author and coauthor of many books including, Small Church Checkup and Launching Leaders: Taking Leadership to New Heights.
Throughout the weekend, district teams had an opportunity to share ideas, discuss ways to tap into their creative thinking skills and innovation within their own Missional Hubs, and to design their next steps. Plus, we launched the new webpage at: https:// www.holston.org/missionalhubs where the training PowerPoint presentations are posted along with other stories and resources. Reverend Susan Groseclose, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries for Discipleship, is documenting the work of Missional Hubs. As your missional hub plans and implements their work, she is available to answer questions, provide training or resources, and assist your Missional Hub. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-6904080.
The Changing Face of Worship Attendance by Rev. Terry Goodman
Consider the following hypothetical scenario: You have a church with 100 people. All 100 attend 4 Sundays out of the month. That means that in a 4 Sunday month (letâ€™s ignore 5 Sunday months for this example.) You would have a total of 400 attendees and an average attendance of 100. Now assume this: 25% of those 100 people attend only 3 Sundays of the month. That would mean that your total attendee number is now: (25 persons x 3 Sundays) + (75 persons x 4 Sundays) = 375 total attendees divided by 4 Sundays give you an average of 93.75. Now assume this scenario: 50% attend 4 Sundays, 25% attend 3 Sundays, 25% attend 2 Sundays. The equation would now look like this: (50x4) + (25x3) + (25x2) = 325 total attendees for the month. The average per Sunday would be: 81.25 per Sunday. Now assume this scenario: 25% attend 4 Sundays, 25% attend 3 Sundays, 25% attend 2 Sundays, and 25% attend 1 Sunday. The equation would look like this: (25x4)+(25x3) + (25x2)+(25x1) = 250 total attendees. The average per Sunday would now be 62.5 persons. What is constant in all of these scenarios? The fact that there is a total of 100 persons active in this church. The variable is that not all 100 persons attend church each and every Sunday. This means that, while you may be ministering to 100 people on a monthly basis, you might, as in the last scenario, only have an average attendance of 62.5 persons for that month. Since no church has perfect attendance all the time by all its members, I would suggest that in addition to looking at the average attendance, you also begin looking at the total attendees in a given month and the frequency of those attendees. If you can get someone to move from one Sunday a month attendance to 2 or 3 or even 4 Sunday a month attendance, then you will see an increase in your attendance and also an increase in your influence since you will have extra Sundays on which to impress the ministry and mission of the church. I am all for getting new people in the church, but I am also all about getting those that are already in to make a deeper commitment to attend on a regular basis.
Something to Ponder
Although I am no longer in the local parish, one of the topics that I still think about is that of worship attendance. For the 34 years I did serve in a local church, I noticed that people started to attend less often. These same people though would not consider themselves any less involved in the life of the church if their pattern went from 4 Sundays a month to 3 or 2 Sundays a month. Being the numbers kind of person that I am, I came to realize the following scenario might be taking place.
The Spiritual Side of Life
By Renni Morris Director of Spiritual Formation-First Farragut UMC
I am a big fan of mysteries. I started reading them when I was about seven and I’ve never stopped. Sometimes I skim over boring parts and if it gets too exciting, I’ve been known to skip to the last page or two just to be sure everything turns out okay. That doesn’t ruin the story for me because I go back and finish the book, but I miss details and the surprising twists and turns that make the book more interesting. I consume mysteries but I don’t feast on them. I confess that sometimes I’m tempted to read the Bible the same way: skimming, skipping or rushing to a conclusion. I miss the feast. Students are typically trained to read for information. That serves us well a technique in sermon preparation, teaching or supporting arguments or perspectives. We may have never learned the need to read Scripture for formation. Formational reading leads to transformation at the heart level and it offers deep insights or opportunities for God to stop us in our tracks and reveal something new to us.
Information vs. Formation
When we read Scripture for information or knowledge alone, we miss the boat! The attitude of the heart and Informational Reading Formational Reading mind matter. Cover as much as possible as quickly as possible.
Read smaller portions rather than quantity.
Look for meaning, truth, or principles to apply.
Look for multiple layers of meaning in a single passage
Master the text
Allow the text to master you.
Control the text
Be shaped by the text.
Analyze, criticize, and judge
Take a humble, detached, willing, loving approach.
Solve the problem
Be open to mystery. Let God address you with the text.
Don’t Starve Yourself!
Formational reading requires an investment of time, but Richard Mulholland assures us there is a return on that investment. He says, “It will also begin to spill over into other areas of your life, gradually enabling you to become more open, more receptive, more responsive to God in your daily life.” That is where we find transformation.
LORD God of heavenly force
God wants us to sit at the feast! W need to remember we belong to G us to speak of God (Ezekiel 3) an make us sick to our stomachs at mouth (Revelation 10:9 and Psal
In Eat This Book, Eugene Peters Holy Scripture nurtures the holy c body. Christians don’t simply lear assimilate it, take it into our lives into acts of love, cups of cold wat and evangelism and justice in Jes of the Father, feet washed in com
We may even read the Bible in ways that starve our souls. We are busy, we have deadlines, and we want to serve everyone else. Our good intentions tempt us to miss the joy and delight of simply spending time in Scripture.
Learn to Feast on Scriptur
Jeremiah 15:16 reminds us: When your words turned up, I feasted on them; and they became my joy, the delight of my heart, because I belong to you,
A Wesleyan Approach
Slow down and enjoy the feast. F that works for you.
John Wesley suggested the follow Set aside a specific time for B you are not distracted.
“having a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of divinity.”
es. Jeremiah 15:16
Read both the Old and New Testaments. Don’t ignore any part of the Bible. Read “with a single eye, to know the whole will of God, and a fixed resolution to do it.” Watch for fundamentals about faith. Pray before, during, and after you read the Bible. Reflect and respond (sit quietly, journal, etc.). Consult with others (small group, spouse/partner, friend, etc. – other writings, nature, tradition, reason, experience).
A Quaker Approach Richard Foster suggests the following: Really listen to the text. Submit to the text. Reflect and engage with the text. Pray the text. Apply the text. Lectio Divina Spiritual practices like lectio divina (holy or divine reading) can help us learn to approach Scripture in a life-giving way. Learning to focus on a single word or phrase in Scripture offers guidance, comfort or even challenge. My Prayer: Lord, help us slow down and feast on Your Word! Use the Scriptures to transform us so Your love and grace pour out of us and into the world.
We can experience joy and delight. We God. Time spent in Scripture prepares nd it reminds us that what we read may times, but it is sweet as honey in your m 119:103).
References and Resources Life with God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation by Richard J. Foster Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson Shaped by the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr. https://www.upperroom.org/resources/lectio-divina-praying-the-scriptures
son says, “Christians feed on Scripture. community as food nurtures the human rn or study or use Scripture; we in such a way that it gets metabolized ter, missions into all the world, healing sus’ name, hands raised in adoration mpany with the Son.”
Upcoming Upper Room 3-5 Day Academies for Spiritual Formation® in Our Region October 4-9, 2020 – Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina October 18-23, 2020 -- Dickson, Tennessee December 6-11, 2020 – Richmond, Virginia May 16-21, 2021 – St. Simons, Georgia May 19-22, 2021 – Nazareth, Kentucky
For additional information visit https://academy.upperroom.org/events/category/ shorter-academies-schedule/
Find a way of feasting on Scripture
wing: Bible reading each day – a time when
Health and Well Being in the Midst of Uncertainty My Administrative Assistant, Donna Felskie, recently informed me that I had officially reached the 100th client since starting as the Director of the Holston Center for Wellbeing in July of 2018. It has been my privilege to listen and walk alongside the clergy, clergy families, district, and conference staff of the Holston Conference these past few months. It is definitely a unique time of ministry in the United Methodist Church. In addition to the regular stresses and strains of ministry, many are unsettled by what may happen as a result of the next General Conference. Divorce seems inevitable. And just like families, we, the children of divorce, experience a keen sense of uncertainty, as our parents in the faith separate and divide the assets. We all like certainty. We all like things to be fixed, settled, and consistent. We find no small amount of comfort and assurance when things are predictable and known. But what if they are not? What if the future is unclear, unpredictable, and difficult to understand? What if chaos, confusion, and disorganization seem to be the order of the day? Most everyone will begin to feel anxious. And we attempt to mitigate our anxiety in a variety of ways. Church leadership is complex, even in the best of circumstances. Our churches are experiencing an unprecedented season of uncertainty and irregularity. It is extremely difficult to be a “less anxious presence” amid shrinking membership, uncertain finances, and a yet to be determined future. If we were to be perfectly honest with ourselves, much of what is happening is beyond our control. So if it is beyond our control, why do we carry so much stress? Perhaps because at some level, we feel responsible. We take our ordination vows seriously and we want to be faithful in bringing the Kingdom of God to the earth. But what about the Holy Spirit? Do we not trust that the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing? Can we not take a few steps back and rest in the knowledge that God is still at work in the business of transformation? We are in desperate need of transformation on many levels!
Holston Center for Well Being Rev. Kathy T. Heustess Director 2507 Mineral Springs Road Suite B Knoxville, TN 37917-1549 O—(865) 692-2390 F—(865) 692-2393 C—(843) 421-3536
So what can you do as a “responsible” minister of the Gospel? Pray the Serenity prayer regularly! Find serenity, rest, and renewal in recognizing what you can control and what you cannot. You do have control over your own self-care. You can be proactive about the ways in which your body, mind, spirit, and relationships are continually being renewed and transformed, so that you can be faithful to your calling in ministry. In the words of Reinhold Niebuhr: “GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.” AMEN.
Rev. Jason Roe General Evangelist
THOUGHTS ON EVANGELISM Get Out of The Middle By the time you read this we are either beginning to come to grips with the coronavirus and the economic calamity or we are glad this came by email because we can't leave our homes and its good to have some more reading materiel. Either way, I'm glad my faith is in Christ in whom we can trust. May the Lord give you peace in the midst of the storm. I'm not old but I'm not young either. I often find myself stuck between dueling generations. One minute I'm watching my parents struggle with a smart phone and the next minute hearing my teenagers say the smart phone is moving to slow for them. I watch my parents labor in the kitchen to fix nice meal for the family while their grandchildren pop a meal in the microwave and are fully content. I have to admit, I used to get frustrated a bit trying to balance being the son/father. I thought it was my responsibility to mediate between the two and explain why each of them did things the way they did. Finally, I made the decision to just get out of the way and low and behold I learned I wasn't really needed as much as I thought. I've learned that my job is not so much to explain one to the other but to bring the two together.
I think the disciple Andrew new the feeling of being stuck in the middle but it wasn't between his parents and his children. It was between Jesus and the movement that sweeping across Jerusalem and Judea. I think we see Andrew model a very powerful concept of Evangelism. One where he recognized that his job was not to stand in between the people and Jesus but to simply take the people to Jesus. Have you ever paid close attention to the places in the scripture where Andrew was in-action? In John 1:41-42 it says, Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”). We find Peter in action again in John 6 in the midst of thousands of people he finds a boy and the scripture says, Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” You can almost read Andrews mind. If I can just get this kid and Jesus together, something special might happen. As we move through the Gospel of John, Andrew must have been building the reputation of one who brings people to Jesus. In John 12:20-22 it says, Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration 21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” 22 Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. What would it look like, if we adopted this model of evangelism? Where we trusted Jesus so much that we just brought people to Him and allowed him to do the explaining, the transforming, the healing, and the saving. Sometimes it’s just better to get out of the middle and just bring people Jesus. He is fully capable of working out the details.
“I don’t know all the answers but I know who does”
A resource infographic to use during Holy Week devotions from our Catholic friends. -TDG
A Prayer for the Denomination in Troubling Times A Collect for the United Methodist Church written by Mark W. Stamm
“God of the Ages, who called Abraham and Sarah to journey to a land that you promised: Guide the people called United Methodist through our current distress to a place of peace and rekindled vision, that we may yet participate in the transformation of the world, and that our neighbors may find in us generous friends; through Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (Mark W. Stamm, copyright ©2020) As Found at:
https:// www.umcdiscipleship.org/ articles/a-collect-for-the-unitedmethodist-church-notes-andthoughts-on-creative-process March 20, 2020
In a recent article, A re Y ou Teaching People About Faith? Or How to Practice It? By Johannah Myers (Lewis Center for Church Leadership, March 11, 2020), Myers stated:
Discipleship Formation Power of Next Steps
For a long time, churches have focused on forming disciples through educating people — teaching the Bible, teaching doctrine, and teaching beliefs. We instituted the model of formal education — a schoolhouse model with Sunday School classes for every different age level focused on imparting information. And we assumed people would figure out on their own how to put faith into practice once they’d had a chance to learn.
But discipleship is more about formation than it is about information. Thinking about discipleship through the lens of formation means we help people grow by focusing on how they practice faith in all aspects of their lives. Some of that involves education. But to a greater extent, it’s a matter of providing space for people to put faith into action. How are we coming alongside people in our churches and our communities to help them grow and mature as followers of Jesus? It’s a subtle shift, but it’s an important one. As I look back on the early days of my career as a Christian Educator, I was often teaching people how to be a good church member rather than a faithful, fruitful disciple of Jesus Christ. Discipleship focused on regularly attending Sunday School, serving as a leader in the church, participating in mission projects, and generously giving their tithes and offerings. However, several years ago, I had a subtle shift in my perception and realized a powerful tool, “next step”, as a way to guide and to lead myself and others to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and others. Recently Susan Arnold, pastor at Blountville UMC and I met with Anna Lee, pastor at Cokesbury UMC, to learn ways to create an environment of, “Next Step” in forming disciples of Jesus Christ. Each worship service and/or sermon intentionally names “next step” opportunities for persons to grow in their discipleship. Trained greeters meet with guests to share information about their next steps as a disciple rather than a member of the church. Small groups are more important to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ rather than attending Sunday School. Opportunities for persons to take their next step in ministries of compassion and justice or generosity becomes part of person’s culture. Resources, such as a daily Bible reading bookmark, is a useful tool to encourage persons to take their next step to read scripture each day, whereas, small group sessions to practice Lectio Divina allows persons to take another step in prayerful reading and application of scripture to their own lives. Simply saying, “Attending Ash Wednesday service might be your next faith step to begin your Lenten journey with Christ to the cross.” Or “Attending Ash Wednesday service might be your next faith step to experience the spiritual practice of examen.” are subtle shifts in coming alongside persons in your congregation and helping them grow as a mature follower of Christ rather than merely announcing a worship service. Want to know more or explore ways to use 8 key spiritual practices to create an environment of next faithful steps in your congregation, contact Susan Groseclose at email@example.com.
A Word from the Editor
Camp and Retreat Ministries
Rev. Mary Thompson Executive Director of Camp & Retreat Ministries POB 850 Alcoa, TN 37701 (423) 667-8269 firstname.lastname@example.org
To support our camps with camper scholarships, annual campaigns, or capital campaigns please click on this logo.
This is not what is supposed to be written in this space. It is not written by the person who was supposed to write this column. Let me speak on behalf of Mary Thompson and the Camp and Retreat Ministries. At the time of this writing, Mary and her team are in the midst of frantic decision making. They have done nothing wrong. This column was supposed to showcase and promote their upcoming summer camp experiences at which lives would be changed and souls would be saved. However, COVID 19 has placed a shadow over their efforts. Decisions are being made about whether or not camp can even be held and if so will it be in the same format or will there have to be changes. Camp and Retreat Ministries needs your support at this time. Lift them up in your prayers. Continue to provide funding for scholarships. Continue to plan on sending your children to camp. Continue to have faith in God that “All things will work together for good…”
Looking for a quick devotional moment to share?
I went to see a movie, and instead I saw the future
A few days ago my wife and I went to see Uncut Gems at a Regal theater in Chicago. We booked our ticket online, reserved our seats, showed up 15 minutes ahead of time, and settled in. After the coil of previews, and jaunty, animated ads for sugary snacks, the movie started. About 20 minutes in, a loud, irritating buzzing started coming from one corner of the theater. No one was sure what to make of it. Was it part of the movie? We all just let it go. But it didn’t stop. Something was wrong with the audio. It was dark, so you couldn’t see, but you could sense people wondering what happens now. Was someone from the theater company going to come in? Did they even know? Is there anyone up in the booth watching? Did we have to get someone? We sent a search party. A few people stood up and walked out to go get help. The empty hallways were cavernous, no one in sight. Eventually someone found someone from the staff to report the issue. Then they came back into the theater to settle in and keep watching the movie. No one from the theater came into the theater to explain what was going on. The sound continued for about 10 more minutes until the screen abruptly went black. Nothingness. At least the sound was gone. Again, no one from the theater company came in to say what was going on. We were all on our own. The nervous, respectfully quiet giggle chatter started. Now what?
A CLOSER LOOK
A few minutes later, the movie started again. From the beginning. No warning. Were they going to jump forward to right before they cut it off? Or were we going to have to watch the same 25 minutes again? No one from the theater company appeared, no one said anything. The cost of the ticket apparently doesn’t include being in the loop. Eventually people started walking out. My wife and I included.
As we walked out into the bright hallway, we squinted and noticed a small congregation of people way at the end of the hall. It felt like finally spotting land after having been at sea for awhile We walked up. There were about eight of us, and two of them. They worked here. We asked what was going on, they didn’t know. They didn’t know how to fix the sound, there was no technical staff on duty, and all they could think of was to restart that movie to see if that fixed it. We asked if they were planning on telling the people in the theater what was going on. It never occurred to them. They dealt with movies, they didn’t deal with people. We asked for a refund. They pointed us to the box office. We went there and asked for a refund. The guy told us no problem, but he didn’t have the power to do that. So he called for a manager. The call echoed. Everyone looked around.
Finally a manager came over. We asked for a refund, he said he could do that. We told him we purchased the tickets through Fandango, which complicated things. Dozens of people lined up behind us. The refund process took a few minutes. Never a sorry from anyone. Never even an acknowledgment that what happened wasn’t supposed to happen. Not even a comforting “gosh, that’s never happened before” lie. It was all purely transactional. From the tickets themselves, to the problem at hand, to the refund process. Humanity nowhere. We left feeling sorry for the whole thing. The people who worked at the theater weren’t trained to know how to deal with the problem. They probably weren’t empowered to do anything about it anyway. The technical staff apparently doesn’t work on the premises. The guy at the box office wanted to help, but wasn’t granted the power to do anything. And the manager, who was last in the line of misery, to have to manually, and slowly, process dozens of refunds on his own. No smiles entered the picture. This is the future, I’m afraid. A future that plans on everything going right so no one has to think about what happens when things go wrong. Because computers don’t make mistakes. An automated future where no one actually knows how things work. A future where people are so far removed from the process that they stand around powerless, unable to take the reigns. A future where people don’t remember how to help one another in person. A future where corporations are so obsessed with efficiency, that it doesn’t make sense to staff a theater with technical help because things only go wrong sometimes. A future with a friendlier past. I even imagine an executive somewhere looking down on the situation saying “That was well handled. Something went wrong, people told us, someone tried to restart it, it didn’t work. People got their refunds. What’s the problem?” If you don’t know, you’ll never know. As found at https://m.signalvnoise.com/ on March 11, 2020 Written by Jason Fried and posted at the blog Signal v. Nosie on January 12, 2020
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS TO USE WITH A CHURCH GROUP: (Please take a moment to look at the bold /italics sections in this blog.)
1. Look closely at the phrase “no one”. What would that mean if you translated it to your church? What problem is happening that everyone knows about and yet “no one” is doing anything to fix? 2. What about the phrase “Eventually people started waling out.” Is that problem not being addressed in your church finding the same kind of solution? Are people simply walking out and going somewhere else to worship? 3. How about this phrase: “It never occurred to them. They dealt with movies, they didn’t deal with people.” Is this what is happening in your church? Are you so caught up in dealing with being church, that you forget that the church is not a building, but rather the church is the people? 4. Finally, look at the paragraph at the top of this page. Does anyone ever say sorry when things don’t happen like they should and people get annoyed or hurt? Does anyone every acknowledge that things just aren’t going the way they are supposed to go—that there is a problem? Do you try to sweep things under the rug by saying: “That’s never happened to us before”? Is your church all about the humanity and the Christian love—the self sacrificial giving—or is it about the structure and function?
I hope that this blog and these questions can help you take a new look at your church. —Terry Goodman
BMCR explores ‘reset’ from past to future (I apologize for this article being a year old. Nevertheless it tells an important story.) The African American membership caucus of The United Methodist Church promised a “RESET for the Future” in the theme of its annual gathering — even as the denomination may be going through its own major reset following the 2019 General Conference. About 400 members of Black Methodists for Church Renewal looked back at their history during their 52nd annual meeting, held April 3-6, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia. But they also tried to look toward an uncertain future for black United Methodist churches. Some longtime leaders extolled the caucus’ dramatic birth in 1967-68 — and its goals to confront racism and demand justice and equity in the new United Methodist Church. Others challenged the caucus, and the churches it represents, to change with the times and reset to become more relevant and attractive to younger potential members. Referring to the decades-old caucus motto, “Our Time Under God is Now,” keynote speaker the Rev. William “Bobby” McClain asked, “Time for what?” He recalled early black Methodist history and the denomination’s “checkered career” in addressing concerns of racial inclusion, especially since 1968. McClain, a retired seminary professor and organizing member of BMCR, questioned whether “our African American relationship with The United Methodist Church is a genuine relation … or simply a sentimental affair that has lasted because neither could (or dared) to get rid of the other.” Yet, while citing the resilience of racial injustice in the church and society, he concluded, “We are not done yet, BMCR!”
United Methodist News and Views
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, who leads the Pittsburgh Episcopal Area, raised her fist and urged caucus members to “stay woke,” the popular rally cry of the Black Lives Matter movement. She preached during the event’s Communion service, held at historic Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta. “Let me offer this confession as a bishop,” she told worshippers. “We have fallen short of the glory of God and not been faithful to our mission to making disciples. We’ve made our churches into museums and shrines rather than vital places of worship. Too many places have driveby worshippers, who don’t stay and develop relationships with the community.”
“Things are not well in the black church,” she lamented. “Black churches are closing at alarming rates, our church buildings are falling down around us, our children and grandchildren are worshipping elsewhere or nowhere, the voices of black clergy and laity are still not respected on conference committees and general church boards and agencies. And when we bring up racial issues at meetings, we are called angry black men or women. “Our ordination candidates are not making it through boards of ordained ministry,” she continued. “Black pastors are still not welcome in many of our pulpits, and black bishops are not accorded the same privileges and respect as our white colleagues.” One of four black women elected bishop in 2016 — an unprecedented number — Moore-Koikoi acknowledged the presence of black leadership across the general church and credited BMCR for its contributions to racial progress. However, she said, “somewhere along the way we have been lulled into complacency. We’ve become discouraged and weary in doing good work. But now it’s time to stay woke.” The bishop joined other black episcopal colleagues — known as Ebony Bishops — in offering their critical take on outcomes of the denomination’s contentious 2019 General Conference, held Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, as members wrestled with what black churches should do and where they should go if schism results and departing churches are allowed conditionally to take their property. General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly, passed the Traditional Plan, which strengthens enforcement of bans on “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy and same-sex weddings. A panel of veteran and young adult caucus members shared cross-generational perspectives on the caucus and its black churches. “Older people in churches need to surrender leadership to young people. Somehow, we have to get that across to churches,” said Mollie Stewart, a BMCR board member and longtime, retired United Methodist church leader. The Rev. Zan Holmes, another retired church leader, said older leaders get “so caught up in our positions, that we don’t want to make changes that can help us reach the communities we’re called to serve.” Linda Furtado, a young media design specialist at the Upper Room in Nashville and millennial seminary student, said she has had to ask, “Aren’t I old enough?” to provide leadership in black churches she has attended. Brennen Boose, a young online media and marketing professional and former BMCR board member who became involved in the caucus after attending a Youth Harambee event, asked what the church leaders are doing to address current realities.
Pastor Benny Custodio of the Never Forsaken Re-Entry Ministry leads a workshop on the impact of mass incarceration. “Older people say, ‘Do as I say.’ But young people have a problem with that,” said Boose. He cited a recent United Methodist Communications study revealing that older members value Scripture and tradition as their primary religious influences, while many younger people value reason and experience most highly. He also stressed the relevance of black hip-hop culture to many young people and urged that culture be used in worship and other faith expressions. “Young people need to feel heard, included and appreciated,” he explained. “We have to find out how to communicate on their level, where Scripture alone is just not enough. You can’t just say ‘It’s in the Bible.’ Why is it in the Bible, what’s the context, and how should I apply that to my life?”
Boose recently launched a website, www.blackmethodist.com, containing personal video narratives. He also wrote “An Open Letter to BMCR” in October 2018, described as a “love letter.” It calls on the caucus to reclaim its courageous, former mission to “agitate the conscience of the Methodist Church.” Invoking scriptures and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he challenged BMCR to become a dynamic, visionary change agent once again, rather than a “social club for the spiritual elite…” The Rev. Michele Watkins, a theology professor at the University of San Diego, issued a similar challenge in her opening worship sermon. Asking members under age 40 to stand, she offered “an uncompromised confession” on behalf of the caucus—an apology for “allowing age, sex and a very limited imagination to keep us from serving God and loving you.”
The meeting also featured Bible study, a luncheon to celebrate the Black College Fund and supported institutions, and workshops on:
The faith community’s role in working against mass incarceration and with returning former inmates.
Urban ministry strategies to counter violence in communities.
The denomination’s revised Social Principles and local church communications strategies. Story by John W. Coleman who is director of communications for The United Methodist Church’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
A Message from Our General Secretaries
United Methodists Connected – In Hope and Healing In this unexpected and menacing moment in history, nothing is more pressing in the work of the Church than care for our planet and all God’s people. We are counseled to reduce physical proximity as we strive to flatten the COVID-19 curve to avoid overwhelming our health care systems and protect the health of our families, friends, coworkers, and neighbors near and far. This is precisely the time when the vibrant witness of our Christ-centered and mission-focused connectional church is most urgently needed and vitally important.
The United Methodist Church is a critical connecting presence given the worldwide emphasis on intentional social distancing. The current emergency makes it even more apparent that “The local church provides the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.” BOD ¶201. It is at “such a time as this” that we are emboldened by our historical witness and practical theology to be a connectional people: Connecting—as a trustworthy and authentic witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Connecting—our members and communities in prayer, worship, and a spiritual awakening.
Connecting—as a non-anxious global presence offering practical leadership, conveying crucial information, and building coalitions of the willing for bold social action. Connecting—by holding up for attention those who are most vulnerable and marginalized and in need of Christian advocates and friends. Connecting—as we host and participate in networks for exchanging information, joint planning, and curating learnings and resources. We are a connectional global mission from everywhere to everywhere actively addressing the urgent health and spiritual needs of all—and caring for the healing of the world as the connecting people of The United Methodist Church. The thirteen general agencies and the Connectional Table of The United Methodist Church are eager to serve you, the people of The United Methodist Church and to make a difference for the most vulnerable in our communities around the world. On the next page you will find links to access online pages with resources in our areas of focus that will assist you as you continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
General Board of Church and Society Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary https://www.umcjustice.org/ General Board of Global Ministries Thomas Kemper, General Secretary https://www.umcmission.org/share-our-work/news-stories General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Greg Bergquist, General Secretary https://www.gbhem.org/connect/ Discipleship Ministries Junius Dotson, General Secretary https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/articles/resources-for-responding-to-covid-19-outbreak
Wespath Benefits and Investments Barbara Boigegrain, General Secretary https://www.wespath.org/about-wespath/Coronavirus General Commission on Archives and History Alfred T. Day, III, General Secretary http://www.gcah.org/ General Council on Finance and Administration Moses Kumar, General Secretary https://www.gcfa.org/ General Commission on Religion and Race Erin Hawkins, General Secretary http://www.gcorr.org/codiv-19-response/ General Commission on the Status and Role of Women Dawn Wiggins Hare, General Secretary https://www.gcsrw.org/ and http://umsexualethics.org/ General Commission on United Methodist Men Gil Hanke, General Secretary email@example.com United Methodist Communications Dan Krause, General Secretary Resources for leaders: https://www.resourceumc.org/coronavirus Resources for members: https://www.umc.org/coronavirus United Methodist Publishing House Brian Milford, President & Publisher https://www.umph.org/ https://www.abingdonpress.com/ https://www.cokesbury.com/ United Methodist Women Harriet Olson, General Secretary https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/ Connectional Table Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, Chief Connectional Ministries Officer https://www.umc.org/en/content/connectional-table
A Note from the Editor: The following article is from a Christian based organization called Vanderbloemen, named after its founder, William Vanderbloemen. The company seeks to connect churches that have employee vacancies with persons looking for jobs in ministry. As such, they have a lot of insight into the local church and staffing issues. I share this article to let you know of some upcoming webinars that might be of interest. —TDG
8 Cardinal Rules Of Running A Virtual Meeting William Vanderbloemen Founder Vanderbloemen Search Group
During COVID-19, our Vanderbloemen team is going to be live twice a week to bring you resources about online church, crisis leadership, and leading organizations remotely. Join us on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next 3 weeks for The Vanderbloemen Network LIVE, as we seek to equip you with the best resources for navigating COVID-19. Our first guest is Jay Kranda, Online Pastor at Saddleback Church who was a pioneer in online church nearly 10 years ago. On Tuesday, March 24, he'll be sharing best practices of leading an online church, online small groups and discipleship strategy, and bringing people online to offline. Bring your questions for Jay, as we'll open up to Q&A at the end. We hope you'll join us for these free, live sessions with industry leaders to better equip your organization for success during challenging times. Register once to attend all six upcoming sessions, including: ONLINE CHURCH - Jay Kranda, Online Pastor at Saddleback Church STEWARDSHIP IN CRISIS - Jim Sheppard, Principal at Generis LEADING STAFF REORGANIZATION - Tim Stevens, VP of Consulting at Vanderbloemen
LEADING A REMOTE STAFF - Jason Miller, Lead Pastor of South Bend City Church HR BEST PRACTICES IN CRISIS - Chantel McHenry, Senior Manager of Operations at Vanderbloemen
There’s a list of stocks I wish I had bought two months ago: Clorox. Whoever owns Purell. Cruise companies (kidding). But most of all? Zoom. Coronavirus has brought a brand-new world of handwashing, sanitizing, avoiding travel and … working from home. The term is “social distancing,” but the reality is, we are all having to figure out how to relate from a remote setting. I wonder how many people will have to figure out their first set of video-based business meetings from home in the next weeks? Here’s what I’ve learned: running meetings via video just doesn’t come naturally. I run an executive search firm, and for over a decade, we’ve been experimenting with and using remote interviewing, conducting somewhere north of 20,000 face to face interviews with candidates, with many of those being through some form of video conference. It’s actually comical how many mistakes we have made with technology over the years. And even now, with a whole lot of practice, it’s amazing how many times we will see those
same mistakes made by candidates or clients when they aren’t familiar with this medium. So if you’re fumbling around trying to figure it out, you’re not alone. Since a lot of the world is having to figure out how to meet virtually, I thought I’d share some of our best practices for having a meeting (or an interview) when you cannot be face to face. I found out nearly every one of these tips the hard way, but I hope that my learnings can help you adjust faster: 1. Pick a solid platform If you’re trying a platform (or if your employer has mandated one) that seems to be buggy, here’s a newsflash: they all are. We have lost count of how many different products we have tried, and we never could find a seamless one. If you can pick your platform, I’d go with Zoom. I don’t own their stock (but man how I wish I had bought it back in January!), nor am I paid to say that. I’ve just found the hard way that it’s the best option out there, hands down. The connection is smooth, the number of participants can be high, and you can record the whole meeting. 2. Test your equipment and your connection speed before the call I don’t want to know how many hours I have lost in my life to starting a call and one party or the other spending the first 15 minutes of the meeting saying, “Is this thing on?” I’ve found that if it’s a critical meeting, I avoid Wi-Fi and stick to an old-fashioned hard line. 3. Insist on video Can you imagine calling a face to face meeting and starting by putting a curtain down between you and everyone else? That’s what you’re doing if you “just go audio.” I used to say, “I’m turning off the video so I don’t use too much bandwidth, and so the call quality is better.” Nowadays, that’s just not true. What I found that really means is, “I want to have this meeting but not have to be seen.” Yes, if you’re on video, you will be watched. That’s the idea. If you’re worried someone will see you pick your nose, remember nobody is supposed to pick their nose anymore. If you’d rather just have a phone call so you can “multitask” during the call, it may be time to reevaluate how necessary the meeting is. Virtual meetings require vigilant and singular attention — almost more focus than if you were in person. 4. Don’t hit mute Far too many times, I’ve said some of my smartest things when I unknowingly had the mute button on. I know it seems kind, but it’s actually counterproductive. My friend Bryan Miles, who co-founded Belay Solutions, a virtual staffing company, says they have found that if you hit mute in a small meeting, you will actually keep real conversation from happening, even when you’re trying not to be a nuisance. He says they have found that anything under a dozen means implementing their “nobody gets to mute” rule. That means everyone has to participate, and it also means nobody can be participating in other meetings (like answering email) when they should be giving undivided attention to the meeting. 5. Dedicate space Too often, people assume working remotely means working from wherever and whenever you want. Not so. I’ve found that virtual work requires more discipline. Find a dedicated space where you cannot be interrupted by children, spouses or other distractions. I love your family, but I don’t want to hear Netflix or Fortnite during our work or interview. And as much as I love dogs, I hate hearing a barking (or even, yes, snoring) dog on a call. Intentionally create a workspace that is just that.
(Continued on next page)
CONNECTIONAL MINISTRIES CORNER — REV. MIKE SLUDER, DIRECTOR
From the beginning, we were created to be in relationship with the creator. Created in the image of God so that a relationship with God is not only a possibility but it is our calling. Over and over again God steps into history and offers that relationship. In Genesis 12 God offers a covenant relationship to Abram. In Genesis 26 God renews the covenant with Isaac and then in Genesis 28 God again renews the covenant, this time with Jacob. God is constantly saying to us “I will be your God if you will be my people”. As the church, we are to be about Inviting people into the relationship God is offering. After all, even before we knew whom God was, God was inviting us, calling us, wooing us, into that relationship and wants us to do the same. We need to be an Inviting people whose lives, individually and corporately, serve as a witness to the love, mercy, and grace of God. I believe that is, at least partly, what Jesus was saying to the disciples in the upper room. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) To be an Inviting people is to be a people that trusts in the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to witness to the presence of God in our lives and in our community. What are the ways that you and your church are being that witness? How are you sharing God’s love in your community even before the folks know God loves them? How are you inviting people into the relationship God is offering? I ask these questions of myself as much as I ask them of you. There are times I am better at being a witness than others. My prayer is that I continue to grow in my relationship with God so that I may be an even better witness.
(Continued—8 Cardinal Rules for Running a Virtual Meeting)
6. Check your angles During your test, see how you look! Sounds simple, but the natural angle of a laptop camera means that the camera is looking straight up my nose and along my chin (it usually adds a couple of chins to me). Natural computer lighting makes me look washed out and overly blanched. Sometimes, I’ll interview people who are in front of a sunshine-filled window. And while the golden halo around a head looks nice in Renaissance art, it’s annoying to the person you’re meeting with. Check ahead of time, and I bet you’ll be able to improve what the default settings look like by adjusting your angles and lighting. Don’t forget to mind (and maybe even change) your background. I can’t tell you how much I learn about a candidate I’m interviewing by what books, trinkets (and even posters) are on the shelves behind them. One friend told me about a meeting he had with a co-worker where the co-worker was in a hotel, and the background mistakenly included his wife getting in and out of the shower! 7. Work from home, but dress for work Telecommuting is NOT a synonym for casual working, nor is it permission slip for working in your bathrobe. You will work better if you get dressed for it. On top of that, people on the other end of your call will take you more seriously. Sounds crazy, but I’ve actually had a couple I was interviewing answer their video call from their bed (they said they were reading, but I just cannot unsee them). On a more serious note, deep V-neck tshirts and strapless tops can and often do make people look topless on a screen. That’s rarely a good look. The bottom line, if you want to be treated like a professional, follow your team’s dress code even while working from home. This is super important in sales meetings and cardinal in interviews. 8. Small details can make a big difference Here’s a quick list of little details that will improve your virtual meetings: Use headphones (but not your kid’s Mickey Mouse ones). When possible, use an external microphone if you have one. Don’t have Venetian blinds behind you (the light moving in and out of them wreaks havoc on the other person’s display). Close competing applications on your screen, and throughout your house (again, the kids’ Netflix and Fortnite). Mute your computer and phone alerts for texts, emails and other notices that might go off during the meeting. And please don’t spin on your rolling desk chair. It looks weird and sounds like an earthquake on the other end. If you’re having to learn the virtual world, please learn from my mistakes. Until this coronavirus has passed, we are all adjusting to a new normal. I’m hopeful that some of these practices will help you look like an old pro in our brave new world. As found at forbes.com/sites/williamvanderbloemen/2020/03/15/8-cardinal-rules-of-running-a-virtual-meeting on March 20, 2020
This is the April 2020 edition of the Clergy Services Connexion. It is sent to you a few days early since it contains some information relat...
Published on Mar 20, 2020
This is the April 2020 edition of the Clergy Services Connexion. It is sent to you a few days early since it contains some information relat...