During the last seven years I've served in my role as a mission pastor in a large UMC, but also tried to become more useful as clergy by wearing my conference and general church hats as well. All clergy in the UMC should be available and useful in the congregation, district, conference, and UMC at large. I realized that for too long I had merely pursued ministry in the congregation and needed to become more useful and say "yes" to some other UMC ministry and work that into the schedule. This connectional ministry experience has helped me better follow Christ and become more useful and effective in my witness for Christ. Serving on a conference Board of Ordained Ministry makes you study more, pray more, discern more deeply, and work with others in ways that I found transformational. In similar fashion, as I took on more responsibility with United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, and the North Georgia United Methodist Conference Bridges, I found myself stretched, improved, and going on to perfection in ways that could only be described in lengthy conversation and are best personally experienced.
In retrospect this isn't a new path, but is a thread which seems consistent throughout my life as the intersection of faith and action in the world have always been a priority and calling for me.
Next Wednesday I start a new adventure and will work to help churches and Methodist Christians in North Georgia and around the world. I will help North GA UMC's claim a Bridge and become more effective in mission in God's kingdom by serving as a mission strategist/consultant/resourcer. A congregation can pray, study, go, fund, or participate in some way which will be mutually beneficial on both sides of the Bridge. I'm looking for at least 50 churches on every Bridge and need all the help I can get as we team up in the most effective, transformational ways. We are using "best practices" of mission which UMVIM and GBGM teach as part of the current mission movement. 50/50 partnership covenants are already finding tremendous application both "here" and "there." If you haven't had mission training in your church or district in the last 3 years it would be worth your time to be in conversation with me. I can offer anything from entry level mission to more advanced issues of your choosing. There is a fresh, new mission movement which you want to be a partner in as it could have great impact in your own community as it has around the world.
I'll also work with UMC Global Ministries with focus on Mission Celebrations as a tool for a congregation, district, or conference to give thanks for what God has done through the team in the past year, and to launch into a new year of relationship and work in God's mission as we follow the way of Christ. While this concept has been around for many years, and used by many mission sending groups, too many churches and clergy have lost this as a powerful element of congregational life. Now, and understand this clearly, this isn't a simple sales job touting a program. What I've experienced, and would encourage you in, is an event which personally engages your congregation or ministry in the next steps you might take in the Kingdom of God. I can help your ministry develop a comprehensive mission plan that creates a strong connection between the congregation and community (or world!), and a Mission Celebration which expresses worship, discipleship/training, prayer, and action. We've got the models, the resources, the inspiring speakers, and the teachers available to help you become more effective in your context and calling.
This bold, innovative 60/40 partnership of time between NGUMC & GBGM is very exciting to me and I trust will be useful and effective to many UMC ministries. Do call on me by phone, e-mail, Facebook, or in person as we work together in God's Kingdom.
Oh, and here's the official news about my next step in case you missed it earlier this month: