So this guy pictured to the left is Chuck Bomar. He spoke at the Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church back in June. I, unfortunately, had to follow his talk on Twitter because I attended a memorial service. Then, a month or so later he posts this: http://chuckbomar.blogspot.com/2012/07/on-mission-but-missing-point.html. And it was a reminder what my first task is--to abide in Christ. As I am starting ministry in this new context, I feel behind and sometimes overwhelmed. There's so much to do! And the church-work often distracts from the mission field. I recently missed a couple months of blogging in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Fortunately, blogging and church-work don't need to be my first priority. As Churck says, it's "abiding in Christ...If I'm abiding in Christ and intimately remaining connected to him, then I'll be on mission." This blog is my attempt at claiming an identity as a Missionary, rather than Pastor. I cannot forget, though, that my first priority must always be maintaining intimacy with God. You can't be missional without Christ. He is the original Missionary, and I'm joining him.
Ok, I have another quick thing I wanted to share about the 2012 session of the Missouri Annual Conference. (Really, I should be packing boxes so we can get moved already!) I just want to mention the clergy session on the first afternoon. The Bishop (Robert Schnase) lifted up an article by Heitzenrater that talked about Charles and John Wesley. At one point Bishop mentioned that the number one characteristic sought in a preacher/circuit-rider/pastor was that they were a "real" Christian, they know God as a pardoning God and have a relationship with God. This seems obvious, DUH! But too often we forget that our number one task is lined out in Matthew 6:33 "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness..."
Now that Missouri Annual Conference 2012 is over, I guess I can take time to share my experiences, thoughts, opinions, reactions, etc. If you really want to, you can watch a highlight video here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNQOfHli6OU&feature=youtubeI didn't watch it, so I don't know if it's good or not, but my experience with the people producing it is that it should be pretty good.
This year's conference focused on reaching Youth & Young Adults, which is something we need since the average age of the UMC is around 57, much higher than the US average age (like 20+ years). The choice of the title of the conference was "Louder Than Before: Hearing New Voices." It was chosen because of the song, "Speaking Louder Than Before" by Jeremy Camp. (You can catch the music video below) It's a decent song, and has a great message.
As for our conference using the theme, I hope we didn't mess up the metaphor. I heard the phrase "Louder Than Before" a number of different times, by a number of different people speaking on stage. It struck me at one point that a person could walk away hearing the idea that all we need to do is be louder. I'm not sure that's all we need. It's not going to be enough to just raise our voices and keep saying the same things. It's not going to be enough to just do the same things bigger and use more resources. If anything, we actually need to learn to do new and different things that actually connect with Youth and Young Adults. We can yell and scream and make fools of ourselves until our throats are dry and we're out of energy and resources--just because we're "Louder" doesn't mean we'll be more effective.
I don't want to just be cynical. I don't think that's the message that was promoted at our Missouri Annual Conference. I think the teachings we heard we amazing and pointed us toward doing new and different things/strategies, so we can be more effective. I just want to point out that some people who maybe didn't pay attention very well and just heard the phrase "Louder Than Before" over and over again might walk away with the wrong impression. I pray that doesn't happen. If we really want to be heard, louder might not necessarily be better, but we do need to think more of who is listening and how they hear, and be willing to new and different things. Because it's obvious that what we're currently doing is not working.
I am a Software Developer, a career shift made in 2018. So far, I have experience with C# .Net and Angular. I continue to let curiosity lead me into learning new technologies. I plan to share what I learn along the way about technology and personal/career life. Previously, my vocation was United Methodist pastor. So in addition to coding, I'll share about theology, the Church and The Bible. I also enjoy running, music, and I'm a deeply committed father and husband. Maybe my experiences will help you. I know it helps me to share.