Monthly Archives: March 2011

Personal Mission Statement?

I have heard people talk about how helpful it can be to have a personal mission statement, but I haven’t ever given it a lot of serious thought.  However, I had an epiphany of sorts yesterday and think I may be on to something.

While serving a church in seminary I one day made a statement along these lines, “I really only have one sermon, ‘God loves you, do justice.’  Sometimes I might emphasize one aspect of that more than the other, but that’s the core of everything I preach.”

Somewhere over the years that evolved into this, “God loves us exactly the way we are, but doesn’t want us to stay that way.”  I made this statement at Tonganoxie UMC last week during my introductory meeting and Heather quipped something along the lines of, “Now you never have to listen to him preach again.  You have heard his sermon.”  It got quite the laugh!

Yesterday afternoon I was driving down the road playing around with hanging words on that idea and the following hit me as a description of what I hope to be about,

Growing in and helping others know Christ’s transformative love.

How about you?  Do you have a personal mission statement?  If you do, how have you found it to be helpful or guiding in your life?

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New Appointment Announcement

On July 1st I will begin a new appointment as the pastor of Tonganoxie United Methodist Church.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to return to a community that was once home (my family moved to Tonganoxie when I was 8 and I graduated from Tonganoxie High School in 1998) and to be a part of the ministry of this congregation.

Tonganoxie UMC has been holding worship services in their current location since 1869.  Over the last couple of years they have been going through a visioning process and have begun to dream about how they will do ministry in the future.  This video was made for charge conference this year (I couldn’t figure out how to embed it here, but encourage you to click the link and give it a watch).

I am excited to walk through life with the people of Tonganoxie in these coming years, to better come to know God with them, and to serve the community in partnership with them.  This is sure to be a great adventure!

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Rock Chalk Perspective – 2

I like KU basketball.  A lot.  But I like a lot of other things a whole lot more!

Last year KU lost to Northern Iowa in the second round of the NCAA tournament.  It was a disappointing loss, but I got over it pretty quickly.  Heather and h and I were in Lincoln, NE for the wedding of a good friend of mine from college.  We watched the game at a sports bar with a bunch of college friends and had a great time catching up.  Following the loss we walked down the street and attended a beautiful wedding and a great reception.

Yesterday we were at mom and dad’s watching the game.  It was a real bummer for KU to lose to VCU the way they did, but h spent a good part of the second half making a play-doh birthday cake for and singing Happy Birthday to her Aunt Bex (my sister’s birthday is tomorrow).

It’s hard to be too saddened by a basketball game with joy like this, with great family, and wonderful friends.

This blog is “Rock Chalk Perspective – 2” because I prepared to write it with a sense of familiarity.  Turns out I did some similar reflecting after KU’s season ending football loss in 2007.

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Lucky Me – Lucky You Cookies

Heather and I were out to dinner last night at The Burger Stand watching the KU game and having a toddler free evening (if you haven’t eaten there, do.  Amazing burgers, great fries!).  While watching the KU game we started looking at twitter feeds and sharing comments back and forth.  Some were related to the game.  Some just made us laugh.  We were having a great time!  As I scanned through my feed I saw this, “First person to order a dozen cookies gets them free!!!” from @LuckyYouBakery.

I had heard about Lucky You Bakery recently, but hadn’t tried them.  I replied to the tweet, they were willing to deliver to The Burger Stand, I called and placed an order.  Within a few minutes (I’d guess no more than 15) a delivery guy showed up with 13 large, fresh, warm, soft cookies (we could have also ordered coffee, hot chocolate, milk, or chocolate milk, but didn’t).  Heather and I split a peanut butter and a double fudge and then shared the rest with others around us who were watching the game.  The cookies were awesome!

Lucky You is definitely geared toward the college crowd here in town.  They’re open from 7pm to 1 or 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.  I would have loved to have had access to something like this in college!  Had I, I’m sure I would have gained even more weight than I did…

My experience with Lucky You Bakery last night showed they have taken a great idea, developed it into an excellent product, and are executing it in an excellent way.  I don’t eat many cookies, in fact, I mostly try to avoid sweets and baked goods, but I’m confident I will order from Lucky You Bakery again.  If you find yourself in Lawrence on a Friday or Saturday night, I would encourage you to give them a try as well!

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Starting a New Ministry – What Do You Want to Know?

I was recently introduced to the Staff Parish Committee of the church I will begin serving on 7/1.  My appointment to serve with them will be announced in worship on Sunday.  This afternoon I spent some time brainstorming questions I might have prior to my first day.  Please take a look at this list and let me know what you think.  Are there things on here that you think might not be necessary to know?  What else might you want to know before you start with a new congregation?

Any of the information listed below would be most helpful as I prepare for my ministry with/in the community.  I know that tracking some of it down might be tedious or time consuming (especially in relationship to 15 years of history).  If it is not too much trouble to respond to these questions, it will be most appreciated.  Know that all of them are asked with a great big PLEASE and a great sense of gratitude and enthusiasm for the opportunity to be in ministry with this congregation!

May I get an annotated pictorial directory with any information about people that might be helpful in starting my ministry?

Prior to 7/1 can I get the following lists pertaining to congregational life?

  • A list of immediate pastoral care needs
  • A list of baptisms from the last calendar year
  • A list of people who joined the church in the last calendar year
  • A list of people who have lost family members in the last year
  • A list of weddings performed in the church in the last calendar year

Who are some of the key volunteers in the church and what roles do they play?

  • Musicians
  • Ministry Team Chairs
  • Others

What special worship celebrations are held each year?  What rituals/traditions are important to the congregation regarding each of these days?

  • Scouting Sunday(s)
  • Labor Day?
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving Service
  • Advent/Christmas Celebrations
  • Ash Wednesday
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Easter
  • Mother’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Any Others

May I see a month’s worth of worship bulletins to get a snapshot of worship?

What special non-worship celebrations are held each year?

  • All-Church Meals
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Halloween
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Any Others

For historical perspective, can I receive copies of the following to review?

  • Budget – Income/Expense for previous 15 years
  • Worship Attendance for previous 15 years
  • Membership Records for previous 15 years

What staffing policies exist?

  • Hiring Policies
  • Evaluation Policies
  • Employee Guidelines (Performance, Vacation, Sick, Holiday, PTO, etc.)
  • Job Descriptions (Tasks, Supervisor, Hours)

May I see copies of minutes from any ministry team (committee) meetings from the last calendar year?

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What is Country Music?

Monday evening I was introduced to the Staff Parish Committee of the church I will begin serving on July 1 (stay tuned for more information about that early next week).  As we sat and visited I found myself expressing a general lack of appreciation for country music.  Yesterday afternoon I put together a bio for the church to use as an introduction in the newsletter and wrote this, I am a “fan of all kinds of music; recently really enjoy things involving the banjo, fiddle, or mandolin.”

I am a fan of music involving banjo, fiddle, mandolin.  I don’t like country music?

And then the question hit me, “what is country music?”

Some of what I have really been enjoying lately:

The Avett Brothers – Laundry Room

Mumford and Sons – Roll Away Your Stone

The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow

For what it’s worth, iTunes classifies the albums from which the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons tracks come as “rock” and The Civil Wars as “Country & Folk.”

So, do I like country music?

How do you define country music?

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Hey, this is Jeff, I’m not here right now.  Please feel free to leave a message… or send me a text… or send me an email… or write on my wall… or send me a facebook message… or tweet me… and I’ll get back with you as soon as I can (or as soon as I actually find your message).

Last week I had plans to have lunch with a co-worker on Wednesday.  Earlier in the week we had decided to meet at noon, but on Tuesday evening I learned we had another meeting that had just been scheduled for 1:00pm.  Thinking that we might want to meet a bit earlier, I decided to propose that idea to my co-worker so I sent him an @reply on twitter.  A couple of hours passed and as I was heading to bed he replied in the affirmative.  Plans had been changed.

Heather questioned why we were tweeting back and forth rather than texting (or using any of the other various methods of communication available to us) and as I reflected on it I came up with this.  It was evening and I definitely didn’t need to call him, we were both home with our families.  Even sending him a text seemed like it would be more intrusive than it needed to be, I didn’t need a quick reply from him.  However, I was a bit unsure about emailing him because I believed that he would not be coming in to the office prior to our lunch meeting and I wasn’t sure he’d be checking email that morning.  In the end, connecting with him on twitter seemed like it would be the least intrusive method with which I had some level of certainty that he would see my note and be able to respond in a timely manner.

In communicating with this particular individual there are times that we call each other, times that we text, times that we send emails, heck there are even times when we might walk down the hall and talk face to face!  On this particular evening, in this particular situation, connecting via twitter seemed the best option.

Of course, I didn’t give the decision to connect with him on twitter a great deal of thought before sending the message, it was almost instinctual and I didn’t fully process why I had done it until Heather asked.  But reflecting on it since has me wondering.  Are there socially accepted/proscribed norms for how we use each of these forms of communication?  Or maybe the better question is, are you in tune to the socially accepted norms for these communication options in your communities and circles?  How do you find all of the options available for communication to be helpful?  How have you found the variety of options to not be helpful?

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