How does that work?

This Sunday I shared two goals that I have for my congregation. Besides our usual learning to pray, equipping leaders and other things like that, there are two things I want to emphasize this year. One of them is the difference between being a giving church and being a tithing church. The other is knowing the difference between being a welcoming church and an inviting church.

My first move toward acheiving the latter goal is to present you this:

Stay blessed…john

Remember your baptism

You don’t have to be super to have power. Your faith in God is enough to bring you through any circumstance (Ephesians 6:10).


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.

-Ephesians 6:10

Stay blessed…john

Your choice

You are still becoming something. What that something is depends on what you let it be.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will gain in learning.
–Proverbs 9:9

You could be becoming a grumpy old man.  A new creation.  An inspiration.  A true friend.

I have a six pack for you

Last year I made it a point to plan out my sermons for the entire year. It was difficult, but extremely beneficial. So much so that since around November I’ve anticipated getting to January so I can do it again. Call it good organization, being prepared or just hermeneutical nerdiness. It works for me now.

If a sermon doesn’t connect to the spiritual life of the people who hear it, then what good is it at all? That’s a rhetorical question. The next six or not. Since I want my words to connect with my listeners’ spiritual life, I want to hear what they have to say. You may not see how, but if you answer AT LEAST one of the following questions, you’ll go a long way in helping me prepare for our Sunday’s sermons this year.

Here’s your six pack (of questions):

  1. What time of the year do you look forward to most? Why?
  2. If you didn’t have a Bible to read for yourself, what would you want to know most about Jesus?
  3. What is the hardest part of being a Christian?
  4. You’re stuck on a deserted island. What one book (besides a Bible) do you want to have?
  5. If Jesus promised to answer one question for you, what would you ask?
  6. Why are you a follower of Christ? Or, why are you trying to follow Christ?

Thanks!  Stay blessed…john

Seminary ruined me

I’m grateful for my time at Perkins.  Of all that I studied in seminary, most valuable was learning how much I had been relying on my personality in ministry.  Before, I don’t think I was challenging people to live faithfully; I was getting by on being energetic and having a big mouth.  Perkins prepared me to move beyond my comfort level as a leader and use other gifts I have to serve the church.  Yes, seminary ruined because I had to get over myself.

It was a great four years.  Fours years can be tough, however.

That’s why it’s exciting to think Perkins has been considering how they can continue to prepare Christian leaders more faithfully and effectively.  This week the school made an announcement: Perkins Announces Streamlined M.Div. Degree

December 16, 2014

DALLAS – Perkins School of Theology-Southern Methodist University announces the restructuring of its Master of Divinity degree, effective spring 2015. The redesigned program will enable full-time students to complete the program in three years and will reduce the overall cost of the degree.

Primarily for students who plan to pursue ordination as clergy, the M.Div. degree will now require 73 term hours of academic credit: 64 term hours of coursework and 9 term hours earned through the satisfactory completion of a supervised internship.

The streamlined degree was approved unanimously by Perkins faculty on Dec. 1, 2014, upon the recommendation of the school’s Committee on Academic Programs.

In addition to the time and cost savings for students, the revamped curriculum provides greater flexibility in areas of ministerial focus, according to Perkins Dean William B. Lawrence. “This change in the M.Div. degree reflects the continued commitment of Perkins School of Theology to prepare women and men for faithful leadership in Christian ministry for the 21st century,” he said. “Students in the M.Div. program will now be able to complete their theological education in a timely and efficient way, while being extremely well-prepared to pursue their vocations.”

The supervised nine-month internship, a hallmark of the Perkins School of Theology M.Div. degree, will continue to provide a context for practical ministerial experience engaged with critical theological reflection for students serving within a congregation or agency.

Changes in the curriculum will include modifications to some courses, a redistribution of certain core requirements, opportunities to concentrate studies in elective areas, and permitting students who are on internships to complete their academic classes at the same time as they intern in places of ministry.

“The commitment of Perkins School of Theology to academic excellence and to world-class theological education is underscored in the way we have restructured this foundational professional degree for ministry,” Dean Lawrence said. “Our students will not only complete the M.Div. degree in a more timely way and reduce overall indebtedness, they will enter their full-time ministries with an even stronger foundation in the areas to which they have been called.”


I wonder if we can expect a DMin announcement sometime.  Stay blessed…john

+Picture credit: Perkins