Tag Archives: church

A South Georgia Methodist in the Monastery Court

Here is an article I have pre-written for my church’s newsletter next week concerning my trip to Taize:


A South Georgia Methodist in the Monastery Court

“How would your wife feel if you went out of town for 12 days in August?” Thus I was invited to spend a portion of the summer with members of the South Georgia Conference in the small village of Taize (pronounced te-zaye) with the brothers of the Taize monastic community (read: monks). The purpose of this trip is to encourage young adults throughout the conference to attend this tour in the future and to share our experiences with local churches. It is an honor to be entrusted with this responsibility and an honor to have the South Georgia Conference fund my way on this “pilgrimage.”

We began our trip on July 31st with a flight from Jacksonville to JFK in New York City. We flew from there to London, England. We not only saw some of the great London sites, such as Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral, but we also found ourselves steeped in Wesleyan tradition. We visited City Road Chapel, the site of John Wesley’s home and grave, the burial site of Susanna Wesley, and Aldersgate Street where Wesley found his “heart strangely warmed.”

Since Sunday, we have been in the Burgundy region of France (towards the south-east) at the Taize Community. Some of us are staying in rustic dorms and others of us are staying in tents outside. We begin our morning at 8:15am with morning prayer and breakfast followed by reflection or small group discussion. We have midday prayer at 12:20 followed by lunch, small group discussions, workshops, chores and dinner. We have evening prayer and vigil followed by night silence until we fall asleep. Believe it or not, this is an amazing experience!

One of the hallmarks of the Taize community is its worship. Many people who have heard of Taize have been introduced by its worship music. The music is built around short, repetitive phrases that are sung in Latin. Why Latin? During a typical summer week, there may be 6,000 people from all over the world. The brothers decided that Latin held no allegiance to a particular culture and would be a way to stress our unity as Christian believers. There is no sermon at a Taize worship service; these services are characterized by the reading of scripture, silence, and prayer. Through this experience we commune with God and we listen to God. The music, prayers, introspection, and environments are influencing worship all over the world, especially in young adult circles. I should return to the United States on August 11th (probably not in time to attend church council—sorry Robert!).

I hope to share about this life-changing experience sometime soon with a special presentation. Until then, thank you so much for your continued prayers for my family and my safety.

A bientôt,

Jim

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Decline: Changing Social Make-Up | Hold the Line

Richard Hall has some good thoughts and words for Methodists on both sides of the pond who are concerned about denominational decline. He speaks of the alteration of social institutions as a whole as well as the need for the church to be the church, not an institution of capitalism (stinging critique).

For what it is worth, my sense is that what the church most needs now is the faithfulness to ‘hold the line’, to keep our nerve. There is no doubt that we are living through some very unsettling times. The future seems very uncertain. So what’s new? We face the world’s indifference with scarce resources and often-failing courage. Every generation of disciples since the time of Jesus has done the same. We have to lose any illusions we might hold about being in control and trust in the God who calls us to go with us into whatever the future holds.

does this sound like any of your meetings?

Think of this:

You are in a meeting. It is the first of the year and your church would like to make some goals and action points for the upcoming year.

At first you all sit there–awkwardly. Then the well-rehearsed people (you know, the ones who have called the meeting, thought about it for weeks, and hope everyone will agree with them) chime in. Everyone else is so taken aback and they feel like their ideas aren’t thought through enough to contribute. No one says anything for a few more minutes.

Then the one known as big mouth opens up. Silently people groan. “If no one will talk,” he says, “then I’ve got a few things….” He proceeds to name everything wrong with the church. People begin to agree, because they are, after all things that are wrong with the church. A lively conversation occurs—-for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, some wise one chimes in and says, “okay, now what are we going to do about it?” No one can agree or no one wants to take the effort to do the things suggested. Some people call the ideas stupid, or they won’t participate when their ideas are shot down.

Finally, you decide to do a car wash–after all your church will “reach unchurched people for Christ,” its evangelism, its mission, the finance chair loves it, the SPRC chair puts the youth director in charge, and the UMW/UMM will provide pies and fried chicken. There. 3 hours later, your church is doing a pie and chicken car wash in the church parking lot. The next 3 hours is dedicated to delegating who will bring the hose, soap, and sponges followed by an argument on whether to use Armorall spray or Armorall wipes (or to do interiors at all…). And who will donate the money for the excess water use for that month?

Does that sound like any meeting you have ever been in with the church, work, school, or otherwise?

Stay tuned for Creative Collaboration as Problem Solving for Church Leadership–we may have some solutions.

(see this post, Creative Collaboration as Church Leadership, to get an idea about where we are going here)

Creative Collaboration as Church Leadership

I am writing a book (and possibly expanding it into a research based study) on creative collaboration as church leadership. Here is an excerpt:

Art as communal expression–an expression of who we are.  This expression becomes evident as we collaborate. One impetus for a creative expression (in the communal sense) comes when a problem (something to be solved or explored) enters the picture. This is not a problem with a simple solution, but one with an unknown solution. This problem is a nexus of a million possible futures. The way a community solves this problem identifies who they are as a community and it ultimately affects their future direction. As beings created in God’s image, we are designed to create–to care for creation, but built with an innate desire to create. Whether that manifests itself in logic, writing, reading (what you choose to read), painting, music, dance, drama, electronics, automobiles, government. We create. We create new pathways, new bridges to the desired outcome–new ways to unknot the problem. Even in the small acts of problem solving, we are often creating. Even in problem solving, the complex matrix of decisions we make to unknot the problem have, in effect, created a new pathway.

As beings created in God’s image, we are also communal beings. In the beginning “we” created the earth. God was present with his spirit, present with the plurality–more exactly, with the complete fullness of who He is. God created man and saw that it was not good for man to be alone and created a community for him. God made a covenant with Abraham, not to make Abraham great, but to create a communal greatness from him. The fullness of God is seen in each of us, but magnified in the entirety of the creation. Therefore, to act as a community is to magnify God and to work towards revealing His kingdom.

A creative act is in our nature. A communal act is in our nature.

An individual act is not possible in community. Therefore every thing that must be done in community must be creative–you must take into account the being of the communion–this new being: who is this?

What do you think? Have I missed anything?

c. Jim Morrow

stratifying the generations: young adult ministry

Some churches struggle with “filling the gap,” the void that is created by the missing 18-35 year olds.

How does this work? How do we fill that gap?

A lot of things work. A lot of things don’t work.

I am tentative to separate the young adult population out into completely separate programs. In fact, I am tentative to further stratify any group much more than we already have.  To stratify the generations is to remove much of the beauty of the church: genuine family and community. Instead of stratifying, I want to work in a generational reconciliation–even and especially in my youth ministry.  I recognize that that value inside of my calling does not translate to everyone.  I need to do more thinking on this issue.

Is there value in further separating people?  Doesn’t social networking software and programming speak to our need to connect?

update on Waycross

The fire is 45% contained as of 12:30 today.

UPDATE: For up-t0-date information, go here.

i felt my church strangely warmed…

It’s cold in the south today. We turned on the heat. But that’s not quite it…

I am trying to figure out the church. I’ve been a part of it for the better part of 10 years and I’ve served in it for 8 of those years. What is this organic being that I am a part of? What is it like? What is wonderful about it? What is challenging about it?

I’ve got the text book definitions down and I can show you Biblical examples and descriptions. It’s only a slice of it. In a sweet, unexpected moment today (and it’s Monday), church is redefined in my heart. This organic thing won’t be pinned down.  It seems that I can’t “know” it as much as I can “be in relationship” with it.  What a humbling way to serve!

Read these prayers from todays readings:

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic* Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is all spoken in a warm way–with a warmed heart.

What about church for you and your community? What is beautiful about it? What about it is the evident body of Christ?

*= universal. as a good methodist, i felt the need to include this…