Seeds

Today is one of those days when I need a reminder why I am doing what I am doing. Why am I at Wesley? Why did I choose a career working with college students in ministry? With spring break just around the corner, I admit I am feeling a little bit worn out. It has been a good, but demanding week starting with Board of Ordained Ministry interviews last Thursday where I was approved to continue my journey toward ordination as a deacon. That was followed up with a youth rally and leading Sunday services at churches 3+ hours away. This week has included baking +/-250 muffins, Monday lunch chaos, finishing a vocational discernment group, a Wesley board meeting, wonderful worship, a Buffalo Wild Wings trip, and now discipleship group tonight. As I look at that list, I can’t help but ask myself, is this ministry?

Sometimes, I get so bogged down with my “list” that I forget to live in the moment. I forget about the bigger picture of serving God, serving neighbor, and putting love first. These times when I feel so bogged down; inevitably my students do something that makes me see that all of the business of campus ministry is a huge blessing. On Monday, one student pulled me aside to ask about Wesley taking part in a canned food drive on campus, which has since spiraled into a collaborative ministry project for all campus ministries at ASU during Holy Week. Another student asked me about how to reach out to our incoming freshmen for next year showing true leadership.

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Talking about fruitfulness happens a lot as a resident in ministry. Is your ministry bearing fruit? How can your setting be more abundant? I struggle with that image. What suits me better is sowing seeds. Perhaps it is my black thumb that makes it hard to fully grasp the concept of fruitfulness, but seeds I understand. You give seeds soil, sun, water, and pray that they find a way to move out of the dirt and into the sunlight. It takes a lot of hope to plant a seed. As a minister to young adults, I know that I am planting and watering for a harvest that will be reaped by some other minister in the future. When I forget that I pull out this prayer written by Bishop Ken Untener for Bishop Oscar Romero. (In fact, I read this prayer at graduation worship last year at Iliff).

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Miss America

Today, I ran across an interesting announcement. “Miss America 2014 to Visit A-State as Speaker for Women’s History Month Conference” the headline read. I’ll admit my immediate thought was that they’ve got to be kidding. A 24 year old pageant queen is going to give the keynote address at the conference about women’s history? What decade am I in? Sheesh! Then I started reading about Miss America 2014. She’s the first Indian-American winner of the pageant with a platform of “celebrating diversity through cultural competency.” She is also an ambassador for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs for young women and girls) and desires to become a physician after her reign.  Well, shoot! Perhaps I should have waited to judge her.

My reaction says much more about me than it does about Miss America. Yes, I would rather see Maya Angelou, Malala Yousafzai, or Marissa Mayer speaking about women’s history. However, I didn’t give Miss America, Nina Davuluri, a chance. She certainly has something important to say.

Margaret_Gorman_2The first Miss America winner, 1921

I find myself doing this over and over again. Casting judgement before I dig deep enough to really know what’s going on. I know I’m not alone. The internet can rocket an idea, concept, video, article, or person to fame with a few keystrokes and bring them crashing down with just a couple more. In a technology driven world, everyone has a voice, which means everyone has a critique. Yet, I have to learn to sometimes silence that switch in my brain that is constantly analyzing for flaws.

I’ve got to retrain my brain. To look for beauty in the ugly. To see hope where I notice despair. To notice incremental change where I want radical, immediate revolution. As a student at Iliff in an online Missions and Evangelism course, my professor challenged the class to tweet everyday the way we saw the Holy Spirit working. It was a difficult task at times to write in 140 characters or less the tremendous movement of the Spirit in a breakthrough discussion in class. Other days, I found myself praying for rain because at least I knew I could the Spirit in nature.

I hope that I can continue to grow and to practice seeing the good in the world. It is such an important skill that many people take for granted. Today, I am grateful for the work of Miss America as she shares her passion for dialogue across difference at ASU.

Welcome!

Long time, no blog. Actually, I think the last time I blogged was 2008 as I was studying abroad in New Zealand. Well, here I am again. Older, but probably not wiser. I wanted to start this blog, so that I could keep track of interesting ministry ideas that I have run across during my ministry as a campus pastor for the Wesley Foundation at Arkansas State. I want to communicate some of the fun ways that churches help their neighbors, serve their community, and generally “do church.” 

Let’s start with one of my favorite churches in the Rocky Mountain Conference, Trinity UMC- Denver. I served as an intern at Trinity UMC from 2011- 2013. One of the coolest practices that this church was perfecting was their welcoming of new guests and members. As a large downtown congregation, Trinity sought to help visitors become a part of the church community as soon as they enter the doors. When visitors register their attendance they receive emails from the senior pastor and pastors in their area of interest- youth, young adults, adult ministry, missions, or music. Additionally, they are invited to a six-week course, Exploring Trinity, where they learn about Methodism, ministries of the church, church history, and meet different pastors. During this six weeks, course participants get to know not only the church, but one another thereby creating an instant connection to the congregation. At the end of the six weeks, individuals are invited to join the church in a group. Afterwards, they are invited to a meal where various members of the congregation welcome them into the church family. When it comes to welcoming people to the congregation and helping them become involved, Trinity does a magnificent job! I was welcomed into the congregation by their method and found myself invested and involved in the church almost immediately. 

What an appropriate topic for the welcome to my blog! Welcome!