Book Review: Kingdom Come

41gf7itj8wLKingdom Come: Why We Must Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church – and What We Should Do Instead, Reggie McNeal, Tyndale Momentum, 2015.

Reggie McNeal sets out to do exactly what the subtitle suggests. The fist half of Kingdom Come explains why the church must give up fixing the church. While the second half deals with the what the church should do instead along with practical ways to do just that. The thesis of this approachable book is summarized in this statement by McNeal, which he repeats often:

“The church is not the point of the Kingdom; the Kingdom is the point of the church.”

The book is divided into two sections. One focusing on McNeal’s theory that in order for the Church to survive in this new day and age, it must refocus on the Kingdom. The second half gives practical examples and practical steps to achieve that. While the first half of the book is Pastor McNeal, the second half is Leadership Consulant McNeal.

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Deacon’s Call: Lisa McGehee

Deacon’s Call: Lisa McGehee

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post you will hear from Lisa McGehee who is an ordained deacon currently serving as  the Associate Minister at Good Shepherd United Methodist in Richmond, Virginia. Here are Lisa’s words: 

The seed for my call was planted before I was born. My maternal grandmother was passionate about serving and caring for others – humans, animals and creation. It was through her life and the way that my mother was raised that I became an advocate for those without a voice. Granny left a legacy filled with stories of providing for care for children. She opened the family home to her children’s friends giving them a warm meal, clothes to wear and a place to stay.

She cared equally for animals and there are many stories of my grandfather and my mother and her siblings coming into the kitchen to find “the box” that sat beside the wood burning stove. “The box” provided protection for an animal that was born the littlest or one that was injured. She raised it with care until it was ready to leave. Her love for creation was equal to the love she had for people and animals. She was a farmer and a gardener who never seemed to have a challenge growing plants. I believe it was the care in which she planted the seed and tended the soil. She gave thanks and praise to God for all that she had and deeply desired to share it with others.

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Jesus Said: Be Shalom

Jesus Said: Be Shalom

Jesus SaidHappy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children. (Matthew 5:9, Common English Bible)

There have been a lot of troubling images out of the city of Baltimore. These images of violence fill our TV and computer screens. And let’s be honest, at times, they are a little bit more than we can handle. The tension in our society over justice for all people seems to have collied in the streets of Baltimore this week.

Questions are being raised by many, especially those in the church, as to how we should respond. What does justice look like? What role does the church play in such discussions? Where is God calling us to be a part of this?

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Guest Post: Good Friday Pondering

by Rev. Alan Combs

goodfri_11167c“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These words come at the beginning of Psalm 22. Immediately, the biblical scholar-wannabe in me asks a biblical scholar-wannabe question. How much of Psalm 22 did Jesus mean? Psalm 22 forms two distinct parts. The first eighteen verses or so are full of pain, oppression, and despair. They feel very much like what Jesus might have had in mind while hanging on the cross, blood pouring from his nailed hands and feet, struggling to breathe.

But then Psalm 22 changes at verse twenty-five. “From you comes my praise in the great congregation,” the Psalmist declares. The Psalm shifts to a prayer of deliverance. Yes many “strong bulls of Bashan” (I want to start a band called “Strong Bulls of Bashan) surround the Psalmist (22.12), and yes “I can count all my bones,” (22.17) but at the end of the day “dominion belongs to the Lord,” (22.18) so much so, that “All who go down to the dust shall bow before the Lord, and I shall live for God” (22.28).

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Palm Sunday Reflections

jesus_9085cI remember as a child gathering outside of my home church on the front lawn as the church service was beginning. We had our palm branches in hand and were already waving and running around as we waited. Then, at the appropriate time, one of our parents would open the doors to the church and we would proudly march, wave our branches high, and shout “Hosanna!”

It was the only time we could act this way in church. The parade like behavior on Palm Sunday was only reserved for Palm Sunday.

The limitations were removed on Palm Sunday. We did not have to be “just right and proper.”

While church is indeed a sacred place, too often limitations are placed on young people and the young at heart. Too often the limitations frown upon processing through the building making a joyful noise or the excited behavior little bodies show when they come to church. This kind of parade like behavior is not always welcomed. We like things to be “just right and proper.”

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Guest Post: Trust in God’s Promise

by Michelle Hettmann

washing_3262c-2Read Psalm 118:19-29.

This past fall, I studied abroad in Lugano, Switzerland, and Adigrat, Ethiopia. I was so blessed to have the opportunity to set foot in over 10 countries and experience glimpses of life in communities all over Europe and parts of eastern Africa. Being abroad was a wonderful experience, but also a challenging one. I was away from my friends and family for four months while they were here doing life together. I felt loneliness and sadness in the midst of the adventure. It was the biggest test of my faith and trust in God that I’ve experienced in my life.

While the experience wasn’t always easy, I experienced God in ways that I probably wouldn’t have if I wasn’t in that situation.

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