Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Okay, so I will turn 30 this year and I realize that's not very old and my years of ministry experience pale in comparison to so many others.

However, I would like to offer some words of wisdom to those coming behind me in ministry:

Take as many business courses in your undergraduate years as possible - you will need them!

And for those of you coming behind me in any other field:

Take as many business courses in your undergraduate years as possible - you will need them!

It is quite simply the world we live in - so far today I've attended a Habitat for Humanity breakfast about funding a Disciples Build in our community, gone over the lease agreement for our student ministry space with a real estate agent, talked with a lawyer about moving from an unincorporated entity to an incorporated entity and had lunch with a banker to discuss our financial set-up and possibilities.

This certainly isn't what I do every day, or even most days, but it's all part of ministry.

Read. Know your stuff.  Be the best steward you can be of what God entrusts to you.

How's your business sense?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Unlikely Friendship

My good friend, Robert Morris, died yesterday.  He lived his whole life in South Carolina and spent his entire adult life as a pastor in the United Methodist Church.  He will be missed by many.

Our friendship was accidental.  He didn't come into the coffee shop looking for me nor I for him.  But the first time we were both there, we nodded a faint recognition and did that awkward thing people do when they're pretty sure they know each other but are not sure how.  He gets the credit for making the first move.  As I stood at the cash register ordering my tall skinny mocha, he walked over and said, "You're Jenn, right?  I'm Robert Morris."  

The rest is history.  He introduced me to his nephew who was looking for a new church and he told him with great certainty that he needed to come to the church I was planting.  For weeks after I would go into the coffee shop to work and see Robert there with his nephew and brother-in-law.  We would chat for a few minutes and then go to our separate tables.   After awhile, I started Wednesday morning Java with Jenn from 6:30-8:30 and eventually we fell into a routine where Robert and I would pull up on Wednesdays around the same time and start our day together.

Robert was traditional, and I am not.  Robert was a life-long southerner, and I am not (shh, don't tell).  In many ways, Robert made me think of an almost ironic blend of my father and his father.  It makes sense chronologically as I am younger than his kids and older than his grandkids.  But because the age difference didn't seem quite right, most people walking into the coffee shop would give us that look that said, "hmm, that's odd."

But, somehow, it never was.  Robert was a friend, an encourager and a confidante.  He came to our Christmas worship and his feedback was "that was interesting."  We weren't doing anything that connected with him, and yet he believed in our vision and he believed in our purpose because he believed in Jesus and he believed in Jesus' church.

My Wednesday mornings will never be the same, but I am so thankful for Robert and thankful for our friendship.  I can only pray that in the years to come I will be the kind of friend and mentor to future generations that Robert was to me.

Who are you actively encouraging right now and how are you supporting their call from God?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Can't Stand "Church People"
(After the Message)

I have been known, on occasion, to rant.  I could blame it on my vocation, or I could blame it on my estrogen, but the bottom line is, I rant.  I'm a ranter.  Set me off on the right topic and I'll tell you everything I've ever thought about it before pausing to take a breath.

It's not one of my most admirable traits, but now I've confessed and you've been duly warned.  And so, here goes my rant...

I can't stand "church people."  Who are these loathsome types?  Glad you asked.  I've devised a simple test to determine if you are a church person.

1. Are you more interested in bricks or people?
2. Are you more interested in your time with Jesus or making time for someone else to spend with Jesus?
3. Are you determined to sing the songs you like or are you willing to sing songs that capture the minds and hearts of people who don't know Jesus yet?
4. Do you think you deserve priority and preferential treatment as a church member, or do you think your primary purpose is to serve those who are not?

If you answered "a" to any, most or all of the above, you might be a "church person."  (for the record, I'm all about the Church and the people who make up the Church; hence the quotation marks denoting a specific breed)  Now, I don't claim to be holy, righteous or even all that great.  I'm a sinner saved by grace and in need of all the grace I can get each day.  However, I think I'm on pretty solid ground with this particular view.  You see, Jesus wasn't very fond of "church people" either.

In Mark 1013-16, we're told people were bringing their kids to Jesus so He could touch them.  This didn't go over well with the disciples who thought that their time with Jesus was being invaded.  After all, Jesus picked them, chose them, invited them to follow.  And, they did, at no small cost.  They gave up their livelihoods and their worldly security to follow someone they had never met.  It was their time to be with Jesus, and those rascally, unwashed kids were getting in the way.  So, they rebuked them.  They told the kids and their parents to take a hike.

"Jesus was indignant," (v. 14)

The disciples had decided it was all about them and forgotten that Jesus was pouring into them specifically so they would be able to go and reach others.

So, you know what Jesus told them to do: Move.  

Church people are the ones who forget over time that it isn't about them.  They're the ones who start to think Christianity is an exclusive club designed to meet their needs.  And Jesus wants none of that near Him.

Every one of us has a church person lurking somewhere inside.  It's the voice that says, "I want what I want.  I want to be noticed.  I want to be important.  Pick me."  

Here's the deal: Jesus did pick you.  He died for you.  And He would have done it for only you.

That's amazing.  That's incredible.

Now, don't be a "church person."  Instead, go let someone else know Jesus has picked them too.

Monday, February 07, 2011

After the Message (making a comeback)

"Be Kind." 
    It's on the wall of every daycare, elementary school and Scholastic book cover, but not once have I seen it on a company wall or in an employee manual.  When's the last time your boss called everyone in for a meeting and said, "Today's topic is kindness."

Fits in the realm of “nice” words.  In fact, February is a good time to talk about it, right? After all, February is about love and chocolate and puppies – kindness fits right in, yes?

Two problems: not the dictionary definition nor God’s definition
Dictionary – showing understanding, generous, benevolent
Romans 2:4 – God’s kindness leads us to repentance
            Whoa, that can’t mean being nice.  God didn’t try everything and then say,
“Oh, if I just say please, they’ll come back to me.”  No, God's kindness was sending His 
one and only Son to die on a cross for a bunch of people who had repeatedly mistreated 
and denied Him.

God did the unexpected, and, according to Jesus, that’s what being kind is all about

Luke 6:27-36
Golden Rule – treat others the way you want to be treated.
            So often we convince ourselves that the way we want to be treated is fairly.
            Charlie Brown: “I just want what is coming to me…I just want my fair share.”

According to Jesus, the golden rule isn't about fairness, it's about the unexpected
            Kindness is loving the person who has shown us nothing but contempt.  Kindness is about doing something good for someone who hates you.  Kindness is about giving to someone you know isn’t going to pay you back.

Reason we don’t talk about it as adults is b/c kindness isn’t fun, kindness doesn’t pay.  Kindness would put your company out of business.

And yet...

Golden Rule in action - Jesus went completely and totally out of His way for us, in the hopes that we would do the same for Him.

What would it look like for us to “be kind” this week?
            Random acts of kindness are great – paying for the person behind you in the drive thru line, letting someone go in front of you in the check-out line at the grocery store – awesome stuff

But what if this week…you gave up the grudge against the person who didn’t do right by you; you forgave the person you said you would never forgive; you were patient with the most impatient person in your life; you spent the majority of your prayer time on people who’ve mistreated you and not just your family and friends

vv. 35-36 – God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked, go and do likewise