Anchors Aweigh, People Await!

I thank God and you for allowing me to serve First United Methodist Church, Irving.  I start my second year as your pastor and I look forward to leading us into a conversation about where we are going.  I want us to explore ways our church can deploy our existing ministries further to the edge; touching the lives of the under-served and under-reached.  Below are three guiding principles that will guide our conversation.

Our conversation must move from an “internal focus” to an “external focus”.  The church does not exist for itself.  When it thinks it does, we’ve created a church-centric world, a skewed view of reality.  By external focus of ministry I mean radically reorienting our understanding that we exist primarily to do ministry beyond ourselves.

Our conversation must move from a “program-driven agenda” to a “people-development agenda”.  Over time, the North American church has largely become a collection of programs run by staff or lay leaders.  While we will certainly continue to have these programs, I believe a people-development agenda will base its sense of accomplishment on how well its people are doing, not its programs.  If you start with people, the programs then serve the people, not the other way around.

Our conversation must move from an “institutional model” of leadership to a “movement model” of leadership.  Leading a movement is very different from leading an organization.  Christianity was largely a street movement in its early days, when it turned the world on its head.  Once we institutionalized it and put it into the hands of the clergy, we lost the virility of that movement-it became about institutional management.  We have to return to the kind of lay leadership that’s required in leading a street movement, if we’re going to recapture that energy.

In the coming year, I will give my heart and soul to creating a culture where people are developed and deployed as missional followers of Jesus.  I am not exempt from also being developed and deployed, with my primary concern being “Am I creating a culture where that is occurring?”  The scorecard I will use to measure my work in the coming year is, how many people can I help be deployed to touch and serve others.  Truthfully, our church already is deployed; I just plan to pay closer attention to how that is happening in the lives of our lay people.

That is what is happening in the Pastor’s office, anchors aweigh, people are awaiting!

Russell

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