I wrote a few weeks ago that every Friday I am answering four questions. The first question is this: Who or what am I trusting?

In the midst of the decisions made at General Conference and my desire to coach our pastors through this season, I answered that question by saying, “I’m trusting Jesus.”

My purpose here is not to delineate the plans or debate the choices made at General Conference. My purpose here is to say, I am trusting Jesus to help us embody the love of God to one another in our words, our actions, and our interactions.

I am trusting Jesus to help us remember who we are and whose we are. All so we can love God, love our neighbors, and change the world.

To that end, Tim and I extended an invitation to the appointed pastors in Capitol Area South District to join us on Thursday at one of two clergy gatherings. Our desire is to help the appointed pastors continue to be the leaders they need in this season of ministry. (Appointed Pastors, please contact the CAS Office if you didn’t receive the invitation last Friday.)

As Christian disciples, in the midst of times of stress and conflict, we trust Jesus. Read more at the link above. #trust #jesus #church #faith #pastors #coaching #transformingmission Transforming MissionWhat values are at play?

If there is anything that I can say one week after General Conference, it is this: there are A LOT of intense feelings swirling around us and in our faith communities.

So, in addition to the questions above, I invite you to consider this question: Underneath the feelings you have, what values are at play? This question is meant to help you begin to process what you are feeling, not to debate the merits of the General Conference decisions.

Our feelings are often driven by our values. When our values are pressed or denied, we can find ourselves in conflict. To explore what you’re feeling, consider the 3-4 values driving your feelings.

If you’re feeling…

  • anxious, what value is underneath it?
  • victorious, what value is underneath it?
  • hurt, what value is underneath it?
  • confused, what value is underneath it?
  • relieved, what value is underneath it?
  • sad, what value is underneath it?
  • ___, what value is underneath it?

An Invitation

I have had countless conversations with pastors and people in our congregations. General Conference has left a large number of individuals with a need to further explore their reactions, feelings, and responses. Helping people in processing is what I have been trained to do as a coach – in complete confidentiality and impartiality.

As many of you know, we created Coaching Cohorts for pastors in the district. In addition, I am making myself available for one-time, individual coaching conversations for pastors during this time.

I have created some space in my calendar over the next several weeks.
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This conversation would be different from some interactions you might have because the purpose is not to commiserate, celebrate or persuade. My commitment is to objectively help you explore your feelings, needs and responses in an environment of complete confidentiality.
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Click here to let me know if a generative conversation for the purpose of processing would be helpful to you right now.

I’m trusting Jesus. Are you? Wherever you find yourself, may you be reminded of the love of God we know in Jesus. Or as I often like to say, “God loves you and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

 

There is a one in seven chance that you’re reading this on Friday. Why then, am I writing about TGIF? If you think it’s about Friday being a “day off” or the importance of Sabbath, no, that’s not it. It’s not about the TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Friday!) most of us know.

It’s about asking different questions. This is about being intentional with living and leading. And, it’s about what a weekly ritual is teaching me.

Life moves at a crazy, quick pace. As a result, I found myself, at times, going through the motions and not always being intentional, grateful, or consistent in reflecting on my life, leadership, and ministry.

TGIF is more than thank goodness it's friday. It's a weekly practice of reflecting on where God is moving in the midst of trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith. Read the questions at the link above. #church #faith #jesus #tgif #transformingmission Transforming MissionThe Ongoing Work of Transformation

Colleagues and friends would ask me questions, on occasion, that moved me to a new place. But, if all leadership begins with self-leadership, there were things that needed to improve. In short, I was seeking the ongoing work of transformation. I also know all too well the impact reflection has on transformation. If you want growth, stop and reflect.

Somewhere in 2018, I read about a TGIF practice. I wish I could put my fingers on where it came from. All I remembered is it didn’t actually stand for Thank Goodness It’s Friday. TGIF stood for four different words. Here’s how I’ve chosen to represent TGIF: trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.

Then, I put those four words into four questions I’m answering every Friday (or Saturday, Sunday, or Monday…more on that in a minute). Here are the four questions:

Four Questions

❶ What am I TRUSTING?
❷ For whom or what am I GRATEFUL?
❸ What is INSPIRING me?
❹ How am I practicing FAITH?

I’m only five weeks into fifty-two weeks of TGIF. Here are the lessons I am learning.

Five Lessons I’m Learning from TGIF

Lesson 1: Practice Doesn’t Necessitate Perfection

I’ve completed TGIF five times and only two actually happened on a Friday. There are times I can beat myself up for missing a routine, ritual, or daily practice. This time, I’m trying to remind myself practice doesn’t need to be perfect. Sometimes late is better than never. This isn’t a tax deadline, after all. It doesn’t matter when I do it. I can’t fail at a ritual I created and started on my own!

Your turn: What expectations do you place on yourself? Are the expectations realistic?

Lesson 2: Be Surprised By the Past

Sometimes reflection takes you back 20 years. During the first week of TGIF, I learned of the death of one of my grad school professors. While it was almost 20 years since we were last in the same room together, his death reminded me of what he taught me about trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith. He was larger than life and wise beyond comprehension. I’m not sure I would have paused to give God thanks for Peter’s life and legacy if I hadn’t adopted this practice.

Your turn: Who is influencing your life, ministry, and/or leadership?

Lesson 3: Random Weeks v. Theme Weeks

There are weeks in our lives that are filled with a theme. Other weeks are filled with a million random things. Trying to make sense of what I am trusting, grateful for, inspired by, and how I am practicing faith during the “million little things” weeks seem like a leap of faith. Both are ok. Just be aware of what is happening.

Your turn: Are you having a theme week or a random week? Which would you prefer?

Lesson 4: Reflection Multiplies Learning

Over the first five weeks of the new year, I continue to learn more about myself as a leader, a person, a friend, etc. For years, I have a daily practice of reflecting on where God is moving. But, stopping to ask a question of trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith is making me dig a little deeper, reflect a little more, and pay attention to the moments I’m not trusting, feeling grateful, inspired, or faithful. No, I don’t beat myself up, I simply pause and notice that it’s happening. Usually, it points to something else stirring in my soul.

Your turn: When will you pause and reflect on the four questions above?

Lesson 5: Social Media is weird.

You weren’t expecting that one, were you? Me either. I’ve accidentally posted portions of my reflections on Facebook from Instagram two times. (oops!) Each time, I’ve been surprised that people have been curious, commented on needing to pause to reflect, and wanting to embrace this practice. And now you know why I’m posting this here. Sometimes accidents bring lessons that we need to share with others. Social media may be weird, but it can also be helpful if we use it appropriately.

Your turn: What mistakes have you made on social media that surprised you with goodness?

Keep Growing

The greatest gift of the first five weeks of 2019? Pausing to see a thread through my life that calls me and others to deeper self-awareness so I can continue to grow. After all, if I’m going to be who God created me to be, I’m going to need to keep growing.

Wondering what this looks like in practice? You can find last week’s reflection here SaraThomas.net  Here’s last week’s reflection. Or follow me @sara.b.thomas on Instagram for a brief reflection each Friday (or Saturday.)

Perhaps you’ll adopt or adapt this practice to make it your own. Or maybe you have your own self-reflection. Let us know below in the comments!

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As a preacher of the good news of Jesus Christ, what does it mean to start the year with new resolve, new hope, and new vision? If I may be so bold to offer some advice at the beginning of this year.

Preach like you know they almost didn’t come. That is what Bill Muehl said to his students when he was a professor of preaching at Yale.  “Remember, about half of your congregation almost didn’t come this morning.”

Improving the Acoustics Transforming Mission Blog

The trend seems to be that our most committed people are attending worship less frequently. Yet, if we look carefully, we will see many who could have chosen to be elsewhere have come back early from a meeting or vacation. There are others who are so sad, lonely, or distraught that the emotional toll of coming to church is huge.

Don’t take them for granted. The preaching task is too important. There is never a good excuse not to handle the proclamation of God’s word with great thought, preparation, and integrity.

Important Events

Several years ago, Fred Craddock told the story of a young woman who attended a service at which he was a guest preacher.  She told him that when she anticipated that a sermon might make her feel uncomfortable or call her to change something about her living, she brought her three small children into the sanctuary with her.  She said the distraction usually worked.

On another occasion, he asked a young visitor, a 20 something, about his first visit to a church.

He asked, “Do you remember ever being in church before today?”

The young man replied, “I’m sure this is my very first time.”

“Well, how was it?”

“A bit scary.”

“Scary?”

“Yes, I found it a bit frightening.”

“How so?”

“The whole service seemed so important.  I try to avoid events that are important; they get inside my head and stay with me.  I don’t like that. To be honest I prefer parties.”

“Then will you come back?”

After a long pause, the young man answered, “Yes.”

A Day Ruined by Jesus

As a preacher, to start the year with new resolve, new hope, and new vision is to remember that the subject matter is so important that it is life changing. It is possible that the one who listens can be radically affected in relationships, in ethical standards, and in moral decisions.

As you step into this new year, preach like you know that they almost didn’t come.  There will always be resistance.  Who wants to be disturbed by the truth?

  • There are 1300 children killed and 6000 children wounded by gunfire every year.
  • Twelve million children go to school every day in clothes given to them and thirteen million children go to bed hungry every night.

Who wants to have a nice day ruined by Jesus?

Listen to him:

If you have two coats;

go the second mile;

turn the other cheek;

if you love only those who love you;

forgive seventy times seven;

love your enemies;

your will be done on earth as it is in heaven;

I was hungry, naked, a stranger, in prison;

you fool, where is all your stuff now;

God is kind even to the ungrateful and wicked;

do not be anxious about tomorrow.

Improving the acoustics Transforming Mission

New Resolve, New Hope, New Vision

As difficult as it is to hear, it is extremely important to listen. Preach the good news.  Sometimes, Jesus gets into your head and your heart and stays with you.  I think that is what Paul is referring to in his letter to the Romans. “So how can they call on someone they don’t have faith in? And how can they have faith in someone they haven’t heard of? And how can they hear without a preacher?”

Step into this new year with new resolve, new hope, and new vision. Remember that the subject matter is so important that it is life changing.

Since I’m handing out advice, what does it mean to start a new year as a leader of a church, a congregation, a community of faith with new resolve, new hope, and new vision? Again, it is Paul in his letter to the Romans, “Welcome one other, in the same way that Christ has welcomed you. All for God’s glory.”

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

It is my opinion that we have told ourselves that we must walk the walk and that our living is our witness, to the detriment of telling people who we are and why we do what we do. Without giving testimony with our words, we are telling only half the truth. It’s not enough to walk the walk. Someone has to talk the talk.

What would happen if you and I began to tell how God, in Jesus, has made a difference in our lives? What would happen if we came alongside of persons, in the community as well as the church, created a space for conversations, developed meaningful relationships, practiced our faith of loving as we have been loved, inviting people to engage in developing their faith, not with easy answers, but to become who God created them to be?

I believe people would begin to discover how they could make a difference in their families, in their employment, and in their communities.

Improve the Acoustics

As we step into this new year, let’s improve the acoustics.  Let’s speak more boldly and clearly the truth of God’s love.  Let’s preach like we know they almost didn’t come. And let’s tell how God, in Jesus, has made a difference in our lives. That is my resolve, hope, and vision for this new year.

O God, give us the words that give witness to your Word in our speaking and in our living.  Amen

 

 

It is not uncommon in the church for us to urge each other to witness to our faith. Sometimes we assume that sharing stories of our faith is easy to do. I must confess that I have found it incredibly difficult. It might be my personality, but it is tough to talk about things so deeply meaningful and profoundly intimate.

Several years ago, I had a businessman, a young father, by the name of Dan, call me about his church membership. He said he was tired of searching for God and was leaving the church. As I listened to him, I tried to understand his dissatisfaction. We talked about his work, his family relationships, and his contentment with his life. During our conversation, he said, “I feel like I’m running the bases but I never reach home.” Then he said, “I am not sure I really believe in God.”

God Believes in You

My next words to him were words I had used before.  I had heard them as a teenager in a Sunday school class.  It was there they had taken root in my life and began to shape my understanding of God’s love. Because they were meaningful to me, I had offered them to others through sermons, bible studies, and conversations along my faith journey.

So, I offered them these words to him. “Dan, at this moment, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in God or not.  God believes in you.” I said, “I know you are searching for God.  But have you ever thought that God is also searching for you?  Can you imagine that God believes in you so much that God is searching for you?”

What Will You Offer?

I remembered words that had profoundly shaped my understanding of God’s love.  They were words of one of my instructors in seminary.  At that moment, I offered them to Dan.

“When our parents, Adam and Eve, left the garden of Eden, God whispered in their ear, ‘I will come for you.’  Adam and Eve didn’t understand God’s word as a promise.  They interpreted the word as a threat.  So, they ran and hid.

As human beings, we have been running and hiding ever since.  But God has come searching for us.  God has come as a fragile, vulnerable little baby, growing up with the comforts and restraints of home, family, community, and culture.

As he grew up and matured, he worked hard. He experienced both joy and exhaustion. He learned what it was to love and be loved. He experienced what it was to have people betray him. He had a dream of making the world a better place. His dream was rejected. He experienced the pain of having his friends turn against him. He suffered and died for his dream.  That is how God has come searching for you and for me.”

Being Found

I wish I could say that Dan said, “I never thought of it that way before.” Or, “Now, I know that God loves me and my family.” Or, “Thanks Pastor.” The reality is, I had the opportunity to offer hope by offering Christ.

What would happen if you and I began to tell our stories of “being found” by God? What would happen if we took John Wesley seriously and began to “Offer them Christ” as we developed relationships and talked about what was deeply meaningful us?

To Offer Christ, Is to Offer Hope

What I know is this, to offer Christ is an offer of hope. The offer is more than sharing “spiritual facts” which lead to a mental assent to correct understanding and logical decisions.  You and I don’t experience hope as a form of indoctrination.

The offer of Christ is not, what I grew up hearing, “closing the deal” for Jesus.  You and I don’t experience hope by being manipulated into saying “yes” to carefully worded questions.

The offer of Christ is a two-way process of honest interaction. Because you and I simply do not see everything the same way, we develop a friend-to-friend relationship.  So, the offer of Christ is not a single encounter.  It is an extended relationship of mutual respect and care.  It is within the relationship that hope is developed, experienced, and lived out.

As important as it is, the offer of Christ is more than inviting people to worship or to participate in the programs of the church.  To offer Christ is to offer hope to those who are discontent and dissatisfied in their search for God. It is in and through our relationships that we can share our experiences of God searching for us in Jesus.  Hope will be found in the love we share.  Because hope becomes a sign of who we are.

I believe we can change the world by offering Christ.  It is in the offer of Christ that we offer the hope we have experienced in and through Jesus. T. S. Elliot wrote, “the life we seek is not in knowing but in being known, not in seeking but in being sought, not in finding but in being found.”

To offer Christ is to offer hope!

 

 

Each of us faces times of uncertainty in our lives. Uncertainty comes with death or disaster. It comes with divorce, unemployment, or retirement. It comes with disappointment, lack of security, or the fear of the unknown.

Personally, I have come through several times of uncertainty. Times of not knowing what the future might hold and being paralyzed in regard to what decisions to make. I have felt I was caught in a place I had never been before.

Recently, I faced a time of uncertainty so great that I could not see beyond the moment. Uncertain about my future, I felt confused, hurt, and alone.

Facing the Future

It was at that point, in my anxiety, that a colleague and friend stepped in to help me face my future. I didn’t get a lot of sympathies, shallow agreements, or unrealistic platitudes. What I did get was a person of faith who allowed me to be me at the moment of my greatest need.

She created a space for me to talk about my disappointments, hurts, fears, and anxiety. Although there were times she did not agree with my assessments, she never passed judgment. She listened with compassion and, at the appropriate time, asked me questions I needed to answer for clarity and healing.

She offered Christ by embodying God’s grace. I began to trust her compassion and look forward to her questions. The space she created and the grace she offered allowed me to move past my anxiety to see new possibilities beyond what I had known or experienced up to that point in my life.

Healing and Hope

Within the process of healing, she provided opportunities to put into practice the new possibilities that were beginning to emerge. Along with plans for reading and reflecting on scripture, occasions to practice the presence of God through prayer and conversation, and the challenge to look beyond myself to see what new thing God might be doing, I was invited to put my faith into action. It was at that point I rediscovered God’s desire, to use me, to make a difference in the places I encountered the people God wanted me to love.

It was in and through her engagement in my life that this Jesus follower helped me experience hope in a time of uncertainty. She did not bring easy answers. In fact, she did not bring any answers.

She did bring God’s promises to bear on my uncertainty. She came alongside me, at the moment of greatest anxiety, embodying God’s love, to journey with me through my most difficult moments, to see what God might have in store for the future. She was an instrument of God’s hope.

Hope in Uncertain Times

It is stating the obvious to say that we live in a time of great turmoil. People are killed not only in the streets but in their places of prayer. We are experiencing the deliberate strategy of fear and hate that has turned into violence. If I had to choose one diagnosis for what wounds people the most today, I would say that the root of the fear and hatred is found in uncertainty.

People lack certainty in their jobs, in the economy, in their children’s future. They are asking questions like, “Will my pension be enough?” “Will my job last?” “Will there be a place for me?” I know that some of you are uncertain about the future of our United Methodist Church. We are trying to hang on to what we know and we are wondering what will happen if it turns out differently than what we expect.

Agents of Hope

I am convinced, that in this time of uncertainty, God is ready for the congregations of the Capitol Area South District to be agents of hope. We are the people to bring the great promises of God to bear on this time and place in history. So, why don’t we become agents of hope?

Let’s create spaces for conversation, where we can talk about our fears, disappointments, and uncertainty. Let’s create places of trust where, even if we disagree, no one is judged for their thoughts, feelings, or opinions. Listen with compassion and offer hospitality even in the midst our uncertainty.

Let’s offer Christ by embodying God’s grace. The space we create and the grace we offer will allow individuals and churches, to see new possibilities beyond what they have known or experienced up to this point.

Let’s put the new possibilities that begin to emerge into practice. And if no new possibilities emerge, let’s just be Christian in our living. Let’s come together as congregations and pray for the people that no one else wants and put our faith into action by receiving the people God sends to us. These simple acts of faith will help us rediscover God’s love and we will begin to love our communities the way God in Christ has loved us.

Engagement Brings Hope

Friends, colleagues, readers, it will be in and through our engagement in the lives of individuals, our churches, and our communities, that we will experience hope during our uncertainty. There are no easy answers. We have not come this way before. But, because of the faith God has given us, we can bring God’s promises to bear on this moment. We can become instruments of hope for this time and place.

Let’s come alongside the people with whom we live, work, and serve. Let’s embody God’s love and journey together through these difficult moments to see what God might have in store for the future.

The people around us, our families, our churches, our communities, are longing for hope to face the future. God has placed in our hands “the single most indispensable, non-negotiable, irreplaceable resource required for big challenges and noble battles.” It is the power of HOPE.

So, let’s give people what they are longing for. Let’s give them hope in these uncertain times.

 

 

Lindsay had been unconscious for hours. She had felt horrible all weekend, but when she didn’t answer her door, her friends became concerned and broke into her dorm room. Neither her friends, the EMTs, nor the emergency room doctors could get a response. Her parents were called to the hospital. They tried to get all the information they could, but the only detail that mattered was that their oldest child, away from home for her freshman year, was in unexplored territory for all of them.

Lindsay was life-flighted to a hospital better equipped to address her condition. It was during this time of crisis that the church, the community of faith, surrounded Lindsey and her family.

A woman by the name of Becky, a mother of two girls, decided to visit Lindsay with a gift. She took her gift with a disciple’s faith and a mother’s heart.

A Disciple’s Faith and A Mother’s Heart

When Becky arrived, Lindsay was in the Critical Care Unit. As she entered the room, the doctor and the nurse in the room at the time said, “We’ll leave so you can be alone with her.” While Lindsay lay unconscious, this woman, with a disciple’s faith and a mother’s heart, began to pray.

Becky said, “I stood at the edge of her bed, and I touched her leg. And I prayed for her. I can’t tell you for how long. But as I prayed, I was filled with this overwhelming assurance that this young woman was going to be all right.” Then she said, “I finished praying. I wiped the tears from my eyes. I turned to leave. That’s when I realized that the nurses from the unit were gathered outside the room. They had been watching while I was praying.”

So, what kind of gift can a disciple’s faith and a mother’s heart possibly give an unconscious teenager? What gift is worthy for a group of caregivers in a critical situation? How about the gift of hope?

The Power of Hope

Hope is the most powerful force in the universe. More powerful than death and despair, hope is lifegiving.  The power of hope brings God’s promises to bear on the here and now. There is absolutely nothing else like it in the world. Doctors will step out of the way to let hope in. Nurses will stand outside the room in awe to watch hope at work. There is nothing more life-giving and death-defeating than the power of hope.

Friends, colleagues, whoever will listen, I write today to tell you that the power of hope has been given to the church. That’s the real surprise, isn’t it? That the opportunity and honor of giving hope is given to you and me.

Whenever God wants to bring God’s promises to bear on the here and now, God looks for one of us. God looks wherever God can find a disciple’s faith and a willing heart. God looks for the church to be the people of hope. God has placed in our hands, “the single most indispensable, non-negotiable, irreplaceable resource required for big challenges and noble battles,” the power of hope.

We cannot live without hope. Hope is the backbone that holds us up and holds us together. Transforming MissionWhat Can People Live Without?

Victor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, tells about his life as a prisoner in a Nazi death camp. He recalls a fellow prisoner who was in good health, considering the conditions of the camp. Each day on the way out to the work site this man would talk about what he and his wife were going to do together at the end of the war when they were released.

Then one day the man received the news of the death of his wife. Two days later, he died. Frankl concluded from this experience that people can live longer without bread than they can without hope.

Hope is More Powerful Than…

We live in a time of great turmoil. People are killed not only in the streets but in their places of prayer. We are experiencing the deliberate strategy of fear and hate that has turned into violence. But if I had to choose one diagnosis for what wounds people the most today, I would not say it’s greed, or selfishness, or apathy. I would say that the root of the fear and hatred we are experiencing is found in uncertainty.

People lack certainty in their jobs, in the economy, in their children’s future. They are asking the questions, “Will my pension be enough?” “Will my job last?” “What if the election doesn’t go the way I want it to go?” I know that some of you are uncertain about the future of our United Methodist Church. We are trying to hang on to what we know. We are wondering what is going to happen if it turns out differently than what we expect.

What I know is this, there are only a few things more powerful than life and death put together, hope is one them. As human beings, we can live for forty days without food, four days without water, and four minutes without air. But we cannot live without hope. Hope is the backbone that holds us up and holds us together. Anchored in God’s promises, hope gives us life. It is hope, given to us in and through Jesus, that is same today and tomorrow.

Agents of Hope

I believe that God is ready for the congregations of the Capitol Area South District to be agents of hope. We are the people to bring the great promises of God to bear on this time and place in history. God has placed in our hands “the single most indispensable, non-negotiable, irreplaceable resource required for big challenges and noble battles.”

So, God is looking for one of us to have a disciple’s faith and willing heart. God is looking for one of us to bring the promises of God to bear on the here and now? God is looking for one of us to be an agent of hope in the neighborhood, the community, and the city? God is looking for one of us to pray, “Where do you need me to be hope today?”

Friends, colleagues, fellow human beings, God is looking for you!

 

 

 

 

 

Psychologist Neil Clark Warren used to say when he did therapy with married couples, his primary goal was simply to see a 10% improvement in their relationships. He found it made a tremendous difference because, even a 10% improvement, gave the couples hope.

Warren believed in hope.

He found that if people had hope, they had a tremendous reservoir of energy. Hope kept them moving when they would have otherwise given up. He wrote, “Hope is the single most indispensable, non-negotiable, irreplaceable resource required for big challenges and noble battles.”¹

A Vision for A Better Day

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, wrote,

“We boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.”

-Romans 5:1-5

Paul was talking about hope being a vision for better days that changes us in the present. For Paul, hope was not just an exercise in wishful thinking (“I hope it doesn’t rain.”). Hope was not just another word for disappointment. (“We had hoped that he would recover.”) Neither was hope the absence of hardship nor the denial of reality. For Paul, hope reached its greatest potential in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.

Because hope is a vision for better days that changes us in the present, we can face the future with hope.

Facing the Future with Hope

As the church, we are located at the intersection of people’s desperate need and God’s amazing offer. Because of what we have experienced in and through Jesus, we have a God-given hope which cannot be defeated and does not disappoint.

Because of Jesus Christ, you and I hold in our hands “the single most indispensable, non-negotiable, irreplaceable resource required for big challenges and noble battles.” With that in mind, your congregation is a beacon of hope. Can you imagine what you and the local church could do with a vision for better days that changes it in the present?

There is nothing that your community needs more than hope.

There is Hope

When someone wanders into your space, broken by the realities of life, having given up on trying to make it on their own, and looking for someone to save them, will you be there to whisper, “In the name of Jesus, there is hope.”

When someone who is lost in the depths of depression and drowning in a deep darkness, will you be there to let them know, “No matter how bad it feels now, there is hope in Jesus.” Or when someone is trapped in addiction and unable to escape on their own, will you come alongside him or her and whisper, “You are not alone. There is hope.”

When someone is a prisoner to bad choices and incarcerated behind the bars of our justice system, will you be around to send caring witnesses inside the walls of the prison to whisper, “In the name of Jesus, there is hope.”

When disaster strikes somewhere in our country or world, and you feel helpless to fix everything or to save everyone, will you be ready to gather people together to be hands, feet, and face of hope?

In the midst of the chaos and uncertainty of our church and our aimless wondering through structural changes, are you able to focus upon our mission and to face the future with hope?

At the Intersection of Desperate Need and God’s Amazing Offer

What do you think? Are you able to move your heart, mind, and money out to the intersection of people’s desperate need and God’s amazing offer? Faced with an uncertain future, a changing community, and shrinking resources, we can either choose fear and hunker down or we can face the future with a radical hope.

Because of Jesus, we have in our hearts and hold in our hands a hope that cannot be defeated and does not disappoint. We have a vision for better days that changes us in the present. You and I have a relationship with the author of hope. We hold “the single most indispensable, non-negotiable, irreplaceable resource required for big challenges and noble battles.” We have access to hope. In the midst of the chaos and confusion of the moment, what more do we need to face the future?

 

Notes

  1. You might know the name Neil Clark Warren as the founder of eHarmony.com.

As the youngest of three children, my seat in the family car was in a predictable place. My “spot” was the center of the back seat of the car. I ate my knees as we drove to a meal out or to visit family. To make matters worse, my brother and sister were always invading my personal space.

If you have siblings, you likely know what I’m talking about. Siblings have a way of crossing the line of our personal space, testing our patience, and also inviting us to laugh. Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother and sister. I credit them for my twisted sense of humor and ability not to take myself too seriously.

But, what I remember most about driving somewhere with my family is that I was never sitting in the “right” place…especially when we were merging on or off the highway. The car would make a horrible noise as we went around the entrance or exit ramp. My Dad would announce from the driver’s seat, “Sara, you’re not sitting in the right spot.”

It wasn’t until I was ten or eleven years old that my siblings FINALLY helped me realize that horrible noise had nothing to do with where I was sitting. That horrible noise was my Dad intentionally driving over rumble strips.

Coaching helps us become who God created us to be Transforming MissionThe Truth About Coaching

At a young age, thanks to my siblings, I learned that what I believed to be true, was actually false.

Whether it was the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, we’ve all believed in something that wasn’t actually true at some point in our lives.

One of the beliefs I encounter as a coach is that coaches tell people what to do. Another is that coaching is punitive. You’ve messed up in some way and you have to be coached. Another is that coaching is prescriptive.

Each of these false beliefs about coaching can stop people from engaging in coaching. May I set a different expectation for you?

Coaching is a customized means of growth and development. It is a privilege to participate in coaching.

As we head into 2019, the fast pace of change in our world and growing anxiety within our denomination is challenging Pastors and local church leaders more every day.

We’re here to walk with you.

The Capitol Area South District is offering CAS Pastors the opportunity to be a part of a coaching cohort between January – May, 2019.

Please review the information below and complete the interest form to get started.

Why Coaching?

When I first received a coach, I thought I was going to be told what to do. Then, when I started coaching, I thought I was going to tell people what to do. Thankfully, both turned out to be unrealistic expectations.

Instead, the coach I work with asks great questions and helps me become who God created me to be. I am grateful for the hundreds of hours of training I received to help me learn what it means to be a coach. The people I coach help me become a better coach, too.

Because I have a coach, I am a better leader, a better pastor, and a better coach to leaders as a result. One of the most intense times of growth and development for me is when I am being coached. I stay focused on the goals I am trying to reach. A coach helps me navigate turbulent waters with more grace than I can alone. I get outside perspectives that help me appreciate a different point of view. And, I always know there is someone cheering me on. I could go on an on. As with anything, coaching yields the results of your investment. Coaches are partners. They inspire you to maximize your potential.

Rumble Strips & Coaching

Rumble strips have taken on new meaning in my life. Those silly rumble strips now grab my attention and invite me to slow down. They keep me within the bounds of the path I am traveling. Interestingly enough, it’s often the same thing that happens in coaching.

I’m grateful that my initial thoughts about coaching were as wrong as my belief that where I sat in the back seat determines the noises the car would make. Coaching is a gift. It is a privilege. Coaching helps us become who God created us to be.

And you don’t need my siblings to tell you that.

 

About the 5 Month Coaching Cohorts

Deadline to express interest:

November 29, 2018

Expectations for Coaching Cohort Participants

  • Give prayerful consideration to what God wants to accomplish through you in 2019.
  • Participate in one orientation meeting.
  • Show up and fully participate in five, monthly online meetings for 60-75 minutes.
  • Faithfully pursue the actions you commit to during our online meetings.
  • Reach out to your cohort/coach when you encounter roadblocks and celebrations.

What is coaching?

  • Coaching is a customized means of growth and development.
  • It is a privilege. Coaching is a privilege.
  • Coaches partner with coachee(s) in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires coachee(s) to maximize their personal and professional potential.

Coaching is NOT:

  • Punitive
  • Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Whining or complaining session
  • Prescriptions for your ministry

Why might you want to participate in a Coaching Cohort?

  • Do you have a goal you want to achieve – personally or professionally?
  • You want to continue growing as a leader.
  • You are leading the church in a new direction.
  • The neighborhood is changing and you’re trying to help the congregation navigate the changes.
  • You’re encountering resistance to change.
  • There is a huge turnover in leadership in the local church.
  • You’re leading something new.
  • You want to start a new ministry (or need to end a long-term ministry).
  • You have goals that haven’t been achieved and you want to accomplish them.
  • You’re in a new position.
  • You’re anticipating retirement.
  • Your family is in a new season of life.
  • You need an outside perspective on a specific area of ministry.
  • You are a leader

Cost

  • CAS Pastors
    • Your District and Annual Conference Apportionments are covering the normal cost of $150/hour
    • Your time and effort
  • Other Pastors/Leaders

If you are willing to commit to the following, we’d love to talk with you about participating in a Coaching Cohort.

  • Coaching Cohorts will take place between January – May 2019
  • Participate in a cohort coaching group with 3-5 people + Coach
    • One, 2 hour, in person, orientation meeting
    • Five, 60-75 minute, monthly, online video meetings (via Zoom)
  • A desire to grow and lead change. This change may be within the local congregation, leading the congregation into the local community, a team within the church, or your own personal leadership.
  • Let us know you’re interested by completing the interest form

Questions?

Contact

Sara Thomas

sarathomas@wocumc.org

or

Tim Bias

tbias@wocumc.org

Deadline to express your interest:

Wednesday, November 29, 2018