Desperate Preachers 4.0

Ikeep thinking I’ve written my last post in this series, but here’s yet another one. Maybe it’ll be my last (for a while).

I’m posting another update mainly because the week after the last post, I made significant changes to it — more in structure/grammar than in content. I think it feels more natural this way. I’ll be on vacation the next two Sundays, so it should be safe for a while! 🙂

I haven’t really defined yet what I mean by “desperate preachers.” They’re simply people who realize their desperate need for God in the preparation for and the preaching of God’s Word.

So, here’s the latest version of the …

Desperate Preacher’s Prayer Guide
Lord, may the preaching of your Word make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!

I …
Surrender. Yield. Humble myself. Am available. Am desperate. Give you my all.

Give me …
Clean hands. Pure heart. Power. Passion. Urgency. Courage. Compassion. Your armor.

Help me to be …
Useful. A conduit. A connector. A prophet (speak for God). A Truth-teller. Biblically-grounded. Spirit-filled. Clear. Focused. Concise.

Transform lives …
Saturate us. Penetrate hearts. Plant seeds. Stir up. Break apart. Tear down. Build up. Draw out. Produce fruit. Awaken. Revive. Renew. Transform.

To review earlier versions, see 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0.

If you’re preacher, what do you pray before you preach? If you’re a listener, what do you pray leading up to or during the preaching of the message?

End of a Chapter

Yesterday, we went to Carlisle for a 3:00 p.m. hearing where Sarah’s adoption was finalized at the Cumberland County Courthouse. With Carlisle nearly three hours away, it was an all-day event!

Yesterday’s finalization was the final step in the legal process. It not only marks the end of Sarah’s adoption process, it also marks the end of a chapter in our lives that began four years ago. In the summer of 2006, we attended an informational meeting by Adoption Horizons in Carlisle, followed by the submission of a formal application to pursue international adoption six months later. Thirteen months after that, we flew to Korea to get Ethan (February 2008).

Toward the end of 2008, we started making plans for a second adoption, and in October 2009, we flew to Korea to get Sarah, whose adoption was finalized yesterday.

The hearing was short and sweet. It involved answering a series of questions after which the judge signed the order formalizing our adoption of Sarah. The final questions essentially asked if we knew what we were getting ourselves into and if we still wanted to move forward (although it was asked with a bit more elegance, I suppose). Among other things, the action changes Sarah’s name from her Korean name to Sarah. She also becomes an American citizen.

Judges tend to enjoy adoption hearings because there’s no opposing party and nobody walks away unhappy. It’s also a photo opportunity. We posed for a photo with Judge Masland (a United Methodist, we were told) after the hearing.

One of our favorite moments was when Ethan, just before the photo was taken, leaned over and tapped on the judge with his fist and said, “Knock, knock!” It’s generally not a good idea to hit a judge, but in this case, the judge didn’t seem to mind! 😆

As we did for Ethan’s finalization, we went to Spring Garden Restaurant to celebrate afterward. Every time we go to Korean restaurants, we seem to get extra attention (as well as unsolicited parenting advice :-)).

Well, this final legal step is the end of a chapter. But the journey certainly continues. As does our gratitude to God!

First Fourth for the Four

Shortly after arriving in Clearfield two years ago, we wrote about our First Fourth with Ethan. Well, yesterday was our first Fourth as a family of four.

With the holiday landing on Sunday, the day began in worship at our respective churches. After naps (and after I attended a viewing for a funeral on Monday), we cooked kabobs on the grill (for the first time) and had a nice evening together (in spite of running out of propane in the middle of our cookout!).

What is Preaching?

Ihave been chewing on the question, what is preaching, for a while. Is preaching simply teaching people about the Bible or giving an inspirational message, or is it more than that?

This isn’t an exhaustive discussion on the nature of preaching, of course, but I’ve been thinking about preaching as communicating, proclaiming (i.e., good news), teaching, farming (breaking up, planting seeds, watering, etc.), leading, vision-casting, and even battling (i.e., spiritual warfare).

I preach using sermon series and I’ve always tended to think/plan in terms of two major categories: (1) church/mission and (2) spiritual growth/formation. But as I understand it, Adam Hamilton uses five types of sermon series that he works through over time …

  1. Fishing series, to attract/connect with unchurched people
  2. Discipleship series, to help people grow spiritually
  3. Pastoral Care series, to provide biblical counseling
  4. Equipping series, to offer ministry development/training
  5. Strengthening series, to focus on vision

Preaching is important because God’s Word is crucial in the life of the church!

I love the quote in my recent post, Favorite Tweets 1.0

The only reason to give a speech is to change the world. (Nick Morgan)

I was also challenged by the quote by A.W. Tozer …

Any sermon that is not birthed in prayer is not a message from God no matter how learned the preacher.

I think of the prophet Jeremiah who felt as if God’s message was a fire in his bones, or the prophet Ezekiel who spoke to a valley of dry bones that came back to life again!

What if every preacher had that sense of urgency? (Ah, I think I need to add “urgency” to my Desperate Preachers Prayer Guide.) What would happen if changing the world and awakening lost/lukewarm souls was the purpose of every sermon and the goal of every preacher?

That’s what John Wesley, who said the following, longed for …

Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergy[persons] or lay[persons]; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.

If you’re a preacher, (in addition to prayer and reading God’s Word) how do you gain/maintain a sense of urgency in preaching?

Ordination Process, The Final Year

Joleen and I are both on track to be ordained Elders in The United Methodist Church on June 11, 2011 (a little over 11 months from now). It’s been a long journey, but we’re now in the final year, the home stretch.

Here are the requirements we must complete in the final year …

  1. Application for Clergy Membership
  2. Three personal reference forms
  3. District Superintendent recommendation form
  4. Medical exam form
  5. Written responses to theological questions in the Book of Discipline.
  6. Design and record worship service based on Joel 2.23-32
  7. Ordination Project
  8. Meet bi-monthly with mentor
  9. Meet quarterly with regional learning covenant group (others in the process)
  10. Overnight retreat (September 2010)
  11. General Board of Global Ministries seminar (January 2011)
  12. Board of Ordained Ministry interviews (March 2011)
  13. Training Day on “Church Finances” (March 2011)
  14. Overnight retreat with Bishop (May 2011)
  15. Approval at Clergy Session of the Susquehanna Annual Conference (June 2011)

The changes that were made to the process heading into the final year ended the requirement of Covenant Groups (made up of people from our congregations; it’s being replaced by the regional learning covenant groups, made up of others who are going through the process with us). However, our covenant groups, which have been meeting together, have chosen to continue meeting for the next year, anyway, as we complete our reading/study of Simple Church, by Thom Rainer. (Needless to say, it’s been a positive experience!)

The bulk of the work must be completed in the next 5.5 months (by January 13, 2011). After submitting our work, we will be interviewed by four teams of people on the Board of Ordained Ministry in early March. The four teams will address different areas: Theology (on our responses to the questions in the Book of Discipline), Ordination Project (on a 15-minute multimedia presentation of our project and a 2-3 page spiritual reflection paper), Life Issues (on the medical/reference forms and one question from the Book of Discipline), and Worship & Preaching (on the recording of a worship service based on assigned text).

It’s going to be a busy year. It’s going to be an especially busy 4.5 months (after vacation later this month). If we successfully complete all of these steps, we will ordained at the next annual conference of the newly-formed Susquehanna Conference, June 11, 2011!

For more on our journey, see previous posts: Our Journey Toward Ordination and Becoming Provisional Elders.