May 2007

I was at our Annual Conference of United Methodists this past week and we heard from a church planting pastor from Hot Metal Bridge Community Church. This church in Pittsburg is engaing the culture through drama, community, and “Bible fight clubs.” (Concept is from the movie “Fight Club”) Bible Fight clubs are more confrontational than your typical Bible study. There were a few things I resonated with.  – Matt Poole
Read the Entire Article

How to establish and maintain Koinonia was the central portion of Pastor Jim’s message.  Building community is not new to the church.  We do a half decent job of having teas, cookouts and sharing meals within our realm of church friends and family. Koinonia speaks to spiritual transparency, sharing and mutual compassion.  Be ing able to share the desires of our heart, spiritual vunerabilities, embrace another person’s pain or celebrate a victory in their life is not the North American Church paradigm that most churches embrace.   Hot Metal Bridge is a unique faith community that is faithful to the basics of our faith in a radical way. Read the entire article because another thing that Pastor Jim said is that we do not make disciples, the Holy Spirit makes disciples as people learn to be faithful to God.  This challenges the core of our mission statement. “To be and Make Disciples for Jesus Christ”

Making Disciples through  Personal Life Transformation

Disciple making is also about personal holiness.  Being challenged on your individual behavior as it relates to spiritual growth is not the emphasis that I am hearing in mainline denominations.  I am hearing questions like: 

  • How many people have joined your church?
  • How many people have visited your church?
  • Are you running a balanced budget

I am hungering for someone to ask me, 

  • How much time did you spend praying for the members of your congregation?
  • Which members did you encourage in their faith this week?
  • Is there a member that you sat down and comforted this week?
  • How have you shared the grace of God with someone this week?

 Being a disciple and making disciples requires personal accountability. A double minded person can not be effective. Should I be accountable to church growth or spiritual growth?

 Do not stress because both are necessary.  Achieving a balance is difficult unless the goal of ministry and making disciples is to build the kingdom of God.  The kingdom of God is first and church growth follows.  TO be a spiritual change agent requires that you are constantly being immersed in the Word and transformed by renewing of your mind.

 These are the questions that I am asking myself 

  • How do you see God moving in the text?
  • How does the message of God in the text impact your life?
  • How does this text connect, critique or challenge modern culture?
  • How can the text have meaning for your congregants?
  • How does the text impact the ministry and mission of the church?

 Is an hour to much to spend in prayer and meditation?  Personally I find it just scratches the surface.  It is essential for men and women engaged in making disciples to find the balance.

On Friday May 18th from 3-6 Loco Jonny’s in Frederick will be having a world class coffee tasting opportunity.  Coffee from around the world will be served. (I bet your corporate coffee shop doesn’t do that).  Loco Jonny’s prides itself on preparing the finest coffee, tea and espresso beverages.  They know most of their repeat customers by name.  They even know my favorite drink and where I like to sit. 

 When I first wrote A Coffee House to Call My Own, it was like finding personal space to hangout.  Now it is also a place to meditate, meet new people and discuss all of the solutions to the world’s problems.  Don’t miss the opportunity Friday to become a global coffee drinker. See you there!

Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts Offers Residencies

 Deadline: September 1, 2007; and March 1, 2008

The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts ( ) in Nebraska City, Nebraska, offers two- to eight-week residencies year-round for writers, visual artists, and music composers.

The program provides housing, studio space, and a $100/week  stipend. There is a $25 application fee. Approximately thirty-eight residencies are awarded each year.

Deadlines are as follows: September 1 for the following January  through June 15; and March 1 for the following July through  December 15.

Visit the program’s Web site for complete information, guidelines,and application instructions.

RFP Link:

  For additional RFPs in Arts and Culture, visit: 


This is an interview that I did for Brandie Kajino. 

Her blog  Organize.Simplify.Transform is about creating the spaces that you love and living the life that you deserve.  Check out the interview.

Nehemiah 1

1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

5 Then I said: 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ 10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

Nehemiah is my favorite church revitalization pastor in the Bible. There are so many lessons that we learn which are vital to our ministry of restoration, renewal, revival and revitalization. Many times in our rush to explain the exciting parts of the text we overlook some subtle lessons. I have been reading this text a lot in my devotions and wanted to share a few of the observations.

Nehemiah was well connected in his relationship to people – He knew people who would share vital information. People who had a common passion Revitalization pastors who do not have connections in the community will need to develop them. Knowing the community communications networks are just as important as knowing the church communications networks. Knowing the right people in the community is important. I have the theory that when you are called or appointed to a church you are also called and appointed to the community. As a revitalization pastor this is important to keep in mind.

Nehemiah was a man who was not afraid to show his emotions – Nehemiah’s grief was expressed in weeping. The pain that he felt because of the burned walls and those who were exiled caused him to weep. He was in touch with his emotions. It is hard to achieve spiritual intimacy with God or emotional intimacy with your spouse if your emotions are locked up in a jar. I am not asking you to carry your emotions on your shoulders but to be real and honest with yourself and those around you about your emotions.

Nehemiah knew to turn to God when he was hurting – Revitalization pastors should have regular times of fasting and prayer above and beyond your expectations for your congregation. Especially in crisis. Disruption, confusion, conflict and tension are normal within the life a revitalizing church but it is also a sign that you need more time to pray. You can not have a dialogue with God and hear an answer if the conversation never begins.

Nehemiah took the initiative to pray for the answer rather than developing a solution and asking God to bless the solution – Revitalization pastors will spend many days putting out fires. Plans will not work out, funding may not be available, people may not join in sharing the ministry because it is so difficult. Pray about the situation and wait for God’s answer. The answer may not come at the speed of email but if you are long suffering patience will not be a problem.

Nehemiah’s prayer expressed the concern for the people and not about his agenda for the people – Nehemiah actually prayed with no self serving agenda. Instead of asking God to bless him with a solution Nehemiah prayed for a solution and God uniquely gifted him to be able to fulfill his destiny and purpose. The role of a revitalization pastor is to pray for the deepest needs of the people to be met, not your own. New Believer’s 101 is really a foundational message. God loves you and will take care of you. Since God is taking care of me most of my time should be praying for the needs of the people in the congregation and the community.

Baskin-Robbins is having their 31 cent scoop night on Wednesday, May
2, from 5pm until close. You can get as many scoops as you want for 31
cents each.  This will be an excellent opportunity for entrepreneural pastors to take $20 along with cards from your church and sponsor scoops of ice cream for members of your community.  New Church planters should not be shy about this oportunity either. 

On Saturday I attended along with a ministry task force from West Baltimore UMC the Mid Atlantic Worship Expo at Covenant Baptist Church in Ellicott City, Maryland. We attended three workshops that were facilitated by Jason Moore and Len Wilson of Midnight Oil Productions.

Take Away Points

  • Teaching and Preaching with Metaphors is Powerful
    • Easy to remember
    • Easy to understand
  • Metaphors must come from the culture that we live in for people to understand and must be redeemed through the Biblical text
  • Metaphor is the exclusive teaching tool that Jesus used with the masses
  • The Message should drive creativity and technology
  • Design Teams are essential – Design team does not equal worship committee.

Their book Design Matters is going to be our reading resource as we redesign worship. We are at the beginning of the redesign/revitalization process. The workshop was not overwhelming for us in fact one of the take home quotes from another participant supports where we are today. “Teaching with metaphors does not require technology. Technology can enhance the message but should not be the message. Redeeming the culture with scripture is your job regardless of your access to technology.”

I met Rev. Rachel Frey while I was a Bethany Fellow. I was seriously addicted tocoffee-cup-and-sun.gif Starbuck’s Grande Mocha and she challenged me to rethink my position on corporate coffee and the purpose of a coffee house to call your own. “Frasier” Farewell, Nervosa comes to mind as I reminisce.

I returned to Atlanta and began my search for the perfect coffee house. Great atmosphere, great coffee, the owner is local and free wi-fi. I never found a shop that met these requirements. Since I have moved to Maryland I have been in search of the place that I would call “my coffee shop”

It took 18 long months but I have found Loco Jonny’s . This is now “my coffee shop”. 177 Thomas Johnson Drive. Their specialty coffees are the best. It is close to the highway and definitely worth the stop.