Each year our congregation goes through the discernment process of selecting leaders for our congregation. The nominating taskforce is working to recommend a slate of officers to the Session for the next class of Elders and Deacons. This is perhaps one of the most anxiety ridden times of the year. The nominating taskforce is concerned with not only getting the people to fill spots, but perhaps more importantly, the right people to answer God’s calling. Today, I will discuss the specific calling to be a Ruling Elder. A few years ago, Christ Presbyterian Church made a conscious effort to be more fully open to the leading and discernment of the Spirit in this process. In the past, like most congregations, our congregation would approach the selection of Elders by trying to find people who were going to be Elders for specific areas of our ministry. Examples of this would have been an Elder for Finance or Christian Education. In this model, the ability to fulfill a specific role would often trump the spiritual calling to such a leadership role. I’m sure that you have experienced in you life those who are at the top of their field for their ability, but once given leadership, fall apart. Continue reading →
This past week has been a hard one for our country and the world. While violence is ever present in our lives and we see daily reminders of how shockingly horrible we can treat each other, the events of Friday in Newtown shone a spotlight on just how deep our sin has cut us. In the aftermath of these tragic killings and many like it, there is always an over abundance of talking heads who seek to use the death of others to advance their positions. “Gun control” advocates come on and talk about how new laws would may have prevented this event. “Gun rights” advocates are on the other side of the split screen talking about how if the teachers had guns they could have stopped the gunman.
I agree that in the midst of this tragedy there is a calling to have deep conversations about guns, violence and the mental health system. Some of my colleagues have chosen this time as that time. Roy Howard, Pastor of St. Marks Presbyterian in North Bethesda, Maryland for one, made an impassioned response and a call to action against violence and calling for more Gun Control. Please email me and I can pass along his Facebook post of what he said to his congregation. Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, has chosen to use this situation to draw attention to his beliefs about abortion and homosexuality. For many Pastors, their judgment led them to use this event as a springboard for what they hope will be meaningful discussions about deep issues.
I had more than one parishioner say to me prior to Sunday’s service, “I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes today.” Continue reading →
of the mainline church. Stan teaches the principles of congregational vitality, transformation, missional endeavor, and leadership. As pastor, Stan has over thirty years of first-hand knowledge of the hard work and challenges that lead to the blessings of being a transformational congregation that moves to new vitality.
You have also heard me talk about the Acts 16:5 Initiative. The Initiative is an intentional program of congregational transformation. Continue reading →
x.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/communion.jpg” alt=”” width=”200″ height=”104″ />Tonight we remember the events of the upper room. Jesus displays his love and care for his disciples in physical ways. First Jesus humbles himself before the disciples by washing their feet. Then he gives them a new way to spiritually connect with him through the Communion meal. Jesus reminds us that it is in service we find the truest expression of God’s love. Washing and serving at table. How do we take up this call to servanthood? Reflect on this question as you view this video from Worshiphouse.com and join us tonight at 7:30 for our Maundy Thursday Worship Service.
Today begins the liturgical season of Lent and I am looking forward to gathering with our congregation for our annual Ash Wednesday Bread and Soup Simple Meal and Prayer Service. Earlier this month, I posted on the presbytery Facebook group a question about what other churches did for Ash Wednesday. Many of the responses were similar to our activity and those that responded practiced the imposition of ashes. That is except for one retired minister member of presbytery who said simply this, “Observance of church seasons, and imposition of ashes, is a Roman custom and NOT Reformed…” I was taken aback by this blunt and, in many ways dismissive, comment. Another pastor commented back on this statement with this, “…that is true. Do you think that it should remain true? While Ash Wednesday was never observed in my church growing up, when I have led services as a pastor, I have found that people are profoundly moved by the imposition.” This conversation, while a bit annoying, also has helped me ask the question, “Why do we do what we do and what benefit is there in the “customs” we both have experienced and haven’t yet? So here are my five reasons why I observe the liturgical seasons and Lent in particular:
This past Sunday we addressed some of the basic realities of authority. In particular we looked at the reason some might have seen Jesus’ teaching as having authority while the scribes failed to have authority. Authority is not about office or status but instead it is about influence. Far too often we think that those who are “in authority” have authority. We need to look no further than our nations political system to see that this is not true. Just because someone is put into or takes on a position of authority, doesn’t mean that they will be able to exercise that authority.
order cialism wp-image-250 alignright” title=”facebook-share-button-580×257″ src=”http://www.pastor.cpcfairfax.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/facebook-share-button-580×257-300×132.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”132″ /> As a Pastor, one of the greatest gifts God has given to me is the web of connections God has placed around me. I have friends and church members in my life that come from all walks of life. Sometimes I overlook this special reality. Being in Fairfax County for over four years I have grown accustomed to having a diverse ministry context. I sometimes forget that it wasn’t too long ago that the landscape that I worked in was predominantly a homogeneous environment. Continue reading →
In a recent Facebook status, one of my “friends” posted the fact that she “hates the news.” The status went on to list the litany of negative and downright heartbreaking news stories that aired in a brief segment of a CNN program. Today I was reading the Post and was struck by the same reality. Even stories that were about positive things like a new school year were infused with a negative undercurrent.
Last week I was honored to help lead a “memorial service” for a friend’s father. I had never met Ed McFadden nor the bulk of his family. Nevertheless, I was asked to speak the Word during a time of memorial and celebration. This was not a memorial like most would expect. While many believe that funerals and memorials are to be times of somber reflection and sadness, the McFadden family wanted to make sure that this was different. Continue reading →