Dear South East District Friends,
Blessed first week of Advent to you all!
I so enjoyed seeing you at charge conferences this year and rejoice with you in what the Lord is doing in your churches and communities. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to transformation in the name of Jesus Christ.
I learned many things as I spent time with you this fall. Your questions and comments helped me in my own thinking. At one cluster charge conference I found myself elaborating on an item in a way that was not planned in advance (preachers do that sometimes!). It was when I was discussing the new vision of the annual conference (a vision of cultivating Courageous Leadership, Missional Engagement and Spirit-Led Innovation). As I was elaborating on Spirit-Led Innovation, I made the following statement, “Our population is energized by innovation everywhere they go: school, the mall, workplaces, stores, the doctor’s office. Everywhere they go they enter a world that looks like the future. Then, when they arrive at church, they walk into the past.” Because several people mentioned to me that this really “hit home” with them, it caused me to think more about my impromptu comments. Let me share more of my thinking here.
Imagine that your middle school child or grandchild entered class on the first day of school and discovered the following. The desk was wooden, one of those old desks where the chair connects to the desk. The only public writing space was a chalk board, no dry erase board or projector and screen present. The only writing utensils were pencils, no pens or markers or highlighters. The teacher sat at a desk and informed the students that if parents needed to communicate with him then they should write a letter, no email, phone calls or texts.
When this child gets home from school and tells you about her day, how do you respond? How do you feel about her school? Are they prepared to teach your child in the 21st century? Technically, they have what they need to teach (a teacher, textbooks and a school). But will your child be engaged with the material it the most creative and thoughtful way possible for her generation?
This kind of thinking is what my comments at charge conference were intended to generate. Often times we feel that because the church tells an ancient story, the story needs to be told in an ancient way, with ancient materials and in an ancient building. But consider what we learn when we visit history museums and when our children learn about historical events – they are learning about them with digital devices that share sounds and images that spark their imagination. Things of the past come alive in new ways when we allow innovation to breathe life into an ancient story. We also say to the world,We love this gospel message so much that we will constantly be thinking of new ways to share it with new people.
A challenge we have in our churches is to balance the needs of the current congregation with the needs of those who are not yet with us. Remember, the church does not exist for those already present but for those we haven’t met yet. Those of us who are already disciples can find multiple ways to worship God (and most of us don’t require an innovative approach). Our goal is to transform the lives of those not yet aware of the amazing gift of God’s grace. This will take innovation, creativity and hard work by those of us in church leadership.
Thank you for giving yourselves to this important work and for challenging your local church community to dive into the future in courageous, missional and innovative ways!
Grace and peace,
The District is delighted to share with you that the offering for FL Justice for Our Neighbors collected at our four Charge Conferences was very generous. We collected over $2,700 total.
Saturday, February 9, 2019 at Christ Church UM, Ft. Lauderdale
From 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Theme: Hope in Action
Planned events: Worship, Hands-on service project, games, food, prayer stations and more
Keynote Speaker: Rev. Scott Smith, First UMC Ormond Beach
Worship Leader: Jeremy Hearn & band, First UMC Lakeland
We would love to know you are planning to attend with your youth. Register your intention HERE
In lieu of our Clergy Gathering which had been tentatively scheduled October 23 - 24, 2018, we are inviting you to attend the Winter Conference at Epworth By The Sea, January 29 - February 1, 2019. This will be a combined event with the Bishops and clergy of the North Georgia, Mississippi, South Georgia and Florida Conferences. Dr. Tod Bolinger, author of Canoeing The Mountains, will be the keynote speaker.
As we approach 2019, we want to invite you to put an exciting experience on your calendar. Bishop Carter is asking if your church would join us in setting aside one weekend in May to align your church around God’s mission.
Friday – Movement 1: Kick the weekend off with a time of connection. This could be a Love Feast, Concert, or Celebrate Recovery event. It is a time to enjoy one another and celebrate our shared mission.
This note is to get you excited, ask you to save a weekend and let you know more resources and ideas will be coming your way soon. Will you consider joining us? We think this will be a great time to rally together around our passion for Jesus and his mission to the world.
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
450 Martin L King Jr Ave
Lakeland, FL 33815
(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011