Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Very Good Word

Building One Another - Vol. 10, No. 14 

Dear Friend,
At times life can be remarkably demanding and confusing. When Jesus saw a crowd he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless – just as so many of us feel this day about whatever situation we may find ourselves in.

Consider this benediction from the Book of Hebrews.  It’s a very good word!

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us* that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.  Hebrews 13:20-21*

There is so much that is hopeful and comforting in this word.  In the midst of the turmoil of life we see our God:
           Is a God of peace.
                         Brought Jesus back from the dead.
                                          Will make us complete in everything good!

For us this means we may do that which is pleasing in God’s sight knowing that through our trust in Jesus he will bring us back from the dead.  Indeed a very good word!

So in the midst of whatever is happening in your life this day, allow this benediction to refresh your spirit and rekindle your hope as this day you serve the Lord who loves  
With joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2011 E. Stanley Ott
 *Scripture from the NRSV
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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Pastor & the Nominating Committee

A Process That Brings Transformation
Based on the Acts 16:5 Initiative

6 Months Prior to Election - Pastor meets with Nominating Committee to:
           Pray for the process
           Determine how many officers are needed and in what areas of ministry
           Review the qualifications for officers {see Module 6-12.8}
           Stress confidentiality {no one is to approach candidates at this point}
3 to 4 Months Prior to the Election

          Committee members & the Pastor are contacted by the chair and each is asked to
          prayerfully compose a list of possible candidates for the various offices {one is to
          approach candidates at this point}.

2-3 Months Prior to the Election - Pastor meets with Nominating Committee:   
  1. Each person including the Pastor suggests names for the various Boards. {Note that those officers that can serve another term must be included in this process. They should not automatically show up on the final list of nominees.
  2. If two people agree on the suggested name, it is placed on a large newsprint tablet or chalkboard. 
  3. Each member of the committee {not including the pastor} then lists the suggested names in priority order.  {#1 indicates their first choice, etc.} 
  4. The weighted lists are mathematically tabulated to reveal the whole committee's wise selections for each Board.  For example: If you need 5 Elders - at least 10-20 names should end up on your final list...with weighted numbers from 1-20 given to each possible candidate. {Note this final list is absolutely confidential.}
  5. With the Nominating Committee's approval the Pastor then takes this list and begins the recruiting process.  The Pastor may take along a member of the Nominating Committee as each candidate is approached.  The pastor should clearly state: "The Nominating Committee has asked me to approach you about serving as  …."       For example:   If 5 elders are needed, the first five names on the list are contacted first. If any of those respond "No" then the Pastor moves down the list to the 6th candidate and so on.

Congregational Meeting and Election

The Chair or a member of the Nominating Committee should make the report and place names in nomination.  A description of the nominating process should be offered noting that the pastor was strictly following the work and instructions of the committee as they worked with each candidate.

In Christ - Linda Jaberg

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Missional Metamorphosis

I’ve always liked the word metamorphosis!  It means much the same as the “in” word transformation, but it provides such a visual picture.  I find it hard to hear “metamorphosis” without thinking about butterflies – and their life-changing moments in their cocoons.  My father used to catch and mount butterflies when he was a teenager.  I remember seeing boxes with glass viewing tops containing hundreds of butterflies.  Only one of those boxes remains today.  Yet it is precious to me with its mounted butterfly beauties that are now over seventy-five years old.  It reminds me at the same time of my Dad’s love of the outdoors and of the wonderful work of our Creator God.

Metamorphosis is a useful concept when considering how to move a congregation from an inner to an outer or missional priority.  Whereas the word “missions” tends to be identified with missions programs we give money to or to perhaps to a few short-term mission teams, the word “missional” is identified with a way of thinking about ministry as fulfilling the Missio Dei, the mission of God.  

Missional is more than a missions program.  It is how every person and program and ministry in the congregation is to engage their community and world on behalf of their Lord.

To instill an effective missional mindset throughout the culture of the entire congregation can be a complex undertaking.  We might get an activity here or there to make a missional shift in focus but for the whole church to get serious about engaging its community – that will mean metamorphosis – because most church activities today are inward in their focus.

Essential to a genuine missional metamorphosis is a growing clarity concerning what it means to be “missional” and its implications for leaders and participants.

Some questions to consider:
1.   What does a missional Christian look like in terms of faith and action?

2.   What does a missional congregation look like?  An increasing number of publications address the idea of missional identity and activity in the congregation.  As missional thinking takes root, individual congregations need to consider how such thinking inspires a missional lifestyle among the people and how it affects their actual programming such as ministry to children, youth, men, women, singles, families, and so on.  How are programs structured to implement missional ends different from the programs already in existence?
3.   What does a missional denominational regional area “look like” in terms of its vision, organization, and implementation and how does that contrast from a present or “non-missional” vision and operation?  What is the regional area’s role in leading its congregations into missional endeavor?


With Joy - E. Stanley Ott

Thursday, May 5, 2011


 Building One Another - Vol. 10, No. 13
Dear Friend,
During the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Bishop of London quoted Catherine of Siena as saying, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

It is a wonderful word for not only the royal couple, but for every one of us.

God has made you as the unique and one and only you. At the same time our Lord never intended you to function solely in your own power. Setting the world on fire will only happen as we rely on the God who made us and who loves us to provide the flame!

As John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Luke 3:16*

So we know God intends you and me to be God’s vessels, open to and filled with God’s Spirit. Sometimes the vessels of our lives get pretty messed up. We are fragile and easily damaged.

Yet in the midst of the reality of our frailty is this huge word, “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

A clay and fragile jar you may be, but you are the Lord’s jar, made to be God’s vessel. As the great words of the song “Spirit of the Living God,” say, “Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.”
With joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2011 E. Stanley Ott
 *Scripture from the NRSV.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Principles that Guide Our Churches

Recently, I flew into Atlanta to be with Stan Ott as we began the adventure we call the Acts 16:5 Initiative with NE Georgia Presbytery.  On approach to the airport we flew for an inordinate amount of time in the clouds with no visibility.  I thought to myself,
“Man, I sure am glad the pilots of this plane are instrument rated or we would never be able to touch down safely.” 

Finally, we broke through the clouds and land was suddenly visible. We were so close to the ground that our wheels touched down in twenty-six seconds from when we dropped below the cloud cover.  Again I thought about the plane’s instruments: “It amazes me that the instruments can guide the pilots so accurately that our plane was directly in line with the runway when we were only twenty-six seconds away.”

We say in our first day with a presbytery that Acts 16:5 Initiative is not a program.  Acts 16:5 Initiative is a three-year journey that examines biblical principles for ministry and teaches church leaders how to effectively design ministry for their unique setting.  The principles taught in the Acts 16:5 Initiative serve church leaders (pilots) in a similar way that the instrument panel in the cockpit of a plane serves the pilots.  The pilots learn the purpose of each instrument, and they learn to trust the instruments when they cannot see land.  Church leaders will learn, through the three-year Acts 16:5 Initiative experience, how to read a number of “instruments” that are designed to get the church to its intended destination: glorify God, make disciples, meet human needs.  Some of the “instruments” used are already familiar to our church leaders; some are not. 

One last thought in this analogy.  It also occurred to me that the pilot of a four-passenger Cessna relies on some of the same instruments that the pilot of a 747 uses.  Granted, the cockpit of a 747 is much more complicated and sophisticated, but both pilots rely on an altimeter to know just how far they are off the ground.  So it is with the Acts 16:5 Initiative principles taught to church leaders.  Because they are biblical, they are universal.   Because they are universal, they apply to each size church.  Yes, the “pilot” of a 1,500-member church has a more complex “plane” to fly, but he/she still needs to know “how far are we off the ground” just as the “pilot” of a 40-member church. 

Some pilots of planes are not instrumented rated.  They can only fly safely when the skies are clear and they can see the ground.  They are very limited as to their flight time and destination.  And in Indiana, where I come from, good luck finding a cloudless day.  If you feel like you are “piloting this plane” and aren’t “instrument rated” – welcome to the Acts 16:5 Initiative Instrument Rated Flight School.  We will have you so familiar with the instruments in your cockpit (universal biblical principles to design ministry) that you will feel very safe no matter how cloudy the ministry seems to be.

In Christ - Hoyt Byrum