Thursday, January 10, 2013

In Denver

Just before leaving for Denver and my doctoral class right after New Years holiday, I attended the annual Literature Evangelist Year-End rally/convocation in Pigeon Forge. On Friday evening,  It was a privilege to be involved in introducing the attendees to Mary Schmidt, a newly employed  Kentucky-Tenn L.E. who lives in Portland, TN, and who shared her testimony of knocking on the door of an apartment a few weeks ago, only to be introduced to a former SDA who has since that meeting, attended church with Mary.  What a ministry it is for our faithful team to often six days a week, introduce the public to not just literature and books, but to Jesus and His Church.  Well done!

For the past five days I've been in Denver taking a class entitled "Solving Problems in Ministry and Leadership."  The course, team-taught by Dr. Gordon MacDonald and Dr. Scott Wenig, attempts to introduce the student to the techniques, philosophy, and the practical approaches to identifying problems and challenges and ministry, and moving toward resolution.  I"ve had several classes in this area and among many convictions arising from my course work is that what appears to be THE problem, is often only a symptom, and that it is only through careful evaluation, listening, and exploring the complexities of how parts and people relate to and affect each other, do you often begin to identify the real problem(s). That of course is the necessary identification that must take place before exploring possible solutions.

At the core of good leadership (also an oft repeated theme in this program) is the heart, mind, and spirit of the leader.  Good leaders are constantly self-examining, looking beyond today to tomorrow, assume a continual -posture of learning, and are able to skilfully navigate the perilous path of change.  A number of times this week my classmates and I commented and processed one gem of wisdom (one among many) offered by Dr. MacDonald and that is  the reality that effective organizations are always poised for the potential of changing and re-grouping, recognizing that adaptability is, at least in the business world, the key to survival.  For the church, it can be important in terms of its effectiveness in its mission and in its relevancy.  I have said often to our administrative leadership that Adventism possesses a powerful, unique, and transformational message that we must never grow weary of delivering to the world. How we bring that message, that life, to our community through the presence of the Church, and the influence of it's members, demands vigilance, resolve, courage, and boldness in loving a sometimes unlovely world.  It also insists upon a constant engagement in examining with honesty and energy, what is working in our task to win the lost for Christ, and, what is not working. Another self-evident truth that I'm reminded of almost everytime I read USA today, or, scan the news, is that the world is changing at break-neck speed.  It means potential, opportunity, and challenges are before us.  Enough preaching for now.  The pictures below are . . . from the LE Rally in Pigeon Forge, an early morning picture of the back of the chapel at Denver Seminary this week, and finally, a classroom shot of Dr. Gordon MacDonald doing what he does best. teaching, not so much by delivering information, but through insisting that we think through what Scripture and  life experience have to teach us in the context of where we are serving God and His Church.

Will be leaving tomorrow for Nasvhille, hopefully before the snow that is predicted begins to fall. Will be around 30 degrees and 30 mph wind at the time my flight leaves. BRRRRR!  Grace to you.


Friday, January 4, 2013

New Beginnings

Wow.  Didn't realize it's been two months since I last posted. Since then, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, three of my favorite times of the year have come and gone. The days around Christmas were a mix of both fun including my daughters graduation from Southern, and yes, a little stress. The stress was generated by the need to finish the pre-class written assignments for my January doctoral class at Denver Seminary. Eight book reviews, and additionally two longer written assignments, one of which I didn't notice in the syllabus until late, made for some long hours at the word processor.  However, the day after Christmas I finished the papers and now await the most enjoyable aspect of the class, the on-site classroom lectures and interaction.

My course this month will be taught by Dr. Gordon MacDonald who I've taken a class with before, I think this time last year. He is a prolific author having penned probably a dozen or more popular volumes that circulate widely in evangelical Christianity and even in the corporate business community. Much of his material and his focus is in the area of self-development, self-discipline and self-evaluation. In the last class I took from him I found it very interesting to hear his presentation and read his book chapters in the area of the 'stages of life' and how the needs, challenges, and goals of life change from decade to decade.  What's important to you in your 30's will change when you're in your 40's, and definitely once you hit your 50's.  "Can I get a witness?"

Dr. MacDonald writes a lot of ink and is passionate about  addressing the important areas of your life in order to be productive in your professional ministry through age 70.

The areas of emphasis that he believes are important includes the emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual. He believes that exercise and diet and attention to the physical is as important to giving our best as is growing your ministry skill set. While that's not a new idea to Adventists, it's also amazing to see how Christian thought leaders today are connecting with the ideas and thoughts of Ellen White who espoused the same concepts a century ago. Committing to being a 'lifelong' learner is another major theme that he introduces to his students. He is also, like many of the professors I've had in Denver, a proponent of  a weekly Sabbath rest though connecting that blessing with Saturday is not part of the conviction.

My January class, which concludes with the post-class assignments in March, marks the conclusion of my class-work seminar's and inaugurates the dissertation stage in my program.  Amazingly, I began this doctoral journey with trepidation, at the very beginning of my tenure here in KYTN, and three years later, I am I think, a more informed leader now than in 2010.

As opportunity presents itself, I will write more from Denver next week.  Today and through Sunday, I am in chilly Pigeon Forge, with the LE's on their annual retreat.  Peace and joy as athe Sabbath draws near!