Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Monday: A Prayer

As a pastor, I found not only that my Sundays were different but my Mondays too. Monday is the day when pastors pause, take stock, and seek restoration after a busy Sunday. This Monday is the beginning of our Bishop’s Convocation on Ministry when our pastors gather to pause, take stock, and seek restoration. Here’s my prayer to God for this Monday:

Gracious God, by your Son, Jesus Christ, in the power of your Holy Spirit, you call ordinary people to do some extraordinary things as ministers of your Gospel. Preserve us, dear Lord, from Monday morning fatigue and Monday morning despair; keep Sundaying in us, even on a Monday.

This Monday morning I praise you for the woman who had the guts to face down three obnoxious adolescents in a basement Sunday School room yesterday, to tell them about Jesus, just because she has faith that even teenaged boys are children of God.

I thank you for the gift of the teenager who stood up and read Scripture in her little congregation yesterday morning, not because she wanted to, but because she is the best reader in the church. Praise to the church that recognizes her gifts; praise to her for her willingness to use her gifts in her church.

Thanks for the wonder of the young couple who, despite all they know of your determined propensity to commandeer a life for your own purposes, stood before a suburban congregation and dared to bring their baby for baptism, despite their inability to know how you may use their beloved baby in your Kingdom.

I sing the glory of the man, former factory worker, ex-alcoholic, who rose before a congregation full of folk nobody else wants to be near, and preached the good news of your salvation of the lost. Thanks for using his sermon to work a miracle, despite his grammar.

I laud the faith that you put in a man sixty years ago, that enabled him to arise again for the two thousandth Sunday of his career and, once again, preach the gospel even though in all that time and effort, he has seen almost no response, no measurable results. What faith he has in your faith in him!

In all times, and in all places under heaven, you have called forth people to witness to your work, to join in your work, to embody your grace, and to speak your judgment. For your blessed determination not to leave us to our own wretched devices, for the gift of your Body in motion, for your miraculous Sunday morning work among us, thanks.

Amen.

6 comments:

Jonathan Herston said...

Bishop,

I think, yeah, I just had and idea. What if we selected young clergy and instead of responding to your weekly articles which are done for the entire conference we all read a book together. Each week you could comment on a chapter, then we could all post comments. It would kind of be like an online book review/bible study sort of thing. We could look at books by folks like Donald Miller, Rob Bell, and Brian McLaren. It would give us dialogue with you and help us journey together.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Willimon,
Just a brief reaction to some off-the-cuff remarks you made at the Convocation. While I understand the sentiment, your fear that we might lapse into "daddy ought to do _____" type thinking (with regards to evangelism) is largely unwarranted. Moreover, I do not think it effectively responds to my argument that we, as a conference, and you, as a bishop must stay on message, i.e. "MORE", until we begin seeing results. We are talking about changing the culture of a very old institution, one that has proudly turned from evangelism (that type of offensive and largely proletariat behavior is for the fundies and ev-angels not us sophisticated & bourgeouis Methodists) and toward learning and acts of compassion. Ironically, the number one thing we need to "learn" is how to share the ultimate "compassion," Jesus Christ.

I do not cede my responsibilities to you. I am called and appointed to reach the lost in Birmingham. Through various efforts, I am trying to do just that. In fact, by the grace of God and only by the grace of God, we have 3 secular Jews, a pagan and 2 agnostics coming each week through our ALPHA outreach!! I praise God for that! You know it is Him because it is miraculous!

Still, you cannot cede your responsibility either. From my lowly position, I see you as the agenda-setter in chief. You hold the bully pulpit. As I was taught in my poly-sci classes at BSC, the president has one power that no on else has, setting the agenda. For our conference, you serve in that capacity.

I offer my personal guarantee that this large institution will not change, will not turn, unless unceasing direct pressure is put on it. It took a while to get on this course. It will take a while to change it. For the next 3 years at minimum, we will have to talk , pray and teach evangelism at EVERY gathering of our conference.

Right now, I'd grade our common ministry like this: fellowship-A;
missions-B+; Christian Ed.-B; worship-B; evangelism-F. That tells me that all our attention needs to go to that F for a while.

I hope that at all clergy gatherings, be it conference, convocation, clusters, charge conferences, trainings, order of elders, etc., there will be one agenda item, just one, until this thing gets turned around: "We have to reach the unchurched/dechurched and connect them with Christ. How are you doings that?"

We need to focus on inspiring the clergy and giving them the tools and strategies they need to succeed. Practical guidance will make this mountain seem a whole lot smaller and as they begin experiencing some results, their passion will heat up as well. Then, they will be hungry for more ideas. Then they will see more results and be even more fired up. That kind of cycle is what we need to prod and pray for!

I thank you for setting this agenda in the now, but I also respectfully ask you to commit to keeping it THE agenda until we begin to see fruit. A lot is riding on this!

Wade Griffith

Mike said...

Jonathan,

That sounds like something our young clergy community could do together on our site: www.naumcyoungclergy.info.

St.Phransus said...

jonathan,
i second your idea. i'd love to be a part of a converation such as that with input and thoughts from the Bishop.

This would be a great place for it because it opens the opportunity up beyond your conference.

BISHOP WILLIMON,
it's good to see your blog back up and going.

shalom all.

John said...

Good to see you back in the Methoblogosphere, Bishop.

William H. Willimon said...

Thank you all for your comments.