Here in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church we have adopted (in a slightly modified form) the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations as featured in Bishop Robert Schnase’s book. With some other ideas (“Key Drivers”) added, we’re trying to shape our mission toward more evangelism, discipleship and healthy churches. I’ve preached on several of these over the past couple of years, giving my own take on them. Here they are with links to the mp3 versions:
- Radical Hospitality
- Passionate Worship
- Intentional Faith Development (I’ve done several on this subject but don’t seem to have a recording on line. I’ll have to check on that.) Here’s one on the subject.
- Risk Taking Mission – Continued here and here. Here’s another on the Call to be a Servant.
- Extravagant Generosity. And here’s If I Were a Rich Man on the Christian approach to wealth.
- Diligent Study of Scripture
- Connectional Ministr. Here’s another, on being part of the family of God.
- Fervent Prayer. Here one specfically on How to Pray for People.
I’m preaching through the book now. I;ve changed a few things such as Authentic rather than Passionate Worship and Deliberate instead of Intentional Faith Development. I like the addition of Diligent Study of Scripture and Fervent Prayer. I’m not sure how I feel about the Connectional Ministry part…but that’s probably due to my continuous low-level annoyance at the denomination.
One reason I preach on these subjects is to filter the ideas through my own style and toward the specific context of our congregation. It’s sort of a contemporary version of the impetus behind Peter Lombard’s Sic et Non – Yes to this, No to that.
After so many years of “Happy Talk” (Aren’t we doing great? Isn’t the United Methodist Church the best and most successful institution around? Don’t we all get along well? We are just SO United!) it’s easy to read these titles – RADICAL Hospitality, EXTRAVAGANT Generosity, PASSIONATE Worship – as just more of the same. Passionate worship? In an institution where the average age is over 60, contemporary music is associated with the devil (oops, we don’t believe in the devil – must be some other negative thing out there), and “sit & soak” spectator worship is the norm for our introverted spirituality – it’s just hard to suddenly talk about Passionate Worship. I completely agree that it’s a good – needed – thing in our churches. But I’m sure my attitude is one reason so many of us pastors chafe at trying to lead these old time churches that hate change (or think contemporary means 1960ish).