NEO Team Update 1-3-19
Dear NEO Family,
I have told a few friends in recent days that my life feels a little out of sync right now. The last two months have included the death of my dad and all the upheaval that such an event brings, a long vacation to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary, and the holiday season. I have been looking forward to a new year and a time to get back into a “flow”.
In the midst of this uneasiness, twice in the last 24 hours I have been challenged to make room in my heart for God to write his story. I think it is a message God has for me as I begin 2019. And maybe it is a message for you as well.
Jeffrey Johnson, my friend and the District Superintendent in South Texas, wrote beautifully on this topic to his pastors. I share his words with you below:
God is with us! What a grace-filled blessing to be reminded of the lengths that God will go to reach us with His love. Jesus, the Son of God, has come and made His home in our world and in our hearts. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas celebrating that reality with your families, friends, and congregations.
A new song arrested my thoughts this season. It is “Make Room” by Casting Crowns (Featuring Matt Maher). The chorus asks this question, “Is there room in your heart for God to write His story?”. VIDEO
What a profound question. There are so many things competing for our hearts, our affections, our time, our loyalty, our devotion, and our love. This is true for us as individuals, and furthermore, I believe it is true for our churches and ministries.
Tasks, duties, ideas, programs, and pressing needs are constantly in front of us. Some of those come from very legitimate sources and some from agendas and motivations that arise from simple human preferences or perhaps even selfish concerns. I know all of those things can weigh on you heavily. They can also crowd your mind and your calendar to the point where you don’t see room for anything else.
This simple song and question reminds me that the first thing that we must make room for is God….His agenda, His purposes, His story written on and through us.
May the Lord help me and you, and all those that we love and lead, to make room in our hearts for God to write His story in 2019!
Let’s make room together… and encourage and spur one another on in 2019! You are loved and appreciated.
Our mid-quadrennial conference for leaders in the USA/Canada Region will be held February 11-13, 2019, in Kansas City, Missouri. Many who attended our M15 conference felt it helped shape and encourage our church in many new ways. You can expect the same at M19! Below are some of the highlights we have planned for this event. This conference is loaded with resources to help us move deeply into the topics of mission and evangelism. I encourage all NEO pastors to attend M19. See m19conference.org for further details!
-Albert and Christine Hung will present on the opening night and will share how the Church of the Nazarene is creating new models of ministry in a post-Christian culture in Northern California.
-Doug Powe, author and professor of evangelism, will share on Tuesday morning, highlighting a Wesleyan approach to evangelism.
-Carla Sunberg, General Superintendent, will offer a glimpse of what “Nazarene 2.0” might look like and how we can refocus our mission in the USA/Canada context on Tuesday night.
-On Wednesday morning, Ed Stetzer, author of Viral Churches and Transformational Church, will present a compelling account of how churches can reach out to their communities and especially to younger unchurched people.
-To finish out our plenary sessions, Fili Chambo, General Superintendent, will share meaningful reflections on the growth of the Church in Africa and will remind us of key evangelism principles that have lasting value.
Also, Kevin Harney, leader of the Organic Outreach movement, will be at M19 for the entire conference, sharing several presentations and consultation sessions.
Pre-conference events include the very popular Growing Young seminar with Brad Griffin and Keegan Lenker, as well as a gathering for Bi-vocational/Co-vocational ministers, sponsored by Grace & Peace, Holiness Today, and the Center for Pastoral Leadership at NTS. I would love to sponsor at least 2 bi-vocational leaders to attend and take this information back to our district for re-teaching. Special workshop tracks will be presented by the following: NTS, the Foundry, Lillenas, NMI, SDMI, Young Clergy, NBC, Multicultural Ministries, Young Preachers Academy, New Church Development, Ministry Safe, and more. College students will get a special housing allowance and will have events specifically tailored to their context.