So, What Do We Do on a Mission Trip?

So, What Do We Do on a Mission Trip?

img_20190812_181931226I know that a lot of people have never gone on a mission trip.  And because I know that, I understand why people often seem puzzled by what we could possibly do there, or how they might ever be able to contribute if they went on such a trip.  Despite my annual announcement that The Joy Center, our host in Big Creek, deep in the Kentucky mountains, always has a list of projects that need done, and will always find something for us to do regardless of who comes with us, and regardless of the skills (or lack of them) that we have.  And so, rather than just saying that there are all sorts of things that need done, this year we made a list of all the things that we did, and a couple that were left undone when we ran out of time.  What follows is a list of nineteen (19) projects that were on our to do list.  Most of them got done, but a few didn’t.  I’m including the projects that didn’t get done so that you might better understand how, if even one more person (like you) had gone with us, we might have been able to do even more.

  • Inspect, repair, scrape, and paint the emergency exit stairs in the back of the church sanctuary.
  • Inspect, repair, and seal the deck on the back of the church img_20190816_150950078parsonage.
  • Make an opening through the stone foundation in the back of the Joy Center building so that a vent could be added under the building to dry out the crawl space.
  • Install a vent fan in the sale room (Undone)
  • Mow grass (there is a LOT of grass, and even with their new mower, it takes someone several hours)
  • Clean the center section of the tool barn and throw out broken or unusable items. (Undone)
  • Paint the benches in the outdoor worship area of Mount Joy.
  • Trim trees along the playground of the Child Development Center.
  • Repair, replace, and paint trim around the church windows first and second floor).img_20190816_163600461
  • Weed flower beds, put down landscape fabric, and add new mulch.
  • Trim bushes in front of the church parsonage.
  • Replace oven burner in Nancy’s (their full-time volunteer) stove.
  • Fix storm door (replace door closer).
  • Trim and cut down trees above Mount Joy and behind the tool barn.
  • Move fire pit.
  • Paint benches at the ball field.
  • Help sort clothing at the sale room in preparation for their monthly sale.
  • Unload our trailer full of donated furniture, clothing, and other items.
  • Hold a card making class for interested persons in the community.

As you can see, we did all kinds of things using a great variety of skills.  Some projects were difficult, others required only the ability to use a paint brush, a sledgehammer, or img_20190812_143955410even a pair of scissors.  What’s more, for the last several years, we’ve somehow managed to take along a volunteer that loved to cook and who just took over our evening meal preparation.  But this year we didn’t have anyone like that, so someone would always have to stop working an hour or so before dinner so that there would be something to eat when the rest of us quit for the day.

And none of those things include the personal conversations that we have with the people of Big Creek, and the encouragement that we are to them as they are reminded that God, and God’s people, haven’t forgotten them.

Certainly, there are things on this list that you would be able to do.  And, while I have no idea what next year’s list is going to look like, you can be sure that it too will include things that you can do.  There is always more to do at The Joy Center mission than the few volunteers there have time to do by themselves.  Anything and everything that we do is a huge help and encouragement to everyone there. 

Why not come with us next year?

 

 


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It’s That Time Again

Note: Although this particular post specifically targets Christ Church where I serve, and I know that many who follow my blog do not attend in our physical location, I challenge you, regardless of where you are, to consider how you can be involved in your local church in the year ahead.  Feel free to look at the checklist that I included at the end of the article, and then dream, imagine, and listen for where God might be leading you to serve and what new challenges or adventures that God might be calling you toward.



It’s That Time Again

It hardly seems possible, but with youth and adults already back to school, marching band, and football season in full swing, we are reminded that it is also time for us to begin our preparations for our annual Charge Conference.

What does that mean for you?

Well, that means that it’s time for all of us to think about where we can “plug-in” to the work of running the church.  Every one of our committees will rotate and as many as a third of their membership will “retire” or take a break.  Additionally, there are things that we wish we could do, but never have enough volunteers.  And the month or two before Charge Conference is when we spend the most time thinking about these things. 

Soon, the Lay Leadership and Nominating Committee will begin meeting.  They will be talking about all these things (and more), will contact our current leaders to assess their willingness to continue, and then begin contacting those persons that they think will be able to contribute as next year’s leaders.  If you have an interest in serving on any of our church committees, or if you know someone who would be well suited for a position, it would be amazingly helpful if you could tell us.  That simple thing saves us time deliberating, calling, and “asking around” as we search for just the right person. 

I will also be doing something that may be new to you this year.  I have dug up a survey that I created more than ten years ago for our first pastorate.  That survey asks a lot of questions and some of them may not apply to you, some may not be things that we are currently doing, but all your answers can be useful during our nominations and as we plan.  After all, we can’t do new things if no one tells us that they are interested in doing them.  I have already revised it to suit this church better and you will see it at the bottom of this page.  Filling it out (and putting your name on it) might seem like a little thing, but as simple as it is, doing so can be a huge help.  If you don’t attend Christ Church, you might print it out and hand it to your pastor or whomever is certainly already planning for next  year at your church (I bet they’ll be surprised, but also grateful).

I hope that in the days ahead, each person will be thinking about how we might be a part of ministry at Christ Church next year.

Blessings,

Pastor John

 



How Can You Help?

Please let us know (circle) where you would be interested in serving!

Name: ______________________________

(Please Print)

  • Serve as Lay Delegate to Annual Conference
  • I’d like to____________________________
  • I wish our church _____________________

Worship

  • Choir
  • Bell Choir
  • Liturgist
  • Usher
  • Greeter
  • Acolyte
  • Change church/sanctuary decorations seasonally
  • Help to organize special services
  • Prepare with communion
  • Assist with communion
  • Review/Provide feedback on effectiveness of existing worship

Missions

  • Outreach overseas
  • Help with Community Dinners
  • Attend Community Dinners
  • Go on Missions Trip
  • Chaperone Youth Missions Trip
  • Local Outreach
  • Volunteer at Food Pantry
  • Volunteer at Alliance of Churches

Evangelism

  • Tell others about Jesus
  • Invite a friend to our church
  • Create events that attract others
  • Find ways of using existing church events to reach unbelievers

Education & Children

  • Sunday School Teacher (children)
  • Teacher Substitute (children)
  • Sunday School Teacher (youth)
  • Teacher Substitute (youth)
  • Sunday School Teacher (adults)
  • Teacher Substitute (adults)
  • Vacation Bible School/Music Camp Teacher
  • Present Sunday morning children’s message

Nurture

  • Provide care for existing members
  • Visit the elderly and those shut-in
  • Train members for a deeper faith
  • Organize training events
  • Remember those who are sick or hospitalized
  • Plan church social events
  • Maintain membership records
  • Record and maintain records of church history
  • Keep minutes of important meetings
  • Organize/assist with development of church Child Safety policies
  • Assist pastor in identifying gifts and talents needed for various committees
  • I can wear my name tag EVERY week!

Media Ministries

  • Operate sound system
  • Upload weekly video to YouTube
  • Develop computer projection designs for song lyrics/announcements/sermon outlines
  • Web page design and maintenance
  • Provide technical support and assistance to other ministries
  • Church Social Media Team
  • Take photographs

Finance

  • Keep financial books for the church
  • Help count Sunday offering
  • Provide wisdom/advise/have an opinion on church financial matters

Facilities

  • Identify/Assist with maintenance projects in church building
  • Organize work projects in Church
  • Anticipate/identify/plan for future needs of church

Hospitality

  • Help to welcome visitors
  • Help to develop ways to make visitors feel welcomed
  • Help to develop ways to attract and retain visitors
  • Be a sanctuary greeter
  • Be a Welcome Center greeter
  • Be a door greeter

 

 


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A Jamboree Honeymoon

Pete and Emily Brewer couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to interview them or hear their story, but I am confident that you won’t hear another story quite like it.

A little background might be helpful here. For the last two weeks, I have been serving as a chaplain and camping out at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia along with 45 to 50,000 scouts, leaders, and volunteers from 156 countries around the world. We are here, together, for the 24th World Scout Jamboree (WSJ) that is held once every four years in locations around the world. This is only the second time that the WSJ has been held in the United States, and the first time since 1968.

But two weeks ago, amid this mass of people, I met Pete and Emily after our Protestant worship service. I had used a part of the United Methodist Great Thanksgiving as a part of our service and, being lifelong Methodists, they recognized it and introduced themselves to me afterward because they just knew I had to be a United Methodist pastor.  In that conversation they mentioned that they were newlyweds and were attending the Jamboree on their honeymoon. That seemed like story that needed to be shared, but I failed to get their names or contact information, and it took me a week or so to track them down again.  So, one evening I met them at the Chat-n-Chew, the staff hangout in the Echo base camp, and asked them to tell me their story so that I could share it with you.

It turns out that scouting, and the United Methodist Church, are what brought Pete and Emily together. Pete and Emily are both life-long United Methodists (attending different churches) and both have a long involvement with scouting.  Pete is a unit commissioner, teaches shooting sports, and, according to him, has done just about every other job there is.  Emily leads a Venturing crew, and both of them are Red Cross instructors and teach first aid and CPR.  The first time they met, was at a University of Scouting event where Pete was teaching a pistol class that Emily attended. 

Sometime later, at the request of another scout leader, the two of them met for lunch to plan another council event.  Emily remembered their first meeting.  Pete didn’t.  But Pete also points out that he had eighty students in several classes that day while Emily only had a handful of instructors.  They told me that their lunch involved a five-minute discussion about scouting and another hour of just talking and getting to know one another.

Pete (29) is a software engineer and Emily (31) is a CPA.  They have both been highly career focused outside of scouting and church, so they didn’t date much.  But all that changed after their meeting.  The very next weekend, Pete certified Emily as a Range Safety Officer for shooting sports, and within a month they were going to church together at the First United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas in the North Texas Annual Conference.  They were attracted to First UMC because of their young adult program but, as it turns out, they ultimately decided not to participate in that ministry.  All the same, Pete and Emily are both mission focused and wanted to be certain that this is what drives their participation in scouting.  Pete said, quite clearly, that “Scouting is our ministry.”

They were married, at First UMC, on November 3rd, 2018 but at the time of their engagement, both of them were submitting applications to attend the World Scout Jamboree.  With their busy schedules, they weren’t sure that a traditional honeymoon would fit, and so after their wedding, they took a few days off but didn’t really go anywhere.  Instead, from the beginning, they planned to be together, on their honeymoon, at the World Scout Jamboree.

Who says scouting isn’t romantic?

Congratulations to the happy couple!    

PS. As I mentioned at the beginning, Pete and Emily aren’t sure why anyone would want to interview them, but I still think that this is a story worth sharing.  If you agree, I hope that you’ll share their story with your friends.  

 


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Confession and Pardon for Scout Worship

Confession

Merciful God, Even though we are Scouts, we have not always acted honorably. We have failed in our Duty to God, and we have not helped as we should. We have not always obeyed the Scout Law. We have broken our Oath to one another and to you. Forgive us we pray. Free us for joyful obedience through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pardon

Hear the goodnews: Jesus never said that we had to be perfect Scouts, or even Scouts at all, in order to be forgiven. Jesus died for us while we were stil sinful and broken, and it is by his stregth and power through which we can be healed. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Let us repeat that and say it to one another: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Glory to God, Amen.  
  Note: I wrote, and used, this for the Protestant worship service at the World Scout Jamboree on Sunday, July 28th,2019. Some portions borrow from, or are adapted for this purpose, from the Great Thanksgiving in the United Methodist Book of Worship.      
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Choosing Discomfort

We were cold. But would be hot almost within the hour. The fog was still liftng from the mountan valleys as we walked to breakfast just after dawn. There was a chill in the air and several of us had spent a fitful night tryig to keep warm in our tents. But as we walked to breakfast, we were also aware that soon, almost within the hour, the sun wouold rise above the mountains and temperatures would rise enough to make us sweat. And so, as each of us dressed that morning, we had made choices. We were all faced with the same facts, but each of us had made different choices. One had long sleeves and long pants, another long sleeves and shorts, another long pants and short sleeves, and still another both short pants and sleeves. Would we be comfortablly warm now, and cold later?  Or cold now, and comfortable later? Each of us knew that our choice was transient. Discomfort was inevitable. We were choosing the form of our discomfort. And it was so ordinary that no one gave it a second thought. But in other situations we seem shocked by it… and we shouldn`t be. We wonder why migrants would choose to come across our border when they know that the journey is arduous, that the “coyotes” that guide them vicious, rape ordinary, and often detention when caught. The thing is, many are aware of the dangers before they begin but, when faced with daily violence, death and mayhem at home, they’ve chosen the most comfortable discomfort. The discomfort they face at home seems endless and unsolvable, but the discomfort on the road to citizenship, or even residence, in a foreign country seems like a light of hope at the end of a dark tunnel. We wonder why young people who grew up in the church, and who believe that life begins in the womb, still sometimes choose to end that life through abortion. But often these young people, married and unmarried, are faced with impossible choices, none of which are good. While we may not agree with their choices, we should understand that they are choosing their discomfort. When every possible choice seems to be a path of pain, they must choose which path of pain seems ever so lightly less painful. We wonder why people who have few posessions and little money make choices that seem wasteful and foolish.  But they are doing the same thing.  They are choosing their discomfort.  It can easily be understood that although none of their choices are good, they choose a path that offers a little joy, however transient. We wonder why our friends choose to vote for candidates that do not represent their values, or who are known to act in ways that are contrary to the interests of the voters.  But the same principle applies.  It is often the case that voters are fully aware of the candidate’s failings, faults, and voting patterns.  But, believing that the other candidates are just as flawed, or who violate their conscience in other ways, the voters are compelled to choose their discomfort. Which path of pain seems the most bearable? Which uncomfortable choice offers a chance at hope? I didn`t laugh at my friends on the way to breakfast because I understood that each of us, in our own way, was choosing the uncomfortable path that we though offered the least discomfort. If we can understand that, then shouldn’t we extend the same grace to others who are making harder, more painful choices between their available paths of discomfort? Isn’t that what Jesus taught us? Each of us must make choices that guide us through paths of discomfort. We should have the grace to allow others to do the same. Friends… …always choose grace.    
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Changing the World with Muddy Boots

It’s a good thing I brought my new boots. Yesterday, my old boots (comfortable friends with lots of miles and one National Jamboree) fell apart (again). Thankfully, I had recently purchased a new pair (with Patti Partridge ‘s help and a gift from my Mama) and broke them in over the last couple of weeks. So yesterday, even though it rained all day (with a few short breaks) and all night last night, my feet stayed dry throughout the chaos of welcoming 38 or so troops from around the world. Our subcamp staff is nothing short of amazing. Of the 24 of us, only five are American, four (I think) are from the UK, one from Australia, one from Canada, and the rest from non-English speaking countries from around the world. We were able to greet almost every troop in their own language. As well, the flexibility and patience exhibited by the troops, even after traveling great distances, and being on buses for sometimes eight to ten hours (or more) has been incredible. Today, all these young people are exploring, meeting one another, playing games together, and shaping a new world. Sure, it’s hot, wet, dirty work but maybe these young people can go home and tell others that the world *can* live together in peace. Yes, we’re all having a great time. But our hope is that we’re changing the world and moving us all toward a better future at the same time. Isn’t that worth a few muddy boots?    
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A Plumb Line

A Plumb Line

A Sunday meditation

July 21, 2019

By Pastor John Partridge

Amos 7:7-17              

 

Have you ever lived in a small town?

On at least three different times in my life I have lived in small towns.  But I want you to understand what I mean when I say, “small town.”  In these places parents often caution their children to behave while they are in the community just as well as they do when their parents are watching, and they do so because you can be quite certain that even though they are out of sight of their parents, someone that they know will see them, and their parents will hear about what they have done, often before they return home from doing it.

This kind of caution is just the message that God gives to the people of Israel through the prophet Amos.  God says that he will measure his people with a plumb line.  A plumb line is simply a metal weight that hangs at the end of a string but thanks to the predictability of gravity, that line is always dead straight. (Amos 7:7-17)

This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?”

“A plumb line,” I replied.

Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

“The high places of Isaac will be destroyed
    and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined;
    with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.”

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying:

“‘Jeroboam will die by the sword,
    and Israel will surely go into exile,
    away from their native land.’”

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.”

14 Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now then, hear the word of the Lord. You say,

“‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
    and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac.’

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says:

“‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city,
    and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.
Your land will be measured and divided up,
    and you yourself will die in a pagan country.
And Israel will surely go into exile,
    away from their native land.’”

God tells his children that just because they didn’t see him, doesn’t mean that their father wasn’t watching.  And not only was he watching, but he intends to measure what they are building with their behavior.  His standard is dead straight and perfect.  Israel knew what the rules were, they knew God’s standards, they knew what he expected, but they didn’t follow his instructions so what they were building wasn’t straight. 

It didn’t conform.

It deviated from God’s standards.

But the rest of the story is also important.  When Amos arrives to declare God’s judgement, the king’s advisor, the priest Amaziah, declares Amos to be an enemy.  They don’t want to hear any bad news even if it comes from God.  Israel’s religious and political leaders would rather ignore God than repent and obey him. 

Not surprisingly, ignoring God and pretending that his judgement isn’t real does not prevent God from doing what he promised to do,  In fact, because Amaziah has refused to recognize Amos as God’s prophet, and refused to listen or respond to God’s judgement, Amos declares a personal curse upon Amaziah in addition to the punishment that God had intended for Israel all along.

But so, what?

What does that mean to us in the twenty-first century?

I see two important lessons for us as the church, as a people, and as a nation.

First, ignoring God and his instructions is does not prevent us from being measured by God’s standards. Every nation, secular, religious, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or otherwise will be measured by the plumb-line of God.  It doesn’t matter if the highest levels of the government or the highest levels of the church pretend that God is dead.  Pretending that judgement will never come will not stop God’s judgement from coming any more than pretending that a freight train is fluffy will stop it from crushing you if you stand on the crossing.

Second, the leaders of the church, and the leaders of the nations, will be held personally, and particularly, responsible for the way in which they lead their nations.

Even as citizens, how we choose to lead, and how we choose to vote for our leaders, and how we hold them accountable, is important.  It is important that we choose leaders who lead well, and who lead us in ways that do not ignore the instructions and commands of God. 

Just like a child living in a small town, even when our father seems to be invisible and out of sight, he knows what we are doing and is measuring what we are building with our behavior.

We are a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6).  We know the standards, instructions, and commands of God.

We need to act like it.

 

 


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