Jun 13

What Ministry Do You Feel Drawn To?

Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,
use it according to the standard of one’s[b] faith;
if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching;
if exhorting, in exhortation;
giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence;
showing mercy, with cheerfulness.”  (Romans 12:4-8, Holman Christian Standard Version)

One volunteering in a crowd

What Is Ministry?

A good point is made here. Ministry is not just for people at the front of the room. And it’s not the use of one specific gift. Those who speak in tongues or preach are no better than members who sit quietly with grieving families, or bring a bag of groceries to a neighbor. More denominations are affirming the ministry of all believers. For some, it’s a core belief. For others, it looks like a response to burnout & shrinking membership. Ministering doesn’t require years of education and study. It’s action take to bring people closer to God.

How do you see ministry? How is it set up around you and in your community?

Are there age limits? Does your congregation see certain types of people as “too young” or “past their prime”, unable to help with the “real work” going on? What about gender? Does leadership and decision making power go only to specific genders? And even within that, are people whose gender expression isn’t like everyone else kept to certain types of jobs?

God gives everyone gifts and talents to share, whether their church or denomination wants to accept it or not. If you’re someone who feels led to help others, you may be unsure how. What should you do, and where can you do it? Hopefully, this post can help.
Types of Ministry

Ministry happens in so many way, we could never list them all here. But we’ll look at a few.

  • Basic Needs Ministry: Christians, alone or in groups, as well as churches, have helped others with their basic needs since the book of Acts. Today, there are hospitals, food banks, and shelter networks that are all run by faith based organizations. But don’t think that you need to be the person in charge for it to be your ministry call. If no one was there every day to hand out the food, it would rot in storage and do no one any good. Without a grant writer, shelter networks would lose funding and close down. And if  hospitals didn’t have janitors, they would be hazardous for people to be healed there.
  • Age Related Ministries: Your heart may lead you to work with youth, adults, or the elderly. Those who work with youth need open, nonjudgmental hearts and a lot of energy. Children and teens need activity, answers to their life questions, and help figuring out who they are. Adults often have career, romance, and family inclusion issues to navigate. A big issue in senior ministry is to remember that these are people with still plenty to give to the world. They may not need ministry TO as much as chances to minister to OTHERS.
  • Prayer Ministries: This can take many forms. One of the biggest things to remember is that people do actually need training in prayer. Especially prayer in teams and on behalf of other people. The actual forms this ministry takes vary widely. Some pray for people from a list given to them. Others walk a specific neighborhood, praying for the people and businesses there. At times, the entire prayer team may gather to pray for a specific purpose.
  • Online Ministries: These include, but extend far beyond, typical social media sites like Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. There are a lot of people online who need a place to talk out troubles, study Scripture, or just connect with a friendly group. One prevalent online ministry is running an online Bible Study. These can be done on paper, over video, or given right to someone’s inbox. Some churches run podcasts, online radio shows, or simply put their services and events on their website for others to see. The online world is vast, and still becoming more personal every day. As long as you are intentional and open, someone will respond.

How do I get started?  The best way to get started is to pray. Ask God to show you where your gifts belong. 

  • Take a look at the things you’re already doing: Do you run your own website? Look after kids on the weekends? Or maybe your friends already send you facebook messages when they have a problem that they need sorted out. Whatever your gift is, you may already be using it in your everyday life.
  • Ask what’s needed in your church/social circles. Sometimes, your ministry is to take talents you use in daily life and bring them into a congregation. Other people may be called to stay outside the walls. Wherever you feel you’re supposed to be, ask what needs to be done. If there’s a hole you can fill, try it out!

Remember, we don’t have gifts so they can sit unused. No matter how little you think of yourself, you can change (or even save) someone’s life. I won’t tell you to work on your self esteem first. In fact, if that’s what you’re hiding behind, stop it. Feel bad about yourself on your down time. Hate yourself every day if you want to. Just help other people while you’re doing it. Time is too short to spend wondering what all your childhood traumas are. Trust me, if you’re using your gifts properly, you’ll find out as you go. I know firsthand.

Apr 12

Why Study the Bible?

A Bible open laying on a table with a goblet nearby

You know, there’s a lot of wondering about that.

Why bother studying the Bible?After all, this library of books is full of some of the most horrendous stories.Consider these:

1) A man and his wife are made to wait until their old age to have a child.Then God tells the man to take his child to the top of a mountain and sacrifice him.(Genesis 22:1-19)

2) One of the first recorded actions of the first two sons ever to live on the planet is when one of them murders the other.(Genesis 4:8-12)

3) In their quest to become a nation, the Israelites commit genocide against practically every other nation they come into contact with.(Exodus 32:27, Joshua 8:1-28, other places)

4) There are a number of accounts of women being raped, cast aside, used as a scapegoat for male bad behavior, and otherwise violated.( Genesis 34:1-8, Judges 19:22-29, 2 Samuel 13:1-21, Zechariah 14:2, other places)

And then, of course, there’s all the things the Bible has been used to justify.Slavery, the second class citizenship of women, racism, global economic terrorism by the U.S., and so much more.(even why it’s a sin to be a vegetarian.Seriously.)

So what do we do then?Do we turn our backs on this book in disgust and horror?Gloss over the bad parts, trying to tell people none of that matters, only the love and goodness of God is what’s important?Certainly not!If one is going to study the Bible, then you must study, engage with, and critique ALL of it.

Not just the parts that give you a happy.

Continue reading →

Nov 11

Why Isn’t John First?

Have you ever wondered about that? Why John isn’t in the Christian Scriptures as the first Gospel. I’ve been wondering about it for two years, and I just now feel solid enough to write about it. But follow along with me for a minute and see if this doesn’t make sense to you.

Behold Genesis 1:1-4:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”

Now take a look at John 1:1-5:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made, without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

That sounds like a challenge to me. I can almost hear it.

“Ok, I know the Creation story is epic, but you have no idea. History has shifted again….have we got a sequel (prequel?) for you! Sit and listen…”

Bible writers do this kind of thing often. A repeated story or framework can either draw a reader’s attention to a point the author really really hopes you’ll get, or it can set you up to make associations between stories. John is writing to make one clear point, according to chapter 20 verse 31: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

So it makes complete sense to me that John would set this up with a parallel reminding people of God’s great Creation story, and in a sense asking people to get ready again, because God is about to bust something new out. What doesn’t make sense to me at all is why we bury John at the back end of the gospels. Then we try and come back to it and wave it around as important by using it as a standalone witnessing tool. Again, in my mind, it’s cut out of context.

John’s gospel is a beginning, a renewal, and a pointing toward something else. It should have the kickoff place in Christian Scriptures. I’m going to try reading the gospels again, in this order:

John, Mark, Matthew, Luke.

Tell me what you think?

Jul 11

The Source: An Amazing Scholarly Work

I used to be a seminary student. I wanted to be an ordained minister, so I spent a year and a half studying at a local school here in Seattle. Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of Bibles. This is a new one I’ve picked up online. The Source New Testament was released online without the study notes, as a teaser to get people to buy the real live book version. (Available here on Amazon: http://amzn.to/n5pwQe  )

The author, Dr. Ann Nylund, is not a theologian or an ordained minister. She is a Greek scholar who took a look at the Bible from a linguistic POV. Which I think is kind of cool, since that should mean she’s not beholden to any particular denomination or political outlook to sell her work.

I found the download at only one place online, so I wanted to embed it here on my blog. I’m hoping some other people will pick it up and do the same so that it will be more widely available. Dr. Nylund suffered some backlash after she wrote and released a study bible for the LGBT community. Stores refused to stock it, and conservative groups pulled all of her work from their website. See  http://bit.l/p8ZmA7


The LGBT study bible is also available on Amazon.com, as is most of Dr. Nylund’s work. http://amzn.to/obtDRR

Since her career took such a hit after publishing the LGBT Study Bible, and I find The Source to be such a helpful, well, reSource, I want to make sure as many people as possible have access to it. It’s kind of my way of saying thank you. So, without anymore yakking on my part, here it is, the Source New Testament PDF version without the study notes:

Source New Testament

h/t to Hollywood Jesus for keeping the link alive!

Jun 11

Don’t Forget: Watch Seattle Pride Live Here!

Happy Pride!! There’s been a lot going on this year in the LGBTQ communities, both good and not so good. Today’s a great day to celebrate being ourselves. Whether you are fully flaming out, doing your own thing like Anderson Cooper, or still trying to figure everything out, there’s a place for you. No matter what the mainstream gay media shows you, there’s no need to be a white, well off, fully tanned and toned male to be part of this tribe. I speak from experience, because I’m totally not any of those things. Well, ok, except for white. That I am.

Now, onto the show. Look down at the post right under this one. You’ll find an embedded video box that’s a live feed to the Seattle parade. I asked about how it’s supposed to work this morning, and here’s the deal:

1) You don’t have to keep refreshing your screen waiting for the show to start. Some sort of picture should come up, letting you know the feed has gone live. That’s your cue to press play. Unless it’s still blank by 11am. That’s when the parade starts. Then you might need to refresh once or twice.

2) I have Michael’s word that the coding was laid out properly, so there shouldn’t be any issues with the feed flipping out on you during the parade. If there is, just be patient.

3) The feed is running on 4G technology, so it shouldn’t drag or do the badly dubbed kung fu movie thing.

4) There is no captioning capability built into the feed itself. I apologize for that.

5) I don’t think there’s anything else to tell you. Just sit back and enjoy the show!