Saturday, January 09, 2010
Tinney Chapel @ District Training Event
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Why do Methodists have annual training events?
God isn't finished with us yet?
At today's training event in Sulphur Springs, Pastor Aleze Fulbright, photo above, led the workshop on hospitality, and she began with a famous example from the Bible, Genesis 18:1-8.
It is the account of Abraham responding to an appearance of the Lord and a visit from three men, to whom Abraham appropriately responds with excitement, appreciation, an attitude of invitation and a willingness to recruit others to help him in an urgent display of providing the very best service during this time of unexpected opportunity.
Abraham is presented in this Scripture as being very much in the moment and not at all intimidated by the sudden appearance of important guests, to whom he provides welcome, priority and the very best of everything he has to offer.
Teach that hospitality is at the core of the Gospel, suggested Pastor Fulbright, as she explained how to use this Hebrew Bible lesson in today's 21st Century United Methodist Church ministry.
Convey a clear invitation and a statement of welcome in all communications directed at your community--advertisements, banners, flyers, church website and the like, she emphasized.
Station greeters at all entrances, in classroom areas and in the parking lot or entry walks, if appropriate, added Pastor Fulbright. Escort newcomers to the nursery, classrooms, coffee hours and such--don't just point the way or give directions!
Place information about your church's ministries where a visitor can easily find it, preferably in the pew or a clearly marked location near the entry points used by visitors, she added.
Finally, Pastor Fulbright suggested encouraging visitors to get connected with activities and groups, even if they are not ready to join your church.
She closed with this New Testament Scripture: Be sure to welcome strangers into your home. By doing this, some people have welcomed angels as guests, without even knowing it."--Hebrews 13:2
The Rev. Dr. Keith Boone, Paris-Sulphur Springs District Superintendent, photo above, led the event's worship service, choosing as his primary Scripture, Matthew 9:35-10:16, in which Jesus notes that the harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few!
This is also one of the times Jesus emphasizes the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven as one reason for calling upon the Disciples to get busy preaching, healing, cleansing, casting out devils, even raising the dead.
Freely you have received, Jesus reminds, adding: Freely give.
Jesus concludes this directive by cautioning them to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Rev. Boone emphasized his message with a reminder to all that our task is to move from discipleship (learners) to apostleship (ones who are sent out to labor for the Kingdom). Just to follow Jesus is not enough, said Rev. Boone, we must also be ready to go out.
Why is this important? Since 1990, said Rev. Boone, the North Texas Conference has had an increase in population of 47.5% and our Paris-Sulphur Springs District is projected to increase by 12% during the next 10 years. That would make our District the second fastest-growing in the Conference!
The District Superintendent also shared one of the great secrets of life to help us meet the challenge that Jesus presents: Always have a specific purpose in your mind and heart, and make sure that it is one that you can NOT possibly do!!!
Rev. Boone said he likes that Impossible Dream attitude toward life.