Category Archives: leadership

The Library and The Church

fb_booksI’ve been cataloging my daughter’s books in Libib. By the time I’m finished I estimate she will have about 500 books. At her age, I read just as much, but had nowhere near that number of books. I may have owned 25 books in elementary school, but we went to the public library. I wondered: have I become too elitist for the public library? Has the public library failed? and  . . . Are there any lessons for The Church?

The Libraries I Grew Up With

I happened to grow up in places with great public libraries. They had many books on the shelves, and networked with other libraries to provide access to even more books.  I didn’t have to own a whole set of Dr. Seuss, just a few to peak my interest. I owned a few, a friend or cousin had a few, and the library had them all. I could obtain them pretty much anytime I wanted because, if not the one in my town, a library somewhere nearby was usually open.

8495349404_2ec8b18b7b_oMy perception now is that public libraries have less books and less open hours, but more community events (such as children’s reading times) and more computers. (I remember the days of the card catalog.) With these changes, whether real or just perceived, I asked myself if the public system is failing or just changing. To answer that we need to know what is the purpose of the public library.

The Library’s Purpose

My thought on the purpose of the public library is: to enable literacy and access to information and the arts to the public, but I’m not a librarian, so what do the libraries say for themselves?

  • The Saint Paul Public Library mission statement: We connect people in Saint Paul with the imperative and the joy of learning through a lifetime.
  • The Oak Park Public Library enhances the quality of life in our diverse community by providing opportunities for lifelong learning, by creating spaces and opportunities to connect and engage, and by fostering a love of reading and commitment to literacy.
  • The American Library Association wants to enable libraries  to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

Methods Change, Mission Does Not

I don’t think my thoughts on the purpose of libraries was too far off, and I think libraries are doing a pretty good job at fulfilling their mission even though they have changed. If part of their purpose is to provide access to 8233217300_4fa801cd35_oinformation, internet connected computers are a necessity. The Saint Paul library system provides reading times in multiple languages, not to enable people to avoid learning English, but to enable people of all ages to learn.

I haven’t independently confirmed this, but I’ve been told that the U.S. Postal Service was initially against the use of fax machines. That would make sense because using the phone lines for print communication cut into their financial bottom line. But what if the USPS decided that it was not merely in the letter and package business, but that its mission was public communication? Places like Kinkos made part of their business charging people for fax services. If the USPS had embraced email, we might have internet as a public utility. We could certainly debate as to whether or not that would be better than what we have now, but government run internet could certainly provide stiff competition to the monopolies we have now.

16430798391_435610ddfa_bWe must ensure we have the correct mission, and methods have to adapt over time in order to continually fulfill the mission, even though that may mean for me a father that I have to buy my daughter her own books.  Thus, the old ways are not necessarily thrown out, but they may be moved. The mission of The Church is to: love God, love others, make disciples, and heal (Matthew 22:36-40; 28:16-2, Luke 10:8-9, 2 Corinthians 5:18). I think we can all agree on that, so the question we have to face is not: What is my favorite way of accomplishing this mission?, but What is the best way?

photo credit: Glyn Lowe Photoworks. Library of Congress Classification – Reading Room via photopin (license)
photo credit: Antimidia Nov30 {295/366} Reflexão a cerca de conhecimento… via photopin (license)
photo credit: cheriejoyful The Library 9 via photopin (license)

Summarizing The Wesleyan Membership Commentments

commitmentWhile updating my membership class material, I found it useful to summarize each of the covenant membership commitments. I am posting my work here hoping that other Wesleyans (laity, pastors, historians, and scholars) as well as just other Christians might give me some feedback. I hope my summaries maintain the “historic, ethical, and practical standards of The Wesleyan Church,”1 even if I have lost some of the specifics. Continue reading Summarizing The Wesleyan Membership Commentments

From a Mirror Darkly to Face to Face

mirror darklyA mentor pastor once gave me the valuable lesson of assigning me to listen to recordings of my own sermons. I did not want to do it. I found that I did not like the sound of my own voice on a recording, but despite the pain of listening to myself I learned a lot about delivery. I learned my voice sounds better when I properly breathe and project. I learned that in order to sound as dramatic as my thoughts, I really need to increase my vocal inflections; while I may feel like an exaggerating bad actor, the congregations perceives me as simply passionate. Continue reading From a Mirror Darkly to Face to Face

Life Perspective from Rob Bell

3213870424On January 20, 2013 I will be installed as the lead pastor of Oakdale Wesleyan Church, and as the date approaches many thoughts have crossed my mind. Although we, the involved parties, just picked the first available Sunday in January, that date happened to fall on Inauguration Day for President Barack Obama’s second term, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend. I do not place myself on the level of the first African-American president of the U.S. nor the leader of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, but I am honored to share, and find significance in sharing, their day. Continue reading Life Perspective from Rob Bell

Wesleyan District Silos?

I was surprised to learn that some people perceive, and maybe there actually are, “destination districts” in The Wesleyan Church. I had no idea such a concept existed, and perhaps that is because I am currently in one of the destination districts. I knew that I work under an effective and well-liked district superintendent, and that California is one of the states that many people dream of living in at some point in their lives, but I never considered ranking my district’s desirability above or below another district. Perhaps I am naive spending time in prayer and looking for a local church that can use my gifting. Continue reading Wesleyan District Silos?

Getting More Creative with Pastoral Support

Back in the 1990s, I was at a church that was ready to move on from renting space at the local high school to having its own faculty. However, property zoned for churches was limited and expensive. We also did not have a lot of money. What we did have was carpenters, sheet rockers, an HVAC specialist, an architect, and an electrician (some of whom were out of work), all attending our church. So between these trades, our little bit of capital, a lot of volunteer labor, and the Lord’s favor, we turning two warehouse units into a nice church facility. We could not simply pay our way, so we got creative, used our talents, and got our hands dirty. Continue reading Getting More Creative with Pastoral Support

Book Review: ΘRGANIX

ΘRGANIX by Bob Whitesel examines and explains the Millennial leadership model as compared to the Modern (Boomer) leadership model. I think this book is worth reading by leaders belonging to any generation, especially those working across generations or attempting to build multi-generational ministry. Boomer leaders will see what the next generation is doing as, and expecting of, leaders. Millennial leaders will find affirmation (or correction) for their style, and see the perspective of the previous generation. Gen-Xers (like me) will see how we have walked the line between the two styles. I was able to see where my early leadership training came from, and why I felt the need to sometimes buck that instruction as I grew as a leader. For all, there are lessons to be learned about providing authentic leadership for the next generation. Continue reading Book Review: ΘRGANIX

Peters, Pauls, and Timothys

According to the records we have in the book of Acts, nobody had better single day evangelistic event than Peter. According to Acts 2, 3,000 people were baptized and their numbers continued to grow daily. In pastoral, and literal, terms, he was a a”big fisherman.” Peter was a big vision type of leader, declaring Joel 2:28-32 to be happening as he spoke. With that resume builder, one might think that Peter would continue to be the driving force through the Acts narrative, but instead it transitions to Paul. Continue reading Peters, Pauls, and Timothys

Choices of Faith

Scot McKnight has an interesting post over at Jesus Creed on “How the Copts Pick a Pope.” I encourage you to read the article for yourself, but to sum up the process, a group of clergy and some laity get together and whittle down the candidates, who must meet certain minimum requirements, to three. The final choice is one of faith, as the name of the new pope is drawn by lot by an impartial blindfolded child. Continue reading Choices of Faith