The late Andy Williams’ voice still can be heard at this time of year in shopping malls and on radio programs. His 1963 hit song, composed by Edward Pola and George Wyle for his weekly television show, has become part of the holiday fare. The words promise that this time of year is the most wonderful:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
(Edward Pola and George Wyle, 1963)
Is it? For many church planters and pastors, it is the busiest time of year. There are extra worship services to prepare and holiday decorations both for church and home and special Christmas letters and of course, the list goes on. Pastors well know that for those who lost loved ones during the year it can be a sad time.
For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere this time of year coincides with less daylight. For some, the lack of light brings on feelings of sadness. Our traditions of putting up decorative lights helps mitigate the darkness. The early church chose the winter solstice as a time to commemorate the birth of Jesus precisely because he was the light coming into a world of darkness.
While for many this time of the year is not the most wonderful, we can point to the Christ child who enters into our lives and world not as an answer to the “hap-hap-happiest” moments of life, but rather the much deeper and longer lasting joy that comes when we receive that child into our hearts and live out our lives according to Christian values.
Our prayer for all of you is that the light of Christ can shine into your lives and the lives of your families and communities of faith at this time of year.
By Rev. Adam Weber, Pastor of Embrace Church in Sioux Falls, SD
Well, as of this July, it’ll be 5 years since I somehow managed to graduate from seminary and start the craziness known as “full-time ministry”. As the saying goes “time flies when you’re having crazy”… or something like that, right? And here are a few of the things (5 to be exact) that I’ve learned in these 5 years (in no particular order). Continue reading
by Candace Lewis, Executive Director of Path 1 New Church Starts
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24 NLT)
Over the last 48 hours I have been in a car with Doug Ruffle for over 800 miles. We connected with twelve unique church plants meeting incredible clergy, laity, and conference staff leaders. What have I been doing? I’ve been visiting church plants and new faith communities, “celebrating what works, learning what doesn’t and dreaming of what could be” for the future of our denomination. This is the Path1 Summer Road Trip! Continue reading
by Emily Reece, Path1 New Church Strategist
Last week’s Path 1 e-newsletter publically welcomed Doug Ruffle to the Path 1 staff. Over the past few months, Doug has taken on many of the tasks I used to do for the team, enabling me to work for Path 1 in a new way. As the New Church Strategist now focused in the North Central Jurisdiction, I am deployed “Back Home Again in Indiana” after living eleven years in the Nashville area. The Path 1 Summer Road Trip allows me to get into a rhythm of exploring my new “territory” and listening. Continue reading
Last week I had the good fortune to be in conversation with several faculty from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Asbury now offers a Masters in Church Planting as well as a specialization in Church Planting for the M.Div. degree. Their church planting emphasis is shaped by Asbury’s E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism; the Beeson International Center; and The Center for Lay Mobilization. We discussed how church planting and even being called to serve an existing church is similar to what missionaries have been doing for many years. If you are from the city and called to serve a church in rural West Virginia, you will need to engage in cultural exegesis in much the same way that a person from the U.S. would need to learn about life in say, Costa Rica. Asbury’s years of experience in world missions can help inform the mindset. Continue reading
By Paul Nixon – New Church Strategist for Northeastern Jurisdiction – On the Road in the Northeast USA for Path 1
Having just road tripped through Greater New Jersey, New York and New England Conferences, I see the following powerful learning for the larger United Methodist connection: Continue reading
by Sam Rodriguez, Director of Hispanic/Latino & Multi-Ethnic New Church Starts, Path 1
You don’t have to be a planter in order to help start a new church. There are so many ways existing churches can help start faith communities. One of the most popular models for planting a new church right now is the “partnered start.” In this model an existing church or group of churches provides financial, logistical, and spiritual support to a new start in the area sometimes also providing leadership for the new ministry. Continue reading