Tuesday November 9, 2021 I stepped out of the Lutheran bubble for a bit. At noon I engaged an online webinar with Pastor Andy Stanley (Northpoint Church, Atlanta) about leading a divided church. Pastor Stanley’s congregation numbers in the tens of thousands and multiple sites. But in the time of Covid-19 and the political divisions of our country he also has had backlash from decisions he and his leadership have made.
It was enlightening and even a bit encouraging to hear him talk about the challenges he has faced when everything his ministry and he says is interpreted through a political/ideological lens. We in NT-NL Synod, ELCA are not alone in dealing with the challenges of a divided community in which we serve.
Then in the evening I had a chance for a positive event. I was invited to speak to the White’s Chapel UMC Men’s Fall gathering event. Pastor Jon Reeves, a friend of my spouse’s from Brite Divinity School, is on staff at WCUMC and invited me to talk about my studies in leadership but also about my experiences playing football in high school and college and the lessons I learned from that.
It was good to be with these men tonight as we discussed how to learn from our successes, failures, and in walking with and listening to God. I drew from my spouse’s current bible study with her congregation on Joshua. How his role continued to morph and change over time, yet throughout it he was noted as being someone connected to and committed to serving God and his community. It was an enjoyable evening and a reminder of the importance of Men’s Ministry, I am grateful for being a board members of Lutheran Men In Mission and the work they do.
I closed our time tonight quoting the apostle Paul. Someone who had to learn that God’s plans involved a lot more people than he (or Joshua for that matter thought). The line “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” is often a motivational poster. But the context from Philippians 4 is a much deeper. Paul had to learn some things to understand what strength meant and who was giving it to him. In our culture of more and more, bigger and better, his words are quite counter cultural.
“I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.” (Phil. 4:12-13)