Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jared Bell -- Youth Pastor

When Jared Bell was a student a few years back he helped lead the college service at Lakeview Church, and wound up in his senior year doing his preaching practicum at Westminster Presbyterian here in Marion. He graduated from IWU in 2005. Jared is now a youth pastor in a Wesleyan Church in Kernersville, North Carolina. He is married to Becky Sievers Bell and they just had their baby girl this week.

While Jared is from San Diego, he has adapted well to the land of sweet tea and biscuits. He’s one of those youth pastors with strict office hours every morning. He spends the afternoons making phone calls, visiting people, and teaching free guitar lessons. Jared is a master at connecting with people. He is no one-man-show though—he has built a strong team of volunteers that releases him to build relationships, preach & teach and develop the team.

I fondly remember how hard Jared worked in my classes and I’m proud of how he works so hard in ministry today—Jared is my joy and crown. I'm proud of you Jared!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lynn Payne--Children's Minister

Lynn Payne was an atheist for the first 16 years of her life. She had never been to church until a friend invited her to youth group at Lakeview Church in Marion, Indiana. As she attended youth group for the next several months the youth pastor and his wife (Brandon and Jennifer Bruce) invested in Lynn’s life and she hungered to know Jesus. She was saved at a youth group event. The Bruces mentored Lynn for several years. Lynn was a senior in high school when she felt the Lord calling her into full time ministry as a children's minister. Lynn came to IWU to get a degree in children's ministry. She knew how to work hard as a student and how to connect with professors as mentors. I was one of those professors who had the privilege of having Lynn in class.

Lynn is a can-do person. When she was flying for an interview at First Wesleyan Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama her flight was cancelled half way there. Lynn didn’t whine or blame the airlines. She simply searched for and found another stranded flyer and rented a car together and showed up on time for her interview anyway! That’s the sort of can-do spirit one expects of a job applicant.

She got the job and has been in charge of Children’s ministries at the church for about a year and a half already. Four of the seven pastors are IWU grads so she gets to work with other IWU alums. Lynn always did “above and beyond” work in every class I had her in…and she is still doing that in her work at the Tuscaloosa. She’s doing a great job and I’m proud of her. She is my “joy and crown.”

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Mark & Jess Schmerse

I’ve walked more miles with Mark Schmerse than anyone else--including my wife or Burt Webb. We've hiked from a few days on Indiana’s 40 mile Knobstone Trail all the way to several months hiking together 1100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mt Shasta in California. Mark is a great friend and fellow backpacker.

But what makes me rejoice the most about Mark is not the miles we’ve logged together but Mark’s more important trek as pastor of the Mountain View Wesleyan Church in Aumsville, Oregon.

It’s a nice twist that the church he now pastors is called “Mountain View.” Mark preaches there every week and sometimes I ask him what he preached about. I love hearing about sermons my former students preached. When I read them they minister to me and I am strengthened spiritually. Mark’s church is a solid congregation committed to love God and reach others and I love hearing about his church—maybe because it reminds me of the happy years when Sharon and I were pastor of “ordinary churches” in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I’m so proud of Mark & Jess! Nothing brings me greater joy than to hear of former students slugging it out on the Long Trail of pastoring a church. Mark & Jess are my joy and crown.

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Oldest Friend --Harry Wood

Last week I had lunch with Harry Wood, the oldest friend I have. I have friends who are older but none who have been friends longer. Harry Wood and I were raised in the same local church in McKeesport, Pennsylvania—a church of about 150 on its highest days. Harry has been a friend of mine for more then 50 years.

As for our home church it was an unusual church. I sometimes wonder why some churches produce more ministers and leaders than others. I don’t know why, but McKeesport Pilgrim Holiness Church produced a lot of leaders—even before they started working with Harry Wood and me as children.

According to Harry’s count at least 33 sons and daughters of the church entered full-time ministry as pastors, ministry leaders, spouses of pastors, and missionaries. It produced denominational leaders too. From the members and pastors of this church came four General Superintendents: William Neff, R. G. Flexon, P. F. Elliot, and my friend, Harry F. Wood.

Besides GS’s the church also yielded General Officers to lead the denomination’s Youth work, Sunday Schools, and World Missions. And the McKeesport church also produced 9 District Superintendents, a traveling Song Evangelist, 15 local pastors and 7 pastoral spouses. They sent out two missionaries to the Oriental Missionary Society plus a host of other ministers serving in music ministry, prison ministry, US Military Chaplain, T.V. Ministry, and college professors.
Though I was raised in this church it had a more important affect on my life even before I was born. Mrs. Jalosky who was in her 80's when the church closed remembered her parents picking up two Methodist teen boys—Leonard and Elmer Drury and bringing them to this church. Soon the McKeesport church planted a sister church in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania and my father, Leonard Drury (and his father Walter Drury) both Methodists, came into the Wesleyan Church.

The McKeesport church was laid to rest in 2002 at age 88. Churches often die before age 100. But the people they’ve influenced live on—here or in heaven. Perhaps the church took a wrong turn in the road. They were eyeing a delightful new property for expansion but instead they chose to stay put. That property now is the location of another congregation that runs over 1,000 and now includes many of the former members of the old church. Just like individuals, congregations face forks in their road that affect their future. Once a leading church and ahead of the times they gradually in drifted to the back of the pack and eventually closed. But the building is now being used by an African-American congregation… people are still getting saved at the altar where I first went forward as a little child. A church building (and a denomination) is just a container for the real and lasting work of carrying forward the kingdom of God. Containers come and go, but the real work always continues in new wineskins. I loved that old church building, but I loved even more the people in it—like Willard Kleppinger, the my Children’s church leader who taught Harry and me to love the Bible. Eventually congregations fizzle and buildings crumble—but the work of the gospel remains forever.

keith drury

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A sermon on "and"

One of the most memorable sermons I ever heard was based on one three-letter word, “and.” I heard Bernard Phaup preach in Virginia when I was in my twenties. He used three passages where he emphasized only one word:

Luke 1:67—“His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.”

Acts 2:4—“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts 4:3—“…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

I don’t recall anything else he said except one line he kept repeating: “When you are filled with the Holy Spirit there is always an and.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kyle Ray at College Wesleyan today

Kyle Ray preached this morning at my church (College Wesleyan). Kyle will be the new Senior Pastor at the Wesleyan church in Kentwood Michigan, Kentwood Community Church when their founding pastor, Wayne Schmidt becomes the head of IWU’s seminary after Christmas.

Kyle preached on Mark 6 -- that intriguing story of the dancing girl asking for John the Baptist’s head on a platter instead of “half the kingdom.” He focused on how Herod gave in partly because he was worried about how he would look to the crowd if he defaulted on his promise. Kyle did a clever thing by adding two other scriptures on the topic from the gospel of Mark (ch 15 where Pilate also feared the crowd) and Jesus in Mark 1 (who resisted the pressures of fame and the crowd). His point—instead of worrying about pleasing the people worry more about pleasing an audience of one—God.

Kyle’s narrative-practical approach got me thinking all afternoon about the gruesome story, even beyond anything he raised directly in the sermon. I’ve been pondering…
• What would make a guy offer up to half of his kingdom? (a sexy dance?)
• What would make a girl ignore getting half-a-kingdom and choose instead some guy’s head (revenge?)
• What are the motivations that are even greater than wealth (Sex? Revenge?)
• How culpable was the girl—for obeying her mother?
• What were the cultural conventions of that world in such an offer—was it expected the girl would merely say, “Naaahhh I did it all for you?”
• How does this dancing girl compare to Ester in a similar situation?
• Are there vows and promises one shouldn’t keep—e.g. “The first thing that comes through that door I will offer up as a sacrifice to you Lord.”
• When is peer pressure a good thing—like a a Christian college?
• If we parents and professors train our children to “yield to the crowd” when it comes to church and family rules and expectations how will they respond when their crowd changes and yielding takes them the wrong way.
• To what extent should parents allow (encourage?) their children to reject some conventional rules on the idea that “a little rebellion is a good thing.”
• What do I do (or not do) that is mostly a result of fear of what others might think?
• In a democratically organized church, to what extent should a pastor “cater to the crowd” to survive and when should a pastor simply defy the crowd?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Connecting the dots

This semester I’ve been connecting dots… and they are beginning to make a shape.

I’m in a group-read of James K. A. Smith’s (Calvin College) Desiring the Kingdom. In another group I’m reading Newberg & Waldman’s How God Changes your Brain. Steve Rennick, pastor of The Church at the Crossing sent me a book on the Holy Spirit, Forgotten God by Frances Chan. I recently read the Emerging Nazarene's White Paper. I heard Charlie Alcock preach this past Sunday. Read stuff by and about Shane Claiborne. I talked to several younger pastors last weekend and also heard Leonard Sweet talk. I heard at lunch today a report about Steve Lennox’s recent string of local church meetings. I just answered a ton of email that had been piling up in my in-box. These and a dozen other dots have all connected to say a similar thing: “There is something wrong with the level of Christianity as we know it now.”

What do these dots mean? What’s up?

The conversations and writings sound strangely familiar, like echoes from the past. Sometimes they sound like the ancient desert fathers describing conventional Christians. They often sound like medieval monks intent on creating a new monastic order. They sound like the Puritans of the 1600’s. They remind me at times of early radical Protestants complaining about the Roman Catholic church. They sound similar to early Methodists complaining about the Anglican church. They are often reminiscent of the 18th century American holiness movement talking about mainline Methodism. They sound strangely similar to 20th Century Pentecostals describing nominal Christianity. They even sound a lot like radical holiness splinter groups who complained about “mainline holiness denominations.” The issues are different but the language, tone and complaints are similar. The dots are not isolated but they repeat a similar patter and the shape always says, : “There is something wrong with the level of Christianity as we know it now.”

I’m pondering these dots and wondering what’s up...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Downhill side of the semester!

Downhill side of the semester

In a school semester there is a week when you “just feel it.” You know you are now headed in for a landing and Christmas is on the way. Last week was that week for me. Here is how I noticed.

LOCAL CHURCH EUCATION –the students start Monday writing their final three chapters of their Christian Education books—the Spiritual Formation of Children, Youth and Adults. By now they are functioning smoothly as writing teams and the magic has taken over—they have quit doing assignments for me and have become totally absorbed with writing their own books. I could even skip a class and they’d meet on their own, organize the work, assign each other research and writing, and get it done even if I didn’t show up. It is an amazing thing to watch. (I do still go to class—but sometimes go late on purpose just to see this wonder of self-motivation at work.

CURRICULUM THEORY AND WRITING – this is a smaller writing class and we’ve conquered curriculum theory, designed from scratch our own curriculum plan, and are writing furiously to put together a weeklong VBS Missional curriculum focused on the world. Our evening class is set up as a simulation and operates exactly like actual curriculum committees function—outlining, writing, reviewing, debating, assigning, and rewriting (and rewriting and rewriting again). This class is intent on actually publishing their final curriculum with Amazon’s CreateSpace Print-on-demand publishing. I thInk they might actually pull that off but they have LOTS of rewriting to do first ;-)

I got this class back this semester and love teaching freshmen—they are wonderful! The church is gonna’ be in good hands in the future! On Monday we are learning about dating, marriage and the ministry. This is the week they do the “Joshua and Caleb” activity of visiting the upper level classes to spy on them and interview upper division students on what these classes are like and how to do well in them. Man these students are hard workers!

And, of course I supervise practicum experiences in two of these courses… I am more convinced than ever that requiring local church experience and exposure is critical in either confirming their call to ministry or reminding those who “Love Jesus but hate the church” that other majors are where they belong.

I love teaching!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Norm Wilson is ecstatic

It is fun for me to work with Norman Wilson. Norm is one of those guys who is so focused on one or two issues that when something breaks loose in his focused area he walks around the building like he is high on something. Today was such a day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Your Friendship and my Wife

This is where I stand on my friendships and my wife.

1. I can be your friend if you don’t know my wife.
I can be your friend if you have never met my wife. Indeed when I am friends with people who don’t know her, I hope I can introduce them to her because when they meet her I think they will like her and become her friend too. But even if they never meet her, I can still be their friend, though our friendship goes only part way. I am always hoping they will meet and like my wife too because she’s that important to me.

2. I can be your friend if you know my wife and accept her.
I can be even better friends with people who know my wife and like her. In fact, my very best friends are people who know both of us and accept and like us both.

3. But I cannot be your friend if you have known my wife and now reject her.
But if you are a friend who knew my wife and were her friend once but then later rejected her, I cannot be your friend. We can be acquaintances and have an occasional contact, but we cannot be friends if you reject my wife. If you reject her you de facto rejecting me. If you say, “Well, can we still be friends, can’t we even though I reject your wife” I will say that I cannot. My relationship with my wife is not that casual. If you reject her, you reject me.

But, of course I am not talking here about my wife. I am speaking about my God.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Internet Radio discusses "Common Ground"

These Wesleyan guys in South Carolina have a neat Internet radio show that I listen to... it is a cool idea... Recently they discussed my book "Common Ground." Thanks guys!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm so happy...

Boy! I am so happy with how IWU's new seminary is coming along.

Here is a series of YouTube videos explaining the idea. This is really going to be good!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

GREAT Cycling trip!

Just returned from a GREAT cycling trip with two friends--biology professor Burt Webb and political science professor Kris Pence. We started in Pittsburg on the Great Alleghany Passage—a rails-to-trails route—to Cumberland Maryland. The GAP is a gravel route that never rises above 1 ½% grade, but it does rise a couple thousand feet to the Laurel Highlands over 50 or so miles. In Cumberland Maryland we got on the C&O canal towpath, a National Park route that is mostly dirt & puddles, and rode that right down into Georgetown-DC, 335 miles in all.

This was a test trip for me—last year I hammered my knees on 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail in may—they never recovered. I tried cycling to see if it would have less stress on my knees. Sure enough my knees are fine, thanks mostly to an awesome bicycle—the “Salsa Fargo” whose designers had a mission of “designing a bike to ride the Continental Divide Route, which is my real dream—and something I’ll probably start to tackle next summer—a route right down the backbone of the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico paralleling the Continental Divide Trail.

I’m returning to the GAP-C&O in July to ride it again, that time with Sharon. Until then I’m looking at re-riding with Sharon some of the off-road trails radiating from Xenia, Ohio and maybe the White Pine Trail in Michigan. I love cycling!

Click here for a video of our recent trip.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who Reads the Tuesday Column?

I don’t chase after visits to my Tuesday Column site—I know that some online writers monitor their traffic daily and write more of whatever gets them the greatest number of visits. As for me I write whatever I’m thinking about regardless of readership and frankly I have all the readers I need to satisfy me.

However, writing on the web gets one fewer responses than preaching at a church (well most churches at least ;-). When preaching I can see the crowd and know for sure they at least listened to some of what I preached. On the web most folk read but never comment—I have learned to live with that. (Those who DO comment get read by about 350-400 people each week so the commenters have a following too.)

Yet, sometimes I wonder if anyone is reading. That’s when I check the data. Today I had an extra half hour so I looked at the data. Here is what I saw concerning the last two weeks.

-825 of you visited this week’s column on homosexuality--thanks for coming by!
-657 visited the column last week on Grandparenting--thanks (even though it applied to few)

The vast majority of the rest of the readers these last two weeks came directly from a Google search that brought them to one of the past columns. The most popular past columns by the family (besides the weekly Tuesday Column) are invariably the same:

-My own most visited past column was my speed-reading article
-David’s past column on Leadership Movies
-John’s past article on How to Write an Exegesis Paper
-Sharon’s booklet on Leadership Theory for Pastors

In total 13,692 unique visits occurred the past two weeks, which is about the average for the year (900-1000 per day). In the last two weeks readers visited from 92 countries--so it is nice to "see" you guys from other countries too.

Well, I don’t suppose these figures mean anything to anyone but me—but I thought I'd resport them to myself here anyway. ;-)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Just Kidding--it's more like this

Just Kidding--it's more like this (Teaching the Bible to adults-Thursday evenings)

My Inspiring students

This is what being a college professor looks like from up front.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

IWU approved for M.Div degree

Just heard we were approved for an M.Div degree.... so seminary here we come... Ken Schenck describes it best here.