Archive for October, 2012

90 Days of Prayerful Determination & Galvanized Intentionality!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

October 1, 2012

MY DEAR SISTERS AND BROTHERS, 

How humbling and fulfilling it is to be with you in the ministry of our Lord. The Northwest Texas Conference brought me to Jesus as my savior, formed me in faith, provided the youth ministry environment in which I heard God’s call to pastoral ministry, supported me in my education, and gave me the incredible blessing of being the organizing pastor of St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Amarillo. “Oh, to grace, how great a debtor, daily I am constrained to be.” 

Imagine my delight, after being assigned your bishop, to discover the five areas of focus you had already embraced. They are totally consistent with my conviction and passion! 

We have only three months to make bold strides on each one of these emphases. The blessing is that these three months are the most fruitful months to make major advances in all of these areas. 

  • Professions of faith. We must, we can, invite persons to Christ, not someday, but now! Pastors, partner with your laity to make major gains in this area. If we don’t exist to bring persons to Christ, why do we exist? 

 

  • Worship Attendance. Worshipping the living God in the congregation is an awesome environment for the work of the Holy Spirit. Concerted efforts must be undertaken to reach the inactives and the infrequent attendees. Urging persons to be in worship to encounter God’s call, be enriched in faith, grow in discipleship, and develop “holy habits” is a proper and sacred endeavor.

 

  • Shared Ministries. These ministries enable congregations to connect with mission fields and settings of need, both nearby and around the world. In 2011 the Northwest Texas Conference congregations paid 67% of their Shared Ministries. We have major work to do in this area. I have asked the District Superintendents to meet with pastors and lay leaders (and I am ready to do the same) to address the “blockages” that prevent us from moving this year (2012) to at least 80% payout. The expectation is that EVERY congregation will move as quickly as possible to 100% payment of Shared Ministries. For the nearly 50% of our churches who yearly pay 100% of their Shared Ministries, “thank you” for carrying the load for the rest of us. We are grateful!

 

  • Engage the Mission Field. In every community in Northwest Texas there are children in poverty, teen pregnancy, urgent needs for workplace training, and health concerns for all ages. Our congregations are in the midst of the mission field! In fact, God is waiting to meet us there. We deprive our people of “grace upon grace” when we fail to urge them, yea, lead them like a shepherd into the fields of human need.

 

  • Culture of Giving. The “culture of scarcity” has no legitimacy in the Northwest Texas Conference. When the Biblical guideline of the tithe is held before persons, this guideline relates only to what we have, (even the widow’s mite), not what we wish we had. There is a great joy in giving! There is a great joy in tithing! When persons pay the tithe first, they experience blessing and financial clarity as they live on the remaining 90%. Such a blessing is left undiscovered when the effort is made to pay the tithe from the leftovers. It seldom succeeds. 

My sisters and brothers, 90 days is an incredible amount of time to move forward into some remarkable, even long delayed miracles in our congregations. Let us unite our hearts in prayerful determination! Let us unite our wills in galvanized intentionality! Let us partner with God and our people for holy accomplishments! 

I believe we are about to live the miracle as persons are brought to Christ, people gather in worship, shared ministries really do become shared giving, the poor are fed and the ill-clad have clothes, and people begin to experience the blessing of tithing. May God bless us and help us to fulfill this ministry.

Grace and peace,

Dan E. Solomon

Bishop