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Bishop's Blog Archive


Report from the Mission Field ©

Among the many insightful statements from Gil Rendle (recently retired Sr. Consultant for the Texas Methodist Foundation) is the comment, “the narrative [stories of faith transformation] change before the metrics do.” Recently, we began our Fall ...

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A Key Sign of Spiritual Health and Disciple-making Vitality ©

I returned home from a month of renewal leave last Monday (Aug. 19), and quickly found myself re-immersed in the regular routine of the episcopal office. There were predictable emails awaiting me about this initiative or that problem. A slew of ...

Summer Reading and the WIG ©

As a part of my summer reading, I have enjoyed 8 Virtues of Rapidly Growing Churches. With our focus on the WIG – the Wildly Important Goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world – the words leaped off the page: ...

As the Storm Rages: Part III ©

This Blog is part three of a three-part blog series pulled from my 2019 Episcopal Address delivered on June 11 to the lay and clergy members of the 109th Annual Meeting the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. To view the video ...

As the Storm Rages: Part II ©

This Blog is part two of a three-part blog series pulled from my 2019 Episcopal Address delivered on June 11 to the lay and clergy members of the 109th Annual Meeting the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. To view the video of ...

As the Storm Rages: Part I ©

This Blog is part one of a three-part blog series pulled from my 2019 Episcopal Address delivered on June 11 to the lay and clergy members of the 109th Annual Meeting the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. To view the video of ...

Amid the Fluid Chaos ©

For those following larger issues in the United Methodist Church in America, it is an understatement to assert that this is a time of fluid chaos. Conversations, and even threatened action for or against the recently concluded General Conference, ...

Vital CTC Laity Event ©

I want to emphatically encourage every church in the Central Texas Conference to send at least two people to the Laity Summit planned for 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sunday June 9 (just before the start of Annual Conference 2019). Mike Ford, our outstanding ...

A New Thing ©

After the called General Conference in St. Louis, I (along with others) was asked to write a brief article for Circuit Rider, an online magazine put out by The United Methodist Publishing House. The writers were asked specifically to not re-argue or...

Lessons from a Christian Hero ©

It is the morning after St. Patrick’s Day and I find myself musing about what this great Christian hero would teach us. I invite us to get past green rivers, green beer and the wearing of the green for there is a towering Christian who stands both ...

Stay Focused ©

When I began writing my blog back in 2010, I entitled it This Focused Center based on a version of 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 from The Message (a paraphrased translation of the Bible by Eugene Peterson) “Our firm decision is to work from this focused ...

He is Alive! ©

No more singular proclamation rings out over the Sunday (Son’s Day!) we call Easter than the claim, “He is alive!” The challenge of the Angel messenger greets us as we flee the cemeteries of our day. “Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in ...

Paragraph 122 and the WIG ©

Frost United Methodist Church is a part of a two point charge (with Blooming Grove UMC). The town itself has a population of less than 700 people. Rev. Kevin Diggs, the pastor of Frost UMC, was invited by some local folks at the Party Barn to share a...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #15 ©

Our Present Prospects An old story ascends the dim recesses of my memory. Back prior to World War II a guy living in a small town is noted for being what we used to simply call a “bad hombre.” He is perennially rude and mean-spirited towards others....

A Texas Tintern Abbey ©

William Wordsworth's famous poem "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" drifted back into my mind through my musing at the close of a recent trip. Sunday, October 29th, Jolynn and I had the joy of sharing with Ferris Heights United ...

Is It Only About the Number?

Recently Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director of the Smith Center for Evangelism and Church Growth wrote a concise article which was printed in the Smith Center online newsletter. It is an outstanding summary about why numbers matter (each number ...

WORSHIP AND THE WIG ©

John Wesley is purported to have said that “worship is the first and primary duty of the Christian.” This crucial act of biblical discipleship is clear. In his decisive interchange with the woman at the well, Jesus says, “But the time is coming - and...

A Time for Courage: Part III ©

The following blog posting (“A Time for Courage: Part III) is the third and final section of my Episcopal Address given to the Central Texas Annual Conference on June 12, 2017. Part I was posted June 19th and Part II was posted June 21st. I remind ...

A Time for Courage: Part II ©

The following blog posting (“A Time for Courage: Part II) is the second section of my Episcopal Address given to the Central Texas Annual Conference June 12, 2017. Part I was posted on June 19th. --Bishop Mike Lowry, Resident Bishop of the Central ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #2 ©

Enthusiasts – God as a Subject Many of us are aware that the title “Methodist” was originally meant as an insult. Those called Methodists were considered methodical fanatics in the way they followed Jesus (i.e. through in bible study, prayer, ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #1 ©

Two incidents frame the beginning of a series of blogs I have tentatively entitled “Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way.” First, an incident that happened a couple of months ago. Jolynn and I found ourselves in another community worshipping at a...

Reflections on the Upcoming Judicial Council Decision ©

On Tuesday, April 25, Mike Ford, Central Texas Conference Lay Leader, and I sent the following letter (via email) to all the clergy in the Central Texas Conference currently under appointment as well as the Lay Leaders of our local churches. We'd ...

A Easter Church ©

I used to tape a quote of the Puritan pastor Richard Baxter to my pulpit so I could see it every time I rose to preach: "I preach as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” Somewhere along the way I stopped doing so but the ...

Christ and Culture in Today’s Chaos, Part 2 ©

Near the close of John Ortberg’s delightful book Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them, he tells the story of Robert and Muriel McQuilken. An accomplished college President, Robert left his job to care for his wife Muriel as she slowly slipped...

Christ and Culture in Today’s Chaos, Part 1 ©

“Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” (Romans 12:2) “Dear friends, since you are immigrants and ...

In a Mirror Dimly ©

Lost in one of the truly greatest passages of literature ever written is the phrase, “now we see in a mirror dimly.” It occurs in the famous love chapter of I Corinthians 13. We all know how the 13th chapter, the 13th verse ends, “And now faith, ...

Conference Core Team Focuses on the WIG ©

Sunday afternoon, February 26th, the Central Texas Conference Core Team gathered to continue our work determining the WIG for the Conference’s future. I have written briefly on the concept of WIG before. The acronym WIG, in this instance, means the W...

Conclave and Kenya ©

Like many of you, my year has begun with a full slate of ministry activities. It began January 3rd with a day and a half in the office to answer emails and plow through paperwork accumulated from the Christmas – New Year break time. The afternoon of ...

Recovering the Methodist Movement ©

A while back a friend called my attention to a March 2013 article by David Brooks entitled “How Movements Recover.” A part of what grabbed my interest is the often repeated comment about the “Methodist” movement. Movemental growth in the church for a...

Deep Discipleship ©

While we wrestle with deep divisions about much in The United Methodist Church these days, we are in strong agreement that our collective mission is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Such a great grand mission ...

THE COURAGE TO MARCH ©: Part 1

Central Texas Conference Episcopal Address given June 6, 2016 by Bishop J. Michael Lowry PART I – “A New Thing” I am mindful what day today is as I stand to speak to you. This is the day is the 72nd anniversary of what is commonly known as simply ...

Statement to the Clergy Executive Session

of the Central Texas Conference Of the United Methodist Church Shared with Opening Plenary Session of the 2016 Central Texas Conference, June 6, 2016 As most, if not all of you are aware, the recently concluded General Conference of the United ...

Council of Bishops Letter to the Church ©

[caption id="attachment_2220" align="alignright" width="360"] Bishop Lowry presiding over a plenary session at General Conference 2016[/caption] Members of the Council of Bishops delayed their leaving Portland, Ore. following the end General ...

In a Mirror Dimly: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 4

On April first of this year, I had the privilege and high honor of being asked to address a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The address is ...

In a Mirror Dimly: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 3

On April first of this year, I had the privilege and high honor of being asked to address a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The address is ...

In a Mirror Dimly: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 2

On April first of this year, I had the privilege and high honor of being asked to address a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The address is ...

“In a Mirror Dimly”: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 1

On April first of this year, I had the privilege and high honor of being asked to address a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The address is ...

A Significant Denominational Report on Congregational Vitality

The United Methodist Church has been engaged in a committed emphasis on building vital congregations who “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Bishop John Schol from the Greater New Jersey Conference has been the lead ...

A WITNESS IN HONOR OF ST. PATRICK ©

“I rise today in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity, believing in threeness, confessing the oneness, of creation’s Creator.” Thus opens the full text of the famous Celtic prayer St. Patrick’s Breastplate. There is more, much more, to the prayer ...

Appointment Making ©

This week we concluded Inventory in the Central Texas Conference. This is a yearly exercise which Bishops and their Cabinets go through. The Cabinet Inventory Retreat is a time of assessing where the Conference stands on retirements, new people ...

Class Meetings and Making Disciples ©

In November of 2014 while meeting in Oklahoma City, the Council of Bishops heard an outstanding address from a young Methodist scholar named Kevin Watson. Dr. Watson (who is Assistant Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies at Candler School of ...

The Force at Skellig Michael ©

I first caught sight of Skellig Michael while on vacation in Ireland last summer. On a long dream of trip (over 10 years in gestation) with dear friends, we were driving the beautiful Ring of Kerry in Southwestern Ireland. The costal scenery was ...

Training for a Job that No Longer Exists ©

I was ordained Deacon in 1974, graduated from seminary in 1976, and ordained elder in 1977. The church I entered was basking in the setting sun of cultural Christendom. As a newly minted pastor one of the primary points of my reference was my ...

PHILIPPINES BRIGHT SPOTS

When the first George Bush (that is George Herbert Walker Bush) was President, he lifted up what he called for “1,000 Points of Lght.” President Bush urged us to focus on the better side of our nature by lifting up organizations (ministries) that ...

New Room Report

For the last two and a half days I have been in Franklin, Tennessee attending the New Room Conference. I was warned not to go. I was told that the New Room Conference was a gathering to plan the schism of the United Methodist Church over the issue of...

The Crucial Role of Music in Faith Development

I have just returned from a month off for Renewal Leave. During that time period, I have been working on a possible book focusing on the need of the United Methodist Church to reintegrate the core essence of orthodoxy theology. I also spent some time...

Next Steps Workshop on the Exodus Project, Part II

Mike Bonem meets with Cabinet and Core Team © Before departing on a vacation to Ireland, Bishop Lowry invited Mike Bonem to be a guest blogger. Mike, the consultant leading the Exodus Project evaluation, met on June 17 with CTC’s Core Team and the ...

Next Steps Workshop on the Exodus Project, Part I

Mike Bonem meets with Cabinet and Core Team © Before departing on a vacation to Ireland, Bishop Lowry invited Mike Bonem to be a guest blogger. Mike, the consultant leading the Exodus Project evaluation, met on June 17 with the CTC’s Core Team and ...

A NEW CHURCH BEING CALLED FORTH BY THE HOLY SPIRIT #5:

The Three Orthos at the Heart At the very heart of a new church being called forth by the Holy Spirit will be what I call the three orthos. At its core the healthy renewed Christian movement in American will be a combination of orthodoxy, ...

A NEW CHURCH BEING CALLED FORTH BY THE HOLY SPIRIT #3: Smaller. Bigger ©

Texas Wesleyan University has been engaged in an award-winning advertisement campaign for student admissions. The campaign is built around a clever and insightful slogan, “Smaller. Smarter.” The slogan is clever in that it is easy to remember. It is...

The Cape of Good Hope ©

This Sunday I will be preaching at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Belton. I will be using the lectionary text for the second Sunday of Easter, John 20:19-30. As I reflected on the passage, my mind drifted back to an illustration used by Rev. ...

Approaching Jerusalem ©

A couple of years ago Jolynn and I had the privilege of traveling with a group from the Central Texas Conference to the Holy Land. After a period in the northern region around Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, we traveled down the Jordan River valley ...

Lenten Musings – The End of Casual Christianity

Casual Christianity as we know it is dying. For a good decade now carefully observant pastors have noticed people who typically would worship a couple of times a month moving to worship patterns that are more episodic. A variety of studies (Pew, ...

EPIPHANY: The Light in Our Darkness #4

First Steps at Recovering a Personal Witness© I have had the joy of serving a number of wonderful churches. On one occasion at Asbury United Methodist Church, we consciously geared up to teach evangelism and faith sharing. This was a congregation ...

EPIPHANY: The Light in Our Darkness #3 The Challenge of Why Bother ©

This is the third in a series of “Epiphany” related blogs which deal with the foundational issue of faith sharing and evangelism. They spring from the understanding that among the very first to greet the new born Savior were a group of wise men who ...

An Unfolding Work of the Holy Spirit

  On returning home from the Council of Bishops week-long meeting in Oklahoma City, I find myself slowly getting back into the issues of ministry in our local setting. Among the disagreements at the Council, the great sign of encouragement was our ...

On the Way to the Council

As I write this blog, I am sitting in a hotel room in Nashville, Tennessee, Wednesday October 29th. We have just finished the annual fall meeting of the United Methodist Publishing House Board. (Cokesbury & Abingdon Press are two of the better known ...

Church Typologies and Crucial Shifts

The great church leadership, administration and church growth guru of the late 20th century for mainline Protestantism was Dr. Lyle Schaller. Among the many insightful concepts he popularized was the notion of church typologies. Church typology is a ...

Anniversaries of Joy, Discipleship and Sacrifice

During the past 2 months I have had the joy and privilege of participating in the anniversary celebrations at four difference Central Texas Conference Churches. Alvarado UMC celebrated its 150th anniversary; Morgan Mill UMC and Cranfills Gap UMC had ...

Re-Learning from John the Evangelist

In an earlier blog (September 26, 2014 – Medical Camp & the Ongoing Ministry of Ken Diehm), I wrote about the incredible experience of participating in a Medical Mission Camp near Maua, Kenya. We were among the poorest of the poor and engaged in a ...

That’s Path 1

At the recent meeting of the Path 1 Advisory Board in Charlotte, North Carolina, Rev. Martin Lee the new church developer for the Northern Illinois Conference shared a story of the start of a new church in Brookfield, Illinois (in the Chicago ...

Lessons from Jerusalem to Antioch to Central Texas

I am nearing the end of Michael Green’s book Thirty Years that Changed the World: The Book of Acts for Today. While the first edition was published over 20 years ago (1993) and the second edition was republished 12 years ago, I find its relevance ...

The Most Important Issues facing the United Methodist Church

Fascinating and instructive poll results were published in a recent article written by Heather Hahn of the United Methodist News Service (UMNS) entitled “The most important issues facing The UMC today.” The poll was a survey “by email of 509 U.S. ...

Episcopal Address to the Central Texas Conference

EPISCOPAL ADDRESS TO THE CENTRAL TEXAS CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH June 9, 2014 By Bishop Mike Lowry © Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 ...

Insights from Upper New York

Last Thursday I flew to Syracuse, New York. Friday and Saturday mornings I made two separate presentations/bible studies to the Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church. It was a great time of making new friends, sharing and learning ...

Leadership and Hope as the Tsunami Engulfs Us

It has been almost 10 years since a tsunami engulfed the southern part of Indonesia and Thailand. Many of us remember scenes and stories from the event. One in particular that has stayed in my mind is the tale of young 10 year old Tilly Smith at ...

TAIZE IS AN INCREDIBLE BLESSING

This blog is a special plea and invitation for young adults ages 18 to 35 to sign up for the Taize “Pilgrimage of Trust” that will be held at Whites Chapel UMC, April 4-6! You may do so by going to the Central Texas Conference Website www.ctcumc.org....

Reflections on The Discipline, Worship and Focus

At the Convocation of Cabinets (worldwide) held at Lake Junaluska in November 2007, Bishop Janice Huie gave a memorable address. At one point in her presentation, she lifted in one hand a Discipline from one hundred years ago. It was a small, ...

Bright Spots and the Mosaic Model

"What are the bright spots in your congregation/Conference?" The question rings in my mind from our recently concluded Team Vital meeting. To briefly back up, Team Vital is a pilot project that has come out of the Connectional Table of the United ...

Preparing for Lent

In the late 1970s I read a story that came from Punch (a magazine dedicated to humor and satire). As the story went, a woman went into a jewelry story in Sydney, Australia and asked to look at cross necklaces. The clerk dutifully brought a number of ...

The Prisoner’s Prayer

In May of 2008 Jolynn took a trip to Ethiopia with the group from the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) in San Antonio (where she was serving as a faculty member). The trip was led by a retired Lutheran Missionary whose place on the UIW faculty ...

CORE STRATEGIES: Accountability

I was fascinated by the leadership advice offered in comment about his own organization, The Pittsburg Steelers of the National Football League. Head Coach Mike Tomlin commented, “We seek to have a no excuse culture.” The comment came back in 2009 ...

CORE STRATEGIES: New Churches

A remarkable event took place at the 2013 meeting of the Central Texas Conference. During the Center for Evangelism and Church Growth report, four specific initiatives related to our core strategy of new church development were launched. 1. Lance ...

CORE STRATEGIES: Clergy and Lay Leadership

The third major core strategy that we have in the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church is to engage and develop clergy and lay leadership. This is both simple and profound in its essence. A church, any church, will not exceed the ...

CORE STRATEGIES: Wesleyan Spirituality and Theology

My recent participation in the 13th Oxford Institute for Wesley Studies has given me much reason to pause and reflect on the importance of our Wesleyan essence. With this blog I am beginning a series of blogs on core strategies of the Central Texas ...

Saint Aldates, A Vision Alive

It was Sunday morning, August 18th, and as we dressed to go to church the music floated in the open window at Pembroke College, Oxford University. The night before we had been debating whether to go to Wesley Memorial Methodist Church (think First ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #8

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #7

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #6

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #5

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #4

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #3

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #2

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Steady in Purpose and Flexible in Strategy

June 20-21 the bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ) held a traditional event in a nontraditional location and manner. For decades (with only occasional lapses) the bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction have sponsored a learning retreat...

COME HOLY SPIRIT -- Report from Taize 4

Today [May 25] we left for Cluny right after worship. The great Cluny Abbey fills me with awe. It once was the “major ecclesia” – the largest church in Christendom. Cluny Abbey started over 1,000 satellite abbeys. Its influence spread far and wide. ...

The Great 50 Days

Easter is over. As a pastor for 30 years I am aware of a sense of the life of the church moving on. We start looking towards the end of school, graduations, Mother’s Day, summer activities, Vacation Bible School, mission trips - the list is almost ...

March Madness

How about Florida Gulf Coast? Or think about Harvard beating New Mexico. With many of you I’ve been following the NCAA “March Madness” playoffs. I confess that I don’t really have a dog in this hunt. There is no team that is a favorite for me. I just...

Outwardly Focused & Upwardly Witnessing

Allow me to begin with a story that comes from Pastor Steve Nance at Groesbeck First UMC. “The lady that runs our local housing authority office called the church some time back asking for clothing for one of her clients. She called nine local ...

Deep Data Mining’s 16 Drivers of Congregational Vitality

Recently I found myself in a conversation with some lay leaders about crucial issues involving church health and vitality. These lay leaders asked me, “What makes a church grow?” I offered a couple of points in reply. Almost immediately with no ...

Focus on the Mission

As the Cabinet continues its joint ministry work, we wrestle deeply with how we stay focused on the mission. By way of reminder to readers, our mission as a part of the United Methodist Church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the ...

Church in a Time of Change

I find myself settling back in upon our return from our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It feels good to be back in the routine of episcopal life in the Central Texas Conference. Wednesday afternoon I drove down to the South District office and met with...

Lifting Up Diversity as a Core Value

While on our recent pilgrimage of the Holy Land, we encountered impressive religious and ethnic diversity. I can recall a wonderful discussion with one of the guides who is a conservative Jew and another guide who is a practicing Syrian Orthodox ...

On the Way – Journeys in the Wilderness

The original identification of Christ followers was not the label “Christian.” They were called followers of the Way. By that, they meant they were following the way of Christ in faithful discipleship. As we met for the first Cabinet meeting of the ...

Great Gifts

The words are nestled in Matthew’s version of the Christmas story. No doubt you recall them well. “They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and ...

Holy Ground

The scene was dramatically different from a year and a half ago. In April of 2011 I stood in front of the smoking ruins of Cedar Springs United Methodist Church with Ginger Bassford (DS) and Tom Beaty (Pastor). That Easter, just a few days away, ...

Rebuilding the Pipeline

This past week I have visited six seminaries – Chandler, Gammon (ITC), Duke, Asbury, Boston University, and Harvard. A seventh, Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. was to be included but could not be fitted into the schedule. Perkins, ...

Wrestling with Vitality and the Necessity of Narrative

I keep remembering the old story of a guy who went fishing. That night he came home with no fish to show for his efforts. His friends questioned him about his efforts. He replied, “I didn’t catch any fish but I did influence quite a few!” People ...

Mission Strategists

Recently I met with the District Superintendents (Don Scott – Central, Bob Holloway – East, Ginger Bassford – North, Carol Woods – West, and Rankin Koch - South) to review the pioneering work we did on realigning the work of District Superintendents ...

Mission, Movement, and Church

At our Cabinet retreat Professor Ted Campbell offered some fascinating insight on the relationship between being a religious movement and an established church. Dr. Campbell reminded us that the original mission of the Methodist movement from the ...

The Challenge of Focus

The invitation came (I think from God) while standing at an entrance to the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle. I was taking a picture of a coffee shop across the street with a long line outside its door waiting to be served. A young man (early to ...

The Importance of the Both/And

Recent reports on the state of the United Methodist Church in the United States shared data of continued decline. However, the news wasn’t all bad. There are signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work throughout the church. Significantly, the work ...

Guest blog: Schnase's Jurisdictional Address, Part 4

At the recently concluded South Central Jurisdiction Conference, Bishop Robert Schnase gave the Episcopal Address on behalf of the College of Bishops. At the five Jurisdictional Conferences I have attended (since 1996), I have had the privilege of ...

Extravagant Generosity and Vital Congregations

As I move through the accumulated paperwork of my office, many different items caught my attention. Two offer witness to living out of our missional purpose of “making disciples for the transformation of the world.” Rev. Dawne Phillips shared that ...

On the Road Again

Saturday Jolynn and I flew out to Philadelphia. We spent the Memorial holiday time with a cousin and her family in northern New Jersey. The family R&R was a welcome joy after the hectic schedule of recent weeks and a nice rest before the next round ...

A Great Sunday

My steady deep conviction over my almost 4 years as bishop of the Central Texas Conference has been that the Conference exists to “energize and equip local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” This Sunday I...

Grounded in Discipline

In the midst of my sojourn in Florida (i.e. General Conference) and my re-immersion in the Central Texas Conference, I have kept up my reading. One of the recent books I’ve read is Gabe Lyons’ The Next Christians: How a New Generation Is Restoring ...

Guaranteed Appointment

Among the various actions taken by General Conference was an overwhelming vote (originally on the consent agenda) to end guaranteed appointments for ordained elders in the United Methodist Church. In brief, “under this new legislation, bishops and ...

General Conference and the NFL Draft

How is the United Methodist Church's General Conference similar to the National Football League's annual draft? The answer is that, like the NFL, we won't know for sure what we really have for a couple of years. When NFL teams draft players, it ...

Riding the Rollercoaster

When my son turned 15 we took him and a friend to Six Flags – Fiesta Texas in San Antonio in celebration. He couldn’t wait to try what was then the world’s largest wooden rollercoaster. Staring at this monster (called The Rattler), the friend decided...

Opportunities

Last Monday night I had the privilege (along with Dr. Luther Henry & Dr. Bob Holloway from the Cabinet) of meeting with a forward-looking lay leadership group from predominantly African American churches. In some courageous, faithful, and painful ...

A Coalition of the Willing

The more I live into the office of bishop the more convinced I am of the claim to work with those who are willing. We are building a coalition (or should I say coalitions) of the willing. Allow me to explain. Recently a District Superintendent ...

The Importance of Narrative

My recent blog entitled “Struggling with Appointments” has sparked an unusually high degree of interest and response. Overwhelmingly clergy have noted the dilemma of some members wanting no change while at the same time expecting to reach a new ...

The Resurrection Legacy

In a recent conversation with Dr. Eric McKinney, consultant in Leadership Ministries with TMF, he shared with me some of things he looks at in church health as a congregation begins to examine its future. (He uses the learning tool Holy Conversations...

Struggling with Appointments

Art only wishes it could imitate life. You cannot make up some of the things said to District Superintendents while consulting on appointments. At a recent Cabinet meeting, a District Superintendent reported on a consultation with a church whose ...

Reaching More People, Younger People & More Diverse People

“There is one looming adaptive challenge that we can address only through major learning, innovation, and the wisdom of everyone through Christian conferencing. The United Methodist Church in the United States has a future only to the extent that it ...

Monclova ’73

Wednesday I returned from our mission investigation trip to Monterrey with Randy Wild and Dawne Phillips. Reports of violence tend to dominate the news from Monterrey. Our trip was quite different. Under the gracious hosting and guidance of Bishop ...

Insights Worth Reflecting On

Currently I am in Monterrey, Mexico. The Central Texas Conference has an ongoing covenantal relationship with the Eastern Conference of the Methodist Church of Mexico (an affiliated church). I will blog about our learnings on returning. In the ...

Ministry Matters Making an Impact

At a recent meeting of the United Methodist Publishing House Board of Directors, we received a great report on a new online ministry. MinistryMatters.com (www.MinistryMatters.com) is the United Methodist Publishing House’s new ministry resource site....

Loss and Opportunity

As we continue to live into the new world of the Exodus Project, I am constantly reminded that change is both loss and opportunity. We have to face with honesty our sense of loss in the known & comfortable. We have to embrace with courage the ...

Learning from Cluster Groups

As we live into the Exodus Project, I remain deeply committed to the Cluster Group concept as a central tool for learning together and moving forward into the new future the Lord is calling us to. One of the initial learnings has come from Cluster ...

Building Healthy Churches

I have written in a previous blog that as a Cabinet we went to a Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) workshop. As we continue to live in the “Exodus Project” we are consciously seeking to invest prayer, time, energy and learning to energize and equip ...

Healthy Church Initiative

The first part of this week, I am at a Healthy Church Initiative workshop being attended by the Cabinet, some members of the Conference staff, and our Lay Leaders (Steve McIver and Kim Simpson). In major part, we are investigating a major tool for ...

Missional Renaissance

It is great to be back from my renewal leave and family vacation time. As I turn my attention to the fall, I am tremendously excited about having Dr. Reggie McNeal with us on September 10th at First UMC, Mansfield for the Fall Summit. Dr. McNeal ...

Iona Reflections

I must confess that I came to Iona Abbey with a romantic notion of the Abbey Community. Somehow in my mind it represented a modern representation of a heroic past involving courageous Christian witness and daring Christian service. While still ...

Community, Work and Worship

In 563 A.D. St. Columba set sail from his beloved Ireland to convert the wild druidic lands of what is today Scotland and Northern England. Exiled from Ireland for a conflict which he helped start and which led to the death of many, Columba sailed ...

Reflections on Worship at Hexham Abbey Church

Sunday, July 24, 2011 Jolynn and I worshipped at Hexham Abbey Church. With people of good will around the world, we joined in lifting up the people and nation of Norway in our prayers. Together we looked to God’s love and grace through our Lord Jesus...

Focused Priorities for the Immediate Future

I have just returned from 3 days at Duke Divinity School as a part of the Episcopal Leadership Forum. We are a group of 22 UM bishops who meet twice a year in a continuing education context. One of the exercises they put us through was to reflect on ...

Extravagant Generosity and New Churches

As of Monday our Conference offering for Glen Lake is $39,379. This is a remarkable response of extravagant generosity far exceeding our goal of $23,000. In addition those at Conference also responded with great generosity in lunch giving to spring ...

Off to Seattle and Alaska

Tuesday morning, May 31st, I will be flying to Seattle to meet with the new church development team from the Pacific Northwest Conference and then on to Alaska. While in Alaska, I will present a day long teaching on how the church confronts our new ...

Changing the World

I am finishing reading Mike Slaughter’s Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus. I confess that it is one of those books I read ½ of and then put down. Picking it back up again, I am once again engaged in an ongoing theme that ...

From a Christendom Mentality to a Missional Reality

Monday afternoon (May 2, 2011) at the Council of Bishops (COB), we heard Professor Dana Robert of Boston School of Theology address the historic leadership role of the office of bishop from the 3rd paragraph of the Nicene Creed. “We believe in the ...

When the Dogs are Barking

A good friend of mine, Bishop Paul Leeland, says, “When the caravan is moving, the dogs are barking.” As we have wrestled with appointments and are going through transition at the Conference office, I am reminded of Bishop Leeland’s pointed phrase. ...

Route 122 Group

Recently I learned about a group of church developers who are wrestling on a deep level with the issues of congregational transformation. Interestingly, they named themselves the Route 122 Group. The group name is a reference to Paragraph 122 in The ...