Encouraging answers for challenging questions from our Listeners

by Jim on July 30, 2013


Ministry Encouragement Podcast – Episode #057     7-31-13   

Sponsored by: Proactive Ministries  /  Hosted by: Rev. Jim W. Hollis, Executive Director of Proactive Ministries

Ministry Website: www.proactive-ministries.org       Ministry Offices, Atlanta, GA (USA): (770) 803-9988

Hello and welcome to another Episode of our Ministry Encouragement Podcast!  If you are a loyal member of this community you are very special to me.  If this is your very first time to listen, then I want you to feel most welcome.  God has been using this to build a growing community for over the past year.  I deeply appreciate your sharing in this today.

Today we are going to have a new segment for the podcast.  I have contacted many of you that I have email addresses for and invited you to send in by email, voicemail or phone call your most challenging questions concerning your own area of ministry involvement and your local church – for those of you who are involved in a church or other ministry group. 

Questions are starting to come in and I will be sharing these as well as others our Staff and I receive from among the churches we work with consistently across North America.  So today I am going to answer the following two questions that came in from Listeners in our expanding community.

The first one is from Angie, who is part of a middle size church in Michigan where unemployment is still high and their town is not growing but declining with many families moving to other locations in search of jobs: 

  • Dear Rev. Jim, thanks for the Podcast and inspiration it provides.  We’re excited that you’re asking those of us who listen to send in our most challenging and frustrating questions about our own church.  We have a group of from 5 to 8 of us who listen to the weekly episodes and discuss them over coffee and scones.  Here’s our question:

How can we consistently reach out to families in our community who are not in any local church?  They’re certainly not coming to visit our church. 

The second question came in from Bill in Florida who attends a “county-seat town church” of about 350 in attendance and he writes:

  • Thanks so much Jim for the very encouraging podcasts.  I started listening to them a few months ago in January because I had agreed to serve as a new Leader in our church for 2013.  I was feeling pretty unqualified, untrained and anxious about saying, “Yes” to the invitation.  I went searching for encouragement and came across the podcast.  When I saw, “Ministry Encouragement” I knew it was an answer to prayer.  I’ve learned so much and this helps me feel more motivated and competent in understanding ministry leadership.  Now several of our Leaders are subscribing and we discuss your podcasts in a group.  Here’s our question:

How can we build the Leadership of our congregation, confessing that we often avoid working through difficult “people situations” when they are harming our church? We’ve got some HARD people here.

Again, thanks for your participation in this week’s Episode and you could be a transmitter of encouragement for ministry by sharing this Podcast with others in your circle of friendship and influence.  Pastors, you may want to send it to your Leaders and encourage them to subscribe.  Small Groups are always looking for new, fresh and relevant ideas – this could give them the resource they are searching for.  What about your Sunday School classes who need a lift?

Please feel free to contact me with YOUR MOST CHALLENGING QUESTIONS concerning ministry, your church, your group or other activity you share in with other Christ Followers.  I am always glad to serve as a resource for you and your church or group.

And remember, you can call me personally at our Ministry Offices to discuss how your church can effectively and consistently reach others for Christ through the initiation and pursuit of caring, loving relationships.  If you would like to have me come and visit your congregation for a day & evening, please know that we provide that service as a GIFT to your church.  We have wonderful donors and family foundations who make that possible.

For some input, would you please send in YOUR responses to this “current topic” being discussed in North American churches today? 

As many of you have heard in the national, state and local news – the Boy Scouts of America have had a major change in their By-laws and policies as an organization.  They have now dropped a restriction from youth who are “openly gay” being able to participate in their programs.  Now they are welcoming this group in the BSA.  The largest number of “Sponsoring Organizations” of the Boy Scouts of America are churches and major denominations. 

For example, the United Methodist Church states concerning this topic of sexuality of all persons:

We affirm our belief in the inestimable worth of each individual because we are human beings created by God and loved through and by Jesus Christ, and we affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God (Preamble to Social Principles). Baptism is God’s gift of unmerited grace through the Holy Spirit and marks the entrance of persons into the church and its ministries of love, justice, and service (¶ 305, 2008 Book of Discipline), and we affirm that through baptism God has made us members of one body of Christ so that all who follow Jesus have spiritual gifts to share for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4-27).

In addressing the nurturing function of Christian fellowship, our United Methodist Social Principles assert that human sexuality is a complex gift of which we have limited understanding (¶ 161F). We also believe that homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth and that all persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self (¶ 161F). An individual confronting his or her own minority sexual orientation and/or that of a close family member, friend, or associate often experiences isolation, confusion, and fear when he or she needs information, guidance, and support (“Teens at Risk,” 2000 Book of Resolutions); and we recognize that teens dealing with questions about sexual orientation are at a greater risk for suicide (“Teen Sexual Identity and Suicide Risk,” 2004 and 2008 Book of Resolutions). The teachings and actions of Jesus demonstrated radical inclusion of those rejected by mainstream society, we are called to renew our commitment to become faithful witnesses to the gospel, not alone to the ends of the earth, but also the depths of our common life and work (Preamble to the Social Principles).

Therefore, be it resolved, that The United Methodist Church dedicate itself to a ministry of Christ-like hospitality and compassion to persons of all sexual orientations, and to a vision of unity through openness to the spiritual gifts of all those who have been baptized into the Body of Jesus Christ. Such ministry and openness may include: welcoming sexual minorities, their friends, and families into our churches and demonstrating our faith in a loving God; a willingness to listen and open our hearts to their stories and struggles in our churches, districts, annual conferences, and General Conference; encouraging study and dialogue around issues of sexuality; and praying for all those who are in pain and discord over our Christian response to this controversial issue.

Resolution #2041, 2008 Book of Resolutions
Resolution #33, 2004 Book of Resolutions
Resolution #28, 2000 Book of Resolutions

See Social Principles, ¶ 161F.

From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church — 2012. Copyright © 2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

  In other denominations such as The Episcopal Church (who fully embrace gay lifestyles and ordain gay clergy)  represent a totally accepting position on the issue.  They are advocates for complete openness and full acceptance on this subject.

  Then there are major denominations who clearly refer to the practice of homosexuality as a sin and take a much different view.  Here is the statement from the Southern Baptist Convention:

“On Sexuality: We affirm God’s plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a “valid alternative lifestyle.” The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.”

Needless to say, with many children, youth and familes in these churches heavily involved with Boy Scouting, this has caused much discussion among churches.  Some churches have fully embraced this as a celebration and affirm the policy change totally.  Others have chosen to discontinue their relationship with the BSA.  Others are working to form “alternative ministry approaches” to replace BSA. 

Our Ministry Staff and I have been in several congregations where this is being discussed and has the potential to be a very divisive issue. Where is your church on this change in the Boy Scouts of America policy? If you have BSA in your church what decisions have been made (if any) regarding the future of this relationship with your church?

Not only would I love to share some input on future podcasts but with Leadership groups in churches we are servingI would also welcome any input from denominational leaders, Superintendents, Bishops, Synod leaders, Pastors, Deacons and Elders. 

Please email me, use the “voicemail tab” on the right side of the blog to leave me a voicemail, or call our Ministry Offices to share your input.  I look forward to learning your perspective on this.

Until next time, may the Lord bless you, keep you and use you beyond your greatest expectations to let the light and love of Christ shine through you!

In Christ’s Grace With You,


Email your questions & correspondence to me at:     jim@ministryencouragementpodcast.com


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