Thinking Out Loud

August 21, 2014

Sidebar to the Kent Brantly Story

Filed under: current events, missions — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:25 am

A part of the story you may not have heard…

Kent Brantley

Breaking Christian News adapted this story from Assist News Service, but made the headline something that Assist had buried in the final two paragraphs:

The website stated that The JPS Foundation is now accepting donations for Brantly and his family, who lost all of their earthly possessions when he contracted the Ebola virus and was returned to the United States for treatment. After his symptoms appeared, Brantly was isolated and was never able to return to their home. According to JPS, everything is considered contaminated by Ebola and will be destroyed.

“No date has been announced for his release from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, but when he is well enough to join his family, they will face the challenge of replacing everything from household items and clothing to computers and children’s toys,” said JPS in a statement Friday. “All funds will be held in a separate account within the JPS Foundation for the financial support of Dr. Brantly and his family during his recovery.

After all they’ve been through, they face the same loss as would a family whose home was destroyed by fire. But better to have Kent alive, right? 


“I’m sorry I’ve got to take this call, it’s Kent Brantly.”

This article is a must-read. It puts Kent Brantly in perspective in a way that will challenge you to the core.  Click to read Scot McKnight’s article:
Kent Brantly: Every Now and Then a Disciple Breaks Out


April 26, 2010

Pastor Appreciation Minute

Filed under: Church, ministry — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:47 pm

I’m exhausted.

I don’t know why it is, but serving in any capacity in a church on Sunday morning is always draining.   And I don’t do it that often.   And this wasn’t anything close to a large crowd.  This was the third time in six months, so I’m tracking a pattern close to “once every eight weeks.”   Hardly full-time ministry.

What if I had to do this every Sunday?    Plus board meetings?   Plus counseling?    Plus visitation?

I started an outline on the subject of worship, but it just didn’t take root.   So Thursday I was back to square one.  Although I don’t believe in recycling notes, this time around I redeveloped a sermon from the files.   About ninety minutes to recopy it and update some of the scripture readings from NIV to NLT and Message.   (A daring move considering this is an older congregation.)   Then thirty minutes later on Saturday to go over it all.

And it went well, based on their comments.

I think it simply went different. Congregations need to hear a different voice now and then.

Anyway… once again I have a great respect for pastors.   Is there something you can do to drop a note of encouragement to your pastor this week?   Do it!   Don’t wait for some card company version of “Pastor Appreciation Week.”

December 27, 2008

When Service Isn’t What’s Called For

Filed under: Christianity, Church, Faith, theology — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:12 pm

Several decades ago, I was hired by Muskoka Woods Sports Resort, a prestigious residential facility two hours north of Toronto, Canada offering one-week programs to the children of the well-heeled.   Not coming from a ‘camping’ background, I suppose that I brought a different skill set in my toolbox, and was told that I was a helpful person to have around.

Later, I learned that this meant I was able to bring strong leadership skills, especially the ‘upfront’ abilities needed to chair a meeting or an event, or facilitate a discussion group.   In later years, I learned that having ‘profile’ really feeds the ego (and prevents others from having a turn) and that a better place of service might be at the back of the room instead of the front, or perhaps behind the scenes altogether.   I am now comfortable serving in either capacity.

However, more recently, I’ve been aware of situations where neither gift of service — profile, or behind-the-scenes — is called for.   Case in point:  A few days ago a team of people in our town presented the third annual Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day.   This event is put on for the sake of people who can’t afford a fancy Christmas dinner, or simply don’t want to be alone on the 25th.   At this event, no one is ’serving’ anyone else.   True, there is a core team of volunteers; but they sit together with everyone else; there’s no ‘us’ and ‘them.’    The plates are on the table as they would be at a family Christmas dinner, and everyone at the table is equal.

Because of family commitments, my wife and I have been unable to attend these, but clearly, a different mentality is needed if a thing like this is going to be effective.   The problem is that so many — okay, I’ll say it: so many of us – have been ‘bred’ for either upfront profile service or behind the scenes service, that it can be difficult to fit into a new ministry pardigm.

Or is it?  I think that anyone, if they take about thirty seconds to think about it, can buy into a different way of thinking.*   The problem is, being behind the scenes or being up on a platform or stage is really, really safe. Especially if it’s a ministry to the poor.   You don’t have to share serving utensils; you don’t have to breathe the air if someone has a bad cough.   Sadly, it’s those safe ministry roles that people are still being trained for and still being ‘bred’ for.

*And a couple of years ago I did actually buy-in.   The ministry my wife pioneered to people living in a dilapidated motel centers around a weekly dinner.   For the first 2-3 weeks, I would eat at home first, and then show up to help serving.   But my wife didn’t need people to ‘help serving’ and the people there didn’t need ‘help’ to scoop up a slice of roast beef and mashed potatoes.   They needed people who wanted to be their friends.

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