Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recently, I came across a phrase like “weaving the gospel into everything we say and do.” I believe this phrase is to be taken in the context of a community of Christian brothers and sisters. Christmas Eve service is an opportunity to put this phrase into practice, weaving the gospel of grace, gospel of love, gospel of justice, gospel of mercy, and gospel of compassion into Christmas worship and celebrations. It is also, theologically possible, to develop a ‘gospel of Christmas’ incorporating grace, love, justice, mercy, and compassion. People would be filling the pews on Christmas Eve, looking for a baby Jesus in a cradle. Let us fill their hearts and minds with the love of Jesus, leading them to have a transformed life. Effectively communicating the gospel is the key for bringing changes in their lives and for helping in their problems. Someone said: “The church was never called to be a museum of what God once did, and pastors were never called to be curators.” Lead God’s people in clear, positive and compelling ways and that is God’s call and our commitment.
NEW YEAR 2009
I invite all pastoral leaders to continue to cast a vision that with God’s power and grace, you move the congregation through change into a better and a brighter future. It is never simple and easy. Always remember the words of Jesus: “I will build my church.” “And surely, I am with you always.” (Matthew 16:18 & 28:20) The Ministry or Dream Plan for four-seven years is a tool that builds the future of the Church of Jesus Christ in and through the United Methodist movement locally and globally. All Committees and Teams – Church Council, P/SPRC, Finance, Trustees, Leadership Development, Worship, Christian Education, Membership, Stewardship and others, are strongly urged to begin and end their meetings with either a prayer and/or devotions based on the Scripture or devotional resources. Invoking God’s presence, power and promise through spiritual disciplines into church-related meetings is not optional. Meetings minus God don’t bear fruit. Leaders who resist to devotions at church meetings need Christian counseling with Christian Education by the clergy or pastoral leadership. Continued resistance requires change of leadership. The bottom-line here is to constantly and consistently promote discipleship mindset versus membership mentality.
Let us continue to pray for Shalom in the world and to specifically pray for those who combat terrorism that becomes a daily affair. Recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai formerly known as ‘Bombay’ have again shaken the world community with more fear and uncertainty in the light of international travel. I have led two mission trips to India in 2005 and 2007 without many difficulties. Now, it has become an impossible task for at least a couple of years. The Bombay Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in India is my home conference where I was ordained a Deacon and an Elder in 1984 and 1986 respectively. The Methodist headquarters and the Episcopal residence are located about a 20 minute drive from the places of attack. The lone surviving terrorist has revealed that there would be similar attacks on Christmas and New Year’s Eves in the state of Goa, a Roman Catholic center and a tourist place, and in the city of Pune, where I was a pastor for two Methodist congregations (my first appointment) for six years (1983-89) and where my wife’s parents live. Your continued prayers will be greatly appreciated.
I will be joining Rev. Laverne Larson to teach at an ecumenical pastors’ school at Mbale, Uganda, East Africa from January 7 to January 24, 2009. Therefore, I will NOT be available from the 7th to the 24th of January 2009. After returning from Uganda, I will be attending the Cabinet Retreat from January 26 - 29. Please contact Sherry Malone, Regional Office Administrator by phone 608-837-0057 or email
during those dates for your needs. I will appreciate your prayers, patience and understanding. Also pray for us as we plan, prepare and teach around 80 pastors from different denominations including United Methodists.
- “Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to do About It” by Julia Duin
- “Essential Church: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts” by Thom S. Rainer and Sam S. Rainer III
- “Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can Too” by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson
Grace and Peace! Have a Blessed Christmas and a Hope-Filled New Year 2009!