JUNE 2019 E-NEWS   One Thing Never Changes!
In a time when things are changing rapidly, the one thing that brings order in the chaos is the thing that does not change. The challenge for church leaders is that we can often mistake what that one thing is!

Instinctively, we all resist change. No one enjoys finding a new dentist, moving your favorite chair to a new place in your living room or taking on a new set of responsibilities at work. Yet the inevitability of change is very much a part of human experience. When it comes to church, we are not any different. Things have changed in most of our churches over the past 20 years. For example, many of our churches are now smaller and older than they used to be! We may sing different songs or offer different sorts of ministries. Yet how do we navigate what might need to change about the way we live out our Christian faith?

Here is the rub: we are more likely to allow change in our church contexts when the change we are considering does not really threaten long-held practices or beliefs. We are less likely to advocate for a change that might stir up folks or feel threatening. In our churches, we often make decisions about change based on whether (or not!) it will ruffle feathers. Our criteria becomes, “How do we keep the most people happy?” Sadly, I don’t think the Christian faith is particularly interested in keeping people happy.

I want to highlight a different way to navigate change: working with the one thing that does not change. I could name this one thing in a number of ways. I could follow the witness of Hebrews 13: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Or perhaps it might be useful to say it this way: God began something in Jesus Christ – to restore all persons. God commissioned the church to be the agency for this redemptive work in the world. The church is on a mission to embody God’s invitation to the world!

That mission has not changed, and for leaders who understand their calling, that mission is the foundational principle by which all other things are evaluated. The mission matters!

As your church wrestles with next steps – whatever they may be in your context – consider beginning the discernment process by asking, “How do we extend God’s mission to our community?” Without that essential question on the table, any discussion about next steps will quickly devolve into keeping people happy.

I suppose, if we really thought about it, the best way to foster true happiness (or joy) might be to illuminate once again the remarkable calling the church has to bear witness to Jesus – for the sake of the world!

Blessings,

Carson

NEWS
A Year in the Life of the Siburt Institute
We are excited to release our 2018-19 Year in Review. The publication traces our team’s pursuit of the Siburt Institute’s mission through the four major practices of formation, resourcing, networking and reflection. Read highlights from the past year, including reflections from Contemplative Ministers’ Initiative and Ministers’ Support Network participants, new blog and web resources and highlights from ACU’s 112th Summit and other events. We cherish the numerous opportunities to connect with and serve alongside so many of you throughout the world as we seek to serve and equip church leaders and other Christ-followers for God’s mission in the world.

Finding Faith in an Anxious World
Congregational transitions are not the only kind of change that creates anxiety among Christ-followers today. As we struggle to keep up with the latest technologies, political news and cultural trends, some have suggested that our core fears and anxieties have remained remarkably consistent. In his latest Mosaic article, Dr. Jason Locke (’93 M.S.), preaching minister for the College Church of Christ in Fresno, California, reflects on faith, fear and the Christian life. 

Lunch and Learn: Why Courage Matters!
Save the date for this year’s Lunch and Learn event with Dr. Jerry Taylor, who will speak on “Why Courage Matters!” Taylor is associate professor of Bible, missions and ministry at ACU and the founding executive director of the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action.

The seminar will take place in ACU’s Hunter Welcome Center from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Aug. 29. Cost is $15, and registration will open soon.

Siburt Institute Team Transitions
Our team recently entered into a period of transition. At the end of May, we said goodbye to our friend and associate director Curtis King, who has been an integral part of the institute since its founding in 2012. After much prayer and discernment, Curtis decided to pursue a new call to nonprofit work in the Dallas/Fort Worth community. We already miss him!

Beginning this month, assistant director Karissa Herchenroeder will serve as editor of our monthly e-newsletters, so please contact her if you have any questions. Additionally, events coordinator Renee Paul and administrative coordinator Ola Mae Bulkley are increasing their involvement with minister transition resources, frontline communication and more. Visit our website for updated contact information and bios. 

Special Student Series at Summit 2019
Mo Isom is the New York Times best-selling author of Wreck My Life: Journeying from Broken to Bold and Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot. She is a nationally sought-after speaker, a popular faith-based blogger, a former All-American soccer goalkeeper and the first female to have trained with and tried out for an SEC men’s football team.

She is widely recognized as a powerful female voice for her generation and her unique personal story and athletic endeavors provide her with a platform to challenge, encourage, and equip others to live boldly, despite their circumstances. Having faced great personal tragedy, including battling an eating disorder, overcoming the suicide of her father and surviving a horrific car accident, Isom is passionate about speaking on a variety of topics and is able to connect with men and women of all ages and demographics.

In a special series for students, Isom will speak on Sunday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. and Monday, Sept. 16 at 11 a.m. Join us for these and many other incredible sessions at Summit 2019! MARK YOUR CALENDARS Summer Seminar, Aug. 9-10Lunch and Learn with Dr. Jerry Taylor, Aug. 29ACU’s 113th Summit, Sept. 15-18Ministers’ Support Network Retreat, Sept. 19-22Contemplative Ministers’ Initiative Retreat, Oct. 7-10 PARTNER WITH US Our work in the Siburt Institute is made possible by the generosity of friends like you who support and share our mission to serve church leaders and other Christ-followers.

Give to the Siburt Institute.