December 2018 E-news from the Siburt Institute

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The Really Big Thing
As the year winds toward a close, I find myself musing about what really matters for leaders in congregations. I certainly know that, for most church leaders, a hundred items clamor for attention. Everything from a new health crisis for sister Maggie to a dilemma with a mission in the Congo to the repair of the HVAC system at the building to what to do about the decline in Sunday morning attendance … all of these things make their way into decision-making sessions in churches large and small.

All of those things matter – yet many of them could find resolution under the care of any number of godly and wise people. What is it that leaders need to attend to because if they don’t, then it won’t be done?

Paul makes a remarkable claim in the middle of addressing a bundle of conflicts and messes in the church in Corinth. Seeking to rise above the tumult of trouble and pointing the Corinthian congregation to reorient and refocus, Paul declares: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).

I think Paul knew that, whenever a community of people live and share and work together, conflict and trouble will emerge. He also knew that finding a center, resolving conflict, and plotting a path forward will come only if someone (or a group of someones!) intentionally seeks to think and behave in ways that are aligned deeply with Jesus Christ.

This is the big thing for leaders. Leadership in our congregations must take into account a disciplined focus on being Jesus-followers. Leaders must not assume that either they or congregations will naturally fall into a Christ-centered way of thinking and behaving. Whatever your role, the one thing that is absolutely necessary for the wellbeing of the community is a deep commitment to see others as Jesus sees others.

The second thing leaders must do is closely related to the first! With the eyes of Jesus, leaders are the ones who look for signs of God’s action. Leaders are the ones who refuse to take their attention away from God’s mission in the world, even when unexpected conflicts and dilemmas surface (and they do!).

Knowing Jesus Christ and paying attention to God’s movement in the world are big things. And our churches, families, and cities need leaders who live out those big things!
Merry Christmas!

Using Christmas to grow a small church
The Christmas season is upon us, and this festive season brings with it ample opportunities for churches to connect with our communities. In hisMosaic article, Dr. Larry Fitzgerald (’76) shares about his journey into celebrating Christmas, then offers several creative suggestions for small church leaders to lean into this season, such as participating in local holiday events or hosting a Christmas meal for members who cannot celebrate with family. Fitzgerald is pulpit minister at the Woodlawn Church of Christ in Abilene, and for more than 40 years, he has been a town Santa! For more holiday reading, check out all ourChristmas-themed Mosaic posts.

Ministers’ breakfast in Houston to feature Dr. Jerry Taylor
On Monday, Jan. 28, Dr. Jerry Taylor (pictured) will speak at ACU’s annual ministers’ breakfast, to be held at Ecclesia Houston. The 9 a.m. breakfast will include time for fellowship, worship, and a word of encouragement for a new year of ministry. The annual breakfast is sponsored by ACU in Houston’s University Relations team, in partnership with the Siburt Institute. Dr. Jerry Taylor is an associate professor of Bible, missions and ministry, and the founding executive director of the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action.

For additional details, email Carri Hill, University Relations Manager in Houston, at by Thursday, Jan. 24.Click here to register.

Save the date: ministers’ lunch in Dallas/Fort Worth featuring 
Dr. Richard BeckOn Tuesday, Feb. 5, Dr. Richard Beck (’89), department chair and a professor in ACU’s psychology department, will join ministers in Dallas and Fort Worth at Christ Church in Irving for a lunchtime conversation about practices of hospitality, sharing insights from his book Stranger God: Meeting Jesus in Disguise. Following Beck’s presentation, extended time will be allotted for questions, answers, and reflection.

The event will go from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the lunch is sponsored by ACU in Fort Worth’s University Relations team and the Siburt Institute. For additional details or to RSVP, email Brent Barrow, University Relations Manager in Fort Worth, by Thursday, Jan. 31.

In many ways, Summit 2018 was a great experiment and success. As we sought to keep the 112-year tradition true to its beginnings while meeting the needs and demands of an ever-changing audience, we have moved Summit into a new model, Summit Re-Imagined.

We are thankful for all who have participated and led in various ways. With deeper course offerings and all-day pathways, more events aimed at spiritual formation for our ACU students, a larger online presence and a soon-to-be-released podcast series, we are excited about all that is ahead for Summit 2019 and beyond.

Holiday Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

Happy Holidays from your friends at
the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry!

Ministers’ Breakfast, Houston, Jan. 28. Coordinator: Carri (Teague ’88) Hill Ministers’ Lunch, Dallas / Fort Worth, Feb. 5. Coordinator:Brent Barrow (’86)Ministry in Times of Illness and Loss, Co-Sponsored with Lifeline Chaplaincy, Feb. 23Ministers Support Network Retreat, Feb. 28 – March 3. Coordinator: Robert Oglesby Jr. (’81) Journey – From Text to Congregation, March 21-23

“Creating a vision statement is not the same thing as having vision or discerning a vision. ‘Creating a vision statement’ is something that secular organizations do as a function of strategic planning … But in the church, a real vision comes through the Holy Spirit, not through a committee pulled together to figure out on their own what the church ‘ought’ to do or what they want the church to do.” – Dr. Richard L. Hamm,Recreating the Church: Leadership for the Postmodern Age“God doesn’t need our perfection. He already has his own. He chooses us because we offer something different – humanity. To be what he needs, we can’t shy away from our intense experience of weakness … When one person is willing to step into vulnerability, it disrupts forever the cycle that traps us, giving us permission to share our fears, creating a space for others to be human and for God to be God.” – Mandy Smith,The Vulnerable Pastor: How Human Limitations Empower Our Ministry

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