July 2019 e-news from the Siburt Institute

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JULY 2019 E-NEWS   What’s baptism got to do with leadership?

Being a part of a tradition that practices believer’s baptism means that what I am about to say may sound a little odd, but here goes. I do not think that most of us take baptism seriously enough. Really. Of course, we want our children to be baptized, and when people make a commitment to Jesus Christ we do so in a baptismal pool in church or in somebody’s swimming pool after a Bible study. I get that – and, as Jesus says, “it fulfills all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15).

But after a person towels off and the chlorine smell fades, baptism all too often fades into a distant glow. Folks get on with their lives. The deed has been done. It’s time to get back to work and play and family and sorting out how to make it through life balancing some Jesus and taking care of oneself.

That is precisely where our theology of baptism fails us. Baptism becomes a mountaintop experience that recognizes our acceptance of Jesus instead of baptism becoming the first act of a lifetime of following God’s call. I believe it is far too easy for us to think baptism is about our decision to say “yes Lord” without reckoning with the part about dying to ourselves and beginning a new life characterized by Christ’s living presence within us.

In other words, we fail to understand baptism unless we understand that baptism marks us as disciples of Jesus Christ who obey his calling – every single day. Following Jesus isn’t always easy. It means that his purpose becomes my purpose. It means taking risks so that others might find life.

So at one level I would say that baptism has nothing to do with leadership. When church leaders gather it is not usually to read Romans 6 or to recount stories of persons coming to faith. Rather, leaders are often focused on questions about the health and mission of the congregations they serve. But here is the rub, which I want to say lovingly but clearly. If churches have leaders who are not fully sold out as disciples of Jesus Christ – consciously aware of the demands of being a baptized, dead and reborn person committed fully to God’s transforming work in the world – then likely those churches are anemic and more interested in remaining content.

But when churches have leaders who are consciously living with the reality that Christ lives in us and that baptism commissions us to live radical lives of faith, adventure and obedience for God’s mission in the world, I think you will find a church that is lively and full of hope.

So baptism may not have a lot to do with leadership, but baptism has everything to say about discipleship. If leaders are not disciples of the living, acting Lord … well, then our anemic baptismal theology has sadly won the day.

So remember your baptismal commitments: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2.20). Our churches desperately need disciples who will provide leadership toward God’s preferred future!



Ministers’ Support Network offers renewal and discernment
“So many in ministry walk away from the call. Some are forced out due to moral failure. Others simply are work-worn and tired. Here’s the clincher: Most of us are work-worn and tired. But we press on … because the work needs to be done and there are so many souls out there who need to see what redemption and grace and love look like.” These words come from Caryn Blanchard (’10) as she reflected on her experiences on a Ministers’ Support Network (MSN) sabbatical retreat

If you or a ministry couple you know are feeling “work-worn and tired,” we would love to talk with you or them about participating in a future MSN retreat, in hopes of extending support, relief and renewal. Please email the couple’s names, email address and cell phone number to Robert Oglesby, MSN coordinator.  Lunch and Learn with Dr. Jerry Taylor

Registration is open for this year’s Lunch and Learn on Aug. 29! Dr. Jerry Taylor will be speaking on “Why Courage Matters!” Taylor is founding executive director of the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action and associate professor of Bible, missions and ministry. We hope you’ll bring a friend enjoy a word of encouragement and an opportunity to connect with other local church leaders and Christ-followers. Register now! New issue of Discernment available We are pleased to share the latest issue of our journal, Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry. In this issue, Mason Lee (’14 M.Div.) considers the value of patience in dealing with the realities of how congregations read and interpret Scripture. Additionally, Dr. Shannon Rains (’19 D.Min.), Dr. Jennifer Schroeder and Dr. Ron Bruner (’10 D.Min.) offer a practical resource guide for scholars, ministers and church members engaged in children’s ministry.

With Discernment’s growing readership in more than 110 countries, we encourage scholar/practitioners who have completed substantial work in practical theology to consider this peer-reviewed journal as a vehicle to share their hard-earned wisdom. To learn more about how to submit your own work for review, visit the journal homepage or contact Bruner (pictured), editor of Discernment and executive director of Westview Boys’ Home in Hollis, Oklahoma. Summer Seminar: Renewing churches for God’s mission

Is your church struggling? Are you concerned about the future of the church? If so, join us August 9-10 as we explore our heritage, honestly assess our current condition and discuss ways to move forward into the future. Want to learn more about this year’s Summer Seminar? Check out this video from spiritual director Randy Harris and founding director Dr. Royce Money (’64) along with this Mosaic post featuring Dr. Wes Crawford (’02 M.Div.), assistant professor of modern and American church history at ACU and one of this year’s seminar speakers. Be sure to register by Aug. 5. Church families bridging the generations at Summit 2019
For years, churches have witnessed the divide between generations, but practical and effective solutions to this problem are rarely obvious. Churches wanting to become more intentionally intergenerational typically raise two questions: “How can we bring the generations back together?” and, more importantly, “Why?”

On Monday, Sept. 16, Holly Catterton Allen and Wilson McCoy III (’10) will address these important questions in a pathway that will draw on Scripture, theology, sociology and practical experience.

Allen teaches family science and Christian ministry at Lipscomb University and co-authored Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community, and Worship. McCoy ministers with the College Hills Church of Christ in Lebanon, Tennessee, and his doctoral research focused on intergenerational spiritual formation. 

Join us at Summit 2019 for this and many other insightful pathways. Learn more and register on our brand new Summit website!

Team spotlight: Randy Harris
Randy Harris has been busy this summer as a guest preacher in several Texas churches. His recent preaching travels have included Round Rock (Texas) Church of Christ, Highland and Southern Hills here in Abilene, and Riverside in Coppell. At the end of this month, he will speak at a summer series in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Contact Harris if you’d like to invite him to your church, or contact any number of resource people who are eager to work with you as guest preachers, workshop leaders and more.

Summer Seminar, Aug. 9-10
Lunch and Learn with Dr. Jerry Taylor, Aug. 29
ACU’s 113th Summit, Sept. 15-18
Ministers’ Support Network Retreat, Sept. 19-22
Contemplative Ministers’ Initiative Retreat, Oct. 7-10

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.

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