CLARIFICATION: The “Divine Summons” series is telling the story of my call to Mound and the Revolution ministry we planted back in 2005-2007. This is not to be confused with our current efforts to continue that work with MainStreet Community. =)
An Open Door of Ministry
With the opposition-filled narrative-world of Acts shaping my personal sense of an apostolic call to Mound, you can imagine some of the fears I had in the back of my mind as drove into the parking lot of Bethel United Methodist Church. I was looking for an “open door” of opportunity to begin strategizing how to bring the message of Jesus to the community.
The last thing I wanted was to be met with resistance by the first religious community I entered. Jesus’ words were also bouncing around in the back of my head: “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown” (Luke 4:24). And the next moment they were trying to throw him off a cliff!
So, I walked into the narthex and found a small office where I supposed the secretary was working. When I told her that I was interested in the Youth Director position she was very surprised. “Who told you about that position?” she asked. “We haven’t even posted that position yet to the public.” After telling her that her friend mentioned it to me at Caribou she went on to ask about me personally.
When I told her I was a local teacher, high school basketball coach, Driving Instructor and recent seminary graduate looking for a youth ministry position she about fell off her chair. “Wow, aren’t you a God-send!” she exclaimed. God-send? Hmmm. I guess that’s another word for ‘apostle.’ We were off to a good start.
The following week I came in for an interview with Pastor Cheryl. The conversation was great. I made myself very clear that I was not looking to be hired by a church to run their youth program and serve primarily their church. I was looking for a strategic home base from which to launch a new kind of ministry to reach the teens out in the community.
One of the core convictions in terms of philosophy and approach was that we cannot expect teenagers will come to the church. If we want to reach them, we’re going to have to go to where they’re at. Ministry needed to happen on their turf, and sometimes on their terms. I had no interest in doing church-as-usual. If they wanted to hire me they were going to have to give me the freedom to experiment with some new, out-of-the-box approaches to reaching teens.
Thus, in fall of 2005 Keri and I were now officially on board at Bethel United Methodist Church in Mound. Denominationally speaking, this was new territory for both Keri and I. Keri was Baptist to the core and proud of it. I’m a denominational mutt who has little patience for denominational pride or allegiances at all. I was baptized and confirmed Lutheran, educated Baptist, was attending an evangelical non-denominational mega-church and now joining the staff of a Methodist church. My particular calling was clearly transdenominational, and would become a thoroughly interdenominational movement before it was over.
I was taking a chance on a very non-evangelical church to be the launching pad of a very missionally-focused outreach ministry. And to Bethel Methodist’s credit, they were taking a chance on me by hiring a very non-Methodist evangelical Christian with a crazy apostolic vision in his head! Things were bound to be interesting as we went forward.
Categories: Divine Summons