Wednesday, August 15, 2018

REZ Downtown enews for Wednesday, 15 August 2018 from The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Downtown in Kansas City, Missouri, United States

REZ Downtown enews for Wednesday, 15 August 2018 from The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Downtown in Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Serve Saturday Aug. 18
Invite family and friends of all ages to join RezDowntown this Saturday for community service #withKC! Meet at 1522 McGee at 9 am to be introduced to our construction team, refugee children’s reading program, and other serve partners around KC. Email Pastor Patrick.McLaughlin@cor.org with questions, or if you plan to bring a group!
Reading Nook Training
While Serve Saturday is going on, there will also be a training for those who desire to increase literacy among refugee children through reading, computer labs, and interactive game learning. Join other community volunteers on Aug. 18 at 1903 Hardesty in KCMO from 9 am - noon. Email Pastor Patrick.McLaughlin@cor.org with questions!
Cultural Context Training Aug. 18
After Serve Saturday, join RezDowntown and community leaders 12:30 - 3 pm in this session focused on how best to navigate cultural differences as Christians in Kansas City. This training is required for those who wish to volunteer regularly with one of our partner schools. It is recommended for anyone who wants to take a step further in their discipleship journey. Lunch will be provided at 12:30. Register here. Contact PastorPatrick@cor.org or 816-979-1334 with any questions.
RezLife for Middle Schoolers
Starting this Saturday evening, Aug. 18, bring your middle schooler to learn and grow in an intentional space for youth their age. They’ll gather with others in grades 5 – 8 every Saturday evening during worship to get out of the house, connect and have some fun. Tell them to invite friends, bring friends, and plan on making some too! Reach out to Sarah.Brischle@cor.org with questions!
Voice Lessons: Finding Your Voice
Join us on Friday, Aug. 24, 6 – 9 pm at 1601 Grand for our RezDT Women’s Evening! We will enjoy dinner together, a time of fellowship and will hear from speaker Sherry Danner as we spend an evening finding our voice. Women have a lot to say and need a place to say it safely. Sherry will focus on individual faith development and loving others better by valuing ourselves as we learn to find our voice and use it. Entry is $20 and partial scholarships are available. Don’t wait to reserve your spot for what will be an amazing evening! Register here. For questions, or info on partial scholarship, please contact Shannon.Endicott@cor.org.
Ready to Become a Member of RezDowntown?
Gather with us Sunday, Aug. 26, 1:30 pm at 1522 McGee. Hear from our pastors about what it means to be a Methodist and the expectations for membership. Reach out to Shannon.Endicott@cor.org with questions, or email Sarah.Brischle@cor.org for childcare!
Disciple II: 24 Week Bible Study
Join us on Monday nights, starting Aug. 27, 2018 to study the Scriptures. Disciple II is a 24-week study that dives into the Bible, challenging a response to live out Scripture in our own lives. Disciple Bible Study is enriching, informational, transformational, faith-deepening and offers time to develop deep, lasting friendships as you study, reflect and pray together as a group. Disciple I is not a prerequisite. Please register at cor.org/getconnected. Reach out to Pastor Matt.Bisel@cor.org with questions!
First Friday Family Fun Night!
Looking to join in on the fun of First Fridays? Friday, Sept. 7, you’ll find the RezDT team at the Southwest corner of the 1601 Grand parking lot. Stop by for FREE hot dogs, bounce houses for the kids, crafts, cookie decorating and more. No need to register. Share the word! Reach out to Kelly.Sisney@cor.org with any questions!
A Conversation on Forgiveness
Pastor Adam will preach on forgiveness the weekend of Sept 9. It’s not a simple topic, so let’s set aside some time for discussion on forgiveness and it’s applications for our lives, led by Pastor Anne. Grab the book authored by Pastor Adam titled “Forgiveness: Finding Peace Through Letting Go” and mark your calendar for Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 6:30 pm at 1601 Grand room 209.
Save the Date! Rejuvenate: Women’s Wellness Day
Need to recharge? Join us for a wellness day for women of all ages and fitness levels on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Resurrection Downtown (1522 McGee). A day focused on movement and meaningful connection through yoga, bootcamp, boxing and conversation about nutrition and self-compassion. We will end the day with a social hour and pop-up shopping featuring some amazing local vendors. Join us and be rejuvenated at this wellness event in the heart of Kansas City! Cost is $15, but bring a friend new to Resurrection for free. Don’t forget a yoga mat, water bottle and towel. Reach out to Audrey Thrasher with questions at audreythrasher31@gmail.com.
The RezDads will take a break for August. Stay tuned for news about a RezDads gathering in September!
For more missions-specific information, check out our serve blog here!
The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Downtown
1508 Grand Avenue
Kansas City, Missouri 64108, United States
***

RMN Western Jurisdiction - August Update - Convocation Recap & the Way Forward for Wednesday, 15 August 2018

RMN Western Jurisdiction - August Update - Convocation Recap & the Way Forward for Wednesday, 15 August 2018
Post-Convocation Recap and the Way Forward
Our "For Everyone Born" national convocation was a blast! It was a time to reconnect with old friends in the Reconciling movement and to recommit to our ideals for full inclusion. If you were at convocation, I urge you to fill out this feedback survey form. If you missed it or want to relive it, you can check out the convocation website for archived videos and links to connect with all our partner organizations. We also have fantastic photos from two volunteer photographers, Jim Quinn and Stephen Dracler. Please check these links:
Link 1: https://buff.ly/2OwBwg6
Link 2: https://buff.ly/2mWJ8MAThe proposed plans to be considered by the 2019 General Conference, one of the main subjects of conversations at convocation, are now available online. Here are the links, including articles I suggest you read.
Report of the Commission on a Way Forward (including the One Church Plan endorsed by the Council of Bishops)
One Church, Many Contexts article by Bishop Ken Carter, president of the Council of Bishops
The Simple Plan submitted by the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus
Meet Us in St. Louis article by Rev. Austin Adkinson on the Simple Plan
Holding Traditionalists Accountable for Their Actions article by Dr. Randall Miller
Hacking Christianity articles by Rev. Jeremy Smith on the various proposed plansAs we gear up for back to back General Conferences, RMN needs your prayers and financial support as we push for meaningful change and full inclusion of all God's LGBTQ children in the UMC. There will be volunteer and witness opportunities so prepare to join us in St. Louis in February 2019! Be hopeful and act in faith!
#BeTheWayForward

Rev. Dr. Israel I. Alvaran
Western Jurisdiction Organizer
Phone: 510-717-4894
izzy@rmnetwork.org
Support RMN's General Conference Witness
"Do Nor Rashly Tear Asunder": RMN's Statement on the Way Forward Plans
Jan Lawrence, RMN's Executive Director, shares her thoughts on the plans submitted to the 2019 General Conference. Read the statement here.
“Do Not Rashly Tear Asunder”: RMN’s Statement on Plans
Now that we have had a few days to read the Commission on a Way Forward’s (COWF’s) long-awaited report, it is clear that the workload for delegates to the 2019 General Conference has increased. The 93-page report (including appendices) was included as supporting material in the Council of Bishop’s request for a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on the constitutionality of each of the three plans resulting from the work of the COWF.
The fact that all three plans, complete with petition language, rationale, and theological basis, are included in this report and associated appendices is disappointing. We all hoped for one clear recommendation resulting from the work of the COWF. When the Council of Bishops (COB) made the decision to include all three plans, the petition language for the Traditional Plan had not been developed and the COWF only had one remaining meeting. They chose not to rush through the development of a plan they had previously decided was unnecessary. The development of a minority Traditional Plan (Appendix 3) fell to a small group of bishops.
In addition to these plans, there may be as many as 100 additional petitions submitted by various parties. If ruled “in harmony” with the call of the General Conference, these will be eligible for consideration as well. Of note is that there is not one mention of LGBTQ families and their relationship to The United Methodist Church in the entire report.
A Global Church
John Wesley’s three simple rules keep repeating in my head:
1) Do no harm.
2) Do Good. and
3) Stay in Love with God.
None of the plans measure up to what Wesley meant. Neither do some of the other submitted petitions that have started to be circulated on social media. Personally, I want to call a timeout and push the reset button.
There are elements in the structure and governance of The UMC that are broken. You cannot have a global denomination modeled after something that sort of worked over a century ago in the US. Being a global church means that we aren’t only a U.S. church with some members on other continents. Instead, being a global church implies being in ministry with and for all of God’s children everywhere as we love our neighbors and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We need to see an outcome from both 2019 and 2020 General Conferences that supports the reality of a global church. The report offered to us from the COWF has us stumbling at the starting block. Despite this imperfect launch, we can sustain a global church focused on justice, and heed Wesley’s call not to rashly tear asunderour church.
The One Church Plan (Recommended by COB with Majority Support of CoWF).
The One Church Plan (OCP) is the only plan with the potential to reduce harm in some places in the United Methodist connection. It is not lost on me that it is a tremendous step forward to remove the incompatible with Christian teaching language that has haunted us since 1972. But, while the OCP has the potential to reduce harm, it is far from the inclusive plan some claim it is. An inclusive plan would speak of and treat all of God’s children with equal dignity and worth. The OCP does value lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and agender people as beloved children of God with gifts to share with the church and world.
Paragraph 161.G of the United Methodist Book of Discipline affirms that God’s grace is available to all and that we will be in ministry for and with all persons. That affirmation and intent are clearly missing in the OCP. Harm is continued in these ways:
The added “agree to disagree” language continues harm as it gives those who do not know how to love LGBTQ people permission to discriminate;
Same-gender marriage is still unequal to heterosexual marriage
  • It continues the prohibition on funding, limiting ministry with and to LGBTQ people
  • It allows continued discrimination in marriage in some locations;
  • It allows continued discrimination in ordination in some locations;
  • It allows continued discrimination by Bishops against married homosexual ordinands if a Bishop decides that they cannot affirm God’s calling them to ministry; and
  • It continues harm to those who whose cultures are not welcoming of LGBTQ people.
The OCP has the potential to reduce harm, although not equally acrossf the connection. It removes the current harmful language except for the prohibition on funding, allowing those living in the privilege of a context where they live into gospel obedience to do so without fear.
It is clear that, in developing the (unnecessary) language of contextualization, the COWF did not prioritize LGBTQ lives. Instead, it gave priority to those who demand the status quo at threat of schism. The plan goes out of its way to accommodate: bishops who don’t want to ordain LGBTQ people, pastors who don’t want to officiate weddings, boards of ordained ministry and clergy sessions who don’t want to ordain LGBTQ people called by God in their conference, and laity of local churches who don’t want to allow LGBTQ weddings in the building. The OCP does not make any positive changes in those Central Conferences where LGBTQ people are persecuted under civil law or social prejudice. That omission is a missed opportunity to call on the church to stand up for the human rights of LGBTQ people world-wide.
The Connectional Conference Plan
The Connectional Conference Plan (the only plan requiring constitutional amendments) provides an alternative to contextual differentiation based on structural separation. It divides The UMC into three sub-denominations for traditionalists, centrists and progressives. The defining characteristic is their willingness or unwillingness to fully include LGBTQ persons. Each separate branch would ordain its clergy and elect its own bishops. Extensive voting at jurisdictional, annual conference and local church levels would be harmful to LGBTQ persons in their home contexts, and it results in a “pre-division” that could lead to full-blown schism.
Through development of this plan the US conservatives revealed their desire to opt out of financial support for many current connectional agencies, such as: General Board of Church and Society, Discipleship Ministries, the current form of General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the justice organizations currently constituted as General Commission on Race and Religion and General Commission on the Status and Role of Women and others.
The Traditional Plan (Drafted by a Small Group of Bishops)
The “Traditional Plan” twists our historic polity and jurisprudence out of shape by elevating the non-affirming view of LGBTQ persons to the highest value and most visible identifier of the church. It globalizes enforcement provisions that previously played out at annual conference and jurisdictional levels. It requires loyalty oaths — specific only to the prohibitions against gay marriage and gay ordination — of bishops, boards of ordained ministry and full annual conference votes. It claims a form of so-called “gracious accountability” which is in no way gracious. It claims to “encourage” progressive conferences, churches and clergy to leave the UMC, but it does this with harsh enforcement mechanisms. It essentially attempts to force progressives out into a new denomination which is, by definition, schism. And it further splinters the UMC by allowing any annual conference to leave and start its own new self-governing Methodist Church and likewise allows any group(s) of 50 or more churches to leave and form new self-governing Methodist Churches. Paradoxically, this seems to give the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) the easy and low cost exit path they’ve been requesting.
The Simple Plan (From UMQCC)
There is a fourth plan, from outside of COWF, called by those who wrote it, “the Simple Plan,” written and submitted by LGBTQ persons. The United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus (UMQCC) submitted this plan to eliminate the harmful language against LGBTQ persons. It stands out from the OCP because it removes harmful language without adding new forms of continued discrimination with unnecessary contextual language. It is the most inclusive plan of those available and acts as a standard in perfecting any plan that will pass General Conference. RMN is committed to working with all groups to pass the plan that is the most beneficial to LGBTQ persons and their loved ones. Regardless of the outcomes of this called General Conference, RMN will continue to advocate with LGBTQ persons struggling for affirmation and full inclusion in the life, work, and ministry of The United Methodist Church.
Closing Thoughts
I am reminded of the arguments between Peter and Paul about the best way to do ministry in their context. Neither said to the other, “You are not welcome into this house.” After much discord, they arrived at ministry within their context. For us to do anything less is not biblical obedience: it is unscriptural.
Please join us in praying for all of the delegates to General Conference 2019, all plans and petitions submitted, and for the Holy Spirit to infuse these old bones of The UMC with new life so that we can create disciples for the transformation of the world — the whole wide world.
In prayer with you,
Jan Lawrence, Executive Director
Reconciling Ministries Network
Together at the Table
Bishop Karen Oliveto's new book "Together at the Table" is out! This is her personal story and public message. Given the challenges facing our denomination, Bishop Oliveto believes that the church can stay together—that people of different convictions can remain in communion with one another. Woven together with her own story of coming out and following God’s call to ordained ministry is her guidance for how to live together despite differences—by practicing empathy, living with ambiguity, appreciating the diversity of creation, and embracing unity without uniformity. Order your book today!
Order "Together at the Table"
Get Organized: Join a Workshop!
Do you want to help increase the number of Reconciling Churches, Communities and Campus Ministries?
WHAT: This training will empower Reconciling United Methodists to shepherd churches/communities through the Reconciling process.
WHEN: 9AM – 5PM (lunch/snacks will be provided)
WHERE:
September 8, 2018 - Tehachapi Valley UMC, Tehachapi CA
October 6, 2018 - First UMC, Sacramento CA
October 13, 2018 - Foothills UMC, La Mesa CA
REGISTRATION IS FREE! Click on the buttons below to register and/or host a workshop.
Connect with your local Reconciling team
Contact your state or conference's Reconciling team leaders below to know how you can participate in local activities and witness.
Desert Southwest: Rev. Kimberly Scott
California-Nevada: Beth Snyder
California-Pacific: Jason Takagi
Pacific Northwest: Rev. Sharon Moe / Rev. Terri Stewart
Connect with your conference Reconciling teams on Facebook - "like" their page! Email Izzy with questions on how to get connected to your local team ***

Leading Ideas from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., United States for Wednesday, 15 August 2018: 9 Questions to Assess Your Church's Financial Health and 5 Steps for Putting Good Ideas into Action

Leading Ideas from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., United States for Wednesday, 15 August 2018: 9 Questions to Assess Your Church's Financial Health and 5 Steps for Putting Good Ideas into Action
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Lovett H. Weems Jr. says paying attention to various indices of your congregation’s financial health is a key practice in remaining economically viable and sustaining vital ministry. He offers nine questions to help focus attention on important considerations related to your church’s long-term financial sustainability.
1. What percentage of your operating budget is funded through recurring and predictable sources of income?
Ideally, a church’s ongoing operating expenses should be covered by recurring and predictable sources of income, such as pledges and offerings, program and facility fees, fundraisers, and the percentage of rental income not directed to support your capital budget. If your church relies too much on nonrecurring or unpredictable sources of income, such as large, one-time gifts or bequests, to cover routine, ongoing expenses, it’s cause for concern because that will draw down an endowment at too high a rate.It’s typical for middle-aged and older givers to be more generous to the church. But if the percentage of giving coming from those age 70 or older grows larger each year, it represents a point of vulnerability.
2. How well are you estimating revenue and expenses?
Look at your financial history, going back three to five years. What is the amount of income you budgeted compared to your actual income? What did you budget for expenses, and what did you actually spend? Is there typically a deficit or a surplus? Are you overestimating income? Or underestimating expenses? This exercise will help you gauge the accuracy of your budgeting assumptions.
3. What percentage of your giving comes from pledges?
Not all churches rely on pledging, of course. But if you do, you’ll want to calculate what percentage of your total giving comes from pledges. If you discover, for example, that the amount is typically 80 percent, this gives a basis to estimate your total giving in future years based on the amount pledged. It also can reveal trends. For example, are people continuing to give, even if fewer are pledging?
4. How are people giving?
The high point of check writing came in 1995. Today, only about 50 percent of financial transactions come from cash and checks, and it’s getting lower all the time. Determine what percentage of giving to your church comes from cash and checks and what percentage comes from other means of giving. Are you giving people the options they typically use to conduct their financial transactions? For some, the check they write for church is the only check they write all week.
5. How much of giving comes from persons age 70 or older?
It’s typical for middle-aged and older givers to be more generous to the church. But if the percentage of giving that comes from those age 70 or older grows larger each year, it represents a point of vulnerability. So, it’s important to know this statistic. Even if you don’t know everyone’s exact age, you can make an educated guess.
6. Is any expense category threatening sustainability?
Has one component of your budget become so disproportionate that it jeopardizes the church’s future? You’ll want to examine three things: your debt, which is often a problem for newer churches; your pastoral compensation, which can be overly burdensome for smaller congregations; and your facility costs, particularly if your congregation has older, expansive facilities that no longer fit the size of the congregation.
7. Are you deferring maintenance?
One common way for congregations to balance budgets in challenging times is to defer maintenance. Consider what should ideally be spent each year to fund at least a minimal level of ongoing capital renewal and replacement needs in categories such as safety, accessibility, heating and cooling, roofs, painting, technology upgrades, and renovations. If you are consistently budgeting less than is needed for capital renewal, you are risking greater expense down the road. And even if you can’t fund everything right away, it’s helpful to know the demands for the funds you do have.
8. Is your endowment or permanent fund invested to maintain its value?
There is a tendency to think it’s best for churches to invest endowment funds in such a way that the principal is guaranteed and to spend only the interest. But if you do this, the value of the fund will be declining each year by the rate of inflation. Even if the dollar amount remains the same, you can’t do as much with that amount of money as you could do when it was given. Examine the percentage of stocks and bonds in your fund and get advice on how to balance your investments to allow enough total return growth in the fund (with interest, dividends, and appreciation) to keep up with inflation so you can have a reasonable spending rate for ministry each year (perhaps 4 or 5 percent) while also replacing the cost of inflation. By doing that, you can maintain the purchasing power of the endowment.
9. Do you have a reserve fund, and how is it used?
Some churches are so concerned with preparing for a rainy day that they amass large reserve funds while neglecting current ministry needs. Other churches depend on reserve funds to cover chronic deficits or mask imprecise budgeting. It’s important that a reserve fund is governed by a policy stipulating what money goes into a reserve fund and how a reserve fund is to be used. Churches need to have a goal for their reserve fund such as three or six months of operating expenses. If the fund reaches that level, additional funds may go for other purposes until the reserve fund needs to be replenished.
The Lewis Center video tool kit Protect, Sustain, Grow: Best Practices for Handling Your Church’s Money provides more information on using these questions to review your congregation’s financial sustainability.
Related Resources:
About Author
Lovett H. Weems, Jr., is senior consultant at the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, professor of church leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary, and author of several books on leadership.
Missouri Pastor Jim Hoffman discusses how a five-step process for evaluating and testing possible new initiatives can help churches develop and implement ideas in a more thorough and systematic manner.
Have you wondered why your congregation continues to struggle despite the many proposals for new or improved ministry? Many congregations regularly generate new ideas for new program initiatives, new ways to increase worship attendance, and more streamlined administrative processes. But too often, these ideas never get off the ground.Executing a vision or plan can be a refreshing and invigorating process. It simply takes the right environment and process.
The problem is that a good idea alone cannot solve a problem. It must be put into action. The crisis isn’t a lack of inspired ideas but rather a crisis of execution. Few churches possess the tools needed to execute a simple plan, let alone a five-year vision for the congregation. Figuring out how clergy and laity can work together to more effectively execute ideas can help your congregation take the next step toward fruitfulness. Executing a vision or plan can be refreshing and invigorating. It simply takes the right environment and process.
Begin by gathering the right team. You need people who understand the challenge or opportunity and are willing to invest in it heart and soul. The team should bring a range of expertise and experience relevant to the issue. But, then, what do you do?
I’ve found some intriguing ideas in a book that describes a five-day marathon planning process for businesses, Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just 5 Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz of Google Ventures. Don’t get thrown by the five-day marathon! That’s not realistic for churches. However, the steps the authors outline can be very useful for church innovation.
1. Identify the challenge.
The presenting dilemma or opportunity needs to be defined clearly. What needs addressing? How would you know if you are successful? Or, in the language of biblical fruitfulness, what is the harvest you are seeking from your efforts?
2. Develop options.
Don’t latch onto one idea at the beginning. Sketch out multiple possibilities to accomplish the end result that you have identified.
3. Decide on the best alternative.
Of all the ideas developed, which one has the most potential for success? Which one is most likely to accomplish the goal? This decision requires engaging the alternatives in a deep way to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each.
4. Prototype.
This is where the process is very different from normal church planning. When we decide on the best alternative, we normally recommend it for approval and then begin. In the Sprint method, we are still a long way from implementing anything.
We usually think of prototyping in terms of a new product. “Let’s make one and see how people like it,” someone might say. That’s hard to do with most ministry ideas, but it’s not impossible. What you are looking for at this point is some way to test out your preferred alternative. You may be able to develop a reasonable “prototype” to test, but, in any case, you need to find some way to test the concept beyond just telling people about it.
5. Test.
If you are exploring a second worship service, why not try it for four Sundays during Advent? If you are considering adding a contemporary worship service, why not ask those you see as the target audience to visit contemporary worship services at other churches and share their thoughts? If you are considering a new way of asking for stewardship pledges, why not try it first with the church leadership a couple of months before the normal stewardship commitment season? Even if you cannot try out something, you can arrange conversations with a range of people in your church and with people from other churches who have tried your idea. And, whenever possible, begin something new in such a way that changes can be made if it does not work or needs modifications.
This model requires that you engage with persons for whom the plans are designed and get their feedback and ideas. Their involvement should enable you to execute an idea with a much greater likelihood of success and to avoid wasting precious time, energy, and resources on misguided directions.
The principal reason I am excited about this model is because I believe it has the potential to empower us to see a way through a crisis, especially the crisis of executing God’s vision for all our congregations. In our churches we pray that God reveals an inspired idea that intersects with a known need in each local community. God is seeking after new people and the Holy Spirit is willing to empower new ways for God’s will to be accomplished in this world. It is time for us to get after it and be smart about how we execute God’s inspired ideas. by adapting insights from this book, especially what is written about testing a plan with people who will be using it, your congregation can execute inspired ideas more effectively. The goal is to move from the idea to something concrete that will work effectively. My congregation and I have been helped by using this model’s five-step process.
Related Resources:
About Author
Jim Hoffman is pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. He is a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program in Church Leadership Excellence.
Read more now.

The Right Question:
Leaders do not need answers. Leaders must have the right questions.
Psychologist Gary Klein uses the concept of "premortem" to analyze a potential new endeavor. While "postmortems" begin after death, a "premortem" assumes the worst for the new undertaking. People are asked to imagine that it is a year from now and the project was a total fiasco. It failed miserably. Then they discuss this question:
  • Why did it fail?
Want more Right Questions? Read Right Questions for Church Leaders.
Managing church finances requires skill, dedication, and know-how, but also the heart of a steward. Protect, Sustain, Grow: Best Practices for Handling Your Church's Money provides practical advice, best practices, and resources for pastors, finance committee members, church treasurers, financial secretaries, and bookkeepers -- all those charged with the sacred trust of protecting, sustaining, and growing the resources God has entrusted to your church.
Learn more and watch an introductory video.
Support the Lewis Center

Leading Ideas is made possible by contributions to the Lewis Center for Church Leadership from readers like you. Thank you.
Donate now.
We asked church members in several states to attend nearby churches as visitors and report on their findings. Many reflected on the difficulty churches have in viewing things from the perspective of persons new to their church. The challenge is to think of everything from arrival to departure -- signage, hospitality, bulletins, and more -- from the vantage point of someone who has never been to your church before.
The Lewis Center asked church members in several states to attend nearby churches as visitors and report on their findings. Many reflect the difficultly churches have in viewing things from the perspective of persons new to their church. The challenge is to think of everything from arrival to departure from the perspective of someone who has never been to your church before. This new perspective will shape signage, the bulletin, the work of greeters, and a host of other things.
Signage
Most visitors found directional signage inadequate. Try this exercise. Have some people do a “drive in and walk through” as if they had never been to the church before. Was it easy to find the church? Is the entrance clear? Is there visitor parking? Are there greeters near where people park? Is it obvious what door to enter for worship? Are there directions to the nursery and restrooms? When you add signage, current members will hardly notice, but newcomers will immediately recognize that you are “expecting them.” It is somewhat like turning the front porch lights on when you know guests will be arriving. The guests immediately feel you are anticipating their arrival.
Culture of Hospitality
While visitors were welcomed upon arrival, usually by the official greeters and the pastor, most were not greeted by those sitting around them. Help members see themselves as the “hosts of Christ.” A good host knows that the most important person is the stranger or the one left alone. Until hospitality becomes a part of the congregational ethos, take steps through additional greeters stationed inside the sanctuary to welcome people, especially newcomers, and then to make sure they are greeted when the service is over and invited to a fellowship time or a study group. Another sign of hospitality is providing guest parking. This is another strong signal that you have new people attending and that you are expecting your guests.
The Worship Service
Visitors found some parts of the service confusing. Many did not grow up in church and are unfamiliar with worship practices. If there is a part of the worship that most members know from memory, then still indicate in the bulletin the page number where people can find it or print the text. Guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness. If people are to stand at a particular time, you can indicate that in the bulletin or by a lifted hand by the worship leader. Simple instructions for communion and other parts of the service can help bring on board those who are new. Walk through the entire service as someone coming to church for the first time. Make it easy for new people to participate and to feel at home.
Congregational Participation
“Liturgy” means “the work of the people.” Visitors report a high energy level among most worship leaders but not so much within the congregations themselves. Music and singing may be one way to increase the engagement of everyone. Choirs need to remember that leading and enhancing congregational singing may be their most important function. If attendance is far below your sanctuary’s seating capacity, some portion might be roped off. Paying special attention to times in the service when engagement is highest will give an opportunity to build upon those times. Reducing time gaps and staying on schedule will help hold people’s attention.
Involvement of Younger People
Many visitors were struck by how few younger people were in worship leadership. Brainstorm various ways of involving people across all ages in worship responsibilities. Having younger people visible in worship will not go unnoticed by current members and new people. Be creative in thinking of many ways younger people can be involved. Begin slowly and build. When you seek to involve new leaders in worship, be attentive to the extra time required for training and coordination.
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Quotable Leadership:
It is dangerous to pretend that we know more than we do about how the future will turn out. (Gary Hamel and Jim Scholes)
In this thought-provoking video-based congregational study, leading theologians address ten issues that are obstacles to faith for many both in and outside of the church. Topics include the existence of evil, the relationship between science and religion, the sins of the church, and more. Serious Questions to Hard Answers is an outstanding introductorylevel study that appeals to a very wide audience and is ideal for your congregation's small groups, adult Bible studies, and Sunday School classes.
Learn more now.
Connect with the Lewis Center:
Lewis Center for Church Leadership
Wesley Theological Seminary
4500 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20016, United States
***

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Upper Room Daily Reflections: daily words of wisdom and faith in Nashville, Tennessee, United States for Wednesday, 15 August 2018 "Psalm 139"


The Upper Room Daily Reflections: daily words of wisdom and faith in Nashville, Tennessee, United States for Wednesday, 15 August 2018 "Psalm 139"
Psalm 139:
1 (0) For the leader. A psalm of David:
(1) Adonai, you have probed me, and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I stand up,
you discern my inclinations from afar,
3 you scrutinize my daily activities.
You are so familiar with all my ways
4 that before I speak even a word, Adonai,
you know all about it already.
5 You have hemmed me in both behind and in front
and laid your hand on me.
6 Such wonderful knowledge is beyond me,
far too high for me to reach.
7 Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I climb up to heaven, you are there;
if I lie down in Sh’ol, you are there.
9 If I fly away with the wings of the dawn
and land beyond the sea,
10 even there your hand would lead me,
your right hand would hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Let darkness surround me,
let the light around me be night,”
12 even darkness like this
is not too dark for you;
rather, night is as clear as day,
darkness and light are the same.
13 For you fashioned my inmost being,
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I thank you because I am awesomely made,
wonderfully; your works are wonders —
I know this very well.
15 My bones were not hidden from you
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes could see me as an embryo,
but in your book all my days were already written;
my days had been shaped
before any of them existed.
17 God, how I prize your thoughts!
How many of them there are!
18 If I count them, there are more than grains of sand;
if I finish the count, I am still with you.
19 God, if only you would kill off the wicked!
Men of blood, get away from me!
20 They invoke your name for their crafty schemes;
yes, your enemies misuse it.
21 Adonai, how I hate those who hate you!
I feel such disgust with those who defy you!
22 I hate them with unlimited hatred!
They have become my enemies too.
23 Examine me, God, and know my heart;
test me, and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is in me any hurtful way,
and lead me along the eternal way. 
(Complete Jewish Bible).
Today’s Reflection:

IT IS NOT YOU WHO SHAPE GOD,
it is God who shapes you.
If, then, you are the work of God,
await the hand of the artist who does all things in due season.
Offer the Potter your heart,
soft and tractable,
and keep the form in which the Artist has fashioned you.
Let your clay be moist,
lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of the Potter’s fingers. (Psalm 139, adapted by Irenaeus (2nd century), The Upper Room Worshipbook.)
“Psalm Prayer (Ps. 139)”, no. 348 in The Upper Room Worshipbook: Music and Liturgies for Spiritual Formation. Copyright © 2006 by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
Today’s Question: 
Pray this psalm during your devotional time today.
Today’s Scripture: The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. (Psalm 111:7, NRSV)
This Week:
pray for church study groups and Sunday school classes.


Did You Know?
In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.
This week we remember: Maximilian Kolbe (August 14)
Maximilian Kolbe
August 14

Maximilian Kolbe was born in 1894 in what was then Russia (present-day Poland). He joined the Franciscans in 1907 and studied in Rome, earning doctorates in philosophy and theology. Kolbe returned to his newly independent homeland where he founded the Knights of Mary Immaculate, devoted to reverence of Mary. He spent time in Japan, where he founded a seminary and monastery.
Back in Poland, Kolbe worked with the underground, hiding Jewish refugees and speaking against the Nazis on radio. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941 and taken to Auschwitz where he inspired other prisoners by his faith. On July 30, 1941, after a prisoner escaped, the commandant lined up prisoners to select ten men for reprisal punishment, Maximilian Kolbe volunteered himself in place of a man who had a family. "I am a Catholic priest," Kolbe said, and offered his life.
After two weeks with no food, Kolbe was one of four of the ten left alive. The Nazis executed these men by injecting carbolic acid into their hearts. Maximilian Kolbe died on August 14, 1941. When he was canonized in 1982, the man whose life he saved was present to pay tribute.
If Maximilian Kolbe had taken the Spiritual Types Test, he probably would have been a Prophet. Maximilian Kolbe is remembered on August 14.
"Fr.Maximilian Kolbe 1939" by http://www.v-like-vintage.net/uploads/images/Cropped700/00130919.jpg - http://www.v-like-vintage.net/uploads/images/Cropped700/00130919.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fr.Maximilian_Kolbe_1939.jpg#/media/File:Fr.Maximilian_Kolbe_1939.jpg


Lectionary Readings for Sunday, 19 August 2018
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14Psalm 111Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15John 6:51-581 Kings 2:
 David Dies
10-11 David was king of Israel forty years. He ruled seven years from Hebron and thirty-three years from Jerusalem. Then he died and was buried in Jerusalem.[2.10,11 Jerusalem: Hebrew “the city of David.”] 12 His son Solomon became king and took control of David’s kingdom.

3:3 Solomon loved the Lord and followed his father David’s instructions, but Solomon also offered sacrifices and burned incense at the shrines.
4 The most important shrine was in Gibeon, and Solomon had offered more than a thousand sacrifices on that altar.
5 One night while Solomon was in Gibeon, the Lord God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Solomon, ask for anything you want, and I will give it to you.”
6 Solomon answered:
My father David, your servant, was honest and did what you commanded. You were always loyal to him, and you gave him a son who is now king. 7 Lord God, I’m your servant, and you’ve made me king in my father’s place. But I’m very young and know so little about being a leader. 8 And now I must rule your chosen people, even though there are too many of them to count.
9 Please make me wise and teach me the difference between right and wrong. Then I will know how to rule your people. If you don’t, there is no way I could rule this great nation of yours.
10-11 God said:
Solomon, I’m pleased that you asked for this. You could have asked to live a long time or to be rich. Or you could have asked for your enemies to be destroyed. Instead, you asked for wisdom to make right decisions. 12 So I’ll make you wiser than anyone who has ever lived or ever will live.13 I’ll also give you what you didn’t ask for. You’ll be rich and respected as long as you live, and you’ll be greater than any other king. 14 If you obey me and follow my commands, as your father David did, I’ll let you live a long time.

Psalm 111:1 Praise the Lord for All He Has Done
Shout praises to the Lord!
With all my heart
I will thank the Lord
when his people meet.
2 The Lord has done
many wonderful things!
Everyone who is pleased
with God’s marvelous deeds
will keep them in mind.
3 Everything the Lord does
is glorious and majestic,
and his power to bring justice
will never end.
4 The Lord God is famous
for his wonderful deeds,
and he is kind and merciful.
5 He gives food to his worshipers
and always keeps his agreement
with them.
6 He has shown his mighty power
to his people
and has given them the lands
of other nations.
7 God is always honest and fair,
and his laws can be trusted.
8 They are true and right
and will stand forever.
9 God rescued his people,
and he will never break
his agreement with them.
He is fearsome and holy.
10 Respect and obey the Lord!
This is the first step
to wisdom and good sense.
[111.10 This. . . sense: Or “This is what wisdom and good sense are all about.”]
God will always be respected.
Exodus 16:2 There in the desert they started complaining to Moses and Aaron, 3 “We wish the Lord had killed us in Egypt. When we lived there, we could at least sit down and eat all the bread and meat we wanted. But you have brought us out here into this desert, where we are going to starve.”
4 The Lord said to Moses, “I will send bread[16.4 bread: This was something like a thin wafer, and it was called “manna,” which in Hebrew means, “What is it?”] down from heaven like rain. Each day the people can go out and gather only enough for that day. That’s how I will see if they obey me.
9 Moses turned to Aaron and said, “Bring the people together, because the Lord has heard their complaints.”
10 Aaron was speaking to them, when everyone looked out toward the desert and saw the bright glory of the Lord in a cloud. 11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard my people complain. Now tell them that each evening they will have meat and each morning they will have more than enough bread. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.”
13 That evening a lot of quails came and landed everywhere in the camp, and the next morning dew covered the ground. 14 After the dew had gone, the desert was covered with thin flakes that looked like frost. 15 The people had never seen anything like this, and they started asking each other, “What is it?”[16.15 What is it: See the note at 16.4.] Moses answered, “This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

John 6:51 I am that bread from heaven! Everyone who eats it will live forever. My flesh is the life-giving bread that I give to the people of this world.
52 They started arguing with each other and asked, “How can he give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus answered:
I tell you for certain that you won’t live unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. 54 But if you do eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have eternal life, and I will raise you to life on the last day. 55 My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. 56 If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are one with me, and I am one with you.
57 The living Father sent me, and I have life because of him. Now everyone who eats my flesh will live because of me. 58 The bread that comes down from heaven isn’t like what your ancestors ate. They died, but whoever eats this bread will live forever.

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-143:Verse 3
[3] And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
Yet — Although he miscarried in the matter of high places, yet in the general, his heart was right with God.
Statutes — According to the statutes or commands of God, which are here called the statutes of David; not only because they were diligently practised by David, but also because the observation of them was so earnestly pressed upon Solomon, and fortified with David's authority and command.
Verse 6
[6] And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
Truth — In the true worship of God, in the profession, belief, practice and defence of the true religion. So truth here contains all duties to God, as righteousness doth his duties to men, and uprightness the right manner of performing both sorts of duties.
With thee — That is, in thy judgment, to whom he often appealed as the witness of his integrity.
Verse 7
[7] And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
Child — So he was in years: not above twenty years old; and withal (which he principally intends) he was raw and unexperienced, as a child, in state affairs.
Go out, … — To govern my people, and manage affairs.
Verse 8
[8] And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
In the midst — Is set over them to rule and guide them. A metaphor from the overseer of divers workmen, who usually is in the midst of them, that he may the better observe how each of them discharges his office.
Chosen — Thy peculiar people, whom thou takest special care of, and therefore wilt expect a more punctual account of my government of them.
Verse 9
[9] Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
An understanding heart — Whereby I may both clearly discern, and faithfully perform all the parts of my duty: for both these are spoken of in scripture, as the effects of a good understanding; and he that lives in the neglect of his duties, or the practice of wickedness, is called a fool, and one void of understanding.
Discern — Namely in causes and controversies among my people; that I may not through mistake, or prejudice, or passion, give wrong sentences, and call evil good, or good evil. Absalom, that was a fool, wished himself a judge: Solomon, that was a wise man, trembles at the undertaking. The more knowing and considerate men are, the more jealous they are of themselves.
Verse 13
[13] And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
All thy days — Whereby he signifies that these gifts of God were not transient, as they were in Saul, but such as should abide with him whilst he lived.
Verse 14
[14] And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
And if — This caution God gives him, lest his wisdom should make him proud, careless, or presumptuous.
[3] And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
Yet — Although he miscarried in the matter of high places, yet in the general, his heart was right with God.
Statutes — According to the statutes or commands of God, which are here called the statutes of David; not only because they were diligently practised by David, but also because the observation of them was so earnestly pressed upon Solomon, and fortified with David's authority and command.
Verse 6
[6] And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
Truth — In the true worship of God, in the profession, belief, practice and defence of the true religion. So truth here contains all duties to God, as righteousness doth his duties to men, and uprightness the right manner of performing both sorts of duties.
With thee — That is, in thy judgment, to whom he often appealed as the witness of his integrity.
Verse 7
[7] And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
Child — So he was in years: not above twenty years old; and withal (which he principally intends) he was raw and unexperienced, as a child, in state affairs.
Go out, … — To govern my people, and manage affairs.
Verse 8
[8] And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
In the midst — Is set over them to rule and guide them. A metaphor from the overseer of divers workmen, who usually is in the midst of them, that he may the better observe how each of them discharges his office.
Chosen — Thy peculiar people, whom thou takest special care of, and therefore wilt expect a more punctual account of my government of them.
Verse 9
[9] Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
An understanding heart — Whereby I may both clearly discern, and faithfully perform all the parts of my duty: for both these are spoken of in scripture, as the effects of a good understanding; and he that lives in the neglect of his duties, or the practice of wickedness, is called a fool, and one void of understanding.
Discern — Namely in causes and controversies among my people; that I may not through mistake, or prejudice, or passion, give wrong sentences, and call evil good, or good evil. Absalom, that was a fool, wished himself a judge: Solomon, that was a wise man, trembles at the undertaking. The more knowing and considerate men are, the more jealous they are of themselves.
Verse 13
[13] And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
All thy days — Whereby he signifies that these gifts of God were not transient, as they were in Saul, but such as should abide with him whilst he lived.
Verse 14
[14] And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
And if — This caution God gives him, lest his wisdom should make him proud, careless, or presumptuous.

Psalm 111Verse 2
[2] The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.
Sought — Diligently meditated upon.
Verse 3
[3] His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
Work — Either all his works, or that eminent branch of those works, his providence towards his people.
Righteousness — His justice or faithfulness in performing his word.
Verse 4
[4] He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
Remembered — By their own nature, and the lasting benefits flowing from them, which are such as cannot easily be forgotten.
Verse 5
[5] He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.
Meat — All necessary provisions for their being and well-being.
Verse 7
[7] The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.
The works — All that he doth on the behalf of his people, or against their enemies.
Truth — Are exactly agreeable to his promises, and to justice.
Commandments — His laws given to the Israelites, especially the moral law.
Sure — Constant and unchangeable.
Verse 8
[8] They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.
Done — Constituted or ordered.
Verse 9
[9] He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.
Redemption — The deliverance out of Egypt, which was a type of that higher redemption by Christ.
Commanded — Appointed, or established firmly by his power and authority.
For ever — Through all successive generations of his people to the end of the world.
Reverend — Terrible to his enemies, venerable in his peoples eyes, and holy in all his dealings with all men.
Verse 10
[10] The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
The fear — True religion.
Beginning — Is the only foundation of, and introduction to, true wisdom.

Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15Verse 2
[2] And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
Then the whole congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron — God's viceregents among them.
Verse 3
[3] And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
They so undervalue their deliverance, that they wish, they had died in Egypt, nay, and died by the hand of the Lord too. That is, by some of the plagues which cut off the Egyptians; as if it were not the hand of the Lord, but of Moses only, that brought them into this wilderness. 'Tis common for people to say of that pain, or sickness, which they see not second causes of, It is what pleaseth God, as if that were not so likewise which comes by the hand of man, or some visible accident. We cannot suppose they had any great plenty in Egypt, how largely soever they now talk of the flesh-pots, nor could they fear dying for want in the wilderness while they had their flocks and herds with them; but discontent magnifies what is past, and vilifies what is present, without regard to truth or reason. None talk more absurdly than murmurers.
Verse 4
[4] Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
Man being made out of the earth, his Maker has wisely ordered him food out of the earth, Psalms 104:14. But the people of Israel typifying the church of the first-born that are written in heaven, receiving their charters, laws and commissions from heaven, from heaven also they received their food. See what God designed in making this provision for them, that I may prove them whether they will walk in my law or no - Whether they will trust me, and whether they would serve him, and be ever faithful to so good a master.
Verse 10
[10] And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
The glory of the Lord — An extra-ordinary and sudden brightness.
Verse 12
[12] I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
And ye shall know that I am the Lord your God — This gave proof of his power as the Lord, and his particular favour to them as their God; when God plagued the Egyptians, it was to make them know that he is the Lord; when he provided for the Israelites, it was to make them know that he was their God.
Verse 13
[13] And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
The quails came up, and covered the camp — So tame that they might take up as many of them as they pleased. Next morning he rained manna upon them, which was to be continued to them for their daily bread.
Verse 15
[15] And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
What is this? Manna descended from the clouds. It came down in dew melted, and yet was itself of such a consistency as to serve for nourishing strengthening food, without any thing else: It was pleasant food; the Jews say it was palatable to all, according as their tastes were. It was wholesome food, light of digestion. By this spare and plain diet we are all taught a lesson of temperance, and forbidden to desire dainties and varieties.

John 6:51-58Verse 51
[51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
If any eat of this bread — That is, believe in me: he shall live for ever - In other words, he that believeth to the end shall be saved.
My flesh which I will give you — This whole discourse concerning his flesh and blood refers directly to his passion, and but remotely, if at all, to the Lord's Supper.
Verse 52
[52] The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Observe the degrees: the Jews are tried here; the disciples, John 6:60-66, the apostles, John 6:67.
Verse 53
[53] Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of man — Spiritually: unless ye draw continual virtue from him by faith. Eating his flesh is only another expression for believing.
Verse 55
[55] For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
Meat — drink indeed - With which the soul of a believer is as truly fed, as his body with meat and drink.
Verse 57
[57] As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
I live by the Father — Being one with him.
He shall live by me — Being one with me. Amazing union!
Verse 58
[58] This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
This is — That is, I am the bread - Which is not like the manna your fathers ate, who died notwithstanding.

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