Prepare the way of the Lord

12/5/2016

FROM THE BISHOP
R. LAWSON BRYAN


As we prepare for Christmas please don’t forget the central figure of the Advent season: John the Baptist. The Gospel according to Matthew says of John, This the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness; ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” John the Baptist and those who responded to his preaching remind us that in every time period God raises up Advent voices of hope and in every time period God raises up people who are ready to respond.

This Advent I am feeling challenged to ask myself: am I listening to the same voices over and over, or am I paying attention to the Advent voices of hope in our own day? Am I moving in lock step with the surrounding culture or am I moving toward the Advent voices of hope so that I can welcome God’s preferred future in my own life, my family, and my world? 

Being open to God’s preferred future is a theme on which we focused last August when 15 lay and clergy members of the extended cabinet participated in an OnBoarding Event. This two-day event was designed to accelerate the process of my orientation to the South Georgia Conference. Claire Bowen, a native of Statesboro and a professional in the field of Onboarding, led us with expertise and effectiveness. 

The OnBoarding Event was helpful in identifying issues of high importance to the South Georgia Conference. In order to build on this excellent start I asked the same group to meet again on Nov. 16. We spent the day exploring Appreciative Inquiry, which is an approach to addressing strategic issues that is asset-based rather than scarcity-based. Appreciative Inquiry creates an environment of hopefulness by identifying our strengths and then using those strengths in a collaborative manner for the benefit of the annual conference. We will continue meeting monthly beginning in January.

Appreciative Inquiry is also a good resource for the Appointive Cabinet as we plan for the appointment-making process in 2017. Here are some of the appreciative questions our district superintendents will be asking during their annual consultations with pastors and others under appointment:

  • Where have you seen God’s hand of blessing on/in your ministry?
  • Where have you had the greatest sense of joy in ministry?
  • What practices have you incorporated into your life that helped you grow?
  • What is God showing you about the future?
  • To make yourself more effective for the future, what do you want to continue to do, do more of, do better, or do differently?
  • What help do you need?
Of course, these appreciative questions can also prepare the way for a local church to embrace God’s preferred future. Feel free to prepare the way of the Lord by considering your own response these questions.

Alive Together in Christ,

Lawson Bryan