Skip to main content

tradition and innovation

Tradition and innovation go together in God's kingdom. Jesus was Jewish. He went to synagogue "as was his tradition" and celebrated holy days such as Passover. But Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Jesus points us to a God who is able to work within institutions and to a God who is too big to be confined. - Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

I walk this line between tradition and innovation. 

I deeply love our Wesleyan heritage and how we see faith and our world. John Wesley was brilliant in the way he threw fire on a growing movement of faith and then had enough foresight to structure it in such a way that people were supported and encouraged in their new faith. But with almost every movement throughout history, its growth must be organized and structured or it turns into chaos. The exciting and free-flowing movement becomes more rigid. Some structure is necessary. But too much leads to complacency and stagnation.

Enter the United Methodist Church in present day. Our structure, rules and the Book of Discipline have pushed us into a corner. To start a new ministry it takes great effort to break through committees, funding and the status quo. Meanwhile the Holy Spirit has no boundaries and is stirring up some wonderful things as we figure out how to morph into a new kind of church.

I'm unbelievably excited to be a United Methodist pastor at this time in history. I value our rich tradition and love the permission-giving environment to innovate. I never would have thought in my first 9 months as a provisional elder that I would get to flex my creative muscles this much.

I request your prayers as we begin a new worship experience next week called Engage. We want to risk community, ask hard questions and allow God to engage us in new ways.

We honor our tradition by respecting it enough to adapt and innovate.


Jim said…
The engage site looks awesome. Can't wait to hear how it works out.
Andrew Conard said…
Thanks for sharing about the new gathering. I hope that it goes well.

Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

99 sheep

Reading Matthew 18:10-14 on this cloudy Anchorage summer morning. Parable of the Lost Sheep. A guy owns 100 sheep. They belong to him. These sheep are loyal and depend on their owner for everything. But then one wanders away. I wonder if this sheep wandered on purpose or accident?

The guy leaves the 99 sheep grazing on the hillside to look for the sheep who got lost. One word in verse 13 jumped out to me. "Andifhe finds [the sheep]...he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did no wander off." IF he finds it. This guy who owns the sheep probably knows the hillside very well and knows his sheep's behavioral patterns. But he may not find this lost sheep. 

When someone wanders off, it's up to them if they want to get found. 

When it comes to our connection to God, some of us may wander on accident. Or on purpose. 

We wait for someone to rescue us. Bring us back. Make it okay. But we have to turn towards the one rescuing us. God will leave the other 99 sheep…