There is a crisis in pastoral confidence in ministry. The Barna Group has documented this in one of their latest studies. It has shown a steep decline in the confidence of ministers in the confidence in their calling and satisfaction in ministry.

Most preachers do not need to see this graph to know this is happening. Almost every pastor I know has played the “what would I be doing if I wasn’t in ministry” game over the past few years.

So what should we do if we find ourselves in this situation?

An Answer for Me

This is not a silver bullet prescription for everyone but rather a personal testimony of one practice that works for me. Here is what I do, I try to realign with scripture in my life and ministry.

Recently on the Firebrand Podcast Dr. Joy Moore said something that has always resonated with me. In describing her advice to students learning to be pastors she says, “Let the text do the heavy lifting.” 

The moments I am most whole in my ministry is when the text is doing the heavy lifting. The time when I have the most clarity is when I feel God is at work not myself.

I really appreciated recently reading Mike Bird’s book Seven Things I Wish Christian Knew About the Bible. There some great things in here.

Kindle told me I made 130 highlights. Mike Bird talks about scripture and the role it should play in our life: 

“Knowledge of God begins with knowledge of Scripture; so the more you know of Scripture, the more you know of God. This knowledge is necessary if we are to have a relationship with God, to be in covenant with him, to be his children, to know his Son, Jesus Christ, and to experience the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. A lack of knowledge is not just ignorance; it is alienation from God, estrangement from God’s love, and separation from God’s offer of reconciliation.”1

Bird does make sure to clarify:

“I think it is important to stress that knowledge about God is not enough; it is knowledge of God in tandem with faith in God that matters.”2

For me, this goes back to looking at my life and asking some questions.

The first two questions are about my spiritual rhythms and come from John Wesley’s questions for spiritual formation:

  • Did the Bible live in me today?
  • Did I give it time to speak to me today?3

The other has to do with my thoughts (and theology) about scripture. Does my life really look like I believe “the Old and New Testaments are the primary rule and authority for faith, morals, and service, against which all other authorities must be measured”?

The times in the life of my ministry where I am the most fresh are when I am putting into practice and thinking about these disciplines.


Do I think these will automatically make the declining trends turn around in the opposite direction? I am not sure. However, for me, this is always a good place to start by checking in with my thoughts and rhythms.

As Isaiah 40:8 (NRSV) reminds us, “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.”


1Bird, Michael F. Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible. Zondervan, 2021. page 150

2Bird, Michael F. Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible. Zondervan, 2021. page 153

3Goshorn, Ted. Prayer Changes US. South Carolina United Methodist Advocate Press, 2022. page 115


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I asked ChatGPT to write me an article on the challenges facing the Global Methodist Church.

What is Chat GPT?

Here is what a CBS News Article Said

“ChatGPT is designed to understand and generate human-like text. It’s been trained on a massive amount of data, including books and websites. A person can ask it questions, seek advice, or simply have a casual conversation with it. Right now, Chat GPT—short for generative pre-trained transformer—is exploding in popularity because anyone can use it. Also, it can answer almost any question. For example, a person could use it to write press releases, legal briefs, or to complete homework assignments.”

So here were a couple of Chat GPT responses I put together:

The Essay

The Global Methodist Church (GMC) is a newly formed denomination that split from the United Methodist Church in 2021. As with any new organization, the GMC faces several challenges:

  • Establishing a new identity: The GMC will need to differentiate itself from the United Methodist Church and establish a clear identity and vision for the future.
  • Building a strong organizational structure: The GMC will need to create a strong organizational structure that can effectively govern the denomination and support its ministries and missions.
  • Attracting and retaining members: The GMC will need to attract new members and retain existing ones, which may be challenging in a religious landscape that is becoming increasingly diverse and competitive.
  • Managing finances: The GMC will need to manage its finances effectively to support its ministries and missions and ensure the sustainability of the denomination.
  • Building relationships with other denominations: The GMC will need to establish relationships with other denominations and determine how to work collaboratively with them on issues of common concern.
  • Addressing diversity: The GMC has a diverse membership, with differing theological beliefs and cultural backgrounds, and must find ways to respect and integrate these differences while maintaining a clear identity and sense of unity.
  • Addressing social issues: The GMC must address social issues in a way that is faithful to its beliefs while also being responsive to the needs and concerns of its members and the broader community.
  • Adapting to changing contexts: The GMC must be flexible and adaptable to changing social, cultural, and political contexts while staying true to its theological beliefs and identity.

Overall, the GMC faces significant challenges as it seeks to establish itself as a viable and effective denomination in the global religious landscape. However, with careful planning, strong leadership, and a commitment to its mission and vision, the GMC has the potential to thrive and make a positive impact on the world.


What do you think? Does Chat GPT have an accurate view on the challenges facing the Global Methodist Church? I see it said the GMC started in 2021 when in reality it was founded in 2022. Anything else you find interesting?

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How good is your geography?

That is what one city was left asking themselves. In a very public way the city of Newark was humbled.

The city of Newark had signed a sister city agreement. I myself was asking what exactly is this a sister city agreement? Here is what I found about the history of the program on’s website:

Sister Cities International (SCI) is a national initiative begun by Dwight D. Eisenhower shortly after World War II, to develop economic, cultural and technical exchanges between US cities, counties, and states with corresponding communities worldwide. The goal of the Sister Cities program is to involve people and organized groups at all levels of society, establishing productive, people-to-people relationships through global community partnerships and volunteer action.

Today, the SCI represents 1,200 US cities, counties and states and their 2,100 partners in 125 countries worldwide. As international cooperation gains importance, city-to-city programs continue to play a significant role in overall global development and cultural understanding.

So a pretty cool program. I saw in Georgia there are around 35 sister city agreements. And while Glennville does not have a sister city agreement we do share a high school with Reidsville does not count as a foreign sister city.

The reason Newark made the news is the signed a sister city agreement here is a quote from the story: 

“Earlier this year, Mayor Ras Baraka invited what he thought was the Hindu nation of Kailasa to Newark’s City Hall for a cultural trade agreement, but it turns out Kailasa is no nation at all; it’s a fake.”

This was from a CBS News story titled: City of Newark falls for Sister City scam: “Whose job was it to do a simple Google search?”

Series Recap

We have been in this series during the season of lent. Each week we are studying an aspect of Jesus’ prayer life. So far we have seen

  • In Luke 10 Jesus prayer of praise about God revealing himself to the disciples
  • Matthew 6:5-15 we saw how if we pray in public for praise that will be our reward, but if we pray sincerely to God he will reward those prayers
  • We saw Luke 18:9-14 and the juxtaposition of the pharisee’s egotistical prayers compared to the humble prayer of a text collector and our call to pray humbly.
  • Biblical Scholar Brian Russell taught about finding God in the stillness as we reflected on Psalm 46 “be still and know that I am God” and we also heard about Jesus withdrawing to secluded places.
  • Last week bringing God glory where in John 12 Jesus, even though his heart was troubled about his death on the cross, said, “God, Glorify Your name.”

Context of Today’s Passage

Today we enter the last two Sundays of this series (with a youth-led service in between). Both of our final lessons are words Jesus said from the cross.

Jesus had seven phrases said from the cross. Let’s lean in as we hear Christ’s words today from Luke 23:44-47:

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. [Read together]

47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”

Where are you committed, really?

Today, I have one simple question. Where are you committed, really?

We all have things we are committed to.

  • I am committed to the Glennville Methodist Church
  • To my wife Brandy
  • To Luke and Lydia

Some of us are committed to

  • Getting out of debt
  • Our family (children, grandchildren, parents, siblings) and helping them flourish as humans
  • Some of y’all have bravely committed to serving in the US military and we thank you for your service.

But the question before us is what are we committed to, really? It’s the “really” at the end of a question I want us to ponder. If there were a documentary crew with multiple cameras (even a drone for overhead and location setting shots) what would the audience think we are “really” committed to.

The Trouble with Us

You see, the truth is, if I can be honest, if we all can be honest, we can admit there are times we have been committed to the wrong things.

We have been more committed to

  • Building our wealth (our own little empire)
  • Our careers over our family
  • Our own social standing with our peers
  • Our doing for God before we spend time with God

The Roman Soldier

This passage today is beautiful for so many reasons. One of those reasons is what happens with the Roman soldier mentioned. This soldier has an amazing opportunity. He is working for this up and coming governor Pontius Pilate.

If this soldier can keep his head down and do his brutal tasks he might be able to climb the ladder in the Roman military… maybe he might even be a governor or a general in his hopes and dreams.

Yet, something happens on the cross. What he sees gives him pause. He might even realize what he has committed his life to is conflict with what he is seeing and the God he is praising.

Jesus Changes Him

Jesus changes him with his dramatic prayer from the cross. When Jesus cries out, in possibly the hardest moment of the crucifixion, “Into your hands I commit my spirit”.

Jesus shows the greatest place we commit to, in the hardest moments of our lives, is God.

Jesus actually is quoting Psalm 31 which is this beautiful Psalm we can all pray in tough times.

1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;

    let me never be put to shame;

    deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Turn your ear to me,

    come quickly to my rescue;

be my rock of refuge,

    a strong fortress to save me.

3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,

    for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,

    for you are my refuge.

5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;

    deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

The Torn Veil

Finally, this passage describes how the temple veil was torn. The veil was what separated the Jewish people from God. Symbolically this is showing how nothing can separate us from God.

You have access to God. You have the ability to commit, to put your life in God’s hands today.


Friends, don’t be like the Newark city government and realize that you have been tricked and committed to the wrong things. Let’s ponder what we are committed to, really? 

Let’s put our entire life into Christ’s good and loving hands, let’s listen to the Spirit’s leading, and commit to serving, loving, and enjoying God our Father. Amen.