To Thine Own Self Be True: Preaching with Authenticity

T Stewart preaching

One of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes comes from the character Polonius in Hamlet.  He says “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” While I have never been a huge fan of this tragedy, I can say that these words constantly ring in my head every time I stand to preach the gospel of Christ.

The World Wasn’t Always His Parish

By Tyler Best AoP ’12, Religion Student University of Evansville

England may be a small country geographically, but it has a tremendous history of creative Christian witness.  With that in mind I want to focus our attention on a distinguished native of England and his adventures.

It is rather natural to envision images of Mary Kay Ash, Bill Gates, Madame C.J. Walker, and Steve Jobs when we hear the word “entrepreneur.”  These are honestly the names that have come to my mind, but just as these people have affected the lives of millions through their work, there is one individual who may have impacted more lives than Ash, Gates, Walker, and Jobs combined.

Whether you agree with none, some, or all of his theology, there is no denying that John Wesley had an entrepreneurial spirit that was contagious and transformative.  When Wesley sought to spread the Gospel to Native Americans in an unknown place, everything did not turn out exactly the way he envisioned.  In fact, it isn’t a secret that his endeavor in America was a complete catastrophe.  Not only was he unsuccessful with Native Americans, he also had issues with parishioners in the community he served.  His experience in America ended as he literally escaped the colony before charges could be brought against him.

Did Wesley cease his ministry endeavors after this failed attempt?  Of course not!  Sure, he was discouraged and unhappy from the whole experience, but it did not stop him.  True entrepreneurs of the Gospel do not allow failures to hinder their eventual success.

Five Star Church: seeking excellence in service

If you’ve ever visited Cleveland, Ohio then you have likely driven past a sign which reads Cleveland Clinic. Consisting of 41 buildings on 140 acres of land, it is safe to say they are a major entrepreneurial enterprise and greatly impact the economic stability of the area. As a native of Cleveland, I am proud to say they hold the title as the fourth best hospital in the country.

Over the years I have had to make several trips to one of the campuses to visit and support friends, family and church members. In addition to their overall hospital rating, they strive to be a five star institution in their customer service. If customer service is about providing individuals with the best and most positive experience while receiving a service, then I would reason that all of life is about customer service.

The Entrepreneurial Gospel: A Reflection on Union Coffee

Across the highway from Southern Methodist University, where I attend Perkins School of Theology, sits a coffee shop. It serves the University and the surrounding community great coffee, builds a great community, and takes up great causes.

What makes Union Coffee unique is its multifunctional space, for this coffee shop is also a church. I know! Take it in! Process it! It is a church of the United Methodist Church.

Now being Baptist I can tell you very little about how they pulled this one off, but what I can tell you is they do it well. They serve amazing coffee, engage us in amazing conversations, and compel us to join them in causes that matter.

If we are to have a conversation about an Entrepreneurial Gospel, we must engage Churches/businesses like Union Coffee. I have been observing this coffee shop since August of 2012 to find their missional framework. Allow me to paint a picture of Union Coffee using their three themes: Coffee, Community & Cause

2300 Miles in a Honda

“Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go!’” -Maya Angelou

On August 19, 2010 I situated myself in a Honda Civic with three other women as we began a road trip across the United States. Our final destination was Anderson, IN. What was our purpose? To move my friend and me into our apartment to begin our studies at Anderson University School of Theology, the Seminary of the Church of God (Anderson, IN) Movement.

I was born and raised in the Portland metro region. Leaving God’s green, coastal-lined, mountain range protected, river-filled and tranquil land was unfathomable, terrifying and seemed insane. It was also what I was called to do to further my education and become a better equipped preacher, teacher and minister of the Gospel. Making the decision to move from everything and everyone I knew was challenging to say the least, yet never before had I experienced as much peace. …

Cheer Section

Though I have never been a huge sports fan, I have always enjoyed supporting my high school sports teams, even since I have graduated. During spring break, my high school’s boys’ basketball team played in the sectional championship game against a local rival team. Unfortunately, our team lost, but one thing sticks out greater than the loss itself… the cheer section. Whether it was the wave, roller coaster, or a rendition of the Harlem Shake, the cheer section had so much energy and was there to encourage the team even when they weren’t doing so well.

As preachers, we may wish that a cheer section would randomly appear as we are preparing for our next sermon so that we feel encouraged to write down what we feel the Holy Spirit has led us to preach. During delivery of that same sermon, we often rely on those in the congregation to give us nonverbal or verbal cues during the sermon so that we can be encouraged and know that everyone is paying attention. Many times we also frequently rely on the encouragement and advice of our advisor as we head into a different season of our lives.

One great source of encouragement for me as a young preacher has been the network of fellow young preachers that I have connected with through both National Festivals I have attended in the past two years. This network of people provides an instant connection with people who have gone through similar experiences that I may be going through. It also allows one the opportunity to encourage preachers that they would have never met if it weren’t for the National Festival of Young Preachers.