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Lent 2017

daily devotionals for a quiet courage

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

In November of 2016, the Council of Bishop’s sponsored a gathering of the Extended Cabinets of every Annual Conference. We met for three days in Jacksonville, Florida for a quadrennial meeting and orientation addressing the needed changes United Methodist leaders must make to grow vital churches. A cornerstone of this event was an article by well-known Church Consultant, Gil Rendle, entitled, “Be Strong and of Good Courage: A Call to Quiet Courage in an Anxious Time.” Many of you have also read this article since then, and report finding it valuable in reflecting on and assessing the direction we as leaders must take to move the church forward in new ways.

Gil Rendle writes, “Indeed, leaders need to do a considerable amount of preparation and reorienting in order to provide the quiet courage needed in this time of rapid and constant seismic cultural shifts surrounding institutions like the church that are struggling to change.” There is no better way to prepare and reorient than through the practice of daily devotion and prayer.

On behalf of the Bishop and Cabinet and our mutual ministry covenant, I invite you to join me on a daily journey of scripture meditation and prayer during the 40 days of Lent. I have prepared a devotional for each day to enable you to reflect on writings designed to foster quiet courage for leadership in the changing church.

Beginning on March 1, 2017 and continuing daily (except Sundays) you will receive a devotional related to a weekly theme raised in Gil Rendle’s article. Please share them with key lay leadership, as well. The themes that seemed to arise from Gil Rendle’s article are:

Week 1 – Actionable Aspirations
The dictionary defines “aspiration” as a strong desire, longing or aim. According to Gil Rendle, aspirations motivate our action. We need direction in order to achieve “actionable aspirations.” This week’s devotionals remind us that God’s goodness is the source that propels leaders into courageous action.

Week 2 – Disturbances
Gil Rendle suggests we need to “ask disturbing questions that prompt purposeful change.” The devotionals of Week 2 ask the reader to consider unexpected ways we share the gospel story.

Week 3 – The Mission Field
“Encourage engagement and invite measurement of change,” are two goals Gil Rendle cites for courageous leaders. These devotionals encourage the reader to engage more fully in the mission field.

Week 4 – Allocation of Resources
As pointed out by Gil Rendle,“[l]imited time, attention, dollars and people” can be obstacles to change. Week 4’s devotionals provide courage to be generous even when we think there is not enough.

Week 5 – Larger Fears Require Bolder Actions
Gil Rendles says, “without courage leaders can easily shrink back to manage what is instead of creating what needs to be.” The devotionals of Week 5 ask us to be courageous partners in God’s creative goodness.

Week 6 – It’s the End of the Church As We Know It
Gil Rendle invites us to move “closer toward the purpose of the church, even at the cost of the institution of the church.” These final devotionals inspire leaders to have the courage to cast a vision for a new church.

I look forward to engaging with you on this material. May God bless our journey together in this Lenten season.

Rev. John Farley
South District Superintendent
Dean of the Cabinet
California-Pacific Conference