Monthly Archives: August 2012

Inspi(re)ality #1: The Local Church

So this won’t be for everyone. I’ve wanted for the past few months to start a blog series on practical ministry stuff for other preachers and ministers and local church volunteers. I’d like to write down somewhere some of the stuff that I’ve learned and am learning, and I’d also like to try and pass it on to people who are serving in ministry. And here’s why I think, even though I’m pretty young and new at this, I still might be able to do it.

In one of his books, the great author Malcolm Gladwell talks about what he calls the curse of knowledge. His basic idea is that after a while of doing things, we eventually forget the wisdom that we learned along the way. It becomes more natural, and what was once quite difficult to do has now become second nature.

I’m not anywhere near there yet.

Each week I spend writing a sermon, planning a series, doing funerals, trying to get out in the community, visiting people in the hospital or prison, dealing with criticism, learning to play and enjoy my family with proper boundaries between Church and home…all of these things I still consistently struggle with.

But I also recognize that I have been given some great gifts over the past decade of my life. Because of luck of the draw, I’ve been blessed with great mentors and friendships with people who are brilliant leaders, pastors, thinkers and preachers. I was blessed to work on a preaching team with Rick Atchley for several years, I’ve been blessed to work at two  large and healthy churches that care about the right things, and have had regular access to tremendous resources and people who have taught me more than I could have ever learned any other way. And since I haven’t been doing this long enough to forget what I learned I wanted to try and pass on some of these great pieces of wisdom that I have learned, and am in the process of learning, to my friends in ministry in other places in the world.

This will be a blog series that will last about a year, and we will try and cover everything from how I learned to plan a sermon series to how I learned to do a funeral.Don’t think I’m trying to say I’ve got ministry figured out, but I do know some people that are a lot further on this journey and have been helpful to me.  I plan to have several different video interviews on here with people who I’ve learned a lot from, like Rick Atchley and Jeff Childers, to Chris Seidman & Randy Harris and a local funeral director (they’re not the same person) as well as a local hospital chaplain, a local prison chaplain and several others.  Continue reading Inspi(re)ality #1: The Local Church

The Agony of Judgment

It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live together.-Dedrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together (written from a prison cell)

It’s been said that the most quoted verse by my generation is Matthew 7:1, Where Jesus says “Do not Judge” And to be honest, I can relate to that. I  have seen some of the most heinous things done in the name of religion. In the name of their god, people have flown planes into buildings, committed genocide, drank Kool-aid, and started Christian Cable Television programming. We’ve seen street preachers, and regular preachers stand on their soapboxes and name everything and everyone they hate, and then throw Jesus’ name on it. We have seen religion divide relationships and make people more hateful.

But the truth is that we haven’t gotten less judgmental, we’ve just changed the criteria.

Almost everyday on Facebook I get a notification by some application asking me to compare my friends. We are accosted by people asking us if they are “Hot or Not” We are constantly looking to our left and our right to figure out how we are doing in comparison to others. We want to gauge ourselves so we look to our peers wondering if  I’m smarter/dumber, faster/slower, funnier/boring than someone else.

My generation has seen the rise of peer-rating sites like no other. We’re constantly being taught to ask am I hot or not? We’re being conditioned to wonder if I am acceptable, and now we even have a convenient 1-10 scale.

We live in a beauty pageant.

We judge people all the time.

And the real tragedy is, that we’ve also used that command  of Jesus to live in pseudo-community.

We have developed the ability to live around people, but not necessarily with people. And the great irony of our day, is that we live in a world where so many of us feel alone and isolated, but not many of us are willing to do the hard work that it takes to live together. Here’s what I mean by that. Continue reading The Agony of Judgment

The Redemption of Jim Joyce

It takes a lot to get me to write about sports. I mean the Razorbacks winning the national championship kind of lot. Sports are just something I love watching and playing, and while I think it’s true that sports have given us glimpses into the best and worst of humanity, I still rarely get into the whole Touchdown Jesus thing. But, a couple of years ago, something happened that fascinated me. I immediately started researching it and saving it for a future teaching or blog.

Back in 2010, the Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was pitching a perfect game. A huge accomplishment, that basically means he had not allowed a single batter on base for the entire game. Until the final out. Galarraga had a pitch hit back to him, tossed it over to first base and the runner was called safe by Jim Joyce. The only problem was that Jim Joyce was wrong. Really, really wrong. I mean the guy was more out that bellbottoms. Now to be fair, I imagine it must be an incredibly difficult job to be a major league umpire. The only time I’ve ever referred a game was a girls intramural basketball game at Harding. I was so bad that the players actually started yelling profanity’s at me. At a Christian school, on a girls team!  So I’m inclined to cut Jim Joyce a little slack.

But Jim was not. He was an emotional wreck for weeks afterward. He recognized that Galarraga had pitched an entire perfect game, a feat accomplished by one pitcher in a thousand, and he had single handedly stole it from him. The story didn’t just run on ESPN, for days it was talked about on all the major news networks. And to his credit, Jim Joyce was bigger than most people in his situation would have been. In a world of spin and blame avoidance, Jim Joyce took full personal responsibility, he didn’t blame the lights, or the crowd or the pace of the game, he just apologized. Over and over again.

But think about being Jim Joyce…for a solid month you are the world’s scapegoat. You’re the bunt of every joke and the perfect metaphor for every commentator talking about a royal screw up.

Until…

This past Monday night, Jim Joyce was walking out onto another baseball field to ump yet another game, and he saw a middle aged woman named Jayne Powers having a life-threatening seizure. So he started administering CPR on this total stranger. For minutes he was keeping this woman alive all while singing Staying Alive (not a joke) to keep him in rhythm. And it worked, Joyce saved her life. He even visited her in the hospital the next day.  Continue reading The Redemption of Jim Joyce

Inspi(re)ality

“I don’t want to sound cynical, because (as a member of the clergy) I love what I do. Only it’s not what I expected. I thought I would spend hours in a leather chair, reading books, writing sermons, keeping appointments with souls who sought my counsel…I thought I would pray more. Instead, I answer telephone calls, oversee budgets, pay bills, proofread bulletins, and take the church cat to the vet.” -Barbara Brown Taylor

“Everybody wants to change the world…nobody wants to do the dishes.” -Shane Claiborne

If you are like me, when I first started out in ministry I had all these lofty ideas about changing the world. You’ve read the Bible, you’ve heard the stories and you’ve signed on for this great thing called ministry. But somewhere along the way, you realized that it is very different than what you expected. You’ve been inspired, but now you’ve hit reality. And the life and calling you thought you’d signed on for are very different than the one you actually have.

That’s what Inspi(re)ality is about.

This is all about practical ministry stuff for other preachers and ministers and local church volunteers. I’d wanted to write down somewhere some of the stuff that I’ve learned and am learning, and I’d also like to try and pass it on to other people who are serving in ministry. Each week I spend writing a sermon, planning a series, doing funerals, trying to get out in the community, visiting people in the hospital or prison, dealing with criticism, learning to play and enjoy my family with proper boundaries between Church and home…all of these things I still consistently struggle with. And because I’m relatively young and new at this whole ministry experience, I have not yet forgotten what I did not know.

Because of luck of the draw, I’ve been blessed with great mentors and friendships with people who are brilliant leaders, pastors, thinkers and preachers. I’ve been blessed to work at two large and healthy churches that care about the right things, and have had regular access to tremendous resources and people who have taught me more than I could have ever learned any other way. This is an attempt to try and collect ministerial wisdom from a variety of sources, and pass on some of these pieces of wisdom that I have learned, and am in the process of learning, to my friends in ministry in other places in the world. This blog series will try and cover everything from how to plan a sermon series to how to do a funeral. Don’t think I’m trying to say I’ve got ministry figured out, but I do know some people that are a lot further on this journey and have been helpful to me. I plan to have several different video interviews on here with people who I’ve learned a lot from, like Rick Atchley and Jeff Childers, to Chris Seidman & Randy Harris and a local funeral director (they’re not the same person) as well as a local hospital chaplain, a local prison chaplain and several others.

If there is a particular aspect of ministry that you would like for us (myself or another minister) to write about, you can email the request here. Chances are if you have a question, there are other ministers and church volunteers that are asking the same one.  We hope that this can be a valuable resource for people who are serving in ministry in other places in the country and world. May God bless us as we serve in his Kingdom.

Grace and Peace,

Jonathan Storment

After The Smoke Clears

So I’d like to begin a short blog series today, that’ll go for the next few weeks on Judging and Judgmental Christians…and why we need them.

A few years ago, I sat down with someone who I loved a whole lot, they knew I loved them, and they loved me. We had been friends for years, we had laughed, cried and lived life together. But over the course of the past few weeks and months I had noticed that my friend had been making choices that were becoming more and more destructive and refusing to take responsibility for the outcomes. He was headed down a path that almost everyone who loved him knew was going somewhere toxic…the only problem was he couldn’t see it.

So I prayed about it for a while, probably not as long as I should have, then sat down with my friend over dinner and told him my concerns and why I was a little bothered by his actions for the past few weeks. I tried to be vulnerable myself, and give examples of how I’d been struggling and was struggling with my own junk, I tried to be as non-threatening and gentle but still as direct as possible. I tried to love and be a good friend.

And it went terrible.

This has actually happened dozens of times in my life. I’ve been on both the receiving and the giving end of this. And chances are, if you are a Jesus follower, or just a good friend, you’ve had an experience like this before. You’ve tried to gently correct your brother or sister and had it blow up in your face. You’ve walked away wondering how you could have done it better. If you’re like me, relationships mean a lot, and the idea of having a broken relationship hurts like nothing else, especially when you feel like the one who damaged it. And the temptation is to stop being the kind of friend who speaks into (and allows them to speak into) the lives of the people we love around us.

In the book of 1st Samuel King David has hit a kind of lull in his career. He’s done the whole rags to riches thing. He’s gone from shepherd boy bringing the cheese, to the King of Israel. He’s the Commander in Chief and so when the time of years come when the armies go off to defend the borders of their nations, David feels like he’s paid his dues, and he doesn’t go.

You’ve probably heard this story, David sees a woman named Bathsheba late at night taking a bath on her roof, and he is smitten. Even though he finds out that she’s married, he sends for her. Which is a Hebrew metaphor for Bow-Chik-a-wow-wow. She get’s pregnant, and Kings then like Kings today know how to cover up there mistakes. David dives deeper and deeper into scandal. And what started as a 1 night stand eventually became murder.

But David got away with it all.  Continue reading After The Smoke Clears

Storment’s: Party of Five

Storment’s: Party of Five from Jonathan Storment on Vimeo.

So a few weeks ago we find out that we were pregnant again. And after having such great kids like Eden and Samuel, we couldn’t be happier with the news.

This is a video of our trip to the doctor yesterday. This video is our way of sharing our trip with the people we love. We had a blast doing this, Eden and Samuel are pretty excited (as you can see) and we are, as a family, pumped to welcome a new little one into the world. So thanks for being a part of life, and for helping to welcome a new little baby into the world.  Love, the Storment’s.

Continue reading Storment’s: Party of Five