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View from the bleachers

July 25, 2012

Section B

Sitting with a group in the bleachers, I observed the fist bumps and the one-hand grasp hugs across the aisles. We were all gathered in the gym to vote on superlatives for the seniors. You know, Mr. High School, Ms. Likely to Succeed, Most Laid Back, Most Attractive, Wittiest,  etc. There had been whispers of “vote for so-and-so” in the hallways and election flyers slipped into lockers for months leading up to this one event. For the most part, the only attention given to our group were flyers. We were likable enough, just not a big enough group to make a difference in voting they thought.

Mr. High School was easy. Everyone would vote for the quarterback who had led the football team all the way to the state championship. Wittiest ended up being the funniest announcement. The administrators thought it would be fun to announce the winner then say it was a mistake. The trick worked because when they announced his name as the winner for real, The Wittiest proved his worth with a witty comment. Most Likely to Succeed was named next. No real surprise there though it could have gone to a few other people.  Most Laid Back was the only nominee who had taken off his blazer in the stuffy gym, the others were determined to keep their finery on despite the sweat on their faces and wet spots appearing on their apparel. 

I could see something from the corner of my eye happening. Whispering. It didn’t take long for the rumor to spread to me. That didn’t sound right. Stealthily so administrators could not see, I took out my phone and began texting someone who might know if the rumor was true. I was assured it was not and tried to tell the person who had told me. The crowd was getting noisy as the next vote was to be read. There was a tie. Another vote would be taken. Some had taken the Most Attractive superlative and thought of it as outer beauty while others had taken it to mean inner beauty. At least that’s my assumption. My eyes focused on a small group surrounding a person who looked to be sobbing. With a craning of my neck, I saw the person was one of the nominees. The rumor had been about her. Evidently she had just heard it. After a few seconds, I saw her back straighten and a fire in her eyes. She stood up and the crowd hushed. With grace, she withdrew her name to be considered. She did not mention the rumor though one of her friends began shaming the crowd. After the announcement of the Most Attractive winner, a girl from the freshman class spoke. She was very smart and had skipped a few grades. She began talking about the superlatives and why they only were awarded to seniors. There were lower classman who would be just as… blah blah blah. As she spoke, I looked at the winners. She evidently had worked on this little protest long before the elections. Eager for attention, she had not revised her protest and was actually offending the winners. 

The last few minutes had totally turned from a fun event into a sad look into human nature. What could be done to prevent next year from being the same? 



June 25, 2012
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Posted with permission:

I once had an employee who worked hard, was a good family man, and was pleasant to be around. One day he died. On the job. It affected many people in many different ways.
How did he die? In a vehicle accident. He was carrying mail on his route. He was struck in the passenger side door by a fully loaded dump truck. He died instantly. (That was a blessing.)

I was in charge of delivery and I had only been at this office for a year. At this time I had twelve years experience inspecting routes for safety issues. During that year I had inspected every route to review them for safety and efficiency. There were many deficiencies found on many routes. There were more than six safety violations on the route of the carrier who died in the vehicle accident.

I discussed with the carrier what changes I was making to his travel pattern, why I was making them, and that they were to be effective immediately. Part of my responsibility was to also perform “street observations” from time to time. This is done to make sure carriers perform in an efficient and, most importantly, a safe manner.

A few weeks after letting the carrier know what was expected, the carrier was killed in the vehicle accident. I, along with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and our Postal Safety Office in Nashville, thoroughly investigated the accident.
Finding: “Carrier failed to follow instructions and prescribed safety regulations. Management had corrected prior safety violations, properly retrained the carrier, and followed up to be sure carrier was performing efficiently and safely.”
Yes, management had shared with the employee what was expected for him to perform his job safely and efficiently. But, the carrier didn’t agree and did the job as he wished; he thought his way was easier and better. He thought no one would care as long as he got the job done. After all, his previous leaders had not corrected him. But here is the bottom line: the carrier failed to be obedient — and the carrier died.

How important is leadership? It’s not important at all if we aren’t going to be obedient; it’s not important at all if we don’t care and only want to do what we want to do; or, it’s not important at all if we think we know better what is needed. Evidently leadership  doesn’t matter if we just let people tell the leadership thay are going to do it the way they think they should because they think they know better what is needed. They don’t want to be bothered. They just don’t want to do what is asked of them. So, who needs leadership? Who needs to be obedient?

My dad taught me obedience. I learned how important obedience is when I was in the Army. When I went to work, I learned about obedience. As a manager and leader, I know the importance of obedience. As a husband and dad, obedience is important. As a Christian, I know the importance of obedience. And in all of these instances, I know what happens when I and others are disobedient.
When I choose to not be obedient, there are consequences. People can be hurt, spiritually, physically, mentally, … people can die. We shouldn’t pick and choose what, when, where, and how we are going to be obedient. Obedience matters to God

Why should your candidate be bishop in the Southeast Jurisdiction?

June 14, 2012

I have received all of the brochures and DVDs from annual conferences listing the accomplishments and accolades of their bishop candidate. But, why do you think they would make a good bishop? 

Supporting Cast

May 29, 2012

I read an article recently about a small town that was dying. The residents decided for one year to buy anything they needed locally instead of driving to the nearest big city. They knew the products would cost a bit more in town, but they were willing to do this to save their town. And they did.

What if we supported United Methodist agencies and businesses? What if we bought all our Bible curriculum, VBS materials, etc. from Cokesbury and/or EcuFilm? What if we bought our coffee, chocolate, olive oil (fair-trade of course) from UMCOR? What if we made donations or gave of our time to a nearby United Methodist- sponsored soup kitchen or shelter? What if we donated or raised funds for Imagine No Malaria? The thing is, by supporting some of these, we are supporting people around the world. Ex: Cokesbury helps fund retirement for Central Conference pastors. INM provides a holistic approach to preventing deaths from malaria. Global agencies (ex: The Global Fund, United Nations Foundation) found our well-established UM-affiliated hospitals as valuable. That should translate into support.

Will it save our denomination? I don’t know, but if more money is coming through United Methodist avenues there will be more money going out into the world for missions. It could be a fantastic financial cycle. 

I’ve heard some frustration from United Methodists that don’t feel like Cokesbury or GBOD offer relevant curriculum or that they can find better material through Group or LifeWay. Cokesbury may not be the best, but it’s good. And with money coming in and a feeling of support and backing from the UMC community, maybe there can be a wave of excitement to go through our agencies and businesses which will show through their resources. Especially if we let staff or board members know of our support, but that we’re looking for better.

Would you buy materials from Cokesbury for a year?  What about buying coffee from UMCOR  for the church? What could you or your church commit to doing for one year?

Twenty Tweeters

May 20, 2012

Prayers for Change the World weekend started Friday at midnight. Tweeters signed up for thrirty minute slots. Twenty people officially participated; some joined in throughout the weekend. Over the course of the day there were 11.5 hrs covered. Actually, 12. I only signed up for one shift and prayed for two. There were others who also prayed longer than their shift.

According to #CtWTweets, 78 tweets were generated; 50,836 impressions, reaching 15,017 followers in a 24 hour period. There were 50 original tweets, 23 retweets and 5 mentions.

@lmitchwood Lord, as we rise from our knees in prayer, lead us to Change the World as Christ has changed us. Heart to heart,hand in hand AMEN #CtWTweets

I don’t know about you, but reaching over 15,000 people and over 50,000 impressions on Twitter for our first Tweet to Change the World is awesome!

Can you imagine if all the #UMC users on Twitter had participated? Our reach and impressions would have been extremely vast. Can you imagine if we all just did one tweet a day that was scripturally based?

If you think just about these stats, it makes your realize what kind of effect you can have on your followers. I (@ttennheat) had 12,320 impressions and I have just over 1,000 followers. Will this effect what I tweet in the future? Yes. My tweets aren’t just floating around, there are people reading them. How will I use my tweets? For good or evil? How will you use your tweets? To build people up or tear them down?

Let’s think before we tweet.

Many thanks to @SocialMnstry @brftpreachr @andoverhawk @BenGCarson @mattlipan @davebuer @bhager357 @narciejeter @alyciasegner @borntobogey @youthguy07 @umcpastorgina @lam523 @Jhjordan @halehawk @NikiSez @nerdyseminarian @lmitchwood @kelley_pat. Also, @markconard @nneelley.

Tweet to Change the World and Imagine No Malaria

May 19, 2012

Tweet to Change the World

It’s here, our first Tweet to Change the World! It’s been exciting to see the prayer slots being filled (there are still more so don’t be shy in signing up).

Change the World is about changing our community (in this case Twitter), but also about raising awareness and funds for Imagine No Malaria. If you don’t know about Imagine No Malaria, it’s awesome! All money given to Imagine No Malaria goes to a comprehensive approach to eliminate deaths due to malaria. This approach takes the 160 years of United Methodist experience in Africa to work in full partnership with communities. The comprehensive approach of INM has four main goals: prevention, treatment, education and communications. It’s no longer just about bed nets. See an example of the comprehensive approach through pictures.

Malaria was eradicated in the U.S. over 50 years ago. Why is it still killing people today, mostly children under the age of 5? 

I never thought much about mosquitoes. They were just weird looking flying things to me. I rarely got bit. Now, mosquitoes love my son. And they are sneaky little pests. I won’t know he’s gotten bitten until a while later when the bites swell. I’m not talking about little bumps. My husband and son had gotten back from a weekend trip to the lake. My son had a large bump a little smaller than the size of a golf ball on his head. When he turned around (because he was tired of me messing with it), I thought his elbow was out of socket, the bump was so big. I knew they had to be incredibly uncomfortable and I really hated those mosquitoes for noshing on my boy, but I never once worried that he might get malaria. I didn’t worry that he might die.

That’s what parents worry about in parts of Africa, that their child might die from a mosquito bite. There are parents there who have many things to worry about. I hope by supporting Imagine No Malaria that parents will now have one less thing to worry about. 

Here are a few things you can do. If you’re participating in CtWTweets, consider using some of your prayer time to pray for Imagine No Malaria and the work they are doing. You can also give or ask people to give to INM. Let’s help spread the word that malaria does not have to kill a child every 60 seconds. When The United Methodist Church got involved in the fight against malaria, a child died every 30 seconds. Then it changed to every 45 seconds. Now it’s 60. Progress has been made, but there is still work to be done.

Here are some tweets to get your started:

Every 60 secs, #malaria claims a life in #Africa. What can you do in 60 secs? Give to Imagine @NoMalaria & RT.

Imagine @NoMalaria trained 3500 local workers to survey, distribute, install & teach ppl about proper bed net usage.

A #Twitter world of people unified in the fight against a needless killer. Text: malaria to: 27722 to give $10. Plz RT.  @NoMalaria #CtWTweets

Relevancy in the world

May 15, 2012

The red dots represent Change the World projects. Where would our Twitter dot be?

Someone on Twitter mentioned how #GC2012 did not really trend on Twitter. That brought about a thought of how relevant is The United Methodist Church in the world?

When Change the World started a few years ago, I was really excited. As a connectional church, we could change the world on a weekend. That could be our biggest statement in a world seeing church increasingly irrelevant. Surely the media would pick up on something so large as almost 8 million UMs working in their community. Can you see it? I did and still can, but it takes you.

If I could, I would mandate every church to do something on that weekend. There would be lots of grumbling (really?), but even the churches who didn’t put forth much effort in their project would make a difference. I can’t imagine doing a project and not feeling good about it afterwards. If United Methodists felt good about themselves, each other and their contribution to their community would that not give positive energy to our churches?

We need a jolt. A jolt that runs through our bodies and manifests itself in our hands. To move from negative to positive as Lecrae would say. We disagree on a lot of things, but I think one thing I’ve heard from most during GC2012 was that we could agree on going out into the world and doing the work of Christ. Let’s do it. Let’s use the opportunity to do a project with a church that’s different from ours. For some, that would mean doing a project with a Reconciling congregation. For others, it might be doing a project with an urban church. Developing relationships through the different people in our connection is as important (and maybe more so right now) as developing relationships in the community.

This makes me think of the face of The United Methodist Church presented on Twitter during General Conference. It wasn’t pretty. So, all of my non-UMC followers saw my tweets about the church I love through their feed. I wonder what they thought? I wonder what your followers thought?

How can our tweets help our followers? How can our tweets show The UMC is about something? A place we can start is #CtWTweets. It’s so easy and requires very little from us, but can make a big difference. Check out and then come back here for a minute.

What did you think? Pretty easy right? After the weekend, I’d like to send the tweets to the contacts for the projects that were prayed for. Let them know that a Twitter community was praying for them. 140 characters can make a difference.