Tag: The Island Packet

Mobile Ministry: Bringing God’s word to the people of the Community

Mobile ministry brings word of God to the people of the community

20091022 Churchgoers

By DANIEL GRISWOLD — danielgriswold@gmail.com

Published: June 21, 2013

The Bluffton Packet, supplement to The Island Packet


I’ve been thinking about what it means to be “mobile” as a person with a ministry.

I’ve found that so much of my time ministering to young people has been spent on the road in my little Toyota, on the various winding roads and highways around Hilton Head Island and Bluffton.

At the beginning of my ministry, I spent hours at a desk doing administrative work and getting little things done here and there, but the more I built relationships with the various communities our church serves, I cut down desktime and have learned to do much more on the road. My desk is sometimes replaced by rented tables paid for by my cup of coffee, or by spending a few moments at Saint Andrew’s new Bluffton Ministry Center near Dairy Queen — there is free Wifi there. Wherever my laptop sits, I become a hub of relationships, communications and learning.

A Google search for “Mobile Ministry” brings up articles about ministers preaching on circuits, trucker ministries and various other long-distance traveling ministries. The kind of ministry I’m talking about is not long distance. I am talking about the kind that develops around a “regional” church.

When people find a church they are willing to drive 35 minutes or so to reach, you have a “regional” church. These churches have families from wide and varying communities from urban to countryside, and so the ministers (lay and clergy) quickly learn to live beyond their own hamlet, and see the varying contexts interacting all over.

Here in our area, we have unique culture in each plantation and neighborhood. Our people have all sorts of ways of life and perspectives, so we become more creative to connect and serve, unify and challenge wisely. It would be easy to use the church as a hub and never leave it, because so many people come to this beacon set in the proverbial waters of the communities, like an academic who never leaves the seminary and finds oneself trapped in an ivory tower. The light on the outside of the church walls is just a fable to that person, and eventually the sermons and the advice of the one caring for the community makes little sense to those who live on the outside of the cave.

No, we must go out and be in the community.

Look at Jesus: He did not spend much time in one place, and it seems to have been a reality of the Jewish culture that his family traveled for various reasons. When Jesus was born, a census forced him to be born in a stable (Luke 2:7). After his birth, his family went to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous attempt to stop the future claim to Kingship (Matthew 2:13). As a youth, he ended up at the temple asking questions of the teachers (Luke 2:46). After his ministry began, he then set out traveling, spanning the heights of Samaria to the depths of the Dead Sea toward the mountains around Jerusalem.

Jesus and his disciples were on the move, an urgency of mission moved them, and Paul and successive generations have moved with little time to remain static, and if so, only to teach for a time. So if Jesus was on the move, we as his followers must consider and act on the power and energy of that movement.

The nice thing about being mobile is that you become a central command for the community. Like a plant reaching out and connecting to new plots of soil and spreading life, you become the shoot that seeds love and hope in many different pots full of fertile soil.

After many years of being a “runner,” or a mobile minister, you begin to see the harvest come to bloom in various ways. God begins to bless the work, and you may see others becoming ministers to the community themselves. It truly is a blessing to see people you’ve cared about care for others and begin to bloom. Here’s to the hubs and nodes — keep connecting, keep moving and bring the Good News to your multicommunity community.

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog atwww.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.


Overcoming Fear of the Monster: Building a Common Language for Discovering God

Turn the corner to find an ally in God

Published Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sometimes I feel as though my life were a cartoon, like “DuckTales” or “The Gummy Bears.” Both are Disney cartoons I frequently watched back in the day, mainly because the characters often took off on adventures, searching for treasure in some long-forgotten place. Jungles, deserts, caves and old temples were opened and explored. I’ll never forget the surprised looks on the adventurers’ faces as they encountered mummies or some other Indiana Jones-like booby-trap. Those looks of fear made me feel as though I shared in their impending disaster.


The Gummy Bears would merely bounce around until they either stunned the enemy or passed him. In “DuckTales,” Scrooge McDuck, the eccentric millionaire, and his nephews would usually run and scatter, hoping to run from the issue and regroup later to make a plan. Whether the reaction is fight or flight, standing in a situation with unknown results is terrifying, even in a cartoon and especially for the children watching and waiting through three minutes of commercials to find out the eventual resolution. Every cartoon used this mechanism, though, to keep kids biting their nails, waiting for that next harrowing moment — all the while selling us sugary cereals and cool new sneakers.

A recent conversation about faith reminded me of this fear last week. I was on a dock, getting to know some really cool new people, when it came up that I work at the local Methodist church as a youth director. Our conversation turned to the apprehension many have about religion and faith in general. I often hear about the division of science and faith. Science being the discovery of truth and reality through the use of hypothesis, empirical testing and the creative aspect of formulating new ideas for intriguing problems with the goal of filling in the gaps in human knowledge.

I do think this dichotomy is false. In fact, I think those who believe in God have an imperative to discover how his creation is ordered, and in this process of testing truths, we gain a greater understanding of the universe and begin to see the brush strokes of a greater genius.

But with new discoveries being made daily, religion can be like that scary monster around the bend. Each generation turns a new corner ,and they find something big that has been generated by people and their experiences and thoughts on God over millennia. Any conversation on belief in God often seems convoluted, and the first response can be to turn about and run. Running doesn’t solve the problem, however. Eventually you have to come back to the same issue. A plan is necessary.

One day, each generation will have to walk into the face of the “monster” and find out if it is real, and, if so, is it benevolent or something to be fought. Sometimes fear is irrational and needs to be tested in the face of truth. Other times, fear helps us assess properly and soberly our reality, our place in the situation, our plan to move forward, and our method of proceeding.

I’ve found that the monster we tend to fight or run from is not God at all. It is merely a scarecrow built by others, or a trap we have put out ourselves to keep all the bad stuff away. The adventure cannot proceed unless one turns that corner toward belief. And once this is done, you’ll find you are not alone.

Even in the most anxious moments, God is an ally, not an enemy.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”

I find it refreshing when people open up and find language for their journey, regardless of their views. I like to share mine as well, and in the end, let the truth of reality be something we all strive for together.

Read more of The Island Packet (here).


Ingredients to a Happy Marriage Might Include Bacon (Pastor’s Corner)

Ingredients to a Happy Marriage Might Include Bacon

Published Monday, June 4, 2012
As I write this article, I am celebrating nine years of marriage to my wife. To mark the occasion we took a few moments this morning to enjoy a raspberry white chocolate latte at The Corner Perk and then went next door to The Sugaree, where I saw something marvelous: the Homer.It is an enormous doughnut covered in maple frosting and sprinkled with thick chunks of bacon. Yes, bacon. It was truly amazing. I was nearly in a sugar coma when I went to work for a meeting. I even wrote a blog about the doughnut and cited it as a symbol of the goodness of the nine years of marriage we have shared. I’ve gotten a lot of “likes” on this blog — especially from guys who like bacon and totally understand.It may be a silly way to say it, but my marriage has been sweet and fulfilling. So much so that we have developed our own inside jokes. Every anniversary, my wife and I laugh about the short-lived MTV show “Newlyweds,” which starred Jessica Simpson and her then-husband Nick Lachey. At the end of their first season, which was also their first year of marriage, they were eating a meal together at a restaurant. Jessica candidly said, “We’ve been married one year? Feels like seven years.” Amanda and I feel the exact opposite. It has been nine years? It feels like three minutes.

It actually came up this morning as an affirmation of how fast time flies when you are having fun — and working hard.

In contrast to the fleeting nature of celebrity weddings and relationships, I recall the romance and love in the Scriptures: “How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume more than any spice!” (Song of Songs 4:10).

There is a deep appreciation for the “other” in the relationship and a delight that can last throughout the years. I see those who have been together 50 years or more as the heroes and heroines of marriage. Often they say that they had some “best years,” but there were also some very hard years. They continued to invest in their love through the years, though, and found deep happiness in each other’s presence. That is the everlasting love, a love we can emulate. It continues to ride strong through the storms of life and builds a stronger unity.

As a husband, I hope to live out the biblical ideal that Paul spoke of: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:25-28).

To fall deeper and deeper in love each and every day is not a fairy tale, but rather a choice, an honor and a great adventure. Christ gave himself for the church and gave it all, certainly, so we can emulate that great and sacrificial love that gives and gives and gives in our marriages.

A heart filled with the love of the spirit will always overflow.

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church.  Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog at http://www.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.

More Wisdom, Less Pain: Atheism and Belief Considering Each Other

More Wisdom, Less Pain

By Daniel Griswold

This is the original.  A version is published in The Island Packet’s Bluffton Edition

In my usual perusal of Internet blogs, I stumbled onto an article titled “Religion is Going Nowhere”.  I like to peruse opinion, so I clicked and began to read a particular atheist’s thoughts on theism and the irrationality of religion.  It was a user-generated section of a news site, so it wasn’t a reporter, just another guy or gal like me who had some thoughts to share.  I bit, and read on because the messiness of opinion and reality intrigues me.

There wasn’t a central idea, but several assertions were made.  (1) Religion would be around much longer than most atheists think.  (2) Real atheism is hard to accept, because it assumes a mechanical universe, which is probed for truth by science.  (3) Many theists cling to their “Bronze Age Soap Opera’s” and refuse to face reality.  (4) Atheists must fight theists who seek world domination.

It is a hard thing to look at a critique of our identity and not become angry, but I think it is a worthwhile exercise.  The most poignant point here is that the believer is seen as an Enemy rather than a Friend.  That should send us into a deep moment of asking “Why?”  From a Christian perspective, how can the faith that had an early historian exclaim, “Behold, how they love each other,” and whose sacred texts admonish us to “Love God and Love others” be seen as the great enemy?

The first issue is a relational one.  Love in our culture has become so twisted, that I think even Christians have forgotten what it means to reach out and care without any pre-conditions.  Love means risk.  We can realize that reaching out beyond our comfort zone, to those who do not see the world as we do, there will be struggle.  And to do it not to convince the other of anything, but simply to be a friend – that is even harder.  Our current context, being a follower of Jesus, when so many people have been abused by people who certainly were good pretenders, and who committed injustices against the defenseless and the young – that also takes guts to say, “Jesus is love” while taking a scalpel to the evils in the institution and cutting away the rot that created an atmosphere of abuse.  Evil is evil, whether you believe in God or not, and across the board, this is a common ground for the future.

A second issue is philosophical and theological in nature, and seems to provide a large divide.  There seems to be an assumption that all religious people are irrational.  Certainly, there are irrational people in all groups and certainly across all religions there are those seeking a world of rational faith. The argument that religious people cannot be rational seems to be based on this logic. (x) Theists trust scriptures, (y) scriptures are myths, thus (z) theists are morons. The basis of this idiocy seems to be that there are many religions, all with sacred texts, all claiming absolute truth.  The fallacy: Because there are many, is that all the sacred texts must be wrong, and this leads to (z) theists are deceived or ignorant. My issue is this: Having varying texts all purporting to be from God does not immediately preclude that all of them are wrong. One, or even two, if looking simply with logic, have the potential to be actual sources of truth – if there is a God. A decision still has to be made.  It seems to me that a rational person would be the one who studies all the texts, and considers all the data they know from the sciences, all they know of humanity, all they know of the cosmos, and makes a call. There needs to be discernment either way.

I’m not writing to be argumentative, but to bring all people to think more with their minds and their hearts.  Many things said on all sides are meant to hurt others rather than to heal – and that is wrong no matter where you’re coming from.  The book of proverbs opens with this:

“Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the walls she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: ‘How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?  How long will mockers delight in mockery an fools hate knowledge?  Repent at my rebuke!  Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.” 

This is a good message for all the people of the world.  Seek wisdom, find the way.

Daniel Griswold is the Director of Youth, Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC.  His email is danielgriswold@gmail.com and his twitter name is @dannonhill.

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Always On? Always Connected? Our Ability to Transform Reality and Act for Good Starts with Solitude

Imagination and Deep Thoughts

(This is the full text of the article that ran on Wednesday April 4th, 2012 in The Bluffton Packet)

By Daniel Griswold

A family sits together in a living room in front of a television screen watching American Idol.  Every few minutes, someone hears a beep and a phone screen appears.

Actually several phones appear because everyone is reminded of their phones and tablets.  Dad gets on his Ipad checking stock prices and his daughter uses the moment to do a few rounds on the Kindle Fire playing Angry Birds (she’s accomplished 78 of 99 levels) and switching between that and her Facebook app.

After texting a bit with his bud, the son opens YouTube and watches several funny cat videos.  After the television-show ends, the mother is asked what Randy had said about a contestant and who sung the best.  The television has been merely a backdrop for the connectedness that so many screens provide.  The family sits together, but they were all in different worlds on different screens.

And with all this entertainment, education and content streaming to us constantly, I still see and hear this odd statement, “I am sooooo bored.”  I suppose that there is a point in which we have been saturated with media – and yet we still want more.   Our appetites are so large that when a quiet moment comes, we become scared because we have been passive consumers for so long.

I think that the ability to consume entertainment and educate ourselves at any point we choose has given many a feeling of power and confidence.  When stripped from the sources of connectedness, we feel like we are not accomplishing anything anymore.  This fits the picture of the good American – always on – always productive, even when enjoying a morning cup of coffee.

But this “always on” culture is blocking two huge facets of human growth:

(1) Imagination – Our minds are capable of dreaming big, and making new worlds by envisioning better combinations of what we know.  Disciplined imagination changes the world (“I have a dream”), and gives guidance and hope to the individual.  It comes from within and is inspired by the world of the spirit.  When Christ taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, On Earth as it is in Heaven,” we have a moment to imagine what our world could be like and what it will be like – if we take the time to draw it out in our minds. It is an act of creation that mirrors God’s creation of the universe.  From daydreaming to action, the world is made into a better place.

(2) Deep thinking – After a good cup of coffee or right after waking from sleep or during a walk through the woods, there are moments in life where our logical mind has time to dig deeper into the problems we are trying to fix.  No matter what the commercials say, life will always present intense challenges.  That means that to face them, we need time to process and think through the best course, the best way to act, or the best words for a speech.  Great leaders often need times of sabbatical to read for lengthy periods of time, but not just to gain information, but to make space and time to design the future plans for their projects, whether building teams, skyscrapers, philosophies or contemplating the intricacies of God’s interaction with Creation.  These structures in our mind take time and training to build strong foundations for growth of the individual and the society they plug into.

When Jesus had spent a great deal of time speaking to people and work with the disciples, in Mark chapter 6 there is a picture of Jesus looking for a quiet place.  People were coming and going, so much was going on, so many distractions.  But to grow and assess, Jesus needed moments of peace to process and commune with his Father.  In verse 46, Jesus has to literally climb up a mountainside to find time to pray and refresh his spirit.

We all need quiet times, but many of us are afraid of what might change if we dive deep into our minds and hearts.  There, God waits on us patiently, but we often wait too long, finding new distractions, and our spirit breaks down.  The greatest thoughts, the greatest peace, and the greatest projects are waiting for you there, so step in and see.  You’ll find living water that never runs dry.

Daniel Griswold is the Director of Youth, Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC, danielgriswold@gmail.com, twitter name: dannonhill

Confirmation and the Spring

Confirmation in the Spring

By Daniel Griswold

This Article ran in The Island Packet’s Bluffton Edition

twitter name: dannonhill

Spring is just around the corner even though the winter so far has not been that bad. I’ve gotten just the right amount of Vitamin D from the sunshine from yard sales and walks in 70 degree weather.  With the exception of a few days of chill, I’d start cleaning up our landscaping and the garage for the summer.

I’m also dreaming of April and May because our season of Confirmation started last Sunday.  Confirmation starts in January at our church and our celebration to end our class is usually just after the Easter season.  Sunday evening I sat down with some of our families and talked about the faith walks of our youth.  In an artistic way, growing and discovering faith through the spring just makes sense because new life is blooming everywhere while we learn to walk in the dust of Jesus.  I love every moment of this journey we take together. I always learn something while teaching.

Each year, I am growing in appreciation for this rite of passage by young people of faith.  Personally, I grew up in a tradition (Pentecostal) that did not “confirm” youth.  Rather, we were baptized when we decided we would profess our faith, and at that time we would become members.  My baptism was rather rudimentary, in steel tub with very cold water in a multi-purpose room/sanctuary.  I remember the shock of it all, but I will never forget the applause of the congregation and the affirmation of being welcomed into a larger family.

In Methodism, like many denominations who infant baptize, the tradition of confirmation is an important moment.  We celebrate the decision of our young people to own their own faith.  We celebrate the rite in service with vows, we eat a meal with the whole church invited, their families come to congratulate them, all to say that it is a big deal.  This is a marker of growth.

Regardless of the tradition in each of our denominations, we all need moments that mark positively the passage of time.  Whether we see our lives like Paul envisions, as a race in the book of Philemon, “ I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven,” or if you see God’s Kingdom being made more real in an often chaotic world, like Jesus’ image of a mustard seed which grows large with many branches in the gospel of Luke.

Every person is made as a child of God.  We are both the individual growing and leaping forward and we are the family, pushing ourselves and others forward, also reaching out helping as many others reach their full potential.

As you go through your day today, ask yourself who you can encourage today?  Is it a young person just blooming in the springtime of faith?  Or is it a teacher of faith who helped you grow?  Write a letter or say a prayer for those you can remember.  God is good and part of our job is to be signs of that goodness for others.

Sacrificial Love Wins

Genuine love of others a key ingredient to stronger


Published Monday, September 5, 2011

Why do we love and care for others? Some would say that love is just part of the process of evolution: Someone once killed his neighbor, and because others did not want to be killed as well, they banded together and punished the murderer. People saw this punishment and deduced that killing is wrong and that the tribe is a stronger unit when people look out for each other.

This is a hypothetical but plausible scenario if we look at how things work today and use our intellect to explain what happened eons ago in human history. The problem is, though, we weren’t there.

As a person who studies religion and is a follower of Jesus Christ — which, believe it or not, is a choice I made after rational inquiry and finding satisfying evidence that God is acting in the world even today — I have spent much time reading through the many millennia-old written document of humanity’s interactions with God.

There are two strands that I always make light of when learning about the history of love as recorded in Scripture. First, I look at what humans were doing, and second, I look at what God is doing. The two are often very different. Human morality, even in the Bible, is very relative and focused on the self — and, in this view, the account of morality as hypothesized in evolution is probably true.

In fact, in Canaan, when the Hebrews began moving into the promised land, the cities were independent states, engaged in trade, alliance or war.

The city-states had kings. Codes of laws were variously applied so that each person did what he or she thought was right, and when that infringed on another it was up to the king and his governmental officials to bring balance and fairness. It was an imperfect system, however, so long as people continued to look out only for themselves.

God’s interaction with this economy was devastating to the local way. At Mount Sinai, Moses received the Commandments. These 10 precepts shifted focus from the human self to two others. First, love of God; second, love of others. It was more than just tolerant refrain from stepping on toes. It was a way to change the human heart toward a more divine economy. God’s words united the Hebrews, and God’s strength helped them as they left Egypt and assimilated the warring city-states.

Humanity constantly has to relearn this basic principle, and it is something each of us has to grapple with every day. Will we love ourselves and only contract with others toward a peaceful truce? Or will we give up our rights and give ourselves 100 percent for God and for others?

Christians look to Christ and see this sacrifice made completely real. The cross is a symbol of God showing us the way. Reclaiming the world by inserting light into the darkness and showing that selfishness will not prevail.

John says: “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the father, full of grace and truth.”

In the four gospels we see the son of God give up a stable life, devote himself to healing the sick and feeding the hungry, become betrayed by a close friend for money and then willingly accept an undeserved punishment to turn the tables of justice toward grace and forgiveness rather than legality and containment.

For those with and without faith, God’s economy has huge lessons with an efficiency that can only come when people genuinely love.

Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Read his blog at http://www.danielgriswold.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.com.

Read more: http://www.islandpacket.com/2011/09/05/1781273/genuine-love-of-others-a-key-ingredient.html#ixzz1Yhgf3lbu