As the Jedi Pastor, I serve in the North Georgia Annual Conference as an Elder and church planter. Together with my wife Heather (twelve years and still putting up with me), our two kids, Tigger and a tank full of fish, we have been sent to the Outer Rim Territory (known affectionately as Paulding County) of Metro Atlanta to start a new UMC. Currently, I'm a member of the Hothlanta Rebels Fanclub here in Atlanta and help lead a group of boys who call themselves Den 9 from Pack 1916 (they're the best). I'm a survivor of Testicular Cancer (2000 and if you visit my MySpace page you can discover the nickname my youth group gave me). When time allows, you'll find me on the trails of Georgia.
Why do you blog?
I took a long time to decide whether to blog or not. For me it seemed to be a great way to connect to my community, primarily those I'm trying to reach as a church planter (I'll let you know over the next year or so how that goes). I blog to inspire people to connect to an authentic faith in Jesus Christ. I see my role as an "encouraging prophet" (one of those spiritual gift inventories told me I had those two). I try to write not merely for information but transformation, my own but also those who might read.
What has been your best blogging experience?
Becoming connected to a larger community and being challenged more deeply to be authentic. Blogging has helped (I think) to make me more effective as a preacher and communicator.
What would be your main advice to a novice blogger?
Write. A lot. Don't just write on your blog either. Keep a journal and write there. Have dry erase boards and make notes as they come to you. Start and don't stop. Ever!
If you could only read three blogs a day, what would the be?
Scott Ginsberg's http://www.hellomynameisscott.blogspot.com/
Guy Kawasaki's http://blog.guykawasaki.com/
Ben Witherington's http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/
Who are your spiritual heroes?
John Wesley, Francis Asbury, Dr. Alan Coppedge, Dr. J. Ellsworth Kalas, Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, Bonnie Hagler (my grandmother), Oswald Chambers, Mike Yaconelli
What are you reading at the moment?
The Bootstrapper's Bible by Seth Godin
From Good to Great by Jim Collins
A Guide to Prayer by Rueben P. Job, Norman Shawchuck
Ballsy by Karen Salmansohn (really)
What is your favorite hymn and why?
O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing
To me, it is a summation of Wesleyan Theology. The best theology is theology which can be sung. Wesleyan-Methodist Theology is so full of hope and love, it is no wonder Charles and John could write so many hymns. I could say others of the Wesley's but this one captures the joy and excitement of the conversion experience. Every time I sing it, I'm taken back to my faith decision at Lake Junaluska.
Could you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind?
The death penalty. I was challenged by a speaker at a Youth Specialties conference a number of years ago. He had worked with death row inmates and eloquently expressed his own journey of grace and compassion. I still struggle at times but ultimately, it just seems incompatible for me to support life in other areas and then ask for someone to die.
What philosophical thesis do you think is most important to combat?
Narcissism. It is not all about us it is about God and it always has been. It is just a fancy term for idolatry really. Wesley was passionate about "holiness unto the Lord." It seems inconsistent for us to get so wrapped up in the feelings of others or trying to project our feelings on God. The core of every struggle we seem to be having in the Church seems to come down to "me."
If you could effect one major change in the governing of your country, what would it be?
Salaries of elected officials, namely Congress. If we're not going to do term limits then politicians should receive a salary that represents the average salary of their constituents. They should have a monitored travel and expense account but let's elect people who want to serve.
If you could effect one major policy change in the United Methodist Church, what would it be?
Eliminate the title of 'Bishop' once an Elder has completed their time of service in the role. Once ordained in full-connection, all are Elders. Bishops are to be the servant-leaders. It is discouraging to see retired Bishops being allowed to speak and represent the denomination when they speak contrary to the Book of Discipline.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
"Do or do not. There is no try." Master Yoda
What, if anything, do you worry about?
Facing cancer again and losing.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything that you'd do differently?
Not a chance!
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do now)?
Possibly Scotland or Ireland and North Carolina
What do you like doing in your spare time?
Hiking and backpacking with my family and friends
What is your most treasured possession?
My wedding band (and backpack)
What talent would you most like to have?
"...the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force." -Darth Vader
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner, who would they be?
John Wesley, Scott Ginsberg, and Obi-Wan Kenobi
How did you get the name "Jedi Pastor"?
That was one I claimed for myself. I think it started at my MySpace page. Rather than "Jedi Master", Jedi Pastor seemed more appropriate. I've been a huge Star Wars fan (though certainly not as big as some). I was interviewed on FOX 5 in Atlanta prior to the release of Episode III. My offices are full of Star Wars stuff as well.
It seems to have been well received by most folks. It opens conversations with people who stop by my office too. People appear to be more comfortable with a pastor who has interests beyond church. I don't think I've posted anything "Star Wars" related on my blog, I pretty much reserve it for MySpace. I've had a few ideas bouncing around so who knows what you'll see in the future.