Archives For Dennis Perry

imagesIf you attend my church, read this blog or listen to my sermons then you know I tend to give Dennis Perry, my associate pastor and partner-in-crime, a lot of crap.

Good-natured, ribbing.

You know I tend to talk about how Dennis is old, forgetful, lazy, obvious, boring, tired, uninspired, old, predictable, vain, shallow, past his prime, full of himself, phones it in, takes credit for others’ work….just to name a few things.

As more than one parishioner has expressed with not a little exasperation, we have a ‘unique’ relationship.

He’s my Jerry Lewis to my Dean Martin.

My Kramer or Costanza to my Jerry.

Case in point:

Earlier this summer Dennis and I gave a presentation for a group of clergy at an annual conference. Because we were riffing off of one another’s comments, it was perfectly natural and predictable that I would start to yank Dennis’ chain in the course of our presentation.

He was the only one laughing.

Besides me.

It’s true that clergy in particular and Christians in general aren’t particularly strong in the  funny category, but the silence suggested something else too, I think: how unique our relationship actually is.

Behind the lack of self-seriousness is an actual friendship, a partnership that has no need for competition, oneupsmanship or self-aggrandizing- all of which, sadly,  are rare among clergy.

And it started a long time ago. Right around the time I was learning to drive, I was learning about Jesus.

From Dennis.

He’s not just my Kramer.

He’s my Yoda too.

And that’s not an age joke.

The thousands of books in my office began with one book (on Aquinas) Dennis handed to me as I left church one Sunday morning. I was just one out of 1,000 people he rubbed elbows with that morning but it was an important gesture.

The theological wrestling I’m wont to do on a daily basis began with just one question (Time vs Eternity) to which Dennis sketched an answer on a dry erase board- and suggested still another book, Screwtape- one confirmation class long ago.

The friendship and ministry we share today began back then with mentorship. Quick casual gestures of interest and encouragement.

It was he who boiled down the pained ‘How do you know if you’re called into ministry?’ agonizing to its essence: ‘It comes down to whether you can really see yourself doing anything else and being happy.’

Simple.

This nostalgia has been brought to you by the article I was forwarded from United Methodist Connections, “Why I’m Called to be a Mentor.”

The article, by Rev Melissa Pisco, a pastor in Florida, is the sort of unsurprising institutional promotion you’d expect from any organization, and it’s certainly the sort of bureaucratic PR you’d expect me to mock and satirize.

But I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.

In the United Methodist system, ‘mentors’ are pastors you don’t know- and, chances are, will only get to know slightly better- assigned to tugboat ordinands through the hoops of the ordination process.

You’re not supposed to refer to them as hoops but that’s what they are.

Or, more accurately, that’s how they’re experienced.

As hoops.

Psychological tests, district committee interviews with open-ended questions, conference board interviews with open-ended questions (‘What can you tell me about the resurrection?’), essay questions, interviews about the essay answers.

It’s an anxiety-inducing process. It was for me and I got through without a hitch, and it was for my peers in the process too.

And that’s my point.

It doesn’t allow for the kinds authentic relationship-building that I think makes for fruitful mentorship.

Ordinands, who’ve already invested years and cringe-worthy amounts of debt, don’t feel permission to be themselves in front of ‘mentors’ who’ve been assigned to them by the people who soon will be examining their fitness for ministry.

It’s like asking a defendant to confess to the jury instead of his counsel.

I remember the first time I revealed a particular struggle I was having in my rookie ministry (the lack of anyone anywhere near my age within an hour’s drive).

The response I got from my mentor: ‘Well, I’d recommend you not share that with the board.’

Signal received.

I’m not trying beat up on Rev Melissa Pico or others who serve like her. And I understand that every process has to have…process.

But true mentorship doesn’t happen just because that’s the name you’ve affixed to an institutional process.

Actual, fruitful, vibrant mentorship is relational and while it’s not equal, it is safe; and therefore, much more likely to happen within the local congregation than inside a top-down prescribed process.

I had a handful of assigned ‘mentors’ as I wound my way to being a full-fledged minister and all of them were/are good guys and effective pastors.

But the mentoring that really made a difference in my life and for my call was the relationship I began with my local pastor and continue to this day, the kind that can’t be assigned but must instead evolve.

The same is true, I think- I pray- for the three friends in my own congregation for whom I’ve assumed the role Dennis played and plays to me.

 

This weekend the Rev Dr Dennis Wayne Perry will kick-off our fall sermon series, Seven Truths that Changed the World: Christianity’s Most Dangerous Ideas. First up, is our belief that not all dead men stay dead.

In anticipation of what I’m sure will be a riveting sermon by our facial hair-challenged assistant pastor, here’s a good account of the Resurrection as historical happening from Parchment and Pen.

Just as we test the historicity of any event, not through emotional conviction, but with historical evidence, I would like to devote some time to laying out a brief historical case for the Resurrection of Christ, the central issue of the Christian faith.

Here is what we need (the tools of the trade):

1. Internal Evidence: Evidence coming from within the primary witness documents, the New Testament.

2. External Evidence: Collaborative evidence coming from outside the primary witness documents.

Internal Evidence:

  • Honesty
  • Irrelevant Details
  • Harmony
  • Public Extraordinary Claims
  • Lack of Motivation for Fabrication

Honesty:
The entire Bible records both successes and failures of the heroes. I have always been impressed by this. It never paints the glorious picture that you would expect from legendary material, but shows them in all their worst moments. The Israelites whined, David murdered, Peter denied, the apostles abandoned Christ in fear, Moses became angry, Jacob deceived, Noah got drunk, Adam and Eve disobeyed, Paul persecuted, Solomon worshiped idols, Abraham was a bigamist, Lot committed incest, John the Baptist doubted, Abraham doubted, Sarah doubted, Nicodemus doubted, Thomas doubted, Jonah ran, Samson self-served, and John, at the very end of the story, when he should have had it all figured out, worshiped an angel (Rev 22:8). I love it! (ahem).

And these are the Jews who wrote the Bible!

In addition, the most faithful are seen as suffering the most (Joseph, Job, and Lazarus), while the wicked are seen as prospering (the rich man). In the case of the Gospels, the disciples who recorded it claimed to have abandoned Christ and did not believe in His resurrection when told. Even after the resurrection, they still present themselves as completely ignorant of God’s plan (Acts 1:6-7). Women are the first to witness the resurrection which has an element of self-incrimination since a woman’s testimony was not worth anything in the first century. If someone were making this up, why include such an incriminating detail? (I am glad they did—what an Easter message this is for us today!)

Irrelevant Details:
The Gospel writers (especially John) contain many elements to their story that are really irrelevant to the big picture. Normally, when someone is making a story up, they include only the details that contribute to the fabrication. Irrelevant details are a mark of genuineness in all situations.

Notice this small segment of the Gospel of John 20:1-8 (HT: Gregory Boyd, but modified):

“Early on the first day of the week (when? does it matter?), while it was still dark (who cares?), Mary Magdalene (an incriminating detail) went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one who Jesus loved (John’s modest way of referring to himself—another mark of genuineness) and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have taken him!” (note her self-incriminating lack of faith here). So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. They were running, but the other disciple out ran Peter and reached the tomb first (who cares who won the race? a completely irrelevant detail). He bent over (irrelevant, but the tomb entrance was low—a detail which is historically accurate of wealthy people of the time—the kind we know Jesus was buried in) and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in (why not? irrelevant detail). Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb (Peter’s boldness stands out in all the Gospel accounts). He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head (irrelevant and unexpected detail—what was Jesus wearing?). The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen (somewhat irrelevant and unusual. Jesus folded one part of his wrapping before he left!). Finally the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went inside (who cares about what exact order they went in?)

Harmony:
The four Gospel writers claim to have witnessed the resurrected Christ. The same is the case for most of the other writers of the NT. The four Gospel writers all write of the same event from differing perspectives. Although they differ in details, they are completely harmonious to the main events surrounding the resurrection, and all claim that it is an historical event. Many people are disturbed by the seeming disharmony among the Gospels since the Gospel writers do not include all the same details. However, this is actually a mark of historicity since if they all said exactly the same thing, it would be a sign that they made it up. However, the Gospel writers contain just enough disharmony to give it a mark of genuine historicity.

Click here to read the rest.

As many of you know, Dennis leaves for vacation this weekend, which means it’s that time of year again when I crack the password on Dennis’ computer (it usually has something to do with Kenny Loggins) and replace his screensaver image (it usually has something to do with seashells) with one of my choosing. This time, however, I’m giving you the chance to choose which image you like the best:

Ok, so many of you participated in yesterday’s beard poll for DP and results were mixed. Some of you said options just didn’t capture DP’s likeness now that he’s into Day #57 of his feeble beard-growing effort. Listening to your feedback, I thought maybe giving you other options would be best.

 

Poll:

Who does bearded Dennis most resemble?

 

 

 

 

Ok, so many of you participated in yesterday’s beard poll for DP and results were mixed. Some of you said options just didn’t capture DP’s likeness now that he’s into Day #57 of his feeble beard-growing effort. Listening to your feedback, I thought maybe giving you other options would be best.

 

Poll:

Who does bearded Dennis most resemble?

 

 

 

 

Now, that I’ve grown my beard back many of you have said ‘You look just like Brad Pitt from that Jesse James movie.’

Which got me thinking…now that Dennis Wayne Perry is in day #36 of his feeble beard-growing attempt, who do you think he looks like? Take the poll below…


It’s Day #18 of the DP Beard-Growing Experience though by all appearances it may as well be Day #4. Having just spent the night with DP at a staff retreat I can attest that he does not man-scape, thereby intentionally keeping it shorn. I thought the following poster might be a good way to encourage DP to keep strong:

Alright, alright many of you mistakenly think Dennis presently has a 5 o’ clock shadow or, at best, you might say an honorary Arvin Sloan  3-day old beard.

In fact, Dr. Dennis W. Perry is on Day #17 of his beard-growing sojourn (confirmed to me by the beautIful Sharon Perry).

Realizing that some of us are more folicly (or testosterone?) challenged, today I recalled a movie that, in addition to possibly being trip down memory lane for some, could offer some beard growing advice for the Rev: The Peanut Butter Solution, a movie that apparently co-stared Col. Saul Tigh from Battlestar Galactica (yes, I’m a loser) and also has the distinction (along with Something Wicked This Way Comes and Fatal Attraction) as a childhood movie that scared the absolute s*&t out of me.

“The movie involves a haunted mansion, a creepy art teacher, kidnapped children forced to make paintbrushes, and a scene that involves pubic hair that won’t stop growing. I have vivid memories of the film from my childhood, including a scene where a bald boy’s wig is torn off mid-soccer game, much to the amusement of his fellow players, who mercilessly tease him.” – Hortense Smith 

Okay, so many of you have probably noticed that our esteemed (by some) and fearless (some of the time) leader, Dennis W Perry is once again growing his beard. Whether this is designed simply to irritate the folks at the 8:30 service, to please his lovely bride, or to make him look like Kenny Rogers we’ll never know. In any event, as Dennis’ journey begins I thought some beard-growing advice would be welcome. Here’s a How-To video from www.beardedgospelmen.com. If any of you men out there- or Eastern Bloc ladies- have advice for Dennis let me know.

Okay, so many of you have probably noticed that our esteemed (by some) and fearless (some of the time) leader, Dennis W Perry is once again growing his beard. Whether this is designed simply to irritate the folks at the 8:30 service, to please his lovely bride, or to make him look like Kenny Rogers we’ll never know. In any event, as Dennis’ journey begins I thought some beard-growing advice would be welcome. Here’s a How-To video from www.beardedgospelmen.com. If any of you men out there- or Eastern Bloc ladies- have advice for Dennis let me know.