“Itinerating” to First UMC, Indianola

Itinerating is a very United Methodist word for the process of UM pastors moving to a new appointment in the UMC. 

In just six days my wife and I will move to Indianola, Iowa to serve First UMC in Indianola. My current appointment, Grace UMC in Sioux City, has been a real blessing these past five years. We leave having made many friends and sharing in some wonderful opportunities for ministry. I also greatly enjoyed the three years I got to teach Christian Ethics at Morningside College. It was my first experience teaching as an adjunct instructor. I feel that I learned as much as my students did!

Indianola is a beautiful community just outside of of Des Moines. First UMC is an historic congregation of United Methodists which had its start from the Three Rivers Mission circuit led by Rev. Georges Teas in 1849. First Church is a strong and vital congregation in the community offering many opportunities for ministry and service!

Indianola is also blessed to be the home of Simpson College, a fine United Methodist related school just two blocks from First UMC. I’m thrilled to be appointed to another congregation with a relationship to a UM College! I have already heard great things about Simpson and I look forward to getting to know the college community. 

My wife Michelle and I have always considered church moves to be an adventure! In each church we’ve served we have made new friends, experienced new exciting opportunities for ministry, experienced a new community and culture, and grown a little older (and we hope a little wiser) with each opportunity to serve God through Jesus Christ.

To all the First Indianola family who might read this, know that that I am deeply honored to be appointed to be your Lead Pastor and to walk along side you in the next part of the journey that God has for First UMC!

In Christ,


Itineracy in the UMC

Many of you have seen on Facebook that I’m going to be moving at the end of June to be the Lead Pastor of First UMC Indianola from Grace UMC in Sioux City.

This seemed like a good time to repost a popular blog entry of mine that explains why “call systems” are not better than itineracy.

I do strongly support the itinerant system, even when it means moving when I was not thinking about it or at a time that is not easy timing because I believe it is the best way to deploy clergy. Here is a link to my previous blog entry about misunderstands about the call system that come from my previous experience in another part of the Christian family.

As part of the itinerant system I’ve had better matches and better church experiences than at almost any time in a call system. I’ll miss Grace UMC. But I know I will be blessed in Indianola as well!


Controlling Facebook Rather than Facebook Controlling You

I’ve had several friends share with me that Facebook and other social media sites are completely stressing them out because they can’t get away from the constant barrage of political news both before and after the election. Many of our friends constantly repost articles from news sites to their feeds that show up in our news feeds. Many of us over the years have followed new organizations online that are constantly posting about every little detail of what is going on.

Since CNN was created as the first 24 hour news source on cable TV, the landscape of news has changed from a time for news after dinner and at 10p or 11p to a constant stream of news reporting from multiple sites and sources, if you are willing to receive that constant fire hose of information.

On Facebook there are some ways to take control of your feed so that you see less news on Facebook and more interaction with friends.

1. Unfollow any news media site you have chosen to like and follow that stresses you. (Easy and quick to do.)

2. Hide posts posted by friends from news sites then you will be given the opportunity to either see less from that news source (or individual) or to totally hide all articles/posts from that news source. (Takes more time, but eventually you will only see what you want to read in your feed.) NOTE – you do not have to unfriended anyone to do this.  

3. When you really do want to read news, then go to a news site and read it rather than rely on FB as your news source. But if it is stressing you, limit the amount of time you spend reading news.

4. Most important of all, take care of yourself, go get a cup of coffee with friends, read a book, listen to music, don’t let the news cycle dominate your day.

Just because the news media and social media sites want you to read news 24 hours a day, doesn’t mean you have to or should. Be informed, yes! But be informed in a healthy way rather than an obsessive way.

Take a Deep Deep Breath….

We had an election. About half of the people in the US supported the outcome. About half of the people in the US supported the other candidate. A large percentage of people were and are uncertain about the future, our nation, and our ability to have public dialogue. That would have been the same no matter who won. 
However you voted, you have not stopped being my friend.

Christians sometimes have to remind ourselves that we cannot let the Church, its mission, its future, or its sense of unity be dictated by national and political forces. 

Sisters and brothers, take a deep breath. Remember that we all serve a risen Christ together. Come to worship this Sunday and remember we are still Christ’s body together.

If you are one of my friends, Christian or non-Christian, who feels disenfranchised, hurt or left out by this election or the entire process of choosing our leaders, know that those who would leave you out, those who would marginalize you, and those who would silence your voice do not speak for me. And they do not speak for all Christians. This Christian believes that you are a child of God and because of that, we are all family. I hope that we can grow in treating each other like family in the days to come.

Tim Bonney

The Blame Game, A Waste of Time

Well, my plans to blog daily last month never took off. Life interrupted. So I will return to blogging as I have time. That is probably a relief to those of you who don’t want to see a post from me every day. 😉

I’ve read a lot of articles preporting to tell the Church why Millenials don’t attend church. A few of them have been written by Millenials and those are usually the most insightful. Many have been written by others who may not have as much insight in the issue, largely  X-Gen and Boomer pastors who just think they know why Millenials don’t attend Church and want to share their wisdom with the rest of us. How do they know? Well they just do, and it mostly involves either blaming Millenials and our 21st century culture or it they blame the Church for being out of touch and old school or out of touch in the ways we try to reach Millenials.

Well, this X-Gen pastor is going to put in his two cents and tell you that the blame game is a waste of time. Yes, there are issues with our own culture that cause people to be less willing to commit to the Church. Yes, the church often does not know what to do to reach out to Millenials and when we do we often don’t do it right (whatever right is.) But all of that misses the point that actually the changes in our society and culture are no one’s fault.

No group of Millenials got together and had an organized meeting to say, “Hey, lets be anti-organized religion.” In any generation there are tendencies but I have never met a Millenial, X-Gen, Boomer, etc. that exactly fit the description that all our marketing experts tell us they fit.

We are talking about individuals and individuals have their own life, views, opinions, and interests. Making everything about generations rather than individual people misses the point. The Church is not in the world to lead generations to faith in God through Jesus Christ. The Church is about the grace that is offered to individual people no matter who they are.

Also, no one in the Church had a meeting and said, “Let’s keep all the young people out of the Church.” No, the Church is also made up of individual people who are trying serve God, albeit imperfectly. They attend church to experience God in some way. They participate in the activities of the church because the church is meaningful to them in some way. There is not some organized effort to keep young people out of God’s house and it does nothing but make people feel bad to be told constantly that “those people don’t attend church, and it is all YOUR fault” as if we had the ushers escort them out of the building.

Maybe it is time we stop putting everyone in a box and stop pretending we know what all church people are like, what all Millenials are like, what all women are like, what all men are like, what all the church is like, what all (fill in the blank) and do what we can to understand the individual people that we all hope to get to know and that the Church hopes to minister to?

Generational mythology is as old (and older) than the musical “Bye Bye Birdie (1963)” in which they sang the song, “What’s the Matter with Kids Today?” All those “kids” they sang about in that song are now the “older generation” and we are still singing the same old tune and still dividing each other up into camps so that we can misunderstand each other and then once we have misunderstood each other we can blame each other. Let’s just stop the blame game!

Tech Tuesday – Parallels

I’m a long time Mac user. Most of the time I prefer to work in the Apple environment. But many times I’m the only Mac user in the church I’m serving. That happens to be true in Sioux City as well. So when you are the only Mac user you often have to find ways to fit in with those poor lost souls who are running Windows. 😉

One of the biggest problems is dealing with pieces of software that only have a Windows version. This problem is much smaller than it used to be with Mac OS versions of Microsoft Office available which saves to the same file formats as the PC does. But you still have to deal with the frustration that the two office suites are not the same. If a windows user sends a Mac user Publisher file often you cannot do a thing with them.

So, when you are in a mixed OS office what is the solution? Well one of the best solutions out there is to run a system emulator such as Parallels or VMWare Fusion. (Parallels is my personal favorite.)

Parallels allows you to run Windows 10 and Windows programs at the very same time you are running Mac OS X and Mac apps. You can run the Windows in a separate window, or you can run both at the same time in what is called “coherence mode.”

In coherence mode you run windows programs and apps right on top of the Mac desktop as if they are Mac OS X programs. So what can you do with this? Well, right now I am using the PC version of MS Office which allows me to use Publisher and all the PC centric software that Microsoft intentionally make more function for PCs than Macs.

Take a look at the screen shot from my Mac. (Mac users, try not to get queazy as you look at Microsoft Edge running right on my desktop. 🙂  )

Screenshot 2016-08-23 14.29.04

By having Chrome, Windows Explorer, Edge, and Safari, etc. I am able to test our church website or my blog in multiple browsers to see how it looks.

If you need both Mac OS X and Windows, Parallels is a great solution!