Author Archive

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

Posted: December 1, 2017 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church

My good friend Jim Harnish pointed out this song and its story in response to my recent post about the church bells at Seminole Heights United Methodist.  Definitely worth a look, and worth a listen!


Late Night Church Bells

Posted: November 30, 2017 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church

A couple weeks ago I made a decision.  When the Seminole Heights Shooter was arrested, our church bells at Seminole Heights United Methodist would help spread the news as far as their rings could carry it.

When news of a break in the case began to circulate throughout the day on Tuesday, November 28, the decision became a promise.

I attended a meeting of our Board of Trustees, and then turned on the news at around 9:30pm to see if there had been an announcement, but there was nothing yet.  I began to get cold feet–what if they announce it in the middle of the night?  Should our bells wake up the whole neighborhood at midnight?  1am?  2am? (more…)


Posted: November 20, 2017 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church

It’s really quiet.

Quiet always surprises me.  It’s just suddenly there, like I expected to find something else, but quiet was there instead.

It surprised me tonight, I think, because I had a pretty noisy day.  Not like a day of chain-sawing or living next to an airport or a highway noisy, mind you.  This was amazing noisy.

I’m the pastor of a church of Jesus Christ.  A church is a group of people who are students/ disciples/ followers of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps it’s something similar to the way a group of fish is a school.  The way a group of birds is a flock.  The way a group of owls is, of course, called a parliament.


Paul, Barnabus, and Mark as a Breakup Story?

Posted: July 15, 2017 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church


Paul and Barnabus disagree about John Mark

By Matt Horan

One argument for the splitting of the United Methodist Church that keeps coming up, including in the Wesley Covenant Association’s opinion about the best outcome for the “Way Forward” process involves the splitting up of Paul and Barnabus.

Acts 15:39: “Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus.

Our Biblical exegesis on both sides of the issue of spitting the church over homosexuality has been terrible.  The Good News magazine says that Paul and Barnabus “parted amicably,” but, well, it doesn’t say that at all.

I keep asking the question I feel is most important:

How should we decide when an admonition in Scripture should remain contextual, and when it should outlive it’s context and become an enduring standard?

We have already decided on some issues.  We no longer require women to remain silent in church.  We no longer make anyone with a rash live outside the city until their priest declares it cured.  We don’t stone disobedient children, we don’t punish rapists by making them reimburse the woman’s father for the lost “bride price” that the rape cost him, and Christians have been shopping at stores on Sundays for years, so apparently there’s some wiggle room on the whole Sabbath thing too.

Is there a way for us to discern which admonitions belong to the ages, and which should remain ageless?

For this article, let’s turn to Acts 15 as an argument for Methodist disunion. My understanding of Paul and Barnabus’ disagreement is that they fought over John Mark.  They were about to head out on a new journey into the unknown, but since Mark had abandoned them before, Paul wanted to take somebody else, while Barnabus’ wanted to give his nephew a second chance.

So why does Luke share this episode?  Is he passing on to Theophilus (the recipient of the Book of Acts) a rule of thumb he should follow in the event he were to have a theological disagreement with another believer?

It’s important to remember that, by the time the Book of Acts was written, Mark was widely known to the early church.  He is spoken of by Paul and Peter with increasing acceptance (Colossians 4:10) and even affection (2Timothy 4:11) over time, with Peter calling him “my son” in his last mention (1Peter 5:14) and entrusting him to be the author of his own remembrance of the Good News in the Gospel of Mark, which Luke even consulted when working on his own Gospel account.

If anything, someone hearing Acts for the first time, written years after the circulation of Paul and Peter’s letters, would have taken note of how far Mark had come since then.  He had basically been a home wrecker for Paul and his mentor, but was eventually restored as a requested co-laborer with Paul, and even went on to enjoy a close kinship with “the Rock” himself, Simon Peter.

Would Luke’s mention of Mark have served more to teach the practice of cutting someone loose, or would it have highlighted what’s possibile when you stick with them?

I’m all for consulting the Scriptures when deciding on our course of action.  If we consult Acts 15 and the fight over Mark, however, the end of that story seems to be amazing fruit borne not by ending relationships, but by restoring them.