Order of Elders meets for worship, learning

Clergy from across Arkansas met Jan. 31 at Cabot UMC for a gathering of the Order of Elders. 
The event, open to ordained and provisional members of the Arkansas Conference, began with a worship service and celebration of Holy Communion. Bishop Gary Mueller preached, offering appreciation and encouragement to those gathered. 
Even considering the challenges of ministry in a world where religion doesn’t often take center stage, Bishop Mueller insisted there has never been a better time to be a United Methodist pastor. 
“We have the opportunity to help people fall in love with Jesus, and be transformed by Jesus, and follow Jesus and serve other people like no one else has ever before,” he said. “We are much more like the days of Paul than we were the 1960s and 1970s. And it’s a much better thing that someone says, ‘Hey, I want to follow this Jesus,’ because they’ve experienced the difference he makes than following Jesus just because that’s what everyone else in town is doing.”
The Rev. Dr. Doug Hester of San Antonio, a Lutheran pastor who also works as a marriage and family therapist, spoke about change and adventure. “Change forces us to experiment and adapt. That’s how we learn and grow,” he said. 
An expert in Family Systems Theory, Hester encouraged pastors to examine their churches as living systems, and to be willing to introduce new elements. “Rather than trying to come up with new answers to the same old questions, adventure changes the very questions we ask,” he said. 
Freeing the imagination can disturb people’s mindsets in refreshing ways, Hester said, changing how people think.
“The human brain thrives on novelty,” he said. “As much as people may say they don’t like change, their brains would disagree with them.”