5 Questions with Scott Hagan: Mindful of Christmas' message

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 22, 2013 

ROBIN TRIMARCHI/rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.comThe Rev. Scott Hagan of Epworth United Methodist Church in Columbus left coaching for the ministry.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI — rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

How were you called into the ministry?

In high school, I had a sense of being called to be a basketball coach or a Methodist minister. I enrolled at Georgia Tech to pursue the former and worked for the basketball team there for five years while in school. I then got a couple of coaching jobs in small colleges and had the chance to work for the USA Olympic Team.

It was great. I was able to influence young people through basketball.

However, as each week would pass, I began to realize that the best moments I had were not necessarily a big win on the court or landing a star recruit. Instead, the hours I was spending volunteering with the youth at the churches I was attending were even better.

God's nudging and calling from a decade before had finally caught up with me. I "retired" from coaching after two years and enrolled in seminary. I have been working as a youth minister and pastor ever since.

Just a few days from Christmas, how do you keep the season in perspective?

I've found myself returning to the question, "Why Christmas every year?" The church's calendar, which started over three weeks ago with the first Sunday of Advent, is laid out to follow the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

But, more than just the tradition of the church, I am convinced we need to celebrate Christmas every year to be reminded of the truths that are contained in the story itself: the world suffers from self-inflicted wounds, so God entered history and took on the form of an infant child that we might see a better way to live face-to-face. More than just gifts and parties or even carols, I find myself grounded in the reality that I need God's love to break into my life, again.

You are active on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. What are the advantages and challenges for a minister who uses it as heavily as you do?

Great question. I am more and more convinced that the world has massively changed, in a short span of time.

Old ways of connecting with other people and old standards for realizing our identities are being overtaken by something that is still in flux. The changing world is better in some ways and certainly not in other ways.

Social media allows people to reach beyond their former, smaller spheres of connection and influence to now be 'heard and seen' by a nearly limitless audience. This is exhilarating. It is also dangerous. Not just for children and teenagers, who have not learned the need for boundaries in what they share and with whom they share it, but also for adults -- many of whom still struggle with those same boundaries, too.

One advantage of social media is that people can get their unique content out in front of millions. The challenges are more complex: how are these new social networks reshaping how people see us and how we define ourselves.

How have you seen Columbus change over the years?

We've seen some change and some things still the same since moving into the Valley in 2007. Changes in the way people look out for each other and how the economy of our community is providing for even more people are great. We can do more, though. I am praying that the positive changes some have experienced will be available to even more people. Columbus has the Spirit and resources to do it. We must keep at it.

What is the best kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?

That is tough to narrow down, but of all the examples that come to mind, there is one thing they have in common. Whether you talk about the world-class National Infantry Museum, or an urban whitewater rafting course, or the work that Open Door Community House is doing to change lives and leverage our entire community to end poverty, or the ongoing work of Columbus for Kids that is now Our House, they all have in common people with vision.

The secret that Columbus has long treasured is people who have carried out their visions to completion and, in so doing, changed things for the good.

BIO

Name: Scott Hagan

Age: 40

Job: Pastor at Epworth United Methodist Church in Columbus

Hometown: Statesboro, Ga.

Current home: Columbus

Family: My wife, Julie, and our two boys, Sam and Jack.

Education: I went to Georgia Tech for my undergraduate degree in management, then got an MBA from Georgia Southern, a Master's of Divinity from Emory, and am working on a Doctor of Ministry at Columbia in Decatur.

Favorite book: Ferrol Sams' "Run With The Horseman"

Favorite movie: "Saving Private Ryan"

Favorite restaurant: Caffe Amici

Favorite quote: "We do not find happiness by being assertive. We don't find happiness by running over people because we see what we want and they are in the way of that happiness so we either abandon them or we smash them. The Scriptures don't teach us to be assertive. The Scriptures teach us -- and this is remarkable -- the Scriptures teach us to be submissive. This is not a popular idea." -- Rich Mullins

Best concert attended: "Mumford and Sons" in September, maybe their second to last one

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