It is difficult to make sense of the events of the day. The passing of the Traditional Plan was disorienting, heart-rending, and continues to be heavy on my mind. The church that has been home for my entire life feels a little less like home.
The votes clearly reflect the reality of where the church is at the moment. The votes were around 60-40 or 55-45 for many of the matters – a denomination divided. We are divided. There is no way around that.
At this point, it is difficult to see what the days ahead will hold. It could be a significant number of supporters of the Traditional Plan still decide to leave. It could be that the work of reformation continues within the United Methodist Church (this is almost certain). It could be time for the birth of a new progressive denomination. I don’t know…
For now, I plan to get some sleep and get up tomorrow ready to continue tending to the work of God in my community and across the connection.
I still have hope.
I have been using Lift as a tool to help restart this blog and I thought I would share with you some of that process. One of the steps is identifying an ideal target person – someone for whom this blog is written. So, here goes:
The ideal target person for this blog is Methodist clergy, church staff or committed layperson.
Q: What are they passionate about?
- They are passionate about spiritual renewal in the people and congregations of the United Methodist Church.
- They care deeply about introducing people to Jesus and helping others grow in their faith.
Q: What are their goals?
- They want to be effective in their ministry in the local church.
- They want to have a fulfilling personal and professional life
Q: What are their fears?
- They are afraid that they have to be on the extreme right or left to find theological companions on their journey.
- They are afraid they do not have the resources they need to be effective.
- They are afraid that the United Methodist church is doomed.
- They are afraid that they are the only ones that don’t have it all figured out
Q: Why should they care about your blog?
They should care about my blog because they will find:
- resources which they may need for effectiveness
- encouragement and guidance to be fruitful in ministry,
- examples from someone who has gone before them in ministry
- new ideas for day to day life
So, dear reader, does this describe you? What is on target? What is missing?
Perhaps, most importantly, what are your answers to some of these questions?
“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you” (Zechariah 9:12, NIV).
Of all the things that I could be prisoner to, I hope that I will always be a prisoner of hope.
This week, I read Why?: Making Sense of God’s Will by Adam Hamilton. In this short book, Hamilton addresses three questions of theodicy, God’s justice in the face of suffering, Why do the innocent suffer? Why do my prayers go unanswered? Why can’t I see God’s will for my life? He concludes with a few words about Why God’s love prevails.
As a pastor, I have spent time studying the history of Christian thought around these questions as well as spending time with people who are asking some of these very same questions. In this book, I found both a few new approaches to responding to these questions and encouragement for my own why questions. I appreciated the clear illustrations, biblical examples and easy to follow structure.
While this book will be helpful for anyone who is struggling with why questions about their faith, I most strongly recommend it for leaders of Christian communities who will interact with people who are trying to make sense of God’s presence and action in their life at difficult times. In addition, I believe that you will find, as I did, that the words of this book provided helpful guidance for my life in ways that I was not expecting.
I know that I will refer back to this book again in the future for both personal and professional use.
Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to preach at the Heritage Service at Resurrection Leawood. This is the first service on Sunday at Resurrection beginning at 7:45 AM. It was the first time that I had lead worship in several months and it felt really good.
We considered the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples in John 13 and looked at ways that serving others builds relationships both with those being served and with those with whom we serve. We serve others out of gratitude to God and a clear hope for the future.
If you are interested, you can read the whole thing online at http://j.mp/c3weUc.
It is great to have the opportunity to preach!
Cokesbury, Abingdon Press and UMR Communications each have long histories.
How much of a future do they have?
I recently read an article that referenced this video put together by a publishing company.
What are your thoughts, feelings or opinions on the future of Methodist publications?
A few weeks ago, we were invited in staff chapel to reflect on the cross with a small group of fellow staff. I enjoy being in conversation with those with whom I work about theology. I don’t always take the time that I need in reflection with my colleagues, so I was particularly blessed by their responses.
- The cross as the first verse of a song about hope.
- The cross as a catalyst.
- The cross as a mystery. Understanding it less doesn’t lessen my commitment
Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.
– Japanese proverb
In considering the future of the United Methodist Church both vision and action is critical. Yesterday, I outlined a vision for renewal within the denomination and today I will tackle how I think it will happen.
I used to think that it was key to determine a clear vision that could be seen by people from across the spectrum of the denomination. This would be a clear directional arrow pointing the way forward for the entire denomination. I no longer believe that this is the best approach. It does not matter whether one particular renewal / revival effort becomes the one that gains huge momentum and spreads across the denomination. What does matter is that many people see a positive vision for the future and take action around it. Some of these efforts will have ongoing significance and some will not. But together these efforts will form the directional arrow pointing the way to renewal within the denomination and spiritual revival among United Methodists. I initiated this idea on paper in a conversation with Ben Simpson:
I have been reading The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations and am becoming increasingly convinced that what is needed is a multitude of leaders taking action toward a vision. Some of these efforts will fall along the path, in rocky places, among thorns and some on good soil. (Mark 4) I believe that sharing stories multiplies the action that is being taken and serves as inspiration.
Some examples of vision and action of which I am aware:
My invitation for you:
- Articulate a vision or align with the vision of another for spiritual revival and renewal within the United Methodist Church.
- Begin to take action toward that vision.
- Make your vision and action public through a blog, facebook, twitter, etc or share the vision and action of someone else whose story needs to be told.
- When you hear or read a story of vision and action that is producing fruit for God’s kingdom – share it with others.
The same is true for this post. If you believe that the action associated with this vision will prove fruitful, share this post with others. If not, let it pass on into the blogosphere.
My vision today is to aid in sharing stories of effective vision and action with others.
My action today is this blog post and a continuing commitment to passing along stories
With God’s help, I seek to be faithful in both my vision and actions. I plan to remain active in casting vision and taking action to see what gains momentum.
What vision do you have? What action have you taken?
I stay in the United Methodist Church because:
- I believe the doctrine and general rules of the UMC are aligned with the scripture and God’s work in the world.
- I have experienced the fruit of the United Methodist way of faith in my own life and witnessed it in the lives of others.
- I believe that the United Methodist Church is on the brink of renewal in the United States and that I am called to be part of that renewal.
- I believe the best years for the United Methodist Church are yet to come.
- I believe that the spiritual DNA of United Methodists is strong and yearning to be loosed for a new generation.
This series is about your thoughts. Each day I will post a sentence starter and invite you to finish it.
I hope that annual conference this year…