Heart-breaking Schism or Healthy Division?

I am choosing to participate in a synchblog by DreamUMC on the topic of Schism in the United Methodist Church. Last fall, I wrote a post about the now-impossibility of actually reforming death-giving structure of the UMC.  My frustration emerged after the Judicial Council, doing exactly what they are supposed to do, put the final nail in the coffin by overturning all significant votes taken at the last General Conference. Now, the big challenge, besides our structure, are the multiple theologies held by varying United Methodists. One of the UMC’s great strengths is its wide umbrella gathering many under its shelter.  That wide umbrella…

The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Three

Note: this is part three of a three part series. Part One is here; Part Two is here. Three Things to Keep in Mind First: not all growth is good growth.  When effectiveness is measured only by numerical growth, we make the fatal mistake of assuming that just because something grows rapidly, it is doing so under the blessing of God.  All gardeners and physicians know this:  rapid growth doesn’t necessarily mean good, healthy or desired growth. Second:  the process of making disciples is a long, slow, and often painful one.  A disciple is one who is actually willing to walk the…

The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Two

Note: this is the second of a three-part series.  Part one is here; part three is here.   The Church is In Crisis I suspect everyone agrees that The United Methodist Church, as a world-wide organization, is in crisis.  Our membership grows older and the death tsunami looms. Few churches see a vital future. People in the US church, who have been the principle financial support of the worldwide church, are moving away from denominational religious structures. The crisis leads to pressure to have numbers that look good. We’re no different in that sense from any business that must please its stockholders…

The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part One

I recently walked out of a local electronics store in some frustration.  I have an older inkjet printer that needed new ink cartridges.  Now, ink cartridges are some of the biggest consumer rip-offs ever devised, so I wasn’t in a great mood when I walked in.  My irritation grew when I realized that my aged printer does not have its exact model number indicated on any of the multitudes of printer cartridges available. Two different sales staff tried to help; each came up with a different solutions.  Both admitted that if I bought a cartridge, put it in the printer and it…

The Election Port-Mortem, the Fundamentalist Takeover of The Republican Party . . . and The UMC?

Election Post-Mortem Mark Davis, a right-wing conservative radio host and columnist, wrote this in his post mortem about the Presidential election: But I lament a country where the middle class is more attuned to government benefits than the work ethic that was once our nation’s engine. I will blame the culture of dependency that leads millions to seek rescue paid by the incomes of others. And I will point to a society that has stood idly by while standards of family, self-reliance and independence have dwindled to mere shadows. I found as I read his column that my normally quite low blood…

The Language of Power and Pentecost: Bishops, Clergy and Gardens

Note:  this is part of a larger body of writing I am currently working on with the theme of “The Sustainable Church” which is an extended metaphor of church as garden.  I believe what I am learning has important applicability to the current situation in the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. How do plants communicate with the gardener that something has gone wrong?  What means do they use to let the one with authority over them, i.e., the gardener, gain awareness of their health, their diseases, their thirsts and their floods? This question strikes me as I ponder the…

The Human Tendency: We Murder One Another Over the Details

Most of us can agree on major goals.  For the church, it is “Love God with all your heart, mind, strength and soul and love your neighbor as yourself” and “Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” We can rally around those things with unity and purpose. BUT . . . the moment we seek to determine the details in the “how” of doing those acts of love and the work of being and making disciples, our unity often dissolves into interminable, soul-destroying squabbling and even death. So, we make rules.  We do it as a nation with…

Biblical Ignorance and the Delegates to General Conference

I have been reading blog after blog about what is happening at General Conference, taking particular interest in the ones that supported the now dead legislation that would taking language out of the Book of Discipline that condemns homosexual practices. I have numerous thoughts here. The thing that hits me the hardest here is the utter biblical ignorance that is being expressed by those who oppose the full inclusion of our GLBT brothers and sisters into the life of the church. They pick up a few verses from Scripture and use them to condemn or go with that disgusting “Hate the sin,…

Ministry With the Poor

Today, Dr. Frederick Schmidt posted on his blog here about doing ministry with the poor, on of the four areas of focus of the United Methodist Church mandated by the 2008 General Conference (just a meandering thought:  will all those change with the 2012 General Conference–just when I’m starting to figure this out?). Anyway, I thought Schmidt made a particularly insightful comment when he wrote, “I have no way of “knowing” in the sense that really matters. No one who works on a computer, went to college, pursued graduate work, and writes online knows a thing about what it means to be…