elephant-ears-sm

The Crucial Difference Between Schism and Division: Lessons from the Garden

The question appears again and again in church life and right now particularly with mainline denominations: should we just give up and split up? There is a way to divide and still thrive. Let’s pay attention to the lesson from … Continue reading The Crucial Difference Between Schism and Division: Lessons from the Garden

Why FaceBook And Robert’s Rules of Order Make Holy Conferencing Impossible: An Alternative Approach

Yet One More FB Explosion For what seemed like the trillionth time, I watched another clergy Facebook conversation degenerate into frustration, name-calling, shut-off, and despair. The few political conversations I have participated on using the same medium have seen similar fates. Why? First, let’s look at Twitter.  With a 140 character limit, it became a place to is to make a hard hit with few words and watch the fallout. One-liners rule the day.  And one-liners have no space for nuance, for shades of gray, for real dialogue that might lead to mutual understanding. With FB conversations, those brief one-liners … Continue reading Why FaceBook And Robert’s Rules of Order Make Holy Conferencing Impossible: An Alternative Approach

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 … Continue reading The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Three

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 … Continue reading The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Two

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 … Continue reading The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part One

Final Reflections on General Conference 2012

I’ve read all I can find about the final, inconclusive, disturbing and yet almost liberating end to General Conference 2012.  I wish I could have been there, but this way from the distance I was free to spend many hours in prayer for the situation. The badly need restructuring just didn’t happen.  Huge, scary trust issues, or lack of trust issues, surfaced. Nearly half the delegates walked away saddened and defeated by the church’s continued focus on sexuality as the root of evil and sin rather than far more significant issues that permeate and hurt the witness of The United … Continue reading Final Reflections on General Conference 2012

The Streets of NYC and Thoughts on General Conference

I am now in New York City. But today is more a day of rest and continued healing as I’m having trouble with being still enough to let the stitches heal properly from my surgery, nearly three weeks ago. So, I spent a few hours this morning reading blogs again and trying to figure out what on earth had happened at General Conference 2012.  Twitter, which I as a rule quite thoroughly dislike, did exactly today what it is supposed to do:  gave enough information for me to get a handle on the early dismissal of the morning session, the … Continue reading The Streets of NYC and Thoughts on General Conference

Lean and Mean or Deep and Wide?

I’m sitting on an airplane to NYC to begin my Sabbatical, which will include much thinking and writing about the nature of a healthy church culture. I am both pastor and gardener.  The first by occupation, the second by avocation.  I love both venues.  I also often say that there is no place like the church, and the garden, to break my heart. In the garden, weather, insects, weeds and pestilence often combine to destroy hours, weeks, months of hard work.  In the church, we break hearts routinely by our breaking of covenant with God and with each other. Covenant … Continue reading Lean and Mean or Deep and Wide?