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 can be…

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 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…

Final Reflections on General Conference

I’ve read all I can find about the final, inconclusive, disturbing and yet almost liberating end to General Conference.  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 Methodiist Church.  Bishops…

The Streets of NYC and Thoughts on General Conference

I am now in New York City, staying with my youngest son and his wife on the Upper West Side and will be spending much time with my middle son and his wife and their three children, one a newborn, on the Upper East Side.  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 GC.  Twitter, which…

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 is so…

Questions of Sexuality and Righteousness

First, if you do nothing else, read this blog by Dan Dick.  It is a passionate and eloquent call to discipleship, not this watered-down stuff that can be measured on public shaming boards (i.e., electronic dashboards that will measure nickels and noses). Second, after getting some interesting responses to this post about biblical ignorance and the delegates to General Conference, a few more thoughts popped up today. I ask: those who adamantly oppose full inclusion of our GLBT brothers and sisters in the life of the church seem quite focused on the genital activities of that group of people.  What if we…