Slogging through General Conference on our way to implosion

First: you want to know why the UMC is so stuck? Read this piece I wrote for the United Methodist Reporter. We’re a muddy administrative impossibility. As for me, it is Tuesday, late afternoon. Still one more hour of legislation. The presiding Bishop decided to speak in French as an act of hospitality to our [Read More…]

General Conference Day One: A Beautiful Morning for a Gay Ordination

OK, Portland is gorgeous. Lovely flowering bushes sweetly frame the craftsman-style bungalow, an Airbnb rental where I’m staying with the United Methodist Reporter team. Delicious coolness kissed the morning air as a cloudless blue sky belied Portland’s reputation as a place that rains all the time. I would be happy just to sit outside and [Read More…]

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 the garden here. In 2012, I wrote a post about the now-impossibility of actually reforming [Read More…]

Fighting the System: The Aging Body and the Aging UMC

Battling the Systems Like just about everyone I know, I am in a constant battle with my body’s survival desire to put on weight. Vanity drives my battle. Cellular memory and human history drives my body. My body will ultimately win. It might be a good idea to be thankful for that. The way the human [Read More…]

Who Owns the Title to Orthodoxy?

Orthodoxy–authorized or generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practice. Many claim it for themselves. But I ask: who really gets to own this word? Timothy Tennent, President of Asbury Theological Seminary, wrote last year claiming “orthodoxy” for the conservative arm of the United Methodist Church: What we actually have is a group (however imperfectly) which is committed [Read More…]

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 [Read More…]

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 [Read More…]

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 [Read More…]

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 [Read More…]

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 [Read More…]