When Should a Church Schism?

I took a lot of heat from my Methodist friends last week for suggesting that young clergy forsake the denomination and go do something new. Let me be clear: I don’t expect one single Methodist clergyperson or seminarian to jump ship because I blogged about it. Puhleeze, people.

I will reiterate something: It is virtually impossible to see the dysfunction of a system when you’re inside it. Ask anyone who’s married to an alcoholic; ask a prison guard; ask Michel Foucault. Sometimes Often it takes an outsider to speak truth into a system. Also, dear Methodists, to appease your anger, here’s a picture of me washing Methodist feet:

That being said the Presbyterians are facing challenges of their own. The closest church to my house is Christ Presbyterian, a large PC(USA) congregation, the pastor of which has been at the forefront of the Fellowship of Presbyterians, a group of primarily large, conservative, white, suburban churches. The Fellowship is launching a new denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Order.

Our weekly suburban paper, the Edina Sun, covered the first meeting about the potential switch at Christ Presbyterian:

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A Post for Tripp Fuller

“In a modern theology of nature, it is neither wise nor appropriate to reduce the fact of the divine creation to the process of God’s separating activity; for to do so calls in question the theological character of ‘theology of nature’ itself. But if we call in question the ‘theology’ in the theology of nature, the natural character of nature is threatened too. A danger of this kind is inherent in the prcess thinking of A.N. Whitehead, and in the process theology which was built upon his ideas. If the idea of creatio ex nihilo is excluded, or reduced to the formation of a net-yet-actualized primordial matter ‘no-thing,’ then the world process must be just as eternal and without any beginning like God himself. But if it is eternal and without any beginning like God himself, the process must itself be one of God’s natures. And in this case we have to talk about ‘the divinization of the world.’ God and nature are fused into a unified world process, so that the theology of nature becomes a divinization of nature: God is turned into the comprehensive ordering factor in the flux of happening.

-Jürgen Moltmann
God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God, p. 78

Interested in a Postmodern Youth Ministry Conference?

John Vest is. If you’re interested, please let him know:

I’m thinking quite seriously about hosting a children and youth ministry conference in Chicago in the fall of 2013. The particular focus is still gelling, but I want to gather together practitioners and academics to think about the following three questions:

What does religious education/faith formation for children and youth look like in a postmodern context? For example, what is the purpose, role, and shape of confirmation in a church context that embraces uncertainty and ambiguity?

What does children and youth ministry look like in a post-denominational context? Are we raising emerging generations in particular faith traditions or are we reinforcing the post-denominational trends? Does it matter?

Even more broadly, how do we effectively minister to children, youth, and families in a post-Christendom context in which church is no longer at the center of culture?

I’m thinking of calling it something like “Children and Youth Ministry in the Posts.” Chris Rodkey (somewhat) jokingly suggested “Children, Youth and a New Kind of Post-Christianity.” Whatever we call it, if this sounds interesting to you, let me know.

Drop him a line here: Children, Youth, and a (not so) New Kind of Christianity.

Ordain Thyself

For the past few months, I’ve been collaborating with a few guys on a fun little app. Today it went live on the iTunes App Store. So now, for just $.99, you can get ordained in over two dozen religions. You can learn what you believe, and even post pics of yourself in your religious vestments to Facebook and Twitter.

If you’ve got an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, give it a try and let me know what you think!