The Future of Christianity

A lot of what I get to do is spend time thinking and writing about the future of Christianity — my preferred future, at least. And getting together with people who are interested in the same trajectories of Christianity is a big part of my life, too. Honestly, it’s the whole reason that Doug and I started The JoPa Group and produce events like Emergence Christianity: A National Gathering with Phyllis Tickle and Friends.

What I do with my part-time job at sparkhouse is distinct, but related. This fall, sparkhouse released Animate.Faith, a video-based congregational resource that opens conversations about some of the most intriguing and essential ideas of Christianity:

God | Faith Is a Quest
Brian McLaren

Religion | Spirituality is not Enough
Lillian Daniel

Jesus | The Revolution of Love
Mark Scandrette

Salvation | Abundant Life Now
Shane Hipps

Cross | Where God Is
Nadia Bolz-Weber

Bible | A Book Like No Other
Lauren Winner

Church | An Imperfect Family
Bruce Reyes-Chow

This week, we met with the talented group who will be developing the next course for us, Animate.Bible:

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The Methodist Fiasco

As an observer and critic of denominations, I watch the United Methodist Church General Conference from afar earlier this month. And it confirmed my opinion: Of all the screwed up denominational systems, the UMC is the most screwed up.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Will Willimon, a Methodist bishop, writing in The United Methodist Reporter:

Methodist Bishop Will Willimon

General Conference in Tampa made history as the most expensive ($1,500 per minute!), least productive, most fatuous assemblage in the history of Methodism.  Sunday evening’s “A Celebration of Ministry” fiasco was a metaphor for our nearly two weeks at church expense: four hours of belabored supplication by the General Commission on Status and Role of Women, five Ethnic National Plans, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, United Methodist Men, Girl Scouts, Africa University and a number of other agencies I can’t remember.  A subtheme of that long night: even though we can’t cite specific fruit, please don’t force us to change or to expend less on ourselves.

Even after suffering this abuse, General Conference succumbed to the agencies’ pleadings.  In a post-GC blog, Mike Slaughter (who with Adam Hamilton eloquently—and futilely—warned GC that we must change or face certain death) told the truth: “Our denominational systems continue to resist change by protecting archaic structures.  From our seminaries to boards and agencies, institutional preservation was a strong resistant influence throughout GC.  Entrenched organizational bureaucracies resist accountability …”

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