The Mediocre Commission October 31, 2011Posted by Dan R. Dick in Christian discipleship, Christian witness, Identity & Purpose, Integrity, The United Methodist Church.
Tags: Christian discipleship, Mission & Purpose, The United Methodist Church, Vision
From the Gospel According to Bob, 28:16-20:
Then Jesus sayeth unto them, “Go, invite people to come sitteth for an hour in church once every six weeks or so, telling them that very little will be expected of them, that they will heareth good music and that there will be coffee and snacks.” But, Peter aggrieved and dyspeptic said, “But, what if there is soccer??” And Jesus replied, “Well, that is a problem.” (KJV)
Jesus said, “Bring people to church.” Peter replied, “They may not come.” Jesus said, “Whatever.” (The Message)
We are creating a church of ridiculously low expectations. I had yet another meeting with congregational leaders who refused to entertain the idea of holding people accountable to their membership vows and the mission of disciple-making because said people will “leave the church and take their money with them.” Is this a practical concern? Certainly. Should it hold us hostage to violating our values, principles and undermining our integrity? No way. Will people leave the church if we raise expectations? You bet they will! And, yes, they will take their money with them. But this is our shame, not theirs. We built the big buildings, and we carry the huge debt load that means we don’t have money for ministry and mission. Having 1,000 mediocre members has been so much more important to us than having a handful of authentic disciples for so long that any move back toward integrity is fraught with peril. We like our stuff and comfort too well. We are so proud of what we own that we could care less about who we are. Too harsh? Sorry, but it is a growing painful truth. We want pain-free, low-cost, no sacrifice church. Problem is, what we are left with isn’t worth much.
United Methodist Preservation Society October 26, 2011Posted by Dan R. Dick in Critical Thinking, Identity & Purpose, Integrity, The United Methodist Church.
Tags: Mission & Purpose, The United Methodist Church, Vision
The latest wave of announcements about our future are dismaying. Not because they are negative, but because they are pedestrian. We are not “rearranging deck-chairs on the Titanic,” as some assert; we are strategically planning and designing a Titanic upon which to rearrange deck-chairs. The short-sighted, defensive, U.S.-centric, survival-mentality, institutional preservation teeny-tiny vision being presented is embarrassing in its narcissism. It is all about us, and not in a good way. Couched in rah-rah language, it is about money and property and power and control — not mission, ministry, God and Spirit. I have been in communication with bishops, district superintendents, conference leaders, pastors and laity from over thirty conferences who are reading my blogs and encouraging me to continue raising the kinds of questions I do — but to what end? The majority commend me for doing something they don’t feel comfortable or safe to do themselves. People working on these study reports tell me about their misgivings, but they don’t raise them with those in power. Hundreds of people are uncomfortable with the direction of the church, but we just keep moving down the path to same-old, same-old.
The Missionally Challenged Church October 24, 2011Posted by Dan R. Dick in Christian discipleship, Christian witness, Core Values, Identity & Purpose, Integrity, The United Methodist Church.
Tags: Christian discipleship, Church Leadership, Church membership, Mission & Purpose, The United Methodist Church
Okay, so we don’t really mean it when we say our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. That’s too hard — too demanding. We don’t want anything that might make us break a sweat. We want easy church — nothing that will actually change anything. We want church-lite, at best. But what will this look like? A church where people just show up? Oh, no, that’s unrealistic. We’re much too busy for that. Once every six weeks to a worship service should suffice. A church where people pray for one another? No, I was told recently that if you expect people to pray, they will leave the church. A church where a handful of dedicated supporters carry it for the 80% who could care less? Now you’re talking! That’s the kind of church the vast majority of United Methodists are looking for. So, let’s all lower our standards, count butts in the pews, talk denomination and dashboards, and focus on our buildings and budgets, and the world can pretty much go and take care of itself. Tongue in cheek? Folks, I have been talking to those outside our denomination and this is exactly what they think of us…
Di*cip*eshi* October 12, 2011Posted by Dan R. Dick in Christian discipleship, Church Leadership, Core Values, Identity & Purpose, Integrity, The United Methodist Church.
Tags: Christian discipleship, Church Leadership, The United Methodist Church
What in God’s name do we think we are doing? If I hear one more prominent church leader define discipleship as going to church I will scream. We aren’t going to count the number of people who attend church anymore. Some genius decided we will count “disciples” in worship. What? We can do that with one hand! And I keep hearing about discipleship “programs” and “systems”. Do we not have any clue what we are talking about? Well, we did form a Board of Discipleship, so it isn’t a new confusion, but really… let’s take the heart and soul of the Christian movement and reduce it to just one more institutional church growth travesty.
Christi-inanity October 5, 2011Posted by Dan R. Dick in Church Leadership, Congregational Life, Core Values, Critical Thinking, Integrity, The United Methodist Church.
Tags: anti-intellectualism, Christian Community, Church Leadership, Spiritual seekers, Values
Four recent conversations point out a serious (and growing) problem in many of our congregations: we don’t know what to do with smart people who ask tough questions. I have had (intentional) encounters with people in the state of Wisconsin who have visited United Methodist congregations and found them lacking. In each case, the person I spoke to decided to go to another church or to stop going to church altogether. They all gave essentially the same reason: they grew disillusioned that no one could or would answer their questions. The conclusion they all came to is that United Methodists don’t know their faith, don’t engage in open-minded conversation, don’t welcome questions, and teach and preach at a third grade level. Fair or not, we are losing three whole generations of college/post-college educated men and women who feel that we are dumbing-down our faith — and once we lose these folks we aren’t likely to get them back.