God Bless You, George G. Hunter, III! March 29, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in Book Recommendations and Reviews, Church Leadership, Core Values, Identity & Purpose, The United Methodist Church.
Tags: Church Leadership, Evangelism, Mission & Purpose, The United Methodist Church
Our United Methodist Publishing House released five titles in their new Adaptive Leadership Series, and I have had the pleasure of reading each one. I will be weighing in on each in time, but far and away my favorite is George Hunter’s, “The Recovery of a Contagious Methodist Movement.” What a fine little book. Those who know me well will instantly see my bias — he agrees with me, so therefore he must be brilliant! Guilty as charged. I have been saying the things in this book for years, but I haven’t said them nearly as well. Among those items that George Hunter nails with clarity and conviction:
- Our core problem is not one of structure, or even leadership, it is one of identity; we have forgotten who we are.
- The professionalism of the clergy class shifted our center from a laity movement and diminished our impact immensely.
- We have allowed church to become “all about us” instead of God’s gift to those outside the fellowship
- We perpetuate the myth that our existing institution is “normal” and therefore “right”
- That our current obsession with tinkering will bring about any real change.
Inadequate March 22, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in Church Leadership, Core Values, Mission of the Church, Personal Reflection, The United Methodist Church, Vision.
Tags: church, Church Leadership, Mission & Purpose, The United Methodist Church, Vision
I guess people actually follow my blog fairly regularly. I’ve received dozens of emails asking, “Where are you?” I have taken a couple of weeks off from writing to do more reading — preparing for General Conference, following the streams of points and counterpoints flying throughout the denomination, and catching up on churchy publications. There is SO MUCH “stuff” out and about concerning our UM church. It boggles the mind, and I plowed through a ton of it, and am ready to start reflecting back. Today’s post is an initial pass at the larger issues; in the days to come I am going to zero in on specific articles and books.
One of the strongest memories I have from childhood was my report card at the end of the first grading period when I was in third grade. On one side of the card were listed the standard subjects: math, English, science, social studies, etc. I was always good in elementary school in math and science, not so good in social studies, and abysmal at English. On the other side of the card was a list of personal characteristics: social skills, comportment, cooperation, attitude, etc. The memory I have is that next to each personal characteristic, written in red ink and all capital letters, was written the word “INADEQUATE.” Now, I considered myself to be a normal eight-year old child, basically happy and friendly, with egg-shell-fragile self-esteem. I was first crushed, then haunted, by the idea that I was “inadequate.” I took my report card home to my mother, hoping for some loving redemption. On the grade side, I had three As, three Bs, and a C-. My mom didn’t even mention the As; like me, she focused on the “inadequate” side of the report card. The only word of comfort I got from my mother was that she was disappointed in me because she knew I could do “so much better.” Once again, inadequate.
Hate Mail Disguised As Love Letters March 6, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in Christian witness, Congregational Life, Core Values, Personal Reflection, The United Methodist Church, Vision.
Tags: Christian Community, church, Mission & Purpose, The United Methodist Church, Values, Vision
I’ve kept a file since my first General Conference in 1988 of the letters, phone calls, conversations and emails detailing the “concerns” individuals and congregations raised in preparation of the quadrennial meeting. This file is a reminder of the diversity of opinion in our denomination, the level of fear and disrespect still rampant in our churches and conferences, the heartfelt passion people bring to various issues, and just how far we still are from the kingdom/kin-dom/realm of the Almighty. I will make this statement at the outset — knowing it will do little good — to frame my comments. I do not think we should frame our disagreements in battle terms: win/lose, right/wrong, us/them. We are human beings and we will have very strong opinions and beliefs which will be in conflict from time to time. This is healthy and good. It is when we resort to hateful rhetoric, angry contempt, petty bigotry and spiteful attack dressed up in self-righteousness and fake Christian piety that I feel we have a serious problem. Is the majority of it lodged in simple ignorance? Certainly, but it goes beyond that.
The Power of Story March 2, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in Identity & Purpose, Personal Reflection.
There is such a fine line between fact and fiction/memory and myth/truth and tall tale, yet fiction/myth/tall tale are no less “real” or “meaningful” or “valid” than fact/memory/truth. In reality, they are all aspects of the same thing. When I was younger, I had a friend, Dave, whose mother, Judy, and aunt, Anna, spun a family epic every time they got together. The story went something like this: In 1905, Judy and Anna’s grandmother Emma gave birth to their mother, Elizabeth. Emma was all set to go to the hospital when terrible storms erupted, when her father, Gabriel, and her husband, Edward, had to go corral some livestock that got spooked by the weather and broke free of their pens. The storms worsened and a tornado appeared on the horizon. With the men-folk trapped in a drainage ditch and the shingles flapping off the roof, grandma Emma single-handedly delivered her own daughter. Judy and Anna always told the story in hushed and reverent tones, obviously overwhelmed at the idea of delivering a baby without assistance in such terrifying circumstances.
On one occasion when I visited Dave, we got out some old family albums and started leafing through. I stopped on one page, and before I thought to stop myself I said, “Hey, look, this is a birth certificate for your mom!” A shocked silence followed. Anna finally spoke up and said, “Well, I’m sure it was printed after the fact.” “No!” I chimed in, “Look, there is an attending physician and a release date. Your mom was born in a hospital; not at home in a storm!” Both Judy and Anna got up and left the room. I looked at Dave and said, “What’s the matter?” He simply shook his head, then he left the room, too.