Christian discipleship

Doing and Discipling

Slowly, but surely, I am plowing through old files in a feeble attempt to clean and organize my office.  This process is entering its third year, so success is a remote hope.  However, I do come across some interesting artifacts as I dig through each new (old) layer.  Just this […]

Parallel Universes

I sat listening to two older couples talking at my favorite coffee shop.  I was working on a presentation for an Urban Ministry Strategy seminar I will be attending next week, and I have been immersed in the demographic and ethnographic realities of poor inner city life for a few […]

Too Busy to Learn

Yesterday, I had the great honor to launch a new learning academy in our annual conference — something we have been talking about for a long time, but for a variety of reasons couldn’t get launched earlier.  We are attempting a conference-wide, ongoing Leadership Learning Academy for clergy and laity […]

The Joy of Learning

One of the major changes made to the Wisconsin Annual Conference gathering each June is the addition of a learning day.  It is ironic how much resistance I met when I first suggested the idea (“that’s not what people come to conference for,” “people won’t want to add an extra […]

Growth Imperative

The Christian faith is about growth and maturing.  In recent posts, I’ve talked about “mature” faith, and the response has been interesting.  Many frame the term “mature” as judgmental, exclusive, and unkind — when compared to “less mature” or “immature.”  But developmental and qualitative growth — improvement, strengthening, seasoning, evolving — […]

Fruititude

U.S. Christians are a lazy, passive, well-intentioned bunch.  I am not talking about the 11% who are engaged in some form of regular hands-on ministry.  I am speaking of the 89% who define “active” faith as attending church when convenient, showing up at an occasional potluck supper, buying the doo-dad-du […]

Vital Is As Vital Does

How are we defining “vital” in the UMC?  Is vitality mere existence?  Is a congregation with a lot of warm, passive bodies vital?  Are people huddled inside their doors happily waiting to be friendly to unsuspecting visitors vital?  Is a congregation that hosts a dozen small groups that do movie/football/bowling […]

Disciple Dissipation

I listened with growing despair to a prominent United Methodist leader talking about our mission.  Within just a few sentences he completely devalued and distorted the entire concept of discipleship. “Once we say ‘yes’ to Jesus, we are forever after his disciples.” “Discipleship is a gift, a privilege — it […]

Childish Church

This is a rant, so take it with a grain of whatever.  I met with a young pastor and asked him how his ministry was going.  He replied, “We have eight new members and our attendance is up from 35 to over 50 a week.”  I said, “That’s not what […]

Synecdoche

It’s taken us a long time to get where we are. It will take us a while to get somewhere better. A focus on quality will take us somewhere different from a focus on quantity. There are dozens of congregations in United Methodism who know this (though dozens out of […]

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