Getting Down to Business

We are about to launch into our opening plenary session to be instructed and guided and oriented and introduced and all the wonderful things that have to be put in place to get us started.  There is a LOT of getting started at GC.  We moved through an opening worship time, and it was a wonderful reality check on how many opinions, preferences, tastes and styles we bring to GC.  I spoke with some older delegates (older than me) who thought the opening worship was fantastic.  Then I spoke to younger delegates (MUCH younger than me) who were extremely critical and thought it was lame at best.  Now, I am also certain that some younger people loved it and some older people did not.  This, alas, is the driving diversity in our church — the diversity of personal satisfaction.

I cannot believe that anyone comes to General Conference expecting everything to go their way.  Yet, it is interesting to me how many negative comments I have heard so far have little to do with the agenda or work of the GC.  So far, the primary concerns are about individual, personal comfort — am I being served?  It is a reflection of our world — the demand for personal comfort is global, not just U.S.  Perhaps this is our limitation and flaw — we don’t have a greater commitment to “we” as we have to “me.”  And I can guarantee you this will be a tense and trying time if “I/me/mine” is a stronger value than “us/we/ours.”

This church is God’s and we are merely privileged to take part in it.  Yet, we so readily claim “my” church as though we have an entitled and proprietary right to it (and others do not).  I eavesdropped on a conversation where a woman was energetically explaining to her companion that a group (I don’t know who specifically she was referring to) was “out to destroy the church.”  She went on to claim that “they” won’t listen to anyone and “we” have to make sure “they” don’t get their way…  I am pretty sure this is not the best attitude with which to enter General Conference.  Just a thought.

You know what?  Church is pretty much what WE MAKE IT.  God is God and nothing we do will change that.  Whatever we do as “church” we do to our own benefit or detriment.  God’s church will thrive with or without us.  So, why don’t we DECIDE to be a great church?  Why don’t we decide to love magnanimously and judge as little as possible?  Why don’t we make a commitment to respect and affirm one another?  Why don’t we separate our need to win and be right from our need to do work that honors and glorifies God?  Could we vote on this?  (Probably not a good idea…)

Unity of purpose trumps unity of agreement every time.  It just isn’t reasonable to expect people to agree on everything, but it is possible that we could find consensus around what we are here to do.  Our witness can be so powerful if we will cease demanding our own way and find new places to shift our energy.  We’re all broken, we are all incomplete — so let’s come together that we might be greater than the sum of our parts.  I don’t want to waste more time talking about our divisions.  I am ready to look to the future and work to allow God to do something great and wonderful through us.

7 replies

  1. I watched the opening worship on the live streaming channel. And frankly, for me, it wasn’t about personal preferences. It was about the worship of the God who is the tie that binds us. The opening music felt like cheerleaders (Rah, rah, sis, boom, bah, yay, United Methodists!) rather than the awesome worship of the Almighty. Then came the inevitable: groups with an agenda needing a platform and some kind of axe to grind in the context of “worship” and “consciousness raising.” I can identify with what the young folks were saying: it was lame because it wasn’t centered on God, not because it “didn’t meet my personal preferences”. It was highly presentational and centered on us! If anything was consumeristic, it was the whole of the “worship.” Unfortunately, this will set the tone for everything that will follow. If my desire is for the awesome presence of God in the conference’s midst is consumeristic, so be it.

  2. YES! Consumerism is rampant. Reminds me of a speaker at COR who told us that where there is no well defined mission statement, the mission statement defaults to ‘what is best for me’. Oh that we might better live ‘making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world’.

  3. You’d think that with (I believe) 18 proposed amendments to the report of the rules committee that we might have a problem with trust. Praying for all of you as you move through the coming days.

  4. I notice the Twitter and FB comments of the observers also tend to highlight a lot of negatives and criticisms.

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