Congregational Life

Grace-free Living

Two recent conversations (that I eavesdropped) cause me a moment to pause.  Both occurred in United Methodist churches, both involving long-time members.  Conversation one went something like this: Obamacare is going to kill America.  Giving free health care to those who give nothing back is ridiculous.  No one is giving […]

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 […]

Muddled Maturity

Every once in a while I strike a chord — I have received emails daily about the past couple posts on “mature” Christian spirituality.  It seems everyone wants to use their own personal spiritual level as the definition of maturity — which is very normal and human.  If we could conceive […]

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 — […]

B Church

At a recent workshop, discussion shifted to the question, “So, just what IS the current reality of our local churches in United Methodism?”  The following framework emerged from this discussion.  In summary: The United Methodist Church is an amalgam of three key aspects that work well in combination but are […]

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 […]

De-Loved Community

We face a tragic reality in our United Methodist Church today — the inability to disagree in Christian compassion and fellowship.  For the past few years I have been promoting a vision, albeit personal, for beloved community.  This vision is fairly specific, and contains the following propositions: Beloved Community is… […]

Hate Mail Disguised As Love Letters

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 […]

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 […]

Marketing the Messiah

From the Gospel According to Bob 1:26-2:12 (from the NKJV & The Message): And on the night unto which the child was to be born, Joseph and his wife Mary sought shelter, but coming late without a reservation, Mary was vexed with Joseph, saying, “I told you so.”  Joseph, aware that […]