thoughts on showing up to all that is

Posts tagged ‘methodist history’

The Marks of a Movement

A movement is a group of people who intentionally, at their own risk, join together to make a change in the status quo.

That is how Gil Rendle defines a movement in his book Back to Zero: The Search to Rediscover the Methodist Movement.  My deep question as the Director of Ministries is how do we move from a declining denomination…losing members, confidence, influence and impact…to a thriving, missional church that is making a significant difference in all corners of our state.  What Gil Rendle powerfully reminds me in his book that becoming a movement is an intentional choice.  I am not part of a movement because I am ordained into it, baptized into it, make an occasional financial contribution to it or live in the shadow/neighborhood of it.  So if we believe that the status quo needs to be changed, then we need join together to make the change.  And he suggests that it will require risk…putting aside our self interest for the sake of the common purpose.

What was powerful about the early Methodist movement in the United States is that there was clarity about purpose: spread scriptural holiness across the land, reform the nation, beginning with the church.  There was shared risk by those circuit riders who put their lives on the line to travel by horseback to preach the word, to form class meetings, and start churches in order to raise up leaders who were transforming the world.  They believed this mattered so much…people lives and the world would be a better place with the life changing message of Jesus offered through the Methodist movement, that they were willing to sacrifice many things…the comforts of wealth, home and security, and a willingness to go where sent.

So what I am wondering is do we have a clear, shared purpose that matters so much to us that we are willing to band together to do something about it…and what are we willing to risk, let go, sacrifice for the sake of this shared purpose?  From what I observed at General Conference and in my own life, if I am honest with myself, it is easy to talk about movement, but when push comes to shove, I don’t want to have to give up anything to make it happen.  Then I really haven’t chosen to be part of the movement have I?




Is It Time For Robert to Leave the House

General Conference Day Six

I need to do a little research on my United Methodist history.  Last night one of the presenters stated that the earliest delegated general conference was held in 1808.  That was the first time people were elected and seated as representatives from their annual conference.  But I am not sure when Robert’s Rules of Order and passing legislation as a way to structure the Book of Discipline became the order of the day.

I have been sitting in plenary session today.  We are amending and referring, and substituting, and spending hours working on a petition to ultimately defeat it.  I keep thinking of the deep issues facing us as a church, and just wonder if this method of being the general conference is becoming outdated and if there is a better way?  I am presuming we have not always done it this way, even though it seems like it.  But I find it to be slow, tedious and it becomes a procedural game.  We are spending lots of time…but what are we actually accomplishing?

Congress has the same fault.  There is a fundamental conversation about the role of government in our country, and we are attempting to have it through legislative policies and practices and it is not working.  We are frustrated that in our nation no one seems to be leading and we cannot make headway on key challenges, and winning is more important that working for the common good.

Similarly, I see the church needing to have a fundamental convernsation about what does it mean for the United Methodist Church to be a global church, and how will we live that out together?  How will be a church that is inclusive and welcoming to all, how will we be relevant in a rapidly changing world, and how will we face the financial challenges facing us.  We are trying to solve these issues in plenary sessions of 1000 people debating and voting.

I just have to wonder about what God might be thinking about all of this and when did Robert get to be the order of the day instead of prayer and discernment?