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Harold Gardner
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Mike Tyson once said that everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face. The sermon that follows for me remembers that most in the church found something the way that it is. We are in a state of injury because what is (or was) working for us does not seem to be working for others. I wonder how we can get out of our own way so we can truly listen, understand, and serve. An old preacher friend of mine offered me some advice when I was anxious about speaking in church. I was wrestling with some of the theological issues of the day, and I really felt the need to share some of my great new insights. He told me that every time anyone preaches, we have 3 things that we need to say. 1. I love you. 2. God loves you. 3. He wants you to love Him and each other. Having good information is important, but not ultimate. Examining the scope of our trouble is important but not ultimate. Trying to do too many things at once gets us into trouble but not keep us from doing something. You are right, we are arrogant, short-sighted, and smart mouthed but the Bible is replete with examples of flawed servants used by God to good ends. Niebuhr taught well the danger of immoral society but the church is still a group and can work. We know that no one is as easy to fool as we are, but God uses fools. We will never measure or track accurately enough, but God still loves us and can use us. I think the church has always struggled with these sorts of issues. I wonder if moving in faith, trusting with confidence, and acting with humility is the right direction? Could we Methodist be making things too complicated?
Toggle Commented May 8, 2010 on Methodist Monday / Post #5 at Mark Beeson
It is intriguing to read the comments late in the week. I am interested that we so often examine change and react instantly that it is not possible. The physical problem of getting the delegates into a place; so we can keep doing AC the some old way seems a bit ironic in a blog. Certainly there is no way a Methodist preacher can ask wild questions about the state of the church and get answers back instantly from everywhere...wait that is what is happening here. Could we do AC with a virtual technology? If someone suggested that AC was 100 miles away during the early days of US Methodism, I suspect folks would have decided that was impossible. We can't change the way we do AC because it must be the way we did it last time. Perhaps we need to even move away from a representative (if that is the intention of church lay delegates) to a more direct form of inviting participation, discussion, and maybe even voting on issue from everyone in our connectional world. I guess that I am just wishing we could find the courage to consider new solutions, to risk failure, to take the big gamble. Unless we begin to accept creative change and perhaps even destruction, we cannot halt decline of our church.
Toggle Commented May 2, 2010 on Methodist Monday / Post #4 at Mark Beeson
I guess I feel slightly confused, but I am not sure. It does not seem to me that multi-site and social media are really all that different from the tools we have always used. Circuit Riders were the ultimate multi-site ministries. We have dealt with radio and TV ministries for a long time. Yes, they created anxieties as the technologies were new. Yes, we still sometimes fail to realize the full promise of broadcast media. Sure, we will have challenges and errors and opportunities with social media. My greatest concern for the church is we so often seem afraid to make mistakes. As technology changes, we must adapt or be left behind. As the expectations and experiences of our parish changes, we must continue to reach out with a message of love, hope, and salvation. At the end of the day, I am not really concerned about how. That is just a plumbing detail. God called us to love one another. I don't think He cares if we use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, radios, TVs, Bach Chorales, pipe organs, books, hospital visits, pot luck suppers, or whatever.
Toggle Commented Apr 13, 2010 on Methodist Monday / Post #2 at Mark Beeson
My first thought would be to remember that the ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals... My serious thought would be to remember that as Methodists we are called to recognize our need for discipline. The Methodist community of faith provides guidance and correction that every "high-capacity influencer" needs. I think we sometimes forget because we so easily focus on the problems, losing sight of the strength of our structure. The other thought is to consider impact. Although we Methodists are too resistant to change, the challenge of changing the direction of a denomination rather than simply a campus is an opportunity that only God can provide. My final thought is about the congregation that you plan to impact. What happens if you are suddenly unable to serve? Within the church, we have a plan to care for congregations in extraordinary circumstances.
Toggle Commented Apr 5, 2010 on Methodist Monday / Post #1 at Mark Beeson
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Apr 5, 2010