Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Some interesting facts.
-During the 40 years of decline in the UMC, the per person giving went up. That is one reason we've been able to survive and maybe even avoid dealing with our situation. 2008 was a serious wake up call.
-The UMC membership average age is much older than the general population. In 2018, we will begin a period of in which most of our current membership will die off. Lovett Weems called it a "death tsunami."
-We have a window of opportunity with many options available to us now, but this will not continue. So the time to act is now. We can't wait.
In some ways the formula for change is very simple:
Recover our mission; "To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
Focus on our mission; measure all we do by how it helps us achieve the mission, from the local church to global mission.
Individually, live this life changing, world transforming way, so that it is not something we do, but a fundamental expression of who we are.
I'm still thinking, contemplating and praying about what I heard and learned. At times I feel discouraged because it seems impossible. But at other times I have hope, particularly when I see people in communities all over this region finding ways to bless their neighbors, to live as a Jesus follower. So fundamentally I have hope. Not my hope or hope in me, but hope in what God can do.
What do you think? Is there a future for the United Methodist Church? What might it look like? What might we become? What is the dream on your heart?
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
-Lovett Weems (as did others) made a strong case that this is the time to act. We have many options now that will go away in the next 8-10 years. I speak more later about the upcoming death tsunami- when the baby boomer generation begins to die off.
-Circumstances are different and similar throughout the denomination in the US. We in New England have had to deal to financial realities which are just coming into view for some locations.
-This is not a time to panic, but a time to lead.
-Business as usual will not work.
-During the period where attendance has declined, giving has increased.
I off to more discussion today.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Sunday, May 02, 2010
I hope you will read it and reflect on his insights as well.
Grace & peace,
Sunday, April 18, 2010
What do you think? How do we respond to all those folks who are not interested, turned off or repelled by your church?
It seems to me we have a choice. We can be defensive and say there is something wrong with those folks. Or we can ask how can we reach them? If we can't reach them, who can? And how can we help them in their mission to those our church will never reach?
I believe the church of the future is not an either/or proposition. It is neither simple church as we know it nor something radically different. In fact this polarity gets in the way of a more deeper issue. The church of the future will at its heart live a very simple idea; we exist for others, particularly and primarily those outside our church. That simple idea shapes everything else. It changes all the questions. In that simple shift all we do becomes focused outside of ourselves. The kind of faith community we build together, the way we live our individual lives, and what we do with our resources will all be shaped by that simple idea.
Maybe this is too simplistic. Or just maybe the answer to our struggles is that simple.
What do you think?
Saturday, April 03, 2010
By stopping, I was able to talk it through with my friend. I realized I needed to adjust my driving to address the new situation. My driving reality had changed. Instincts for driving a passenger car would apply differently to pulling the trailer. I would need to be more attentive and vigilant to my driving. I was able to restart and drive on without further incident.
I thank God for the trucker who motioned me to a stop. He made all the difference.
Is there someone like that in your life who challenges you to stop what you are doing? Can you be that person for someone else, even a complete stranger?
Good Friday morning, 1 AM, found us outside the warehouse, dropping off health kits assembled in New England (another story), and loading 504 flood buckets into a trailer and pickup bed. Eric, the director of the center, and another helper, were there to greet us and help us load. I couldn’t help but be inspired by their willingness to come out in the early morning, on their day off, to help out flood victims in New England.
By the way, a flood bucket contains things like trash bags, bleach, rags, detergents, gloves, and more in a five gallon pail with a lid on top. It won’t make everything alright for a flood victim. But it will help them get a start on the hard task of clean up. Just maybe it might also say that someone cares. (Prayers with shoe leather on them)
After a couple of hours sleep, we were off that same day to deliver the buckets to a food bank in Providence, RI and a Salvation Army church in New Bedford, MA. They would continue the shoe leather prayer, passing the buckets to persons in need.
All this made me wonder, what if we made shoe leather prayer a primary sign of following Jesus? What if Christians became known primarily is those persons who put flesh to their prayers?
Here’s hoping we all find ways to pray with our hands and feet.