Excellence in Ministry #umbom14 – Reflections from Day 4

Today was the final day of the BOM Mid Quad Training Event in Denver.  We had the opportunity to hear from two groups presenting on Identifying Critical Issues for General Conference. For each we heard a presentation and had the opportunity to follow up with table conversations on both the Global Discipline and Study of Ministry.

As the presenters were speaking about the questions the teams were facing, tentative recommendations and potential legislative proposals, my brain started to hurt. I am amazed at the complexity and implications that are involved in considering issues.

One of the attenders named a blog post from Bishop Tuell which sums up the issue for me:

The United Methodist Church has undertaken a bold challenge in the way we govern our denomination. We are the only major Christian church in the world that seeks to do two things: (1) Be truly a global church; and (2) be a church that is truly democratically governed by its ordinary lay and clergy members. The Roman Catholic Church is global, but obviously does not pretend to be democratically governed. Other major Protestant churches are all essentially national churches, though some are bound together by loose international ties.

Teaching Methodism 101

I believe remembering who we are as United Methodists is a key to revival within the denomination.

I enjoy teaching and I particularly enjoy teaching Methodism 101 – What does it mean to be a United Methodist and what difference does that make in my life? Last month, I had the great opportunity to teach two different times. On July 18, I taught the first of a three week teaching series at Resurrection about What is a United Methodist? During the week of July 18, I taught 14 students about Methodism at Institute 2010: God’s All Stars.

I want to share with you the outline that I used for these classes and similar opportunities. Please feel free to use it, update it and share with me what you put together. You can find my outline for teaching Methodism 101 online at http://j.mp/11CM9i6

What to Do with Unhealthy United Methodist Congregations

I recognize there is debate about how to determine what makes a congregation healthy.

What to do with an unhealthy United Methodist congregation is more difficult to determine than what to do with inffective United Methodist clergy.

Kick them out of the denomination? In some cases, this might allow the congregation to become healthier. It clearly doesn’t help unity in the church.

Appoint a new pastor? This may or may not have results. Understanding the congregation as a family system suggests that this may not have much impact.

Put them on probation? A period of time with focused efforts at renewal may be helpful, however there may not be much of an incentive.

Can you help me out with what to do with unhealthy United Methodist congregations?

The Sacraments via Electronic Communication

One of the questions that I continue to consider as Pastor of Resurrection Online is how the sacraments are made available to those that worship online. I recently ran across one take on this subject from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Visit http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/innews/699.shtml and scroll down to find “The Sacraments via Electronic Communication.” I encourage you to read the entire article. Here is an excerpt:

“The Secretariat for the Liturgy has received several inquiries concerning the celebration of the sacraments via various types of electronic communication. The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance via telephone, participation in Mass via television or the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation via video conference have on occasion been proposed. However, electronic communication via telephone, television, video conference or internet is not sufficient for the celebration of the sacraments. The celebration of the sacraments requires the physical and geographic presence of both the gathered faithful and the bishop, priest, deacon or other presiding minister.”

This is a decision of a particular denomination in a particular location. What are your thoughts, feelings or opinions about sacraments via electronic communication?

Lutherans and the UMC – Gay Clergy and Full Communion

I just read the following article: Lutherans to Allow Sexually Active Gays as Clergy.

In addition, the ELCA Adopts Full Communion Agreement with the United Methodist Church.

I am not sure how these are going to co-exist. According to the above article, “Full communion makes possible a variety of joint ministries, sharing of resources and interchangeability of clergy.”

How will clergy be interchangeable among the denominations if there is disagreement about whether a self-avowed, practicing homosexual can serve as a clergy person?

UMNS = FAIL on the Constitutional Amendments

United Methodist News Service = FAIL

This morning I was reading news on the USA Today app on my iPhone when I came across this headline, Methodists defeat gay-related membership policy, with the lead sentence:

United Methodists have defeated amendments that would have made church membership open to all Christians regardless of sexual orientation and furthered the creation of a new, U.S.-only governing body, according to the denomination’s news service.

I was surprised to hear the news on the constitutional amendments first through USA Today and not from any denominational source. I was also surprised that the decision had been made so soon, I was under the impression that it would be several more months until the final tally was known as votes were still taking place around the world.

I found the article from the United Methodist News Service under the headline: U.S. conferences disapprove structure proposal. According to the statistics in this article:

  • 29% of annual conferences in the United States have not reported results of voting.
  • 67% of annual conferences in the denomination have not reported results of voting.

According to the article, “For a proposed amendment to be ratified, two-thirds of the aggregate number of voting annual conference members must approve.” The results from the US don’t matter. What matters is the entirety of votes from across the globe. Two-thirds of annual conferences in the denomination haven’t even reported their votes yet.

You have to be joking. The UMNS really published a story with data this incomplete? Unfortunately, yes.

The United Methodist News Service wrote a story too soon from one side of the story with incomplete data.

United Methodist News Service = FAIL

#6qumc – Where is it leading? (4 of 5)

Another question that has been asked of 6 Questions for The United Methodist Church,

“Where is it leading?”

Ultimately, I pray that this project is leading where God wills.

The stated purposes of the project are:

  • Raise important questions for next steps in the life of the denomination.
  • Provide guidance for future face to face gatherings.
  • Shape the discourse across the denomination.

In addition, I hope that 6qumc will raise conversations that lead to the fruit of God’s kingdom being produced in the lives of people across the denomination – both inside and outside the church.

After September 30, 2009 the top six questions in each topic will be compiled and made available, possibly through print publication, but certainly via the web.

I believe that next steps will become clear over the course of the project. In the meantime, I believe that the conversation may be more fruitful than the results. It is hard for me to say for certain.

What do you suggest?

To participate visit: http://bit.ly/6qumc

To read more, visit: http://www.umcyoungclergy.com/6qumc