Sep 15 2014

Faith, Media & Culture: Their problems are our problems

As the Ebola epidemic continues to spread amid warnings by Doctors Without Borders that it is out of control, Dr. Michael T. Osterholm writes that health professionals are not talking publicly about the potential for Ebola to mutate into an even more dangerous form by developing the ability for airborne transmission. This has not happened yet in humans, […]

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/their-problems-are-our-problems/

Sep 15 2014

the unlikely orange: oh, atlanta

such a great song.  and very fitting at the moment. her voice, though.  wow.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/oh-atlanta/

Sep 15 2014

RMNBlog: Our covenant renewed: A pastoral affirmation

By the Clergy of the Northern Illinois Conference Reconciling Leadership Team In appreciation of the clergy covenant and communion that was celebrated on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, we give thanks for our colleagues and the sacred moments that were shared as people experienced the truths about themselves and ministries of our church with gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer persons and families, including those around the table. The strength of the supportive environment was experienced as new alliances were formed and vulnerable moments met with the utmost care. We were emboldened by the amount of support for ministry to all…

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/our-covenant-renewed-a-pastoral-affirmation/

Sep 15 2014

Enter the Rainbow: It’s About Congregations: More Thoughts On Missouri UM Camps

I watched part one of a video that was taken of a meeting at Liberty UMC on Wednesday, September 10. The meeting was convened to discuss the recent decision of the Missouri Annual Conference Camping Board to dismiss the camp staff and take church camping in a new direction.

Here’s the video – CLICK HERE. (Thank you to colleagues and friends Steve Cox, Jon Spalding, and Garrett Drake for being present, and to Liberty UMC for hosting the forum.)

I invite you to listen to what Garrett Drake has to say at 19:30 and immediately following. I believe this is the number one factor that led to the Camping Board’s decision:

“The mission of the conference is different than the mission of the church.”

He means, I think, the conference will focus on, fund, and support efforts to strengthen local congregations, not necessarily individuals. This has been the clearly stated mission of the Annual Conference for years.

It was the opinion of the Camping Board that church camping does not strengthen local congregations in a way that is faithful to the resources expended in that effort. (If I have misinterpreted that opinion, I trust I will be graciously corrected.) This does not mean they think church camp is a bad thing.

No one is disputing claims that children, youth, and adults feel God’s presence in powerful ways at church camp. No one is disputing that people are called into the ministry at church camp on a regular basis. No one is disputing that it is good for people to be immersed in God’s beautiful natural creation. Etc. Etc.

So, if I understand correctly, all that stuff is a red herring to the true point of conversation. What the Camping Board IS disputing is that church camp makes an impact, a positive, meaningful, tangible difference, to the health of local congregations, a difference that is worth the cost expended to achieve it.

I think this is how the conversation should be framed. Here’s the order: People are members of congregations; congregations are led by the conference. (A conference, by the way, of which I am a member.)

For the record, I believe with all my heart that church camping DOES, in fact, make for healthier congregations. Those who have participated in church camp are always among the most active, joyful, energized members of the congregations I have served. I could describe so many different situations where church campers are the ones reaching out to invite others, leading small groups, serving on mission and ministry teams, and on and on.

So here’s the problem – there is no numerical metric I can show the Conference office that directly demonstrates the impact camping has on the congregation’s health. And lacking that, it is really hard to communicate it to anyone. We send reports that measure stuff – worship attendance, small group participants, apportionment dollars, and so forth. There is no “People invited to church by someone who never would have done so had they not attended church camp” report, for example

There are, however, “describables” in the life of a congregation. As Bishop Schnase has written, “There are thousands of ways of impacting lives through the ministry of Christ and a thousand forms of fruitful ministry. Some are measurable, and these we should count and learn how to do better. Where we cannot measure outcomes, we can describe changes and bear witness to the visible signs of the Spirit’s invisible work through us and our churches.”

Which points out another problem – had we known about the “new direction” earlier, we would have had more opportunity to describe ways church camp was making our congregations healthier. A simple question on our annual report would have been sufficient: “Describe ways that church camping made your congregation healthier?” or something like that.

My colleague and friend Ann Mowery, a member of the Camping Board, posted on Facebook, “And for congregations that did send campers to our programs, the week’s experience seemed to be completely isolated from their experience in the local church.” That statement revealed as much as anything about why this decision was made. Simply put, there is no way I could disagree more with this perspective.

But sadly, I have neither the means nor, it seems, the time to convince the Camping Board otherwise.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/its-about-congregations-more-thoughts-on-missouri-um-camps/

Sep 15 2014

Everyday, ordinary worship: #LukeActs2014 – Acts chapter 13

Last week, I wrote about the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the disciples, as told in chapters 11 and 12. This week, there is an obvious continuation of that theme in chapter 13, with even more evidence that the disciples weren’t working alone:…

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/lukeacts2014-acts-chapter-13/

Sep 15 2014

General Board of Global Ministries: True Acts of Trust and Reconciliation

A Pakistani couple’s faith in God and commitment to human rights, despite a great personal cost, is lifted up by Thomas Kemper in his latest column.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/true-acts-of-trust-and-reconciliation/

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