The Case for Connectionalism

My friend Wes Magruder, pastor of the Kessler Park UMC in Dallas, shared some thoughts this week about how progressive United Methodist congregations might move forward in relation to the "Way Forward" decisions in the UMC. His thoughts were generally positive and worthy of thinking about, but one phrase in the post jumped out at … Continue reading The Case for Connectionalism

A United Methodist pastor’s perspective on a pastoral transition

I think most of the world has seen my Facebook post from yesterday in which I announced that I am being appointed to serve as the Sr. Pastor of the City Road Chapel United Methodist Church in Madison, TN. In that statement, I acknowledged that I had thought at the beginning of the week that … Continue reading A United Methodist pastor’s perspective on a pastoral transition

Looking in from the outside — a pastor visits another church

As most of my Facebook friends know by now, I'm currently in Los Angeles having helped my eldest drive from Nashville to establish a new home. Needing to recover from the drive and needing some time off, I chose to stay over a few extra days to enjoy the sunshine, connect with some old friends, … Continue reading Looking in from the outside — a pastor visits another church

ALL are of Sacred Worth — A pastor’s personal reflections on the things that divide us.

This past week the frailty and humanity of this thing we call the United Methodist Church was put on full display in the media throughout the world. The story was the church's trial of a clergyperson who had disobeyed the official teaching of the church in presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son and his partner. The story was full of things designed to encourage attention in the media -- conflict, sex, religion, family, and legal drama. And the verdict came down quickly -- guilty -- with the strong possibility that this pastor will be removed from ministry.

For some, the trial, verdict, and penalty reaffirmed that the order of the church was firm and in control, and that the traditions held closely to the heart were protected. For others the same things confirmed what they already thought -- that the followers of Jesus aren't really serious about this love thing, and that we are more in love with our rules than with the lives of our neighbors...

12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 3 — Surrender

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous One of the interesting things about the 12 steps is the recognition that recognizing our powerlessness and insanity and believing that God has the power to transform us doesn't … Continue reading 12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 3 — Surrender

12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 2 — A Power Greater Than Us #2

We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. --12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous-- I left us with a question in the last post: do we REALLY believe in a God who has the power to transform the church? To quote Bishop Vashti McKenzie, "...if so, why don't we … Continue reading 12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 2 — A Power Greater Than Us #2

12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 2 — A Power Greater Than Us #1

We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. --12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous-- So far, the 12 steps have asked us to  admit that we are powerless to effect change and manage our churches and denominations. But the 12 step model goes even further, suggesting that our problems … Continue reading 12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 2 — A Power Greater Than Us #1

A bit more on powerlessness and leadership

One of the things that we church people have done these days is to revere the culture of competence. We have taken the call to be a community of broken individuals working toward wholeness and transformed it into a product to the sold to the highest bidder; a commodity to appeal to the masses. This … Continue reading A bit more on powerlessness and leadership

The 12 Steps of Church Change: Step 1 — Powerlessness

We admitted we were powerless...that our lives had become unmanageable. --12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous I don't know about you, but as the pastor of a traditional, historic, aging, church that has been in numeric decline for some years now, it's time for me to come to terms with the powerlessness I feel in regards … Continue reading The 12 Steps of Church Change: Step 1 — Powerlessness

The 12 Steps of Congregational Change — Setting the Stage

About a year and a half ago, a new member to our church community came with a request. He shared that he and his wife were recovering alcoholics, and that they were dedicated adherents to the AA 12 Step Movement, attending meetings almost every night. He noted that there were no meetings in our immediate … Continue reading The 12 Steps of Congregational Change — Setting the Stage

Random Thoughts on the Resignation of a Pope

I awoke this morning to discover that Pope Benedict XVI has announced his intention to resign, effective February 28. As a United Methodist and non-Roman Catholic, I don't have a dog in this hunt and as such probably have little authority for commenting on the resignation of a pope, but as I was reading the … Continue reading Random Thoughts on the Resignation of a Pope