Discipleship Resources has just released Mainline or Methodist? by Scott Kisker. I got a copy of the book in the mail yesterday and couldn’t stop reading it until I ran out of pages. My initial interest was largely due to the fact that Scott was one of my teachers and mentors at Wesley Theological Seminary. He is one of a handful of people who have had a major impact on who I am, and who I am becoming. (Fair warning: this might be the least objective comments I have ever written about a book.) So, I was initially excited about the book because of the person who wrote it. However, as I began reading it, I got really into it because of what was being said, not who was saying it.
In Mainline or Methodist? Scott Kisker argues that “real Methodism declined because we replaced those peculiarities that made us Methodist with a bland, acceptable, almost civil religion, barely distinguishable from other traditions also now know as ‘mainline.’ Like the Israelites under the judges, we wanted to be like the other nations. We no longer wanted to be an odd, somewhat disreputable people. And we have begun to reap the consequences” (13). Kisker argues that authentic Methodism does not seek to solve its own problems, it does not see itself as the answer. Instead, it looks to God’s grace and God’s power to save us. After outlining the hole that the contemporary UMC has dug for itself, and the distance it has wandered away from its Wesleyan roots, Kisker argues that true Methodism offers a vision, message, method, conversation, and a way forward for the United Methodist Church. Bold yet graceful, Mainline or Methodist? challenged me and also stimulated my thoughts about what it means to be a pastor in the United Methodist Church and where I hope our church is heading. My hope is that people like Scott Kisker will be used by God to impact the future and direction of Methodism.
I commend this book to you and would be interested in your thoughts if you have a chance to read it.