Things are a bit hectic in my life right now, with the end of my last semester of coursework looming, a field exam in mid-May, and the birth of my second child expected in early May. So, my blogging activity will be less frequent from now until the end of May.
In the meantime, I would like to hear from you. There is so much talk about what is wrong with The United Methodist Church. It seems to me that there is less passionate conversation about what positive changes should be made. So, here is the question I would be interested in reading your response to: If you could change one thing about contemporary United Methodism, what would it be? Or what one change do you think would make the most difference in contributing to a brighter future for Methodism?
Steve Rankin said:
Kevin, you already know what I think, but I’ll respond. We need to find ways to give more access to more theological formation to folks in the church. We need to develop more flexible ways of delivering theological content both to college and seminary students as well as to folks in churches. And we need to couple the content delivery with small group or community-based conversation and accountability. This means thinking relationally and in terms of networks rather than offices and flow charts.
Andrew Conard said:
I would drop guaranteed appointments like a bad habit.
I think your blog is on the right track in many ways because you’re looking at what Methodism meant at its founding and what it was that attracted people to Methodism then. What I find missing in some churches (Methodist and otherwise) is the kind of commitment and loving accountability that I think Jesus calls people to have. Again, look at the name of your blog here, “Deeply Committed,” so that seems to be something you recognize off the bat? Maybe I’m wrong, but would Methodist churches do better by asking more of their members and getting more personal about what they ask, rather than looking for the low level commitment of a nice check (but not a 10% tithe) and a week of bringing snacks to VBS and/or a month of ushering every year?
Building those personal relationships requires an enormous investment of time, as well as openness and acceptance from both laity and clergy. Church is often not a place where it’s easy to be open like that. I suspect that many upper middle class wives are like me in viewing church as a fairly competitive environment. It’s a place for putting on the Sunday school clothes and Sunday school faces and pretending that we’re blissfully happy in our marriages and our children are all above average. (Yes, well, fortunately, both statements are true for me 100% of the time… or at least 100% of the time I’m at church, right?)
I can read the words about grace equal to every need in the Korean Creed, which I find beautiful, but if no one around me knows me or has any clue about how far from grace I might feel, then reading turns out to be an alienating experience on some level. Perhaps what I’m saying is that Methodist churches ought to have requirements for members beyond walking to the front of the sanctuary on a whim one Sunday morning.