Rethink This!

At the other end of the same month….

In early June I wrote this.  I had walked out halfway through an hour workshop on our (the UMC’s) newest branding effort, “Rethink Church.” The workshop was lead by someone from Nashville, from the “general church,” whose name I have graciously forgotten.

I walked out because the guy actually said that the problem the United Methodsit Chruch is facing is merely a perception problem.  All those unchuched people out there are avoiding us because they don’t know how we really are.

Here at the other end of the month, another United Methodist suggested NOT steering young people to churches when they go off to college because of the way too many churches will treat them.  “They’re better off sticking to campus ministries,” this person said.

If it is just a perception problem, why are we afraid to encourage our own children to attend a United Methodist Church when they ship off to college?

6 thoughts on “Rethink This!

  1. It’s been years since I’ve chosen the church I attended. None of the churches I’ve attended, whether by choice or appointment, has been perfect or ideal. Each HAS had strengths. Each has had weaknesses.

    Ideally we can disciple our children into an ecclesiology that allows for a variety of both strengths and weaknesses. If we send our kids off to college with a healthy sense of their own sin, and of the sin of others (especially those in churches) – along with a conviction of the power of grace, perhaps they’ll do alright.

    Of course, in most cases we lack the coercive power to MAKE our kids do anything once they go off to college. There are some campus ministries I would heartily encourage kids to attend, some not. Same with churches. In either case I could be wrong in particular instances.

  2. I’ll take a semi-stab, Mark (though as with any organization I doubt there is a single or simple way to identify THE problem).

    In Built to Last, Collins and Porras argue that organizations that last are rock-solid on their core purpose while being ultimately flexible on their methods of pursuing that purpose. Perhaps partly because we’re handicapped by our name (METHODist) we’ve tended to reverse it. We tend to be extremely flexible on our core purpose and mostly inflexible when it comes to our methods. While I don’t think this captures our entire problem, I think it captures some of it.

  3. I question if church really needs to be rethunk, because going out, being missional, and opening doors is really not a new concept. I think church should just be retaught.

  4. I remember hearing Kirbyjon Caldwell speak a about a year ago at UMHB. He made a comment about how ‘structure’ bows down to ‘mission’ not the other way around.
    This, I believe, (and in agreement with Richard), is the board brush stroke of what is wrong. At Annual Conference when our debates are about healthcare, pension, and organisation what message do we send? What are we actually saying? In the manner in which we have been doing it, we say that our mission bows down to the structure.
    I will say that there seem to be fewer and fewer ‘yes’ men and women in our conference. Most are willing to stand up for ministry, but not for the structure.

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