This was an unusual week for me; I had some free time, so I decided to read Focus by Dr, Lovett Weems Jr. The Lewis Center for Church Leadership sent a copy of the book to every General Conference delegate. I had seen several tweets and blogs about it, particularly Bishop Lowry’s, who has posted twice about it.
I really enjoyed the book, and very much recommend it to anyone curious about The UMC and it’s future. Dr. Weems does an excellent job of stating the reality of the current state of our church and offers some great suggestions for moving into the future. As I was reading the book, discussions I had with Dr. Rankin, chaplain at SMU and my independent study professor, over some of my assigned reading had come to mind. As I mentioned last week, as a part of my reading, I skimmed through some of the minutes from the early early annual conference sessions in England. Particularly what popped out was their heavy discussion over doctrine and theological belief as opposed to endless talk about structure and polity. Dr. Weems says in Focus that these are the discussions we should be having at General Conference. This thought from Dr. Weems is a piece of his larger thesis that the denomination needs to reset itself in all areas; we need to not just consider cuts and condensing, but an entire reset and examination of who we are.
I found myself agreeing with Weems on practically everything he said. I read the book in the afternoon. I hope that many GC delegates arrive in Tampa having read the book, so that maybe some of these conversations can begin to take place as we look at the future of our church.