Helping the UMC into the Future: shooting from the Hip

 or: All we need to know about renewal, revitalization, etc., for The United Methodist Church I learned from my daughter’s hip surgery

Everyone United Methodist is blogging, writing, talking, praying (hopefully not in that order) about our upcoming General Conference. There are some really helpful ideas; and a lot of less so.  We (United Methodists) hold a General Conference every four years, and we have done so since the birth of our denomination in 1968.  Here is something we have done every year since 1968: lost members.

Fresh out of seminary in 1989, I went to workshops that, at the time, diagnosed our problem as not reaching the Baby Boomers.   Some boomers were still in their 20’s then, so it might seem like a good target.  One of the many things we were taught was that we would have to start offering contemporary music in our worship services to reach them.

For a quarter century now we have had United Methodist Churches launch all variety of contemporary services with mixed results.

Yesterday I dropped an item at the Post Office for return.  We had purchased this device following Eliza’s recent hip surgery.

I just realized I didn’t blog about this because it was during Lent – and I had given up blogging for the season.  Eliza’s hip became dislocated again and on Thursday, March 22nd, she had an open reduction (surgery), resulting in her return to a spica cast for 12 weeks (or more)

This cast was shaped differently than the previous casts, leaving her unable to sit down. The item I returned via mail yesterday was something we had purchased immediately following surgery.  We thought it might help her spend some time in an upright position.

By the time it arrived, E had already learned several ways to get herself around and pull up on things.  Thus, we decided to return it. Walking hom to get the car to drive to the Post Office yesterday, I remembered a couple of purchases we made immediately following Eliza’s first hip procedure last November.  She hadn’t needed the “extra” help for long then, either.

It dawned on me that we have treated Eliza’s challenge of being in a spica cast much like The United Methodist Church has treated its membership drain.  We try new things, and move from one to another in rapid succession, hoping each time that the next would be the magic bullet needed to correct all problems.

In Eliza’s case, her resilience, within the loving and attentive care of her parents and other close friends, has provided all she needed.

In the case of The United Methodist Church, we are still looking for the magic bullet that will finally work.

New methods of worship, re-aligning of conference, agency, or church structure, alliterative sermonizing, quality video production, MBA-driven methodology all lack the one thing that actually matters in making disciples for the transformation of the world: loving and attentive care.

We who call ourselves the church, or followers of Jesus Christ, must practice loving attentive care-giving to each other and those around us.  For the strength and courage to continue to do this in the face of the world of the promise of magic bullets, we must continue to worship the God who can incarnate in Jesus to model loving attentive care of us.



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