The United Methodist Church is in a season of uncertainty. With the passage of the modified traditional plan at the 2019 General Conference and the recent judicial council ruling, there’s no shortage of questions about how much of the new legislation will effectively implemented and where to go from here. Is there still a way forward together somehow or are we better apart?
There are also no definite answers to these questions. In most cases, by the time conversations about denominational positions filter down to the annual conference and local church level, the most influential groups and the leaders who represent those groups have already coalesced around a detailed strategy for dealing with the situation. We might be given a few options from which to choose, but the options are already quite well defined.
For the next few weeks and perhaps months, however, many (though not all) of the major groups across the spectrum of opinions have not yet committed to a particular path as we look forward to the 2020 General Conference. They have had a lot of conversations and have considered many ideas, but the battle lines have not yet been drawn.
Never has there been a time when it was more important for us to listen to one another and talk to one another than right now. Now is one of the few times when a conversation on a local level could filter up to the highest levels and influence the denomination. Now is the time when understanding the opinions of others more fully could go a long way in helping our local congregations navigate the changes taking place within United Methodism.
This is why I was so glad to be invited to be a part of a project designed to help those of us within the UMC to listen and engage with a great number of insightful UMC voices. This project, spearheaded by Bishop Ken Carder and Kevin Slimp, publisher at Market Square Books, grew into Where Do We Go From Here? Honest Responses from Twenty-Four United Methodist Leaders.
I commend it to you not so much in hopes you will benefit from the chapter I wrote (if you read this blog you may already know a significant amount of my thinking on this matter), but in hopes that you will benefit as much as I have from the content in the other 23 chapters. It is a crucial read at a crucial time for those of us engaged in the conversations about the future of the UMC.
Apparently, many people are already finding this to be the case as it climbed quickly up the Amazon Best Seller list in the Protestantism category during the first days of its availability. And I’m quite thankful for Kevin Slimp and the team at Market Square Books who somehow found a way to produce this timely work in an incredibly compressed timeframe so it could be available during these important days within the life of our denomination.
I hope this book might help you, as it has helped me, to learn how to apply to the guidance of Ecclesiastes and James to our day and age.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… a time to be silent and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 1:1,7)
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19 NIV)
Blessings to you all,