United Methodist Schism?

Trinity United Methodist Church Lapeer, MI

United Methodist are currently in conference – probably one of the most important in the denominations history. So much is riding on this conference. This conference may very well split the denomination.

For 20 years there has been a growing support to remove language in The Book of Discipline “the practice of homosexuality … incompatible with Christian teaching.” The value and worth of such persons is not in question. – just the actual act of homosexual practices.

There are three paths they will vote one:
1. One Church Plan – full acceptance of homosexual behavior and full inclusion of such persons to leadership and clergy
2. “Connectional Conference Plan” – maintain an “umbrella” over all the churches and leaving the issue of homosexual persons fully be up to the discretion of individual pastors and churches.
3. “Traditional Plan” – keep the language concerning homosexual practice intact and allowing churches who disagree to leave the denomination with full rights to the property held by the local congregation.

I am not part of the United Methodist Church. I have no immediate skin-in-the-game. However, I think this has overarching consequences for the church at large. I believe this will result in yet another denomination schism.

Both camps, the progressives and traditionalist, will not want to share space with each other. They will choose to exclude rather than exist together and work together towards the truth. I may be wrong. I pray I am wrong. We should choose to be united and work out our differences as a whole rather than build up walls that further divide the Body of Christ.

Pray for the United Methodist Church that God will give them wisdom during this conference.

What do you think? Do you think the United Methodist should split and stay together and work it out?

Building the Kingdom is a Group Effort

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Last week there was an excellent article written on The Exchange. It spoke to the heart of the work I do here in my home city Lapeer. The goal has always been to see the churches work together to evangelize the large unchurched population in our city and county.

I’ve written about the loss of opportunity when churches act and work as if they are the only church in the community. They ignore, or even out right criticize, other churches and their ministries. We lose credibility among the the community when they see us in disunity and competing against each other. The gospel is not owned by one single church. It is the good news of what God has done through Jesus, the story that every church should be telling.

Jeff Christopherson writes, “There are numerous geographies where the harsh reality is mutual antagonism and distrust amongst spiritual leaders…For whatever reason—either botched ecumenical experiences or deep personal pain—some pastors find it difficult to align for broader kingdom purposes.”

When we distrust each other in our common mission we will fall short. We will miss the mark time and again. When we align ourselves together for the common mission we will see our city, our county, our communities, come to know the living God.

What will it take to unite our churches to see the kingdom advance? Is there pride we need to repent of? Hardness of hearts towards our follow workers? Favoritism towards people groups or traditions?

Christopherson ends the article with this: “If we hope to move forward in the evangelization of North America, kingdom collaboration will to have to become the norm.” Amen, and amen.

If we want to see God move in our people, if we want to see people come to the faith, if we want to see the kingdom of God advance in our community, we need to unite together.

My Life in Posts

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

If you were ever on Google+ you got an email recently announcing they are shutting down their platform. Back when it was implemented both Twitter and Facebook had been around for a number of years. Google wanted to be all things to all people and jumped into the social media market. They had a snazzy app that I loved but a small community. It stalled and never grew up to be the force that Twitter and Facebook is today.

I went to my profile today and perused my timeline. The last time I posted to Google+ was August 1, 2016. The first time was July 29, 2011.
It was interesting to see the progression of my life during that time. I posted about workouts, diets, movies, and vacations. I also posted links to my writings that no longer exist in the blogshpere.

I found it fascinating to see the subjects that I wrote about and what interested me. Many of my first posts involve apologetics with titles like, “My Gut Feeling: God is Out There,” and “The Euthyprho Dialog.” Later I wrote about the ministries that I was involved in like Abide, a 20s and 30s group I was pastoring in my church. Also, First Mission, a mission organization that I had started in 2012, one that I recently retired.

Around about 2014 I started to write more about peace and mercy ministries. I started to search out how a follower of Jesus seeks out to live his life according to his teachings. The titles of some were, “What About Self-defense?” and “The Dogs on the Border.”

Looking at my life in these posts I see a progression regarding my thoughts and beliefs through these years. People change, they grow up, and my posts attest to my maturing in life and theology. My 38 year old self is not the same person as the 28 year old I was.

Now, add to this the diverse individuals that are around you in your community. Many of whom you’ve known for years. Are they the same people when you first met? Or did they also grow, mature, and change. It makes you rethink keeping grudges and holding on to resentment.

Knowing people change, knowing we are diverse, and knowing we all are different in many ways, we can approach people with a little more grace, and little more mercy, a little more forgiveness.