Walking as Jesus Walked

Having the Mind of Christ

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Renewing United Methodism

In his book On Leadership, John Gardner has prescient words about the need for renewal in large, complex organizations.  I wish I would have read these words before attending General and Jurisdictional Conferences.  They point to the need to take a realistic assessment of the present so that the future can be faced with hope.  All attempts at change usually have unattended consequences.

Gardner writes:  "I believe that all detailed attempts to design the society of the future are no more than smoke blown into the high winds of change.  Obviously, we must have our minds amply stocked with contingent plans, estimates of better or worse paths to travel, visions of what could be or might be or ought to be.  But blueprints of the future there can never be.  To prepare for the swift transitions ahead, our surest assets are highly motivated men and women with a sense of what is important for the human future.  The surest guarantors of our future are individuals and the ideas they have in their heads, including the values, intellectual, moral, and social, that they convey to young people coming along.  Fortunately, that is an immensely significant resource" (p. 137).

Two points:  First, I wonder if there were contingent plans to the Call to Action Report.  It seems as a blueprint we as a church did not have a contingent plans in mind.

Second, Gardner's point speaks to the need to release of the energy and talents of young people, to find ways, as Wesley put it, of raising up and letting go leaders, of mentoring and resourcing those whose gifts show promise in ministry.  Maybe the focus at GC on training young and talented lay and clergy leaders will pay long-term dividends. 

Gardner's book raises all kinds of questions about the need for strong and courageous leadership.

Monday, July 16, 2012

John Wesley's Ecclesiology

Over my vacation I had the opportunity to peruse the book by Gwang Seok Oh on John Wesley's Ecclesiology: A Study In Its Sources and Development.  It is a reworking of Oh's doctoral dissertation at Southern Methodist University under William Abraham.  I appreciated the thoroughness of Oh's argument and the way in which he walked through Wesley's understanding of the church.  Particulary interesting for me were Oh's chapters on the influence of German Pietism on Wesley and the importance of primitive Christianity on Wesley's view of ministry and mission.

If you want a serious in-depth study of Wesley's ecclesiology (a topic of growing importance today) this is the work!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Juvenile Faith?

Here is a book that we are reading at Grace United Methodist Church:  The Juvenilation of American Christianity by Thomas B. Bergler.  It's an interesting exploration of how we in the church have stunted the growth of our young people - and adults.  I think this work will become a standard text for those who are preparing for youth ministry, similar to Kenda Creasy Dean's Almost Christian.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Missio Dei and Wesleyanism

Our Nazarene friends have compiled a helpful festschrift of articles on understanding the Missio Dei in light of the Wesleyan theological tradition.  With the missional church movement gaining influence on various parts of the church's life it is good to see this kind of reflection taking place within the wider Methodist church-family.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wesleyan Doctrine Series

A year ago I read a manuscript by Steve Long of Marquette University on the United Methodist Confession of Faith and Articles of Religion.  At that time I was intrigued, and I told Steve it would be good to make it available to a wider audience.  After some tweaking, Steve sent the manuscript to Wipf & Stock Publishers.  Now the material appears in the little book Keeping Faith: An Ecumenical Commentary on the Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith in the Wesleyan Tradition.  It is the first in a series of books on the topic of doctrine. 

Keeping Faith also offers resources to help Christians reclaim the importance of doctrine and thereby to know and love well God and God's creation, bringing to bear important questions and insights about the church's mission and life. 

I am glad I have had some small measure of input in this project.  Other volumes will be forthcoming.

Friday, June 22, 2012

John Wesley's Evangelical Arminanism

Reading several blogs recently and seeing different postings on Facebook I have gathered there are a few disagreements brewing over Calvinist and Arminian approaches to Evangelical faith and practice. I am not really "up" on what is happening on this front in the theological world, but I have obtained a book on this topic that I plan to read over the next few months.  It is entitled Sufficient Saving Grace, and it is written by Herbert Boyd McGonigle, Principal of Nazarene Theological College in Manchester, England.  Maybe this resource might provide future food for thought and conversation.

Do we ever have enough time to read all we want to read?