The United Methodist Church may just be the Bill Clinton of churches. Remember Bill? Real strengths but also some glaring weaknesses. Much potential – some realized early in life, much more coming to fruition in more recent years. I can’t say he has reinvented himself, but he has hit a new stride in his role on the world stage. I see similar possibilities for the United Methodist Church.
Yesterday was the beginning of the Texas Annual Conference session of 2011 – one of the many UMC gatherings around the world happening around this time. I’m excited by some of the things and people I see. Here’s a few:
- Young clergy are not just being recruited they are gaining in number. Not only are they gaining mass they are gaining strength – find your way to Twitter and Facebook and you can see it happening. New ideas, the desire to reclaim Wesleyan heritage, innovated ways to connect and serve – there are many ways these younger voices are impacting the work of the church
- New resources being developed. I read today of a DVD Bible study being released – “Women in the Word” by Jessica LaGrone. Jessica is another of the young voices, but has produced new resources (with much help, she would be the first to say). The blogoshpere is exploding with new entries and writings by people who have added to the conversation like they never could before. And the technology being used to support better ministry is gaining momentum.
- A new openness to change and renewal. What I watched at Conference on the first day was the intermingling of new and old, even left and right. There was a day, not long ago, when innovation, new voices, and calls for renewal were pushed aside and angrily denounced. Doing your duty, following the unwritten rules, and knowing your place were the unspoken values of the UMC. Today there is conversation. When clergy “jump” others and move up the ladder quickly, there is less rock-throwing and more recognition of how God is at work.
I’m hopeful. Former President Bill Clinton is still the man he was, but he’s not nearly the man he was. He has found new footing and is using the ability and talents he has always had to do more than he ever did as President of the USA. I think the UMC might just find itself singing a similar song. We’re definitely on the upswing.
Holy high-five to you,