Monday, August 04, 2008

SCD - Day Five, Or, "I Once Spent a Year in Grand Rapids One Week"

(GRAND RAPIDS) - I did my due diligence for the morning - even made the plenary.

I heard the Sr. Pastor of the host church in Grand Rapids, Brad. He did a decent job. I was distracted, however, by his attire. This man, who is maybe 10 years older than me was wedged into an American Eagle polo shirt, you know with the big logo all over the front?

Like the one my 12 year old wears?

By wedged, I mean, although he was probably wearing L, he could've taken a XL, or XXL, if you know what I mean.

Between that and his teenager jeans (don't ask) and his old man black shoes - he was a sight.

I "gleaned" some things from his talk that will be helpful, but not earth shattering.

The Core Ministry Session was spent with he and his staff, presumably on "creative worship."

Not so much.

They obviously do some decent things, but when it came to being United Methodist, or sacramental, they hedged - even laughed at each other saying "you want to take that one?"

or, "Is the D.S. in the room?"

She was.

Anyway, after half a day - I'm done.

Going to spend the rest of the time in conversation with the team from the Conference looking at bigger picture questions of what? how? and when? do we implement who we are in our context to renew congregations and start new ones.

That will be time better spent.

Tomorrow? I'll walk, pack and sit at GRR until time to board for MEM.

I'll leave low 80's and breezy for 100's and stifling - and I can't wait.

Closing thoughts - this event has not been a total bust. I must say, however, that for a General Board event, it was subpar. For the cost and effort it takes for people to come from all over to get to location, I expect workshop leaders to be smoking...on their stuff...ready.

I do not want nor need regurgitation of their "new book."

Don't care...I can read myself.

I expect respect for who we are as a church with a diversity of offerings as broad as the opened hearts, minds and doors we claim we have, and not the disproportionate weight being given to produce churches that look like the culture.

I shouldn't have to travel across country to watch a satellite feed from Orlando.

I do believe that innovation is essential..and that was helpful.

But there is a big difference between innovation and revolution.

I shouldn't have to work so hard "gleaning" something to take away from an event like this.

I should be fed, and fed well.

Too much of this required too much work and too much of what was offered was, frankly, unpalatable.

Finally, I'm very encouraged by the passion of those of us who've been here from our parish area, the Memphis Annual Conference. We are focused on different areas of ministry. Maybe it's because we know that Memphis Conference is viewed as the "can anything good come from Bethlehem" contingent in the SEJ, and maybe the whole of the UMC in America.

I know the answer to that. Yes it can. And yes it has.

We don't need to be what we're not. But we do need to be who we are - fully and completely, and yield ourselves to the leading of the Spirit.

That's called being faithful.

And I'm o.k. with whatever happens if we are.

My next post will come from the friendly confines.

From Grand Rapids, I am out.

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