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Informative Events

In the run up to the Thanksgiving holiday, I attended two informative events.  While distinctly different from each other, each is evidence of the creative reflection taking place across the United Methodist Church. Saturday, November 20th I attended “Can We Talk?” and took part in a Bishops’ Panel during a Q& A time.  “Can We Talk?” focused on “Effective Leadership … Changing Our Reality” in the African American church.  (An annual event, this is my 3rd year in attendance.)  Rev. Ronnie Miller Yow, pastor of Wesley UMC, Little Rock, Arkansas, gave a powerful address on new ministry in new ways.  Some nuggets of his address:
  • Dead worship will not bring anybody to Christ.
  • No pay, no say – if you are not tithing you should not have a say in the direction the church is taking.
  • The reason this church is dying is that pastors don’t know how to pray.
There was more but the listener (and hopefully reader) can grasp the cutting edge of Rev. Yow’s connection between spiritual formation and congregational fruitfulness.  The second event took place on Sunday evening, November 22nd.  I attended The Texas Methodist Foundation’s dinner recognizing special medallion honorees, Rev. Leighton Ferrell and Tom Graves.  Dr. Bill Enright a Presbyterian clergy and President of the Lake Institute for Faith & Giving, spoke on trends in stewardship.  Giving is down (as the economy would suggest).  Significantly though, major giving is much more focused than it used to be.  Instead of giving to (say) 7 or 8 causes, those sharing larger gifts are choosing to focus on a few causes (say 2 or 3).  The driving question is: How can I make a gift of significance?  Put differently, what difference (play on words intended) will my gift make.  Meaning, purpose and engagement are driving giving as never before.  Churches cannot simply assume economic loyalty.  Are we places of significance in the kingdom building work of Christ?  Both groups are leaning into a new future.  These are exciting times to be in ministry for the Lord.