Friday, November 17, 2006


I sit here in my recliner this afternoon, reviewing more than a few readings of late.
There are the regular bloglines that I try to keep track of. I think in my "to-read" list each day I run across nearly half of the bloglines in the methodist blogroll. I have to say that John's recent post that he is going to have to set aside the MWBR is rather sad as it introduced me to a few other reads I might have just forgotten about. I may just have to look for other hat tips to get my read on.
Then there is the reading for curriculum. I have one to write and one to edit. This means reviewing and editing both works, checking out references - in one case my own camp materials in another it means working my way through bits of my favorite commentary - The New Interpreter's Bible.
I also have some reading that has to be done to get me ready for the sermon on Sunday, and even some planning work for the months and year ahead. So commentaries and worship planners are also in the browser bookmarks to help me find the materials to spur my cranial juices.
There are the recent facts and figures from GCFA, the Cal-Pac Conference and the Census Bureau to review for some evals of young clergy, indebtedness, and salary schedules. A few bits and bytes to consume in that mix - to be sure (thanks to Dr Timothy Jackson, professor of Ethics at Candler for adding that phrase to my vocabulary on a more regular basis).
Into the fray of church culture and political ramblings I also inherited the archives from one of the retired clergy in my congregation this week. Among the many files on old conference youth leadership, sex and the whole self curriculum, camp curriculum, and journals I also ran across some materials on evangelism. Which was accompanied by a very enlightening paper that I am working my way through in full with a closer read. The front page made it clear that it was a study in the trends of the local church in the United Methodist Denomination and how to recover the life of the church. The paper was written in 1966 and therefore very enlightened as it pointed to the decline of the church, as it had passed its heyday. This seemed almost improbable to me to read those lines, since the folks that have started to made this cry in this conference just started a few years ago, and 1966 was just 2 years removed from the heyday of 1963 numbers and the height of the local church. The amazing thing to me is that it seemed that those in the current mega-churches read this paper, while the UMC simply seemed to have ignored it, even though it was presented by a Methodist to the California and Southwest Conferences in 1966. And now the very same vitals that it posted in 1966 are being posted today as keys to the future of the church (though somewhat muted in corners of United Methodism, and the larger church).
Quoting from "Rethinking Evangelism" by K. Morgan Edwards, 1966:
"Five essentials for the reformation of the church which were present in the Methodist revival are: (1) the recovery of vital faith among the clergy, (2) standards for membership and an outreach which includes the entire human family, (3) the recovery of "conversion" preaching, (4) a sound "follow-up" in the church for building up the body of Christ, and (5) appropriate fruits from such preaching and follow-up."
He then spends the rest of the paper outlining the ways in which those practices are imagined for the local church and the clergy.
Sometimes, it just feels like I am trying to re-invent the wheel with the work I am doing today, as someone else did it just as well or better so long ago. So maybe I ought to look for the wheel, and find a way to market it to the masses I deal with. The real truth may lie in the old football image of "waking the echoes". (Man, it pains me to use Notre Dame to illustrate a point)


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