Saturday, February 16, 2013

Questioning the Status Quo

So, what's it like being world famous rock stars?

Ok, that was a terrible joke, I apologise.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the Methodist Church, how it works (and sometimes it doesn't), politics, procedures, priorities, and so on. I'm going to write about some of the questions I've been pondering. I'm quite good at asking questions, but not so good at providing answers. Especially as some require out of the box thinking, and as I said recently, I am not good at thinking outside of the box, but I am ok at knowing when being inside the box doesn't work. Maybe some of them don't even have answers... I like bouncing ideas around, hopefully this blog can serve as a place for that to happen. This is going to be a bit of a stream of consciousness. So let's see where this goes.

(Disclaimers: Some of these thoughts might be wrong, factually incorrect, and I'm happy to be corrected.)

Do we expect Ministers to be masters-of-all-trades?
Ministers are trained in Theology. This isn't a bad thing, obviously we need our ministers to be strong theologians. But when they go into Circuit, they are expected to chair Church Council's and oversee the 'business' side of the local Church. As far as I know, ministers aren’t trained for this side of the role. (There may be some who have those skills from their former life, but not all.)

Does this affect the long-term life of churches? Where is the business-minded thought to the future, to using resources to their full extent, and joined up thinking about resource sharing with other churches (Methodist and Other)?

Would Churches function better with two leaders; a pastoral minister who is a theologian and looks after the pastoral and spiritual side of the church, and a 'CEO' who deals with the financial, business, resource- and people-management side?

Are we too numbers driven?

How often is out outreach driven by a desire to get more bums on seats, more members, more people putting money into the collection plate, and how often is it driven out of a genuine desire to spread the Good News? How often is it our agenda, not God's?

Often I have heard people comment that fresh expressions haven't translated into more members. 'Yes, it's great that Messy Church has 40 families on a Saturday afternoon, but they don't come on a Sunday, and they don't give much toward the costs.' Is this really what Church is about?

Are we too precious of our members? I read something where a church was worried that some changes might lead people to 'leave us for other denominations'. Were we called to make disciples of Christ, or members of the Methodist Church?

What is Church?

Do churches need a physical building of their own? Can a church offer the same things to the community and to its members by renting time in a community centre? Chapels can be community centres, so why not make community centres chapels? This could release money that is otherwise spent on maintaining bricks and mortar. Or is there something important about having a physical presence?

I'm going to leave it there for now, this is a good start. (It's just been pointed out that I have written 3 main points, all I need is a few hymns for a traditional Methodist Service, ironic...)

Please, please get in touch, comment, tweet, carrier pigeon, or any  other out of the box ideas. I meant this as a conversation starter.

And now for our final hymn, we stand and sing Hymn 77 - Rockin' All Over The World

(PS, as this is post number 65, this blog is being given the option of retiring. Luckily, it feels well enought to carry on.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

At Waterloo (Poem)

 A sea of suits swirls around

Rushing to waiting trains,

Hurrying home.

When under the clock something catches my eye.

There, in the monochrome ocean,

A splash of colour.

There stands a man

Sunflowers in his hand.


(Thank you to the man in the photo for the inspiration, I hope the person you were waiting for liked the flowers.)