Another extended look back (which turns out to be a really long posting for me), covering the past couple weeks…
Dan Dick on clergy self-care:
“We live in an interactive culture where people are attending not just to what they see and hear, but to the meta-messages of behavior and values. What is our witness as church leaders if we are constantly sick, tired, stressed, depressed, or dealing with less significant details? What happens to our capacity to lead in a visionary and creative way when we are constantly engaged in the management aspects of leadership? Where is our authenticity and credibility when we ask people to do things we do not do ourselves — like pray, give, serve, play, rest, exercise, and learn? The “average” pastor in The United Methodist Church reads 2-5 books A YEAR, only three of them related to their faith or profession… Only 1-in-3 of our ordained clergy read the Bible apart from sermon, class, or small group preparation. Only 2-in-4 have a regular prayer/devotional discipline, and only 1-in-7 have a regular exercise routine. 7-out-of-9 report that they do not eat as well as they should. 8-in-10 say they do not get enough rest, and a similar number report that they do not take all their allotted vacation and personal days each year. What we do speaks more loudly than what we say. We are communicating to those we lead that these things aren’t very important. Is that the message we truly wish to send?
I’m doing okay with regular reading, prayer, study of Scripture (although there is always room for improvement), vacation and sleep, but am pretty bad in terms of eating and exercise. Definitely disciplines to work on.
(Make sure you also check out Dan’s post on Failing to Succeed = Succeeding to Fail).
Back to the topic of healthy living – Losing Weight with Gratitude – maybe there is something to be said to being intentional about praying and counting your blessings before every meal. Also Saddleback Loses 200,000 Pounds.
Rob Rynders highlights an important issue: Should Annual Conference Require You to Let Them Monitor Your Social Media Activity? The question arises out of a recent move by the Board of Ordained Ministry in the Kentucky Annual Conference that candidates for ministry and provisional members will “friend” the Annual Conference on Facebook, and likewise give them permissions on Twitter, blogs, etc. to review postings. Even though I am already “Facebook friends” with several District Superintendents, and both my Twitter feed and this blog and publicly accessible, the idea of a person (or group) actively monitoring posts makes me nervous.
The Chad Holtz case and now this one, really force us into a position where we have to be clear around what is “public space” and “private space” and where one is a “representative of the church” and one is simply an ordinary individual venting the same frustrations, and opinions as anyone else. Certainly there is a need for accountability, and a measure of discretion among what clergy post, knowing the “fishbowl” is always there; but at the same time there needs to be room for “safe spaces” where I can offer up a idea or link to a page or post a video that might not fit the Social Principles or Doctrinal Standards of the United Methodist Church, and know that charges won’t be brought against me for it.
For the past couple of months I’ve been dreaming of an event/conference/discussion that can be both a basic training exercise in social media etiquette (for there have been situations in this conference where clergy (and clergy spouses) haven’t always kept the best boundaries around Facebook posts), but also to have a more general discussion, ideally with UM bloggers from across the denomination, where we can figure out some of these basic guiding principles around maintaining a social media presence that allows free expression, but also recognizes our mutual obligation in covenant relationship with each other. So it would be both a “how to” primer on using social media, but also an academic and philosophical event (maybe with seminary support?) to help guide a “big picture” around tools and appropriate expression; which could then be brought to Cabinets and Boards of Ordained Ministry to help guide their work given that this stuff is still foreign to a large number of their members. Naturally, because I’m lazy, I’d love for this to happen in or near Detroit. Anyone with the $$ or skills to pull something like this off?? (Yes I’m looking at you, Methodist Union; also ye’ olde stomping grounds, GETS, and friends down in Ohio – United and MTSO).
Chad Holtz on being a Crappy Dad.
Julie Clawson on Acedia and the Church.
Shane Claiborne on Pentecost Living.
Really interesting video and discussion around Jim Gilliam’s recent talk at the Personal Democracy Forum, on “The Internet is my Religion” here. Really struck by is last comment: “I have faith in people, I believe in God, and the internet is my religion.” In its very best moments, the internet, as a tool for connection can “out church” the church – as a place to bring people together, but at the same time, we must be mindful that vital relationships aren’t virtual relationships, I believe there still has to be an incarnational aspect to ministry, of flesh and bone, hugs, laughter and tears that is a fundamental human need and the place where a real-world gathering of believers is still necessary.
Related: Andrew Conrad on the Pros and Cons of Web-casting a Funeral. As Andrew notes, I like the idea of making the funeral accessible to people who can’t be physically present, but I can see how it could promote people to disengage from that incarnational community at a time when it is especially needed. (As a practical matter, I’d also assume that you’d want to put a funeral webcast of a private link, limited to specific people, but then it becomes one more thing that has to be planned and communicated in the midst of everything else the grieving family is dealing with in that short 3 or 4 day span).
Great video about ministry happening in Hull, England. I spent a year living in Hull, so a lot of the sights resonate with me, although part of the university community I was also sheltered from much of what is depicted here. Still would love to go back for a visit sometime.
Jeremy Smith on Tampa UMC: First casualty of ‘vital congregations’? On a less serious note, via Jeremy Smith, Calvinists confuse God with Megatron.
I’d love to try something like this for my office at church. Also from Lifehacker – How to Photograph Star Trails – I remember my Earth Science teacher in High School did this and brought the photos in to class one time, which I thought was the coolest thing ever.
Interesting article on Moving from Church Membership to Mission Partnership – switching over isn’t quite that easy in a UMC context, but I think there are some really good points in that “membership” language is problematic, and we need to rethink our very conception and understanding of what we are really about as a body of believers.
Fred Clark on immigration – For you were aliens in the land of Egypt. Related: Wil Willimon addresses immigration legislation in Alabama.
Also from Fred Clark – Use Words if Necessary – thoughts on evangelism.
Seth Godin on Organization vs. Movement vs. Philosophy – once you’ve changed from movement to organization, can you go back again? As Godin says, “The trouble kicks in when you think you have one and you actually have the other.”
Teresa Cho – 10 Problems of a Dying Church & How to Fix Them – for United Methodists, #2 need to be tweaked a little bit to simply address anxiety with the SPRC, and a renewed commitment to work with the DS/Cabinet and newly appointed pastors. Otherwise, some good points to consider.
Don’t necessarily agree with it, but still an interesting article – Why We Don’t Allow Children in Worship. I can get on board with offering excellence in children’s programming, and giving adults space to worship without distraction, but when the two come together, seemingly to exclude, I’ve uncomfortable.
Once again Jen Lemen’s writing is beautiful, powerful and speaks to the heart. Please check this one out: Absolutely Seen and Loved.
Why You Can’t Win that Argument on the Internet.
This made the rounds a couple weeks ago, but in case you missed it, George Lucas strikes back…
Music this week from long-time favorites, Belle & Sebastian: