An update from the gift task force, reflections on worship at Reveille, and much more. Get it while its hot.
From the Lead Pastor’s Desk — July, 2017 – Reveille United Methodist Church
In 1896, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noted in 1896 the principle that bears his name: that roughly eighty percent of effects come from twenty percent of causes. Pareto noticed that eighty percent of the peas in his garden came from twenty percent of the pods. He also noticed that eighty percent of the land in Italy was owned by twenty percent of the population. This 80/20 rule has been noted in other disciplines, including business (eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of twenty percent of your clients) and mathematics (a power law or Pareto distribution).
And the same is probably true in most congregations, and that is not a mere principle. It is a theological problem that twenty-first century Christians must have the courage, dedication, and devotion to confront if our churches are going to accomplish our most basic directive: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Confronting this principle will be challenging, mainly because the challenge is so elusive. For centuries, congregations like ours were able to survive, even thrive with the standard Pareto 80/20 division of leadership and effort. In fact, one can argue that prior to the Reformation, this kind of division was preferable to some in the Western church, as it made more power and influence available to the clergy and less available to the laity.
Fast-forward a few centuries, and things were able to continue to work in Western churches, still following the 80/20 rule. Protestantism, with its emphasis upon and greater valuing of the leadership and contribution of the laity offered more people in churches more opportunities to do more things, so the twenty-percent was comprised of both clergy and lay leadership. And this worked well for awhile. Consider how many congregations in existence in the United States today were founded in the nineteenth century. There was a veritable boom of churches and congregational life. Many hands made light work, and there was much work that was done. It was something of a gilded age for American Christianity.
But then two important things changed that dramatically altered the landscape.
What follows is a dream I have had for the last couple of years, as my time on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry was drawing to a close. The premise is simple: what if there were a facilitated gathering of persons on the Provisional journey who covenanted together to give each other feedback in love around our respective pulpit ministries, so that we can become the best preachers we can be.
Details can be found below, as well as registration information. If you are preparing for Provisional or Full Connection membership, check it out. I’d love to see you in Richmond. Groups will begin meeting in April.
About ten years ago, I was on a Board of Ordained Ministry seminary visit to Union Presbyterian in Richmond when I asked Beth Downs if I could create and lead a workshop at Conference residency events on the management of time, information, and technology. She agreed.
For the uninitiated, residency events are designed for people who are seeking ordination in our church, people who in the “provisional journey” between commissioning and ordination. These events are provided to offer these nascent clergypersons helpful tools for ministry.
In these workshops, one thing I would discuss is how to manage email, and in this post, I would like to share with you what works for me, as email management is something at which I think I am actually pretty good.
So then, if your New Year’s resolution is to become more organized, read on.
A helpful statement from the United Methodist Council of Bishops in light of the current national situation.
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ I pray you are well and have had a safe and happy summer. In this article, I would like to discuss one of the great myths of our faith: that not much happens at church over the summer.
As one would expect, we worshipped each Sunday morning and most Wednesday nights. The office was open during the summer, as it always is. Yet to say that not much happens at Reveille in the summer? Pish-posh!
Let’s look back, shall we? Since June:
An update on the ongoing progress of resolving matters of human sexuality was released today by the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church.
The Commission on a Way Forward The Council of Bishops Executive Committee’s July 19-20 meeting in Chicago devoted much of its agenda to finalizing plans for launching the Commission on a Way Forward. The full Council had previously referred the design and implementation of the Commission to the Executive Committee.
We began by acknowledging the profound dissonance between what the Council had proposed to the General Conference in May and the reality within the church in July. The landscape has changed dramatically. The reported declarations of non-compliance from several annual conferences, the intention to convene a Wesleyan Covenant Association and the election of the Rev. Karen Oliveto as a bishop of the church have opened deep wounds and fissures within The United Methodist Church and fanned fears of schism.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” – Matthew 4:8-9
“You are the third United Methodist pastor to present with these symptoms since I began at this medical practice, eighteen months ago,” said my physician.
I didn’t know whether to feel better or worse. I thought “At least I know I am not alone.” Then I tried to figure out who the other two were.