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It’s been a long week with much to blog about. Not surprisingly, the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, tops the list of blogged-about topics. While some argue that the church ought to get out of the civil marriage business, Bill McConnell wrote (actually last week) that it’s the state that ought to butt out. Steve Kindle, of the Open Hearts, Affirming Pages blog, posted several items this week. And Danny Bradfield, over at Field of Dandelions, mentions it in this Pentecost-related post.
In a tangentially related post, The Prophet Joel asks whether the “Open & Affirming” designation adopted by some LGBT-friendly churches puts politics before Christ. His post before that one is good Friday afternoon reading: Television Characters Who Are Seminary Drop-Outs.
We also began the week with Memorial Day, when we remember those who have lost their lives serving our country and protecting our freedoms. Charlie Cochran blogs about God and fireworks. And Pastor Bob Cornwall shares A Prayer for Memorial Day on his Ponderings on a Faith Journey blog.
I also missed a great post last week, from the Field of Dandelions blog: “Beer, Revisited.” I won’t try to explain. Just read it.
Shortest post of the week: found on the Ageing Xperience blog.
My favorite post this week comes from Keith McAlliley who writes the Blogging from Bridgeport blog. Keith calls us to really give some hard thought to what we mean, as Christians, when we talk (obsessively, sometimes) about the need for building “community” in our churches. Do we just want social time? A support group? Or is it about something else altogether? Read what he has to say, and share what you think with him.
Got a blog post you’d like us to feature next Friday? Don’t be shy. Email us: news AT disciplesworld DOT com. Have a great weekend.
One of the best things about blogging (especially when it’s Friday and you’re a little tired of writing) is that you can read other people’s blogs and link to what you find. Here are a few interesting posts for your afternoon or weekend reading:
Danny Bradfield over at the Field of Dandelions blog posted this great photo in Earth Day. His blog’s got a new look. While you’re there, read about his recent adventures as a judge for the school’s science fair.
What do Disciples of Christ, the Vineyard churches, Mormons, Frank Viola and the house church movement, and the Orthodox Church have in common? They’ve all grown, to some extent, out of “restorationist” principles – the idea of restoring the New Testament church. Blogging from Bridgeport wonders if the New Testament church needs restoring, after all? He makes an interesting point – go read his post on the quest for the New Testament church, and comment.
Bob Cornwall rarely lets a day go by without updating his Ponderings on a Faith Journey blog, and he’s always got something interesting to say. This week, he’s written twice about the use of torture as an interrogation tactic. I especially like this post, though, about interpreting the Koran.
Going back to last month, The Ageing Xperience writes about the donation of organs – and various other items – to a church, and what kinds of obligations and issues this occasionally creates, even if the donor’s intentions are good. Anyone who’s a pastor or has served on a church’s board or as a trustee can probably relate.
In closing, from Nathan Day Wilson’s blog, a word from Thoreau. As much as social media has opened up the floodgates of self-expression, there are others out there (on the internet, yes, and in “real life”) whose songs go unnoticed. May we listen well, and may we help others to make their lives sing.
Okay, I realize that many in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) still don’t know about the Mission Alignment Coordinating Council. Others, frankly, don’t care all that much about the effort to align the general (and probably soon, the regional) church’s structures with its mission and to better serve congregations. But they should (IMHO).
The MACC is an 11-member group that has been working for about a year to figure out what needs to be done to improve the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). That’s an extremely general description of their work; click here if you want specifics.
Today they made their report to the denomination’s General Board and asked for feedback. Now, the report’s been out for about a month — most General Board members have probably read it. So the biggie today was the feedback. Given the responses via Twitter and email, I wondered how this would go, because the responses I’ve seen and heard to the MACC’s proposals have been all over the map.
First off, let me just say that the MACC’s members have done a lot of difficult and thoughtful work, and have tried to look to God to guide that work. Everyone we’ve heard from has also noted this, and I want to reaffirm it. No doubt, these folks have invested a lot of time and energy into trying to move the church forward, and forward in the right direction.
My own concern with the MACC is that, while they identified the need for transparency as paramount, their proposal doesn’t say much about it. And they didn’t model it for the rest of the church — DisciplesWorld wanted to attend their final meeting in January — and we were informed in no uncertain terms that the meeting was closed. We at DisciplesWorld have addressed that in an editorial, which will appear in our May issue. ‘Nuff said about that, for now.
One of the most interesting things today was how the MACC solicited comments and questions about its work. Instead of doing the traditional, Roberts’ Rules-governed practice of having people step to the microphones to speak, they asked people to get into table groups of 4-5. People were directed to comment on what struck them most about the MACC’s proposals, and what questions they have. After about 15 minutes of discussion, people switched to another table, with one person from each table group, who had taken notes, remaining behind to ‘host’ the next group. After two rounds of table discussions, table recorders were asked to come and report one item from the table discussions. Here is what they reported:
1 – Liked the proposal to extend the timeline and the feeling of not rushing anything.
2 – we can’t determine structure of domestic ministries without talking about the content and purpose of those ministries.
3 – “Our church needs bolder vision and bolder action.”
4 – “Change brings conflict and these proposals bring major change” Let’s walk through conflict with courage.
5 – The MACC is doing good job of identifying problems and naming outcomes. But they are failing to ask individual entities to come up with the structure to accomplish the outcome. Feels like the oppressor telling the oppressed how to come up with the outcome.
6 – Who will be accountable to whom, and can there be action after dialogue with the General Board?
7 – For these things to be effective and foundational, we need relationships that lead to trust and to accountability.
8 – This seems like an indirect effort to shut down Disciples Home Missions. And NBA (National Benevolent Association, now Disciples Benevolent Services) is perceived as the problem, and it feels punitive.
9 – It was felt that it began with a theological basis but the theology is not carried out in proposals. They should be more theologically considered.
10 – How does this proposal resource the regions in the “movement toward wholeness,” in support of the 2020 Vision, etc.?
11 – Appreciation that we’re dealing with systemic change, rather than personalities.
12 – “This is an approach avoidance document.”
13 – An acknowledgment of the amount of work that was accomplished because of [MACC’s] intent and intentions to include all persons.
14 – Seems like technical fix rather than a mission-driven and delivery fix.
15 – There’s concern about how many next steps are lodged in Office of General Minister and President’s office – are we overburdening, and also, how much does that centralize a church-wide conversation.
16 – There’s a need for clarity about what General Board can recommend and what it can mandate among these proposals.
17 – What is the expected outcome for justice and advocacy?
18 – Questions about the pastoral table – who is at it and are we inadvertently locking in 2009 agreements? And where are women, Haitians, regional ministers, etc.?
19 – Proposal #8 regarding new churches should be under the second desired outcome (celebrating and affirming diversity) – as opposed to grouped with programmatic issues in third desire outcome.
20 – Perhaps MACC assumed that general units’ work is still necessary to local congregations?
21 – We question the purpose of the pastoral table being fulfilled by being entirely race-based in its membership.
22 – “Turf protection dimishes ministry.”
23 – Are we doing what we always do – talk things to death – or will there really be substantive change in moving us forward?
Here’s what I see as a challenge. How does the MACC take in such a broad range of critiques, suggestions, and questions, and narrow those down? Are they really listening, or just letting people vent? Which comments will impact their proposals and the future direction of their work (they’ve asked for another year to continue meeting, and the General Board will most likely approve that request)?
And then, their next step is to go back to congregations during a conference in June, and find out what those congregations need to be resourced for ministry. This is a critical step for the MACC, because they didn’t get much feedback from congregations and individual Disciples last fall. One of the main objectives of their work is to better equip congregations for mission.
It seems (from this meeting) that regional and general ministry heads are quick to offer up their suggestions, and that’s great. But if the MACC’s work becomes dominated only by the concerns of general and regional ministries, then it’s not going to do what it set out to do.
Ironically, I don’t think that a failure of the MACC would impact Disciples congregations all that much. Many congregations figured out long ago how to “resource” themselves. The big loser here will be the general church. As I see it, the MACC process is about how to make the general church relevant to congregations. To succeed, they need to stay focused and may need to say “no” or “not yet” to much of what they heard today.
Originally published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Moms and Sons, “Mom Has a Wicked Curveball” was reprinted on Beliefnet.com. It’s by DisciplesWorld contributing writer and mom Tanya J. Tyler, and goes out to all you single parents. An excerpt:
On the way to the park, it strikes me as singularly sad that this little boy has to play baseball with his mother. Not that I’m a slouch; after all, I was a softball star in high school and college, and I’m still a mainstay on my church and work softball teams. And it’s not that I don’t love baseball, because I do. It’s just that sometimes I wish my son had someone else to play ball with him. Someone male.
What would Jesus do if he was at his favorite Mexican restaurant, enjoying a Taco Salad and catching up on some reading, and overheard a couple sitting nearby trying to convince a young man to join a nefarious pyramid scheme (as opposed to, say, a benevolent pyramid scheme?) Well, I don’t know what Jesus would do, but now I know what Disciples blogger Dan Mayes did. I’ll let him tell you.
Mad God Woman shares a link to another great blog, Stuff Christians Like. It’s not just a one-off list; each item of “Stuff” has its own blog posting. And he’s up to #495: Wondering if We’re Worth Anything. Another great posting there compares different Bible versions to G.I. Joe characters (still works even if you don’t know your characters). Another recent posts from the Mad God Woman: Mitres of Fire, Hazards of Habit, about one of the major mistakes pastors make. Rock on, preacher lady.