February 27, 2008

Pew Study

The Pew Forum Religious Landscape Survey has been released and has been getting some attention. Here are a few different looks at it:
Brian McLaren
Adam Hamilton
Marta Aldrich (UM News Service)

I haven't had a chance to study the survey numbers myself, and the fact is there are people much more knowledgeable than me who can make better sense of what they actually mean, but I think as United Methodists the bottom line is we can't keep doing what we've been doing. As McLaren notes the question that needs to be before us isn't "What do the customers want?" but "What does God want?" and how will the church be in mission to make that happen?

There is a big challenge before us, because it means a significant shift in the mindset of the institutional church. While the data is sobering in terms of what it could mean the future of the UMC (or potential lack of), I also think there is great opportunity. Part of what the data seems to imply is that people haven't given up on God (atheists and agnostics only account for about 4% of the population); they are just dissatisfied with church. How we address this dissatisfaction is a tough question and I'm not even going to try to suggest an answer, but there is room for hope. We can hope, as long as that hope entails a willingness to seek out God's will and a commitment to doing God's will, especially as it calls us to ministry with the least, the last and the lost.

February 13, 2008

February 10, 2008

lent - fasting and feasting

David Warkentein offers this wonderful prayer for Lent:
Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling within them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on trust.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on nonviolence.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Gentle God, during this season of fasting and feasting, gift us with Your Presence, so we can be gift to others in carrying out your work. Amen.

via Mike Todd