College friends Clint and Courtney continue to do great ministry in Cedar Rapids with the Matthew 25 Ministry Hub.
Andrew Conrad asks a pretty provocative question, What to Do with Unhealthy UM Congregations? Like the "ineffective clergy" issue I think it's an important question to ask, but also fraught with potential abuse, beginning with the issue of how an "unhealthy" congregation is defined (which Conrad notes). Unhealthy congregations can't simply be "written off" especially we we are going to hold to a theology of redemption and resurrection, but there is a tricky game of how do we deploy effective clergy into unhealthy situations? On one hand, it's the only way a turn-around can be achieved, on the other without the proper support and understanding it can be a recipe for clergy burnout. (This is also reason #2348 of why I'm glad I'm not a DS).
Andrew also offered some nice, brief additional thoughts on What to Do with Ineffective UM Clergy? As I think I've mentioned before, one of my primary concerns with the "ineffective clergy" question is if we need to remove clergy from leadership (due to ineffectiveness and not because of misconduct), can we do it in a way that is fair and pastoral? We need to give people the opportunity to change, but if they can't (or won't) grow, then there needs to be a level of support around the transition. As Conrad says, it should never be about kicking people out of the church, but helping them find their vocation, and I think we need to take that helping part seriously.
Interesting thoughts by Fred Clark about the trends in growth (or lack thereof) in evangelicalism.
I've talked before about numbers (attendance, membership, etc.) being a key measure of clergy effectiveness; it's an issue I'm torn on, because I understand the value and the appeal, but I also know that sometimes numbers can't tell the whole story. So I found this article to be an interesting take on those types of measurements from a secular perspective. Chris Guillebeau writes:
the numbers give you a goal—something to keep in mind as you go through a challenging process. The numbers can’t be your sole motivation or identity, but they can be a big help.I like that perspective, the numbers aren't the sole motivation or identity, but they can be a healthy barometer of what is happening.
I know I've missed a ton of good stuff while I've been away, but hopefully I'll be back into my usual routine soon. I've been putting a "summer mix" of music together on the ipod this is one that hit me as one of those good summer songs. (The 80's era video production is also pretty entertaining).