Jay Voorhees asks some really good question in his posts on Is a Denomination a Brand or a Something Very Different and Is the UMC a Franchisor? The points he raises related to church identity are really important, and he articulates the problem is a way I never could have, although I think I've suspected the disjunction he points out. From the beginning of the "Rethink Church" campaign my fear has always been that we are projecting an image of the church that isn't what most people will find when they visit. I LOVE the image "Rethink Church" promotes, it casts a vision of where we should be, but many local congregations aren't quite there yet.
Furthermore, many United Methodist congregations (from my perspective) have a limited United Methodist identity of their own - "rethink" isn't even on their radar when they are still trying to understand things like apportionments and the value of UMC missions (like UMCOR and Wesley Foundations), as opposed to non-denominational or para-church counterparts (which can certainly be worthy causes, but lack the theological, administrative, or accountability ties that the denominational programs hold). So not only is the a lack of uniform experience, that Voorhees makes note of, I suspect there are a lot of people who don't even buy-in to some of the core principles within the denomination.
I think Jay is right when he says:
"The more I think about this the more I begin to get a sense that what we are is less of a national brand that is useful and worthwhile in helping persons to access our church, and more of an affiliation of multiple brands that are rooted at the local level. The general church nor the annual conference is not a franchisor in any traditional sense for there is really no attempt to enforce uniformity of experience, nor would we want to do so. For the most part we have tended to suggest that the diversity of experience in the UMC is in fact a virtue which allows many different types of people access to the throne room of God."But (as I'm processing this idea as I type it out), I think there is also a basic need for an internal marketing/education effort to take place so that people within the United Methodist Church can come to understand our identity and history, to see how the local connects with the connectional, which in some cases has been lacking.
I'll stop myself before delving too much more into that potential rant.
Seth Godin has some good stuff up this week: Heroes and Mentors being one that caught my attention. Also, check out Do You Need a Permit?
Leading Ideas has an important and insightful article by Chris Duckworth on the choices families make. Be sure to read the whole thing here, but to summarize his main point, Chris suggests that families that are faced with hard choices like soccer or Sunday School, are making the choices out of love, and while it is easy to criticize, sometimes we forget how stressed and overextended families are. Maybe the answer isn't to wag our finger and expect them to "come to us" but to do the Christ-like (and Wesleyan) thing and go to where the people are.
Not an issue for me, but it may be for some (especially if you use a Windows laptop) - avoid connecting to "Free Public WiFi". Also via Lifehacker this week, how handwriting can help your cognitive abilities; as much as I am drawn to the tech stuff, to me there is something powerful and important about using plain old pens/pencils and paper, especially when it comes to the creative or brainstorming type of work.
Ever wanted to make your own bacon? Here's how.
The Beautiful South have come up on my iPod is shuffle mode a few times in recent weeks, so I might as well throw them up on the blog as well.