Welcome to our ‘Sphere

Welcome Kyle Roberson to our area-of-influence!  Kyle is currently serving at University UMC in Fort Worth.  His wife, Joy, is the Central Texas Conference’s Associate Director of Mission Ministries/Director of Student Ministries.

I’ve just gotten hold of Kyle’s blog, and share it with you.  It is good reading from a needed perspective within The UMC and the Kingdom of God.

Enjoy!

Welcome to our ‘Sphere

Conference Comments

I am sitting in the morning session of the third day of the 2007 meeting of the Central Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

In addition to the regular annual business of reports and budgets and nominations, this year we are electing delegations, lay and clergy, to next year’s General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference. These two meet every four years and conduct the business of the entirety of The United Methodist Church. The General Conference is the body that speaks for the denomination. Jurisdictional Conferences, among other things, elect bishops to lead our annual conferences. The Central Texas Conference elects 6 clergy delegates and 6 lay delegates to each conference.

There has been much discussion recently about bringing new vision and direction to our denomination. Lyle Schaller, an international leader in church growth and christian leadership development, wrote a book several years ago about the decline of the UMC and other mainline denominations, titled the Ice Cube Is Melting. A recent meeting in the South Central Jurisdiction of “Gen X/Y United Methodists met to dialog about the future of our church and how younger people can have a voice in that future.

At the same time, our Central Texas Annual Conference, according to the report of our Board of Ordained Ministry, likely has a strong bent away from the upcoming generations. According to that report, 193 of our 401 Elders in Full Connection are retired. Counting all ordained clergy, over one third, 34% of our clergy who are eligible to elect clergy representatives to General and Jurisdictional Conferences are retired.

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Conference Comments

Join Us

ywm-logo.jpg

The Youth Worker Movement is an organization of, by, and for United Methodist people who work with youth.

If you have ever been involved in youth ministry, you know why this movement is so important. People in youth ministry are too often and too easily isolated from the congregations to which they are related. The average tenure for a United Methodist in youth ministry is 17 months. I know several who have lasted far longer than that-meaning that many are far shorter. Burnout is high. Help, support, connection are needed. Desperately. The YouthWorker Movement is one part of the solution.

Here is the website’s description of the movement. If you are a United Methodist who works with youth, lay or clergy, paid or volunteer, please check out this site and consider joining us. Membership is free.

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Worship

In a clergy meeting the other day, we discussed how visitors might experience our various congregations.  Recognizing that the most direct way this experience would happen would be in a worship service, we spent a good deal of time talking about “Getting something out of worship.”

I am for getting something out of worship, but aren’t we missing the point?  If worship is indeed worship, it is about what God gets out of it, and thus what we put into it, not about what we get out of it.

These two things are not in opposition.  I firmly believe that if one pours oneself into worship and offers oneself and one’s praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to God, one will always come away from such an experience feeling like one got something out of it.

On the other hand, can going into a worship service hoping to get something out if it actually hinder what one puts into it?

Worship

Gen what?

I read about the “Gen X?Y” gathering of United Methodists and I wonder, “could I possibly be too old for the edge of United Methodism?”

I approached a group of guys (yes, actually, in this case they were all males) at Annual Conference a couple of years ago. I had meet each of them and built relationships through working senior high camp together at Glen Lake. One of them said to me, “Hey, let’s see what an old guy thinks.”

(They were having one of those conversations that happens regularly at sessions of Annual Conference. Broadly, the topic was, “How can we make this a better Conference?”)

I was stunned. Me, an old guy? Yeah, well, I realized I had at least a decade on any of them. And yeah, I know I’ve been ordained since they were in junior high, but I hadn’t realized there might be such a perceived gap from their side.

After all, they are the one I enjoy talking with. Their souls are young and vibrant, and, most importantly, resistant to maintaining the status quo for no better reason than “we’ve always done it this way.”

Depending on who defines it, I am either a Boomer or an Xer. Born in 1963, I am a cusper. On a very few things I tend to identify with the Baby Boomers. On most things, I am an Xer.

So, what do you think? Where do I fit in the current discussions? Where do you?

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Gen what?

O M G

I’m still processing this, so I will respond more completely to it later, but I found in my email this morning something from the Waco District. Our Conference has decided that in September all our churches will unite in emphasizing the church’s mission: MAKING DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD.

Incredibly, attached to the email were outlines for the sermons for the 3 Sundays we are to plug this theme. I won’t even have to figure out what to preach!

Except for the fact that I am not going to use their outlines.

Unless the Bishop puts it out on podcast, in which case I’ll lip-sync.

O M G

Reflecting on Youth

Youth will very often live to our expectations.

I returned Saturday from a mission trip to Oklahoma. I shared the floor of a church with about 120 other people for a week as we served people in the Oklahoma City area. Teams went out each morning to build ramps, repair roofs, and touch people’s lives. Each team had two adults and six youth.

One team in particular was interesting to watch during the week, because one of that team’s adults was almost constantly whining about how his kids didn’t know how to do anything, and that they were lazy.

This was my tenth youth mission trip in the past 7 summers. I have been on several different work teams, and in other positions of leadership. I have never before encountered an entire team of ignorant and lazy youth.

For whatever reason, it took me the entire week to realize that in this case, the youth weren’t the problem. The adult was the problem. I suppose I wanted to give the man the benefit of the doubt. I should have given the students the same respect, or more.

Over my 20 years of working with youth, I have learned that, contrary to the attitudes and perspectives of the older generations, most youth want to succeed, do well, be a part of something larger than themselves, and serve others.

This man’s experience with six youth for a week of mission work was exactly what he had expected it to be. In his view young people would rather be playing video games, surfing the internet, or sleeping than anything else. Laying that level of expectation on his team, they lived according to it.

The last time I was on a similar team, The youth took the lead in building a deck with stairs, replacing a door and frame, fixing two windows and repainting the entire house. They didn’t take a step without seeking my approval, but they took the initiative and accomplished most of the work themselves. They lived up to the expectations I had of them.

Youth will very often live down to, or up to, our expectations of them.

Reflecting on Youth