Keeping Hope and Closing the GapPosted: November 6, 2012
> CLICK HERE to read the article on the TX Methodist Foundation’s blog A Place At The Table
FULL ARTICLE: Hope is now building in the United Methodist Church like a fire. What started at first as a small spark some years ago among a small group of loosely connected leaders has continuously and increasingly found fuel and is now spreading. It is not just hope that is building but an impatience to engage the possibility of the mission field instead of the problems of the institution. A movement is forming.
But movements must deal with gaps that arise when some have been in the conversation about the purpose of the change from the beginning, others join later, and there are still many who don’t even know about the conversation (or don’t want to). If hope is to grow we will need to address the gap.
In this issue of our TMF e-journal we offer two vignettes about hope and the gap:
- An Experience of the Gap – Rev. Bobbi Kaye Jones shares a real-life experience as a district superintendent where she has been working intentionally to shift people’s focus from protecting their own church to engaging the mission field. Consider what it is like to be a leader who sees the hope, who works intentionally to help others see and respond, and is then confronted with the gap. This is a picture of where we are in the wilderness of an established denomination living in a deeply changed mission field.
- An Example of Bridging the Gap – One of the great supports of the new and growing hope is that there are already examples of people who deeply understand the new mission field – which often demands very non-traditional responses that are very different from standard congregational fare. The ability to offer non-traditional responses is often the key to addressing younger generations. However, it requires that these people actively bridge the gap between what ministry once was and what it is yet to be. It means standing between being accountable to the long established institutional church and simultaneously risk building non-traditional approaches that can introduce discipleship to people who live in a changed culture. District Superintendent Ellen Alston from the Louisiana Conference helps us listen in on the experience and reflections of some young clergy who are already bridging the gap. One of the reasons we can hope for a changed and more Wesleyan United Methodist Church is because it is already happening. There are some already bridging the gap.
Every brave pilgrimage through a wilderness requires us to continue to draw the picture of the faithful future, to look back at that part of ourselves that is lagging behind, and to be willing to close the gap as an effort of hope. Where are you in the conversation?