It’s only the end of the beginning

Huge thank you to all the Deer Park United Methodist folks who have gone above and beyond this week donating to and packing flood buckets, serving in shelters and helping to clean out houses. You have found so many ways to show your faith to others in the midst of this storm.

Thank you to all our brothers and sisters in faith who have partnered together formally and in formally. It is both humbling and inspiring to see so many people go out of their way to help one another.

At the end of this week, I’m tired and I know many of you are as well. I pray you rest tonight for there is so much work ahead. I pray also that the spirit of unity and service that has carried us throughout this week might never be exhausted.

Months from now, when we all look back, I hope we remember the pride and solidarity of this week as much as the tragedy. And I hope it fuels in us the will to keep going long after the cameras are gone and some places are back to “normal”. Because normal is a long way off for some. But if we hold together the way we have this week, perhaps we can do more than return to the way things were.

May we find in these first days the seed of a better future; and however long it takes, may we carefully tend it to fruition.

See, a king will reign in righteousness,

and princes will rule with justice.

Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,

a covert from the tempest,

like streams of water in a dry place,

like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.

-Isaiah 32:2

For my less nerdy (but no less Methodist friends): HEY THIS IS IMPORTANT

Below is the text of an ammendment that passed by consent (wasn’t debated) at General Conference this morning.  Effectively it deeply changes how we treat our ordained clergy (elders).  The argument was, while they had a process for removing ineffective pastors, most conferences were loath to use it or could not use it well.  This (techenically these) ammendments take that process from being a punative, to being standard.

Great efforts have been made across studies, sub-committees, and legislative committees to ensure that removal cannot be arbitrary, that effectiveness is a clearly defined measure, and that clergy who are not appointed have recourse.  There are still many concerns about the impact this will have on women and minorities, as well as on clergy’s ability to speak profetically.  Whether the church will be better or worse for this we may not know for some time, but it will be different.

It will require us to practice the belief we profess, to really and truely hold one another in care, to constantly check that our measures are God’s measures (rather than capitolisms) and to actively and continually discern beyond what we want to where God is leading us and our leaders.  It will mean we as lay people MUST embrace that we are all in ministry, not just our church staff’s.  We can no longer afford to be bystanders in our polity, or to place our own whims above what is best for the church.  We may even be called to defend our clergy brothers and sisters when their righteous callings interfer with someone else’s agenda.

We, along with the bishops, have been given an enormous trust today.  As people of God, we must rise to fulfill it. We must also hold our clergy in care these next few days.  Some of them will celebrate, but some will also grieve this change.  Their world was dramatically altered with little more than a whisper from the General Conference.  Please pray for them.  Please encourage them.  And always remind them of the gifts and graces you see in them.

Our covenant is fundementally differant now. It will require more love, more trust, and more understanding.  But things things have always been required of us.  May this, and everything else General Conference discerns, be to God’s glory.

Addistions to Book of Discipline paragraph 337

337.4a: “Each annual conference shall quadrennially name a task force consisting of: four members named by the Conference Lay Leader; at least two clergy members from the Board of Ordained Ministry nominated by the Chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry and elected by the clergy session; a superintendent named by the Bishop; and the Bishop.  The task force shall meet annually to develop a list of criteria to guide the Cabinet and Bishop as they make missional appointments.

337.4b: “The Cabinet shall report the following information annually to the Board of Ordained Ministry Executive Committee: 1) those elders, provisional elders and associate members who have not received a full-time missional appointment and the rationale; 2) those elders, provisional elders and associate members who have not received an appointment for reasons of ineffectiveness and the steps which have been taken in the complaint process; 3) statistics by age, ethnicity and gender of elders who have not received a full-time missional appointment; and 4) learnings that have been gleaned as appointment-making is carried out in a new way.  This data will also become a part of the agenda of the Committee on the Episcopacy at the conference and jurisdictional levels. This data will also become part of the evaluation of bishops by the Committee on the Episcopacy at the conference and jurisdictional levels.”

Church in the age of facebook (a what do you think)

Facebook recently filed paper work for an IPO and Slate writer Josh Levin found some interesting “Facebookisms” within the forms.  (The five he pulled out are listed below).  Reading over them it occured to me (via Amanda Baker) that we used to say/act like in similar ways in seminary.  However my local congregation (and i would venture many others) operate out of an entirely different mindset.  Is that harming us?

What do you think?  Would it behove the local church to move faster and take more risks with new ideas and ministries?  Or is the culture of Facebook something to be more opposed than embraced? (or is there something inbetween).

Facebookism No. 1: “Done is better than perfect”

Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.

Facebookism No. 2: “Code wins arguments”

Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.”

Facebookism No. 3: “Move fast and break things”

Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.

Facebookism No. 4: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.”

Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.”

Facebookism No. 5: “This journey is 1 percent finished.”

We encourage our employees to think boldly. We also have posted the phrase “this journey is 1% finished” across many of our office walls, to remind employees that we believe that we have only begun fulfilling our mission to make the world more open and connected.