Monday, February 07, 2005

Hope for the Future of the Church

The reason I haven't written in a while is that I was in Washington D.C. for three days last week, and then had to spend the rest of the week catching up on the stuff that I missed while I was gone. I probably should have done more prep before I went. Oh well.
The reason I was in Washington D.C. was to meet with a group of 60 young United Methodist clergy people from around the nation. We met at the General Board of Church and Society in the Methodist Building, on capitol hill. You can stand at the front door of the Methodist building and look across one street at the Supreme Court, across another street at the Capitol, and across another street at the Senate office buildings. Wow!
The Church and Society board speaks for the denomination in matters legislative. They are charged with the care and maintainance of the denomination's Social Principles. And they had called all of us young clergy from around the nation to meet together and talk about social justice.
All of that is background in order to say this:

I am incredibly hopeful about the future of the church!

Here's why: Clergy younger than 40 know how to disagree with each other without despising each other. We do not have a "win / lose" frame of mind. Too many older folks think about dialogue in terms of figuring out who is "right" or "wrong." That is not dialogue, that is a fight. The 60 young adults present in Washington last week know how to say, "I understand where you are coming from, and I completely disagree with your perspective. Now, let's go get a cup of coffee and talk about it."

Let me tell you about one of the young pastors in Washington: his name is Shalom. (What a great name for a pastor!) Shalom and I are on opposite sides of the table a lot. A LOT! I disagree with him about almost every hot-button issue there is. But Shalom and I were able to share a subway to the airport at the end of our time in Washington, sit down at a restaurant and have a snack while we waited for our respective planes, and you know what - we didn't kill each other! We even managed to share some laughs together! We sat at the same table and actually talked about stuff and managed to live together EVEN THOUGH WE DISAGREE.
Speaking in a broad generality, people younger than 40 are okay with that. People in their 50s and older are not. And that is why I am so incredibly hopeful about the future of the church. Because the reality is, faithful, honest, and truly good people are going to disagree about things, and it doesn't make anyone less faithful, honest, or good. We are all just trying to live our lives as best we know how. Splitting the church apart just because we disagree about things is the least faithful thing we could possibly do.
Life is a rainbow, enjoy the colors!
Grace and Peace,
Andy B.


RevKev said...


Sounds like it was an outstanding trip to ye olde nation's captital. Just beware of creeping "ageism"... not all of us over 40's get all anxious when disagreements happen...;-)

Your blog is outstanding! Keep up the good work, and know that Spongebob Squarepants is my good buddy! Viva la Revolucion!

In Christ... Rev. Kev

dabeckztr said...

sounds like a great trip you had to DC...funny you mentioned it. I just signed on the dotted line today to go on the spring break trip to Washington DC, with the Diciples on Campus the Newman Center and the only methodist being myself, but i'm strongly bread!...

It is amazing how us methodists can agree to disagree. Thus is why i have chosen to stick with the methodist church, me being one of those very young clergy hopefuls have had my experiences at the United Methodist Student forum where we discuss hot topics as you aluded to and the way that we can have an open discussion and not kill ourselves over it is very hopeful and i too see a great future for the church. I can only hope that in my future clergy life i can continue bring the hope and life that i have experienced to the church.

oh and SpongeBob is my hero! if anyone can make me laugh its SpongeBob! and what is the world without a bit of added humor?

Andy B. said...

As usual, my friend and colleague Kevin has spoken with his prophetic voice and named my latent ageism. I heartily repent of this my misdoing, the rememberance of it is grievous unto me. Not ALL "over-forties" are incapable of living together in the midst of disagreement. And not ALL "under-forties" are hip to the post-modern milieu of the dynamic, transformative tension of honest diversity. As I wrote in the blog, I use broad generalities to make a point, not to indict particular individuals.
Kevin, you are one of the most wonderfully tolerant "over-forties" I have ever known! Thank you for staying true!
Grace and Peace, everyone,
Andy B.

Ashley said...

Hey ya AB no T!
I love that you are so hopeful. It makes me hopeful to know that you are hopeful! Thanks for your thoughts. AC

Wendy said...

Andy, Tsk,tsk,tsk - ageism! It is so easy to say something and have it come out differently than your actual intent. I do understand the general thought you have, and certainly there are a lot of us in the "over 40" bracket that fit the mold. Youth brings future and frequently tolerance just because the young are at such dynamic times in their lives. Things are changing drastically for them all the time, so, in general, they aren't as afraid of change. I'm glad that the church is attracting younger people, and I know that their efforts to make a place for themselves will frighten and anger many less tolerant people. Regardless of either of them's ages. And by the way, how old do we think Spong Bob is?

Anonymous said...

I was all set to let you have it about the over 40 thing but I see others have already done that. Guess what...I agree with them. Oh, wait a minute... I'm over 40. Does that mean I'm slighting my generation or sucking up to the youngsters? Oh, wait. Do I ask you that question because you will agree with me or should I ask someone my own age who will surely disagree with me? If you're thinking right now..."Why doesn't Dave shut up already?"...I agree!
Just kidding! Love your blog!
Dave Wood