I changed my blog description up there, did you notice? It now says, "I believe that the conversation matters. If in the attempt to realize the reign of God on earth, we cannot engage one another in respectful and grace-filled dialogue, we might as well not even try."
(Yes, I stole the phrase "The Conversation Matters" from the title of the Hal Knight and Don Saliers book, which we read in seminary. Reading this book was the first opportunity I had to think about the idea that it is indeed possible to enter into Christian conversation without needing to agree necessarily with everyone around the table. And you know what? - the sky will not fall.)
I believe that the conversation matters because living a Christlike life is more about the journey than the arrival. A.J. Muste said, "There is no way to peace; peace is the way." Similarly, Jesus called himself "the Way," and early Christians were followers of the way. It's not that we have attained the prize, but we press on to make it our own, as Christ made us his own.
Which brings me to ...
This week is the meeting of Annual Conference here in Missouri, and there are a lot of things going on that I have serious questions about. Here they are, in no particular order:
1) The inordinate power given to an ad hoc task force appointed by the Bishop known as "Pathways" that was supposed to be temporary but shows no signs of stopping soon,
2) the use of numbers alone to define "fruitfulness" in ministry,
3) the elimination of conference support of many community service agencies known as "vital ministries,"
4) the move to close Wesley Foundations on college campuses across the state,
5) the new apportionment formula by which 51% of the congregations in my urban district (including NKC) will see an increase next year whereas in some rural districts that figure is a single digit.
I wonder how much to push these issues. I wonder how many questions to ask before I get the label of troublemaker. I wonder who the best conversation partners might be. I wonder if every voice on these conversations will be heard. I wonder if I ought to wait until after I am ordained to raise my concerns. I wonder how much good it does to raise the issues on the floor of Conference by which time everything seems pretty much decided already. I wonder if not on the floor of conference, then where and with whom.
I believe the conversation matters. But I've never had so many things I've wanted to talk about at once, so I'm not sure where to start!