Monday, November 10, 2008


Charge Conference, the annual meeting of the congregation, has come and gone. We prayed together, we sang together, we heard from Church Council chair, I gave the ten reasons that “everything is going to be okay,” and our District Superintendent received our reports and offered a few thoughts of his own. Then we prayed again, sang again, and we were done.


What a very Methodist thing to do, “Conference.” That’s one noun that I am happy to make into a verb! It is so good to sit down with a group of friends, look into one another’s eyes, and ask “How are you doing?” Not in the beer commercial way – “Howyadoin?” and not really expecting a response, but genuinely asking about how things are.

How are we doing? I know that we can overanalyze things, but “the unexamined life is not worth living,” as Socrates said. It is good to stop and take a very close look at things every so often. Not too often, so that the over-examined life becomes no life at all, but often enough that we stay fully aware of the moment, fully grounded in reality. Envisioning the future is much easier to do when one has a realistic picture of the present.

Charge Conference is a congregation’s opportunity to ask, “How are we doing?” And it just so happened that this year’s Charge Conference corresponded with two other events that answered the question pretty effectively – a Volunteer Appreciation Gala and a Ministry Fair. The energy, the people, the excitement, the displays of discipleship – all were wonderful and all said, “We’re doing pretty good, actually!”

Some churches schedule Charge Conferences as if they are penalties to be paid for being a part of the United Methodist Connection. That’s too bad, really. They miss a beautiful opportunity to do something distinctly Methodist. To Conference together to pray, examine, and support one another in Christian love and encouragement is a wonderful practice. It happens at the levels of denomination, jurisdiction, annual, district, charge, class, and even personal.

Who do you conference with? Who looks you in the eye and asks you “how are you doing?” and really means it? And who do you have the privilege of asking the same?


Steph said...

Hey Andy....I'm curious about your "volunteer gala." I'm Director of Leadership and Service at Schweitzer (one of your dad's old parishoners!), and we'd really like to improve in our efforts to show appreciation to our faithful servants. Can you share details? Is there someone I can talk to? Thanks in advance!

Susan Cox-Johnson said...

I gotta say I am actually having a BLAST at charge confernces this year. Everybody, from the 3 people at Mandeville to the 1000 at Platte Woods are bringing one ministry idea to share, and cross-pollinization is already at work (notice how well I stuck with the fruitfulness theme, though I have no earthly idea how to spell "pollinisation". It is just very cool.