Sunday, August 19, 2007

And the church splits...

Might this be the face of the "new" United Methodist Church? The church that refuses to advance into the 21st century with all the problems of reaching the younger generation of youth, teens, and young (18-30 yr old) adults? The church that won't embrace the ideas of those serving in the trenches who are trying to reach the lost generation? The church structured in such a manner that incompetent, uncaring pastors continue to be placed into appointments which only further causes parishioners to leave? The church that denigrates anything that doesn't remind the congregants of the mid 1960's in style and format? The church that shuns innovation and technology that could reach those younger than the persons in the power structure within the local congregation?

Can you tell I'm a little peeved right now?

The UMC is on a course to oblivion. And I'm beginning to believe that unless things change drastically within the next year or two, that it will cease to exist as a denomination within the next 20 years. And I also know there are congregations that have already passed the point of no return. Including, I'm starting to feel, the one where I currently serve.

A quick background... on the fifth Sunday, in a month with five, we only hold one 10:30am worship service instead of three (we're what you'd call a big church). This was done to encourage the three congregations we serve to come together as one family to worship, and to expose everyone to some different ways of worshiping. For example, in April we held a VERY traditional "high" worship service. Not a word from anyone. And then in July we did a service much more contemporary in nature.

You'd have thought we stripped naked and danced on the altar.

The dinosaurs of the church, the ones that hold, have held for years, and refuse to give it up, POWER, have raised holy hell ever since. Up to and including the chairperson of the church council appearing at this past weeks staff meeting to let us know she'd been deluged with "negative comments" from the people in attendance. When asked by the Sr. Pastor how many people that was she replied, "five families." Five families out of the several hundred persons attending the service have (forgive me) bitched about what happened. And because of WHO they are in the church everybody's bending over backwards to make them feel happy again. The fact that the large majority enjoyed the chance to experience a different way to celebrate God doesn't matter. The fact that we had people kneeling in prayer, some in tears, on both sides of the altar rail during the service (something the "traditionals" have never seen at their services) didn't matter. The music was "too loud, not worshipful, too much drum," etc. etc. In other words, it wasn't the same old boring thing. (And I'm sorry, but "How Great is Our God" is very a worshipful piece of music.)

It wasn't the same old thing, and it's a shame they couldn't accept it for what it was. Truly, it is a shame, for I believe we should come before God with joy and praise. That He can deal with the music being contemporary in style, that it doesn't need to be a dirge in a minor key so the folks in the pews can feel all "holy" inside. Holiness is fine, but what's wrong with a little joy?

Maybe it's time to leave the UMC and find another place. I do know that the more I pray about my being here the more I feel it's time to be moving on and leave them to die in peace.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Have you had yours yet?

Vacation that is... I haven't had one in years. Literally it's been years. So many I can't tell you when I last took one. And I'm starting to experience a meltdown.

It's amazing to me how many different folks have approached me over the last couple of weeks and asked why it always seems that I'm at church. Well the simple answer is because I am, I have to be there for something or other. For example in July we had Vacation Bible School week with more than 200 kids, and followed the next week with hosting the National Association of Filipino American United Methodists convocation. Add to that all the usual things like weddings, funerals, weekly services, and helping to cover for the Sr. Pastor who's on vacation in Ecuador (I know, right?) for a couple of weeks.

I looked at the Sr. Pastor this week and told him that folks were telling me I needed to take a break for awhile. He said it was ok with him, but he still expected everything I'm responsible for to still get done. Being a part-time employee who has no help with my job area I'm curious as to how that's gonna happen if I do take a week off. But I don't think even he's aware of everything I do. I'm working in a job/ministry that's budgeted for 20 hours a week. I'm currently putting in 25-30 hours to get my work done (without compensation), often more as I'm asked to go "above and beyond," and the Staff Parish Committee, who's aware of my extra time, have not done anything to increase the hours of the position. No wonder pastoring is one of the most burn out producing jobs in the world today.

Am I complaining? Maybe a little... but I do wish that I was at least receiving something (comp time, whatever) for the extra stuff I do. But mostly I'd like to be able to take a week or so and not have to worry about what's not being handled when I was away.

And the autumn season (meteorology speaking) starts in less than a month. At least I'll get to watch college football again... even if it isn't the Buckeyes.