Haaaappy New Year!

Yay! Another great topic for me to rant about! I'm so fired up I can hardly speak. This might take a bit. And for the record, yes, I know I'm simply stooping to their level here, but I don't care. Its New Years and this blog is about church issues that fire me up. Go check out http://www.isaiahsixeight.org/ if you'd like to see something good in the Kingdom of God.

First, go to www.ird-renew.org/ and check out why I'm excited. There is a UMAction Newsletter, which I received recently and dared to read this morning. I encourage you to check it out before you read further....

It gets me fired up because it is ultra-conservative Christian propaganda that just makes me angry and not compassionate. It probably served its purpose, but I'll share my frustrations. At the end you'll find the letter I sent them.

- They say "A Newsletter for United Methodists working for Scripture-based reform in our denomination." right on the front. I started looking for Scripture in the newsletter. I didn't find one until the very last page - a slight reference to Matthew 28:19 (The Great Commission). And it is a reference to being a "Scripturally" accurate church! Great reference. The whole friggin newsletter is about how United Methodists aren't being faithful and then turns and says "This is what real methodists church be worried about." But nothing in the newsletter has anything to DO with bringing in new Christians! Its all about how current Christians are doing a poor job of this!! It basically screams, "Hey, we aren't doing a good job in this newsletter to evangelize because we are so whiny, so lets throw this in there so we look like we are concerned about it.
God, have mercy on us all.

- I've been getting these for a while. It IRKS me to no end that Church members would come up to me and say, "How could the church allow this!? Gays in our church!? Abortions in our Church?! How could you allow this to happen?" What I want to respond with is... "How come this church has been around for 100 years and it still only has 30 people in it?! What have you been doing this whole time??? Knitting? How could you let this happen in God's Church?"

Of course...I never actually say those things because I think there is a more loving way to say, "The church is dying because you are a crappy Christian, not because God is a crappy God."

Oh, back to the UMAction Briefing....

- I hope one day I can make it into the UMAction Briefing. Because that will prove to myself that I've really done something amazing if I can piss these folks off.

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Hi there! I wanted to thank you for yourUMAction Briefing that I receive in the mail on a regular basis.

As a United Methodist Pastor in the North Alabama Conference, it helps to stay abreast of issues within our Church (and as a 26 year old minister I'll be around for a while, God willing) even if the issues are hurtful ones.

Thank you. Thank you for getting me fired up! I mean, some of the things going on here are huge and we need to be alerted to these issues!

And thank you for making it harder for me to be conservative. I read your UMAction briefing and I see nothing but propaganda. I feel embarrassed that United Methodists could publish something like this. Why? Because no one under 55 is narrow-minded enough (or poorly educated enough) to actually read this newsletter and not be disgusted.

I don't disagree with you on these issues, but your newsletter wreaks of a narrow, undereducated whining that can only come from someone with an agenda (as opposed to Christian and Methodist love and grace). Yeah yeah...I get it. Pro-Life and Homophobic. I'm from Alabama, I deal with the hate that can come from world views like that all the time. Where are your articles on the widening gap between the rich and poor in America? Why aren't you calling into question the leadership (Conservative and otherwise) that is doing a horrid job wrestling with membership loss? Look, I'm all about Discipline's stance on Homosexuality and I believe our God is a God that values all life. But I don't want to support your cause because it makes me think some little old lady who wants to be faithful to Jesus will have a harder time seeing other people (gay, straight, white, black, jew, gentile, slave, free) with the same eyes as Jesus. Instead of coming to her UM church and saying, "Wow, I read in the UMAction there were some hard issues in the Methodist Church. How can I get involved in helping others?" she will say, "Pastor! How can our Church allow such people to do such thing in MY church? How can MY church allow a pastor to have a sex change?! How can MY church allow -insert inflammatory homosexual/pro-choice/liberal here- in the name of Wesley and Jesus?" If that is the kind of reaction you are going for, congrats, it works. And I thank you for it. Because every time someone asks those kind of questions, I respond in all the love Jesus can give me that if we continue to love those around us like Jesus did, we will stop focusing on ourselves and more on those outside the Church. (last I checked, Jesus had a thing for outsiders. prostitutes, tax collectors, etc.)

Your newsletter sounds like you are scared of the issues you raise - the people you bash are acting out of a hope to be better Christians, its not like they are the enemy OR immoral pigs. Its like you think they are communist or something. You raise the issues but aren't conversing with me, just yelling at me what I should think.

Like I said, thanks for firing me up. Keep them coming so I can remember what kind of people Jesus loves and wants to save in THIS world, before they die.
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Just thought I'd share a letter I sent them, and I would also like your opinion on how one lovingly help this situation.