It has been over a week now since EmergingUMC2: Restoring Missional Methodism finished up. At high noon, Saturday, November 14, our gathering headed back into the world. Some having a 700 mile ride back home on a minibus.
Where do we go from here? That was the big question for me.
We spent Thursday night watching and discussing The Ordinary Radicals, a beautiful film about what Christians are doing across the country to reclaim the faith from both apathy and the dark years of the Christian right era. On Friday morning we walked through downtown Indianapolis and met with arts leaders, janitors, and hotel workers, and got some context for how Lockerbie Central UMC developed and is developing its missional focus. We spent Friday afternoon thinking about Methodist history and the current story of the United Methodist Church, especially the history of class and society meetings and their relationship to congregations.
So, where do we go from here?
A week out, that Saturday- morning seems like a blur. I am sure I am leaving some things out.
First off, we talked about our experience Friday night watching Shane Claiborne speak. I showed up late Friday night and just in time to hear Shane speak. For those who haven’t seen Shane speak before, the guy is a rock star. When he spoke at our church, we had nearly as 1,000 people show up–the biggest crowd we probably have ever had in the 125 year history of the church.
I know our group wa s a bit annoyed because the music prior to Shane went on and on and on and on. And on. It went so long that the scheduled Q and A session had to be cancelled. The thing that stuck out to me though was the power of Shane’s story–even though I had already read his books and have seen him speak before. Here, a small group of people dedicated themselves to living out the Gospels and they launched a movement. Nine people living together in community and in friendship and solidarity with the broader community. That’s it. And they are changing the world through their witness, activism, and Christian discipline. Last year, UMC youth in Carmel, IN–the wealthiest city in the state were so moved by Shane’s Irresistable Revolution that they begged the church’s leadership to invite Shane to lead worship on a Sunday morning. (He accepted their invite.)
Still, I feel that for some of us Methodists, Shane’s Irresistable Revolution gets lost in translation. It might be called the Impossible Revolution for us United Methodists. But for me, that was the great hope of EmergingUMC2. In our own ways, given our deep traditions, we United Methodists could begin to restore missional Methodism.
As the conference concluded and before our final worship gathering together, we broke up into small groups to talk about how we might begin to work together. I talked with two UMC clergy from central Indiana. It was exciting to begin to dream about how local congregations and individual Methodists could work together in real ways.
We finished up with a powerful worship service that sent us back into our communities hopefully ready to restore missional methodism.