Saturday, July 19, 2008


The above photo depicts the Queens Badge of Loyalty. If I were British I would be wearing such. This is because I am a loyal person. Unlike many in my generation I remained loyal to the church I grew up in. The Presbyterian Church has lost the majority of the last three generations. I stayed. I am still here.

When others became members of "independent" churches or left the church completely I stayed. I not only stayed I became ordained. As an ordained minister for the majority of my journey I have worked to please the people I serve. This means that I have worked to please the parents and grandparents of the generations of people who left.

This month I begin my 20th year of ordination. I am wondering what this loyalty to older generations has accomplished. Perhaps I have been so loyal to pleasing people that I have failed to remain loyal to the very one who called me. I wonder if God is nudging me to nudge others. People around me would say that is exactly what is happening.

All I know is that the next 20 years of ministry will not be like the first. I have learned a great deal about myself, and during the last several years I have gained a new perspective for ministry.

1 comment:

Jared said...

I have to disagree with your sentiment, although it might be a technicality.

I grew up in the United Methodist Church. I attended quite faithfully until I moved off to college. My parents still attend (although they are looking for a new United Methodist Church because of a recent move to a new city.)

During my college years, I found, discovered, uncovered in myself, and learned to articulate a belief system more in line with the PC(USA) than the UMC. When I got a job and moved to the city where my first career took me, I conciously chose to find a PC(USA) congregation to participate in.

Does that make me disloyal to the United Methodist Church? I would say "No," because, if nothing else, they taught me to follow Christ to the places he has led me.

Even if you answer the above question, "Yes," you still have to ask this one: Does disloyalty to the United Methodist Church imply disloyalty to the Body of Christ?

Would your answers to those questions change if my story involved my growing up in the PC(USA) and then finding a "large, independent" church to be the place God was calling me?

Is loyalty to a denomination what we want to instill in the next generation? Or is there something more important?

I heard a sermon (via podcast) recently in which the teacher pointed out that about every 500 years for as far back as any of our written history goes, the Abrahamic faiths have undergone a large shift - the "top dog" at the time loses its hegemony and something else displaces it. The teacher pointed out that when this happens, the old ways of being one of Abraham's children don't suddenly become completely wrong or completely disappear from the face of the planet....but some new way of seeing ourselves as Children of God does usually come along and displace the existent world view in our cultural worldview.

The teacher also pointed out that the reformation was 500 years ago.

If that sea change is happening (and if you don't think it is, look at who was just elected moderator of the GA), and if this particular denomination has been behind the curve in the sea-change (and losing its hegemony), then what is so wrong with people changing their denominational affiliations?

Where should we place our loyalties?