6/11/2008

More encouraged than ever…???

In the last 12 hours I’ve been asking folk how they feel about the general conference and the denomination and almost all comments are positive… something like, “I’m more encouraged about The Wesleyan Church than I’ve been for years” or “I’m really encouraged about our future after this conference.” This is not just from boomers, but from a generous number of 20 and 30something younger folk observing the conferenceWhy is this? What about this General Conference has “encouraged” so many? It may be too early but let me take a shot at it a hour after adjourning, the I’ll revisit this tomorrow…

1. “The people” prevailed. Since 1968 when this denomination was born there has been a 40-year gravitation of power and control away from “the people” and at this general conference that trend hit a brick wall. Some feel they “took back some power” even though the trend will probably kick back in before they get home today ;-)

2. Diversity. More diversity in gender & race—still not enough but the delegates and GBA are far more diverse than ever.

3. Debate. Finding a compromise on membership-alcohol etc. The debate was thoughtful, principled and once the conference fashioned a solution the final vote was strong. The spirit in the debate was a great example of people trying together to work out differences in holiness.

4. Social issues statements. At this conference Wesleyans put their foot down (with votes as high as 99%) to say we will determine our own stances on social issues like Immigration based on the Bible and not political parties and talk show hosts. Shawn Hannity has less authority for Wesleyans on Immigration than the Bible.

5. The GS Vote. While there were some “poor” percentages on the incumbents “the people” actually felt they got to “have a say” in these votes. 6. Holiness. If you cared about holiness this conference mentioned it constantly and if you don’t like the way we used to talk about holiness it re-minted the old coinage to include personal holiness along with social holiness… and even personal holiness was seen more broadly than some are used to.

7. Turning outward positively. The conference did not affirm isolation but involvement—turning outward to the world in compassion and love.

8. Vision. Repeatedly people mentioned Joanne Lyon’s “Vision and direction.” He acceptance speech was considered a fresh “casting of vision” by many.

9. Integrating our conservative past. Joanne Lyon refuses to reject our conservative past but builds on it, even utilizing its music in forging a vision for the future in the denomination… this seemed to encourage both conservatives and progressives.

10. The worship leader and support was not distracting—usually at these denominational gatherings people get all worked up about the worship. Jack lynn simply took all this out of the equation and “got out of the way” and let the people worship. He did not whip the audience into a frenzy nor did he say many words at all, but acted like a side-stage “prompter” and the people worshipped.

11. Joanne Lyon. As reflected above perhaps the number one factor mentioned was a person--Joanne Lyon. While the follow up explanation varied, the election of Lyon as “the people’s candidate” was so frequently mentioned that this is certainly the primary headliner factor in this “encouragement”…. Boy are folk expecting huge change from her! Oh, well, she is expecting to change things too .... this'll be fun to watch!

36 comments:

Stevan said...

Reading the updates I too noticed the trend in "the people" desiring to keep the power instead of handing more (all?) of it over to the GBS.

We should be encouraged that our church-government met and accomplished what it set out to accomplish - a healthy meeting of a governing body to discuss and change matters that affect us and others!

I had another live-feed from the floor through Glen Robinson and with his permission I used some of his notes and posted some thoughts on the conference on my blog - http://www.stevansheets.com/?p=2264

Thanks again, Coach for being our 'live feed' to the conference. Maybe in 4-years we'll have video?

Matthew Tietje said...

I also want to say a big thanks for the updates. Maybe one day our "technically illiterate" denomination will hear of services like ustream.tv. Here's hoping for it in 2012.

Some of my thoughts on this year's Conference can be found here.

Again, big thanks!

Marc said...

I am encouraged by M103.

Finally churches will not be allowed to stand by and make excuses for not reaching the lost. I've had exposure to some of those congregations who excused this by calling themselves a "discipleship church." There is no real discipleship without taking the action of sharing about Jesus.

I've also had exposure to denominations who were quietly dying because their congregations would not reach the lost and they would not hold these churches accountable.

Now I've got to get to work on my own body of believers... Let's go church... Jesus already voiced his opinion and now headquarters won't put up with it any longer either!

MLK

Glenn said...

Thans Keith and others for keeping us updated, it saved me a lot of money in gas to stay home. Though we missed the fellowship we were praying for the event here in New York.

Phil & Kathy said...

Pastor Drury, I was not a delegate to the conference (my husband was from Indiana North). He has been a delegate to many GC's and by far, we both agree that this conference was the most uplifting and encouraging ever. After the Celebration of the Nations, Dr. Garlow's message, Dr. Lyon's message and Rev. Lipscomb's message, I am praising God for this wonderful group of believers we call the Wesleyan Church. Let's keep loving Him and others and by "doing life together" both in North America and around the world, the next four years should tell a story of power and purity laced with grace and love. I am grateful for these past few days in Orlando and thank our heavenly Father for sending His spirit upon His people. I am encouraged and look forward to what He is doing!

the jackhammer said...

Thanks as well for these updates. Much appreciated. I'm very encouraged by the church's stance on immigration. Bravo!

I'm currently in the support raising process with Global Partners. Just curious, why were all the memorials in regards to GP, especially in terms of funding, not recommended?

Keith Drury said...

Jackhammer,
Good question on GP...

actually H C Wilson snuck in a "memorial" from the floor to add GP to the list getting USF and ELW let it happen (it would have req'd 2/3 vote as a late memorial—and the vote was big enough to reach that, though we never voted tor ecieve it as late) so HC Wilson did change the Discipline from the floor (HC is a shrewd leader--he is the only person I nnow who has changed the discipline from the floor of General Conference without dealng with the adoption of an existing memorial or voting to receive a late memorial)

HOWEVER... there are two sides to this... to completely cover the GP budget (more like Nazarenes) ISF would have to double..no triple... who knows how much? So full GP support for GP is unlikely.

ELW did announce that the GBA (or BGS or whoever) had already quietly started supporting GP from USF in the current budget ($120,000 or something like that, I think). And since HC got GP added to the list of USF benefactors there will be continued support from USF.

ON THE OTHER HAND... there is a risk when this news "gets out." It can have the reverse effect too... stingy churches can now say "we already support GP when we pay our USF." They'd be technically right... but the $120,000 is a tiny part of the total GP budget, just like the USF-EIF is only a few percentage points of a college like IWU’s budget—there is till loads of money needed. So there is a slight risk here now that missionaries can no longer honestly say “Global Partners receives no money from USF so we really need your support.” Maybe only slight but some risk.

THE BIGGER ISSUE is how will missionaries support themselves in the future. This is the bigger issue… I suspect we are in a massive change here in the coming decades. When missionaries show up telling people they need to raise $120,000 per year to send themselves to Africa an increasing number of people are balking. I can see what it costs this—but many can’t. I really expect a new model for missions to emerge—and it already is. I’m betting that more missionaries will be entrepreneurial and own and manage businesses that support them in the future. There will be more direct-to-nationals support in the future I bet too—and that is already starting too. Could we “raises taxes” on local churches for missions? Could we “tax and spend” ourselves into sending better missionaries to do better missionary work in the future by a more centralized approach and more central mandates for paying? Sure, but I doubt it is going to happen that way. I’d bet on innovation in Global partners as they adapt to the new realities of a global world.

(Oh boy, how did I get into this conversation!)

the jackhammer said...

Keith,

Thanks for your response and insights. They were very thorough and thoughtful.

I’m sure there will be some dramatic changes coming to GP in the near future. HC has already done much, and Jo Anne, with her missions-mindedness, will likely be proactive.

A couple of quick thoughts.

1. No matter what happens, the cost we have to raise I believe is an immediate cause for concern. The ever skyrocketing cost of living overseas + the plummeting value of the dollar + gas + everything else = a reluctance to get involved in missions, on an individual or church level. This, for someone like me, is frustrating. We see potentially solid missions-geared people going to other organizations or delaying their venture overseas. We see churches gearing back their mission’s budgets, sometimes closing the door on new missionaries. This means that recruiting and retaining quality people in the midst of all this will be difficult, and will take a lot of innovative energy. Like us, most missionaries are very excited to get to the field. Yes, the support raising portion of ministry is critical, but seeing that it could take 2+ years to get this done has caused numerous, qualified people, like my wife and me, to think twice about GP.

2. At the same time, I agree with you that most of the models presented haven’t worked in the past and won’t work in the future. It’s an issue that’s going to take a lot of time to sort out. I like the creative energy embodied in the leaders currently at GP and on the field worldwide.

In the end, we have a definite calling with GP/World Hope and trust that God will provide, no matter the amount of time or money it will take.

(By the way, I graduated from OWU. Holiness for Ordinary People was one of our required reads that I quite liked.)

Keith Drury said...

For a take on Gen Conf by a younger person see
Elizabeth's reactions

Keith Drury said...

For Ken's take on Gen Conf see
Ken Schen's blog

Keith Drury said...

For Nazarene report on Wesleyan Gen Conf see
Nazarene release

Keith Drury said...

Yet another blog on general Conference at
Sammattus

Keith Drury said...

Post by
Jim watkins

Keith Drury said...

and this one: --
Shawna's take

Keith Drury said...

Or this one by young --
pastor Matt Tietje

Keith Drury said...

another blog on genconf by --
Elizabeth Glass

Keith Drury said...

One by --
Dale Argot

Keith Drury said...

Here is what --
Thad Spring
says...

Keith Drury said...

Here;s is what
Stevan Sheets
says...(who "attended" the conference VIA live chat

Keith Drury said...

UNOFFICIAL Nazarene chat over the shoulder on the Wesleyan Gen conference (and their own)
NazNet

Keith Drury said...

GenConf coments by
john Howell

Keith Drury said...

Gen Conf comments by
Josh Keesling

Keith Drury said...

Gen Conf comments by
Josh from Pennsylvania

Keith Drury said...

Gen Conf comments by
Pastor Rick

Keith Drury said...

Gen Conf by
Rick Carder

Keith Drury said...

Report by
W2WKB

Keith Drury said...

Here is an
especially THOUGHTFUL POST

Keith Drury said...

Wisconsin's Mark Wilson

Hajduk said...

I am disgusted by the adoption of the Immigration policy! I'm also disgusted by the "global warming' policy! I can't believe the Wesleyan Church has become what it has in such a short time--only 40 years to lose sight of personal holiness and integrity. We've now adopted the idea of a social gospel that totally is motivated by the "progressive" thought of the time. Where can I go to throw-up?! So we now support drinking, watching porno at theaters on Sunday and BREAKING THE LAW (illegal immigrants or as the new adopted statement says, "undocumented"--ugh!). Give me a break! Go join the United Methodist Church and leave the Wesleyan Church, please! If this is what we are to become then I want out! This is what we get from IWU, OWU, SWU, and Houghton trying to become all things to all people!

By the way, I NEVER listen to Sean Hannity or the other one you're probably thinking of.

Mystified said...

How about more discouraged than ever? I can't remember a time when I've been more ashamed to be a Wesleyan. My family has been a part of this Church (including predecessors) for at least 90 years and I'm sure that if my great grandma were alive today she would walk out of the church and never come back.

Keith, you said on your other blog that you like "old time" holiness people. Really? You've written books and articles on the subject which I have used and shared with others. I am thrown by your love of this years conference.

Since when did we become a denomination swayed by the public masses in the secular world? I am completely disheartened and I can't imagine what will come next.

I am proud of my Wesleyan heritage and I'm proud of the history of the Wesleyan Church. I can also say that I'm proud to be a part of a church that has elected a female GS. However, I fear that we didn't put Joann Lyon in her new position because she was the most qualified for the job. I have a feeling that she was placed in the position simply because the current cultural climate made it an emotionally appealing thing to do. I've known (and liked) Joann for many years and have known her family most of my life, but I don't think she is qualified to be GS. I have not heard (or read) anyone say how she plans to run World Hope and be a GS at the same time. Did anyone anywhere at anytime ask this? If you know the answer I'd love to know. I read somewhere that she was the "people's" person for the job. Really? I didn't even know she was an option and I don't recall getting a vote.

Regarding the "Global Warming" manifest that is cutely called "Creation Care" I have this to ask: Why don't we just call it "Earth Worship"? That's what it really is and the people behind the movement are pagan's who are forcing their views upon the rest of society. It sure does feel good though to know that we are a church that any social liberal can be proud of.

Illegal immigrants? We have a lot of new latino churches and we sure don't want to make anyone upset so let's use kinder term than "illegals" and call them "undocumented". Plleeeease... We can still love the people without accepting their ILLEGAL behavior. If we want to change the laws then let's do that, but until then they are still BREAKING THE LAW! Frankly, I somewhat agree with your idea of making them legal but with some caveats. However, until then they are still BREAKING THE LAW.

Dancing...no real problem here but I understand the issues involved. I watch these dance contestants on TV and wonder how they keep their minds pure.

Drinking...I think that maybe we reached a good compromise. Unfortunately history shows us that when you begin to compromise on small matters then it's not too long before you have completely lost your way.

I think we are headed in the wrong direction. How are we as a denomination any different than any other church on the block? We've completely lost our sense of uniqueness. The Wesleyan Church at one time had a distinguishing point. Today, even though it's technically still "on the books" it's rarely talked about certainly not practiced by the majority. I frankly am wondering why the Wesleyan Church doesn't just merge with some of the larger denominations. In fact, (dramatic pause) what's keeping the Wesleyan Church from joining certain Calvinist churches?

I know my opinion doesn't matter and you don't know me from any bum on the street, but these are my thoughts anyway.

Keith Drury said...

MYSTIFIED:
Thanks for the thoughtful post. You are probably right as a conservative to not be much "encouraged." This conference did open the door a bit on Sunday observance, it eliminated forbidding dancing, and extended voting rights to the already-established "Community members." (though not to Covenant members). (It also cracked down stronger on gambling and immigration and poverty). It did not, however pass the "Creation Care" memorial--it was never brought up even. But I generally agree with you that the conference continued (did not begin but continued) a loosening on many issues... though most of these "loosenings" reflect what I already see in the church--[most all the Wesleyan students I get attended their school's Prom for instance--IWU has forbidden dancing even though local churches and pastor's kids have danced until they arrived on campus ;-)

I've done a few columns on membership requirements (posted at the bottom of this collection) and history will show that for the last 50 years "membership rules" have constantly been in a state of flux... Long ago many Wesleyans started buying the Sunday paper, ate in restaurants on Sunday, and put on gold or silver pins or necklaces... these more recent changes in "rules" merely continue that shift (or "slide" as you might consider it).

I DO like "Old fashioned Holiness people" and think they are needed in the church... they stay grounded in past behaviors and "hold the kite string" for the denomination I think. My mother refused to cut her hair even when in the Nursing home--she did not insist that all her daughters-in-law have long hair, but she maintained her own conviction to the end of her life--that was good for us. Conservatives may not be able to enforce their convictions on the generations behind them, but I think they should hold to them personally and "be a witness" to coming generations. When they leave a denomination (as happened in the 1960's) all they do is allow 'the middle" to move over...

Some older delegates (e.g. Lee Haines and Marlin Mull) spoke strongly against some of these changes (though Lee Haines was the author of the biggest loosening ever--in 1980) the conservatives were well represented at general Conference. they were resoundingly outvoted, but they were heard and respected--just like the conservatives who opposed loosening our anti-TV stance were heard years ago and those who fought against wedding rings.

The denomination is navigating the waters of sorting between "Collective convictions' and "personal convictions" as it always has... making some mandatory (collective convictions) and others personal. Nobody can MAKE people with conservative convictions give them up--and people who hold to a stronger standard should be respected --even lauded... (my grandparents refused to even use electric lights on Sunday or even cook a hot meal) but as time passes some of these convictions become personal and not universal rules for all people. This general conference continued that 50 year practice of moving the rules-for-all over into the "personal convictions" category.

I honor you and other conservatives for maintaining your personal convictions. I also honor any local church who holds to "the old paths--even districts." I hope we do not banish or make fun of conservatives (as some do) but honor them and respect them and welcome them as kite-string-holders. But it is inevitable that some of these things will change over time I also accept.

however, as to the social issues--(like Immigration and poverty)those are right in the line of our conservative past--the Holiness movement and I welcome these new "collective convictions" even though they may step on a few toes of people who refuse to submit to them, but they are squarely in the line of the old holiness witness.

Keith Drury said...

An exceptionally insightful reflection on General Conference here by NC DS
Buddy Rampey

phgra3 said...

Thanks for a balanced observation. I deeply appreciate Dr. Haines for speaking his heart at GC. However, I too observed several years ago a very progressive move to the left in his ideologies and views. At GC when he spoke I couldn't help but think of this.Two things concern me. 1. The diminishing number of delegates after the vote on the GS. By Wednesday morning many had already left. This is a shame after so much had been spent on the delgates expenses, etc. This needs to be addressed by the General Board. 2. Very little comments were made by the international delegates as to the "changing items." Yet, they possibly will be the most impacted due to cultural differences, etc. I personally do not feel enough thought was given to the "big picture" of the internaitonal church. Blessings!

OliviaSeaton said...

I am excited about some of the changes the church is making. However, I resonate with comments others have made. I sincerely hope we're making changes based on the leading of the Holy Spirit...and NOT on the ideals of the world around us. Keith, I appreciate your desire to placate, and your arguments are fair. Again, I hope this isn't a case of compromise for the sake of being inoffensive. I wasn't in attendance, and so I can't speak to the presence of the Spirit in the decisions made. Historically, however, downfall begins with compromise.

I do question your own comments...
"Could we “tax and spend” ourselves into sending better missionaries to do better missionary work..." I'm curious to know what you mean by this. I guess I fall into the camp that the Spirit of God chooses missionaries. That our human measure of good or bad, better or worse are irrelevant. I have been a missionary and have seen what I consider "bad" and "good" missionaries...yet, it seems God doesn't really care about my opinion. The Holy Spirit sets the course in the hearts of missionaries, and most hopefully in the heart of the church.

Keith Drury said...

Olivia, the remark ""Could we “tax and spend” ourselves into sending better missionaries to do better missionary work..." reflects the current debate in [traditional] missions... with the system of raising one's own support missionary work has increasingly become fund-raising work... there are missionaries ('called of the Holy Spirit' like you say) who are gifted and called but are terrible fund-raisers, while there are other wonderful speakers and fund raisers who can raise the half-million it take to send them out for four years... but they don't get much good missionary work done while they are there...they were better at raising money than doing missionary work.

Some wonder [especially some missionaries] if we should go to full denominational support for missionaries like we use to do... that is the denomination "taxes" local churches (rather than letting missions money be optional) and send the best missionaries...not the best fund raisers... like the Nazarenes have done so long in spite of the trends...

That's the only meaning of the statement… reflecting this current debate.

keith

Myron D. Atkinson said...

Thanks Keith for the insights. It sounds like General conference dealt with a lot of things and stood firm on several issues.

I'm a bit troubled by people being so upset about the concern for environment or "Creation Care." If we say we value human life then we should want to be wise stewards of what God has entrusted to us. It doesn't mean that we worship the earth, it means we take care of it.

Hajduk said... "So we now support drinking, watching porno at theaters on Sunday." I didn't read anywhere that we as a denomination supported drinking. I also didn’t read anywhere that our denomination could watch porno at theaters on Sunday. Personally I don't think a person should watch porno anywhere... not at the theaters, not on the computer, not at the adult stores nor at home. We are a holiness denomination, which means that we peruse living a holy life no matter we are.

I’ve been a Wesleyan for 43 years and with whatever faults we have I’m still proud to be a Wesleyan. May we continue to strive as a denomination and as individuals to live holy lives dedicated to Jesus Christ!