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September 01, 2010

Comments

Ben

Do you know of anyone else blogging on this gathering, or do you plan to give updates? I would LOVE to hear what's being discussed and feel like this is a necessary meeting indeed...

Adoc2be

My parents are heavily involved in their own Methodist church in a rural community. The church's role call is growing for them.

I find having dynamic leaders and speakers is what calls those of us who have fallen to the wayside. Not that I believe my opinion on your blog comment will matter, but here goes:

When I was making in excess of $200k a year, the church people seemed welcoming and loved having me in the Sunday services. I was always asked my latest travels, who I'd helped, if I was headed back to med school yet.

The pastor was amazing at getting his flock to church every week because 1) we loved his stories and 2) those same stories made us go home and rethink our lives and our purpose. He was also very instrumental in helping close the gap between the married couples raising kids, and those of us who were single parents. Overall, our community was wealthy.

In 2007, I told my then employer, a global publicly held company to restate their financials to the SEC as I thought the threshhold for variance had been exceeded for far too many quarters. Including the fraud investigation being done internally by a controller in another country that was being hidden from me (I was VP of internal audit), and some other issues that were waving red flags, I met with my own advisors and deemed it time for restate.

I was fired. My $200k+ job went the way of the dodo bird. And the church people... well, they didn't care so much anymore about whether I came or not... they just wanted to know if I was going to contribute to their retirement home fundraising goals.

I was not. I was dearly trying to save my home in the deepest recession since the Great Depression with a "name" that was now mud.

Not once did any one person reach out from that church, or any other, to see what they could do to help, or just to listen.

Not once did the pastor of that church call to see how I was holding up, if only to lend an ear.

When I turned over the keys to my house in early May, some of the church people showed up at my moving sale to see "what I was going to do with the house" and asked worse/more intrusive questions.

From the pulpit you (lay leaders, pastors, and bishops) can espouse the Bible but you have to instill dignity, goodwill, and hope in your people.

We have gone from a country where we care about our neighbors to a country where we only care about them as long as they are beneath us on the totem pole.

Ironically, as my financial life unwound akin to Hurricane Katrina, I have not changed. Those who knew me before the mess said I'm the same person. I thank God (truly) that HE gave me the dignity to withstand the dishonorable things said and done to me... up to and including my boss who fired me saying, "I've been praying about this situation."

Instill goodwill in your flock. Make sure the people they are on the street are the ones YOU see in your congregation on Sunday mornings. Make sure THEY are reaching out to those in need NOT because they have to, but because they want to.

Instill dignity in your congregation. Make sure the people understand what that dignity is as many have lost their focus on how to behave.

I believe both of those, if seen in others will lead those of us who have left, to come back.

It is not that I don't believe. I don't believe in the people who enjoyed watching my life unwind and have no desire to return to them (or the church).

My best to you and your family at this really hard time. Ava remains in my thoughts, your family in my prayers.

Matt J.

Adoc2be, I'm sorry. I very suddenly came to a realization this week that I'm leading my church in a way that fosters similar attitudes and repentantly pray that your experience will not happen where I am. I hope you don't mind if I share your story as I seek to lead us.

Mark, I'm praying for y'all. I hope that the wisdom you all find from Jesus in your time together will help all of us United Methodist pastors lead faithfully.

Cbarbour

It's hard for me to imagine you and 135 other people trying to figure out how to reach people by traveling to what looks like God's country. I'm looking at this restaurant wondering what the average meal costs.

I'm not surprised that the average person feels far from Christ. They're far from their church leadership.

Mark Beeson

Thanks Charbour.

I probably should have mentioned that all the bishops, pastors and all their spouses were invited here by a wonderful couple who gifted most of the expenses for this meeting! Amazing generosity! They were so committed to this gathering (unlike anything that has happened before) that they joyfully offered this gift. I'm glad you prompted me to publicly express our deep and sincere appreciation for their marvelous contribution to our efforts - including the costs of this meal.

- Mark Beeson

PS - By the way, you'd be surprised how many people in "God's country" feel far from Christ.

Cbarbour

That's great to hear but what I meant is that I wonder how hard is it for people to relate to the church leadership anymore. And vice versa. For the average person, a night at Olive Garden is a big deal. I certainly don't begrudge you any of the blessings you have, but look at your life. Fishing, traveling, Rome, fine dining.

When so many people are unemployed or under employed and don't know how they're going to put food on the table or pay the mortgage, do they feel their church leadership understands and/or cares about them?

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