My copy of Good News
came yesterday. That's the glossy magazine published by the Good News organization, the conservative/evangelical renewal group in United Methodism. It's a good magazine, generally.
Anyway, there was an interview with Bishop William Willimon in it. Willimon is usually seen as theologically orthodox. It was a friendly interview, softball questions mostly, but asking for real input on the many controversies facing the church.
I was disgusted with Willimon's responses. He was snide, arrogant, and evasive. A real jackass. And this is the best we got?
I am reminded of my own bishop, who is a pretty good guy. He means well, and he wants the church to grow. He's interested in spiritual renewal. He pushes all the right buttons. He listens. But I remember one interview in Circuit Rider
(official denominational clergy rag) a few years ago, where the mask slipped, and he said something I found utterly clueless and irresponsible. So I keep my guard up, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Really, our bishops are (as a whole), pretty worthless. It gives me no pleasure to say that, because of course you can't just seize control from them to right the course of the ship. We could elect better ones, though that process is a long and difficult one. It is the barest of comforts to look at Church History and realize that disconnected or destructive prelates is not a new problem.
Anyway, my thoughts come down to this. We have lots of people who think we have a leadership problem in The UMC. They think better management, clearer vision, or charisma will fix this. But I say, if the compass is broken (or misread), it doesn't matter how well the ship is commanded, it'll still fail to reach its objective. I'd rather have a poor manager who believes and teaches the right stuff, than a visionary, charismatic manager who plays fast and loose with doctrine and standards.
The Church (pictured, below, as a ship) looks so brave, with her sail nailed to the mast which is the cross. But if we are an Ark, we should remember that Noah was tossed in the storm without any means of controlling his course, at the mercy of God. In the storm we are facing these days, I have little means of correcting the course of the ship, which is being helmed by those in whom I have little trust or respect. But God will see his people safe to land. I've got to believe that.
||Evansville District Retreat 1995
"The wind blows where it wills"