Evidently, take a month-long hiatus from blogging.
(A great way to capitalize on the readership bump I experienced at GA, huh?)
As my most recent posts indicate, I was more than a little discouraged and burnt out by the time I left the General Assembly last month. In my estimation, it was pretty much a “do nothing” GA. At one point, the only thing I thought this GA would pass was an approval of the MRTI recommendation on divestment, and that didn’t even happen. (I oppose divestment, by the way. When I told a like-minded colleague that its failure had more to do with the GA’s inability to pass anything, he told me I could find a cloud for every silver lining. Yep, that pretty much summed up my attitude by the end.)
Throughout the week I found myself at odds with my friend and former Vice-Moderator Landon Whitsitt when it came to analyzing what was going on. Landon thought my sense that our denomination is afraid of change was misguided and suggested that after passing 10-A and the (new) Form of Government we deserved a break from change. He also insisted on euphemistically describing our divisions as “balance.” I find it hard to call the distrust and sometimes vitriolic animosity I witnessed “balance.” And, when your denomination (and all of Mainline Protestantism) is hemorrhaging members and becoming irrelevant by the day, we can’t afford to change at a slower pace than the rest of the world.
Licking our wounds after the rejection of the Mid Councils Commission report, I asked commission moderator Tod Bolsinger what he was doing next and what he suggested I should do. He said that I should go back home and be the pastor God has called me to be. I think Tod is right. It’s probably premature to say that I’m hanging up my denominational hat, but my frustration with this General Assembly—and the month or so it’s taken me to recover—has helped me refocus and re-prioritize.
Here’s what I’ve done since GA:
- I came home and officiated two weddings, just hours after listening (via live stream) to GA debate marriage. That was a little surreal.
- I went canoeing with my family and a group of high school students from church.
- I took a group of junior high students down to Indianapolis on a mission trip.
- I spent some time looking for a bigger home in a better school district for my growing family.
- My son and I enjoyed a great week at Montreat Conference Center for one of their summer youth conferences. Being a small group leader for the first time was a blast. Working with my group of youth and soaking up some great keynoting and preaching from Reggie Weaver, Corey Nelson, and Margaret Aymer filled me with as much hope as GA sucked out of me.
- My family visited my parents, sister, and my uncle’s family down in Florida. Some time back on the Gulf is always good for the soul.
- I kept working on my BBQ repertoire and had a blast competing against a colleague in an East vs West BBQ Throwdown (Korean vs Southern BBQ) that benefited the mission programs at church.
I’m in a much better place now than I was a month ago. I’m prioritizing my family, my calling in youth ministry, my DMin studies, and taking better care of myself. Along the way, I’m sure I’ll keep thinking and writing about broader church issues. But I recognized at GA that I had invested a lot of personal energy into my work on the Mid Councils Commission and was carrying a bigger burden than I realized. It’s time to redirect that into other ventures.