The Church is a Hot Mess

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Despite all its flaws, The United Methodist Church has a beautiful theological heritage and a powerful tradition of hearing and empowering people to make a difference in their communities. But today, we are undeniably in a state of disarray. It just feels like we are doing it wrong and that there is no place in the structure to gather our thoughts.

As we move through the coming trials and tribulations, I pray we will each seek to avoid the “This is mine!” mentality while striving to hold all things in common.

Image Credit: “Christmas #25 by Flickr user Kevin Dooley was used as the background for the featured image, some rights reserved.


  1. Patrick
    First I appreciate your attempt to be welcoming / open to all. I believe that is one of the major premises you hold up in your article. And, I agree with much of what you said. Especially, toward the end where you said, “it feels like we are doing it wrong, & there is no place in the structure to gather our thoughts.” Well said, and in my opinion very true.
    I would like to lovingly disagree with your 3rd paragraph, if I understand what you’re saying. You mentioned that is “May” be good to have churches take strong stands on social issues or theological principles, but need places where partisanship takes a back seat to relationships. It would be my humble opinion, that anything that attempts to replace the basic theological focus of Jesus or the Bible, in the name of seeking relationships that ignore major issues / problems, would not be something any church should be seeking.
    and, I agree bullying / intimidating is not very Christian or winsome!
    Thanks for writing, and thanks for allowing a place to meet, even if it is in cyber-space! Blessings in our Jesus. Pastor Steve Hartman Stronghurst / Carman U.M.C.’s in north-western Illinois.

    • Steve,
      Thanks for reading and for engaging the question.

      I’m not sure that we are at complete points of contention. Churches have a right, and indeed a need, to define their basic identity and the types of conversations they’ll be having. But I think we can hold even strong theological opinions while being very generous to one another. The churches I’ve attended where partisanship took a back seat were still engaged in spiritual development and in provocative dialogue from time to time. The spirit present in those conversations was (almost) always generous however and people were able to see their political/theological opponent as a child of God first.

      Thanks again for reading!


      • Patrick,
        Don’t want to keep you busy with just one person, but thanks for replying… to the reply… I am a re-tired {can you say re-tread?} pastor, currently serving as an interim, and have only been in ministry for a bit over 25 years. It saddens me greatly that the spirit of generosity, charity, high-idealism so often takes a back-seat to yes, even disagreements. I have been on our Conference’s Conflict Mediation Team, and have seen 1st hand that (MY observation) SO many in the pews are so “prickly.” The spirit of humility and a desire to see the best in the ‘other’ seems so side-tracked in our churches, and in society. I am a believer that the ONLY real answer is Jesus. The changed and Philp. 2 humbled life, is the only way we will ever be able to love the other, and ourselves as I believe Jesus would want us to. Thanks for writing. Blessings. Steve Hartman

  2. As a liberal Christian with no current corporate home, I’ve followed the recent UMC issues surrounding LGBT issues with great interest. In addition to the current specific issue (the trial), your comment “If behavior is indicative of our real convictions, I’m troubled by our collective answer,” is quite relevant to Christians in the US as a whole right now. Thank you for your insight and faith. Peace.

    • I believe you’re right about this being a larger Christian issue. I suspect it is actually more symptomatic of serious theological divides that our attempts to mitigate and legislate frankly don’t honor.

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