The Book of Discipline The Musical #umc #umclead #tnac2011

With the success of “The Book of Mormon”  & our United Methodist Church Annual Conferences happening around the UMC over the past month and half. Some friends & I had running imaginations that “The Book of Discipline” is just as confusing as the Book of Mormon so why not create a equally compelling broadway play that can debut right before General Conference in 2012.

“The Book of Discipline” a musical based on the doctrinal works of the United Methodist Church. Musical numbers would include:

  • “Prevenient Grace, How Sweet the Realization”
  • “Where As, Hence, Be It”
  • “Christ, from whom All Committees Flow”
  • “Take My Life and Let it SPRC”
  • “I am a Methodist…and Methodists just whatever…”
  • “Depth of Resolutions”
  • “Jesus, Lover of my Social Principles”
  • “Lo He comes with Consensus Descending”
  • “Where As, Hence, Be It Therefore”
  • “Oh Come and Dwell in, this huge book we Created”
  • “Oh for a Thousand ‘Vital Congregations’ To Sing”

Creators & Contributors to “The Book of Discipline” the musical Heather Bennett, Russell Hale, Brad Smith, & you who leave ideas in the comments.


Phyllis Tickle, Freakonomics & a ‘vital’ congregation

In my latest posting of my newfound Neflix documentary watching I choose to watch Freakonomics. I am fascinated with Levitt’s concepts and numbers crunching analysis. This is rather funny to me because I am far from a numbers type person. However, he seems to tap into something that I believe for many of my church and cultural observations and that is that the numbers are never quite what they seem or presented to us. More times than not our conventional look of cause & effect on actions of our world are probably not what they are.

As a documentary Freakonomics was entertaining in this way for me. One of the Feakonomics case studies that had me intrigued most was the reasoning for the drop in crime starting in the 90’s after huge rises in crime through the 70’s to 80’s. Government officials and experts were extolling practices of police practices, tougher sentencing, and a few other items. What was an interesting connection was that those couldn’t tell the whole story and the rest of the story was filled out by the passing of Roe vs Wade and the availability of abortions. This kept a generation of unwanted children from ever being born and the numbers fall into line of the drop of 20 something population who were the crime offenders at that point, but had huge statistical drops. Is it right? I’d like to think there is a lot of credibility to the whole thing.

As I work with my United Methodist church who is trying to label and build “vital” congregations I cannot help but wonder that the numbers are not what they seem. I do not have some great answer, but it feels that our metrics we measure our “vitality” is too conventional and not dynamic enough to represent what is truly going on.

One of the things that is commonly referenced is that the United Methodist Church is dying in America. The UMC’s heyday was the 1950’s and many times the church entity keeps trying to replicate that era.

Was sitting in with Phyllis Tickle a few months back where she was going through her patterned history lessons of the faith and church. She had some interesting connections that in the 20th century at the break of the Great Depression and the start of the World War II for Americans the women took up the tools of the men’s trades and became the iconic “Rosie the Riveter.” The culture of Rosie was that they would go off to work becoming exhausted from a day of work and do what the man would do to unwind, stopping by the bar. When the war ended and the men came home Rosie went back to the daily duty of the home. She was left without something very important for her community. Rosie was left without a “third place.” The bar was the important “third place” for community for the group of men and ladies. However, for a group of ladies community was gone. So what became the new third place? The church?..

Maybe the boom of the United Methodist Church in the 50’s was less about the church’s evangelism and disciple making, but more about a sociological need for the ladies of the home to re-find community.


NYWC : Reflecting on National Youth Workers Convention

NYWC : National Youth Worker Convention 2010This past weekend (and a bit of the week) was the east coast swing of the National Youth Workers Convention. This has been a staple of my life since early 2000’s. When the convention comes to Nashville I take on a bit different of a role. The role of volunteer.

I email whomever and say, ‘put me to work.’ So I’ve done things like the prayer room or labyrinth many times. This go round, Adam asked me to take photos. So off I went with my new gear set up (more on that later) to chronicle some of the event through my camera lens.

I am working on uploading all the images onto flickr to sort through. You can take a glimpse at them all.. warning: There are quite a few

The best part about NYWC is that many times it functions as a family reunion. So many of my favorite people on earth are there, working, attending, or teaching. Some even crash.. Had so many heartful, fun, and building conversations that, for that reason only, I would love for NYWC to go on and on for weeks.

Some of my favorite images from the convention that was

the Sanctuary

the Sanctuary

I’m a big contemplative type. So a stop into the Sanctuary for compline prayers was a great end to the day. Many thanks to Mike King for leading & Lilly for Design. It’s a great gift to give space.

Nita & Tic

Nita & Tic

My friend Nita, who has worked at 61st Ave UMC for as long as I can remember was brought to NYWC as special guest and “Queen” for the conference. I loved her face in this pic, it is so her. I’m actually surprised I got some good shots during this as I was pretty much in tears the whole time. She deserves something good like this more than anyone I know.

david crowder band

David Crowder Band

This is just a neat picture to me: 1. cause I think he’s looking at me 2. the colors are just fabulous & I don’t have any other pictures from the event that look similar than this series. 3 can’t reflect on an NYWC event without mention of the David Crowder Band

New World Son

New World Son

Never heard of New World Son before (which wasn’t any surprise to me since I’m so out of the CCM know). They were some high energy fools. Music was pretty good too. It was a real test to get some photos of these guys, but this was a real fun one.

the Haggards

the Haggards

The Haggards are an interesting duo. 1. I think Gayle is salt of the earth.. On stage and behind the stage, she was really gracious and sweet all around. 2. Tim has some more “unbuilding” to go. He built himself up for so many years & much of it crumbled, but there is always remnants that are still part of him that he’s got to work on. He also wants to move on, but I say, his past is what makes him human.. because before all the outing happened some 4plus years ago. I didn’t like the guy one bit as a representative of Kingdom.

Wrap Up

Starfield bring it down

We’ll wrap this posting with the closing moments of one Starfield’s songs. Endings of songs are great, the lights are moving, lots of movements & energy. I just like this one.

a Life Giving Christmas

Friends at United Methodist Communications sent me a copy of their media pack for “A Life Giving Christmas” as part of their ReThinkChurch campaigns. I thought it’d be something pretty lame that I wouldn’t want to pitch, but it really isn’t. I wouldn’t go so far as to say its the next best thing, but for a four week period of Advent this has a little bit of everything to generate some ongoing communications & hopefully transformations.

In the digital media package you receive a four week series of resources;

  • Sermon Starters: Not full sermons, but a lot of ideas and add on to plug into service. Starters are also lectionary based
  • Questions to Toss out into Facebook & Twitter: Those are social mediums, so doing more than being an extra version of the newsletter is best practice. You may not care for the questions, but they should remind you to have conversations digitally in the in-betweens of the week.
  • PDF’s for Door-hangers, Direct Mailing, Bulletin Covers or Inserts
  • Videos to show as part of worship or put online for teasers before services..
  • Presentation software slides

All these things come at a cost of just $25, which, if you need something to plug into the four weeks of Advent still, then this could be some of the best $25 you’ve ever spent. I have to say it is good value for the price..

The big drawback is that we are already at Advent (one more Sunday till) and many of us have already got stuff in the hopper. So implementing this would be a hard time line to keep faithfully. However, I know many of you have plans to make plans still out there lingering. It is you who could pull that together. It might be that you want to download it now & use it next year.

Another option to check out is to look into Advent Conspiracy. “A Life Giving Christmas” has a similar social action angle.

methoApp : the methodist church into the 21st century mobile technology

4610420499_2985c7fd15_oyou might have seen my tweet about it, or maybe the article itself about the british methodist church's new iphone app. in the short time i've had it i really do like it. my quick thoughts:

it isn't over done: too often when we make stuff in the church it has to do everything for everyone and it ends up sucking at all things. like a 'one size fits all' life preserver, it doesn't actually fit anyone. so it has a daily prayer, a daily scripture meditation & news.

it has a simple news section that not only provides the usual suspect news on the methodist church, but also tweets mentioning 'methodist' (at least that seems to be the key search term, so you should see this posting show up at some point).

the formatting is really good. some of the stuff other churches put out is taken from some other medium and just put in through some cut & paste job. i appreciate that the content looks like it should be there.

it is free.. that is a nice part about any iphone app.

i know some of the other umc agencies and entities of the church are trying to put out their own application, i think they'd be wise to take a look at the first one on the scene

gold, silver, bronze : top methodist moments on youtube

so why not!

on monday i gave out medals for the top john wesley moments on youtube. figured i'd give out medals for methodism realized over youtube.. why not!

this list i couldn't help but get onto some of my soapboxes, so i hope you don't mind some of my subjective judging.. feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments

Clayride gold medal: the methodist clayride – i was pleasantly pleased to see this back on youtube. years ago i had a copy of it that i uploaded to youtube but was asked to take it down by a certain agency. i felt that was a real loss at the time because the video then created a lot of buzz and nostalgia amongst us methoblogger types. not to mention, its a great video for sharing the history of the methodist church. if i remember correctly it had over 15k views (mind you this was the early days of youtube as well). so i hope the clayride gets to ride on & as the methodist presses in the early days of the movement shared its stories, theology, sermons, etc. maybe you all can help share this gold medal of methodism.

Picture 1 silver medal : methodist amendments  maxie dunnam – whoa the scandal!! maxie gets the medal for this one because his video showed up on my radar first, though eddie fox put his up a few days earlier. these videos struck off the biggest abuse of the youtube medium by methodist pastors at large. seriously, lets take our sermoning communication medium to a media medium that is short, sweet, entertaining, and engaging (see how youtube community reacts by how they mashedup maxie). still, in the metho-nerd circles, this was scandalous to take the churches business outside the authorities of the general/annual conferences. which, may or may not be a bad thing.. not to leave them out, bishop jones & tex sample took notice and made their counter arguments as well. for stirring the pot and getting a whole lot of amendment mush on youtube, maxie gets the silver medal.

Picture 8 bronze medal : hallelujah chorus by mute monks – okay, this is silly, its only methodist because this one happened to have happened at a methodist church and the youth basically ripped off an otherwise other youtube sensation, but with a hit count of 100k and just observing the reaction of the congregation (or lack there of) and the pastor (what was that?) at what i assume was a christmastide service.. oh boy. bronze medal for having the cajones to try it pine castle umc

Picture 4 standing looking up : patriot guard – this a news report, from united methodist news (i assume), on the methodist pastor who helps with the patriot guard. for those that don't know what the patriot guard is there is just a simple search on youtube and you will get countless videos, some even by national news coverage. this gets the honorable mention for a couple of reasons, 1. it tells the story of how some have take their community into action for the forgotten and the fallen of our culture. 2. it has a pretty decent hit count (i have a version of same video on my youtube channel) which almost doubles it. yes, #2 is not nearly as noble as #1. 

so tell me who got robbed from the podium. there's lots to choose from

gold, silver, bronze awards : top john wesley moments on youtube

as i look over the church landscape & how they use technologies, i started wondering.. how is our church founder, john wesley, being represented on youtube? and with looking over all this (and the winter olympics in play right now), i decided to medal the top wesley moments on youtube.

 Wesleychapel gold: john wesley chapel linebacker : the young folks at houghton college put this satirical parody of the terry tate office linebacker commercials together & they are just brilliant. involved a bunch of the students and some of the faculty. they reflect some of the core wesleyan theology tenants within the video mixed into a bunch of "ouch" and laughing moments. clear cut gold medal winner!

Wesleysermon2a silver: john wesley sermon, thoughts on war : mark topping is apparently know as a john wesley impresonator. this excerpt is taken from his dvd doing his shtick. the except is posted on the or more about the methodist church of great britain channel which has a few other cool videos. this sermon has the most hits of the excerpts. what i think is funny is quickly wesley would be run out of a pulpit in todays umc for preaching the way he did. the solid silver winner!

Wesleyvideo bronze: john wesley a heartwarming story : this is our dark horse that came out of no where in the medal podium to sang the bronze. i give you the history of john wesley via the confirmation class of first united methodist church of mercedes, texas. what are you doing with your claim the name curriculum? bet it is not as cool as a silent movie motif of wesley's life. anyways, this campy funny approach to sharing wesley's story is by far more entertaining than any of the other powerpoint movie presentations (though some of the foreign language, to me, ones were pretty cool).

Picture 8 standing looking on: relcaiming wesleyan tradition : yup, we tried to see if this thing could go viral for kevin some time back, so it had itself on the 'watch' list, but in the end, it couldn't pick up the medal. this little diddy by the gbod spins off the guinness commercials, which i suppose it okay since wesley had some guinness influence.

**look for the top medalists videos for the united methodist church. that's going to be a tight competition

churches doing twitter wrong : churches can do twitter well


i am constantly frustrated with church folks who extol their social media use for their churches. one such statement is the proverbial "our church is on twitter." i am not sure what that means? how is a church on twitter? church, can be there if we are looking at church as a verb, chronicling the interactions of the congregation with the community, but most of what we see is same thing we see so many times with church websites.

  1. church twitters often rehash their inner content creation and just throw it out there as if people who haven't graced their walls are all of a sudden interested. much like marshall mcluhan says we do.
  2. the face they always show is the church building or fancy logo. again, it works for the people in the church, but doesn't do anything for establishing a relationship with others outside your congregation

so how does a church community use twitter?

  1. use it just like you probably are using twitter: making church announcements, posting links to your website/sermons/etc. i am fine with that, just know that you are only talking to the audience that is already invested into your church body. there is value to that, so its okay to do, just don't talk about your media use as something getting outside your church.
  2. get personal by:
  • make a formal twitter background with images of your church people, not your steeple
  • change your avatar to some people. folks want to see how they will fit into your congregation, give them faces (often changing avatars) that help them see themselves as part of your church
  • use pictures a plenty
  • interact, don't just follow people from your church, but all over your community
  • give out helpful information for community events, family building, parenting, schools
  • affirm what others are saying
  • talk about your people
  • be ready to use direct messages to invite folks & let them know where to meet you
  • be willing to show weakness/struggles/frustrations as a church body. authentic is the word
  • start some helpful "lists" for your followers to plug into (this would involve knowing who to follow and what are important topics for your community)

sorry to the folks at highland park umc for picking on them with my chosen image.. it was just to easy.