Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Metho-terian-ism from the Presb-odist

Storm clouds over Westfield Mall in Brandon
"Methoterianism" - is the conjunction of Presbyterian and Methodist - "Presbodist"

Yesterday turned out to be an exceptionally busy day: First, I enjoyed a very productive phone conversation with the president of United Methodist Men in Florida that resulted in invitations to speak at two state-wide men's events (October 2011 and October 2012). Next was a drive to Lithia to meet with the new pastor at Grace Community UMC for a Tribune article. Then it was back home for a phone conference with Jim Harnish at Hyde Park UMC, followed by a quick exchange of ideas with pastor Matthew Hartsfield at Van Dyke UMC. The working part of my day concluded with a meeting in Plant City at The Ministry Center for an unrelated Tribune story; and, yes, it was attached to another Methodist church.

Italian Pizza
It was too late to think about cooking when I got home so Rebekah and I headed out to the mall for The Cheesecake Factory and Books-A-Million. The picture (above) was taken after dinner just as another round of thunderstorms sprung up around Brandon. The rain around here has been relentless, but I'm just happy it cools things off in the late afternoon.

I had some authentic Italian pizza. And I can say "authentic" because it's the first time I've ever had pizza this side of the Atlantic that had the taste and the texture of the stuff they serve in the pizzeria down the street from Andrew's house in Tuscany.

Then we headed into Books A Million. We were there to purchase "The Help" and generally walk around perusing books. It got me to thinking about bestsellers and the dynamics of the book world.

Book table at the mall
First, I checked the "Inspirational Books" table. I've long since gotten over my disappointment that there's not a single bookstore in Brandon that keeps my books in stock, yet alone puts them on display. But I am very much intrigued at what does capture the attention of booksellers and what people do read.

One interesting observation I've made has to do with the evangelical book market, especially books aimed at men. First, men in evangelical churches read books much more than men in mainline congregations. That may have to do with the tendency toward "group-think" and the influence to all "be on the same page."

Additionally, men in evangelical churches talk about the books they read and then recommend those books to one another. Not only that, but they recommend these books to their Presbyterian and Methodist and Lutheran (etc) friends. Consequently, the guys in my target audience routinely miss out on material designed specifically for them because there's very little word-of-mouth, very little buzz, very little in the way of intentional spiritual community.

And so we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot because we're afraid to talk about what moves us. I think this is a huge and increasingly important factor in the spirituality of the American man.

If we, the "quiet unassuming majority", fail to step out of our complacency and into a more forthright witness to what it really means to experience salvation, then the truth about God's love will not be told. We can't allow the conversation to be dictated anymore by the noisiest people in the room. We need to stand up and say, "Moderates love Jesus too!" And, "I'm passionate about my faith;" and "Let me tell you about my relationship with God;" and, "You've got to read this inspirational book my men's group have been studying..."

Shout it from the rooftops!
I'll repeat the foundational idea here:
  • It's time for us to get over our reluctance to talk about what moves us.
  • We need to stop allowing ourselves to be spiritually bullied.
  • We need to tell the world the truth about a God who is inviting, inclusive, full of grace, politically neutral, and passionate about justice.
This is life-charged faith we're talking about here, people! Why aren't we shouting it from the rooftops?

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