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How The #UMC Is Like Donny & Marie Osmond

Wait. 

You’re thinking that the Osmonds are Mormons for goodness sake, and no matter how much theological latitude we allow in the United Methodist Church, we’re not that.

Except that’s not what the post is about.

Instead, many local United Methodist congregations pattern their church lives after this D & M classic:

Ah, a little bit country and a little bit rock & roll.

Or, in our case, a little bit contemporary and a little bit traditional.

A little bit modern and a little bit Methodist.

A little bit current and a little bit classic.

And the result of local UMCs who try to be all things to all people?  Who may add a guitar but complement it with just the right color of liturgical parament?  Who might stray from the lectionary but will never NOT do communion on the first Sunday of a month?

When you are a little bit of everything there is a danger of becoming a whole lot of nothing.  Which is another way of saying a church with a split identity.

Now: there are a handful of congregations who navigate these waters well.  They usually have long-tenured leaders who have both wisdom and imagination.

It’s much more common, however, for local congregations who attempt to be both Donnie AND Marie to have an ongoing identity crisis:  Who are we?  What is our focus?  What is our strategy?  Is it more about preserving Methodism or reaching people with the Gospel?  The identity crises are apparent in architecture, interior design, church programming, and even leadership styles.

The majority of healthy UMCs I know have real clarity around their character and style.  Some are thoroughly traditional in worship and unapologetically Methodist in emphasis.  Others are modern in style and tend to downplay denomination so that it won’t get in the way of Jesus.

Neither of those approaches is right

Both, however, are clear.

And in a world full of competing voices — in a world with both country and rock & roll! — clarity is vital for impact.

So — what is it, #UMC?  Country?  Or rock & roll?  Please choose ONE.

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