Reflections On 100 Pastors

On Monday, I posted about my attendance at The Leading Edge, a gathering of the pastors of the 100 largest United Methodist churches in the United States based on average worship attendance.

A benefactor underwrote most of the cost of the meeting, so we were able to stay at a gorgeous resort near Jacksonville, Florida while incurring very little cost ourselves.

Some random reflections:

  • It is funny to me how most of us never really get out of high school in terms of making friends and joining groups. The pastors there generally hung out with other pastors of churches the same size. So the 3,000s-on-a-Sunday had one kind of camaraderie, the 2000s-on-a-Sunday had a different kind, and those of us slogging it out at 1500 or so had another. I admit it: I was much more comfortable with a group of “peers” than with trying to impress someone with a really big church and a bigger name. Human nature, I guess, but it was still a hoot to watch and be part of.
  • While we were listening to Adam Hamilton say something that was yet again filled with wisdom and insight, one of my table mates turned to me and said, “You know, I believe that if Jesus himself was in the back of the room hearing this, even he’d be impressed.”
  • An inordinate percentage of these largest United Methodist churches were from three places: Houston and its suburbs; Atlanta and its suburbs; and Florida. Yet some of the very, very largest congregations are in the Midwest: Kansas City, South Bend, Indiana, and central Ohio.
  • Mecklenburg County has four churches on the list: Matthews UMC, Davidson UMC, Myers Park UMC, and Good Shepherd.
  • A majority of the churches represented in Ponte Vedra offer contemporary worship as their primary style on Sunday mornings.
  • There is great momentum among this group of pastors for a denomination-wide moratorium on voting & politicking around the volatile issue of homosexuality. The group would be delighted in a General Conference in 2012 that focused on worship and strategy rather than the most divisive issue of them all.
  • I continue to realize what a privilege it is to serve the people of Good Shepherd and the community of southwest Charlotte.