By Bishop James E. Swanson Sr.
The Rev. Steve Casteel, former director of connectional ministries for the Mississippi Annual Conference, gave me a copy of We Are All Weird by the Seth Godin, author of 19 international bestsellers.
The book paints a picture of anger, chaos, confusion, frustration and a desperate searching––the same experiences I am witnessing during this difficult time in our church family. The book helps me as one of the bishops trying to lead this beloved UMC.
Godin ask us to reexamine four words, MASS, NORMAL, WEIRD and RICH.
MASS––the easily reached majority that seeks to conform and survive.
NORMAL––people in the middle. Finding and amplifying normal is essential to anyone who traffics in mass (The UMC).
WEIRD––what we call people who aren’t normal. More and more people are weird by choice which flies in the face of the culture of mass and the checklist of normal.
RICH––Godin’s word for someone who can afford to make choices.
Now why am I writing about this? Well, because I believe as we wrestle with the future of our denomination, we need to look past a momentary fix that gets us away from our pain.
We need to look deeper in order to discover the origin of the headache and heartache we’re feeling now. Can those of us who are charged to lead the UMC forget the political quick fixes and truly engage our people in the midst of their pain to walk through this wilderness?
So, what does this have to do with my uneasiness in the spiritual place in which I now reside?
I believe we’re on a journey that God is using to shape us, and we are rebelling against that process.
But, it’s God’s way of shaping you and me.
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. president
General Commission on UM Men