Erika recently asked,
Here's my answer:
In selecting our next Bishop (or reselecting Bishop Swenson), I would love to have someone who is willing to set forth a big picture plan...one that takes us 5, 10, 20 years into the future. Even if we end up doing things differently, I think we need something concrete to grab onto. We need something people are excited about....AND that is tangible. The themes are nice...they're great guiding principals, but they are NOT concrete, and I don't see people teaching them and preaching them in a way that insights a following. To me it feels like saying, "we want to be good Christians"--it's sort of redundant and goes without saying, but we need specifics about what being a good Christian means. And we need to be challenged to grow in that. I think we need someone who is an encourager, who draws people into their vision through energy, charisma, and affirmation. I'd also like to see someone with an outspoken commitment to evangelism and church growth. I know...those are touchy subjects because we fear that in evangelizing we will be *evangelical*, and by commitment to evangelism I don't mean the Bible thumping stereotypes, I mean someone who believes in the power of the gospel and hopes that others will be truly transformed by their encounter with it. And I also know it isn't all about the numbers, but if we could get over our fear of putting that goal out there, we might have success. I think our reluctance speaks to those seeking churches and is literally killing us. We have a HUGE population (the largest in the nation) and there's no reason not to have big churches...simply as a matter of probability and statistics. I mean, CA has a population of almost 38 million people, which is expected to grow to 50 million by 2025 (I know it seems a long way off, but really only 18 years...only 1 generation) and Hawaii has about 1.3 million. Granted not all of CA is our conference, but you get the idea. If we had only 1% of those 38 million in the UMC, we'd have 380,000....compared to the 90,000 or so we have now...that'd be great! If we went for 5% we'd have 1.9 million. How cool would that be?!?! And that still leaves 95% for the baptists, catholics, jews, hindus, pagans, buddhists, episcopals, etc....you know?!
So that's my long-winded and lofty answer to the question.