“It really is high time we developed a Christian ethic of blogging. Bad temper is bad temper even in the apparent privacy of your own hard drive, and harsh and unjust words, when released into the wild, rampage around and do real damage. And as for the practice of saying mean an unjust things behind a pseudonym – well if I get a letter like that it goes straight in the bin. But the cyberspace equivalents of road rage don’t happen by accident. People who type vicious, angry, slanderous and inaccurate accusations do so because they feel their worldview to be under attack.” (Wright, N.T., Justification: God’s Plan, Paul’s Vision,SPCK, 2009, p.10)
Is that the sound of a nail being struck on the head?
Over the last four or five days reading blogs on the internet, I’ve been struck by how negative Methodists are about themselves and about their Methodist brothers and sisters.
This negativity seems to be true not only for British Methodists but also for the United Methodist Church in the US. Reading the blogs of UMCers who I find thoughtful and whose ideas I respect, I’ve actually begun to wonder whether I want to be part of the UMC when I move to the States in August.
In my last job, if anyone had talked down their organisation or their colleagues in the way that Methodists talk each other down, I reckon the boss would have called them in for a talking-to about their attitude.
She goes on to repeat Martyn Atkins call for the finding and telling of positive stories. Of course, there’s a danger in focussing on the good stuff. It would be easy to become unrealistic, with a ‘head in the sand’ mentality. But that isn’t what Martyn or Pam are after.
Merely an end to the morale-sapping moaning and carping that you see so much of these days.
And there is plenty of good news to be told. When it came to telling it’s stories of asylum seekers in Britain, the Methodist Church featured to a far greater extent than you might have guessed. The new ‘Youth Participation Strategy’, Pioneer Ministry scheme and (of course) EDEV are all signs of change and of hope. A significant number of congregations are growing. And witness is being borne faithfully in my places where the ‘ground is hard and dry’.
None of this is to deny the very real challenges which face the Methodist Church in Britain. But Pam is right. Having a downer on ourselves is never going to help.