After the dust settles at #gc2012

He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”  (1 Sam 24:3-6)

What role does obedience play in the community of God’s people? What honor is due the men and women who have been anointed by the Holy Spirit to lead?

I find myself pondering these questions after watching the presentation in support of the Call to Action proposals of the Interim Operations Team at General Conference. I watched the live feed and followed the #gc2012 Twitter feed at the same time. Distrust and cynicism blazed through the Twitter feed even as Adam Hamilton delivered a highly polished sales pitch that traded heavily on fears of decline and denominational death as a motivation for enacting the specific ideas in the proposal. The antagonism was obvious and the efforts of supporters and foes of the proposals to manipulate and shape the rhetoric were not very subtle.

It felt like a political event not a spiritual gathering.

So, I wonder what is going to happen when the General Conference acts or fails to act. Will we respect the decision? Will those who do not like whatever the General Conference decides still work our best to implement its vision? Should we?

At what point does our obedience and respect for the General Conference call us to put aside our personal motives and ideas in service to the Holy Spirit’s movement in that body?

This is a question that may be easier to answer today than it will be after the General Conference concludes its work, but it is one that is worthy of our consideration.

3 thoughts on “After the dust settles at #gc2012

  1. John, I joined together with other young adults after worship tonight, many of which were actively part of the twitter response. Some truly feel hurt by being left out of the conversation, some felt like the presentation was so manipulative it was offensive, but mostly we love this church and deeply care about who God has called us to be… so much so that we can’t help but speak out when we don’t move in the right directions. Twitter happened to be the forum, and the nature of instantaneous response is sharp words that don’t have the time or space to cool, or room in 140 characters to be subtle/nuanced… that doesn’t make them any less true. What I heard in our later conversation was deep theology, love, resurrection, hope, and good spirits/feelings towards those who worked on CT /IOT etc. There are plans for sit down conversation with Adam Hamilton b/c of those twitter back and forths… so maybe all hope is not lost.

    1. Katie, thank you for this report on what happened beyond the Twitter feed. That is all hopeful.

      Thank you for telling me about the things I cannot see or hear for myself. I hope and trust that the Holy Spirit will be with and among you as you carry those conversations further.

      That said, I would like to extend the conversation as an outsider who is experiencing this only through the limited channels of Twitter and the live stream.

      I find that the word “manipulative” is a loaded word. When someone stands up during this conference in the next few days and makes a case for full inclusion, for instance, she will use the most effective arguments she can and cast the issue in a way that is most likely to have an impact. But, your young colleagues will not call that “manipulative.” I believe the IOT are sincere in their belief that the CtA is the best way ahead. Do we call their motives and character into question (and I think that calling them manipulative does just that) because they do exactly the same thing we will do when we advocate for things we believe in?

      It feels like a great plank in the eye moment.

      As for 140 characters … I agree Twitter lends itself to sharp words, but it does not require them. I always have a choice about the words I use. I can express feelings of hurt, anger, or distrust in many ways and with many kinds of words. I think we are tempted by the flesh to blurt out those sharp words, but the question is what is the loving thing in that moment?

      I’m sure these are easy comments to make from the comfort of my house in Indiana. Thank you for your work there on the ground. Thank you for taking time to report on the hopeful signs that do not show up in my only means of access.

  2. John: I think you are right: I was sitting in the gallery listening. It was a sales pitch, to be sure. I needed a tranquilizer just to deal with the depressing statistics. The GC has the feel of a political gathering; we are in a huge convention hall that makes it very difficult to ‘conference’. I feel for our overseas delegates: I am not sure they are getting the translations. We will see. There is also so much distrust I don’t think it is possible to lead anymore.

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