A recent post by Southern Baptist blogger Trevin Wax has stirred my thinking about how bishops and other UM leaders can more effectively sow into the lives of younger pastors and leaders.
I continue to see articles and hear comments about the loss of young pastors from the ranks of the [Southern Baptist Convention]…. To those [leaders]…concerned about the future of the SBC: may I make a humble suggestion?
Release your resources. Give away all sermons and conference talks for free on the internet. Let us hear your heart!
One reason [non-Southern Baptist] pastors like John MacArthur and John Piper have such a large following among young Southern Baptists is because all their sermons (audio and manuscript) for the past 30-40 years are available online for free. I suggest that Southern Baptist pastors look to these men as an example of how to invest in younger pastors….
Want to see more young people showing up at your conference?… This year’s conference resources [distributed free online] are next year’s advertising.
Want young people to listen to your sermons? Then open up the archive…. Flood the…web with your resources. Give everything away, and then watch how God blesses.
The problem Mr. Wax describes is even more pronounced in the UMC than in the SBC. For years, I have been puzzled by the paucity of material from UM leaders available online, even on Annual Conference web sites.
For people who are supposed to be “connectional,” we have made very few connections via the Web — at least in a teaching/leadership sense rather than just an “institutional” (forms, committees) sense.
I have attended some denominational events that were not even recorded, much less posted. Many events are recorded, of course, but are not available except to those who can avoid to spend ~$15 for a DVD. (That’s ~$15 for one presentation; purchasing an entire event often costs more than $100!)
The Internet offers bishops and other leaders a low-cost means to speak to pastors (and lay people) who are looking to them as role models of effective teaching, leadership, and theological reflection.
The good news is that some bishops have started posting short videos (such as this one by North Georgia Bishop Mike Watson on the appointment process). A few leaders post audio on a regular basis (North Alabama Bishop Will Willimon even has a podcast).
But for the most part, UM leaders have failed to take advantage of the power of online distribution of teaching and leadership material.
To help fill the void (albeit in a small measure), next week we will launch The MethodistThinker Podcast. Each Monday, Lord willing, we will feature audio of a bishop or other church leader. Some of these recordings will be current, others may date back many years.
A related change: A Podcasts page will be added to this site, accessible via a tab at the top of this page.
We will begin next week with the founder of the movement: a sermon by John Wesley(!), reenacted in the early 1980s for the BBC.
In the weeks ahead: Bill Bouknight on “The Resurrection”; Bishop Lindsey Davis on “The Primary Task of the Church”; and the late Bill Hinson on “The Making of a Minister.”
Do you have material you’d like to submit? E-mail MethodistThinker.com.