The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

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Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Holy Conferencing and a confession ...

The Rev. Randy Frye talks to Holston's United Methodists
about Holy Conferencing in Tuesday morning's session at Lake Junaluska.

The Holy Spirit is moving during this annual conference of Holston's United Methodists at Lake Junaluska, N.C., and it could be that we don't know quite what to do with this movement. The reason: It's not moving in the way that we would normally expect.

It's not because of the music.

It's not due to the preaching.

The Holy Spirit is moving through an introduction to "Holy Conferencing," and the arrival of God's Spirit in this manner is not something we are used to greeting; in fact, that is quite the point: We -- or, at least, I -- have not been hospitable to the Spirit of God in this matter.

The Rev. Randy Frye just finished a moving presentation on "Working Together in the United Methodist Way," in which he asked, "How do diverse people, worshipping one Lord, navigate through our differences in order to fulfill one singular mission ... to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?" Frye suggested the following guidelines in calling us to practice Holy Conferencing:

  • Every person is a child of God.
  • As you patiently listen and observe the behavior of others, be open to the possiblity that God can change the views of any or all parties in the discuss. (And that means me, too.)
  • Listen patiently before formulating responses.
  • Strive to understand the experience out of which others have arrived at their views.
  • Be careful in how you express personal offense at differing opinions. Otherwise, dialogue may be inhibited.
  • Accurately reflect the views of others when speaking. This is especially important when you disagree with that position.
  • Avoid using inflammatory words, derogatory names, or an excited and angry voice.
  • Avoid making generalizations about individuals and groups.
  • Make use of facilitators and mediators.
  • Remember that people are defined, ultimately by their relationship with God ... not by the flaws we discover, or think we discover, in their views and actions.

As I listened to Randy, "my heart was strangely warmed." Yet, I also was convicted in that I am aware of the many times I have not practiced Holy Conferencing. I have:

  • Failed to treat every person as a child of God.
  • Stood firm on what I perceived to be biblical ground, not realizing that the propositions I claimed as truth may not be truth at all, but merely the opinions of man concerning God's Truth.
  • Failed to listen patiently before formulating opinions. Too often when appearing to listen to someone, or even when reading another person's words, I have found myself thinking, "Oh, they're coming from (whatever) point of view ..." The first time I became fully aware of such a practice was when reading Brian McLaren's "A Generous Orthodoxy." For the first time in my recollection, when I found myself heading down that path I would put the book down until I got over that train of thought.
  • Failed to consider another person's experience through which their views were formed.
  • Neglected to be careful of my words when reacting to someone else's opinion.
  • Intentionally or inadvertently "spun" someone else's views to buttress my own position.
  • Used inflammatory, or at least highly charged, words and emotions to drive home a point.
  • Made generalizations concerning individuals and groups.
  • Forgotten, or ignored the fact, that people are ultimately defined by their relationship with God.

Forgive me, O God, for my careless and hurtful words.

Forgive me for not accurately and fully presenting Christ to the world. Allow me to rise with newness of heart, and newness of Spirit, fully open to the move of your Holy Spirit as I offer Christ to the world. This is my confession, and I repent of the way I have hurt others and damaged the reputation of Christ and His Church in the world.

Thank you, O God, for your grace .