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Focus by Lovett Weems reviewed

March 20, 2012

BOOK REVIEW

“Focus: The Real Challenges That Face The United Methodist Church” by Lovett H. Weems Jr.

 

SUMMARY

In the book, Lovett Weems meticulously and systematically brings out the challenges that The United Methodist Church faces in the twenty-first century from historical and missional perspectives. The challenges include but not limited to the loss of membership, the lack of resources particularly finances, and the dearth of understanding of our identity and mission. The author boldly names several elephants in the denomination such as lack of focus (appropriateness of the title of the book), lack of accountability, lack of witness, lack of relevance, and lack of reaching-out to the emerging population. The author also extensively discusses and explores possibilities of changes needed at General Church, Annual Conference and Congregational levels (chapters 3, 4 & 5). Chapter six is the most appropriate as the author punctuates the urgent need of focusing on the outside of the four walls of United Methodist Congregations by intentionally connecting with, reaching-out and serving the community of all ages, nations and races/ethnic groups. The bottom line question is: When God has gifted The United Methodist Church with eight million members, six billion dollar worth of assets, thirty-three thousand congregations and the most educated clergy, are we maximizing the potential of these massive amounts of resources to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ with the passion of John Wesley? Are we fruitful?

KEY PHRASES:

“Praying for Miracles and Working for Results

“Enhancing and Extending the United Methodist Witness”

“Accountability for outcomes”

“Review the impact”

“Convert the assets for new development of ministries”

“Begin with Passion and Strength”

THE STRENGTH:

The reality of The United Methodist Church is well-stated in simple and plain language by the author. Further, the challenges are pictured in such a way that methods and means of the past no longer work in the 21st century context since 1968 the world has changed a lot. The denomination has not kept up to the paces of those changes but has continued to “cut and paste” without going into the roots of issues that cause decline and towards “death tsunami” as Lovett puts it. If and when chapter six becomes the priority of thirty-seven thousand congregations, The United Methodist Church will celebrate wonders and miracles in the years to come.

THE SLANT:

From my perspective, the author could have shed more light on the piece of “connecting with God.” The denomination has set that piece as a side-walk rather than the main-road. In other words, the structure has taken over the place of the Triune God who is the source of help, hope and healing at all levels. Spiritual exercises such as Means of Grace (by John Wesley) are the foundation for spiritual fitness, health and strength. At every level, I like to see a God’s gym where people’s muscles of faith are built and ministers of the gospel are equipped.

by Sam Royappa

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