Artwork for podcast Be Encouraged with Bishop Julius C. Trimble
"DON’T LOOK BACK:  Methodist Hope for  What Comes Next" with Dr. Will Willimon (Part-2)
Episode 2323rd August 2022 • Be Encouraged with Bishop Julius C. Trimble • Bishop Julius C. Trimble
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Bishop Julius C. Trimble is the Resident Bishop of the Indiana Area of the United Methodist Church.

Bishop Trimble has the personal mission to encourage all people with the love of Jesus Christ to rise to their highest potential. It is his commitment to his personal mission that led Bishop Trimble to create the “To Be Encouraged” Podcast along with co-host Rev.Dr. Brad MIller.

Bishop Trimble says, “I am compelled by Jesus to share with you an encouraging word or two about Jesus, theology, the Bible, the pandemic, the environment, racism, voting rights, human sexuality, and the state of the United Methodist Church.”

To Be Encouraged with Bishop Julius C. Trimble is to be published weekly and is available at www.tobeencouraged.com and all the podcast directories.

https://www.inumc.org/bishop/office-of-the-bishop/

Rev. Dr. Will Willimon

https://divinity.duke.edu/faculty/william-willimon

The Reverend Dr. William H. Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at the Divinity School, Duke University. He served eight years as Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he led the 157,000 Methodists and 792 pastors in North Alabama. For twenty years prior to the episcopacy, he was Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

He is the author of "DON’T LOOK BACK Methodist Hope for What Comes Next" to be released in September 2022 and is available at:

https://www.abingdonpress.com/catalog/search?term=don%27t+look+back

https://www.cokesbury.com/Dont-Look-Back-2?select=879126

Transcripts

Bishop Julius Trimble:

So I like about, like about with wheel rights is that we're, we're to be ambassadors of hope and, and I really want him to speak to that I think grace comes to play when we focus on the local church. And you know, all of these, they I really love the way you address the whole issue of a bishop out west gets elected, and that came up at one of our town hall meetings. And they started rattling off all of these things. I said, you know, what does that got to do with what's happening here in Fort Wayne? People getting shot every weekend, and you worried about something out on the west coast? So what about the local church? How why you emphasize the local church and clarity about

Brad Miller:

that, let's get clear and pragmatic a local churches.

Dr. Will Willimon:

Yeah, I think maybe I'm hoping that this, this will be a time when we rediscover the grace, the gift of the local church. One of the challenges, I guess, we've always had, and Methodism is appropriately, recognizing the power, the way that the Holy Spirit works from the bottom up, if you will, locally, the power of the local church, I know, Bishop, I realized that, you know, a lot of times in our Methodist Mormon system, it I met this former system is so it originated in mission, put somebody on a horse, keep moving west, don't stay anywhere long, keep going keep starting new congregations get out and move on. That's a beautiful vision of a church and mission. Trouble is sometimes it can lead to a neglect or distraction of the local church. So I'm hoping this will be a great time to recover the power. Our discipline says the local church is the basic source of ministry. Well, we need to reclaim that and stay focused on that and ask ourselves, what portion of Jesus Christ mission has He given to us in this neighborhood? And it's wonderful to see churches, name that and claim it, and enjoy it. Try to be church in their particular location. In fact, one of my criticisms of the Book of Discipline. And some of our thought, over the past few years, is we've tried to have kind of top down uniformity. We've got way too many rules in the Book of Discipline, directing congregations, how they should form their ministry. And is that saved to Methodist in Alabama, you know, if if Methodists in California, get a vision of mission that can help them thrive and grow into the future? We should bless them, we should say go for him. That's probably not the mission God's given us in Alabama, but glad that you've sensed your mission. And we should context you would say context matters in and this what we're talking about. Absolutely. Yeah. I gotta say, before the podcast began, Brad and I were in conversation, and Brad was telling me about how he delayed his retirement for a year because he was leaving a church and transition, what kind of transition he basically helped lead a church from being a dying downtown, great big church. That's not news. That's there's a lot of that in Methodism, but through an associate pastor and all that doing a beautiful handoff. So it can be a Spanish speaking, Methodist congregation. That's a story that I found encouraging. And that's a story that many of our churches, I'm thinking of a church now it started as a suburban church, it's all white. And yet more than they know, they need to do exactly what Brad has done. They need to figure out a way to handle their congregation, which they've loved, nurtured and sacrifice for, they need to figure out how to hand that off to a new generation of Methodist and they may speak the same language, but they need to say Methodist, they are different. And

Brad Miller:

so you are saying there is hope for congregations that we do have possibilities here you absolutely see things. So let's let's go with that even

Dr. Will Willimon:

I remember I was depressed after one of my meetings of annual conference, which I found I'm sure Bishop Trump was not like this because he's so much better person but I had sometimes I get low after annual conference and some of the poor witless debates and problems and I'll but I remember an older, wiser Bishop told me he said, If you'll try to get at our annual conference and get back, spend some time in a local church a weekend, have them tell you what they're doing what they're excited about, you'll be better. You'll be you'll feel better. And it's I think this could be a wonderful time to rediscover the the wonder that Jesus Christ works through ordinary people in ordinary places to accomplish his mission. He that he does not work top down from votes at General Conference, he works bottom up. And if we can discover that rediscover that, I think it'd be a wonderful time for us. How do you

Bishop Julius Trimble:

Yeah, I hope I want to quote wheel. He says God begins locally to say universally, I love that early on in the book in terms of when he when he when he talks about how where God's good work of God is really done. And I I resonate with that, when I go to local churches I preach or even I'm even there worshiping and see what they're doing. They're not focusing all of this schism. And, you know, you really have to go searching to find that. And if you went, if I went to 10, local churches, probably one or two of them might say this, what can you tell us what's going on? Because they're, they're focused, the healthy ones are focused on doing doing the in the church, as opposed to debating about the church. And certainly they're there. They're concerned concerned about, I really want to speak to you mentioned earlier later later in the book around, we need not only clarity at the local church, but simple accelerated decision making. I want to know what that looks like.

Dr. Will Willimon:

Yeah, well, I think the times call for supple, faster decision making. One of the difficulties is in the United methods, book discipline, as I read it, is it I love the United Methodist book, discipline, when it comes to doctrine, our theological task, I think, is one of the most amazing documents our church ever produced, produced by a couple of Duke professors. But when it comes to organization, it feels like General Motors knocking 50, the old way of doing things top down, laborious procedure, going through this committee and that committee, Lord general conference meeting for a week before General Conference gets going. And these committee meetings to turn out more rules and more legislation. And it's a terrible month for us. And I must say, I know when I got discouraged in my annual conference about how long it took to get anything done, and loping from one committee to the next now. We will have investing in local churches. I woke up realize every local church that was alive, had already done what we need to do an annual conference. And certainly the general church had to streamline themselves and reorganized. They had just the committees they needed, and no more. They didn't have to have every single thing approved and on board before they move. And I even I remember visiting in one dynamic United Methodist Church led by an amazing young woman. And one of the laypeople told me at lunch, said, You know, it's been two years since we've taken a vote in this church. And I said, What? And said, Well, you know, Sharon's against voting. She said, voting is not in the Bible. And she said, Look, we're voting goddess in the US Congress. And I said, What? And she said, when when you take a vote, there's always winners and losers. And that's not good to have in the church. Many times you're asked to take a vote on something for you know enough about it. And so she said, what we do is we have arguments and we have discussions. And then Sharon says, you know, I think we're ready to move on this. And if some of y'all are still opposed to this, we promise you, we'll evaluate it in a few months. But, but let's move and so we do. Well, I say in the book. I think the worst part about the present moment is the notion that churches should vote on anything, particularly the future the NAM donation, and I deserve our churches argue. I have arguments, listen to each other, try to learn from each other be willing to be convinced and change. But please don't vote. Because you're gonna end up hurting. Otherwise good people.

Brad Miller:

Voting is a perfectly for perfect formula for division, isn't it? And acrimony

Dr. Will Willimon:

is the perfect formula. I keep telling people, Robert's Robert's Rules of Order was not a Methodist, as far as I know, he was also English. And that's a problem for me. But come on, you know, and, and I know Methodist pastor of a large Methodist church outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, and he told his congregation, some of y'all have talked about some of the issues that are being debated and all I want our church to be a place of open debate, an argument of honest listening. And I want people to feel free and safe to express how they feel to ask for more information. I want the debate to begin now. But by the way, two conditions, you will never take a vote, we are not going to try to shut up people through voting. Number two, we will all go to the Lord's table together, no matter how fierce the argument gets. Y'all understand that? Now? Let's go. Well, I thought that's leadership. And in the Yeah. And so

Brad Miller:

having said all that, about voting, and so on, and Bishop, I want you to jump in on this too. But something I really want us to touch in for Dave try to be helpful and very pragmatic to our pastors and our leaders who are listening to this podcast today is you've mentioned in your book the best practices of transformational Methodist leaders. And I really would like you to touch on two or three of those perhaps about what can we actually do because we've described the situation about voting as least acrimony and so on. What are what what can we do to be productive?

Dr. Will Willimon:

Yeah, I interesting vision crumbles. First thing he mentioned was streamlining decision making. Having decisions made faster? I think he's absolutely that's one of the most important best practices. And also, it's interesting. You guys are talking about encouragement, and the word encouragement, as the word courage and it it is to give people courage. I think the best book on Ministry of leadership I know is Gil Randles. Quietly courageous, and I think the times call for some courage. And it is encouraging to see Methodist preachers step up and show some courage in saying, hey, people, let's keep things in perspective, let's let's talk about the hard truths of our congregation that we have been willing to face. issues of aging, issues of attendance of money, issues of our future. And I'm encouraged when people show courage to to be those kinds of quietly courageous leaders that are required in the present moment. So I'm encouraged bishops like Bishop crumble, you know, model, how you have discussions about these matters. And also try to speak truth, common sense. I know, in talking to group pastors, a couple of them said, Well, we're thinking about leaving because we're just sick and tired of debating this issue. And we win the votes at General Conference. But then we come home, and then people don't have any intention of following what General Conference said. I said, I think it's wonderful. You're losing faith in votes at General Conference. I think that's a beautiful step forward. I want to affirm that this probably can't be solved by voted General Conference. That's something we all need to hear. I think it's gonna be solved by people going back home to their local church, and being the local church that God leads them to be. And so it takes courage though some times to admit that and save those things.

Brad Miller:

Because you're tremble. I know, we've talked a lot in the past about scriptures F have informed us and Vish Wilmont and certainly a lot of Scripture Stories in his book here, let's talk between the three of us about scriptures that are really important to inform this discussion about how we do move forward. And I love that analogy of Don't look back, because we just can't do that. What are some of the scriptures that help inform us at all this trouble?

Bishop Julius Trimble:

Well, I probably have to go back to the Old Testament, I will lean so heavily on you know, whether it is what we call the walk to Emmaus, or, or some of the Paul's writings to the churches. When I think about some of the promises of God. One of my favorite scriptures is the book of Nate whom they don't one seven, the Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of trouble. And God knows those who trust in God. So I think if we trust God to be faithful, we know and our ancestors, Psalm 22, talks about this. You know, I ancestors trusted God, and they trusted God, and God was faithful, and they were not disappointed. One of the one of the stories I tell about the nanny, whom I've just said, that the vacuum, the Lord is good, a stronghold and that they have trouble and God knows those who trust in God, so that if we really trust God to be faithful, then we just ought to be encouraged. And we'll talks about this to the power with the power of the Holy Spirit to be faithful. One of the stories that really inspire me is when I remember years ago, when I was getting ready to leave Nigeria, and talking with the pastors, and I said, How are you starting churches, and you don't have a congregation and Development Committee, you don't have any grants. But you go out on these rural areas, build dig a whale and start a church. And here's what they said bread, they say, we speak the name of Jesus, and we expect something to happen. So those of you in the West, you know, you, you kind of preach these nice sermons, but you're not expecting anything to happen. So I think what what is needed is not only courage, but enthusiasm, and enthusiasm for honesty as much as we want unity. Remember, Philip Gulley, the Quaker who came to our conference some years ago, and talked about the importance of honesty, even more so than unity. But I'm encouraged because Jesus promises in the Great Commission, I will be with you always. So stay faithful.

Brad Miller:

The title of his book is called Don't look back, which implica implicate implies that many of us have looked back in the past, and we have an aesthetic field about what things used to be, and that's part of our grief, and that that type of thing. And then we can look forward. So Vish Wilmont. I'd like to speak if you can't do some of the scriptures that do help us with this whole scene you have now about not looking back, looking forward, what are some of the ways that Jesus some of the other scriptures, inform us about that?

Dr. Will Willimon:

One thing is informed me is the realization that in intra church conflict, intra congregational conflict ain't nothing new. In fact, by my estimate, half of all the content, the letters of Paul deal with church fights, arguments, Paul didn't usually tell us what they're arguing about, or why he's having to correct people or why he's having to say, please think about it this way, rethink this, but I kind of find that encouraging that the church is never been united, and on the same page, and I ascribe that to Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ keeps calling people to his kingdom, who are not like me. And a lot of them I don't even like, careful for, I wouldn't call them five min during the call. That's just between us. I don't want that repeat at the end. You know, it makes for a kind of messy, contentious, sometimes unwieldly, but oftentimes, surprisingly, unified movement. But scriptures that come to my mind, I'm interested in Easter stories, where people were despondent and hopeless, like on the way to Emmaus, and the stranger shows up and they do Bible study. But still, they don't get the point. Only when they broke bread together. There were their eyes opened, and they saw it was the Lord. And they said to one another, hey, this movement isn't ending. It's just beginning. Hey, we thought we were at a dead end. No, we're not. And the I'm preparing for some preaching in the fall. And I'm looking at Philippians four, and my texts was Rejoice in the Lord always. Okay, well, I'll look at it in context and Paul says that rejoice and Lord always I say rejoice. He says that right after he calls out by name to Christians in the congregation at Philippi Euodia and cinta K. And he says to them Conlogue attai agree with one another, be reconciled. Darn it. I wonder you be reconciled. And I thought, wow. If Paul writing a letter to us now, I wonder if he'd say, hey unstandard some disagreements, understand these two key thoughtful leaders squared off with each other. I'm telling you be reconcile.

Brad Miller:

And you reconcile.

Dr. Will Willimon:

Educate says, Well, I'm sorry. We have irreconcilable differences. And then Paul says, I'm sorry, in Jesus Christ, there ain't no irreconcilable differences. He's he is the Reconciler. That's all he does. So there is a lot of Scripture. And maybe there's a lot of scripture that I find helpful because the church this think the first time the church has been in a situation of conflict, and division, and separation.

Brad Miller:

Well, I want to give you one more word and then Bishop always give visual of the last word on his be encouraged podcast, but the last where we almost always like to talk about Bishop and bishop is what is encouraging right now. And you're the subtitle of your book is Methodist hope for what comes next. So, so Well, a word or two, I know you were to give us hope has been about this. But what is an encouraging word that a local clergy, clergy or local layperson can hang on to today about what's next, and encouraging.

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