Skip to main content

Brian McLaren at the Change the World Conference

Brian McLaren

He had a group of pastors make a list of their big concerns. They listed people disagreeing over worship styles and conflicts in the church. Then he had a list of teens & young adults list their big concerns. After he pushed them beyond zits and dating, they said poverty, healthcare and peace. How do we get pastors to care more about that?

Four Global Crises

1. Our prosperity system can’t stop growing beyond environmental limits, resulting in multi-faceted environmental crisis. (government can’t get us out…will require a change in human behavior)
2. Our equity system can’t keep pace with the growing gap between the rich minority and the poor majority, resulting in suffering and fear.
3. Our security arms rich and poor with more catastrophic weapons, resulting in vicious cycles of crime, migration, terrorism and anti-terrorism.
4. Our World’s Religions are failing to provide a framing story capable of healing the societal machine.

The middle class in the US today lives better than the richest king in the world 300 years ago.

We consume more prosperity than we produce.

A baby in Dayton, Ohio goes home this week and is given 35 extra years. A baby in Honduras goes home and has 35 years taken away.

Bono: Where you live shouldn't determine if you live.

Immigration issues look different when you're holding your baby and crossing the border to give them a longer life.

We each live in some kind of narrative.

1. Domination Narrative: in a dangerous world, we're not safe unless we're in control
2. Revolution Narrative: we're not safe as long as they're in control
3. Scapegoat Narrative: everything would be fine if it weren't for them
4. Isolation Narrative: those three are going to destroy everything, we're the hope, we'll go off by ourselves & create our own world
5. Victimization Narrative: there's no hope unless we get everyone to feel sorry for us so they'll stop treating us badly
6. Accumulation Narrative: the only way to be safe is to have a lot of money and possessions
The Roman Empire was tolerant of other religions, but not of new kingdoms. Jesus proposed a new kingdom.

Heaven is supposed to come down and we're writing books about how to go up.

Equity, security & prosperity come through a sacrificial people who embody reconciliation and bring peace through justice and love.


Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

Why I stay in the United Methodist Church

We can't ignore the numbers. The United Methodist Church is in decline. Many ask, "Why do you stay? Denominations are useless these days."

But I face that reality with overwhelming hope and excitement. I see the Holy Spirit weaving its way through our current & new leadership in ways I've only dreamed of. A couple years ago, I thought about leaving. But I decided to ask some hard questions about why we're in decline. And that journey to the heart of the United Methodist movement has lit a fire in me to see it renewed.

Why I Stay...

1. Our faith is active. We get our hands and hearts dirty in service & relationships.
2. Every United Methodist church is connected through a network of gatherings, prayer, service, money, agencies and leadership. I would never want to serve in building God's kingdom by myself.
3. I see God changing hearts and lives every. single. day.
4. I am fascinated by our founder who's only intention was to create a renewal movement ins…