I'm not from Missouri, but I was pointed toward a blog entry by Tony Jones about a day he spent there speaking to United Methodist pastors. Since I wasn't there I don't know what was really said, but I found the blog entry and especially the comments really interesting. Some thoughts from the conversation:
1. I'm not sure it was a good idea for Tony to tell the pastors not to do something that the Bishop has told them to do. It seems to me that one of the "emergent" values is to allow people to be different from each other and think differently from each other. Different ecclesiologies and practices are fine. So in the UMC, if we want to have Bishops who give us instructions then let them give us instructions and we'll follow.
2. Like Bishop Schnase, I'm a "numbers guy". Like many commenters, though, I wonder whether we're getting the right numbers. Before we start collecting data we have to ask ourselves what the purpose of the data is. Why do we need to measure attendance? I think there are some good reasons. Why do we need to divide out on form 3 giving to the church from pledgers, identified givers who weren't pledgers, and unidentified givers? This one I can't figure out a good reason for.
3. The bottom line question should be what do we need to measure to determine if we are fulfilling the purpose of the Church, defined by the UMC as to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world? I think things like attendance start pointing that direction, but I think we desperately need a new metric for determining whether we are successful.