This site used to be the place for responding to my Tuesday Column... that is before Facebook took over that function. My columns are now published on my Facebook page and that is where readers respond.  The Facbook page is https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=161502633
--Keith Drury


Bit Market

Bit Market -- "There's no market for drill bits -- the market is for holes."

In management circles the story is told of the new CEO who took over a 100 year old company that had manufactured drill bits but had been floundering for a decade. The old vice president for marketing, wanting to impress the new chief brought to their first meeting elaborate color charts illustrating the "bit Market" -- detailing the total market for bits, and the company's market share of the "bit market."

When the detailed presentation finally ended, all eyes turned to the new CEO who changed the mind set of the company with one dismissive comment: "There is no market for bits...” –there were audible gasps around the table followed by long pause, then the new CEO finished, “the market is for holes." Pausing a few moments for the thought to sink in, then the CEO stood to his feet and dismissed the meeting.

As a result of that single meeting, and the dramatic way the new CEO introduced a different style of thinking. From then on the company would look for "ways to make holes" not for how to better manufacture drill bits. The customer needs drill bits only so long as bits are the best way to make holes. The moment a laser device arrives which makes a hole better, cleaner, safer, and cheaper, drills bits will go the way of the horse and carriage. It is focusing on the ends not the means.

"The market is for holes" applies to churches too, (which often think like 100 year old companies). Face it, there's absolutely no "market" for Sunday school, morning services, Sunday night carry-in dinners, Tuesday evening calling programs, or Habitat for Humanity. The market is for the holes: discipleship, worship, fellowship, evangelism, service. As soon as a new program makes a better "hole" than Sunday school we should unleash it to accomplish discipleship. When someone invents a better way to have collective worship we can dump the Sunday morning service. Same with fellowship, evangelism and service.

But what is instructive about this model is how it causes us to ask of everything we do, "What is the hole?" And, "Is there a better way to make it?" "Bit market" calls us to examine everything we do to state its purpose, and ask if there is a better way to do it.

So what about "pastoral calling?" Church offices? Church bulletins? Midweek mailers? Sunday night service? Pulpits? Overhead-screens-in-worship? Pioneer clubs? Praise bands? Youth groups? Youth conventions? Choirs? Camps and retreats? Altar calls? And a hundred other "bits" of the church?
So what do you think? What "bits" are we still trying to sell where there are better ways to make the holes?

So, what do you think?

Responses to this column are welcome at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633

Keith Drury January 3, 2012

Original 1984 recording: http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/strategetics/leadership/33.mp3


Duck Hunting

Duck Hunting
"You don't have to get all the ducks to have a good hunt.
It's obvious to anyone who ever spent a day crouched in a duck blind: You don't have to get all the ducks to have a good hunt. A returning hunter focuses on what they bagged, not what they missed. A good duck hunter might miss dozens of ducks and still bag "the limit." Duck hunters who focus too much on those missed won't last long in the sport. With just one shotgun, and scores of ducks flying, you are bound to miss plenty even when you’ve had a great day. Leaders have to be careful of focusing on "missed ducks." No leader gets all the ducks. Neither do golfers, or quarterbacks, or ministers.
Some pastors come home from church every Sunday and start that depressing game of tallying who was missing with their spouse. They are focusing on "missed ducks." Brooding about people who didn’t show up, who missed the announcement, didn’t pledge to the capital campaign, or didn't vote for renewing your pastoral call are missed ducks.
Leaders focus on the ducks they bag, not those missed. Jesus was such a leader. He missed the rich young ruler. He missed most of the people in Nazareth. Even after being with him three years he missed keeping Judas. In fact Jesus once saw more than 5,000 people abandon him in one service—missed ducks. But Jesus focused on those he kept. And He built a church which was unconquerable by the gates of Hell with the ducks He bagged. He even told a story to correct the perspective of people too concerned about the ducks they were missing—it was about a sower and seeds and different kinds of soil. Different story, same truth.
So, what do you think?
Responses to this column are welcome at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633
Keith Drury December 20, 2011


Committee Color

Committee Color

Committees usually pick beige

Generally any wall color decided by a committee will be beige or some other off-white color. Committees are like that. They seldom pick orange. They're too reasonable. They're safe. They often search for the lowest common denominator, the decision which alienates the least number of people. Want something passionate edgy or creative? Ask one person to do it. Want something safe and non-irritating -- name a committee.

Committees provide a governor of sort on the fast-driving edgy people, including speeding pastors. Committess can boulster weak leaders sometimes, but they’re better at throttling strong leaders. Committees moderate extreme ideas, calm down passion, slow down the decision-making process. They protect against excesses. Their decisions are usually the least-criticizable and most traditional middle ground. But they also provide ownership (at least for those on the committee), participatory democracy, and a group to blame for bad decisions. But most of all, they are safe.

If you want safety, name a committee. But if you want something orange, assign it to an individual. So what are some other reasons for naming committees vs. individuals.
So, what do you think?
Responses to this column are welcome at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633
Keith Drury December 13, 2011


#3 Pencil Principle

#3 Pencil Principle
“Make something hard enough for people and they usually won't do it”

A great story is told in industry circles about the 1950's controller bent on saving money for his accounting firm. This was back before computers when accountants “kept books” with pencils. The penny pinching controller commanded all pencils purchased by the firm must be #3 pencils, forbidding the purchase of the softer #2 pencils. He carefully calculated that the harder lead in the #3 pencils would last almost three times as long.

The result? Instead of the #3 pencils lasting three times as long, they lasted twenty times as long. Pencil purchases almost dropped to zero. What had happened?  Sensible accountants refused to use the hard #3 pencils (virtually impossible to erase). They simply brought from home their own soft and easily erasable #2 pencils.

The point? Make something hard enough for people and they usually won't do it. Policies and practices which account for this human trait are smarter than those which ignore it. Want people to sign up for bringing VBS cookies? Then don't say, "If you'd be willing to bring cookies for VBS see Vivian Jones after the service this morning." That's a pure #3 pencil statement—making it hard for people to do something.  If I'm willing to bring cookies I have to (a) know which woman is Vivian ; (b) remember to see her after church; (c) find Vivian; (d) offer to bake cookies; (e)and arrange to deliver them wherever. Why make it so hard for me to make cookies for VBS? Don't you want me to make cookies?

However, the #3 Pencil Principle works both ways.  It also reminds us how to discourage people from doing something without issuing an outright ban. (Parents of teens—alert.)  Policies seldom have to forbid a thing outright—just make it difficult and most people won't do it. This, after all is what rebates are all about, right? You can ten dollars back, but will you?  Most don't.

The #3 pencil principle: Most people won’t do things if you make it hard for them, so make it hard for them to do what you really don’t want them to do… and visa versa -- make it easy for people to do what you want them to do.

So, what do you think?

Responses to this column are welcome at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633

Keith Drury December 6, 2011

Original 1984 recording: http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/strategetics/leadership/36.mp3


I Follow Politics like Some Follow Sports

I follow political campaigns like other men follow football. I guess is my “couch sport”—a rough physical sport I watch from the safety of my own couch. I’ve watched two football games so far this season. I’ve seen 10 of 11 Republican debates. This all started early. My first political campaign was in 1952-1953, as seven-year old boy I went door to door to make sure Dwight Eisenhower was not beaten by the godless Unitarian, Adlai Stevenson. I caught enough from church folk to understand that the fate of the country was hanging in the balance. I must have been effective—Ike won in a landslide. I was so excited by this that I taped the front page of the newspaper on my coat and went to school expecting everyone else to celebrate. In the school yard I met my first Democrat who not-very-tenderly tore the celebratory newspaper off my coat. After that I was quieter in promoting candidates, but continued throughout childhood to listen to and watch political news like my dad watched baseball.

I went to college in the 60’s when most students were against the Viet Nam war. Not in my college. One Christmas we were intent on attracting the attention of the national news media with our Christmas manger scene. While other young people were burning their draft cards and shouting “Hell no, we won’t go” we intended to show an alternative political view from our college. We conceived (with a bit of help from the administration) an outdoor manger scene in a triptych layout. In the center was the traditional manger scene complete with a sheep and Mary and Joseph. On the left we raised a large cross representing Christ’s death. Then on the right we hauled in a panel truck and turned it into an Army ambulance complete with mud and blood. In front of the left and right scenes we painted in large letters, “As He died to make men holy…. Let us die to make men free.” The point was simple: As Jesus died on the cross we young folk should give our lives for freedom in Viet Nam. Our Christmas political statement never made national news, but we made a statement to our neighborhood in Allentown, PA.

So I have consistently been interested in political races, like others are interested in horse races or football. I know, I know, most folk think this is a waste of time and I agree that it is pure entertainment. While other men (and some women too) remember great football plays from the past, I remember great lines in political debates. I get a grin on my face when I remember Lloyd Bentsen’s 100 yard dash into the end zone with 3 second left on the clock with his: “I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.” Or, one of the best scrambling touchdown passes ever was during the New Hampshire primary debate when Reagan tossed out, "I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green.” Reagan also did one of the very best prepared plays too. When the 73 year-old Reagan ran for reelection against Walter Mondale he was asked about his age and retorted, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

I have just as much fun remembering great fumbles that were game-changers, though always with a bit of sympathy for the players. In 1976 Jerry Ford produced one of the greatest turnovers in history with, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.” (This was long before the Berlin Wall came down.) In 2000 most everyone expected Al Gore to beat George Bush. But Gore acted like a smarty pants letting out audible and exaggerated {sighs} {sighs} as if he was too smart to have put up with a C student like Bush. All C students and everyone who had a smarty-pants in their own family or at their job switched their vote and Bush won. Big fumble.

This year’s debates have offered a few good plays and fumbles too. Romney hit Jon Huntsman with, “You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking. And I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you have got to let both people speak. So first, let me speak." When Huntsman was asked about Cain’s 9-9-9 he said, "I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard it." Rick Perry tossed a zinger into Romney’s backfield with, "I think Americans just don't know sometimes which Mitt Romney they're dealing with. ... We'll wait until tomorrow and see which Mitt Romney we're talking to tonight."

This year’s debates have offered great fumbles too. A memorable uncompleted pass by Rick Perry: “The third one, I can’t, I’m sorry, oops.” Or quarterback Herman Cain got sacked when he called Wolf Blitzer “Blitz.” Even Mitt Romney (who usually plays a boring/safe game) fumbled with, "I'm Mitt Romney, and yes, Wolf, that's also my first name." (Oops, Mitt’s first name is actually Willard.)

So when ordinary guys are talking about the playoffs and Super Bowl, I am mostly thinking of a longer season… the political season that started last summer and extends until November 2012. But, like most sports fans, I really don’t take it too seriously. Indeed, I think that’s one thing sports and politics have in common: who wins and loses makes a little difference… but not much.

So, what do you think?
The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633

Keith Drury November 29, 2011


Why Wesleyans Should Merge with the Nazarenes

Last Spring I wrote a column on why Nazarenes should merge with Wesleyans, which made GSs in both denominations jumpy. Now the companion piece: Why Wesleyans ought to merge with the Nazarenes.
1. Bigger is better. Nazarenes have about 3-4 times as many people attending church in North America as Wesleyans, and even more than that overseas. We boomers all believe bigger is better, so joining the Nazarenes would make both denominations bigger… and thus better.
2. Leadership. Wesleyan sometimes complain that their DSs lacks “vision” or “leadership” and serve too much like a office manager or bookkeeper. Nazarenes have their very best leaders in the DS and GS spots and they give them the power to lead. We boomers who want a strong DS would be thrilled with the Nazarene DSs.
3. Higher Education. It is simple: Nazarenes have the single best denominational educational system in the world.
4. Kansas City. Isn’t it obvious that Kansas City is a superior location for a North American denomination’s headquarters than Indianapolis.
5. Camp Meetings. If you like camp meetings, then you would want to merge with Nazarenes before summer—they have the best denominational camp meetings in North America today.
6. Missions. Nazarenes have incredibly strong mission fields, excellent overseas colleges, and the two denominations’ missions fields blend nicely without too much overlap.
7. Nazarene Publishing House. While all publishing houses are suffering, and many denominational publishing houses are collapsing, the NPH is still afloat and even publishes curriculum!
8. Holiness. None of the former holiness denominations have done well at keeping the idea of entire sanctification alive, but the Nazarenes have done more to keep the idea alive than any other denomination; if you like holiness you gotta’ like Nazarenes.
9. Restitution for Rees. At the time it seemed like the Nazarenes were heavy-handed and out of bounds in excommunicating Pilgrim Seth Cook Rees from their denomination, but I have no doubt that virtually all Wesleyans today would side with the School and the DS.
10. Self esteem. Wesleyans are a humble lot and not very good at thinking they’re good, but I’ve never met a Nazarene without an abundance of denominational self confidence. A dose of that denominational self-esteem would do Wesleyans good.
Of course such a merger is not imminent. Mergers take time. It took about 40 years of talking and dating before Wesleyan Methodists and the Pilgrim Holiness finally merged. It could take longer for a Nazarene-Wesleyan merger. But who knows when…?
So, this week I’ll be thinking of the reasons to merge with Nazarenes…
So, what do you think?
The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633

Keith Drury November 22, 2011


What would you name your denomination?

What would you name your Denomination?
Organizations and denominations have recently been in the mood for changing their name. A bunch of colleges have renamed themselves “university” though they still function mostly as colleges.
The Southern Baptists are debating dropping the word “Southern” since so many of their churches aren’t in the south. (I wonder if they’ll keep “Baptist.”)
The International Bible society traded that name for “Biblica.” Is that clearer?
Of course the Oriental Missionary Society can’t say “Oriental” any more so they are now “One Mission Society.”
The YMCA has moved beyond being just for Young Men and maybe also drifted away from being Christian and an Association, so they are now just the Y.
 The most recent name change is by Campus Crusade for Christ. Their ministry is no longer just on Campuses, the word Crusade is repugnant to Islam, and “for Christ” is a bit too hard-sell for many who now prefer a softer approach—so their new name is simply “Cru.” Most denominations and organizations go through a series of name changes through their lifetimes. This latest spate comes mostly from “Branding studies” where you hire expensive consultants to help you “re-brand” your product.
 So, what would you rename your denomination if you had that power? Why do denominations (or local churches) need to sometimes change their names? And, while we’re at it what would you rename your local church if you could name it anything?
 That’s what I’ll be thinking about this week.
So, what do you think?
The discussion of this column is on

Keith Drury
November 15, 2011


How to save on college costs

Seven Tips that could save you $50,000 or more

Last week we failed to meet Rick Perry’s challenge to design a $10,000 college degree, so this week, my back-up plan is to give some insider secrets on saving costs on college. These are the tips college professors sometimes tell their friends and parents.  I’ve given these tips often in the last 16 years of teaching. (Just for the record, the sticker price for an average Bachelor’s degree at a Christian college is about $120,000—about $30,000 a year, though the vast majority of students pay far less than this sticker price.) Here’s what we insiders often tell our friends and parents about saving $50,000 or more on college costs.

1. Get a college job yourself.
The biggest way to save on college costs is when dad or mom (or husband/wife) gets a job at the college. Most colleges offer steep discounts (some totally free tuition—an $80,000 discount!) to faculty and other employees as part of the salary package. Colleges figure they can get better qualified people and pay them less by offering this benefit.  But don’t take it for granted. Check several years before your child is a senior (with the college’s HR office) to see what the policy is. Some colleges limit this benefit to certain positions and others phase it in over several years. However, if you can land a job fulfilling your calling and training, and you’re willing to move, this is the greatest way to save money on your children’s college costs.

2. Teach your student to get A’s.
The next best way is grades.  The college aid system is rigged. But it isn’t rigged like most people think (in favor of the poor). It is rigged in favor of the smart. Starting in elementary school, spend an hour a day helping your kids earn A’s in school. Get them into the habit of expecting A’s and working for them. Then by high school when you can’t do as much, they’ll be in the habit. When such a student takes the SAT or ACT they will likely excel too. (If they don’t, help them retake the test.)  Colleges give out millions of dollars in aid and lots if it goes to smart students. (The college where I teach doles out nine million dollars every year!)  A lot of that money goes to smart students—called an “academic scholarship” which is usually based on high school grades and/or SAT/ACT score. For instance, at my college a student with a 3.9 GPA in high school and a SAT/ACT score of 1280/20 can get up to $8000 a year—a $32,000 discount off the sticker price and that’s just the academic scholarship; there are others too. But even if your kid isn’t a 3.9 there are lesser scholarships for less stellar grades and scores.  The extra hour a day you invest with your child starting in fourth grade might be the most highly paid hour of your family income! High grades equals good scholarships.

3. Bank college credit while still in high school.
Besides high school “advanced placement” courses, most colleges also offer credits-in-escrow programs. This means a student still in high school can take a college course in the summer, or online and the credits for that course are waiting for them when they enter college.  Teens might whine about giving up their time for this, but when parents do the raw math they simply insist.  A course like this might cost a couple hundred dollars, an 80% or more discount compared to a full blown college course. Sometimes these courses cost nothing at all—saving thousands per course. This tip alone can save your family $5,000-$10,000 or even as much as the cost of an entire semester.

4. CLEP courses.
The College-Level Examination Program offered by the College Board folk is a way to earn college credit by simply taking a test, usually for a “general education” requirement. If your student already knows a subject why should they have to take another course on it? (I could answer that, but this column is about money, not learning.) The CLEP test costs about $100 and a score of usually 51% will earn your student three hours college credit. It might cost another $100 to transfer the credit to the college’s books, but for maybe $200 the student get three hours credit, 80% or more discount on the regular cost. If your student earned an A in high school algebra they probably can get 51% on the college algebra test. I know clever students who CLEPed 30 hours of credit—all their electives and some Gen Ed and saved $30,000 (one full year of college) by simply taking tests.  Ironically the smarter students CLEP more (see #1 above) so “the rich get richer” when it comes to smart students. (Average students, lazy students and poor students always pay the most for college.) There is one hitch however. While you can CLEP for electives, only certain CLEP tests count for certain required General Education courses. Get the sheet from your college while your student is still in high school so you know which CLEP test counts for which required college course.

5. Take summer classes.
Starting the summer after high school begin taking courses and do it in the college summers too. You can take summer courses at your own college, at a nearby junior college or online. This is a giant money-saver but you have to work to make it happen. If a student pays attention and takes classes in the summer they can save thousands more. Even online courses from their own college can be half price in the summers.  It is like clipping coupons—a little work can save a bundle. However, do the work. Find out from your college’s records office or Registrar what courses would count as a course required at that college. All courses are not equivalent. Most any course from an accredited school might count as an elective, but your college might not accept a community college’s “British history” course to meet their own requirement for “American history.”  Check first. Of course summer school trades-off the enriching experience of a summer internship or hitchhiking through Europe, but this column is not about enriching experiences; it is about saving money. Of course if you can afford the full price of college hitchhike through Europe next summer for sure!

6. Apply for other scholarships.
The cruise ship ethos at most college campuses works against doing most of the above. Taking a CLEP test means studying for several hours, signing up for the test, and setting apart the time to leave the coffee shop to take the test. Most students say they are just too busy to do this. So they float down the river of nonchalance and casually sign up for more debt each year. If you want to do your student a big favor, get more involved in their decisions on these things and hold them accountable for doing it. For example, every year the School of Theology at the college where I teach awards several hundred thousand dollars worth of scholarships.  Many of these scholarships are for specific kinds of students like “a student majoring in pastoral ministry who is from north Michigan” or a “woman headed to seminary after graduation.” There is no way we could remember all these details for 400 students so we ask them. We send an email asking them to take 10 minutes to fill out a simple survey giving details about themselves so we can match up the hundreds of thousands of dollars to the deserving students. Guess what.  More than a hundred of our students never fill out the forms and get nothing. There are all kinds of other scholarships that take a bit of work to get, especially for students preparing for ministry or missionary work. For instance my school has stunningly generous scholarships for Wesleyan Juniors and Seniors headed for ordination—yet some students never get around to signing up with their district as a ministerial student and miss out on these scholarships. Parents who care about the debt load for their children can’t let thousands of dollars get lost just because their son or daughter feels they are too busy. In general, students need a coach to prod them through this process, and a parent is a good coach.

7. Be nimble for the coming changes
All of the above advice is current—it can save you $50,000 or more right now on a college degree. But it will get better in the future—if you keep your eyes open. Education is facing major changes in the future that will benefit families financially. For instance, the federal government went to bat last week for parents by forcing all colleges (by 10/29/2011) to provide a “net price calculator” on their web sites. Most schools have complied, though it may take 23 clicks to get there. And to boot, the government now posts costs, aid and averages for each college at http://nces.ed.gov/COLLEGENAVIGATOR/ . Just type in the name of the college and you can find all kinds of information on colleges including what they give in scholarships and the average scholarships and loans per student.  But even bigger changes are in the wind. If you are nimble and stay aware your student could save thousands more.  For instance, in the not-too-distant future many colleges will offer their first two years of “General Education” online—often at a tuition discount of half or more. In the future your son or daughter might move to the actual college campus with two years of “Gen Ed” already under their belt. They’ll have only two more years to go—their upper level or “major” courses. This is a loss of the campus environment that is so important for Christian colleges especially, so it will mean that local churches will have to step with more for 18-20 year olds. But there’s an even bigger change coming than this: an expected Master’s degree.  College is the new high school—the minimum requirement to get a basic job.  A Master’s degree is the new college—the minimum expectation for entering a profession. You may refuse to believe this if you want, but you’ll do so at your own risk, (or more properly your children’s risk.)  But here’s the good news: Using the above advice many students will have a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in just four years. Better yet, in some institutions a Master’s tuition is only half the undergrad tuition (again, no amenities). Once the “online gen ed revolution” happens, your student will move to college as a Junior, stay there only three years and they’ll walk away with a Master’s degree that costs them about half as much as a four-year-on-campus Bachelor’s degree costs now. 

Your excellent feedback last week triggered these thoughts. So, this is what I’m thinking about this week. Got anything to add? Parents of middle schoolers are freaking out about college costs. But it isn’t as bad as they imagine. It just takes some coupon-clipping kind of work to save $50,000 or more on the cost of college.

That’s what I’ll be thinking about this week.

So, what do you think?

The discussion of this column is on
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633 
Keith Drury November 8, 2011


Wanna’ start a $10,000 College Degree?

Want to go in with me and start a college? We’ve been asked to do this, you know. Presidential candidate Rick Perry issued a challenge to educators to make a Bachelor’s degree that costs $10,000 (books included). He sees no reason why college costs can’t be lowered to $2500 per year. Want to take him on his challenge? You can be the President—I’ll be your assistant. I’ve spent the last 16 years in higher education so let me rough out some numbers on our new college degree for $10,000. (If we succeed maybe Perry will put us in charge of fixing the whole US budget problem when he gets elected President!) So, here’s my first figuring on how we could produce Rick Perry’s $10,000 college degree:
1. ELIMINATE room and board. Our first is to cut out living on campus which eliminates all room and board. Anyone who has teenagers knows you can’t buy a student’s food, hire someone to cook it, someone else to wash their dishes and clean up their tables after them, and at the same time pay for a building to do it in for nine months -- for only $2500 per student. And if we could, we can’t spend the whole amount on food, let alone room, and heating and air conditioning. In our college students will have to stay home where mom and dad can cover these costs. We can sell our campus—though if this idea catches on there won’t be much market for actual campus’.
2. CANCEL CAMPUS LIFE. Since nobody will be living on campus there is little need for other expensive things like athletics, library, or activities directors, or resident mentors, or chaplains, or counselors, or student advisors, or a health center, or the cleaning lady who takes out trash and picks up after them in the lounges. Their parents can do these things at home.
3. CUT ALL FULL-TIME PROFESSORS. We won’t be able to have any full time professors either for a $10,000 degree. We’ll use “adjuncts” to supervise the online curriculum-in-a-box that will all be pre-written. If students have questions about life, or physics or faith they can ask their parents or pastor or friends. For a $10,000 degree we’ll have to focus on just the degree, not things like mentoring or chapel.
4. FIRE ALL administrators. With nobody living on campus, and no full-time professors, and no actual physical campus, what would we need administrators for? The only administrators we’ll need is you (the President) and me (your assistant). All we need to administer is the writing of the curriculum-in-a-box—you and I can put the curriculum online ourselves.
Why am I eliminating so many things? Because we only have $2500 a year and we’ve got to pay the part-time adjunct teachers. Here is my first figuring: Let’s say our proverbial adjunct spends 15 minutes per student per week reading, responding and grading the student’s work. That totals for the entire year (five courses X 15 weeks X two semesters) a total of about 750 adjunct hours a year per student. Whoops, this isn’t working. Since the student only pays $2500 a year, if we used the whole $2500 for adjunct pay the adjunct would only get $6.66 per hour, less than minimum pay. And there’d be nothing left to develop the curriculum or pay for the servers, or pay you as the President.  
Well, I’m not up to Rick Perry’s challenge. Maybe Rick has a secret plan? Or maybe I’m missing something. You got a better idea? Can you design a $10,000 Bachelor’s degree? If so, you should be President… not of our college, but of the country!
That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week.
So, what do you think?
The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633
Keith Drury October 25, 2011


What do we do with an “unneeded generation?”

Our economy faces a growing problem with the younger generation – we simply don’t need them. Even jobs for graduating seniors from college are drying up, let alone jobs those who didn’t go to college.  I think this is not a temporary situation that can be solved by a President or congress—I think it is “the new normal” for most of the next decade. 

As for manufacturing jobs—they’re never coming back.  Its not just china’s low wages. American manufacturing has simply become so efficient it doesn’t need workers, as any program of the science channel’s “How its made” illustrates. These companies are not going to fire their robots an replace them with young employees who need health care.  The mortgage and banking crisis gave companies an excuse to lay off excess workers they really didn’t need anyway. And they slowed down new hiring, as they became more efficient even in  non-manufacturing work too—when is the last time you used a bank teller, or dictated a letter for a “secretary” to type?

It has happened in the church too. Jobs are out there but they are fewer and the competition is more fierce. Many churches have followed the lead of business. They have become more efficient. They have eliminated some jobs altogether, recruiting lay volunteers to do what they used to hire a staff minister to do. Others have hired their own laity as part or full time staffers–often laity who sensed a call when they became unemployed themselves. Other churches have chosen not to replace staffers who left the church determining “we didn’t really need that ministry anyway, after all we don’t get much back from it” (this is especially true for young adult ministers). It isn’t because the church can’t afford it—church giving is not down in most cases—it is because of the general climate of belt-tightening and economic fear. Churches don’t want to hire somebody then turn around and have to lay them off six months later. The result has been we now have a whole “unneeded generation.”

This tightening job market for ministerial students has beer exacerbated by boomers reaching retirement age who feel they can’t retire. Some boomers simply didn’t save enough for retirement. But even those who did are fearful that their economic future is tentative due to talk about potential cuts in Social Security and Medicare. They did their pencil work and could retire now, but who knows what they’ll lose in the future when “everything comes tumbling down.” So many healthy boomers are quietly deciding to stay on “until they’re 70 or more” when they hope things will stabilize. Usually the retiring generation makes space for the middle aged ministers who move up into the vacated jobs which then makes space for the younger generation. This process will be clogged at the top in the coming decade due to economics.

All this brings us new challenge in the church, and for people like me who work with this largely unneeded generation.  Sure, some graduates still get full time jobs, but the demand of jobs is smaller than the supply of seniors.  I wrote last spring about the resulting “sale on Seniors”  and how “the unneeded generation” is coping with this. They are biding their time figuring the “clog at the top” will eventually unclog in a decade or so. What’s a graduating senior ministerial student  supposed to do when they are mostly unneeded? What would YOU tell these seniors this coming spring?

Here’s what I say:  Take an internship or go to seminary so you’re better prepared to compete when the jobs do come back in a decade. Work part time in a church and the rest of the time at Starbucks and pay off your debt in eight years so you’ll be debt-free and 30 years old when you land your first full time ministry job. Go overseas for a few years on the cheap and get some global ministry experience. Plant a church on your own—don’t expect any financial help but figure out how to start a church small and cheap and reinvent the small church again. And as a last resort, I even sometimes recommend moving back in with mom and dad.

So, what do you think?  What are the unintended consequences of having an unneeded generation? What might actually be good about this situation?  Bad? How does it feel to be an unneeded? If we in the church don’t need this generation for jobs, what else do we need them for? Certainly we don’t want to simply tell them they are completely unneeded? 

That’s what I’m thinking about this week.
So, what do you think?
The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633
Keith Drury October 25, 2011


Changing Missions ( 10/16/2011 Tuesday Column)

Sometimes I’m tempted to think the most radical church changes in the last 30 years have been in worship but I think more changes may have happened in missions. Here are the changes I’ve seen in the last 30 years, since 1980.

1. Collapse of the “just-send-us-your-money-and-trust-us” mission boards.
Before the 1980s most missions boards simply raised money for missions. Churches gave their money and the missions boards spent it sending out the best missionaries they could find. This was virtually the only way denominations raised missions money. Churches had annual missionary conferences and raised “self-denial offerings” and sent bucketfuls of undesignated money to their denominational office to spend the best way possible. When missionaries did “deputation” they told specific stories about their field but the offerings went into the general pot to support all missionaries everywhere. This model has just about collapsed everywhere with a few notable exceptions (Nazarenes?).

2. Growth of missionaries raising their own support.
The trouble with the first model for denominations was that eventually an independent missionary showed up on the church’s doorstep and said, “Please support me—I am not like denominational missionaries who get paid out of a common pot—if I don’t raise my support I can’t go to the field.” Lots (and lots) of churches bought this pitch and began funneling support to these “faith missionaries”–especially if they were related to someone in the church. Denominations and boards with method number 1 were simply forced to switch to individual missionaries raising their own support or they couldn’t compete. Some worried that there would be some really good missionaries who might be poor fund-raisers, or (worse) there’d be some really bad missionaries who could raise lots of money, but most denominational missions agencies in the 1980s or 90s succumbed to this individual support-raising system. Now everyone is out there raising support on the same basis—“help me or I can’t go.”

3. Merger of home missions and foreign missions.
Even if denominations didn’t actually merge these two missions departments, local churches merged them. Churches dropped the “s” from missions and offered a single mission pot. The mission now included everything over the ocean, over the state line, and across the street. A church might still recruit a high powered missionary to give the sermon on faith promise Sunday but when the money came in, it went to the local Christian radio station, the town’s crisis pregnancy center, the city mission, Habitat for Humanity, church planting in the district, supporting local students at college, along with supporting foreign missionaries. To get a local church’s support missionaries had to “apply” for it through a committee like they were applying for a grant. Missionaries started recruiting money person-by-person at this stage, and eventually facebook and email began replacing church-to-church visits.

4. Preference for short term.
In the earlier stages above, almost all missionary money was channeled into long term projects—like paying actual missionary support to a person who would move to country for a few decades and learn the language. Increasingly many churches considered these missionaries “overhead” or merely “denominational bureaucrats” and sought instead whiz-bang short term projects that produced more excitement. It seemed like you’d get a quicker return on the dollar of you supported your brother in law to spend two weeks building a school in Zambia than just tossing your money in the sack toward a missionary’s salary or pension. You got to see your brother in law come home transformed and contribute something to your church. It seemed sexier to buy a thousand pairs of shoes than pay the salary of the person who would hand them out. Missionaries could more easily get people to buy shoes, or fill shoeboxes, or drill wells than they could to raise their own support to be an actual missionary. Missions was moving from people to projects.

5. Evangelism to social ministry.
As evangelicals lost their nerve to do evangelism at home they increasingly had less motivation send evangelistic missionaries abroad. Evangelicals had wearied of “The Four Spiritual Laws” and talking about “the lost” who are “headed to hell “ or having heroes who were “soul-winners.” In their weariness along came all kinds of social ministries that were worthy—drilling wells for life-giving water, rescuing AIDS orphans, establishing schools and colleges, or fighting sex trafficking...and a score of other worthwhile things. Evangelicals still expected people to get saved, but evangelism was not the primary focus. It became a collateral benefit. Professional missionaries plugging away at evangelism found less zeal for their work on returning to the USA, and saw greater interest in shorter term social projects with “no overhead” for the missionary’s salary or for the centralized missions office.

6. Local church becomes its own missions board.
The latest change is the local church itself (especially large churches) becoming their own missions board—doing missions direct and “cutting out the middle man” that avoided boards “taking their cut.” Combined with all of the above, this final change yields a totally new approach to missions since 1980: Raising money locally to support local and global (“Glocal”) projects that are mostly short term involving our own people involved especially in social ministries. Smaller churches can band together as a district and do the same—even launching and supervising their own mission fields sometimes in “partnership” with the former centralized missions boards.
This week I’ll be thinking about these changes. Which of these changes have been good? Bad? What other changes have I missed? Are there “unintended consequences” of some of these changes? Where does all this lead?

That’s what I’m thinking about this week.
So, what do you think?

The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633

Keith Drury October 18, 2011


Mormons and Evangelicals

I bet if Mitt Romney is the Republican candidate for President most evangelicals will swallow the lump in their throat and vote for him. It doesn’t surprise me that evangelicals would vote for a Mormon any more than that they’d vote for a divorced man (Reagan) or a Catholic (Santorum) or an adulterer (Gingrich). Christians have always been able to vote for non-Christians (or bad Christians) for political office.

Indeed it is only a recent phenomenon to even have a “real” evangelical running for President. Until recently evangelicals had to choose the best from among the non-evangelicals. I remember when Jimmy Carter testified that he was a “Born Again Christian” the media scurried around to figure out what that meant. The next night, a New York newscaster reporting something like, “We have researched this term and we have found that it is not an uncommon experience for people in the south to have an emotional encounter with God that changes their life.” Really?

Maybe Romney won’t get the nomination, but if he does I’m thinking this week about what that might mean for the Mormons and evangelicals There are maybe 12 million Mormons in the world with about 6 million living in the USA. This is a big “denomination” (or cult or religion, whatever you wish to call it). The Methodists are only about a million larger. And Mormons are growing fast, Methodists are declining. Mitt Romney is a “good Mormon” too. He hasn’t taken the country-before-religion pledge like John Kennedy did when people questioned if he would obey the Pope over the people. Romney is a faithful Mormon.

But what is there to fear in that?  That he will banish alcohol from the While House like Carter did? Banish coffee, Coke and Pepsi and all other caffeine drinks too?  Would he tell youth they shouldn’t have sex before marriage and they should dress modestly?  Would the Mormons channel millions of dollars to fight for traditional marriage like they did with Jim Garlow’s California Proposition 8? Gee, are these things evangelicals would worry about. I bet most evangelicals will eventually become supporters of Romney if he is the Republican nominee. In fact, I think the more evangelicals find out about Mormonism’s practices the more they’ll like them.  The practices, that is. Sure, they won’t like Mormonism’s theology, but face it, most evangelicals have long ago concluded “Theology doesn’t matter” or “we’re all really saying the same thing anyway.”  I bet evangelicals will conclude that Mormon’s “have extra beliefs” like they eventually concluded about Roman Catholics’ veneration of Mary or Purgatory. I think evangelicals will swallow their (theological) objections and admire the practices.

So here is what I’m thinking about this week:

1. When the current furor dies down, will most evangelicals quit using the word “cult” for Mormons? Maybe even in two weeks?
2. What other changes will a Mormon candidate for president trigger for evangelicals?
3. How will the Mormons change if Romney is a candidate? Will they become more mainstream and downplay their fringe doctrines?

That’s what I’m thinking about this week.
So, what do you think?

The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633
Keith Drury October 11, 2011


Large churches/Small churches

“Most churches are Small churches”
“Most People attend Large Churches”

Which is true?  Both.  Statistics can give us facts that seem to contradict themselves. Sometimes DSs tell me I need to be preparing graduates to pastor churches under 70 because “almost all churches are small churches.”  They are right—the vast majority of churches in America are under 100. But the second statement is also true: Most people attend the larger churches over 100.

What is most startling in the statistics are the trends over time. Take my own denomination—The Wesleyan Church. We maintain an ongoing list of the largest 25 Wesleyan Churches at our headquarters.  So you can tract the trends in attendance at the top 25 churches. In 1970 one out of twelve Wesleyans attended these largest 25 churches. Ten years later in 1980 one in ten Wesleyans attended the largest 25 churches. By 1990 one in seven Wesleyans attended these 25 local churches. The trend continued so that by 2010 one out of four Wesleyans attended these largest 25 churches.

Wesleyans attending the largest 25 Wesleyan Churches
1970     1 of 12
1980     1 of 10
1990     1 of 7
2010     1 of 4

What I’m thinking about this week is the trend here. Will this trend continue or has it peaked?  Will there be a day when half of all Wesleyans attend 25 mega churches? Or is the era of the mega church over and people in the future will want smaller churches?

So, what do you think?

The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633
Keith Drury October 4, 2011


The Five Pillars of Christianity

Followers of Islam know exactly what is expected of them—five achievable duties, the so-called “Five Pillars of Islam.”   Christianity has no official list of essential duties, but I’m wondering this week, if we did have five, what would they be?  Actually, maybe we do have five pillars—they are just informal and unlisted. I wonder what our five pillars would be?

The Five Pillars of Islam are:

1. Confession of Faith. (Shahada) Saying with conviction, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.”  It is the way one converts to Islam and is supposed to be a continual confession right up to death.

2) Prayer five times a day. (Salat) Spending a few minutes five times a day praying at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night.  

3) Giving. (Zakat) Giving annually to the poor the equivalent of 2.5% of wealth.

4) Fasting.  (Sawm) Abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations from dawn until sundown during the month of Ramadan each year.

5) Pilgrimage. (Hajj) Take a pilgrimage once in a lifetime to Mecca.

So, if evangelicals had five pillars (and we probably do informally) what are those five pillars? Or what do you think they should be?

So, what do you think?
The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633  

Keith Drury  September 13, 2011


Impractical Teachings of Jesus

It seems that some of the teachings of Jesus are just impractical for today doesn’t it?

Take his teaching on divorce—the one where he says whoever marries a divorced woman is committing adultery? It is hard to practically implement that in the modern world.

Or, how about his teaching that we are to love God with all our heart, soul and minds—and our neighbor as ourselves—is that practical? Even possible?

Or how about the direct command from Jesus to not pile up treasures on earth—how practical would it be to actually live this teaching of Jesus—not add each year to one’s net worth? It seems un-American.

I wonder if the most impractical teaching of Jesus is how we are to treat out enemies. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for them. How could you even be a loyal citizen of America if you loved our enemies? This teaching of Jesus is perhaps the most impractical of all.

So, what do you think?

The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633

Keith Drury May 3, 2011


SALE! on Seniors

One of my jobs as writer of this column is to spot trends and report them, especially trends among the emerging generation now in college. The most recent trend I’ve seen is our college seniors are willing to work for almost nothing if the working conditions are right.

This started a few years ago but it has escalated enough to become a significant trend. Many of this year’s graduating seniors are quite happy to take “internships” at a church for a year or so—even for $100 or $200 a week. We actually have high-talented grads turning down $40,000 youth pastor jobs that were offered to them to take $10,000 internships.

Why is this happening? What has changed? Here is my take on why some graduating seniors will work for less:

1. Extended development. It is no secret that today’s college students are delaying adulthoods into the late 20’s and early 30’s. This period is variously called Extended adolescence, Delayed adulthood or Provisional Adulthood and it is a real thing. It is here to stay and can’t be scolded away by boomers who got their first church at age 22. Most of the emerging generation considers all of their 20’s to be a “Decade Development” and we can no more change that than we could get 12 year olds to “get serious and take a church.” Thus, many graduates expect their 20’s to be a period of fun, growth, and development—in short “8 more years of college life.” Churches offering $40,000 jobs expect work and production out of these kids and they want more freedom like they had in college—churches offering internships are landing great graduates because they recognize college seniors want more time to grow and develop.

2. Fear of failure. Most of today’s college graduates have been insulated from failure by “helicopter parents” and “helicopter colleges.” The expectations in the ministry are higher than ever—people just don’t accept fumbling. They realize a “residency” program in a church doesn’t bet their entire ministerial career on their first year’s success or failure. If they take that high-paying job running the youth ministry in a church of 1000, expectations are high and the consequences of failure are astronomical. So many take the internship or residency job where the expectations aren’t as high, and there is a safety net for them to do their wing-walking over.

3. Clarifying their call. I don’t like this but it is true. Many of today’s college graduates are still clarifying their call. We boomers knew we were called at age 18 and took our first solo pastorate at 22. Many of today’s graduates are still “exploring my call” and intend to do so until they are about 30. This irritates District Ordination Examination Boards that are packed with boomers but it is a massive change and if we don’t recognize it we’ll be left in the dust with a dry old wineskin designed for boomers. The denomination that does not provide for delaying ordination until 30 or 33 will be left in the dust. You can’t force 22 year olds to get ordained any more than you can force them to get married—they are delaying both. Many of today’s graduates want to work part time in a church internship (and maybe work at Starbucks too for 15 hours) while they clarify their calling. Getting today’s 22 year old to be “certain of their call” would be like trying to get the boomers to have done so at age 14. Today’s kids are not “immature” or “irresponsible” they just are. Boomers weren’t irresponsible because they didn’t walk 5 miles to school in 4’ snowdrifts and start working 40 hours a week at age 12 like their parents said they did. Neither are today’s kids immature because they didn’t have the life of their parents—after all these are the Boomer’s kids! Times change and developmental patterns change. A part time internship allows 4-5 more years for graduates to get certain about their call. And an internship provides the place to clarify a call—not in a college dorm, but in the local church.

4. ObamaCare. Political decisions have religious consequences. Few political decisions will have a greater impact on graduating college students than Obama’s health care plan allowing kids to stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26. This law ratified age 26 as the first date when a young person needs to begin transition toward adulthood. The effect of this law is huge among young adults. It has functionally doubled the college years—from four to eight. Graduating seniors do not have to worry about the $10,000 health insurance policy that comes with a full time job—they can take a part time internship, risk less, learn more and their parent’s health insurance will pick up the tab letting the local church where they work save the ten grand. This law has removed one major reason for college graduates needed to get a full time job—the insurance. Knowing that your insurance is covered makes it easier for seniors to take a part time job in a church.

5. Low debt. The wide perception that college graduates come out with about $40,000 debt per person--$80,000 per married couple is false. It is true that college costs about $100,000 total. But as many as 40% of the graduating ministerial seniors (especially the best students) have no substantial college debt whatsoever. Financial advisors say a college graduate should not have more debt than their first year’s salary. Well, for those students with no debt they don’t have to get paid very much then! This low debt position of many allows them to take a part time internship. And if they have a “ministerial loan-grant” from their denomination, they might be able to pay that down 20% a year by their service as an intern or resident pastor in a local church.


There are other factors but before this column gets too long let me outline how a church can get in on this sale. From my conversations, the total package doesn’t impress them—here is what they are looking for. Even average churches (maybe especially average churches) can hire top notch seniors for a hundred or two hundred dollars a week:

1. A cool workplace environment. They want a church staff that works together as a team, who likes each other, drinks coffee together, laughs at things, and has fun together at work and even outside of work—in short they want “dorm life” in a church staff.

2. Time off. They are willing to work for less but in exchange they want to be able to take a month off in the summer to hitchhike across Europe or go visit one of their college buddies teaching in Somolia. And, of course many graduating seniors are still not married so they need the freedom to travel and date the people they forgot to marry in college. In short they want time off something more like their college schedule.

3. Shorter commitment. One of the scariest things about full time jobs is that many boomer pastors and boards are insisting on a “five year commitment.” Five years is too long to commit for today’s seniors. We know when boomers make such commitments they don’t take it that seriously and allow “the Lord to change my mind.” These Christians take such commitments very seriously—they think a five year commitment means they can’t even pray about another offer for five years—and it is binding even if they marry someone in Nebraska who won’t move, or they want to go to seminary after all. They take their commitments so seriously that a shorter commitment is very attractive to them—so internships are really attractive.

4. Mentoring. Boomer graduates didn’t know how stupid they were—we just planted churches and grew them big on trial and error. These graduates know. They believe they are woefully prepared for pastoral work and they now want to get “the rest of my training.” College does a pretty good job of educating ministers but does a poor job of training them. Ministerial training happens best in a local church and these graduates know that. They know if they take a full time job, boomer senior pastors will pay them well but expect them to “produce or perish.” They don’t think they are ready to “produce” what is expected today—they want more training. So, they’re willing to give up $20,000-$30,000 a year of a normal salary to get it. So you can get one of these quality graduates by offering your time to “finish their training” in a local church setting.


I’ve held off on writing this column until some of the churches already tuned in to this change have landed the best grads—but there are still some loose at my school and in other Christian Colleges if you can make up the right “package” for them—and I’m not talking salary package, but a package of the things I just mentioned above. Graduation at IWU, where I teach, is this coming week, so many of the seniors I’m talking about have already taken part-time internships and “Ministry Residencies” at churches. But this column gives you time to figure out if you can get in on this “sale on seniors” next year Hiring a promising college graduate to work with you may not be as hard as you once thought. There’s a sale on now—a sale on seniors.

So, what do you think?

The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633

Keith Drury April 26, 2011


If I were a Nazarene I’d try to Merge with the Wesleyans

If I were a Nazarene I’d try to Merge with the Wesleyans

If I were a Nazarene I’d try to get my denomination to merge with the Wesleyans. Here’s why:

1. Low Taxes. Wesleyans have low district, educational and denominational taxes—usually about 10% combined—and there’s talk of lowering it even more next summer. If Nazarenes joined the Wesleyans they could keep more of their own money locally.

2. Localism prevails. Among Wesleyans the local church really is at the top of the food chain—not the district or denomination. Wesleyan pastors have more power than DSs or GSs; pastors dominate Wesleyan boards and committees and as speakers at all conventions all the way to the top—if I were a Nazarene pastor I’d want to get in on this.

3. Pension is funded. Wesleyans don’t tax this generation to pay for the previous generation’s retirement, but actually save all pension money pastors put in to pay that individual pastor’s pension. If I were a Nazarene I’d want to merge to get in on this sound plan.

4. Mega church friendly. Wesleyans like churches in the thousands and the denomination pretty much lets these church do whatever they want. Beyond that, Wesleyans have a tax cap—after a certain point churches don’t pay a cent of taxes on the rest of the money they receive. If I were a Nazarene mega church pastor I’d want to get in on this.

5. Conservative Doctrine. It’s no secret that Wesleyans are considered a tad bit more doctrinally conservative than Nazarenes—so even if I were the tad bit more liberal Nazarene I’d figure that there was safety in that solid conservatism—comparatively, that is.

6. Catholic-spirited. Wesleyans aren’t very denominational. They are sort of an undenominational movement that seldom even mentions their name—even in local church names. Wesleyans show up in force at Catalyst and other conventions and seldom push to have a “Wesleyan edition” of whatever is the latest craze—they are always cooperating with other denominations. If I were a Nazarene I’d like that.

7. Fewer General Superintendents. Many Americans wonder why a denomination needs a bunch of GSs when the whole USA only has one President. Wesleyans have only three GSs, but they are probably headed next summer to reduce that to one. If I were a Nazarene I’d want to promote that idea and doing it by merger would be the easiest way.

8. JoAnne Lyon. If I were a Nazarene I’d be pushing merger with the Wesleyans just to get JoAnne Lyon. I don’t think Nazarenes can get her any other way.

9. World Hope. Through the innovative leadership of H C Wilson and JoAnne Lyon Wesleyans founded World Hope—a NCO that is not owned by the church but works parallel with it. If I were a Nazarene I’d want to merge, not just to get this connection with World Hope, but to design a common denomination that had this kind of global and generous-spirited approach to things—founding things you don’t have to control.

10. Wesleyans have the name Wesleyan. If I were a Nazarene I’d want to get a better name now that the denomination has grown up. I’d want a name that was more respectable, more decent—something like “the Wesleyan Church” or “the Wesleyan Methodist Church” and Wesleyans own the rights to both of those names. (Wesleyans also own Pilgrim Holiness, but we’d give that to the Nazarenes for free.)

Those are the reasons I’d want to marry the Wesleyans if I were a Nazarene. That is, unless the Nazarenes insist on remaining single.

So, what do you think?

The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633

Keith Drury April 19, 2011


CHMs fork in the road

Most of my readers don’t even know what the CHM is, but I’ve always been interested in it. The Conservative Holiness Movement is a connection of independent holiness churches and mini-denominations of about a 100,000 people. In a week or so several thousand CHM pastors will gather in Dayton, Ohio for their annual convention. I like these conservative people, though most of my contemporaries reject them as “narrow-minded legalists.” I think this movement is facing a fork in the road. As with most entities with multiple names (e.g. United Nations) the monikers vie with each other. I think the CHM is deciding which name will have first place—conservative or holiness. The simple answer of course is “we’ll be both/and” but seldom is that how things turn out. I predict that in ten years this movement will be either the Conservative holiness movement or the Conservative Holiness movement. Either fork has risk. 1. The CHM might become the Conservative Holiness Movement If conservative wins over holiness the primary issues in the movement will be about women’s hair, TV, movies, dress and worldly amusements. The movement’s niche will be to serve as a example of a conservative lifestyle that resists modernity and worldliness while living a holdout life. This is an inward-focused “remnant option.” There are several risks associated with this fork. When you make a conservative lifestyle your primary issue you always find somebody more conservative than you. If you install a soda machine at your conservative Bible school someone is sure to circulate a newsletter calling you a liberal and a compromiser. Nobody wins the conservative race. Someone can always out-conservative your conservatism. So a conservative movement’s destiny to is spawn “splits from splits.” A second risk of self-defining as conservative is letting others define your movement. After all “conservative” is a comparative word.. As those I’m comparing myself to shift their lifestyle they provide space for conservatives to liberalize and still call themselves conservatives, so conservatives delegate the definition of worldliness to the liberals they compare themselves with. When the liberals start attending movies the conservatives get TVs, and so forth. A third risk of self-defining as a conservative movement is finding you have more in common with other conservatives, no matter their theology, since conservative defines you more than your theology. A primarily conservative CHM would find greater common ground with fundamentalist Baptists, Mennonites and the Amish than other followers of John Wesley, because a conservative lifestyle reigns, not John Wesley’s theology. 2. Or, the CHM might become the Conservative Holiness Movement If holiness wins over conservative the primary issues in the CHM would be about the Holy Spirit filling and cleansing Christians so that they become “radical” in their commitment to Christ. In this case, the movement’s niche would be to serve all of Christendom as a source of clear writing and powerful preaching on entire sanctification—“the place to go” if you are interested in radical commitment to Christ and His mission. This fork would mean the movement would try to get the host of casual Christians in America fully full of the Spirit and entirely sanctified. This fork is mostly outward-focused and militant. But there are risks here too. As with the 19th century holiness revival, your own church doesn’t always reap the benefits—often those renewed go home to their own denomination to revitalize your “competition.” But the biggest risk of choosing holiness over conservative is this fork requires the Holy Spirit. One can be conservative by personal discipline, and without the Holy Spirit. After all, the prizewinners for a conservative lifestyle are not in the CHM—they are in Islam. But to have a holiness revival would take the Holy Spirit’s action, and there’s a risk He won’t act or won’t use the CHM… or you and me. For the CHM to become a holiness movement is a bigger risk, though Christianity might get a bigger gain from this fork. So, what do you think? I am interested in what CHM folk think, and those who don’t even know what I’m talking about think too. For instance, if you know nothing about the CHM what about your own denomination? What fork do you think your denomination is facing? If you know the CHM—which fork do you think they’ll take? So, what do you think? The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633 Keith Drury April 12, 2011 www.TuesdayColumn.com


Choosing Beliefs vs. Submitting to Beliefs.

Sometimes my columns are picked up and posted other places and one such posting gave me the idea for this column. My denomination, The Wesleyan Church, hosts a blog discussion and picked up my column on hell-Bell. I was prompted to go there when a couple of anonymous folk called me out, insisting I state my own “stand” on hell. That sparked the idea for this column.

Since I host discussions online that include Calvinists and Charismatics, liberals and fundamentalists, traditionalists and emergent, some suspect my beliefs are up for grabs. Worse, a few suspect I harbor all kinds of illegal positions on homosexuality, hell, abortion or something else. I am sorry to disappoint them. I’m pretty traditional. So traditional that all my positions are published in detail at http://wesleyan.org/beliefs . These are doctrines of The Wesleyan Church, my denomination. I like to hear those who differ with us, including Rob Bell, but there is no light between my own stands and those of my denomination.

When did I come to believe these doctrines? I did not decide them one by one. In fact I never “decided” to believe these things—I submitted to them. I submitted when I became a member of The Wesleyan Church and submitted even more so when I was ordained. I didn’t decide…I submitted.

That disappoints some people. They imagine another process. These folk elevate the individual, so they expected that I would have studied the Bible, read everything I could find on a subject like eternal security or tongues or hell and then I would have made up my mind on that issue, crafting my own personal statement of faith on that subject and move on to the next issue. After a decade or more of deep study, I would then have crafted my own personal statement of faith on all the issues. Then I suppose they’d have me go shopping for a denomination that matched my own private apostle’s creed.

That’s not how I “decided” what I believe. How it really happened for me as I was gradually exposed to doctrines as a child, teen and then a college student. But I joined my denomination long before I had read every book available on eternal security or tongues or anything else. How could I become a member of a denomination before I “made up my mind” on these things? I submitted to the Wesleyan doctrine. Maybe you suspect I believe these things less for submitting to them instead of deciding them? Maybe you think it would be better if I had “dated around” and tried out the other options before marrying the Wesleyan doctrine. Sorry, I didn’t date much (though I went steady with Calvinism for a few years before we broke up).

How I came to believe the Wesleyan Articles of Religion is the same way I came to believe the Apostle’s Creed. I didn’t study the Bible for a few years, then read a couple hundred years of church fathers, then write my own personal apostle’s creed. I simply submitted to the Apostle’s Creed that’s been around a couple thousand years. I believe it just as deeply even though I didn’t write it myself. I don’t plan to revise it personally. I believe it “as is.”

The only exception to my submission is if I want to get involved in changing my denomination’s doctrines. But, in that case, once the vote is taken, I would submit to whatever decision was made and believe it…submit to it.

All this makes me look weak to the rugged individualists. They think the individual makes the final decision on doctrine. I think the church makes these decisions and the individual submits to them. I’m not smart enough to write my own Apostle’s Creed. I don’t trust myself—or any other single individual—to decide matters this important. That’s why I have submitted my beliefs to the creeds, the councils and the articles of religion of my own denomination. For me, belief is less about “choosing” than submission.

So, what do you think?

The discussion of this column is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633

Keith Drury April 5, 2011