Thursday, February 15, 2018

Values

When I wrote my last blog. I referred to one of the values my father taught me – a work ethic. Since then I have been thinking of the other values he attempted to sow into my life; how good and powerful they are and how I have failed to implement them in my life.

Instead of learning from earlier generations, we have been making it up as we go for decades. Our immense egos lead us to believe that preceding generation have nothing to tell us. 

My father's value system was both beautiful and functional.  His values were like thick cream skimmed off the top of life; rich, full, and useful. One could almost sink one's teeth into them. His values were strong, solid. They worked. They were passed down through the preceding generations and developed through years of challenging work, thought, application, reconsideration and reapplication. He received them as a precious gift from his father and he gave them to me.

And not just for safekeeping, but to help me get the most out of life with the least amount of hassle. Several years ago my older brother and I compared notes and recollections and have recognized these as some of the values we received from our father:
  • Work hard and don't expect something for nothing.
  • Make work fun.
  • Listen to people.  Really listen.
  • Keep practicing until excellence is natural.
  • Be generous in helping others.
  • Be a giver, not a taker.
  • Set high goals and strive to attain them.
  • Put God first, family second, and work third.
  • Be dependable, a man of your word.
  • Be prompt.  Being late is rude.
  • To have good friends you must be a good friend.
  • Be fun to be around.
  • Make sacrifices for your family and friends.
  • Keep learning and thinking.
  • Dare to dream big dreams.  Have a vision.
  • Stand up for what you believe to be right.
  • Pray and trust God.

 In sharing his values, my father gave me this magnificent chilled glass of thick rich cream. As he handed it to me, as he lived life in front of me, I could see the cream slosh up the sides of the tumbler, which dripped with rivulets of condensation, and coat the glass with its translucent richness. He urged me to drink deeply of its cool sweetness, knowing that the more of it I drank, the more I would have to give to my children when it came time to pass the cup. Values, like love, are unusual in that the more you use them, the more you have to share.

But catastrophe struck before it came time to share its rich goodness with my progeny. I was there the entire time, but I am still not sure exactly what happened. I guess it happened so slowly and over such an extended period of time that the catastrophe failed to fully register in my consciousness. All I know for sure is that when I handed the glass to my children, the cream no longer stuck to the sides. When I looked closer I realized that the cup no longer held rich, thick cream. It looked more like the skim milk I now have on my cereal in the mornings. They are much more watery than either whole milk or cream, skim milk most clearly shows itself for the "weak sister" it is when it is used as a creamer in coffee. If you want to see something really nasty, put skim milk in coffee.

The catastrophic change was unnoticed because it was not one grand accident where I tripped and spilled the values in a big mess on the floor. Instead, I splashed a little out here, dribbled a bit there, choked on a mouthful here and poured a tad down the drain there. In my attempt to keep the glass full, I added a dash of water here and there to keep up the appearance of holding a full glass. After all, who was going to notice a little water?

Well, it ends up that I am the one who notices. The children don't, because they have never seen the cream. The cultural assault on values crashing down on them from other sources makes for values more akin to sewage than cream. So, my watered-down value system may not look like much to me but it is quite distinct from the alternatives available to them. They don't know any better. But they are still the ultimate losers. Them and their children and their children's children. Oops!  Maybe it doesn't do any good, but I think I will cry over spilled milk.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Work Hard - Work Smart

I know I am old when I start complaining about the younger generations. When I was a kid, the differences between my generation and my parents’ generation was described as a “Generation Gap.”

That “gap” was caused by our differing life experiences. Mom and Dad experienced the Great Depression and World War II. Compared to my few experiences, life was difficult for them. For them, there were days and years when it looked like money would always be in short supply and there was no end in sight to the Depression. But the economic problems were “solved” by a war that continued for years and killed millions of people. Families were torn apart, some never to exist again, and multitudes of lives were altered forever. Physical and mental damage from the war were common. Following years of grim, wearing, ugly warfare, many American men were unable to transition back to civilian life.

Life got better. They were greeted as heroes when they came home from the war. (Because they were heroes.) They were given the possibility of obtaining a college education. (The GI Bill.) Slowly but surely, the economy started to flourish. It was about this time, as one of the first Baby Boomers, I met my parents. As far as I knew, life was good and had always been good. My Dad was educated, had a good job, built the house of his dreams, we children wanted for nothing, had great schools to attend, and the long summer days were amazing. When I hit the teen years I got a job to save for college, played sports and longingly stared at the teenaged girls. The Cold War was on, but the only effects were felt were an occasional trip under our school desks during a bombing drill. What an amazing waste of time and energy. Like our desks were going to protect us from a nuclear explosion. We got polio shorts and didn’t have to worry about that feared illness. Life was good.

The Greatest Generation taught us, the Baby Boomers, some valuable character lessons and values. Some of us paid attention. One of the things they taught us was a work ethic. Work is valuable. Work can be fulfilling and even fun. Hard work produces some wonderful results. Somehow, that work ethic, generally speaking, has failed to be passed down through the generations.

Many of the younger people who have worked for me over the years, seem to carefully count the hours they work so they don’t “overdo”. A few have expected to work 36 hours a week and be paid for 40. I don’t know about other workplaces, but in the church, I expect 40 hours work for 40 hours pay, plus. That plus works like this: if we expect laypeople to volunteer hours to the work of the church, we, too, should volunteer several hours a week to the church. That doesn’t seem to make sense to some of my younger employees. I talk to some in the ministry who chose this profession because they thought it was easy. And it is if you don’t want to succeed.
I knew the work ethic was in trouble when I noticed a note on the counter of a restaurant chain that read: “Help wanted. If you show up to work on time for 30 straight days, you will receive a $100 bonus.” Really? When I was working, if you showed up to work on time every day for a month, they let you keep your job. Duh. Expecting to be paid more to do less is a recipe for disaster.

There are many in the church who work very hard but see little success – slight changes in people’s lives and little or no growth in the size of the congregation. We rationalize our lack of growth by saying, “We aren’t growing physically but we are growing spiritually.” Quite honestly, that is not true. A spiritually growing church just naturally attracts people. Healthy churches grow.

Working harder is not a bad thing, but sometimes it doesn’t help. We need to work smarter. Often those of us in ministry spend much time and energy maintaining what we have instead of investing in the future of the church. We visit shut-in’s, lead groups, listen to complaints and put out fires instead of doing the things that will empower church growth. Though many church members think we exist to serve their needs, we need to spend a majority of our time and energy on nurturing relationships with non-believers and developing lay ministers and church leaders. To do otherwise is to work hard but not smart.

Knowing this, I was surprised when I realized the other day that we were doing just that – working hard, not smart. We are in the process of transformation and the staff and laypeople are working our butts off. But we are seeing very little growth. We are seeing some spiritual growth but little else. Like what might be true for a majority of North American mainline church, we are teetering on the edge of extinction. Time is short. We need to work smarter.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what that “smarter” looks like. But it is my job to, prayerfully, figure it out. Pray for me.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Thursday, February 8, 2018

When Will We Ever Learn

I’ve been watching it for years. The church continues to decline, and the leadership continues to fret, stew, converse, meet, have conferences and discussions, plan, strategize and program. And the church continues to decline.

All we are doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We continue business as usual: same groups and same committees doing basically the same things they have been doing for decades. Large amounts of time and energy are invested in placating special interest groups, trying to stay on the cusp of political correctness, seeking to find the solutions to the world’s problems through the support of politicians who say one thing and do another, failing consistently and not seeming to notice. Evangelism and spiritual growth are moved to the back burner, if not completely left off the stove. Concern for crumbling churches is expressed but almost no attempts at renewal or transformation happen.

Just as there is a recipe for church growth, there is a recipe for church death. Most, if not all churches in decline, are doing the following things.

Inward focused. Each week we gather into our “Holy Huddle” and love on each other. The dying world just outside our doors never crosses our minds. We worry about: who is using the kitchen; are we meeting the budget; is the pastor calling on the shut-ins and preaching comfortable, entertaining sermons; what color have the youth painted their room; what changes have been made, etc. The pastor’s major task is to look after church members. The church is described as “like a family”, possibly dysfunctional, with little room for inclusion. Many churches remind me of the old prayer, “Lord, bless me and mine, us four, no more.”

Lack of evangelism. We think we have done evangelism when we do a mailing, put an ad in the local paper, or invite someone to church. Most people in the church avoid serving on the Evangelism Committee like the plague. In fact, in many mainline denominations, the word evangelism is avoided and seen as a sign of the dreaded conservatism. We don’t want to come across as fanatical, so we say nothing.

Lack of focus on a clear mission and target audience. Most churches remind me of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. We rush from one good idea, goal, mission, or ministry to another year after year. Instead we must focus on a single goal summed up perfectly in the Great Commission – Go and make disciples. Most churches, when I consult with them, have a mission statement of several paragraphs safely filed away that, in no way, affects the ministry decisions they are making. These churches also answer the question, “Who are you trying to reach?” by saying, “Our community.” Much like the idea I shared with my doctor the other day, it is an answer that is both logical and wrong. Unless your community is very small, you have very little chance of hitting your target. Pick a clear target: families with school-aged children; senior citizens; young adults; college students. Focus your attention on reaching a particular group. It takes different ministries and approaches to reach differing groups.

Bickering and fighting over unimportant issues. Many church members expend major amounts of energy on extremely minor “problems”. Let me explain the source of the problem with a rather long quote from my book, RENEW YOUR CONGREGATION.
“This particular church board meeting was being held in the church’s fellowship hall. Most church boards seem to meet in the fellowship hall. Considering how contentious the meetings tend to be, I would call the choice of meeting places oxymoronic behavior. We were sitting around a couple of tables that had been pushed together for the meeting. The meeting had been going on for about 90 minutes when the fight broke out. I don’t know that it is a hard and fast rule, but 90 minutes is about as long as we Christians can manage to be civil to one another. After 90 minutes, run for the exits.
The discussion concerned what color the church kitchen should be painted. Almost immediately after the proposal was made, the rhetoric heated up and the fight began. It was a bloody battle. Names were called. Heritage, parentage, intelligence and matters of faith were questioned.  It was an ugly thing to watch. But watch I did.
As I was watching the battle unfold, I had several thoughts vying for my consideration bouncing around in my head. One of those thoughts was, “Why did these people care so much about what color the kitchen was painted?” Really, what difference, in the context of eternity, did the color of the kitchen make? Sure, I didn’t want it painted black or orange, but even if that had been the proposal I wouldn’t have gotten my shorts in a bunch over it.
A second question rolling around in my head was, “Why did I care so little about what color was chosen and they cared so much?” These fine folks, some of them lifelong friends, were calling each other names, shouting in each other’s faces, threatening physical encounters, and suggesting to each other that attending a different church could be a viable option. It was very important to them and I just did not care even a little bit.
As I sat watching and thinking, an odd thought came into my mind. It was less a thought and more an accusation. The thought was, “It is your fault.” My immediate response was, “No it’s not. I am not even a part of this argument.” As they say where I come from, I didn’t have a dog in this fight.  I was very pleased with myself that I had managed to stay above the fray. In the past I had been accused of enjoying a good fight.
Again, the accusing thought, “It’s your fault.”
“How,” I argued, “could this possibly be my fault?”
God asked, “What have you been doing the last couple of weeks?” I had suddenly realized it was God talking to me. Perhaps you have never experienced a conversation with God. Perhaps you do not believe such a thing could happen. No problem. Feel free to just believe I had an epiphany. What ever happened, my life and ministry were forever changed.
This was a question I was happy to answer. I proudly listed my record. “I have been to the hospital to visit with and pray with several people. I have prayed with two people who were having surgery and sat with their families during the surgery. I have had several counseling sessions with couples whose marriages were at risk. I have been to visit the church’s shut-ins. I have prepared and delivered sermons and led a weekly Bible study and led a weekly prayer group.” I had been busy and had been doing, if I must say so myself, a great job.
God responded, “Great. And what ministry have these people, the lay leaders of the church, been doing?” “None that I know of,” I said.
“That’s the answer to your questions. That is why this is your fault. You have been doing all of the ministry. Doing ministry has allowed you to put life in perspective. You realize what is important and what is not and you realize what color the kitchen is painted doesn’t amount to anything. So, you don’t care. You have been doing all of the ministry in the church and have not encouraged nor allowed them to do any of it. All you have left them with is a crummy bucket of paint. And since that is all they have, they have invested all of the passion I have given them to do ministry in the paint instead. It has become important to them. They are fighting over the color of the paint and it is all your fault.”
The sad truth is, when we don’t have something meaningful to do we tend to major on minor points and expend energy on unimportant things. All believers are called to ministry and when robbed of this elementary need, we react negatively.

Lack of pastoral leadership. Few pastors are trained or asked to lead. We are usually seen as pastors of the flock. In reality, we are, instead, overseers of a hospice facility. In the past I believed my job was to passively hear what the people wanted to do and then help them do it. Again, this led to majoring on minors and wandering in circles. Some of the congregation were very busy, others were just watching, some were judging, and the church continued to decline. Every organization needs clear goals and the LEADERSHIP to find their way there.

Letting political issues set the church’s agenda. As much as many of us are profoundly excited by our politics and how many naively believe politicians really give a rat’s butt about us and the government is going to solve any social problems, they won’t and it won’t. Being a Political Science major with my heart set on a career on politics, it took me several years of observation to come to these unwelcomed conclusions. With the 24 hours news cycle and the endless political posts on Facebook, not too many people are interested in going to Sunday worship to hear some preacher pontificate on politics as the answer to the world’s problems. We are called to preach Christ, not our version of liberalism or conservatism.

Those are some of the things we churches, keep and doing and wondering why the church is dying. When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Aw, Grow Up

For the first time in a few years, I watched the State of the Union Address. Probably won’t do that again for a while.

A clear majority of the politicians presently “serving” in Congress just drive me up the wall; not all, but most. I feel better if I just ignore them. Mark Twain shared a great observation of Congress when he said, “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”

Thankfully both sides of the aisle are equally goofy. That way I don’t feel the need to pick on just one party. I am an equal opportunity critic. My problem with Congress is that those people were sent to Washington to represent us – you and me. And they do nothing but serve themselves. It is all about power, recognition, money and being reelected. One of my basic questions is, “How does a man or woman of the middle class go to Washington, earn an average salary and come home a multimillionaire?” It is easy to see that something is wrong with that picture.

And then they spend their time and energy playing to their crowd instead of making decisions based on what is best for the most people. Just pass legislation that fulfills the government’s responsibility to do what it was designed to do. The basic functions of the United States government are listed in the Constitution. They are: to form a more perfect union; to establish justice; to insure domestic tranquility; To provide for the common defense; To promote the general welfare of the people; and to secure the blessings of liberty. Pretty straightforward. Unfortunately, again, it has become about getting reelected and sitting at the seat of power by convincing, us, the voters, that we just can’t get along without them by providing what we think they owe us.

I know this will not go down well with the “Kool-Aid” drinkers from both sides of the aisle. Those who are completely indoctrinated just can’t believe there is anything wrong with their representatives. If you are a Kool-Aid drinker I would strongly advise you to spit it out before it poisons you. Sadly, both major political parties are just the same, they just jabber with different words. They are both sold out to big business and would do anything for your vote and more money.

Watching the SOTUS was both funny and sad. Every time Trump paused, all of the Republicans in the room stood and cheered wildly. It was if he had just scored the winning basket in the NCAA National Championship game. Whether what was said made sense or not, the mandatory ovation took place. Occasionally, he had to stop and stare at them to get the required applause.

And then there were the lock-step, zombie Democrats. Nancy and Charlie told them to sit down and shut up and they did as they were told. I got to be funny. Trump announced that unemployment for blacks and Hispanics was at an all-time low. The Dems sat and scowled. Really? The party of the blacks and Hispanics isn’t pleased with that bit of news? Really? 24 million jobs have been created. Dems sit and scowl. Really. These people are pathetic.

Here is a great idea. (Even if I have to say so myself.) Everyone who has served more than three terms, retire. Mitch McConnell should just go home tomorrow. (I used to be proud of my last name.) And commit Pelosi and Schumer to the mental institute they must have escaped from.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

If You Knew Edna Like I knew Edna

A dear friend called me the other day to inform me that his mother was in Hospice and would soon be passing. Rick was in the process of making arrangements for her. He asked if I would be willing to make the trip and speak at her funeral. Fortunately, her funeral was planned for a Saturday so I could make it. I was honored.

I wish you had known her. Allow me to share my thoughts about her with you so you can know her too.

Let me start with the stark truth – I loved Edna. So, my view of her is clouded by a huge hunk of love in my eye.

She was a ray of sunshine in my life during some of the most difficult and stressful times of my life. My life was in the crapper and I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself and here came Edna. Suddenly the fog lifted, light flooded in and I could go on another day. Thinking back on those days I realize that, in some ways, I owe her my life.

We met soon after I was called to be Pastor of the LaGrange Christian Church. I inherited her as the church custodian. The first time I laid eyes on her I knew we would get along just fine. Coming home to Kentucky from several years in the Midwest, her Kentucky twang accent was music to my ears. And then there was her sly smile. I knew she was up to something and it was going to be funny.

Edna and I started as co-workers and soon became friends. She always had a warm smile on her face. And when one of the church members would act up, which happened often, she always saw the humor in the situation. She would calm me down with her laughter and home spun sayings. Her many sayings reminded me of my father. “As nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” “She is as dumb as a rock.” My favorite was: “I wouldn’t say anything bad about him, but he is the little end of nothing whittled down to a fine point.”

Edna loved the church; the people and the building. She loved cleaning that historic old building. It was long after we met that she informed the building was haunted. I think she called it "hanted". I was pleasant about her stories but didn’t believe a word of them. That is, until I worked late one night. As Edna would say, “I got the wadden skiert out of me.” That was my last night in that building alone. I learned to pay attention when Edna talked. And she was a wealth of information – about nearly everything.

Edna was constantly bringing me something to eat. There I was, rotund and looking like a walking heart attack waiting to happen, and she was afraid I wasn’t getting enough to eat. I soon realized the food was her way of saying that she was my friend and cared about me. A further upside is that the food was delicious.

When Rick called me about speaking today, he specifically asked me to say something nice about his mother. My friend Rick knows me well. My question is, “Who could say anything bad about Edna?”

When I think of Edna, I think of something my mother used to say. “If somebody doesn’t like me, there is probably something wrong with them.” That goes double for Edna.


Our loss is heaven’s gain. I am sure Jesus greeted there with a smile and she volunteered to cook something good for him to eat.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Healthy Church

It is my belief that healthy living things naturally grow. Since the church is described as The Body of Christ, we are a living organism. Thus, if a church is healthy, it will naturally grow. Sometimes the church needs a dose of fertilizer and a little bug killer to get to healthy.

All churches seek to grow but most are unhealthy, and some are profoundly dysfunctional. That is why the church in North America is declining so rapidly. Perhaps, because we are so unhealthy, God is allowing us to die and is raising up something new. Somehow, we in the church, seem to think God can’t do without us so the church will remain no matter what. Yes, the church will continue, but probably not look anything like it does today.

Many years ago, I heard a church growth consultant advise a pastor to pray for his people: pray that this group get the vision and grow spiritually and pray that this other group just die. That was just a bit harsh but, unfortunately, probably true. Some of the people who are most detrimental to the wellbeing of the church are many times the most dedicated. Often, they think they are the salvation of the church. They are not. My thought is, if their leadership was so positive and helpful, how did the church become so unhealthy?

Having and being a healthy church is both simple and difficult. It is difficult because it takes a bit of work. It calls for change: and nobody likes change. To move from unhealthy to healthy always causes unhappiness and conflict. And most church leaders avoid conflict at all costs. We have been taught that conflict is a sign of failure instead of the cost of success. And dealing with conflict is emotionally difficult, draining and challenging. It is demanding work and many pastors of today are not up for the challenge.

It is simple because the church must only do five things consistently to remain healthy. Those five things are: Evangelism; Fellowship; Discipleship; Worship and Outreach. Unfortunately, our inclination is to just do one or two of these essential things consistently. I didn’t think that up myself. I read it decades in THE PURPOSE DRIVEN CHURCH. That book changed my approach to ministry and how I view success in the local church.

Since the church is really the people who comprise it, the foundation for a healthy church is healthy church members. That means that church members need to do those five things consistently in their individual lives. A church made up of unhealthy members is, by definition, an unhealthy church. Healthy members – healthy church.

Then, to be growing Christians, one needs to be in a Life Group. Life change and spiritual growth happens best in a healthy Life Group. And a healthy Life Group does those five things consistently. Unfortunately, most small groups only do one or two of those things and are, thus, unhealthy. A healthy Life Group consistently worships, has fellowship on a deep level, studies God’s Word, does acts of service together and shares the Cristian life with others.

Then, together, as a church we participate in corporate worship, study the Word, have fellowship and share life, and reach out to our community in service and evangelism.

Simple, but healthy. So, if we hope to grow as a church, we must, as individuals and as a Body, practice these five healthy things.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Narrow-Minded Broad-Minded People

Back in my college days, I was considered by many of my peers as a liberal person. I was involved in student politics, studied Political Science, and followed both state and national politics carefully. As a politically involved student, it was natural for me to be involved in the student unrest of the 1960s. It was us against “The Man.” All authority was to be resisted by whatever ever means necessary. Things could, and did, get messy.

Those days, in college, it was emphasized that to be a good, inquisitive student, one needed to listen to people with differing opinions. To be narrow-minded was the ultimate sin. Open-mindedness was a basic attribute of a “Liberal.” Important to getting a good education was the ability to garner facts, theories and concepts and make up one’s mind as to what made sense. While a student I spent hours in dorm rooms discussing ideas and invested a good amount of time in public debates. It was in these conversations and debates that I learned to see the holes in my arguments and, instead of just insisting I was right, look at what was wrong with my thinking that made for the soft spots in my ideas. It was called being open-minded.

As I read about the debates and conversations on college campuses and read the sharing of differing ideas on social media, I wonder what happened. Liberal or Conservative, everyone seems to be narrow-minded. Even worse, people seem close-minded. There is little give and take; just verbal blunt trauma. Our conversations seem to be limited to the talking points of our favored political party. Give and take, the honest and open sharing of various ideas and theories, has become a thing of the past. It is about “winning” the argument. It seems that little real thinking is involved in the conversations. Just gather in conclaves of like-minded people and reinforce each other’s preconceptions.

College campuses of today seem to be an alien land compared to the campuses on which I sought an education. Debate was welcomed. Exchanging of ideas was exciting and stimulating. Changing one’s mind was a sign of intellectual growth. Not agreeing with someone was not a death sentence on the relationship. Those who thought differently were not considered the enemy – or stupid. Misinformed maybe, but not a bad person.

From reading about and talking to college students, it seems all of that has changed. Students are now seeking “safe places” to be “protected” from people who fail to agree with their ideas. By the way, these are not safe places, they are isolation booths. Someone who has an opinion different from mine is not a threat to me and I don’t need to be protected from them. Seeking a safe place seems to me to be narrow-minded, thin-skinned, intellectually dishonest and shallow. Such an atmosphere is not a place for education.

College campuses seem to have become a place of lock-step thinking. “Think like us or you are not welcome.” Even worse; “You are stupid, and you are an evil person.” Surveys of college professors show that a huge majority are of like political and cultural philosophies and they teach from the bias of those concepts. An education that fails to look at many sides of a subject is not an education; it is an indoctrination. Research and surveys tell us that a vast majority of college graduates have very similar worldviews and political predispositions. Some would say that is because they are smarter than others. Since I have been there (In college) my opinion differs on the why. I believe it is not because they have been educated, but is because they have been indoctrinated. Again, I warn against mistaking education for intelligence.

The major problem with being an open-minded person in a narrow-minded world is that nobody agrees with you, thus nobody likes you.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon