All the best ideas are pioneered then hit a natural tipping point from which the real creativity flows.This summer, Methodist Conference hit that moment and close to half a million people saw the fall-out from an explosion of tweets covering the event, a number that grew as people in the event joined twitter to see what those outside the hall was saying.
Of course, this is nothing new. Through the nature of being a movement that holds scripture, reason, tradition and experience in creative tension, the Methodist Church is a social movement. It can't survive if it ends up as self-Sanctimonious holy joes. Instead part of the art of Christian conferring is to listen with humble awareness to those of different opinions and theologies. This doesn't mean that christ conferring is a wet blanket affair. Instead it gives life to our beliefs by forcing people to talk, pray and prepare for new understandings as a result of what you have heard.
The infectious nature of this form of discussion has been picked up by the new #cpol discussions starting on twitter. It is a new stream of Christians interested in politics participating in the mother of all global web-chats. While non-denominational in content, for me it could only be a movement such as the Methodists who would start it and wish to share with others. For it is the connexional nature of the Methodist Movement that provides one of it's greater strengths.
No one member or chapel is an island, instead were are part of a(n inter)national movement that is aiming to challenge injustice, worship creatively and discern through prayer and conversation what could be the will of God. As a people many are downhearted at local decline and volunteer exhaustion. Yet, through things such as Methodist Youth Assembly, creative pioneer ministry / venture FX and strong student groups, there is a generation of people who hear Martyn Atkins cry that "God is not done with Methodism yet" (quote from memory) and are using all the energy and tools they have to support each other in exploring the social gospel for today.
[EDIT For formatting/labels 11/07 at 21.30 - one more edit will occur to add hyperlinks to suitable reports/groups - original post written 'on the move']