Wednesday, May 9, 2012
General Conference 2012- Final Thoughts- Disheartened, but Hopeful
It came. It went. Little changed. With 8 million dollars spent on a global gathering of United Methodists, some interesting stuff happened.
The worship services and preaching were excellent. The United Methodist Church is a global church.
We are growing in Africa, so much that resources are scarce. It might be the best investment the UMC can make, and yet, I feel we did not do enough.
Most every change that was made has already, or will soon be, challenged and sent to the Judicial Council.
The big initiatives that would really help us
Set Aside Bishop- did not pass
Structure Change- passed, but ruled unconstitutional by Judicial Council
Lower Budget 5%- passed, but how will it work now with the Structural changes ruled unconstitutional?
Guaranteed Appointments- passed, but challenged
Annual Conference structure changes- passed, but will probably be challenged.
After watching the first week and half of GC, I became disheartened. Not about the UMC, the future of the UMC, the church I serve or the Christians I know.
I was disheartened by the legislative swamp and bureaucratic mess that unfolded as a small group of people seemed to filibuster and challenge anything and everything. Some people have become good at the wrong things. That is one of my biggest fears in ministry. I pray I never become good at meaningless and trivial things that do not bring about transformational change in the church.
We have a wealth of talented and gifted leaders in the UMC. A small number of Conferences in the United States grow every year. Some others are on the path to growth. Most have been in decline for years and show no chance of growing.
Can a gathering of 1000 people agree on anything? The United States House of Representatives is only 435, the Senate 100, speaking for 300+ million.
Roberts Rules of Order should be tossed out as a guiding document for how function in legislative session. I have no idea what to replace it with, but we need to do something.
One thousand is too large a group. Why not limit it to 500?
With Plan A, B and UMC, we still could not figure out how to move toward change. Can someone come up with something that can pass a Constitutional challenge?
Do we have too many seminaries? Many are in decline. How about 72 hours for an MDIV (I will keep pushing this as long as I live)
Do our General Agencies do what they were designed to do? Are they still relevant to making disciples?
We have a great need for transformational leadership at General Conference and in the Episcopal Office. My prayer for all delegations is that when they vote for Bishops they would seriously consider the following-
Will this person help the church make disciples?
Will this person refocus the efforts of the Conference toward leadership and discipleship?
What is this person's track-record for making disciples and leadership?
Great and faithful leadership will help turn around the church. We cannot continue to go in the direction we are headed, because within fifty years we will be no more.
Does the Methodist church still have something to say? Is our expression of Christianity relevant? I honestly and truly believe we have something relevant to say. We have growing churches in Missouri. We continue to plant new congregations. The United Methodist Church grew in Missouri last year. It has not been easy, but it is possible with the right leadership in place and a well charted course.
I thank God I serve in Missouri.
Go in peace and go with God.
Posted by Jeremy V. at 2:09 PM