As with the US Congress, we [United Methodists] elect people to general church who represent special interests, passions, causes, and approaches to ministry. Very few leaders are willing to give up their agendas for the good of the whole. The last time we met at the 2012 General Conference session, we were stuck in the eleventh hour, having voted out an old system but unable to vote in a new system. We sat for two hours (or four more years) in limbo, unable to move backward or forward. We were trapped in our own web of organizational structure, with a faulty constitution. We engineered our version of a government shutdown, and in the end the people excited about the possibility of change left disappointed, and the people who defended the present system felt vindicated. Meanwhile, nothing really changed.
So What Do We Do Now?
First, real organizational change always comes from the bottom up and the outside in. It rarely occurs from the top of the organization itself. Very few organizations can self-reform without a major crisis (e.g., exile). Although we are experiencing a slow fade and a slow death as an organization, we have yet to face a major crisis. We have enough resources and feel secure enough with our decline that few of us are particularly motivated to compromise our positions or give up our rights or agendas for the good of the whole. We are very good at passing resolutions, making pleas on the floor, and caucusing with folks that are like us, while the mission field and the culture become further and further disconnected from the general United Methodist Church.
We need different kinds of pastors and lay leaders than the kinds we have been trained to be. The church is in desperate need of entrepreneurial leadership. It’s no secret that we’ve trained (and that the congregation expects) most pastors to be shepherds and caregivers. We’ve trained chaplains to be Barnabas first, rather than teaching them to act like Paul or Timothy, too. The church needs both shepherds and apostolic leaders among laity and clergy. Most congregations need a shepherd who leads—not merely a shepherd who protects. The apostolic leader is not adverse to conflict and is grounded in reaching the mission field, whatever the cost. And the conference needs the courage to collaborate with congregations willing to suffer when changing from an inwardly focused church to an outwardly focused mission post.
Please read the entire post here at Ministry Matters to get the complete recipe.
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