Surprise! Surprise! UM Ineffective & Irrelevant

The Christian Post has an interesting article reporting some of the results from a survey taken by the Apex Healthcare Group, who have been consulting for the Call to Action Steering Team. You can read the full article here.

In part it says:

A newly released report by the denomination gave “below average” grades to the body’s governance and agencies as it cited a lack of mission clarity and accountability, among other things, within The United Methodist Church.

“The agencies are a cacophony of voices,” the report, titled “Operational Assessment Project,” cited one surveyed Methodist as saying. “[T]heir ‘brands and communications compete with one another’ and result in confusion and dilution of impact at the Annual Conference and Local Church levels.”

Basically, the report says that we as United Methodists are ineffective because there is no one central group to speak for the Church on a regular basis. Yes, there is the General Conference, but they only meet once every four years and what they do mostly is legislate. Legislation is not leadership.

What’s more, into this leadership vacuum have stepped the general agencies, each of whom has their own vision of where the Church ought to be going. Consequently, not only are we slow and inefficient in making meaningful decisions, but we’re also confused as to which direction to go.

All of this confused inefficiency makes us less relevant. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going or how to get there, you can’t really speak meaningfully to the world around you.

So, according to the report, we need more leadership. Risk-taking, innovative leadership.

One can almost hear in this a call to bypass the General Conference and to invest even more power in the Council of Bishops. I’m not sure if that’s what they really meant to say or if that’s where they are really headed. It’s just what I hear between the lines of this small article. I’d be interested in reading more of this report and finding out what their real recommendations are.

In one sense, this report says little most of us didn’t already know. We’re ineffective, confused, mistrusting, and irrelevant. What else is new?

Still, this is a report upon which action will presumably be taken. One wonders which way our denominational leaders will choose to go.


3 responses to “Surprise! Surprise! UM Ineffective & Irrelevant

  • Mark Winter

    This is also true on the local church level. A bishop can appoint a pastor who tells his congregation on Easter that you don’t have to believe in the resurrection of Christ in order to be a Christian, followed by a pastor who tells the congregation, “Yes, you do.” This isn’t hypothetical; I just heard this straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Our laity get theologically confused, not to mention some of our pastors.

  • daletedder

    I read that same article. It is a bit frustrating when 100 different groups are all sayng a variety of things simultaneously. I was just reading a book written in 1992 that was part of the denomination’s initiative to have a common theological/doctrinal voice based on the concerns raised at the 1988 GC. Sad that still not much has changed.

    Thanks for the post,

  • Michael Mather

    I don’t think that it is necessarily a bad thing that there may be a cacophony of voices. It could be bad. But it ain’t necessarily so, it seems to me. I like a good solo artist in concert – but I also really love a symphony, with a variety of instruments. Now one could argue that they are all playing a different piece of music – and that would be a problem. But maybe from God’s perspective it’s coming together in ways we can’t imagine. The other thing I keep thinking about is that the complaint that there is no standards (which is what I hear in the concern about the wide variety of messages and/or voices out there) – seems a lot like the complaints that there were about Jesus (“he has no standards” “he eats with tax collectors and sinners” “he heals on the sabbath”, etc…).

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