Here we go. The Connectional Table, the most influential committee in the United Methodist Church, has endorsed the proposals of the Interim Operations Team. The top executive Mary Brooke Casad blogs about it this past week:
Actions taken by the Connectional Table during its July 27-28, 2011 meeting in Nashville, Tenn. have sent a ripple across The United Methodist Church. Members voted to support recommendations made by the Call to Action – Interim Operations Team that put in place the first steps for changing denominational processes and structures. I believe when United Methodists look back in time at the 2008-2012 quadrennium, we will see it as one of the most pivotal moments in our denomination’s history.
There is a full powerpoint (PDF) of the recommendations, and Casad outlines them for us, but here’s the basics with my obnoxious commentary:
- $60 million will be reallocated from the 2012-1016 UMC budget to fulfill the ends of the Call To Action changes.
- That’s a TON of money from already cut agencies. And yet we expect fruitfulness without financing? Amazing. To its credit, the first $5m will go to youth outreach, second $5m to central conference education. Approval with a shudder from me.
- I’m one of the few clergy I’ve talked to who isn’t afraid of losing guaranteed appointment, but I have a lot of privilege (young, white, male, straight, seminary-educated, full connection) that others do not.
- So the agencies will be shrunk and their specialized leadership relegated to a committee. Again, we expect fruitfulness without adequate staffing? Do these people not understand logistics? Or will the Office of Shared Services know how to handle everything logistical from these agencies with the same efficiency they’ve done with the ghettoized UM Advance? Not likely.
- I’m glad people who understand that are on that committee. I support and pray for such people as it is so far out of my comfort zone. I’m being flippant but I honestly appreciate such people who are on the actual business end of the church.
- Dashboards and metrics! If I weren’t a Methodist I’d bet you a dollar we’ll have a national website showing which ACs grow the most, spend the most, and love Jesus the most on a monthly basis! Such a odd focus for a church that began with Judas in charge of the finances…
So this is the most concrete proposal yet based on the CTA: dedicating money to these initiatives, restructuring the global UMC bodies, giving power to bishops and expecting them to remove non-fruitful pastors so that their churches could become vital (because surely it’s because of the pastor), and financial strong-arming of annual conferences/agencies.
I actually agree with Casad: this is a pivotal moment when the church gave up its discernment to business-based consultants to conform to business culture and values rather than the counter-cultural values of the Kingdom. Sure, they will overlap in some areas to give legitimacy, but the focuses are completely different:
- Businesses exist to perpetuate themselves
- the Church exists to empty itself…and yet seems to perpetuate in spite of its silly extravagant focus on others.
Thoughts? What do you see or not see? Questions as you read the powerpoint? Post them below!