A Picture is worth $250k #CallToAction #UMC

Is Institutional Survival Really Our Goal?

I was all set to write about this photograph that displays the “Denominational Goal” in five words: (1) Stop the Decline (2) Encourage Growth.

It’s such a perfect summation of the divide between those who are convicted by the Call To Action to grow the church through fear, metrics, and output…and those who are convicted by the Call To Action to grow the church through mutuality, re-dedication, and input of prayer and spirit. Are there those that are in both camps? Sure. But the problem of the Call To Action, which cost the church $250,000, is shown in this one photograph by Heather Hahn, UMNS.

But then I saw that Becca Clark had written a much better response. So, instead of spending any more time here, go there and read it. Here’s a key segment where she talks about this focus on satisfying others’ numerical requirements :

It reminds me of a story entitled “Panic” in the fantastic book Friedman’s Fables. To paraphrase, a ring of dominoes finds itself in a pickle, as one by one, the dominoes fall. Each domino tries to hold its neighbor up, to stem the tide of crashing dominoes, but to no avail. Finally, one domino manages it; the crashing stops and the dominoes right themselves. The others ask how in the world that one domino was able to stay up, and it replies, “while you were all busy trying to keep others from falling, I just focused on keeping myself from going down.” This one domino held fast to its own strength, it’s own principle, rather than reacting to the instability around it.

The mission of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. What if we really tried to figure that out and commit to that? What’s a disciple? How do you “make” one? How do you know you’ve got one?

Instead, we are focused on stopping the crashing around us, on preserving our institution. Has survival of the institution become our denominational goal?

Boom. Go check it out.


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  1. Meg says

    Great points on the numbered statements but what also struck me when looking at this again (I had read Becca’s article earlier today) is the phrase “strength of will”. That really shifts the focus doesn’t it? To me will is about human determination while faith is about trust in God. How would we approach denominational goals differently if we found strength in faith.?


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