General Conference: Bicycles for Fish April 29, 2012Posted by Dan R. Dick in General Conference, Personal Reflection, The United Methodist Church.
Tags: General Conference, The United Methodist Church
Let me share a frustration. Our church needs radical change. Our church needs new structures and processes. Our church needs time to focus on identity, purpose, and priorities. Our church needs a serious focus on leadership effectiveness and incisive processes for evaluation and accountability… and General Conference is poorly designed to accomplish any of these critical objectives. What is General Conference good for? Rules, guidelines, policies, resource allocation decisions, goal setting, and the establishment of programs and initiatives for the denomination. It is a management vehicle expected to fill leadership needs. Vision, values, missional identity, and spiritual ethos are not best served by legislative process. Voting on God’s will and the movement of the Holy Spirit is just wrong. Our General Conference is about governing our very human institution and the corporate structure we call The United Methodist Church. It deals with the administration and management of the monolith. Yet, we try to use it to legislate spirituality, morality, ethics, relationships, and integrity. It often feels as if our task is to compose a beautiful symphony using the equipment from an automobile factory or use a chainsaw to prepare a gourmet meal. Bicycles for fish…the wrong tools and processes to address the real issues.
We will devote two full weeks to intensive and complex parliamentary maneuverings that will leave our church confused, conflicted and confounded with a sense that we missed an important opportunity to make a difference. Inadvertently, we are set at odds with one another through a system founded upon the notion that in all important things there must be winners and there must be losers. “United” goes right out the window when we have business that needs taking care of…
No, I don’t have the answer to this problem, but I do offer it as the problem we must address if we are to have a future. Sacred community is mired in polity and politics. Is this really what we believe Jesus had in mind? There is a pressing urgency to separate the visionary leadership functions from the futuring and managing functions. The essence of our functional relationships depends not on our structures and processes, but on our ability to organize around our values rather than our volume. We are the body of Christ — everything else is details. But we would rather debate “issues” than forge a foundation upon which to build a future. As long as we can make something like “the homosexuality issue” our main focus, we have absolutely no time to model the kingdom of God to a dying world and a consumer culture. We are way too busy for that. Sadly, we are busy fiddling with our own limitations rather than embodying the abundant love and grace of God.