Okay, friends, what have we learned? First, General Conference is hard. It is emotionally, physically and spiritually taxing. It demands a Herculean amount of concentration and effort, sifting and sorting and making sense of thousands (literally) of pages of very tiny print of churchy legalese. And it is not perfect. We passed a plan, then it was ruled unconstitutional. Is it the end of the church? No, no matter what the doom-and-gloomers might want you to believe. We are left with the flawed church we have had for years. Now we need to get creative and work together to make it better. We need to stop worrying quite so much about our hierarchy and power and think instead about our potential and authority.
Our theme this year at General Conference is our mission — yet we have not given any measurable time to thinking, dreaming, talking, planning or scheming about what this really means to us. What would it be like if we came to consensus that disciple-making is a worthwhile past time? We could spend two weeks together crafting strategy to transform the world. Wouldn’t that be cool? Instead of lamenting that we have so many small membership churches, what if we optimized our potential and made stellar small membership churches a badge of honor. What if we took time in Christian conference to talk about scriptural authority in a global context? What if our time was about building bridges instead of walls?
Many are disappointed by our aborted quadrennial gathering and the lack of decisions made. But could it be that we failed in our decision-making because we are deciding on too many wrong, less important things? This is a mandate to get our act together. Our planning needs to shift from form to function, process to performance. We cannot let things rest as they are. The time for renewal and redemption is now. Let’s all commit to work together to bring something great out of our chaos.
Categories: General Conference, Personal Reflection, The United Methodist Church
Agreed. May God help us to focus on the right things!
Thanks, Dan. You’ve named the critical issue at the heart of the matter, as usual.
Agreed. Do you know if the groups that came up with the various restructurings will continue to work on proposals for the next general conference? Do you think there will be a process before the next general conference to send directly to them constructive comments or questions?
Welcome back home to the local church and the annual conference. I have been praying you all through this General Conference and your blogs have been very interesting. I am still pondering why general boards and agencies of the church are spending apportionment giving on cheap give aways to people who came to serve rather than on reaching lost souls for Christ. But, I digress. Today I am polishing a sermon on prevenient grace. And as I work on it, thinking of the praying and conferencing we did about the issues I understood from the local church/annual conference point of view, as I look at what happened at GC2012, I can only assume God has answered our prayers for wisdom and perhap saved us from ourselves, God is answering our prayers for guidance, God is providing us with not only manna but leaders for this wilderness.
Enjoy your rest, good and faithful servant. Thank you for serving.
Dan, Thanks for the succinct, clear-eyed balcony view, day-after summary. Wonder if it is possible to move into the future with the courage to operate outside of legislative and parliamentary processes? It is hard to do “thinking, dreaming, talking, planning or scheming” as a committee of the whole!
GC also raised our consciousness that we are a global church and that brings new gifts to the discussion. I hope we can move beyond our current forms to a focus on the functions for transforming the world.
Dan, thank you for your commentary throughout GC 2012 and for the conversations leading up to it. Keep asking the hard questions that keep us focused on what is truly important. Safe travels home.
Dan, it was great seeing you this week. Thanks for your insight.