Oh, my. Seek first to understand. Our General Conference proposed Rule 44, a process for Christian conversation that allows everyone to be part of small group interaction to generate a multi-layered and multi-faceted response to key legislation. The United Methodist Church has painted itself into a corner by so poorly employing and executing Robert’s Rules of Order, that it is desperately looking for alternative ways to make big decisions with a mob of people. The effort is backfiring badly. But why?
When leadership and participant body lack a fundamental understanding how group decision-making works, it is hard to generate a positive outcome. The end result is rarely better than the system designed to produce it. Execute an inappropriate system poorly, you will not get great outcomes. We have forgotten how to speak together in meaningful ways. That’s on us. We live in a winner/loser culture that has long abandoned civil discourse. That’s on us, too. We are navigating a new day in a new global culture in a new paradigm of messaging and mass media by employing 70, 100, and 200 year-old processes. Once more, on us. But the devil we know is so much more comfortable than the devil we don’t. Change is hard. And this year’s General Conference is proof-positive that United Methodists are all too human, and we resist change and do not like things we do not know.
So, where does this leave us? We will move backwards into the future. We will do what we have always done ineffectively, and we will continue to complain. And in four years, we will probably do it all again. But, by God’s grace, may we learn a little something, and next time do it better. We shall see.
The vote on Rule 44? Yes – , No – . The No’s have it.