Sam Hodges—Our stubborn system: A reflection on the Methodist General Conference 2012

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The structures and processes of the United Methodist Church are self-preserving. The size and frequency of our meetings encourage passivity; our current Book of Discipline and its structures favor institutional stagnation; and, as some discovered in Tampa, our Constitution prohibits most forms of restructuring. The systems that we have created for ministry protect the status quo against revision, and our denomination cannot effectively make disciples of Jesus Christ without the ability to adapt.

This procedural and systemic self-preservation is natural, but it does not differentiate between gratuitous and essential change. Our connection’s ability to protect itself from unnecessary change is valuable, but sometimes adaptation is necessary. In the past five years, the membership in the United States has declined by 4.5 percent; worship attendance has declined by 7.9 percent; and the number of young people being confirmed in the UMC in the United States has declined by 18.44 percent. The need for adaptation is well-established, yet General Conference yielded little change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

Posted May 8, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. rwkachur wrote:

This was entertaining.  Here’s my take on the definitions: 
1.  Essential Change - Change that I am in favor of.
2.  Gratuitous Change - Change I am not in favor of.
This is all sprinkled with the “the U.S. is in decline and therefore the rules must change for all Methodists everywhere.”

May 8, 6:33 am | [comment link]
2. Milton wrote:

How ironic that the “changes” Mr. Hodges would likely want to make (divestment from Israel, lifting of prohibitions on gay and lesbian partnered clergy) would, just as for TEO, only accelerate the membership decline he wants to reverse and would do anything but “effectively make disciples for Jesus Christ”.  There are none so blind as those who will not see.

May 8, 6:50 am | [comment link]
3. David Keller wrote:

Sam is a real dummy. He needs to become an Episcopalian and then he can just ignore the Constitution and Canons whenever they don’t suit him.

May 8, 7:13 am | [comment link]
4. Adam 12 wrote:

I think the Methodists have what we needed…founding documents that prohibit radical faith changes by simple majority vote. People can leave money to a stable institution like that knowing that it will be properly applied in the future.

May 8, 11:33 am | [comment link]
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