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.

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

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