The ministry study commission is not easing itself up to the debate over guaranteed appointment. The United Methodist News Feed summarizes the conclusions of the commission thusly:
“Guaranteed appointments” are a major factor contributing to mediocrity and ineffectiveness and emphasize the needs of the ministers rather than the mission of the church, declared the interim report of the denomination’s Commission to Study the Ministry: 2008-2012.
What an interesting conversation we are going to have the next few years.
I’m bi-vocational and a licensed pastor, so I’m already living in a world where the DS can – as someone wrote recently – “release me back to the pews” at any time. But I also have not tied my career to the denomination the way elders do, so I’m my perspective on this is as an outsider and someone with a general interest in the denomination.
That said, I think radical changes in the rules for ministry must go hand-in-hand with a renewal of a shared sense of our Wesleyan roots. It is from our shared identity as a people called Methodist that we need to define what we mean by effective ministry and the nature of the mission of the church.
Such a move also places much more importance on the role and quality of conference leadership. Do we select bishops and district superintendents to be the leaders with an clear eye for ministerial effectiveness and the skills and gifts to nurture and support mission-oriented churches and clergy?
Will our church structure and rules need significant rewriting to free clergy to do what they would be expected to do?
Does the denomination need to take on itself more of the expense of the educating of new pastors?
I look forward to the conversation.