Call to Action answers

A while back, I left a bunch of questions on a post by Jay Voorhees about the Call to Action report. Jay sent the questions to Neil Alexander, a member of the steering committee that wrote the report.

Now Jay has the response to my questions. I appreciate the efforts of Jay and Mr. Alexander to clarify some issues. You can read the full response on Jay’s blog.

The most eye-opening things written by Mr. Alexander pointed to a strong misconception I got by reading the report. Perhaps I am too much a follower, but when I read the report, it struck me as a set of marching orders. The language and tone spoke to me as one of directive rather than one of persuasion. To my ears it said, “We must do X” and “We will do Y.” Coming from the bishops and other high-profile leaders, it read as commands to the troops.

But that is an incorrect reading, according to Mr. Alexander:

Again, the Steering Team Report is from one group of designated UMC leaders and offered to other leaders for consideration, debate, perfection and hopefully engaged response. The [Towers Watson] research is important but serves as only one element of the overall effort and provides a reference point of solid research that can be used as a stating place for both envisioning the future and positively impacting the life of the UMC.

I must admit, this is not how the report reads to me.

5 thoughts on “Call to Action answers

  1. John:
    It has been years for me since statistics, and though it was a decent part of my undergraduate degree, it was just undergraduate statistics. So thank you for putting some brainpower towards this. You clearly received some responses that don’t exactly ive with the tone of the report.

    As I have said before, the language of “crisis” is used pretty clearly in the report–and that language has been used, I think, to justify calls for immediate action and irreparable changes at General Conference. But what this response shows is that no, we didn’t really mean for that. That insight alone is worth the price of admission; in fact, the differences in tone between the report and the answered questions almost strike me as disingenuous.

  2. The Steering Team Report is giving marching orders to the UMC. When challenged, Mr. Alexander back peddles to defuse the objection. Then they go back to giving the UMC it’s marching orders.

  3. There was supposed to be a study of general church structure and what needs to be changed. That seems to now take second fiddle to the drivers of church vitality discussion. Yet, there is relatively little that general church agencies can do to directly help a local church while there is an overabundance of structure and money at the general church level that needs to be pruned.

    1. I think the connection is that the steering team wants to cut out lots of funding to the general level to redirect it to the purpose of supporting vital congregations. The report foregrounds vital congregations because it sees that focus as a justification for restructuring and reducing funding to general boards and agencies.

      This is just my take.

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