Using what we already have

Not to long ago, Dan Dick suggested the United Methodist Church needed reread the 100 paragraphs in the Book of Discipline. I took him up on the suggestion, and I have to say it leaves me wondering what all the fuss about Call to Action is for.

If we’d just spend our time doing what we already claim to be about, we would not need to spend so much time and money trying to manufacture enthusiasm for another top-down program of renewal.

Can it be said any plainer than paragraph 129?

Faithful Ministry — The people of God, who are the church made visible in the world, must convince the world of the reality of the gospel or leave it unconvinced. There can be no evasion or delegation of this responsibility; the church is either faithful as a witnessing and serving community, or it loses its vitality and its impact on an unbelieving world.

It even uses the magic word “vitality.”

We don’t need thousands of dollars spent on consultants (too late) and public relations campaigns within the church to gin up momentum for a raft of legislation at General Conference.

Let’s just get together – at local churches and at annual conferences – and read paragraph 129 and talk about what it means. Let’s ask each other: By that definition of faithful ministry, are we being faithful? Is our congregation? Is our conference? Why or why not?

If we don’t like that paragraph, we can find many other places to start. The answers will be interesting, I bet.

The advantage of this plan is that it requires no legislation from General Conference. We already have the resources we need to do it in every pastor’s office. And the answers we come up with will almost always fit the places from which they come.

4 thoughts on “Using what we already have

  1. the problem with the plan is that 1, general conference is the only body that has power to make decisions for the whole church (see BOD) and 2, we are a connectional and international community, not congregationalist, as much as our individualistic culture (both larger culture and present american and african methodist cultures) may wish. a vital Body of Christ is a universal Body. and the proposal to sit in small groups and talk about “the meaning of faithful ministry” is good, but if it is done in isolation and with individualistic goals then it isn’t being true to the spirit of methodism. as for this obsession with top down, hummm so john wesley was not a clergyperson, not a member of the heirarchy, and his system of accountability was without a structure?

    1. Hal, thanks for commenting.

      I did not mean to suggest such conversations should not happen at the conference level. Indeed, John Wesley’s “conversations” were built around some pretty basic questions such as these.

      I agree our answers and definition of what a faithful church is should be mindful of the connection and the tradition of Methodism. My only point is that we don’t need all this expensive, clunky, and political stuff that goes with the CTA. Our BOD and our traditions already give us all the materials and “answers” we need to be a vital denomination. We just need to use what we already have.

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