The Council of Bishops recently passed an important statement about the Call to Action process. We said, “We see a new church. It is a renewed church that is clear about its mission and confident about its future, a church that is always reaching out, inviting, alive, agile, and resilient. We see a church that is hope-filled, passionate, nimble, called of God, and courageous. It is a church that is passionately committed to the doctrine, mission and vision of the Wesleyan movement. This church takes risks to reach new people for Jesus Christ, and it searches continuously for creative ways to help each person grow in grace, love, and holiness.”
That is a way of talking about the adaptive challenge–“To redirect the flow of attention, energy, and resources to an intense concentration on fostering and sustaining an increase in the number of vital congregations effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
To get there we need agencies serving the general level of The United Methodist Church.
Please read this carefully. I believe all of the following statements are true:
- Our current general agencies are doing many wonderful things for which we should be thankful.
- The people who work on the staffs of our general agencies are faithful and committed leaders who bring their gifts to serve the whole church.
- We need general agencies that are aligned with each other and unified in their efforts with streamlined governance and lower administrative costs.
- We need agencies that are more nimble, creative, effective and focused on the adaptive challenge than we currently have. While our current agencies are good, there is considerable room for improvement.
- More general agency resources should be given to the task of increasing the number of vital congregations.
- We must measure fruit and not inputs.
- Our current proliferation of separate agencies is inefficient and confusing and some of our most creative staff are frustrated at how the system makes it hard to be fruitful.
The best agencies have been adapting over the last several years and are doing much better at serving the mission of the church. I am convinced that the Call to Action legislation will accelerate those positive changes and open up new opportunities for fruitful and effective general agencies in the 21st century. It is no longer 1972. We need change.
How many persons should serve as directors of the one agency that should replace the several program agencies? That is a question delegates will decide. How should we balance representation with effective governance? These are difficult issues. But I hope bringing the nine agencies into one is step we can take together. I am convinced that it will move us forward.