February 29, 2012

Do you like this?

From the Gospel According to Snarky (Internet Standard Version):

"Then the high priests of the temple built an idol and named it Metrix, and they built another like unto it that they named StrukTure. Then they looked out upon the multitudes and proclaimed: 'Lo, Metrix and StrukTure will lead us out of bondage in the Land of Decline.'

"And the multitudes looked upon Metrix and StrukTure and cried out: 'PHOOEY!' "

Seriously, folks, when the youngest leaders of The United Methodist Church say they think the denomination is moving too fast into radical restructure, it's time for everyone to put on the brakes.

Let's think about this. Our young people are "screen-agers" raised on multimedia that changes at eye-popping pace. If anybody has the ability to surf chaos, it's our younger United Methodists. They're about as wired to adapt to change as any demographic cohort alive today.

And yet, they're now counseling the church to slow down in its quest for renewal? What could be more stunning than that?

In fact, when one combines this week's appearance of the Young People's Statement with the thousands of folks tuning in to the Missional Manifesto for the People Called United Methodists, Ol' Snarky's "Phooey!" seems right on target.

Granted, the reaction might not be so fierce now if the Council of Bishops hadn't panicked and wielded its mighty power to put the Call to Action into place before General Conference could vote on ideas for change. As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, the top-down authoritarian nature of both Call to Action and the Connectional Table's restructure (yes, Bishop Hopkins, we've got the difference now) are what have spooked many people outside the denominational hierarchy.

Rank-and-file United Methodists are not stupid. They can read the signs of the times as well as anybody, and they've seen enough failed business plans based on metrics and organizational tactics to know they haven't worked without a vision. (Sorry, folks, but the official mission just doesn't cut it). What's more, the rumblings are quite clear that clergy and laity both think Call to Action and the Connectional Table restructure approaches aren't consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Should these plans go through, the denomination verges on becoming conformed to the world it's trying to transform.

So here we are, less than two months away from the 10-day indoor picnic that is General Conference, and now both official and ad hoc groups around the church have urged delegates – in much more genteel-church ways than Ol' Snarky – to slow down, take some deep breaths, stop panicking about the "death tsunami," and talk more hope and redemption about our future. Anybody else hearing a word from the Lord … Who just happens to be the real owner of The United Methodist Church?


February 29, 2012

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