What's Next for The United Methodist Church?



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what's next

Try this 'wicked problem' template. A wicked problem is multifaceted, has numerous stakeholders, defies finality in solution, involves communication issues and trust deficits; like the hydra of mythology, cut off one head and 7 grow to replace it. Our church's problem is not merely or primarily sexuality conflict. Thinking GC19 could solve or even move decisively to resolve it was never possible. Institutions with a wicked problem try one of three ways to handle it. First is authority: the bishops and GC19 decide, but...authority can be wrong. Authority gets overwhelmed in volunteer organizations where trust deficits are real; conservatives have little trust in the bishops for their efforts to strangle the Traditional plan in the crib and liberals have little trust of GC for its decisions and so will ignore them. Second approach is conflict; the stronger player wins and all else lose. That is what happened at GC19 and virtually no one is happy; liberals are pained by the loss and conservatives are hardly joyous by the 'win' and the prospect of a thousand church trials. Third approach is collaboration, but stakeholders tend to 'fail into collaboration,' i.e., move seriously in that direction when convinced all other options are clearly worse. The caution is that most collaborations also fail back into conflict, when one or more 'sides' come to believe they can get more through slugging it out than though collaboration. INSIGHT FOR THE PROCESS AT THIS POINT. All functionally agree authority went paws up at GC19. No one relishes a competitive fight. Collaboration can work, framed as the multiplication or mitosis of Methodism into 2-3 expressions that share the same Wesleyan DNA, cooperate in selected venues (think UMCOR-WESTPATH) and are free to refresh and reform structures and thinking that have been part of a church in 50 year sustained decline in the US. Caution to liberals: beware becoming a (gulp?) perceived 'America First' Methodism or assuming a middle-left hold on seminaries and other institutions translates into the pews in equal proportion...be willing to yield what matters now to gain what matters most, however defined. Caution for conservatives: 56% of UM laity define themselves as other than conservative in the US, beware assumptions that a clean break is all that is needed; be prepared to deal with the socially-indifferent and flat earth types who are at the fringe (and yes, liberals have their versions of the same). A combined leadership of progressive/traditional clergy and laity with meaningful voice from African-Europe-the Philippines, can bring about a new birth, with GC2020 the delivery room...unless you slide back into last minute competition. Ditch the snark, loaded language and anything that sniffs of contempt for the 'other,' and plow the ground to birth a renewed Methodist movement. Just saying...

Bob 7 hours ago

Still not getting it

Adam Hamilton still does not seem to get it. He talks about the WCA and other traditionals leaving the church. I thought that this year would have taught him that his position is the minority position. Why should the majority leave? It seems that his success has puffed him up and blinded him to the truth. Instead he should be leading the discussion with Keith Boyette and the WCA/Goodnews crowd to come up with a equitable split. As long as the delusion that the left will control the UMC exists the conflict will continue and the non-believers will continue to be turned off by the UMC. It would not be that hard to let the AC's split into two denominations, both under the current book of discipline, which they could each modify to suit themselves. Neither side needs to reinvent the wheel. By the way the plan to switch traditional delegates to GC to progressive delegates will not work. Both sides are prepared, and even if half do switch, the traditional side will still carry the day.

Scott 12 hours ago

UMC Will Split

Scott, the OCP passed overwhelmingly if you are speaking of the USA. However, the Traditional Plan passed due to the fact that our delegates in Africa and the Philippines were, also, counted. Our brothers and sisters in those areas are newer to the Bible and therefore take it more literally than do we, in the USA.

Robert & Carla 9 hours ago

Of course it will split

It doesn't matter whether we're speaking of the USA, the Philippines, or Russia. The ONLY votes that matter are those of the General Conference as an entire body. The OCP didn't make it out of committee; the TP did and was subsequently passed by GC, and whatever portions are left intact after the Judicial Council reviews them later this month will become part of the BOD on January 1. The US portion of the church is in decline; Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Philippines are on the ascendancy. Had we been allocating GC delegates proportional to our worldwide membership distribution, we'd be looking at even greater margins supporting the retention of existing teachings on human sexuality. Diversionary attention focused on regional support of other plans is akin to focusing on the total popular vote instead of the Electoral College in US presidential elections--it's interesting trivia, but completely irrelevant to the only measure that ultimately matters. That's quite an interesting theory, by the way--recent exposure to scripture causes literal interpretation. I've seen quite a few people here in North America who barely know their bible and hold to the craziest, hyper-spiritualized interpretations of actual, historical events like Jesus' birth, miracles, resurrection, and ascension, and who refuse to take seriously his promise to return at the Last Day.

John 6 hours ago

U.S. Opinion

This is a great talking point, but let's remember that the congregations are more conservative than preachers and the lay leaders, the annual conference delegates are the most liberal of that group, the general conference delegates are a little more liberal than the annual conference delegates.

If you change the policy, you then have to sell it to the congregations. That's where the rubber meets the road. 60% of our congregations support the legal right to marry (a position that in congruent with General Conference). 47% voted for Trump.

Based on your narrative, all U.S. conferences should be willing to split with our international conferences, but remain one. Not sure if that is an accurate reading.

Anonymous 5 hours ago

The way to resolve a conflict

Is to sit down with those you are in conflict with rather than assuming how they will respond. By the way, isn't this basically the same leadership group who was so confident the One Church Plan would pass?

betsy 1 day ago

Why are we putting the bible up for another vote?

We should work on readjusting those who disagree with a clear teaching of the bible to come into communion with God and the Church. Petitions against God aren't worth the paper they are written on. If we were voting on a new headquarters that would be fine and the purview of man, but this is a core believe of the bible that says we are sinners, fallen and in need of grace but to seek that grace we must resist sins to be more perfect. Those sins are pretty well laid out and that includes much of what the LGBTQ+ group would like to claim is not a sin. I would rather have a smaller church that seeks communion with God than a big church that gives platitudes to man.

Brian 1 day ago


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