Putting UMCGC into perspective
Putting UMCGC into perspective
Submitted by Rev. Jeremy Scott
Clergy Delegate for Yellowstone Conference
I write this as #UMCGC 2016 winds down its final few hours. There is still time for last-minute shenanigans which would not be unprecedented. However, for me, I'm reflecting. As I reflect one question comes to mind, should any United Methodist outside the Portland Convention center care about what we have done for the last two weeks? Honestly, I'm not sure.
Some will argue of course that this every four year event is critical to The United Methodist Church, and that is true. But for folks on the ground, striving to build up their local congregations, what does this last two weeks mean? This time, like many times before, I would say not much. Status quo for the most part was maintained. And that may be a good thing.
Honestly, General Conference is a "paying the rent" activity. Something we have to do but also something that isn't very glamorous. It is the way we assure that the large institution of the church continues to function. We do this by approving a budget, electing some officials, and updating our rule book. That is its function.
At least that is its function for me.
I believe for some it has become a way to exercise control over others. It has become a way for a few to dictate to many how they should act as Christians, how they should function as a faith community, and all the way to saying who they should be allowed to love and partner with.
This attempt at control comes in many forms. It masquerades as "accountability", "covenant", or "vitality". Some would try to convince you that the problems of church decline could be reversed if only we could ban certain activities or pass the correctly worded resolution. Anyone who has been a leader in a local church knows that simply isn't the case.
Can you imagine a local church council passing a rule that every member should tithe? Tempting? Maybe. Practical? No. Or how will does it work if a local church adopts a mission statement that calls on members to be Christ's hands and feet? Great! But if it is not also followed through on over and over again in worship, small groups, and other ways it is simply words on paper.
Ultimately, the great bulk of the work of General Conference will simply be words on paper.
So no, I don't think the local church should care much. Instead, leaders in United Methodist faith communities need to focus on the same thing they should be focusing all the time General Conference isn't meeting, Making disciples and transforming their communities. That is the work Jesus calls us to. That is the true work of the church as God intends it.
So as you click off the live stream and log out of Twitter I invite you to breath deep, relax, and rest in the Holy Spirit. The tension and drama of these 10 days will soon behind us and the true work of the church is before us. There are still people who need to be blessed, people who need to hear a message of love, and more true work to do for God's glory.
As we say goodbye to #UMCGC 2016, let us say hello again to our unending calling to be builders of God's Kingdom.
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