Think we’ve (Episcopalians) got it bad? Check out the Methodists

Tony Jones blogs a reflection on the United Methodist General Conference that took place a couple of weeks ago.

The eye-popping numbers: It cost $1500/minute!!! (I hope someone does the numbers for our own General Convention).

Will Willimon comments. Willimon’s warning applies to us as well:

My organizational guru Ron Heifetz speaks of the “myth of the broken system.”  Heifetz argues that all systems are “healthy” in that systems produce what those who profit from thesystemdesire.  Though the CGC can’t produce a complicated, large scale, two week convention, the CGC produces a General Conference that protects those in positions of power in our church.

Jones concludes:

All bureaucracies are good at one thing: self-perpetuation. They may be good at other things, too, but the propagation of the gospel is not one of those. Bureaucracy is good at distributing drivers licenses. But bureaucracies are bad for the gospel.

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One thought on “Think we’ve (Episcopalians) got it bad? Check out the Methodists

  1. The blessing for the Episcopalians is that the Methodists got there first. Pray God we learn something from their Convention that enables us to avoid similar problems at our own. I am praying about this only because I have no confidence that it will be possible for us without the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit. Fortunately, since I’m not a delegate, I get to watch and pray from the sidelines.

    I couldn’t agree _less_ with Tony Jones’ conclusion in this debacle. As I posted in his comments: “Our denominational bureaucracies are bad for the gospel NOW because they cannot manage to adapt to the current culture and its accelerated pace of change due to the rise of instant communication and a networked world. That doesn’t mean they were always bad for the gospel, or that they will continue to be bad for the gospel into the indefinite future.”

    That’s just as true for us as it is for the Methodists. Our bureaucracy exists for one purpose: to enable the proclamation of the gospel and the reconciliation of all people to God through Christ. The biggest reason we get in the way of own purpose is that the culture has changed so much faster than we have. That doesn’t mean change is impossible for us, but it does mean we need to create a better conversation ahead of General Convention and a clearer commitment to excellence in process and outcome. Otherwise, we can go down the same road very easily.

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