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perspectives on change


I returned from annual conference #1 yesterday, and of course have lots to think about and say about it, but who knows what all will end up being posts and what all will just manifest itself in conversations I have with people over the next few weeks. I figured I should post a picture of what I did during the time (stand at the booth and answer questions) along with show how the board looked upon completion. It was overall a good time to get to know some new people and see what another conference is like.

So, the main topic at conference of course was change. Every year, I'd venture to say at every annual conference, the main topic is change. I'd venture to say that is because the denomination is dying. That is apparent, and yeah, change is necessary, so we preach on change and still don't do anything about it.

I think we tend to have it all wrong though. For example, the group convened by the Bishop that is looking at change in the NM conference has no one under 40 in it. Who has their finger on change? Who has the time to implement change? People who only have a few years of ministry left before retirement? Or people who have the time and energy to do more than sit around a table for 8 hours and discuss books on leadership and change? The answer seems obvious to me, but maybe that's because I'm 23 and naive.

There is a power struggle in the church. Unfortunately, that power struggle is looking to be an endless cycle unless a complete deconstruction of our understanding of what it means to be the church happens. We can't just talk about change in terms of how we do worship, or how we greet people, or how we lead studies. Change has to be holistic and doing a little tweaking will at best result in maybe a slower rate of loss.

There are beginnings of a movement within the UMC to attract younger clergy. This is all well and good, but younger clergy won't be attracted to an entity that seems to just try to shut them up. Younger clergy are looking for the potential to change and frankly there are other denominations that are doing better things than arguing with each other. I know my calling to full time ministry is there, but there are lots of times where I don't feel supported in that calling and that's a huge deal.

I often get questioned about where I'm headed next, and for awhile I was reluctant to confidently say that my calling is full-time ministry and that seminary is my next step. It wasn't that I didn't know that is what I'm called to, it was that I was afraid of getting lost in this power trap. But things are changing for me, and I truly feel that my calling is to be part of this movement to transform and reform. To deconstruct and reconstruct. Unless my generation is given an opportunity to engage in ministry, the demise of the UMC feels imminent.

You can only say things need to change for a while before the rug gets pulled out from beneath you because you just stood there.
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1 Comments:

Laura,

Your frustration with regard to the resident "power" in the church is very akin to the political arena in general. Entrenched "old Guard" at times seems impenetrable, but not without its weak points. They may be doing the talk, but not necessarily doing the walk.

If the "younger set" wants more "say" in things, they must "show up" and asert. There is power in numbers. If not you, who?

Seems to me it makes more sense to mobilize from within the standing structure if the general philosophy of UMC appeals to you; rather than searching for a group anew.

Mobilize, organize, asert, and be heard.

John W.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:03 AM  

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