Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Plan to Fix the UMC - "The DIRT"

This is what we need to do, United Methodist Church. Not that you asked me. But I can fix it. I call my plan “The DIRT.”

Here’s how it goes: No new petitions will be allowed at the 2020 General Conference. The Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions will be “paused” for four years. The entire General Conference of 2020 will be devoted to the formation of a 24 person “Discipline Rewrite Team,” known as the DIRT.

We will meet people, get to know them, hear their ideas, nominate those we think would be good to serve on the DIRT, and at the end of our Conference, we would elect them and they would get to work. General Conference 2020 would be devoted exclusively to this purpose. And, most importantly, the election of the DIRT would imply approval of the work they would do.

Their task would be to start from a blank slate and write a brand new Book of Discipline, and here are the only guidelines we would give them.
- They would have four years to do it.
- The final product should be as simple and succinct as possible, like 50 pages max.
- They would be instructed to create  a book of policy that
1) empowers the local church to accomplish the mission,
2) redefines connectionalism for the 21st century, and
3) articulates that which comprises a distinct United Methodist ethos.

So then, in 2024 we would vote to abolish the old Book of Discipline and approve the new one without debate or motions to amend. We would be able to do this with confidence because of all the relational work we would have done in 2020. And then the rest of General Conference 2024 would be devoted to training on the new Discipline, which the DIRT would facilitate.

Here’s the motivation for my proposal: The structure of the United Methodist Church has become a hot sticky tar pit in which our ecclesial dinosaur has become stuck and is slowly being engulfed. The Book of Discipline is a document filled with unnecessary complexity that nobody actually understands fully. It has been amended and tweaked and adjusted and added to little by little over the years to the point where now it is almost completely useless for meaningful governance. The UMC needs a massive change, and the DIRT plan is the only way it can happen. Otherwise we’re just adding another layer of tar to the pit.

Frankly, I cannot find a single flaw in this plan. Other than, you know, it will never actually happen. Other than that though, I’m pretty sure I have just fixed the United Methodist Church! You’re welcome.


Unknown said...

Yes, Yes and did I mention YES! Seriously this is truly a brilliant suggestion.

michael l mckee said...

nice, Andy.

This fits here, got it from Len Sweet who got it from a student...

"Many voices in our day are predicting the end of denominations. Their woeful predictions are strengthened by a steady statistical decline among a plethora of religious organizations…..what are we to say to these foreboding voices? My answer is simply this:
If by denomination you mean an ecclesiastical system entrenched in inertia and enthralled with the insignificant, if by denomination you mean a carefully guarded subculture formed by political maneuvering—with all of its positioning and self-promotion—empowering itself with man-made titles, positions and measurements, if by denomination you mean the perpetuation of lifeless religion, empty and powerless, bearing a form of godliness that is merely a hollow shell, if by a denomination you mean anything of this sort then let it die! May the modern prophets’ warnings come true. Like a cheap Easter chocolate, may the waxy rabbit shell— a ridiculous counterfeit image completely void inside— forever reside in some forgotten clearance rack of history.
But if by denomination you mean the eager and intentional cooperation of resources — prayers, ideas, gifts, finances, passions, influences, relationships —- for great causes and if those great causes included bringing lost souls into the forgiveness and life provided in Jesus, and if those souls are taught— by example and word— to obey everything Jesus commanded us, and if those different disciples gather in local churches desiring nothing more than to bring pleasure and glory to God, and if those churches — humble, prayerful and joyful — extend their influence into the neighborhoods and nations and the nations that have come into our neighborhoods so that even more lost souls are found; if this is what is meant by denomination then let it live. Let it live!”
Dr. John Stumbo, President of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, (D.Min., George Fox Evangelical Seminary, Sweet Fellows)

William Lawson Culver said...

Go for it Rev. Andy! As one who actually contributed to the old social discipline, I heartily approve your effort. Of course, I would like the right of self-government clauses to remain!!!! Your radical approach is a theological equivalent to the revolution we need in our secular government. New approaches: new wisdom...throw the baby and the bath water both out, then bring in the men and women of the soil with the hands of wisdom to make our new church.
God bless and Godspeed!
William Lawson Culver, Lay person