Thursday, April 12, 2012

Has God Outsourced the UMC?

I'm enjoying a day off, and with it a slower start to the day.  So, I've got my laptop open and catching up on news and bloggers perspectives.  In the background I've got the TV morning news on.  There's a story on about outsourcing jobs from the United States to other parts of the world.

That's when the question hit me.

Has God outsourced The United Methodist Church beyond the US to more productive parts of the world?

I won't review the numbers for you, but if you've followed recent news leading up to GC2012 then you know the UMC is growing elsewhere.  Nor will I review the good work of Philip Jenkins on the explosive growth of global Christianity ("Next Christendom" is now a decade old!).  Christianity, and even United Methodism, will continue to see impressive movement in the southern hemisphere, and not be as dominated by English speakers & western worldviews where it may continue a decline into a minority viewpoint.  What will the impact of other languages, customs, and contexts have upon United Methodism?  It's a great question for any denomination to consider as we look for the work of the Kingdom of God and seek to join in with those efforts.

I join the voices of others who share concern that GC2012 is too dominated with the issues, fears, and sense of decline/change needed for United Methodism in the United States.  I'll be hoping, praying, and looking for GC2012 to embrace more of a global view, international leadership, and a Book of Discipline and organizational plan that best reflects the global nature and growth of The United Methodist Church.

As my mind wanders with these thoughts & thinks of my UM brothers and sisters in Africa, Asia, South America and elsewhere I wonder:
When will the General Conference be held outside the United States?
Will the BOD be changed to reflect the essentials of United Methodism that can be expressed in every annual conference and congregation?
Will we establish a consistency of clergy patterns and episcopacy in all annual conferences?
Could agencies (or whatever those mission and ministry arms become after GC2012) be established in other continents to share best resources and practices & better develop strategic, vital leadership across the globe?
Will the UMC take the necessary steps to become a vital movement in every continent and country or will we stifle the work of the Spirit by imposing US values and approaches upon the movement in other lands?  

It is an exhilarating time to be a Christian and to be United Methodist.  I continue to hope and pray we make the most of these days as we follow the Risen Christ throughout the world.

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