United Methodist pastors and leaders are living in an in-between time that is unique in the history of the denomination. We find ourselves reeling from the disharmony and decisions made in the 2019 General Conference and the daunting choices being prepared for 2020.
While much has been written on the big picture, I want to address the impact this is having on pastors serving where it counts the most, in the local church. Here are some observations:
- All of us are experiencing stress as the United Methodist Church experiences pain, anguish, and chaos as it faces a breakup in its future. Pastors are on the front line of these changes as they are responsible for interpreting denominational decisions to their congregations and face personal struggles over their call to ministry.
- Our current models of evaluation and support of pastors do not take into account the current reality of serving in a fractured system and ministering in a broader culture that questions the very idea of religion, church, and ministry.
- Whereas the United Methodist Church in the past was a place of identity and support for pastors, for many it’s a source of conflict among colleagues and a breakdown between those in conference leadership and those serving churches.
- Pastors, who feel the burden of their call and desire to follow Christ, find themselves increasingly isolated in their churches. They are caught between the expectations of their conferences and the daunting task of keeping their churches alive even when they are conflicted over the future of the United Methodist Church.
PASTORS HAVE TO LEAD IN A NEW WAY
Regardless of what the denomination decides to do, pastors have to take on a different level of leadership for their congregations. They need to position their churches to make critical decisions about huge questions:
- What is the church’s future in the denomination?
- To which brand of Methodism do they want to affiliate?
- What kind of pastor will they accept to be in the leadership of their church?
- To whom do they want to be accountable in the future? A bishop, a conference, other churches, to go it alone?
Rather than wait for the powers at be to decide the future, this site is designed to support pastors and leaders in local churches who want to be proactive about their future.
The reality is this: sermons still need to be created, worship services still need to be designed, systems of discipleship still need to be formed, systems of injustice still need to be challenged – not to mention the ongoing tasks of raising children in the faith, taking care of 60 plus people who need ongoing assistance as they age, and being the midst of life-altering experiences like weddings and funerals.
As a result, this site is not for those who are looking for a way to fix the denomination. Instead, its focus is on providing dynamic tools that can be used in the local church context to develop leadership, identify opportunities for ministry, and develop transformative systems that change people’s lives for the better as they live out God’s call in today’s context.
Being Church in a Culture of Change is not just a tagline; it’s a way of thinking, being, and doing ministry as we move into the future.
I hope you will join me and others in a journey of discovery and will find the Change Your Ministry resources to be a great support for your ministry and for the congregation in which you serve.
Craig Kennet Miller