General Conference Day Three
It takes time and effort to be a global church. I am sitting in legislative committee today. We have people who speak a variety of languages and come from a variety of backgrounds. Just moving through the organizational process took significant time because we needed to make sure our translators had time to interpret so everyone could participate fully. We spent a generous amount of time to introduce the members of the committee to each other so we would have a sense of who is sitting in the circle, where each comes from and some of their story. It was important foundational work for building relationships in order to work together.
I am person who likes to think fast, talk fast and move fast. There were moments I was frustrated by how long everything was taking. But I have been on the other side of the coin as well where I have been the non-primary language speaker, and the needing the hospitality of the group in order to be able to contribute my voice fully.
I believe this is one of the key challenges we face as a United Methodist Church. The world is moving fast, and we, as a church, are having a hard time keeping up with changes sweeping across the landscape. I long for a church that is more nimble, agile, and flexible which requires thinking on your feet and taking action without having study committee after study committee. And yet, if we truly are going to be a global church with full participation and not just in name only, then we need to take the time to listen, to build community and to bring our varied perspectives and history.
I don’t know how to reconcile these two. Many days I feel like we don’t have the luxury of time. If we do not make significant radical change, I am not sure we will still be here. The aging and shrinking of our congregations is going to create a financial crisis that is heading toward us like a speeding bullet. And the implications of that is not just for the US church, but will have ramifications world wide. But without time, to thoughtfully and prayerfully discern God’s leading and the building of the community, what kind of church will be be and how will we decide well what changes to make?