Thoughts on the General Boards and Agencies

This past Saturday I returned from my first visit to an event at one of the general boards and agencies of The United Methodist Church. I was at the General Board of Discipleship for the Open Source Liturgy Project about which you can read in a few previous posts. I believe that this particular project has a lot of potential.

However, I am not confident in the effectiveness of the general boards and agencies of the UMC as a whole. While I was on the trip, I think I figured out why…

  • The boards and agencies are focused on the church.
  • Many local churches that were once focused on those outside the church have changed to an internal focus.

Ideally the boards and agencies would focus on the church and local churches would focus on reaching those outside the church. However, many local churches that were once focused on those outside the church have shifted to an internal focus. The boards and agencies have continued to focus on the church.

One possible path toward greater effectiveness in the denomination would be for the general boards and agencies to no longer resource local churches in ways that are helpful to current members. Instead, provide resource only what will reach non-religious and nominally religious people with the good news of Jesus Christ.

What do you think about this possibility?

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on the General Boards and Agencies

  1. so are you saying the general board should adopt the mission of cor? &:~)

    as a close observer to the general boards, the gbod in particular. the problem isn’t their mission and the mission of the church, it is how they act out their mission. there is so much red tape, political correctness, in breeding, and overall pithy stuff that the gifted employees deal with they have little energy to actually deal with the issues at hand for the small, medium and large church. i’ve been told by many current employees and ex-employees of the gbod in particular when i’ve looked at applying for positions there “don’t you will do more good for the church if you stay in the church” essentially. they do not have an environment of permission giving, but one of making ‘no slip ups’ and thus ‘no chances’.. i think too, as an entity they do not know how best to serve the church anymore. they just spend too much time dealing with their own stuff.

    that’s my slant on them.

    as for the church. i think its up to clergy to help break out churches from the survivalist mentality. when you get past that then you can, in a healthy way, focus on the outward folks who are the real mission of the church.

  2. I think that the general boards and agencies are at their best when giving me the tools that I need as a pastor to help me focus my people on reaching out to the folks outside the church. I appreciate the work of GBOD in the area of worship resourcing… many of our worship team’s most creative worship experiences have come from ideas first encountered on the GBOD worship homepage.

    Can they do a better job? Possibly. But as Gavin mentions in his comment, the environment within the agency will possibly need to change to allow more freedom.

  3. Actually I would say that the General Agencies are not at all focused on the local church, have no clue what the local church needs for mission and ministry, are largely made up of folks who have never worked in the local church and do not currently attend local Methodist churches. (GBOD perhaps the exception to this general rule) There is a culture of inbreeding (People just moving from agency to agency) that basically causes a circular rehashing of ideas that were rooted and grounded in the culture and theology of a generation or more past. I believe the best way forward is to radically cut the funding and return the resources to the local church for mission and ministry. And this is coming from a former General Agency Employee.

    Carlos

  4. I must confess a great deal of ignorance concerning GBOD. However, that self-admitted ignorance didn’t stop me from making this. 😉

  5. Oops, wrong link. I meant THIS!

  6. That’s quite a funny and accurate depiction from deviantmonk. Andrew, I’m glad you had the experience to see some of our general agency work first-hand. I’m personally in favor of reduced funding to these levels of the church for the reasons you and others have mentioned, especially when you consider that as a denomination we just voted this year to increase our budget in the face of ever dwindling resources. Ultimately the bill comes down to the local church, and should those resources be used for institutional maintenance (the fruits of which the local church hardly ever sees) or mission and ministry to our local communities?

    By the way, I’m making an attempt at restarting my blog.

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