In All The Family 2

The other day in a post about family systems and the UMC, I stated my observation and fear that elders, specifically elders determined to be “ineffective,” were being seen as THE “identified patient” responsible for the decline of the denomination.  It seems this understanding has been ratified by the General Conference with the removal of guaranteed appointments for elders AND no CORRESPONDING action that identi…fies or proscribes removal of ineffective Bishops, closing of ineffective churches, and genuine restructuring of general boards and agencies.  Possibly I missed some legislation (i hope) or I am being too sensitive and over reacting (I pray) but, given what I have observed, the GC, by inaction in providing ways to measure and address other parts of the UMC family system, has” identified” the cause of the dysfunction of the denomination to be ineffective elders.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, there certainly are clergy that have lost their effectiveness or, by slipping through the ordination process, were never effective.  I cannot think of any elder who would say otherwise. However, as someone who studied and believes in systems theory, I believe that dysfunction is systematic and is operating in all parts of the system and to identify and address only one part of the system is wrong and will not produce a healthier system/church.  Through its actions, identifying elders as the place of dysfunction, and easing the way for their removal from the system, two results are likely.  The first is that elders will become, or judged to be, even less effective as greater pressure, attention, and examination of them is brought into the system.  Also likely is the transference of dysfunction from other parts of the system being placed upon them as they have now been “identified” as THE source of dysfunction. Frustration and perhaps hopelessness will set in and the dysfunction within the elders, and system/church as a whole will increase.   The second possibility is that elders will become more functional as ineffective clergy are removed, but since dysfunction in other parts of the system were not addressed, the system will remain dysfunctional and a new patient, congregations, Bishops, or boards and agencies will be “identified” and the system as a whole will still continue to grow in its dysfunction.  It seems at this time, the GC has done what so many dysfunctional families have done, given into the power of homeostasis that protects the current system at all costs, rather than take advantage of an opportunity that seemed to be present to address the dysfunction throughout the church and make systematic changes that would result in higher functioning and a healthier church that is better able to make disciples for Christ for the Transformation of the world.

About revkennydickson

I am a United Methodist minister and my professional passion is connecting issues of life and faith to film and other artforms. I am also interested in autism awareness and ministry and special needs. I am married to Michelle and have two children.
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