In all the Family

I saw earlier my friend and collegue Clayton Oliphint reference his Family Systems Imagetraining in seminary regarding the reality of homeostasis, the resistance to or sabotage of change in any system, especially dysfunctional systems.  I to have thought back to systems theory with all the talk of and focus on, both in the run up and at General Conference, ineffective clergy.  It seems that ineffective clergy have become the identified patient, ie the primary cause, of the dysfunction within the UMC.  Systems Theory teaches that unless the dysfunction is addressed systems wide, ie the dysfunction that exists in all parts of the system, the dysfunction will remain even if the identified patient is fixed, whereupon the dysfuntion will simply be blamed on another member, and next identified patient of the system.  Certainly there are ineffective clergy but in the midst of the conversation about ineffective clergy and Guaranteed Appointment, I have not heard conversation about how or why clergy become ineffective.  Some are ineffective because they do not have the gifts and grace necessary to be ordained to specialized ministry, and somehow slipped through the ordination evaluative process.  Others had the gifts and grace, and were at one time effective but in the stress and rigors of ordained ministry have lost that effectiveness.  I realize there have been initiatives and work regarding sustaining clergy effectiveness, but these have consisted of a mixed bag of contining education programs at best, and a part of the clergy effectiveness evaluation process at worst, which for at risk ineffective clergy intensifies pressures, lowers morale, and often increases  ineffectiveness.  While the structure of the denomination was addressed in the Call To Action, primarily in the structure and oversight of boards and agencies, what has not been addressed in any widespread or official level is the dysfunction of laity, local churches, general boards and agencies, and episcopacy.  If one believes in systems theory, there will by no lessening of the dysfuntion within, or improving the effectiveness of, the UMC until the dysfunction of the entire system is recognized, admitted,  addressed and yes changed.

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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