Following on from 42: What keeps me in Methodism. Just some very rapidly made notes to get the discussion going.
I worry that the Methodist Church will not exist within in a relatively short period of time. Obviously I am not alone, anyone who can read basic numbers and look at an age profile would have significant concerns. Yet there is also plenty of encourage reports on change and response to change. The church will certainly need to look a lot different in 5 or 10 years which could be a fantastic new start for us or a very rapid disappearance.
2. Maintenance not Mission
In too many places the focus has been for many years on maintenance not mission. I am fortunate that I have seen much of the opposite and have some very encouraging mission shaped church & circuit stuff at the moment. But we have got to get a big cultural shake up to really build the momentum for change that more and more people see is required.
3. Preachers and Worship Leaders
I am concerned that out Local Preachers Meetings have in too many places been stagnant and there has not been enough ongoing development of our Preachers. Nor have our worship leaders been properly integrated into our planning worship. We need to develop more flexible approaches that will encourage development and growth by those who have been preaching for many years as well as provide more local control over service style, content and theme.
4. Poor Teamwork
In too many places we see people working in isolation as preachers, ministers, layworkers, superintendents etc. As resources are spread thinly we need to function more as teams to make the most of each other and to provide more consistent worship and experience of fellowship.
We have some excellent theology that backs up our belief that all people can be called by God to any role within the Church and to make it impossible to discriminate on the basis of gender, race etc. However, we do need some significant steps to be made to in policies, procedures and monitoring to ensure that we do not allow discrimination anywhere through both prevention and monitoring.
We need to refocus on building deep discipleship throughout the Church. We have too many people who do not appear to have a deeply rooted faith and have not encouraged people to develop and grow in their discipleship through small groups and active participation & theology.
7. Buildings & Finance
We need to close a large number of buildings that are no longer fit for purpose, that are underused and are costing us too much money to keep open for an hour a week for just a few people. We spend far too much money on building maintenance and repair. Yet even then it too often is not enough to make the buildings attractive and environmentally sane for 21st Century uses. We need to thoroughly review our use of capital funds and redirect spending into direct mission and out of buildings.
We have too many superintendent ministers and too many who are persuaded to take on this role when neither called, nor trained nor equipped for the task.
9. Too much concentrated load
We focus too much on ordained ministry. This continually acts as a bottleneck. We need to free our people to get on without the paid clergy.
10. We take too small and local a picture
We need to invest some resources and authority in thinking more strategically across areas to merge circuits (and churches), close churches, open churches, focus ecumenical efforts, start fresh expressions, train pioneer ministers and get on with mission in 1001 ways.
11. Lack of Consistent Vision
We need longer term vision and consistency. Too many (often good) ideas come and go (Our Calling, Priorities for the Methodist Church, Pray without Ceasing), we need to define what we are about and then stick at it for a few decades. Our calling was good, but the priorities did not mesh with it and came too soon. Pray without Ceasing was excellent but needed to simply continue on an ongoing basis.