Saturday, March 10, 2012

Change may threaten vibrancy of the Church and silence our youth.

(This is a repost of a comment Albert Longe, President of the Africa UMSM placed on this blog)

I wouldn't want to respond in an official capacity of the Africa United Methodist Student Movement that i lead, but i would offer my personal reflections on the Call to Action Proposal and why we find it so fit to reject it.

The development of the Call to Action proposal has been limited to certain individuals and was not inclusive of the views of different people in the church, different in terms of age group, ethnicity and regional groupings. The circusmtances surrounding the present state of the church differ in these communities and that should be taken into consideration. For example, in Africa there are clear challenges that the call to action fails to be considerate of, the membership of the church in Africa is high and increasing whilst the representation of the continent in decision making positions of the church is being reduced. If indeed the Call to Action proposal is passed, the next question is how many years will it take for a country or annual conference to be represented in the church's administration when some central conferences have about 6 countries.

The call to action indeed threatens the participation of young people in the church. This comes out of the understanding that most of the young adults are out of the church but how then do we ensure that these youths are taking an active role in the church when they aren't included in the administration of the church. How do we develop vibrant congregations in the absence of the youths?

A clear picture even from the Connectional Table shows that the members share different views when it comes to the proposal, with some being totally against it.

The restructuring exercise of the church is a business model and i would call it a wall street think on rebranding of companies for the sake of maximising profits. It has to be appreciated that the church is indeed a fellowship of believers and we shouldn't lose focus that the UMC tradition is that of a movement and not an institution or company. Restructuring and new systems obviously interprets a refocus on priorities and one will have to appreciate that some of the agencies are doing amazing work in promoting leadership development through programs that include the youths. If the voices of the youths are silenced then who will lead the church when the present generation in leadership passes on.

We don't reject the need for change but what i mean is that change should come in a way that does not threaten vibrancy of the church and its sustainability plans which mainly lies with the presence and participation of the youths.

The agencies have develop new ways of cutting down the expenses involved whilst maintaing key programs and activities that is moving the church ahead. Indeed most agencies plan to cut down their board of directors membership whilst ensuring that there exist a balanced representation. Well the financial aspect matters but how expensive is it to maintain these agencies when only 1 cent out of every 1 US Dollars given to church goes there?

If we are to accept the call to Action, are we not surrendering the fate of the church to a few individuals presumed to be competent? How certain are we that the new formula will yield good results of creating vital congregations when evangelism seems not be a major focus?

I could say more but even the recent formula of qualifying or assessing vital congregations seem not to be clear and satisfactory. I hope we reflect along the lines of having everyone on board and ensuring that we create and enhance the sustainability plan of the church without hindering critical programs.

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