The Commission to Study Ministry will be recommending to the General Conference in 2012 to do away with guaranteed pastoral appointments. I wrote about this last year in this blog.
One statement confirms what I always thought - the clergy shortage was a myth. Yes, a lot of clergy are retiring, but the general membership of the church is declining as well. We desperately need leadership borne out of passion, not entitlement.
My only caution is that we not see this as a "fix all." One commission member noted: "Guaranteeing clergy jobs produces 'a culture of mediocrity. It allows people to coast rather than to continue to strive and to grow,' said Seattle Area Bishop Grant Hagiya, a commission member. 'What we need is the flexibility to maximize our leadership to those who are going to make a difference.'"
Maybe. But Southern Baptists are losing members too, and they certainly can't blame guaranteed appointments for their demise. Leadership, an understanding of discipleship, and a willingness to be spiritual guides and models seem to be needed now more than ever.
John Meunier, a fellow blogger and bi-vocational local pastor, writes a very good blog about this and what doing away with guaranteed jobs in the UMC might mean. An exerpt:
I think radical changes in the rules for ministry must go hand-in-hand with a renewal of a shared sense of our Wesleyan roots. It is from our shared identity as a people called Methodist that we need to define what we mean by effective ministry and the nature of the mission of the church.So do I. Of course... does it have a chance of passing?
Such a move also places much more importance on the role and quality of conference leadership. Do we select bishops and district superintendents to be the leaders with an clear eye for ministerial effectiveness and the skills and gifts to nurture and support mission-oriented churches and clergy?
Will our church structure and rules need significant rewriting to free clergy to do what they would be expected to do?
Does the denomination need to take on itself more of the expense of the educating of new pastors?
I look forward to the conversation.