Whether one goes to General Conference or not, every member is affected by its decisions. Usually we’re most affected by the decisions that never get reported in the newspaper. Every time as General Conference approaches, I wonder why it is we have such a democratic church; how can the Spirit work through majority vote? How can God’s will be accomplished through people who are confused about what’s going on or weren’t paying attention for a moment (in their defense, most likely because of fatigue and mental overload)? Is this really the way toward being the church of Jesus Christ, otherwise known as The United Methodist Church?
And then I think of the alternatives. I could be pope! Or you could be pope. Or someone we don’t know could be pope. Or someone who lives somewhere else in the world and doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a Christian in Minnesota or a local church struggling to be faithful.
Or we could all just make up the rules as we go along, however we might feel or believe on any given day.
I’m personally back to praying that God’s Spirit will move through the dedicated people who have offered themselves to be delegates to General Conference so that we will come home from Fort Worth better empowered to fulfill the mission of our Church and faith: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
The theme is: A Future with Hope.
My hope is that the General Conference will move in such a way that 7 vision pathways which have been laid out as a roadmap toward a future of making disciples and transforming the world will be empowered. Those 7 vision pathways are:
1) Teach the Wesleyan model of reaching and forming disciples of Jesus Christ
2) Strengthen clergy and lay leadership for ministry
3) Develop new congregations
4) Transform existing congregations
5) Expand racial/ethnic ministries
6) REach and transform the lives of new generations of children
7) Eliminate poverty in community with the poor
These have been developed over the last four years in the Council of Bishops as we have tried to provide leadership toward our mission. I haven’t articulated them a lot here in Minnesota, but they have informed much of our work as an annual conference.