Saturday, July 21, 2012
Renewing United Methodism
In his book On Leadership, John Gardner has prescient words about the need for renewal in large, complex organizations. I wish I would have read these words before attending General and Jurisdictional Conferences. They point to the need to take a realistic assessment of the present so that the future can be faced with hope. All attempts at change usually have unattended consequences.
Gardner writes: "I believe that all detailed attempts to design the society of the future are no more than smoke blown into the high winds of change. Obviously, we must have our minds amply stocked with contingent plans, estimates of better or worse paths to travel, visions of what could be or might be or ought to be. But blueprints of the future there can never be. To prepare for the swift transitions ahead, our surest assets are highly motivated men and women with a sense of what is important for the human future. The surest guarantors of our future are individuals and the ideas they have in their heads, including the values, intellectual, moral, and social, that they convey to young people coming along. Fortunately, that is an immensely significant resource" (p. 137).
Two points: First, I wonder if there were contingent plans to the Call to Action Report. It seems as a blueprint we as a church did not have a contingent plans in mind.
Second, Gardner's point speaks to the need to release of the energy and talents of young people, to find ways, as Wesley put it, of raising up and letting go leaders, of mentoring and resourcing those whose gifts show promise in ministry. Maybe the focus at GC on training young and talented lay and clergy leaders will pay long-term dividends.
Gardner's book raises all kinds of questions about the need for strong and courageous leadership.