I am an idealist. I am also a moderate rebel, a square peg in a round hole.
I see the way things can be, and I have this huge desire to do whatever I can to make them be that way.
I have no problem following the rules as long as I agree with them; as long as they make sense. When the rules don't make sense, when I don't agree with them, I tend to chafe against them and have a desire to push the envelope.
And I am part of a denomination that clings to a structure and system that don't work, that refuses to even admit that there is something wrong, much less refuses to change anything.
Here are my two rants: APPORTIONMENTS and the ITINERANT SYSTEM
In my annual conference, the SINGLE measure for pastoral effectiveness is whether or not a church pays their apportionments (the amount, determined by the annual conference, that the local church pays to support the missions and ministries of the conference and denomination...which sounds great, but essentially supports the bureaucracy of the denomination). We track professions of faith, laity involvement, discipleship opportunities, etc, but based on what a number of clergy colleagues have told me, you can have people coming to Jesus left and right, highly developed lay leaders, a multitude of small groups, and incredible outreach to the community, but if your church does not pay its apportionments...you are an ineffective pastor. End of story.
I find myself intensely struggling with that. On the one hand, I believe that as long as apportionments exist, churches should strive to pay them and pastors should encourage their churches to pay apportionments, because the money does do amazing things...despite also helping to support a bureaucracy.
On the other hand, I have personally seen how paying apportionments has financially strapped local congregations and crippled them from doing effective ministry in their local community. For example, SJ faithfully paid their apportionments every single year, but between them and my salary, they had almost no money for actual ministry (of course, even if they had more money, it may not have made a huge difference because they just seemed determined to die, but I digress). BT has NOT paid its apportionments the past two years, because if we had, then we might have had to cut our budget to the point where we had a building but no ministries or staff.
Mac is currently being penalized because he was the pastor of a church that did not pay its apportionments. The past two years were the first time in his 20-plus year career as a pastor that he didn't pay apportionments. If you've read more than two posts on this blog, you know how highly I think of Mac. And despite how frustrating BTUMC is at times, I think it's an amazing congregation and God is doing amazing things there, mostly because of Mac's leadership.
But, he didn't pay apportionments, so he's being moved. (And I have a feeling that my involvement on Finance and Church Council at BT has tainted me, even though I voted "no" on the recommendation to NOT pay apportionments, but I'll deal with my thoughts about being "tainted" by my association with Mac and BT in another post.)
And it just doesn't seem fair. Or right. Stay tuned for part 2, THE ITINERANT SYSTEM.