I read in the Waco Tribune-Herald today that President Obama visited Baghdad. Here is a relevant bit:
Iraqis “need to take responsibility for their own country,” Obama told hundreds of cheering soldiers gathered in an ornate, marble palace near Saddam Hussein’s former seat of power.
The United States is (and probably has been) encouraged at the potential of Iraq taknig more and more responsibility for its own security. Autonomy, sovereignty, self-determination are optimistic words and goals – arguably, fromt eh beginning of the effort to remove Sadaam Hussein from power there.
My question is do we really want Iraq to take responsibility for their own country? Are we, the United States, truly and honestly ready for self-determination in Iraq, or do we only really want this if things go our way?
What if Iraq, in taking responsibility for itself, chooses to ally itself with Iran? What if Iraq votes to rename itself “Al-Qaeda Haven”?
What most of us really want is for Iraq to take responsibility for itself and continue in the direction of democratization that we have planted there.
Now for the “So Goes The United Methodist Church” piece of the post.
The United Methodist Church has been losing members ever since it became the United Methodist Church. For the more than 2 decades I have been an adult United Methodist, there has been more and more talk about renewal, change, restructuring, redirection, etc. Some accuse all of these efforts as various forms “of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
The real question is, do United Methodists really want change? Are we willing to face change beyond change that we maintain control over?
Specifically, for example:
- We say we want to recruit more younger clergy. Is our vision that these younger clergy, should we find them, “earn their stripes” or “pay their dues,” or would we be willing to hear what they have to say now?
- We say we want to “position ourselves for the future,” yet a pastor receives applause at a clergy meeting for talking about his congregation cutting ministry so they can afford to pay apportionments.
- Dr. Elaine Heath suggests drastic change in The Mystic Way of Evangelism, including bi-vocational clergy and radically rethinking church.
- We are launching 10thousanddoors.org aimed ““the primary target audience is 18-34 year olds who are not familiar with the language of the church but have a deep yearning to connect with God.” To what extent do we expect potential newcomers to learn “the United Methodist Way” before welcoming them into church leadership?
United Methodists, I ask: are we indeed willing to relinquish control of our denomination that it might change, knowing that as long as we are in control God is not?