In the United Methodist Church we are now paying for what we do not want or need. Our General Boards and Agencies broadcast their primary purpose as "...... resource leaders for local churches." General Board of Discipleship, General Board of Global Ministries, General Board of Higher Education Ministries and General Board of Communications are all resource sites where local churches may explore to find ministry consultants for help. Indeed, these boards have plenty of staff persons, standing at the ready, to assist in whatever local church ministry questions might arise. What a wonderful gift, if only it would work. Hear this story coming out of Texas; A local church leader received notice that th UMC was holding a conference covering ministry to the poor. The pastor called a representative from the board and asked if he could bring some lay persons to this event.
"Yes we would be glad to have anyone from your church attend," the pleasant voice responded "We even have a participant discount for churches that bring as many as 5 persons."
"No Ma'am, (the guy is from Texas, they say Ma'am all the time) I believe you misunderstand. I have 5 persons I would like to brig who are all desperately poor. They have lived in poverty for many years. I thought they might be able to teach, or at least, sit on a panel with your experts during a workshop session."
"Have they received the training and are they certified?" the voice asked, showing some concern
"Training and certification?" the pastor questioned "I don't understand."
"What I mean is have they received the training in poverty from our leaders in Nashville?" the voice continued
"No, they have not received the denomination's training in poverty, they are not certified by the denomination as poverty leaders. They are desperately poor and I thought, healthy, articulate church leaders who have experienced poverty firsthand would be great additions to your leadership."
"I am sorry, we only use those who have received training and certification through Nashville as our poverty leaders."
Stunned the pastor closed the conversation with "Well, I guess there is nothing more to say."
The church for tomorrow believes that if you want to know what it is like to be poor, you find someone who lives in desperate poverty to teach you, not some denominational executive from Nashville.
What do you think? Do the General boards and agencies of the church serve us well? Are we paying for what we do not want or need?