In my last post, I promised that we would attempt a substantive discussion of Bishop Sauls' proposals for reforming the governance of our church. With your forbearance, I'd like to begin on the abstract level. The bishop suggests that our church is too top-heavy in its governance--an assertion with which I agree--and that we should be diverting more resources to mission.
Two questions: what do we mean by mission? If by mission we mean providing support to the least and the lost, that suggests one set of funding imperatives. If we mean evangelism, that suggests another, and if we mean furthering the reign of God by adopting and advocating just policies, that suggests a third. I am sure there are others.
Second, while I think it is a given that the church must be heavily involved in mission (whatever it is that mission means), I don't believe it is a given that this mission is best facilitated on the national level.
As I read Bishop Sauls' proposals they seem to argue for diverting money from governance on the churchwide level to program on the churchwide or local level. But one could argue that mission or program, or whatever we want to call it, is best executed at the local level, and thus the better redistribution of resources would be from the churchwide program budget to provincial, diocesan or congregational program budgets.
If we are going to have a thoroughgoing reexamination of our church structures, I hope it is not confined to a conversation about reducing the frequency of General Convention, or moving money from one line in the Church Center's budget to another. So let's have at it. What do we mean by mission? On what level are resources for mission best spent?
Those of you who finish your essays before the allotted time has expired can earn extra credit by explaining how best to snap the Boston Red Sox out of their disastrous September swoon.