The Methodist blogosphere (yes, it exists) is abuzz about the recent series of posts from Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv.
You can read them in succession here. Click on the link, and scroll down to the posts from February 22 – February 27.
Groeschel started ministry within Oklahoma United Methodism, grew frustrated with the bureaucratic hurdles he would have to jump in order to start a new congregation, and ultimately launched an independent church.
LifeChurch.tv now has well over 20,000 people attending in multiple sites all over the country, including the world’s most advanced online church community. You can find out more about it here.
Groeschel’s recommendations for us — as a former part of “us” — are pretty straightforward: 1) discard the itineracy system of appointing pastors; 2) change or abolish the apportionment model in which local churches underwrite the expenses of the national and international level bureaucracies; 3) simplify the ordination process; 4) enable more churches to go multi-site; 5) stop funding any efforts at denomination-level marketing or branding; and 6) arrange an amicable separation between theological liberals and conservatives.
I believe many of Groeschel’s suggestions will become reality not so much by choice as by necessity. The itineracy and apportionment, in particular, will likely undergo fundamental change within the next 15 years or collapse under their own weight. The same is true for our cumbersome way of approving and ordaining pastors.
But I hope one change happens immediately: let’s give up the ghost on denomination-level marketing. I’ve posted on the subject here. Funnel thoes funds and that energy towards enabling local congregations to be the best marketers — and evangelists — they can be.