Church’s future depends on developing leaders

This article quotes several church leaders speaking to the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Let’s start with retired Bishop Joe Pennell:

“Every congregation deserves spiritual leaders,” he said. “… We need leaders today who are concerned about more than institution maintenance. We need leaders who are more concerned about faith than maintaining the status quo. We need leaders today who are nailed to the historic faith, which brought the United Methodist Church into being.”

There seems to be an implicit claim that some number of congregations don’t have “spiritual leaders”, and that these (non- spiritual?) leaders are concerned with institutional maintenance, maintaining the status quo, and who are not “nailed” to the historic faith. I can make some sense out of this, but specifity would help. Many many pastors find themselves in typical UM congregations: an aging congregation, pressed for money, in an aging building. Fear is rampant. “Will we be able to pay the bills? Will we be able to keep the doors open?” Being rooted (can I say that instead of “nailed”?) in the historic faith is essential if these spiritual leaders are to lead their congregations into healthy change. I’m not sure how willing we are to mark out what exactly that “historic faith” is, though.

Christian leaders must be like Jesus by being counterculture leaders and understanding that if they lead out of their convictions, others will reject them, he said.

Yes, but… Which culture are we to counter? The strongly institutional and bureaucratic culture of United Methodism? Some strand of American culture?
I don’t understand the end of this sentence. Are we to seek rejection by leading out of our convictions, or are we to pursue acceptance by not having convictions?

Rev. Jerome Del Pino, top staf executive of the Board presented three leadership characteristics needed in our age:

  1. The first characteristic of such a leader is that of being a guardian of the connection, he said. The leader does not abandon the ideal of a global church that is diverse in hues, languages, cultures and traditions. He said global leaders take seriously the view of Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, that the world was his parish, and because the church is changing faces, such leaders are not “prompt(ed) to trim their vision to the local, the familiar and the domestic.”
  2. A global leader also bears a renewed vision of the church, Del Pino said. The leader envisions a church that recovers its Methodist heritage without “self-interested denominational navel gazing or anxious preoccupation with its own survival.” Leaders with renewed vision embrace the purpose for which the Methodist movement was founded, he said. “From the beginning, Methodism existed not for its own sake but for the sake of a larger catholicity.”
  3. A third characteristic of a global leader for a global church is that of advocating for a learned leadership.

Sounds good. But with all such prescriptions, I’d like to hear how they think this differs from the status quo. What are we now doing that we need to change? What are we failing to do that we need to start doing?

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