Last night we had our annual "Charge Conference". I put it in quotation marks because it was called a "Charge Conference" but it really wasn't. The "Charge Conference" is a mandated meeting by the United Methodist Book of Discipline to elect officers for the coming year, and adopted the appointed pastors salary. All of that was to have taken place prior to the meeting last night --- so what we were doing was not really a "Charge Conference." What it really took place was a cheer leading session as we move to a new structure that we are calling clusters.
What is a cluster?
In theory it is to be four or more United Methodist Churches that cluster together to share resources and ideas. How this is going to work is anybodies idea. I am not a fan of anything that is mandated from on high. For years I have had a group of clergy friends that get together regularly to support each other (sometimes just bitch and moan). This too is being mandated from on high, but hopefully what we do now will be sufficient to keep people happy.
I think the cluster idea has some real value if: you keep the clergy out of it for the most part, you have a clear sense of what you are wanting to accomplish, and you acknowledge that this is not a permanent reality, instead it is a temporary one that may morph and change over time. Without those, I am afraid at is destined to fail.
Regardless, it will be interesting as we see where this is going to lead us.
If there is anything I have learned in my almost 25 years as a United Methodist pastor is --- don't expect things to stay the same. There will be another new initiative to save the church and the world right around the corner.
New Generation anyone???