Monday, November 24, 2014

Falling behind

This opinion piece in Baptist News by George Bullard certainly describes what has happened in my small denomination:
It is no longer true that denominations provide a majority of the resources needed by many of their congregations. It has been at least a quarter of a century or longer since many denominations in North America could say they provide the majority of the resources for their churches. I am not sure any denominations could currently make this claim. Resources in this case refer to books, curriculum material, training and continuing education, consulting and coaching services, funding, even seminary or divinity school training for ministers, and many other products and services that could be named.

Generally the more a denomination has congregational autonomy and governance, the fewer resources come from the denomination. The more the denomination has connectional authority and governance the more resources come from the denomination.

The smaller the denomination the fewer resources come from the denomination. ....

...[M]any denominational organizations that generate products and services have severely cut back what they offer, merged with other compatible organizations, found new markets outside their denominations or closed down. Budgets for providing consulting, coaching, mediation and facilitation services to congregations have significantly decreased in many denominations. ....

Denominations also function based on the emotional support for the way things have always been. When economic realities shift, denominations are slower to adjust. Without profit motive they could lose money on ventures that for-profit organizations would long ago have adjusted or abandoned. Often denominations find themselves playing catch-up to what other organizations are doing. .... [more]
And fewer resources from the denomination are often the result of less financial support for the denomination [or perhaps fewer resources lead to less financial support]. Regardless, the adjustments can be painful.