UMC vs GMC: Who has more Red Tape?

For many years, I had one of those money trees in my office. I inherited it seven years ago when it was down to about three leaves. Because I water and rotate it regularly, it has grown well. One thing I rarely do is prune this plant. Every two to three years I notice that it becoming a pain because it is taking up too much space. The day comes when I’m tired of it getting in my way, and I take the scissors to it. For the next few years, the money tree will be back in its place.

Red tape is a lot like this money tree…I’m glad to have it as long as it doesn’t become overgrown. Red tape will just keep growing and growing and will take over unless an institution has a plan and the will to prune it back. Note: I use the phrase “red tape” very loosely to refer to the bureaucracy and its related rules and regulations.

The UMC is at a disadvantage when it comes to red tape. The UMC has been the main branch of Methodism tracing their roots back to the Methodist Episcopal Church which was launched in 1784. To complicate matters, the UMC has had a number of mergers over this time. In a merger, both denominations tend to want to bring most of their red tape with them. So the UMC has had over 200 years for red tape to grow, and I’m unaware of any efforts taken to prune it back.

Meanwhile the GMC isn’t even 200 days old. They have brought with them a pruned down version of the red tape from the UMC…roughly 10% of the size. This kind of reminds me of transplanting a cutting from a plant. Without pruning, this too will take over in the coming decades.

Here’s my question for each denomination:

  • UMC: The UMC has an incredible opportunity to remake itself for the 21st century. Will the UMC go through the hard work of deciding what agencies, committees, boards, policies, rules, and regulations they need to let go of? Will the day finally come when they take the scissors to the red tape?
  • GMC: A generation from now, the GMC won’t have leaders that experienced the complexity and frustration of working in the UMC red tape. What will prevent these GMC leaders from allowing their own red tape to become overgrown and a source of confusion and frustration?


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