June 8th, 2021


Not all bureaucracy is bad

I’m seeing a lot of discussion about the trust clause and how joining the Global Methodist Church will lift the burden of denominational control off the backs of congregations. Allow me to say a good word on behalf of an under-appreciated bit of bureaucratic control, the District Board of Church Location and Building. The purpose of this volunteer body is to restrict congregations from doing foolish things, such as building parsonages and other capital improvements that are not up to standard (which will come back to bite them in the long run) and to make sure that a congregation embarking upon a major building program is legally and financially prepared for the challenges thereof.

In the town where I used to pastor, a local Assembly of God congregation had received a large gift of money. They decided to use it to build a new church on the main highway through town. They sank a lot of money into developing the site, grading the parking lots and traffic flow, putting in sewers, etc. Then they ran out of money. The site sat there, with nothing on it, for several years. An obvious parable about “counting the cost” before embarking on a course of action. But then, they had convinced themselves that if they (started to) build it, people would come. The site was recently, finally bought by a company now developing a huge self-storage facility there. Laying up treasure on earth, you might say, rather than in heaven.

A District Board of Church Location and Building would no doubt have been seen as an impediment to that congregation, but then, they’d be a lot better off if they’d submitted their plans to other people, sympathetic to their cause, who could have told them they weren’t ready yet. I hope the GMC will provide for such a peer review body in the new denomination for us.