Friday, August 27, 2010

Doing Our Own Thing

Churches I’ve pastored have been a part of World Vision’s 30-Hour Famine for over ten years. Every Winter, usually in February, our youth group has raised money and gone hungry in an effort to make an impact on poverty and malnutrition around the world. Sometimes we’ve raised thousands of dollars, sometimes only a few hundred; but the knowledge that you are joining with other youth groups all across the United States deepens the sense that your small contribution means something in the grand scheme of things.

I was a bit surprised a few months ago to learn that The United Methodist Church, of which I am a part, has started a campaign called “B1: One Being, Being One” that looked very, very similar to 30-Hour Famine. It’s described as a 24-Hour fasting event that raises money to empower the poor and disempower unjust systems sustaining poverty. Sounds a lot like 30-Hour Famine.

I thought, “Can’t be the same thing. There must be something I’m missing.” So I sent an email to the folks at the General Board of Global Missions asking how the B1 Campaign differs from 30-Hour Famine.

I received a response fairly quickly. The big difference? The B-1 Campaign is United Methodist and 30-Hour Famine is not.

So … rather than approach World Vision and seek to partner with them on a successful endeavor that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the elimination of poverty world-wide; and rather than work with World Vision knowing that many United Methodist churches already participate in 30-Hour Famine – The United Methodist Church has decided to “do their own thing” and launch another program - like the church needs more of those.

I’m disappointed, to say the least, that The UMC has decided to compete rather than seek partnership with others in the body of Christ. Sadly, this is only the latest example of The UMC imitating rather than innovating or partnering in ministry (nationally and locally).

My church will be participating in the 30-Hour Famine this winter as we have in the past. The B-1 Campaign does not give us a compelling reason to change. Playing in our own Methodist sandbox just isn’t enough motivation to do so.