The United Methodist Church has 10 general agencies that rely at least in part on local church giving to operate. Their duties vary, but all are charged with working with local churches, conferences and each other.
The Connectional Table, which acts as a sort of church council for the denomination, has the responsibility of evaluating the missional effectiveness of these agencies.
It also has the responsibility of working with the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination's finance agency, to draft a four-year budget that covers not only the 10 church-funded agencies but also other denomination-wide work. General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking body that typically meets every four years, has the final say on the denominational budget.
This church leadership body approved a plan to connect the evaluation of United Methodist general agencies with the development of the denomination's budget.
In years past, the evaluation and budgetary work have been largely separate. The Connectional Table outlined a process for the evaluations to have some bearing on 2021-2024 agency budgets and possibly their spending plans before then.
"It won't be the only factor, or even the major factor, but it will provide some input," said the Rev. Brad Brady, co-convener of the Connectional Table's agency evaluation advisory group. He is also senior pastor of Perry United Methodist Church in the South Georgia Conference.
"We don't have any preconceived notions of where things are going to go," Brady added. "We want to see this as our roadmap as we start our journey."
In evaluating the agencies, the Connectional Table will be looking at how the agencies collectively seek to aid conferences and local churches, fulfill their mandates in the Book of Discipline and execute other essential ministries.
One thing the Connectional Table will look at is how the agencies, alongside churches and conferences, help carry out the denomination's Four Areas of Focus. Those areas are: Creating new and renewed congregations, developing principled Christian leaders, improving global health and engaging in ministry with the poor.
Next year, the Connectional Table will seek input from the denomination's 132 conferences about the partnerships they have with agencies.
Specifically, the Connectional Table's evaluations will look for evidence that agencies are fruitful in mission, making continuous improvement, building partnerships and communicating their story.
The Connectional Table next will meet with leaders from each agency to discuss what it's learning about that agency's work.
Finally, the leadership body plans to use the information it gathers in planning how the denomination allocates its resources.
Heather Hahn, multimedia news reporter, UMNS
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