We should formally measure our Social Principles

Measuring our progress on our denomination’s 72 aspirational Social Principles is powerful, effective management. But are we doing that?

The United Methodist Building is on Capitol Hill next to the U.S. Supreme Court and across the street from the Capitol. How many people know that the Americans with Disabilities Act was written in our building?

The first Social Creed — management goals — of any denomination was written in 1908 by Methodists. It helped end child labor, at least in the United States. Excluding students, how many children, such as migrant farm laborers, work? What’s the count? 1%? 5%?

How many read? Around 20% of Americans read below fifth grade!

We have set 72 management goals in the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church 2013 – 2016.

I agree with some:

  1. Peace,
  2. Feeding and Housing,
  3. Mental Health

Let’s count our progress, assuming we are progressing.

Doesn’t management involve inventorying, setting goals, doing them, and then inventorying again? Measure our current status on the 72 principles yearly or every two to five years.

Are we progressing on each of them? By how much? (Some of these counts are in the Worldwide Web or an old-time almanac, no doubt.)

  1. When was the last year U.S. troops were not “deployed to foreign lands protecting the Homeland”? Well, what’s our record of consecutive days of peace in the world? I don’t know, so let us count. Our 2020 goal could simply be one more peaceful day.
  2. How many Americans can access health care? Our 2020 goal could be 90% have an MD and medicine thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Distributing healthful food to 90% of Americans would also help. Again, counting helps achieve these simple goals.
  3. We should all get some Mental Health. How many have it? Current estimates are that about half of Americans will have a mental or addictive disorder in their life. But only one-quarter of those people get any type of treatment, and most of that is from a primary-care physician who does not know psychiatry. Let us count our progress towards the 2020 goal of appropriately treating half of American leaders, and “We the People” having addictive and mental disorders.

    Let us train 25%, instead of 3% of physicians to recognize, medicate and refer all Americans suffering mental and addictive disorders by 2020. Third, count the human beings with these disorders and their providers who are ignored and discriminated against.

    Proof? A mental and addiction recovery system has never existed. The nationwide 211 information and referral number is not advertised, so only 20% of first responders and physicians know about it. 2020 goal is 80%.

So let us count our progress towards our many aspirational goals. Without such measurement we won’t fulfill God’s calling. Because I can’t manage myself, however, much less you or the Social Principles, I will continue to lay on the couch.

Editor's note: David Weaver of Westerville, Ohio, is trained in statistics and psychological assessment, practicing 22 years. He identifies himself as a Methodist convert around 2005, suffering from know-it-all disorder, seeking recovery and good leaders. He admits that he is “never satisfied.”