Monday, March 05, 2007

A Call for Commentary

OK, it's time to see how many readers I have out there.

I've been asked to submit an op-ed piece (like one you would see in a newspaper) to help inform the UMC's Connectional Table as the formulate their "State of the Church" report for General Conference 2008. I'm one of a few hundred who've been asked to do this. I already have a draft going, but I want to know what you think.

Post replies on this blog (or email me if you want them kept private) on what you think is the current state of the United Methodist Church. These can be good things, bad things, whatever. You don't need to be a UM clergy person or even a member. As a matter of fact, outsiders' perceptions would be greatly helpful. I'll seriously consider your comments as I put together the final version of my op-ed piece.

This is democracy in action, people. Let's put the power of the internet to work. Leave your comments and tell me what you think.

3 comments:

Missy Ann said...

I'm supposed to be working on one of those too...Good thought on using the power of the Internet!

Rob said...

I've been so disconnected from both the church world and the religious sphere in general that i don't think i can give much opinion on the current state of the UMC. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Matt,
What is the "State of the Church"?
I see a church that is pretty content to slowly lose membership until one day it will either combine with another denomination or become a trivia question. Current leadership appears to be doing little to attract new members. Perhaps they know their pensions are safe and so they see no reason for changing course. I am sure someone has done the math and has figured out when the pain will begin.

There are many reasons for declining membership, but its pretty obvious the church has not delivered a vision to people that will attract them to the church. I suppose any church that can claim George W. Bush as well as John Edwards as members is going to have difficulty crafting a vision that doesn't employ a wide angle lens. When noticing the plethora of denominations that has roots in Methodism, one might conclude that perhaps the church's purpose is merely to spawn more dynamic groups that are frustrated with the present one.

But seriously, when you say "Methodist", what is the first word that pops into your head. I challenge you to do the word association game with your friends. I bet a large number of them will say "Ummmmmm...". There was a time when Methodists worked to end slavery and war. Last time I checked, the official position on the Iraq War was "regret".

Still, internal conflict is probably the Methodist news story most people remember. Removing a minister from a church that was perfectly happy and comfortable with her is just sad. Making all the mess so public only made it worse. Has it dawned on anyone that people who are seriously homophobic will most likely be attracted a church that constantly rails against gays anyway? Isn't being inclusive a far more rational approach? I am guessing stats aren't kept on how many don't attend because being around bigots makes them uncomfortable.

It doesn't take a genius to realize why nondenominational congregations are gaining popularity. When there is no financial obligation to the parent organization, there is more to spend locally. Besides providing ministers, what do the local churches get for their money?

I know there are individual churches that have success stories and can boast of increasing memberships. I also realize the United Methodist Church is a combination of denominations and thus needs to be inclusive. However the Methodist leadership seems to be doing little to move forward. It won't take a position on any issue with more than one side for fear of alienating a current member. Positions on things like abortion are crafted very carefully so as not to offend anyone. Its the church with its own stop-loss program; the denomination with its one tenet buried safely in the ground for fear of losing it.