Lesser-known Costs/Benefits of Disaffiliating

HGTV has several shows where home owners need to choose between remodeling their current home or buying a new home. Love It or List It and Property Brothers are two that I remember. The owners live in a home that they currently aren’t happy with. Maybe their family has changed so it no longer fits well. Maybe it has some major maintenance issues. Maybe it’s just not stylish enough. Do you invest the hard work and money into this home or do you invest in buying a new home and the hard work of moving?

There seem to be a lot of parallels between Love It or List It and the decision many of our churches in mainline denominations are facing. Many denominations have major maintenance issues (lack of vision/leadership, overly bureaucratic, unfunded pension liabilities, etc). Many are structured in a way that better fits equipping churches/pastors in the 1980’s more so than the 2020’s. Many no longer have a widely recognized name that carries weight with those both inside and outside the church world. Our denominations need a lot of work to fit a church that is driven to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

What about the option of leaving to a new denomination…either brand new or new to you? I think we need to remember, there are no perfect denominations. Even though I believe we are one of the top three denominations in North and South Dakota in terms of helping our churches succeed, I know we have a lot of room to improve. Moving to a new denomination is a lot of work…kind like moving to a new house. When you take off the rose-colored glasses, will the benefits of the new denomination outweigh the cost of moving? That’s a difficult decision…much more difficult than buying a house with a lot more at stake.

Before making a big decision like this, it helps to know your Values and Purpose as a local church. For churches in the Dakotas UMC, we have a Congregational Values Discernment Workshop. It sounds like this workshop is spreading across the United Methodist world. Another great resource would be Simon Sinek’s Find Your Why.


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