The separation will affect pretty much every church in the denomination. There are some obvious changes for those churches leaving to join the Global Methodist denomination, but there will be changes for the churches that stay as well. If you want your church to survive AND thrive, change is inevitable. The world is constantly changing which forces the church to change in order to reach new people…otherwise a slow death is inevitable. Derek Runge at the Kimball Protestant Parrish made this point by having a coffin up front during the Sunday service a couple weeks ago (watch here).
What changes does a church need to prepare for it you’re choosing not to change?
- Homosexuality Legally Affirmed: At the very least, references to homosexuality will be removed from the Book of Discipline which would allow conferences and churches to openly affirm homosexuality without fear of punishment. This will likely take place in 2024. Although this is unlikely to directly impact the majority of churches any time soon, people will see this in the news and what to know what it means in their context. If you don’t communicate, people will make up their own story about your church.
- Fewer United Methodists at the Table: The UMC has prided itself as being a “Big Tent” church. There will be waves of members, pastors, and churches that will leave the denomination. In the video, I make my prediction on the exact numbers, but, at all levels we will see people leave. We have a tendency to focus and dwell on what we’ve lost. Yes, it’s proper to grieve for a season, but you need to quickly shift to the opportunities now available to reach new people and plant new churches. Without reaching new people, the default is to ask more from the fewer that remain…which is a slow death.
- Leadership Stretched Thin: I would expect that for the next 2-3 years, District Superintendents will be scrambling to work with church leaving or contemplating leaving the denomination. Churches should plan on less support from the conference or district. Pastors will feel this probably the most of anyone in the church. I think this is just something for churches to be aware of to adjust expectations.
If your church is undecided, I encourage you to look into the values training linked below.
- Dakotas UMC Values Workshop: https://www.dakotasumc.org/about/strategy-team/values-workshop
- Previous post to GMC-leaning Churches: https://jctaccounting.com/2022/03/11/the-global-methodist-church-is-launching-may-1st-what-does-that-mean-for-the-dakotas/
- Study of ELCA decline by Luther Seminary: https://faithlead.luthersem.edu/decline/
- Christianity Today article on Mainline & Evangelical decline: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/july/mainline-protestant-evangelical-decline-survey-us-nones.html
- Dakotas District Superintendent Contact Info: https://www.dakotasumc.org/about/districts