UMC vs GMC: Which one has better benefits for churches?

The lesson I keep learning and relearning is that costs are not everything! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased a cheap pair of tennis shoes ($25-30) at Walmart only to have to buy another pair a few months later. I finally started going to a shoes store and spending $50-60. Those shoes last usually a year and usually feel and look better.

I looked at the costs previously between the United Methodist and the Global Methodist denominations. While the costs to join the GMC are not cheap, the ongoing costs in the GMC are less than those of the UMC. So in this posts, I’m going to look into the benefits each denomination offers their churches.

I probably need to restate this: You should not make a decision on which denomination based purely on the finances anymore than you should make a decision to have kids or get married based purely on the finances. But…you should still consider the financial impact so you can be prepared.

In the video, I go over such benefits as the connection, the services provided, and the access to other benefits. Long story short, the UMC has richer benefits for those churches in the Dakotas. I wish I would have assigned a dollar amount to each benefit, but…I must have been off my game. A couple of benefits I don’t talk about that should be considered include:

  1. The Brand: Brands can either be a benefit or baggage. I would guess that most people have heard of the UMC and many people have had some experience (good or bad) with a United Methodist church. A complicating factor is that the UMC is a Big-Tent denomination. The experience you have with one church or pastor may not be anything close to the norm. The GMC is pretty much unknown to the public. Their name will be made over the next couple of years. Increasingly churches are not advertising their denomination (e.g., very few Wesleyan churches in the Northwest have “Wesleyan” in their name).
  2. Leadership Pool: Roger Spahr (former District Superintendent) and I will discuss this in a future post, but the pastors and lay leadership can be a huge benefit. The denomination that is best able to raise up and equip passionate, Spirit-filled leaders will be offering a huge benefit to their churches.
  3. Doctrines & Practices: I like knowing what to expect. When I go to a McDonald’s in another town, I like the familiarity of knowing I will be able to get a Quarter Pounder with Cheese that is very similar to the one I get in Mitchell. Part of what I believe set the early Methodists apart and helped them flourish for generations was a standard set of practices (e.g., Class Meetings) and beliefs (e.g., Prevenient Grace). While you’ll always have some local flavor, but there should be some Methodist distinctives. I found it painful when Jon Stewart was reporting on Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and referred to the UMC as the “University of Phoenix of religions” (around the fourth minute). I could be wrong, but I believe it is a benefit to a church to have a clear idea about what a Methodist does and believes, and that there is some consistency across the denomination.

Next week I will have a conversation with Roger Spahr. We’ll mostly look into the challenges of recruiting pastors for churches, but we will touch on some differences between the UMC and GMC.

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