United Methodist churches are running out of time if they want to be able to decide whether or not to remain in the United Methodist denomination. In many Conferences, if your church board (i.e., administrative council) doesn’t vote to pursue disaffiliation by the end of February, your church is likely locked into the United Methodist denomination. For the majority of United Methodist churches, staying United Methodist is the correct decision. I still think it is best for leadership to actually commit to staying or leaving…and not just staying by default.
I’ve visited several churches to help them decide. I usually preach, and then, after the service, give a short presentation followed by a time of taking questions. By the way, if you want to hear what I’ve been preaching, I linked to the sermon preached at Hitchcock Methodist Church in the Useful Links. Because time is running short, I just decided to record my presentation for churches, leadership teams, and individuals that are wanting to know more the differences between the United Methodist and Global Methodist denominations. Below are the points in short.
#1 – Differences in Costs
While many have focused on the cost of disaffiliation, I believe the ongoing costs are more important. There’s no debate that the Global Methodist denomination will be much cheaper for churches. Apportionments and pension costs are thousands cheaper. In the Dakotas Conferences, many churches will experience savings from joining the Global Methodist denomination that will offset the cost of disaffiliation in 2-3 years.
In my calculations, I try not to speculate. If I were to speculate about the future, I would guess that United Methodist churches are more likely to see their costs go up. Prior to the split, it was already a struggle to control and cut costs. With such a rapid decrease in churches, there will be a lot of pressure to raise the cost to churches to fund the denomination.
In all honesty, I kind of wish the Global Methodists had a little more red tape and bureaucracy. Bureaucracy can help administrative tasks run smoothly and efficiently. Right now, I think the Global Methodists have less than ten bureaucrats serving about 1,000 churches. In this season when systems and processes are getting setup, they are being stretched thin. If they weren’t such high caliber people, it would be a mess processing all the churches and pastors coming into the denomination.
Meanwhile in the United Methodist denomination, it’s not uncommon to have ten bureaucrats serving a Conference with 200 churches and then hundreds more bureaucrats at the General Church level. I’m not sure what the best ratio of churches-to-bureaucrats is, but I prefer the Global Methodist’s 100 to 1 ratio to the United Methodist’s 20 to 1.
There are two main reasons why an individual may not have full control over their property: 1) they are married, or 2) they are a child or declared incompetent. In the United Methodist denomination, churches don’t have full control over their property. This is because of the Trust Clause. I believe that initially it was because the local churches were “married” to the denominational leaders (Wesley, Asbury, Coke, etc.).The Trust Clause was originally mutually beneficial, and both the local churches and the denomination favored of the arrangement.
Things have changed a lot since then. It seems that the denomination has taken more of a guardian role for the churches where denominational leaders believe the local church is incapable of strategically managing their property. Do churches really need to be protected from themselves? The Global Methodist denomination will not have a Trust Clause. There are also several other provisions that similarly are aimed at empowering churches. I mention these in the video.
The United Methodist denomination is considered a big tent which is supposed to be open to a diverse range of political and even theological beliefs. Diversity is not a bad thing, but you still need something at your core, besides apportionments, that unites everyone. If there is nothing to unite everyone we’ll tend to focus on our differences instead of our common mission. For a conservative in the United Methodist denomination, you often feel like you have to guard your speech so that you aren’t misunderstood and accidentally offend those that are liberal. I’m guessing that liberals feel similarly.
In the Global Methodist denomination theological beliefs are pretty consistent. The mission is becoming more clear. Whether I’m meeting with churches or denominational leaders, I feel like I am on the same team. There have even been a couple of times that I’ve said things I shouldn’t have. When that has happened, I have been gently corrected.
#5 – Differences in Spiritual Understanding
There is a huge difference between those that hold to Historic Christianity versus those that embrace Progressive Christianity. The differences aren’t trivial either. They differ on the nature of the Bible, the role of Jesus Christ, the mission of the Church, and the source of spiritual truth. On paper, the United Methodist denomination has stuck pretty close to Historic Christianity. In practice, the big tent has accommodated both views plus everything in between.
Many of the strongest proponents of Historic Christianity are departing for the Global Methodist denomination. This will likely lead to the proponents of Progressive Christianity taking a larger role within the United Methodist denomination.
I would encourage you to check out these two Facebook Groups. They are public and will give you a good idea of the beliefs and character of each side.
- Progressive Methodists: https://www.facebook.com/groups/progressivemethodists/
- Global Methodists: https://www.facebook.com/groups/globalmethodistchurch
- GMC vs UMC Comparison Chart: https://peopleneedjesus.net/2021/05/24/two-methodisms-a-comparison-chart/
- Global Methodist FAQ: https://globalmethodist.org/faqs/
- Global Methodist Organizers: https://globalmethodist.org/gm-organizers/
- Global Methodist Catechism: https://globalmethodist.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Catechism-V2.pdf
- Global Methodist Provisional Annual Conferences: https://globalmethodist.org/provisional-annual-conferences/
- Dakotas Disaffiliation Calculator: https://jctaccounting.com/2022/06/17/estimating-cost-of-disaffiliation/
- Dakotas Disaffiliation Process: https://jctaccounting.com/2022/06/03/how-the-disaffiliation-process-works-in-the-dakotas-umc/
- History of the UMC Split (Ready to Harvest): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjydUH-lfDo
- Sermon that typically accompanies presentation: https://www.facebook.com/HitchcockUMC/videos/479998317180556