In 2022, the first wave of churches left the United Methodist denomination. Most of those churches had been concerned about the denomination for a long time. One church I worked with had wanted to leave since about 1968. The first wave wanted to leave and needed to know where they were leaving to.
The second wave of churches in the disaffiliation process are different. A higher percentage of these churches have not been paying attention to the denomination. They are just catching up because their main experience with the denomination was when they saw their District Superintendent once a year. The second wave of churches need a good reason to leave…besides the costs and property issues. If your church is traditional in their view of scripture and marriage, here are some reasons to consider leaving:
#1 – The UMC’s influence on Your Pastor
If you currently have a pastor that holds to a traditional view of marriage and scripture, the United Methodist denomination is likely a discouragement and distraction for your pastor. Most of these pastors that I know are just trying to keep their heads down so as to go unnoticed by the higher ups. They are likely doing a lot to protect your church from focusing on the dysfunction of the denomination.
The likelihood of your future United Methodist pastor holding traditional beliefs will be less and less. During the last election of bishops, 13 bishops support same-sex marriage. Zero support maintaining the traditional stance on marriage. How likely will it be for a person with traditional beliefs to be attracted to the United Methodist denomination if there are eventually no bishops that share these beliefs?
#2 – Changing your stance on homosexuality speeds up decline
About a decade ago, I remember discussing with some fellow conference treasurers what the financial impact of changing the United Methodists’ traditional view of marriage and sexuality. They were convinced that this would help turn around the denomination’s decline because “they knew a lot of people that would come to church” if the denomination wasn’t opposed to same-sex marriages. No data. Just anecdotes. I was the sole one expressing that there would be a large decline based on what I saw in the Lutheran and Presbyterian denominations. Changing the stance on homosexuality has never reversed the decline of a denomination.
“Even if the numbers are down, surely the number of Youth will increase.” I tested this by checking the Youth statistics. For the top 6 churches with the largest number of youth in the Dakotas, all of them have a history of supporting the traditional view of marriage and sexuality.
I’m an accountant. This is a big reason for me. If more of the money you give to your church can stay with your church, that sounds great! You could pay down debt, build up savings, pay employees better, launch new ministries, care for deferred maintenance, etc. I also like the idea that the people who bought and cared for the church property are the ones with the authority to make decisions concerning the property.
#4 – A Fresh Start
I had not expected this, but many churches that just left the United Methodist denomination are experiencing a season of new life. I saw this start when churches had to decide what their new name would be because they can no longer be First UMC. First GMC didn’t seem to have the same ring. I saw names like Aldersgate, Prairie’s Edge, Saving Grace, and many others.
Our name has an impact on our view of ourselves as well as how others view us. In the Bible, name changes are most likely to happen at pivotal points in a person’s life…Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Paul to Saul, Jacob to Israel, Cephas to Peter. For those churches leaving the United Methodist denomination, this could be an opportunity to claim a new identity the LORD has for them and begin a fresh start.
Like I said at the start, this list was for those that hold to a traditional view of scripture, including marriage. For those churches that don’t hold to that view, the new bishops and the changes within the denomination are likely an encouragement to you. That’s a good thing…for you, but others will see it very differently.
- Overview of UMC Split (Ready to Harvest): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjydUH-lfDo
- My Comparison of the GMC vs UMC: http://jctaccounting.com/2023/01/20/comparing-the-umc-to-the-gmc-a-presentation-for-your-church/
- Rob Renfroe Videos (excellent!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g48onYSqg0&list=PL0tdBSkYKNUka0KiJ28rSUM1H1hdc3MUs
- ELCA Tornado Story: https://newscut.mprnews.org/2009/08/the_god-weather_controversy/
- UMC/GMC Comparison Chart: https://peopleneedjesus.net/2023/01/19/two-methodisms-a-comparison-chart/