Dear Methodism,

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Dear Methodism,

I am writing to you to express my great concern but also to tell you about an exciting opportunity in 2016 which you will want to share with others.

The concern is for the future of The Methodist Church in the UK. The figure speak for themselves, as year on year we as a church have continued to decline in numbers to the point where it has become a critical issue.

Membership

This is a ‘people‘ measure, counting those who have made and sustained a formal commitment to a particular Local Church. (as at 31 October.)

2015:     ?

2014:     202,000

2013:     208,738.

2010:     232,734

2003:     304,971

Methdoist Membership Infographic

The annual reduction in membership numbers averaged:

2013/2016: ?

2010/2013: 8,000

2007/2010: 10,040

2004/2007: 9,550

 

A Discipleship Movement shaped for Mission

In the past, most mainline denominations, including our own Methodist Church, went through an intensive period of starting new churches, but then as our churches grew more stable we changed our focus.  Today, if we expect Methodism to prevail into a new generation, we must regain that focus on starting new churches that reach new people in new ways. John Wesley was not afraid to identify the loss of spiritual vitality and true effectiveness in the Church. He knew that only plain speaking about and commitment to address the hard problems of his day would change the situation. He suggested that survival of the Church was not his worry:

 

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast to both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out” (Thoughts Upon Methodism, London, August 4, 1786).

 

All that I have experienced and learned over the last few months reaffirms that when it comes to both the spirit and discipline that are required, Methodist leaders, lay and ordained across the Connexion, must lead and immediately, repeatedly, and energetically make it plain that continued use of many current approaches, structures, policies, and practices is likely to produce the same results we’ve seen of continued overall decline with decreasing mission impact. Business as usual is unsustainable.

 

‘Any enterprise that is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts’. Proverbs 24:3-4,

 

The Opportunity: The upcoming 2016 Conference could be a starting point for you and your leadership team to regain a sense of urgency and energy to begin the process towards growing and planting congregations.

 

Every Blessing

 

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1 thought on “Dear Methodism,”

  1. Bill Hybels was right when he said that ‘the hope of the world is the local church’… the thing is we try and make things complicated. A discipleship movement shaped for mission.. that entails three things as far as I can see…

    1. Make disciples old and new… the people who have been around the church for a long time actually (i would say more that 70% of them in my experience) have not a great deal of idea why they are Christians and what it means to be Christian. They just go to Church….. engaging in effective discipleship with these people will change the life of the local church

    2. Point one in itself will allow the church to take shape for mission in its community. God in His wisdom has put our Churches in some amazing communities across the world. People who are just people who need to know the good news of Jesus Christ. All need to be saved: isn’t that our mission? every person, every conversation, every action in faith, kindness, generosity, boldness every welcome hand shake, every prayer matters. God has put us in the middle of broken people who belong to broken families who have broken relationships and has asked us to tell them the good news that all can be saved.

    3. Crack on

    If the local church is the hope of the world then it needs to engage with every single person it can in the place where God has placed it. Want to see the church turn around? so do I.

    I have spent the last four years doing the very things that i have spoken about and the church has grown by 40% and is now starting to be an effective witness in the community that has grown up with out it for the past 30 years. Is it hard work.. too right it is.. but to see a church that was once grey come back to life is a miracle.

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