My denomination, The United Methodist Church, has just initiated a program called “Praying Our Way Forward.” This is a denomination wide program that begins with Phase One, which is encouraging all the Bishops to agree to spend 15 minutes a day between now and mid-November. So far 84 Bishops are signed up.
Now calling for prayer is a good idea and I commend them for it. God knows, we all need more prayer in our lives. But the part that concerns me is Phase Two calls for the set up of another Commission to meet in October and a possible special session of the General Conference in 2018. These two decisions will cost millions of dollars in travel and lodging alone not to mention the cost of facilities for the events. I know these folks will be looking for a way forward for our denomination but– WE ALREADY KNOW THE WAY FORWARD.
Please don’t spend all of this money when you could apply the millions of dollars to the one thing we all know would provide a way forward for our denomination. Want to know what that is? Everyone knows but no few are willing to speak up so I will.
The only way forward is to plant enough new churches every year to equal three to four percent of our present number of churches. Everyone with a modicum of sense and an understanding of history knows this is the only way forward. So why in God’s name are we wasting millions to think up a way forward?
Here’s my solution. Bishops, figure out how much money will be spent on this ridiculous new Commission and called session of General Conference and apply that to planting churches. Commit yourselves to applying ten percent of all Apportionments to training planters and planting churches. That is the ONLY WAY FORWARD.
I’m simply asking for sanity here. Prayer is one thing but you can’t legislate a healthy denomination. I’m assuming that the push for “the way forward” has to do with the tenacious decline of our denomination. But we don’t need all of this Commission stuff. We just need to commit to planting churches. It’s now or never. Twenty more years of our present decline and we will be searching for a denomination to merge with in order to continue to feed and house our clergy. That will be a sad day, but one that doesn’t have to happen. Let’s all commit now to planting churches. Let’s use a little prayer and sanity. Please.
I haven’t noticed that we have a connection-wide theology of evangelism that would drive the church planting you envision. Also, there’s too much turf to protect (the established churches that are currently – grudgingly – paying the bills don’t want the “competition.”)