I received this private email some time ago. I received permission to reprint it here, after making some modifications to protect the identity of the writer.

I have come to the realization that my tribe, UMC, will continue to die because our leadership at the highest level insists on people-pleasing by straddling the proverbial fence. Last night my DS, who had promised to have the backs of myself and my staff, sold me up the creek because the clique bombarded him with emails threatening to leave the church and take their money with them. In front of them he actually said, “Give them whatever they want.”

I have valued the leadership of Bill T-B, Kris, Tom, and Bill E. over the years. My background in family systems led me to see the value of where you come from and what you offer. I still believe in that marvelous blend of tough love and Scriptural authority which grounds your ministry. But I am weary of having my feet shot out from under me.

In a few years I will have the opportunity to retire. I have given my life to the kingdom via the “church” but in today’s climate I am tossing my pearls before the swine. Being told to “give ’em what they want” when what they say they want is to stop being asked to pray for one another, stop hearing the name of Jesus so much, etc. just does not resonate with the gospel I read. One of my unchurched friends has told me for years that she loves Jesus (and her life shows it) but she has no use for the church. I have come to understand.

The notion that pastors come and go, so we need to support the congregation because it will outlast the pastor is based on a false assurance. With one church closing in the US every 6 hours, with judicatories getting into deeper and deeper financial trouble (because local churches have lowered their support – largely because there’s no good, tangible way to answer the question, “What are we getting for the money we’re giving the judicatory?”), the notion that the local church is the bastion of the future is in jeopardy. Without strong leadership – pastors who have a spine and judicatories who will support those pastors – the denominations will continue to dwindle and the mainline church will continue its slide into relative obscurity.

Question: How can you effectively encourage church leadership to be firm and grow a spine? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.