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Why I stay in the United Methodist Church

We can't ignore the numbers. The United Methodist Church is in decline. Many ask, "Why do you stay? Denominations are useless these days."

But I face that reality with overwhelming hope and excitement. I see the Holy Spirit weaving its way through our current & new leadership in ways I've only dreamed of. A couple years ago, I thought about leaving. But I decided to ask some hard questions about why we're in decline. And that journey to the heart of the United Methodist movement has lit a fire in me to see it renewed.

Why I Stay...

1. Our faith is active. We get our hands and hearts dirty in service & relationships.
2. Every United Methodist church is connected through a network of gatherings, prayer, service, money, agencies and leadership. I would never want to serve in building God's kingdom by myself.
3. I see God changing hearts and lives every. single. day.
4. I am fascinated by our founder who's only intention was to create a renewal movement inside the Church of England, not a new denomination. So our founding elements were refreshingly innovative.
5. We do our very best to love the person who's words we disagree with.
6. Our singular goal is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
7. Our focus right now is leadership development, starting new churches, ending global poverty and global health issues.
8. Every time I meet a young United Methodist candidate or clergy, I'm overwhelmed with the potential and hope of our new leaders. Yes, there are pieces of our church that are broken, but given the space & responsibility, God will use these new leaders to move forward in new ways.
9. The way we view the world is perfect for the times we're in. We hold things in tension. God is big enough for our questions. We are a middle ground between polarizing issues. Our hearts beat for grace and mission.
10. We're real people. Serving a real God. In a real world in need of real love.

I invite any pastors & lay members of the United Methodist Church to respond on your blog, Facebook, etc. to this question:

Why do you stay?

Responses
Matt Kelley
Andy Bartel
Paul Gravley

Comments

Melissa said…
Why do I stay? Because I'm too Methodist for any other denomination!

Seriously, I stay because I believe that the UMC, or some seed buried deep within our DNA has to potential to thrive in this postmodern era. Whether or not that potential is actualized is up to the leaders of this denomination.
Ben Simpson said…
Hey Jenny:

You've met my wife, therefore you have met the reason that I have remained a member of a United Methodist Church. I have even served in a staff capacity within a UMC denomination in recent years, though not currently. Now I hang with Methodist leaders and give them things to think about.

I've spoken with Andrew Conard about my reasonings for remaining within the United Methodist Church, and also about my optimism for the future. Honestly, my outlook is not as bright as yours. I'm concerned.

As long as I'm here I'll continue to work in local communities, doing contextual ministry and striving to accomplish good, primarily due to my commitment to Jesus as Lord. My relationship to him demands that I teach, preach, instruct, encourage, and exhort those I find around me. It requires I set an example for the believers in love, faith, purity, speech, and service. I have work to do not because I am United Methodist, but because I am Christian. I think United Methodists need a strong reminder that they first belong to Jesus, not to Methodism, and that such a realization could unleash powers dormant within the denomination. Perhaps that fact demands a manifesto for my generation.

God bless moving forward. I pray that God may bring about renewal within this denomination--renewal that reflects John Wesley's dedication to the central claims of the gospel and the task of discipleship.
jenny said…
Melissa & Ben,

Profound points. Ben I love what you said about "a manifesto for my generation." That was the feeling from the gathering last week as well. How will we be as leaders? What tone & culture will we create? I also hope its one of deeply believing we are building God's kingdom before we are Methodists.

I'm humbled to serve alongside you both!
Andy said…
My answer is posted at:

http://unknowntraveler.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/why-do-i-stay/

Thanks for the nudge, Jenny.
Anonymous said…
I too have posted why I am a United Methodist at gracerant.wordpress.com.

Grace and Peace,
Paul G.
The Thief said…
I'm writing on this for my blog brianvinson10.blogspot.com even as I type this comment. Good stuff!
JAy. said…
Glad I found your blog today (thanks for the link from Guy Williams).

I have posted my thoughts at my blog.

Note Guy also followed up at
http://guymwilliams.net/.
Edilson said…
I stayed (and stay) because of the transformative love I found in Christ Jesus through the Methodist Church in Brazil. As a teenager, I had my experience with Christ's saving Grace and that filled my heart. Living out the faith in the Methodist Church was and is a learning experience. I've seen a church rise and fall. I've seen good stuff and weird stuff in church. I've seen those who go to church to "punch a card" type of thing to say "I've paid my duty this week". I've seen people serve wholeheartedly the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. I've cried. I've laughed. I've learned to be open to people of different religious backgrounds. I'm learning about the race struggles in this country and how that translates into theology and our church's "open hearts, open minds, opens" MO. I stay because God fills my heart, anew, every morning, with God's unsurpassing Grace that I am loved, accepted, forgiven, cared for, empowered by the Holy Spirit to live out the Good News, challenged to obey, one more day today, expecting and sharing God's eternal life... I stay because I want to stay. I'm a local pastor with the UMC. Ed Volfe
jenny said…
Edilson -

Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. Keep sharing that with others. I'm amazed at how encouraging these stories are to everyone. Thank you for serving!
Anonymous said…
Hope keeps me a member of the UMC.

The hope that one day the church will start an on-line forum through which any topic might be openly discussed.

The hope that the apparent spiritual awakening ramping up throughout the world by be discussed by UMC members candidly, keeps me in the church

Hope that we can change the church, that I (even) might have some small role in doing so, grows stronger as I grow older.

Relations with my pastor do not keep me in the church. Freedom to discuss issues do not keep me in the church. Encouragement from others does not keep me in the church. Faith, that somehow we hold a dogma of truth, does not keep me in the church. Ultimately it appears that perhaps an immature warrior spirit keeps me in the UMC, an Indiana Jones contrived fearlessness, built on a studied humility of spirit, in a softened fraternal love, and a commitment to seek truth in spite of all the structured church-group-click, pastoral allowed, go with the flow, don't make a wave unwillingness of the bishops and pastors to help give a voice to other small voices like mine, I stay in the church out of hope.

Rich Buckley, President
Http://www.PeaceAndConflictResolultion.Org
I stay because we as a body of believers have the message of grace that this hurting world needs most. And if we continue to return to our roots and hold God's Word up as our standard, this next generation of leadership can and will turn us around and get us moving back towards meeting the needs of God's people. We must get past the desire to be the hippie church and accept everything as right and return to a love for His direction and His mandates of morality. In that there is hope for us. In us is the hope for the world.

Scott Smyth
Local Pastor, seminary student, UM youth pastor of 12 years, lifelong UM

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