The concern: United Methodist officials say the church is
approaching a Aleadership
ordained clergy in the United States. A 2006 report revealed fewer than 5
percent of United Methodist elders are under age 35. The churchwide Board of
Higher Education and Ministry is leading efforts in this area of focus.
The concern about the concern: I have served my entire career, 30 years, as a pastor within the United Methodist Church; I am now 53. I have noticed the hardships and sacrifice of other clergy and experienced my own. I have three concerns about this concern.
1. It is based on a faulty assumption
U.S. membership is shrinking at a time when 50 percent of the U.S. population has no ongoing relationship with a faith community. Since the most effective evangelism is through new churches, the church wants to start 650 new congregations with 63,000 members by 2012 as part of the proposed emphasis on church growth in the United States. The United Methodist Board of Discipleship has created Path One, an office of new congregational development, to lead this effort. Leaders say the goal is eventually to return the denomination to its evangelistic heyday of starting a new church every day.
The concern about the concern:
The concern: The denomination has longstanding ministries with people in poverty as well as programs aimed at combating diseases of poverty. United Methodists seek to alleviate poverty as an expression of Christian discipleship and an outgrowth of the Methodist heritage of social action against conditions that are unjust, alienating and disempowering. The churchwide Board of Global Ministries is leading the church=s work on ministry with the poor. Poverty breeds disease, and the church wants to play a significant role in alleviating diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. A Global Health Initiative, housed at United Methodist Communications, has been launched to focus those efforts.
NOTE (my response)
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.