Contagious Methodism

Dan Dick has a glowing review of George Hunter III’s new book The Recovery of a Contagious Methodist Movement. John Leek at his blog has also written positive things about the book. It certainly is on my “to buy” list.

As always with Dan, his review is an opportunity for him to share some of his own experiences. Here’s an anecdote Dan wrote in his review of the book:

 I consulted with a church that proudly prints, “God’s love for all!” on its bulletins and newsletters.  The “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” banners bracket every entrance to the church.  Walking a three block radius of the church, I encountered Vietnamese immigrants, multiple poor and homeless people, multi-racial youth, a couple younger people with handicapping conditions, and lower-economic/lower-educated people running shops along the street.  I stopped many and asked what they could tell me about The United Methodist Church.  None, I repeat none, of them knew anything about the church or anyone associated with the church.  When I met with the leadership that evening, I asked them about the ministry opportunities they saw in their neighborhood.  The chair of the church council quipped, “We need to attract the ones with money!  We can’t support a church with those people.”  One member went on to tell of a former pastor who tried to bring “those” people into the church — and the mass exodus it produced from the long-time members.  An older woman remarked, “You can’t expect decent folks to put up with people like that taking over their church.”  There was a time when such a sentiment would not have been found in a Methodist church — but that was a long time ago.

7 thoughts on “Contagious Methodism

  1. It didn’t take long after Wesley died actually. People became comfortable and wanted to maintain it…… William Booth found the same problem and had to do a Wesley effectively. Methodist churches were closed to him because he ministered to the deprived and poor etc.

    Unfortunately that is what happens when you look to the past with tinted glasses in a comfortable pew. Very little has changed in fact… look out the numbers in church on a Sunday who have no concern or inclination to do anything for the poor, and Ministers who think a good sermon is enough. Both Wesley and Booth showed that a sermon isn’t enough on it’s own but a life that is visible reflecting Christ….. with compassion.

  2. Two examples: My spouse tried to set up a Confirmation event for Special Needs folk in our District some time ago.Talking to a Christian Educator at one Church, my wife was told that they were lucky they didn’t have any of “those people” in their Congregation! The educator did not know that my wife and I have a Son with low-functioning Autism!!!! (2) in two evaluations from Churches in different parts of the Conf. I was told that my major problem was that I was trying to bring the “wrong people” into “their” Church!!!! And we wonder why we are losing members!!!!

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