Willimon: Tough Truth for Small Churches

Will Willimon asks why the UMC expends energy supporting small churches.


15 thoughts on “Willimon: Tough Truth for Small Churches

      1. You mean provoke them to walk away from their little church to attend the big church? Or perhaps he wants to get rid of most of the pastors who serve small churches.

  1. “and though most new Christians are made in our larger congregations”

    Are most Christians made in larger congregations?

    1. I do not know the numbers, but I don’t have any reason to doubt that his claim is false.

    2. From a layperson’s perspective, we joined a large church after visiting several large and small churches, in part because of the wider variety of programming available at a large church, and in part for some of the reasons the Bishop references.

  2. The Bishop is intending to be provocative, for sure, but in a UMC where resources are diminishing, it makes sense to throw more support behind congregations (large and small) that are trying to perform. So many churches think they just need to wait for the conference to appoint the right pastor, when in fact churches need to change their hearts to follow Christ.

    We might want to shoot the messenger on this, but the Bishop isn’t saying anything new. Churches need to get after Christ. Many of our small town churches do little beyond trying to support their own membership, which are usually a family or three or four. Every person who claims the name of Christ, and later United Methodist is called to ministry – to go and do. A church that is alive is trying to grow.

    1. The secret number is 125 members or more considered viable.
      “Today, there is no single strategy in place seeking to arrest the decline’ is a true statement and that is why small churches may be on the chopping block.
      (See the link I posted).

      When I look at the placement of Bishops and their stand on issues that divide the church, read the latest statistics from the CDC, consider what the latest radical positions proposed and tolerated with-in the UMC
      and consider the lawsuits and headlines that will be sure to follow in the future, the UMC in the USA will implode.

      Small church or no church?
      Absolute non discriminatory policies concerning sexuality of any persuasion that may put youths at risk will without question in today’s world produce at least one case of abuse, somewhere at sometime, within the UMC.
      Lawsuits will follow.
      Adopting absolute non-discriminatory policies and failing to fulfill their own laws and policies will result in lawsuits against the church.
      Lawsuits will follow.
      Any abuse of the young will result in lawsuit . Any abuse of parishioners will result in headlines and lawsuits.
      All cost money and higher insurance rates the church cannot afford.
      All cause membership decline.
      Small churches will not be able to sustain and the risk will outweigh the benefit.

      The CDC as well as HIVPLUSMAG.com confirm HIV is now in every state in the nation and growing.
      1 in 4 newly infected person is between the age 13-24. The UMC’s push in liberal leaning churches to bring in the young will be futile considering what the infection rate of it’s membership will be should trends continue.

      Considering scripture, tradition, reason, & experience =an implosion in the works.

      1. D, I don’t understand how this relates to anything that we’re talking about.
        Folks from the LGBT community are already supporting the UMC by their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. They’re just not allowed to get married or be ordained in our churches. Youths are at risk in all churches, regardless of stances on homosexuality (you don’t use those terms, but I feel that’s where you’re going). I would love to see real data regarding instances of abuse in communities that are fully inclusive.
        Also, we don’t have a fully inclusive policy and we’re in decline. So, still off topic.

        1. The topic is small churches.
          The concern is “What does the future hold for small United Methodist Churches?”.
          According to the article John posted , current trends and the comments and study by D. House things are not looking good.

          What I posted I see as directly related . The comments are based on real facts and current trends not feelings. You can bet House’s study is fact based and that is were real truth is found.
          Numbers do not lie.

          Anything that related to church growth, failures or closure is related.
          Division in the church is related (division effects growth)
          The cause of divisions are related.
          Money effects growth.
          Cost effects growth. ( pensions, healthcare costs,, taxes, salaries etc.)
          Media & News effects growth or loss ( related to the reputation and reliability of the entity or org.)
          Supply and demand effect growth.
          Downsizing effect growth or elimination.
          Lot’s of things are related.

          Have you ever ran or worked for any business?
          The church is not a business but the same things that effect business effects the church.

        2. Opps forgot one thing.
          Your question:
          I would love to see real data regarding instances of abuse in communities that are fully inclusive.
          The qualifier “fully inclusive” can be dropped from the question.

          If you want to read about abuses in the CC read the news
          Then ask yourself”, “What policies and procedures would help to increase or decrease abuse in the church?”
          Would unisex bathrooms tend to increase or decrease an environment ripe for abuse?

        3. Since you asked and if John does not mind, here are just a few cases that you requested.
          Thank you for the challenge. It has led me to organize,and document cases I have been reading for some time. Anything related to the CC is of interest to me.

          UMNS: United Methodists need to face abuse crisis

          Site that lists some abuse cases …not all



  3. Willimon is a provocateur…always been one. He’s a likeable road agent. But does any of his thinking translate into redemptive practice? Who’s listening? Does he persuade? Hamilton and Slaughter are his heirs apparent, but they too are beginning to manifest that burnt-over relic quality in their writings.

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