Bishop Jones: Willimon wrong about small churches

Bishop Scott Jones has responded to former Bishop Will Willimon’s recent post that offered pointed critiques of small churches.

Bishop Willimon’s article has certainly stirred the pot, but the question is first and foremost not about the size of churches or location. Rural churches in Nebraska and Kansas are facing the difficulties associated with demographic changes, usually depopulation as a result of the changing economics of agriculture. Urban churches face other demographic changes. All of us face huge cultural changes like new technologies and the loss of cultural support for religious practice.

The key issue is a focus on God and God’s mission to save the world. Where congregations see themselves as mission stations whose time, talents and money can be used by the Lord to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, the Holy Spirit shows up and amazing things happen. United Methodism has too few of these congregations in all locations. We need more churches with high numbers of professions of faith, growing worship attendance, increasing participation in small groups and engagement in world-changing mission. That matters more than size.


6 thoughts on “Bishop Jones: Willimon wrong about small churches

  1. Some interesting statistics that have an impact on the small and large.

    Church giving drops $1.2 billion
    reports 2012 Yearbook of Churches

    Other churches that continued to post membership gains in 2010 are Jehovah’s Witnesses, up 1.85 percent to 1,184,249 members, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, up 1.61 Percent to 1,060,386 members.

    Among mainline denominations, the sharpest rate of membership decline (down 5.90 percent to 4,274,855 members) was posted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

    Others posting declines include the Presbyterian Church USA (down 3.45 percent to 2,675,873), the Episcopal Church (down 2.71 percent to 1,951,907), the United Church of Christ (down 2.02 percent to 1,058,423), the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod (down 1.45 percent to 2,278,586), the United Methodist Church (down 1.22 percent to 7,679,850), and the American Baptist Churches USA (down .19 percent to 1,308,054).

  2. The whole article states truth that is usually attacked because of the institutions need to continue to exist! To agree with Willimon is to admit that maybe Mainline Denominations have outlived their usefulness. And to say it leaves one open to allegations of not being compassionate/caring.

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