The Future of the (United Methodist) Church

According to Pastor Adam Hamilton, there are 32,000 United Methodist Churches in the United States.  I think there are about 1,100 in West Virginia.  Adam said that he predicted that about 20,000 would close nationwide over the next 20 years, and that he hoped that 10,000 would be able to make it.  If he’s right and 2/3 will close, we will end up with less than 400 in West Virginia.  The churches that survive are going to be ones that are changing the way they do things today.  I’m not talking about changing the Gospel, but the way and sometimes even where we present it.  The churches that survive are going to be the ones who are making a difference in their respective communities.  Churches (United Methodist and otherwise) who only care about themselves are going to become obsolete.  We can see them dying right before our eyes.  Mike Slaughter says there are many churches that are already dead, they just need somebody to tell them.

The barometer would seem to be this question:  If your church closed, would anyone care? (Other than those who are attending.)  Would the community care?  Would anyone even notice?  And don’t get me wrong, this is not about individual churches staying open or closing.  It’s about churches being relevant in their communities.  It’s about making disciples for Jesus Christ.  It’s about showing the love of Jesus and offering the hope of Jesus to a lost, hurting, and dying world.  If we are doing those things, we are going to be blessed.

Finally, A.W. Tozer said that the church starts with the individual and whatever the individual is doing, the church is doing.  What he’s saying is that you don’t need everyone on board with your ideas.  You’ll never get everyone on board.  Get together with a few people in your church and go for it.  Steal our ideas or come up with your own.  Take ideas from churches in other parts of the country or state and try them.  Email me if you have any questions.  And you don’t do these things so your church will stay open.  You do them because Jesus says so and because He changes lives!

(P.S.: Your church staying open is only a byproduct of fulfilling your mission of being the church!)

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