Top 5 Reasons I Stay in the United Methodist Church

I stay in the United Methodist Church because:

  1. I believe the doctrine and general rules of the UMC are aligned with the scripture and God’s work in the world.
  2. I have experienced the fruit of the United Methodist way of faith in my own life and witnessed it in the lives of others.
  3. I believe that the United Methodist Church is on the brink of renewal in the United States and that I am called to be part of that renewal.
  4. I believe the best years for the United Methodist Church are yet to come.
  5. I believe that the spiritual DNA of United Methodists is strong and yearning to be loosed for a new generation.
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14 thoughts on “Top 5 Reasons I Stay in the United Methodist Church

  1. I really appreciate your reasoning, well said. In recent weeks, I’ve heard/seen a number of people lifting up their reasons for continued membership within the UMC.

    While I continue to hear people explain why, I’m concerned that there’s not more chatter about the “how” the denomination will be a relevant voice in the ever-changing world that we live in. And no, I’m not asking for another ad campaign, but real discipleship, evangelism and assimilation.

  2. I affirm all of your reasons! A few other reasons for me…
    *the affirmation of women in ministry.
    *the evangelical heart.
    *the amazing move of God in Methodist Churches of the two-thirds world!

    Thanks for your insights!

  3. I like the UMC but not having grown up in it I do not think I will stay in it for the following reasons.

    1. I truly believe in the priesthood of all believers and don’t think a multi-tiered system of clergy and laity where the clergy have privileges (read ordaining the sacrements etc…) the laity don’t can EVER be compatible with the biblical concept of the priesthood of all believers. IE I would have to say in some areas I disagree with your number one.

    2. I don’t think denominations “matter” any more. People care about concrete communities NOT abstract conceptual connections that make up a denomination. Thus individual UMC churches may be all the things you say, but the system as a whole is out of date and out of touch. (Take a hard look at Annual conference and tell me this is not so.) Which pretty much says that as individual churches and communities of faith I can see your 3-5 as a denomination I think you are totally wrong.

  4. <>

    Would that this were true, but in fact, the UMC is in permanent, irreversible decline, absent a literal miracle. And if we’ve reached the point where we have to rely on miracles, then I think we’re done for, anyway.

    The UMC is in a demographic death spiral that cannot be reversed. Here’s why.

    That’s not even the main problem, though. The central reason for our decline (or, as Jesus might say, “pruning”) is explained by UMC Chaplain Mitch Lewis: it’s spiritual. As last year’s General Conference showed, the UMC has bought hook, line and sinker into what H. Richard Niebuhr called “Utilitarian Christianity,” which he wrote against vigorously. See here.

    I hope I am wrong. I pray I am wrong. But I just don’t see how.

    • Donald – I am not sure that I understand your position. You seem to simultaneously say that the UMC is beyond hope, yet at the same time you hope and pray that you are wrong. From your perspective, what needs to change? In what ways did General Conference buy into “Utilitarian Christianity?”

  5. I was referring to your no. 4 reason in my comment, which didn’t show up. I guess I bracketed it wrong. To try again:

    >>I believe the best years for the United Methodist Church are yet to come.<<

  6. I think that the accelerating decline in US membership of the UMC cannot be reversed. I hope I’m wrong in the same sense that a person told by his doctor that his heart disease can’t be reversed hopes his doctor is wrong.

    As for the (IMO) wrong course continued by the GC, I’d recommend only that you read Niebuhr’s essay, then Rev. Lewis’ (linked in my original comment).

    Finally, I think the root cause is that we have, denominationally, long reached the point that Wesley cautioned strongly against:

    I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.

    Elsewhere, Wesley explained that the decline of the church (I presume he meant the COE) was bedcause “the love of many, of almost all Christians so called, was waxed cold; … The real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were no longer to be found in the Christian Church [was that] the Christians were turned heathen again, and had only a dead form left.”

    The more we try to save the UMC, the faster we will lose it. It is not the UMC we must love, but Christ alone. Our only hope is to love God with all our hearts, etc., and then, but only then, to love our neighbors in that godly love.

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  8. I was raised UMC but left when I was a teenager because I didn’t like what I was being told by the clergy and the youth leaders that if I listened to popular music I’d no longer be a good Christian and there was anti-semitism being preached and anti-semitism is an absolute deal breaker in a church for me and I will leave a church over that. I did try to go to another UMC later but I didn’t like that one either because this church was so focused on their mission in Russia and not on the people who were already in the church. I became interested in Eastern Orthodox Christianity as a teenager and there was nastiness from people in the church about it especially because they were having missions in Russia. I haven’t gone back to a Methodist church on a regular basis despite my mother’s efforts and nasty comments. I later joined the Greek Orthodox Church and love it.

    • Julie – Thanks for sharing your story. I am sorry that you experienced anti-semitism and negative response to other denominations. I am glad that you have found a place where you can grow in your faith.

  9. Julie,
    I have found that almost every denomination has churches like that. Its not a UMC trait by and large by any stretch of the imagination. Most times, it just seems that people forget that NT verse Mark 9:38-41

    “John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone* casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ 39But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.”

    Its easy for any church denomination to think they are better than another. The tool best suited for one person is not the only way. There is a blessing and a curse to having multiple denominations. The blessing is that people can explore and find which place is best suited for their spiritual needs. The curse is that it becomes easy to forget that we are all united in the same purpose.

    That is why I think its good that you started off in UMC churches that you did not like, since in the end you found the church that fits you better. Its a blessing in disguise 🙂

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