It seems like the annual conference of the United Methodist Church in St. Louis, Missouri just ended and yet the time is drawing near for petitions to be submitted to be considered at the next General Conference in May 2020. To date, the options generally fall into three categories: (1) Maintain the status quo, (2) Split the denomination into different expressions of Methodism, or (3) Dissolve the denomination. All three leave local churches with the option of maintaining a connection with other churches in some fashion. You can learn about the options, here.
While the options are being discussed, many within the denomination are imploring local Methodist churches to wait “one more conference,” before making the decision to leave the denomination. However, while most agree that the denomination is utterly broken and has been for many, many years, there is little doubt that nothing will it change at the next general conference in May 2020. Conservatives will maintain the current theological stance, liberals will not leave, the leaders will do what they need to do to preserve the institution and as a result, nothing will likely change. As a result, Churches will continue to close, members will continue to leave and the institution will do what dying institutions do – merge with another dying denomination in the hopes of reliving the “glory days.” Ultimately, the merger will fail, causing the acceleration of the demise of the denomination. We have seen this repeat itself throughout history.
There is a fourth option. The local Church can simply leave the Methodist denomination and start anew as an independent church. Many are doing just that. We have published a white paper on how to leave the denomination that you can find here.
If you are thinking of leaving the denomination, I offer this advice. Know that you are on the verge of making a great decision. And before you make that decision, commit to following through. Tolerate no halfway measures as the temptation will be start out to taking half-measures and end up feeling a little more relieved but ultimately feeling empty and angry.
Many start out with a high aspiration of a healthy relationship within a denomination and then stop at some dead branch of religion and fasten themselves on it. They fasten themselves upon what no longer helpful. Or they fasten themselves upon an institution – a good thing, but not good enough to fasten one’s life upon. It will let one down in a crisis. Others fasten themselves upon a favorite minister and put their faith in him or her. Yet no man is good enough to be the center of one’s faith; he will let one down.
Therefore, when you make the decision that it is time to leave, don’t stop short. Leave and don’t look back. Be thankful for the opportunities that you had and be excited for those to come when you help start a new beginning free of being handcuffed to a dead religion.
If you have made the choice to leave the United Methodist denomination and wish to have your local Church leave with you, contact Dan Dalton at Dalton & Tomich PLC to help guide you to a new beginning.