Salt Life

UMC Split

Salt Life - UMC Split

Jesus says, “Salt is good. Have salt in yourselves (Mark 9:50). You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot (Matthew 5:13).”

When individuals join the United Methodist Church, among other vows, they agree:

To renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of the world, and repent of their sin; To accept the freedom and power God gives them to resist evil, injustice, and oppression; To receive and profess the Christian faith as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

For years United Methodists have affirmed the primacy of Scripture. The 2016 UMC Discipline, states:

United Methodists share with other Christians the conviction that Scripture is the primary source and criterion for Christian doctrine. Through Scripture the living Christ meets us in the experience of redeeming grace. We are convinced that Jesus Christ is the living Word of God in our midst whom we trust in life and death.The biblical authors, illumined by the Holy Spirit, bear witness that in Christ the world is reconciled to God. The Bible bears authentic testimony to God’s self-disclosure in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as in God’s work of creation.

Currently the United Methodists Church maintains that homosexual activity is immoral, bars gays and lesbians from serving as clergy, and opposes same sex marriage.

The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.

While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.

To ensure that no annual conference board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality or violate the expressed commitment of The UMC “not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends” (¶ 161G). The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures.

We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman. We believe that God’s blessing rests upon such marriage, whether or not there are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage. We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

What are the moral attitudes and worship practices of UMC members?

38.4% believe there are clear and absolute moral standards for what is right and wrong.
60.1% think homosexuality should be accepted by society.
17.9% “strongly favor” allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally.
9.7% think more women in the workforce is a change for the worse.
67.6% think that having children without getting married is a change for the worse.
6.5% believe that abortion should be illegal in all cases.
98.3% believe in God or a universal spirit,
83.6% believe in Heaven.
61% believe in Hell.
69.1% believe the Bible is the word of God.
37.1%  look to “religious teachings and beliefs” when it comes to questions of right and wrong.
37.4% believe churches and other religious organizations focus too much on rules.
82.5% think many religions can lead to eternal life.
61.9% pray at least once a day.
42.9% meditate at least once a week.
46% attend religious services at least once a week.
38.7% read scripture outside of religious services at least once a week.
25.1% participate in prayer groups, Scripture study groups or religious education programs at least once a week.
15.8% share their faith with “non-believers or people from other religious backgrounds” at least once a week.

Over the past year or so, many have suggested that those who believe the Bible to be God’s living word and the supreme moral authority, to leave the United Methodist Church and form a new denomination.

But consider how much Jesus enjoyed being with sinners and how much sinners enjoyed being with Jesus. If you have Jesus in you, sinners should like being with you!

If you are a UMC member who:

  • Believe the Bible is the word of God and the absolute moral authority for what is right and wrong
  • Believe all individuals deserve life more than we deserve our rights
  • Believe Heaven is real and without Christ we are destined for Hell
  • Believe that only a relationship with Christ and his righteousness can save us from our sins and lead to eternal life
  • Believe the “salt” of Christ can preserve the Bride of Christ

could it be that Jesus is calling you to be the “salt” that helps preserve the UMC?

Only One Thing Is Needed. Will We Choose What Is Best?

Only One Thing Is Needed. Will We Choose What Is Best?

“Few things are needed—indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better [time with me]. This will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:42)

Only one thing is needed to fill the pews, bring people to their knees, cause hands to be raised, and voices to sing with praise. Will we choose what is best?

Recently I participated in a survey from our UMC church that asked, “Why do you attend Worship?” I concluded my remarks by commenting on how every church runs the risk of devolving into the Church in Ephesus.

“I know your deeds,” Jesus says. “Your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

When we love Jesus we cannot help but love others for we are filled with His Spirit and His Spirit is love. But when we love others before Jesus, we will end up loving neither others or Jesus.

Worship is a date with our Groom—or should be. Strangers can always tell when a couple is in love. They hold hands, compliment one another, discard distractions and fix their attention on the other. When we are in the early stages of love we will travel long distances to be with the one we love.

If church attendance is down, enthusiasm lacking, fall in love with Jesus, again—or for the first time—and your church will need to rent or build a larger venue to hold all who wish to celebrate the union of Christ with His Bride.

As churches and denominations consider reimagining what church means in this post-COVID culture, I suggest we focus less on what we want from worship and more on what Christ wants from us. With that in mind, I invite you to pray this modified prayer from Daniel.

“O, Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we at (YOUR CHURCH) have sinned and done wrong. We have turned away from your commands and laws. We are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. We are scattered because of our unfaithfulness to you. All have transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

“All this distancing, our displacement, has come upon us, yet we have not sought your favor by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. You, O Lord, are righteous in everything you do, yet we have not obeyed you. O Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath.

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servants. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your empty sanctuary. Give ear, O God, and hear. Open your eyes and see the despair and desolation of your people who bear the name of Christ. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay because your people bear your Name.” (Daniel 9:4-19)

If any of this resonates with your spirit, if you love Christ and wish to see (YOUR CHURCH) reflect his love and light into a world of darkness, I invite you to pray that all who call (YOUR CHURCH) home, will fall in love with Jesus again. When we align our will with His, mountains move, as do the hearts of others.

UMC Split On Hold . . . Maybe Forever

UMC Split

According to Juicyecumenism.com, at the 2021 WCA Global Legislative Assembly on Friday, April 30:

“A Virginia delegate proposed amending a resolution supporting the formation of the Global Methodist Church for orthodox United Methodists by adding the following language:

‘This assembly expresses its hope that if the scheduled General Conference of August 29-September 6, 2022 is postponed, then upon the announcement of postponement, the Wesleyan Covenant Association will work with others or independently legally to form as soon as possible the Global Methodist Church or another new denomination and begin immediate operations.’

“In the discussion that followed, delegates readily understood this as effectively saying that by 2022, we intended to split off from the rest of the UMC, with or without the Protocol. This proposal was overwhelmingly rejected.”

The 2021 WCA Global Legislative Assembly did pass:

“An amendment from a Missouri delegate to add the following sentence to a resolution endorsing the Protocol: “Finally if the General Conference does not happen or otherwise fails to implement the Protocol in 2022 the assembly encourages the Global Methodist Church to move forward without the Protocol.”

The passing of this amendment, its language, and the rejection of any departure before the 2022 General Conference may leave the future of a UMC split in doubt. If the General Conference is delayed in 2022—and who knows what the future holds for global travel or other international crisis—membership attrition throughout the United Methodist denomination may be such that a split becomes irrelevant.

Prior to 2000, church membership in America remained steady. Over the last twenty years, however, there has been a twenty percent drop in church membership—and this was pre-COVID. With the increased acrimony dividing our nation and congregations, to think the United Methodist Church can continue to delay a divorce without losing much, if not all its equity, could be wishful thinking.

U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time

The good news remains that God knew about COVID before we knew. He knew the UMC was headed for a divorce before those in power attempted to act. God knows all.

Once, a long time ago, God said:

“Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” (Hosea 1:2)

Just as Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea and had to be redeemed, so we are redeemed by God through the death of his Son. In times past God has taken the initiative to restore a people to himself. It may very well be that God is asking those who affirm his words, power to transform lives, and authority over all creation—including marriage—to remain faithful to him in this broken relationship we call the United Methodist Church.