I'm back from the Financial Forum. Interesting meeting. We didn't talk about finance much at all. We actually focused on the deeper issue, our need to change in significant ways. The financial situation is only a symptom of the larger issue.
Some interesting facts.
-During the 40 years of decline in the UMC, the per person giving went up. That is one reason we've been able to survive and maybe even avoid dealing with our situation. 2008 was a serious wake up call.
-The UMC membership average age is much older than the general population. In 2018, we will begin a period of in which most of our current membership will die off. Lovett Weems called it a "death tsunami."
-We have a window of opportunity with many options available to us now, but this will not continue. So the time to act is now. We can't wait.
In some ways the formula for change is very simple:
Recover our mission; "To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
Focus on our mission; measure all we do by how it helps us achieve the mission, from the local church to global mission.
Individually, live this life changing, world transforming way, so that it is not something we do, but a fundamental expression of who we are.
I'm still thinking, contemplating and praying about what I heard and learned. At times I feel discouraged because it seems impossible. But at other times I have hope, particularly when I see people in communities all over this region finding ways to bless their neighbors, to live as a Jesus follower. So fundamentally I have hope. Not my hope or hope in me, but hope in what God can do.
What do you think? Is there a future for the United Methodist Church? What might it look like? What might we become? What is the dream on your heart?