Things are BIG in Texas. Iâ€™ve heard many times that the Texas Annual Conference is the largest in the denomination (itâ€™s not â€“ either in terms of membership or area covered). We have the largest churches (we surely have some large ones). We like to think weâ€™re something special. Unlike those western and Yankee outposts of United Methodism, weâ€™re still growing. Or so we think. But not any more.
In her Episcopal Address Monday, Bishop Huie told us that our worship attendance was down by a thousand last year. Corrections in three large churches combined to produce a hit of 7700 in membership. Worst of all, 45% of our churches had no one join by profession of faith. If youâ€™re not familiar with UM terminology, â€œprofession of faithâ€ means that someone is making a first time commitment to Jesus. And we canâ€™t even brag that â€œat least weâ€™re not as bad as everyone else,â€ since the national rate is only 42%. Ouch.
Bishop Huie said this poor performance â€“ she called it a â€œdismal failure of Christian discipleshipâ€ â€“ was completely unacceptable. She called on everyone to repent â€“ not just in the comfort of our hotel room, but then and there.
Additional points from her address:
- 2005 was a good year for giving. The TAC paid its full obligation to the general church. We hadnâ€™t done that since 1972.
- As bishop, she has observed that most churches ask for young pastors. The problem is, only 1 pastor in 20 is under 35. We have some serious recruiting to do. [We might also want to consider the long complicated road to being a pastor.]
- The biggest thing we need to do if weâ€™re going to turn the church around and get to the business of reaching people for Jesus is prayer.