I had a few moments to spare this evening so I decided to check out the UM News site. I found a link to Annual Conference reports. Curious about what’s happening elsewhere I decided to read a few.
The last line of each was the most depressing. Consider these examples:
“Membership stands at 230,500, down 6,807 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 122,691, down 1,115.”
“Membership stands at 283,617, down 7,238 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 109,269, down 976 from the previous year.”
“Membership stands at 321,970, down 4,302 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 156,865, down 4,536.”
“Membership stands at 95,777, down 3,059 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 33,526, down 1,055.”
“ Membership in 2005 stands at 77,291, down 1,758 from 2004. Average worship attendance is 23,086, down 1,320 from 2004.”
You get the idea.
Back when I was working on my last degree I served a church in California, so I thought I’d check the Cal Pac news. Covering southern California and beyond (to Hawaii & Guam), the Cal Pac AC includes many large, growing cities. A prime mission field, one would think. But the focus seemed to be on retirement. 22 clergy retired. 6 were ordained Elder. How can you reach a large, growing population when you retire so many workers relative to the number you take in?
Now it may be the case that these are good retirements for the Conference – along the lines of the preacher who says his church is “only a few funerals away from real growth potential.”
Where’s the urgency? Why are we content to “celebrate” this or that all the time? People are dying in the darkness and, as Keith Green used to say, “the church just can’t fight because it’s asleep in the light.”
It’s time to wake up.