Mainstream UMC Survey Finds Awakening and Urgency

Part 1 of 4



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Missing numbers and the unasked question

If you are going to set this up as traditionalists are the problem compared to centrists/progressives, then where is the breakdown of the participant numbers into these categories? And for this survey to have any level of validity, that breakdown needs to come close to reflecting the numbers generated by the definitely more scientific survey conducted shortly before GC2019.

And there is also a missing question that would reveal the deeper unresolvable divide between traditionalists and centrist/progressives: Clergy living into the questions they are required to answer yes to prior to being ordained; the ones that deal with they understand and agree with the doctrine of the UMC and they understand how the church is designed to function and agree to live within those parameters. Traditionalists may have answered no to the question about being in the same church with those who hold different views re sexuality, but I can guarantee for a bulk of them the practice that traditionalists do not agree with is clergy not living into the questions they answered yes to.

This leads to the 64 million dollar question that is never asked much less discussed: How do we live together if we are no longer in agreement as to what it means to uphold the good order and discipline of the church?

betsy more than 2 years ago

Is this a real poll?

Was this a scientific polling of umc members or a compilation of survey forms from whoever chose to submit. It has absolutely no validity as a reflection of the umc if it isn't a scientific poll.

td more than 2 years ago

was unable to take survey

Nobody that I've talked to was able to take the survey. They wished to give input as the media doesn't provide fair and equal coverage, especially those who who believe they are in charge at the Methodist church. For a survey to be an accurate reflection, it would have to include a cross of all involved and this did not. Anyone who has every taken a statistics class, knows that the results can be skewed, any way the author wants to lean.

Lynn more than 2 years ago

I contributed

I was able to take the poll, no issues.

I agree that any validity as an overall view of the UMC is limited; however it's not completely useless as it does help differentiate where significant chunks of the population fall on the broad strokes of the disagreement.

I've actually been calling for a scientific survey of the UMC since the GC2019 vote came down and the responses against the Traditionalist Plan started up. I think that, as much as possible, we should have a survey for every church, district, annual conference, jurisdiction - so we can get some answers on how the population actually feels.

Those calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

JR more than 1 year ago

Since it is established that

Clergy are more likely to be centrist/progressive than laity, you should also break down the answers by these categories. The reason being you report that 72% of the respondents were laity and 28% clergy. Based on numbers at overall the global UMC is over 99% laity and somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.5% clergy which is a long way from being representative of the actual laity-clergy distribution. It is entirely possible that the bulk of the clergy respondents were centrists/progressives whereas laity is more likely to be some mixture of centrist/progressive and traditionalist. This is an important consideration if you want to use this survey as a guide to what the grassroots is thinking.

Also, if you want a smooth resolution to this impasse be neutral when it comes to the traditionalist point of view and leave out any adjectives. Just because we do not think like you and you do not understand us does not mean that we are "mean-spirited".

betsy more than 2 years ago

Also interested in the breakouts

Separating clergy from laity is important.

I'm hoping that the future posts also give us more regional info (while realizing it's not a scientific survey and is limited in it's ability to make some conclusion, I like to see numbers.)

JR more than 2 years ago


Did anyone smooth the data based on the population? Conservatives have been actively skewing polls by not participating. So unless you account for that we won't know if the pew-sitters are as conservative as the Right claims. Neither side seems to have any clue what the laity thinks about the issues. We just hear from the loudest voices who may or may not represent the majority. So can someone please smooth the data? It's critical!

eric more than 2 years ago

And non-data

If, as you claim, "conservatives have been actively skewing polls by not participating" (which is non-activity, by the way), then you haven't collected the data to smooth. Data smoothing requires that there be data in the first place and that the data be collected in a scientific manner. More meaningful data is available from the UM Communications study released in February 2019:

While that survey did not ask about paths forward, it clearly showed that self-identified centrists are more aligned with traditionalists in their soteriology and missiology and that it is the progressives who are generally out of sync with Christ's stated purpose of his church. Any proposals for structural solutions that either destroy the global nature of the church or incorporate incompatible theologies begin with are doomed from the start.

John more than 2 years ago

Agreed on the smoothing

Not so sure you can use the report you cited to get to those conclusions.

And I'm not sure, if the proper questions were added to that survey, you'd be pleased about where centrists decide to land today (as that survey was taken about 6 months prior to GC2019). I think that the general statements about where people feel their theological ground is don't exactly express where the reality is with the Traditionalist plan.

I'd love to see a scientific survey specifically on that. And we should have had one prior to GC2019.

JR more than 2 years ago