Controversy, Boredom or Death? Why Our United Methodist Church is Shrinking



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Straw that breaks the back

I read the comments of why individuals left, and it occurs to me that many of the reasons are really "straws that broke the camel's back". They aren't significant reasons, but they are just enough. The real reason is that there's not a cause that moves people enough to stay. Sadly, I think the shrinking membership will stop when one thing happens--when there is no one left to leave....

Joe more than 6 years ago

Fifty Years Ago

Methodists were stereotyped as hopelessly bourgeois. That hasn't changed among our white members, but of the Mainline churches were the most diverse except possibly for the Episcopal Church and that's due to their connection to the Anglican communion and their affiliation worldwide with their communal bodies in Africa, the "Magna Charta" countries (Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, Falkland Islands, etc.). Where we fall short is due to the attacks on our institutions by the extreme right in the U.S. While the ECUSA (Episcopal), UCC, PCUSA, etc. affirm diversity and the real world we are mired in a death struggle with forces of repression which use dark money to seek dominance over our governing bodies. Until they triumph or we do, we are for better or worse lumped in with churches which deny science and confuse the mythological adherence with fundamentalsm that cynical manipulators like David Barton and the IRD (institute on Religion and democracy) use to make us look like just another church body denying reality.

George Nixon Shuler more than 7 years ago

Left After HS

Don't believe the message, too far left - now the Methodist are setting themselves on fire - thank God I'm an atheist now.

Knave more than 7 years ago


Seems to me that the reasons that people are leaving the UMC is as varied as the people posting and more. Being relevant to what is going on in the community is key. In my congregation, there are people working at discipleship quietly, without fanfare.

When I speak with my daughter and her husband about church, both raised UMC and part of UMC Camper ministry staff before getting married, they will not attended any church. As staffers at the camp, they got fed up with the politics of the conference and consequently wanted nothing further to due with it once they graduated from North Central College.

The answer is... I don't know and what the future brings is? The reformation that we are currently undergoing is transformational in ways none of us understands and will not understand in our lifetime.

M Dallner more than 7 years ago


Let me see my church. Quit children's time. Act of Congress to get it returned.Won't buy supplies or snacks etc or the younger class either.Money is not the issue. For the three children 7-12 years or the younger ones either. age for crafts etc. Members won't honor obligation of working nursery and Sunday school classes. Sold van (covertly)to bring in folks because it was the parents responsibility to bring in kids to church.Sunday school rooms youth and scouting rooms storage rooms that will remain storage now. Same people making same decisions expecting different result. This is how we have always done it. I have been there 7 years . Nice people individually together it has made it a senior citizens social club. Anything for seniors gets full backing etc and no reason it shouldn't but to exclude the others? I am hanging on by a thread truthfully starting to really regret wasting time there. Most others with children have left. Prayer needed. But maybe we need to come to the realization that church government structure has allow stasis and our continued existence is not part of God's plan by our choice. My older son in his second year of college has left the Methodist church with prejudice I might add. Why are we leaving? Really

S Wallace more than 8 years ago

Is this new blog helpful?

Emory Robotham more than 8 years ago

Why our family left the Methodist church

Our family left the Methodist chuch because of the increased liberal views that do not follow the teachings of the Bible. The Bible is very specific on views regarding female pastors and homosexuality. After our conservative, traditional pastor left we got a liberal female pastor who had no problem expressing her liberal views on blogs regarding homosexuality and made no appologies for it. She even went on to say that she was embarrased to be called Methodist. Some how as a pastor she is allowed to get away with this. Is that someone you would want as a leader of your church? After much research, in regards to all of the changes made to the Methodist denominaton as a young family with small children we have decided that we have to change denominations . We are planning to become Lutheran. They teach straight out of the Bible. They don't change the Bible messages to be socially accepted. God's word is God's word and that should never change.

Dori Matte more than 8 years ago

Why our family left the Methodist Church

If you think that Lutherans are less"liberal", then perhaps you should examine their beliefs and doctrines a bit more carefully.

Anne Ewing more than 8 years ago

You know...

...that ELCA Lutherans are more liberal than Methodists and have LGBT clergy and persorm same sex marriages, right? And that WELS and MSL Lutherans are so right-wing it's like stepping into a time machine back to 1850? Sounds like what you want is a church which agrees with your politics.

George N. Shuler more than 8 years ago

The UM Church does not listen to its people

I left the UM Church because I got tired of being called a Methodist by the United Methodist Church. I grewup in the Evangelical United Brethren Church. I was part of the merger with the Methodist. I attended the UM Church until 1979. Since the merger all I ever heard was about the history of the Methodist Church. The former Evangelical Association, Evangelical, United Evangelical, United Brethren and Evangelical United Brethren Churches histories were forgotten. The UM Church celebrate anything that has to do with Methodist. Its time for the UM Church to celebrate being United Methodist not being Methodist. Listen to your former member you'll learn something about why they are leaving your church. Most people don't care if you attend church and your gay or your race all they care about is hearing the word and being listen to by their church leader which at the present time they are not.

Rodney W. Cook more than 8 years ago

Declining Membership

I am in the process of joining Lovers Lane UMC. The people are welcoming, there is absolutely NO homophobia and there is no way one could be bored with our young, sassy, black female pastor of Crosswalk, Shante Buckley (contemporary service). I can't speak for the Methodist church in general but my observation is that this church is doing what it can to remain relevant to all ages. As a child attending Lovers Lane many years ago, it was very white. Today there are people of all stripes, genders, colors and ages. I like that.

Lori P more than 9 years ago


If people are complaining of being bored, it's because they go to church looking for a good be entertained. We've made being a Christian primarily about going to a building and being entertained....thinking we have worshiped, when in reality all we've done is watch a show. Worship had become a noun, not a verb closely identified with sacrifice.

Will Clegg more than 9 years ago


It's boring because there is nothing relevant in the same anecdotal story told every other week with the same topic and characters, the same hymns, the same broken sound system, the same lack of caring for the lost, broken and hurting and the same $40,000 parking lot fundraissing project. Nothing is wrong with our parking lot! Ah yes, and then the "old guard" sending spies to the "younger" persons (30-45 y/o) bible study to ensure we discuss items in line with the "old guard's" wishes. My UMC is not authentic, hypocritical, irrelevant, and yes boring. 12 people 20-55 have walked away in the past 3 months.

Max Facto more than 7 years ago

I left because of homophobia, not bordom

Maybe it's just me, but I refuse to be part of a church that teaches about a God of intolerance and hate rather than the true God, Jesus Christ.

Important Truth more than 9 years ago

impact of UMC to the world

I think one of the reasons why our church is declining in membership is because our programs/ministries have less impact to the needs of the people in communities and the world. We need to re examine and discern the our mission program and plan with people ministries that respond to their everyday needs and problems. The UMC needs to be an authentic church by serving the poorest of the world today.

Marie Sol Sioco-Villalon more than 9 years ago

Decline of Membership of the Church

I think there is another issue: the concept of "Membership" has been so cheapened by overuse that folks don't want to be "members" of anything. I can become a "member" of the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Common Cause, the National Rifle Association, the National Psoriasis Society, and heaven knows just how many other organizations, simply by writing a check and mailing it to them. They don't ask anything of me except money, or occasionally to write my congressman. That's the expectation of "membership" in our churches today.

We also have the erroneous idea that discipleship = membership, and that one cannot truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ unless one is a member of a church. That's not the way many look at things these days.

A few years back, in a community where the average length of residence in the community was less than two years, I visited a man who had been coming to our church for several weeks. I invited him to come to a membership class and to join the church. He then asked me a question that they didn't teach me how to answer in seminary. That question was, simply, "What's in it for me?" That may well be the watchphrase of the Gen-X, Gen-Y generations. I finally found the answer to his question a few years later: what is in membership for an individual is that s/he gets to vote at the Annual Church Conference. Period. Isn't that special? One can be a constituent and get all the rest of the goodies that we call "membership." One can even be a Trustee of the Church and not a member.

I think we would do ourselves a favor to abandon the concept of "membership" and replace it with "Confirmation," Commitment, and "Re-Commitment." Invite people to join the church thru confirmation if they have not had that training before, and to make a "Commitment" for the rest of the calendar year. At the end of each year, persons are asked prayerfully to make a "re-commitment" to serve Christ through his church for another year through that local church.

To be blunt, the real number that counts is the number of butts seated in the pews or seats for worship on an average Sunday morning. In most of my churches, I shot for an average attendance that exceeded my membership, if at all possible. A church with real people present and participating beats the thunder out of whether they are "members" or not.

Why do we stick with a concept like "membership" when the currency of that concept has been cheapened beyond belief by overuse?

Tom Griffith more than 9 years ago

I agree that "church"today can be boring and dull. As I have said in previous commentary, I was born a Methodist and I'll be a Methodist til I die but I am a John Wesley Methodist and there seem to be fewer and fewer of us as time goes on. Mostly, I think, thatis because we have fewer clergy leaders who are uncomfortable with things the way they are. For example, in watching the process of electing bishops this year, I found more interest being focused on administrative experience and identiry rather than prophetic and challenging characteristics. Also, the denomination has "officially" seemed to have given up being John Wesleyites. Until those things change, it is difficult to invite newcomers to join. Some of us who are stubborn hang in there and are dissenters with the hope that we can influence some change. I hope that we can do it.

Phil Susag more than 9 years ago