Notes from a speech at Umerging

  • Mainline church is in decline.
    -UM’s have dropped in worship attendance by 15% nationally.-Average age in 1940 was 30. Today the average age is 60.
    In 30 years, we’re going to have a real problem.
  • -But God isn’t done with the mainline.-Not many people want to be in an organization whose best years are behind them.
  • Why?
    -Demographics. Not having as many babies. Mainline first to embrace birth control. There is probably some truth in this.-John Cobb — The problem has to do with luke warmness. Loss of piety and spiritual intensity.-Farley — A missing presence is worship. To attend the typical Sunday morning service is to attend something odd. Lacking the mystery of God. “Not Holy, Holy, Holy” but “Nice, Nice, Nice.”People have a desire to experience the presence of God.-Kirk Hadaway — Churches need a religious message, a spiritual component to what they do. Social action is good, but too many churches aren’t rooted in spirituality.

  • Mainline isn’t really sure what our message is. Is faith the center of my life or just a nice idea.
  • Who and what are we?

I was not at the Umerging Colloquy and I know that this is just a few of the notes and not the entire conversation.  There is a lot of talk about what the mainline church is experiencing.  There is not a lot of conversation about how to move from being stuck and in decline.  I just re-read Sacred Cows Make Great Gourmet Burgers by Bill Easum and chapter 11 is a must read for any pastor who wants a model of how to move from being stuck.  The Complete Ministry Audit by Bill Easum is also excellent.  I am aware of the challenges and I would love to see more resources that help local congregations move forward.

Ready to Move Forward

William T Chaney Jr