Thursday, September 4, 2008

Just a Quick One Right Now

The new Sr. Pastor at church is having a problem right now. And it's called senior-itis. No not the kind we all experienced in high school, the kind where the older members of the local church are fighting him tooth and nail about making any changes about anything. And I do mean anything. The hymns are too new, the sermon should be given from the pulpit not from the floor of the church, can't we get rid of the modern worship service, how dare you not wear a robe when preaching, what do you mean we should invite people into OUR church, etc. etc.

He told me the other day that this is the third church he's served where he's found this to be true. He's amazed that the older members can't realize that if the church doesn't find ways to reach the next generation then there won't be a church. A story he mentioned about this situation in another church not too long ago just blew me away. The pastor was trying to get the congregation to vote in favor of selling the property to the city, (who had zoned the area for commercial development) receiving more than the value of the property, and building a new and modern building in a growing section of the city. After the congregation had voted to refuse to sell, the pastor asked one of the members why he was opposed. He stated that he'd rather have the church burn down around him than move it. As a result the church was closed by the conference within the decade.

I've been hearing from others in the UMC lately and this attitude seems to be prevalent across Methodism. No wonder we're losing members. We once had one third (33%) of citizens in this country identify themselves as Methodist. That percentage is about 2% today. What happened? Where did we lose the evangelical spirit we once had? And how do we get it back with an aging congregation who feel they've done enough and don't want to disrupt their "club?"