I believe that the United Methodist Church has a bright future in America… but it will look ugly in the process.
Most United Methodist congregations will close in the next 30-40 years. This is no secret. I am actually chairing a task force to close one currently. As was recently published, if the United Methodist membership in America continues to decline at its current rate, there will be no United Methodist Church in America in 44 years.
Right now, however, a few UMC leaders are leading renewal movements that are just beginning to take off. Leaders like Adam Hamilton, Mike Slaughter, and a few other pastors, bishops, district superintendents, and educators are attracting younger leaders who can build new relevant and growing congregations. In addition, more relevant and growing United Methodist congregations are going to 1) plant new churches and 2) start video satellite campuses.
Over the next 30 years, as most of the United Methodist Church disappears in America, the only congregations left will be the vital, relevant, growing ones. For me, this is the bottom line. This is why Methodism has a bright future.
By 2040, when Americans hear “United Methodist”, they will think of something different than they do today. In 2040, they will think of relevant, exciting churches committed to personal growth and social justice because those are the only UMC churches that will be left. These churches are the ones that will grow the denomination into the 22nd century in America.
There is a bright future for the United Methodist Church!
For a view of the future that holds more weight than mine, check out this article. Bishop Larry Goodpaster is the new President of the Council of Bishops, and this is an informative and inspiring interview with Bishop Goodpaster about the future of the United Methodist Church:
(Let’s keep in mind that right now, like many denominations, the United Methodist Church is growing by leaps and bounds in the southern hemisphere.)