“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” –Jesus Christ
We are in great crises; and great crises present great opportunities.
As the perfect storm buffets our foundations, we have entered a new window of history. As we stated in Part 1, much shaking still lies ahead, but the perfect storm will inevitably work for our good.
New winds are blowing in the storm, and they are blowing in an unprecedented direction. Characterized by a type of consensus not seen in fifty years, we are witnessing the potential break out of our decade’s old impasse.
Leading pastors made up of progressives, centrists and traditionalists, caucus group leaders, a United Methodist seminary President, United Methodist seminary professors (Examples found here and here and here and here and here), and the Bishop of the largest conference in North America, are all calling for a formal separation of the United Methodist Church. The buffeting of the perfect storm is resetting our foundations.
As we embrace the blatant realization that we are at an impasse as a denomination, approximately twelve prominent United Methodist leaders have begun engaging one another in conversation regarding how we might formally divide the United Methodist Church. Choosing to function with anonymity at this time, the team is evenly made up of approximately five or six leading progressive/centrists, and five or six leading traditionalists. As they move forward, they are currently polling their constituents for feedback. This group shares the common understanding that the probable way forward is to formally divide the denomination into two or three new expressions of Methodism.
This would involve drafting legislation that all constituencies could agree on as we gather at General Conference in Minneapolis in 2020.
Because the perfect storm has brought together prominent progressive, centrist and traditional voices expressing “Calls for Structural Separation” and laboring for it, it is time for us to consider how this expression of the perfect storm will inevitably work for good.
Consider what this could mean:
Lids of limitations being lifted.
An end to church systems crippled by decades of inward focus.
An end to millions of dollars and human capacity evaporating at General Conferences characterized by deep hurt, gridlock, and un-resolvable debates.
Imagine a new day.
Think of all that could be unleashed through a new synergy in the church.
Think of what could happen through a new unity and a common vision.
What might that new day look like? We will look to that topic in Part 7 of this series. In the meantime, we are in great crises; and great crises create great opportunities.
May God give great wisdom in this perfect storm which empowers us to step into a new day in Methodism.
In our next post, we will look at The Slow Fade of Casual Christianity in North America and the Economic Reset of United Methodism.
Paul Lawler is the Lead-Pastor of Christ Church UMC. He and his wife, MJ, have four children and one daughter-in-law. In addition to serving as a pastor, Paul and his brother, Dallas area businessman, Patrick Lawler, founded two Patricia B. Hammonds Homes for orphans at high risk for human trafficking in Thailand. The homes are operated through the international ministry of the Compassionate Hope Foundation. Paul also serves on the boards of The Wellhouse, New Water Farms, and the East Lake Initiative. He often tweets Kingdom thoughts at @plawler111