What is Methodism's focus today?


The Methodist Movement

By Glenn Martin


Editor’s note: Fourth in a series.


I asked a 15-year-old who had grown up just outside the Lake Junaluska, N.C., area if he were familiar with John 3:16. He said, “I’ve never heard of it.” He went on to say that he had never been inside a church.


Youth for Christ of Haywood County, where Lake Junaluska Assembly is located, reported in the mid 1990s that four of every five youth in the county had no connection to a church of any kind.


Our emphasis on inclusiveness has not been effective for the multitudes that remain excluded. Our inclusiveness does not focus on the lost souls all around us. (Luke 19:10 “The son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.”)


How many are there around our churches who are ignored while we focus on issues such as gender (even of God) and quotas and our rights and political correctness? Who decided God can’t be a father and or “he?”


One woman who had served on every level of the United Methodist Women from the local unit to the national organization said to me, “I do not care to go to the meetings anymore. Most of what we do is quotarize.”


These matters, even if legitimate, may well cause us to lose touch with the lost souls all around us.


The primary temptation of life in this era of high tech is distraction. Satan, the same one who confronted Jesus, must take delight in the trivia that demands our attention.


The lack of biblical and Spirit-powered preaching and teaching, the weak or no invitation given, the absence of prayer and personal witnessing, failure to visit in homes of the unchurched, the distracting issues and the professional churches must be a part of the reason that Methodism has more people in their 70s than those under 40 and a resulting declining membership.


Many local churches do not fit this broad-based picture, and many of you will find it hard to relate, but you will be able to see why it is a great concern for us and our church of great heritage.


I also know countless churches have climbed the mountains of difficulties left by the hurricanes of 2005. God bless all the volunteers who have come and are coming from all over. No doubt the church remains capable of the servanthood to which we are called.


The challenge faced is whether we can refocus on biblical basics which will get us back into the mainstream of making disciples – winning souls – in time to reverse the trends and have more conversions than funerals.


I hope my generation can help with this before we leave.


Martin is a retired elder in the Mississippi Conference.