The Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr.
Three Key Questions for
United Methodists Today
by The Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr.
There are three questions that United Methodist churches would do well to keep before them if the United Methodist witness is to strengthen in the 21st century:
* Are we reaching more people for Christ?
* Are we reaching younger people for Christ?
* Are we reaching more diverse people for Christ?
There is no future for the United Methodist witness in the United States unless we can demonstrate that we can reach more people, younger people and more diverse people.
In thinking of those three questions, you may find yourself identifying with one or perhaps two of them. My observation is that United Methodists will either successfully achieve all three goals or will achieve none. They are inextricably linked.
The current state of our denomination in the United States requires that we give attention to these goals: United Methodists are overrepresented in every age category of 50 and above and underrepresented in every age category under age 50, the age of the vast majority of the population. And our denomination is vastly overrepresented among white people compared to their presence in the population and underrepresented in every other racial group at a time when diversity in this country is growing at a greater rate than ever.
These statistics make clear who we are not reaching for Christ. They tell us that as we respond to the call to take the Good News to all people, we must give special attention to younger people and more diverse people. And reaching younger and more diverse people for Christ are closely connected because of the significantly greater diversity among younger populations.
United Methodists have expressed a commitment to reaching these underrepresented constituencies. We must learn now to link such commitments to accountability for goals and outcomes in reaching more, younger and more diverse disciples.
--Lovett H. Weems Jr., is distinguished professor of church leadership and director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Among his books are John Wesley's Message Today and Leadership in the Wesleyan Spirit published by Abingdon. You may subscribe to the Lewis Center's free bi-weekly online newsletter, Leading Ideas, at www.churchleadership.com.
*Read new columns by the Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr. each week during January and February at Interpreter OnLine