UM’s spiritual practices reflect hearts that need inflamed!

Posted: November 10, 2015 by efenster in Ideas
Tags: , , , ,

flameEd Stetzer recently wrote a fascinating article in USA Today, about how Americans are becoming even more divided in their faith.  According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, which was just released,  a growing portion of Americans are less religious, while Christians in the U.S. are becoming stronger in the practice of their faith.  There are fewer nominal Christians–you know, those who only show up to church on  Christmas and Easter–but, those who do show up are more committed.

So how are United Methodist’s faith practices doing?  Using the Pew Research Center’s study, Cynthia Astle, in a Nov. 5th “United Methodist Insite” article, shares some very sobering results.  In fact, she writes:

“Methodism’s founder John Wesley would be downright dismayed, if not completely discouraged, by the Religious Landscape Study’s results on the faith practices of American United Methodists. It’s hard for spiritual leaders to understand how 62 percent of respondents could claim feeling “spiritual peace and wellbeing” at least once a week when so few report regular participation in worship, prayer groups or religious study.”  The report indicates the following:

  • 44% of UM’s attend worship weekly, 39% attend once or twice a month or less
  • 62% say they prayer daily, 21% pray weekly
  • 25% attend a small group weekly, 11% monthly

The Indiana Conference’s bishop, Bishop Michael Coyner, asks the question in a recent article, “Are you a functional atheist?”  His point isn’t that most of us United Methodist’s are atheists, but that we behave as though everything is up to us, that too often we don’t rely on God.

No doubt if we United Methodists are to fulfill our mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world, our hearts will need to be on fire for Christ and we’ll need to be committed to a relationship with Christ that is vibrant and growing.  The bottom line:  the above stats will need to change!  It’s not a technical issue–better pastors, better worship, better ministries, better outreach (although such aspirations are sometimes needed)–but a heart issue.

So how are we and our churches doing at changing our own members’ hearts?  Maybe that’s were we need to start.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development



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