Bishop Coyner of Indiana has proposed an idea to help save the United Methodist church from an all-out schism which essentially boils down to creating a whole host of denominations based on annual conferences (geography) while we still call ourselves The United Methodist Church.
You can read about it HERE and decide for yourself whether this is a good idea or not. I’m not convinced and have to wonder, why bother? Why bother remaining “united” when this is not the biblical notion of “united” by any stretch of the imagination? To be “united” in the same sense Jesus prayed we would be united is to be of “one mind” on matters of gospel truth. We are to be united in spirit and truth. That is what sets us apart from the world. Being sanctified in God’s truth, which is God’s word (John 17:17) means to be set apart from all other words. It is in large part our set-apart-ness, our holiness, our distinction from the evil one in this world (John 17:15) which unites us. But we are anything but united in that way.
Unity in the eyes of Jesus has nothing to do with our shared buildings, pensions, properties, health insurance or logo.
I wish our bishops would lead us. To Bishop Coyner and others who are presenting ideas about how to hold us together as a denomination, here are my 2-cents, offered humbly as a candidate recommended for provisional membership this year in Holston’s Annual Conference:
Whatever idea you present, try to convince me by appealing to my sense of call. Convince me that by staying together as the United Methodist Church we will better be able to reach the lost and introduce people to the saving work of Jesus Christ and enable them to grow in holiness. Convince me that by staying together I can better carry out my calling to save souls and see lives transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Convince me that my witness to the Gospel – which is a call for all people everywhere to repent and believe in the one name under heaven by which humankind can be saved – will be better served as a United Methodist than as anything else. Convince me that our mission to make disciples for Jesus Christ includes repentance and a heart strangely-warmed and teaching people to follow the commands of our Lord.
But bishops, if the only carrot you can dangle before me is my pension and property and health insurance, or even the invitation to “transform the world”, then I’m sorry. That does not appeal to my sense of call, and, I imagine, the sense of call many others share. Do better. I’m open to being convinced that we are still the church that believes God changes hearts and lives, interested in spreading scriptural holiness throughout the land. Convince me that we can do it better together than apart. Convince me.