The Real Challenges That Face
The United Methodist Church
By Lovett H. Weems, Jr.
Few would disagree that many challenges face The United Methodist Church. But what are the core issues and concerns, the ones that must be addressed if the church is to follow God’s leading into the future? What must be “reset” rather than merely tweaked or adjusted? Lovett Weems, one of the most highly-respected interpreters of contemporary United Methodism, suggests that we start with the following:
- What will happen now that the increased giving that United Methodists have enjoyed (despite declining membership numbers) has reached a plateau and begun to decline?
- Why, with 34,000 congregations and $6.5 billion in annual giving, can’t United Methodists add a net increase of even one new disciple of Jesus Christ in a given year?
- Why are United Methodist clergy less concerned with reaching young adults than are laity? Why are laity unwilling to make the changes to worship and budgets required to attract these same young adults?
If the percentage of married couples with young children has declined by half since the 1950s, why is that still the group we focus on reaching?
- Why are so many mid-sized churches on their way to becoming small-membership congregations?
- With insight, conviction, and calm resolve, Lovett Weems challenges United Methodists not only to ask these hard questions, but to face up to the difficult decisions they require of us as we continue to seek God’s will for our lives together.
“Lovett Weems has clearly stated the essential biblical and theological foundations, named the undeniable realities, and begun the necessary conversation for practical solutions to the challenges facing our church in the twenty-first century.”
— Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton
“A crucial resource for all leaders of the church who are serious about real adaptive change needed for the denomination’s future.”
— Cody Collier
District Superintendent, Missouri Conference
“Lovett Weems challenges us to quit trying to drive into the future by staring into the rearview mirror.”
— Dan R. Dick
Director of Connectional Ministries, Wisconsin Conference
“Weems gives one of the best analyses for the general church, annual conferences, and local churches with strategic and practical changes that are essential in order to be sustainable into the future. A must-read for all leaders in The United Methodist Church today!”
— Bishop Sally Dyck
“Lovett is spot-on, fact-based, and thorough in his”analysis, with a deep understanding of The United Methodist Church."
— Bob Farr
Director of Congregational Excellence, Missouri Conference
“Once again Lovett Weems hits the mark with what has become his signature strengths as a writer and researcher. This is a must read for any of us serious about reform of the mainline church.”
— Bishop Grant Hagiya
sounds an urgent call for change to a United Methodist Church wandering in the wilderness. This is essential reading for every annual conference leader.”
— Bishop Janice Riggle Huie
”Lovett speaks the truth. His ability to capture the essence of the meaning, purpose, and role of local churches, regional bodies and denominations makes this book a key resource for leading.”
— Bishop John Schol
“Lovett Weems is a wise shepherd and courageous prophet as we seek to extend United Methodist witness.”
— Bishop Hope Morgan Ward
“Into this one little book Lovett Weems has packed the fruit of years of loving, critical examination of our church. With Focus
, we have the gift of a strong, clear prescription for our present malaise.”
— Bishop Will Willimon
“An insightful read for anyone concerned for the future of The United Methodist church! As an Asian American clergywoman, I appreciate Lovett’s emphasis on reaching out to younger and diverse people.”
— Motoe Yamada
Pastor, Sacramento Japanese United Methodist Church