This Annual Conference season in the United Methodist Church has seen a stark increase of centrist/progressive delegates to GC 2020. It is generally believed that UMCNext is trying to change the decisions from the special called General Conference in February 2019. I’m beginning to wonder if it isn't also part of their plan of separation.
What I mean is that there is a true United Methodist center, and it isn’t the clergy who call themselves centrist or moderates. There are thousands of laity in the pews who are not nearly so plugged in to what is going on beyond their local church. If you were to interview them, they would mostly be traditional, but for many of them they are primarily United Methodist Christians. This is their identity as Christians. The UMCNext folks know this, which is why they are so desperately trying to establish their position as the real United Methodist Church.
Unfortunately, UMCNext is controlling the narrative right now. With the help of local and national media outlets, as well as local Annual Conference publications, they are making the case that they are the real United Methodist Church. And by electing a large contingent of our American delegation they will be the loudest American voices at GC2020. They’re out in front on this, and I’m afraid many of these unengaged United Methodists sitting in the pews are hearing their narrative, not the classic Christian message traditionalists are standing firmly upon. I’m trying not to be too skeptical, but I’m real concerned about leaving people behind. I’m concerned about how to get the message out so that people in churches served by so-called centrist pastors aren’t led astray. I mean let’s face it the folks at GoodNews, the IRD, the WCA, and Chris Ritter’s blog post UM Fallout are about the only places you can go to get the traditionalist side of the story. Meanwhile UMCNext and their allies have CNN, NPR, PBS and nearly all the major news outlets helping to tell their side of the story. By doing so they are beating traditionalists to the unengaged United Methodist center. I’ll even say that having true far left progressives like Dorothee Benz and Chett Pritchett bow out may help their case. They can say, “See, we are the true center, not too far left, not too far right, just loving of everyone." And of course they can add, "look what the traditionalists do to people," as if we’ve done anything but stand on the word of God. Many good people won’t know much more because as I’ve said that’s the only side of the story they’re going to get.
I’m just saying I’m concerned about what’s going to happen with these folks in the center. I don’t want to see them left behind because they aren’t getting the whole story. I know we have to trust God, but it seems right to me that we have to fight for them. We have to try and get the message out there in greater quantities. We have to start thinking about saving the center.