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Wednesday, December 02, 2015

"Don't Get On That Shuttle Again!"

There's an article on a the Circuit Writer blog written by a United Methodist Church pastor in Sioux City, Iowa that is well worth a read. He talks about his church constantly carping about loss of membership, and the the perception it creates, particularly to young people. I'm not a Methodist, but the entry makes excellent points that relate very strongly to the recurring discussions in U.S. and Canadian lodges and grand lodges.

Have a look at: Don't Get On That Shuttle Again!

I’ve come to believe that all of the continued discussion and hand-ringing about our membership is counterproductive and may even be dangerous to the possibility of future growth for our Church and more importantly to the mission of our Church.
Why? Because it creates and strengthens negative perceptions about the UMC, about or local churches and even about our ministry. It makes membership numbers THE litmus test for the work of the Church and it may indeed discourage persons looking at the UMC from becoming a part of our family of faith.
Why do I say that our continued churning about membership could actually keep people out of the Church? Because a lot of the growth and success (if we want to use that word) of any organization or human endeavor rides on perception.
If we all have a negative perception about the future of the UMC or the future of our local church that negativity is felt by persons who come as guests to our churches, who read about our faith family and are looking for a place to call their faith home.
I’ve shared the story more than once that I joined a local civic organization when I was younger. After joining I had an older member of the group come to me and say something to the effect, “I’m so glad you have joined. Boy we need young people. Our organization is dying. We probably won’t be around much longer. So glad you are here!” I very seriously considered asking for my dues back and walking out the door. The last thing I wanted to be was the token young person who was going to save their organization. Yet that same organization had a lot to offer that they were failing to tell me about because they could not stop talking about membership decline.

H/T: Timothy Bonney


  1. Good article. The author's comment about the difference between a Disciple and Member reminded me of the difference between a Freemason (member of the Fraternity) and Mason (member who applies the Craft teachings to his daily life). A Brother has the freedom to choose which is best for him and all those who have a claim upon him.

    Membership is important, but good outstanding Leadership is even more important, because it will inspire men to greatness, it will attract men to it's ranks, it will instill confidence, restore virtue, nourish hope, replace fear, overcome vices, and cause men to care more about the welfare of others besides just themselves.

    This type of Leadership is still present today in some Houses of Worship, in some Fraternal Organizations, and on the Battlefield. When you see it, you want to emulate it and tell others about it, not just by words, but by virtuous actions.
    Our Virtuous actions will attract good men to our ranks.

    Bro. Thomas Johnson, VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), Colorado.☺

  2. The preoccupation with "bums on seats" as we Brits say is indeed what is killing both mainline Protestantism and, to a certain extent, Freemasonry. The requirements that Freemasonry makes upon Brethren, especially of time, mean that many men join and then find that they cannot offer the amount of time required. Then the lack of people, or the number who join and then leave, arguably makes those remaining nervous. It's natural.

    I have had various brethren moan about not enough initiates/joining members, and yet at least one of them has two sons, one of whom is an inactive MM, the other of whom has expressed an interest in the past. He hasn't seriously tried to bring them in. The key to healthy expansion is to have a steady stream of joiners and initiates, and ensuring that men know that one is a Freemason and that the Brother is someone who is an upright man and worth emulating.

    W.Bro. Chris Hansen

  3. Thanks for mentioning my blog article Brother Chris! I wrote something similar some years ago about Masonic membership. I do think that churches, civic groups and Freemasonry have some of the same membership issue in common and make some of the same mistakes with focusing on numbers instead of quality.

    Timothy Bonney, PM
    Master Elect
    Morningside Lodge No. 615 A.F.&A.M.
    Sioux City, Iowa


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