GC 2012: Critical Choices in the Church

April 26, 2012

By Cate Monaghan
CA-NV Communications Director

"We cannot continue to do business as we always have and hope for different results," said the Rev. Adam Hamilton during last night's General Conference plenary, "Critical Choices in the Church." Statistics he delivered were sobering, to say the least – leading one audience member to tweet, "You can't scare people into hope."
"The aim wasn't to 'scare people to hope,'" Hamilton tweeted back, "but to paint a realistic picture of what the future holds if we do nothing."
Hamilton, pastor of Church of the Resurrection near Kansas City, led a presentation on the state of the Church and proposals for restructuring, as a member of the Church's Interim Operations Team. He pointed out that in the last five years, membership in The United Methodist Church has had a 5.3 percent decline, with average attendance declining 8.7 percent – which is equal to closing every church in the Northwest Texas, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Dakotas, Kansas West, Florida, and Redbird Annual Conferences.
At the current rate of decline, Hamilton said, The UMC has a projected life of fewer than 50 years.
Even more sobering was the projection that at the current rate of decline in baptisms and confirmations (21 percent), "in 25 years we no longer will have children or youth in our churches."
Hamilton supported a proposal to invest in young clergy over the next decade, comparing it to the need to set aside "seed corn" to ensure a future crop. And he talked about changing the structure of the Church, pointing out, "John Wesley did not design [the current organizational structure], the Apostle Paul did not propose it, and Jesus did not mandate it."
Twitter was "alight with questions and concerns, many of them voiced by young clergy and laity," as Jay Vorhees blogged on Adam Hamilton Meets with Young Clergy About CTA/IOT. Vorhees reports that in response, Hamilton called for a meeting of young clergy to address their concerns. Watch the video GC2012:Adam Hamilton Speaks to Young People.