Mainline churches are in decline because these movements reached a critical mass such that sufficient numbers of bishops, pastors, elders, deacons and laypeople lost, forsake or otherwise failed to remember the true marks of the church. The church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. When the church becomes divided, unholy, parochial and forsakes historic orthodoxy, then it will decline.As I was reading his post, I was especially struck by his words concerning the UMC:
The United Methodist Church has spent tens of thousands of dollars promoting the smart marketing byline: “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.” But all this “smart marketing” does is underscore the United Methodist disease. This marketing line says nothing about Jesus Christ or the apostolic faith. It actually communicates the very blandness which is the problem when a denomination loses its center.Could it be that the decline of the UMC is related to the "blandness" of our message as Dr. Tennent suggests? That by saying "Open hearts, open minds, open doors" we aren't saying much of anything and the very message we thought would attract individuals, especially younger ones, is lacking the substance so many are desperately looking for.
Individuals want to know what the United Methodist Church stands for and stands on. I believe we will continue to struggle as a denomination if we lose our connection to the Gospel and fail to "market" that connection to the world around us.
What do you think? Does the UMC (or your church) have a disease? How would you label it?