Top Ten Reasons to be a Methodist

(with apologies to and adaptation from Robin Williams Top Ten Reasons to be an Episcopalian).

10. No snake handling (a real sales feature in Kentucky).

9. You can believe in dinosaurs.

8. Male and female God created them, male and female we ordain them.

7. You don’t have to check your brains at the door.

6. Even cross and flame boxer shorts are not considered a tacky Christmas gift for clergy in the UMC.

5. The church year is color coded, to make it easier to follow.

4. No alcoholic has to worry about communion causing a relapse.

3. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.

2. All are welcome to come as they are, but none are allowed to stay as they are— ‘you must be born again and justified’!

1. We have the best hymns— hands down, even if your hands are up while singing them.

  • Ben Witherington

    Mr. Bufford: You may want to take these points up with an Orthodox Rabbi, but last I checked, they have nothing to do with the new covenant, which Christians are bound to observe. The Levitical Code is not part of the teaching of Jesus or Paul or other early Christians. Homosexual behavior is condemned just as clearly in the NT as in the OT, but your attempt at a reductio ad absurdum doesn’t work in this case, since all the points you make here are totally irrelevant. BW3

  • Ben Witherington

    Actually Carl you’ve grossly mis-evaluated the situation. The UMC has many growing churches and many church plants. The churches which are dying are mostly liberal or impervious to change. At this juncture 50% of all UMC are in the south or south central region of the country and most are conservative or moderate. They do not spend their budgets or waste most of their time reinventing the wheel on a sexuality argument which is intractable. BW3

  • Taylor

    This is great! I got it from Seedbed and had a nice laugh. Thank you sir for sharing this.

  • Carl Palmateer

    Ben,
    Let me slightly rephrase what I said. The UMC and other such denominations in the US are declining regardless of their stance on homosexuality. Thank God for the 2/3rds world. The UMC numbers for all annual confernces show a marked decline, if not in absolute numbers, then in proportion. Church plants mainly seem to be following the bodies as people move out of old areas into new ones. While conservative and moderate congregations may be slower at showing the decline it is still there, the rising median age attests to that.

    IF you want to have fun with it, you could claim that those attending the conservative congregations, listening to sermons on the two terrible Methodist sins of gambling and alcohol are more likely to be living clean, healthy and virtuous lives. Thus by taking longer to die than the libertine liberal they slow the decline of their home congregations.

  • Ben Witherington

    Hi Carl: Again, you are mistaken. There are various conferences that continue to have membership growth in the U.S. when one looks carefully. BW3

  • Carl Palmateer

    From United Methodist News Service:
    The pews at many churches are emptier this year.

    In statistical reports from 39 U.S. conferences, most disclosed declines in membership, worship attendance or church-school participation in 2009. Twenty-six conferences reported losses in all three categories. Thirteen reported membership drops of more than 2 percent. Four conferences gained members.

    The 2009 figures continue a decades-long decline in U.S. membership that is drawing the attention of church officials.

    The Red Bird Missionary Conference in Kentucky noted that its membership stands at 1,495, up seven members, and its average worship attendance of 711 is up 35.

    The North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference so far is the only other conference to also report gains in membership and attendance. Membership increased by five people to 237,495, and worship attendance is up by 400 to 83,452.

    That kind of growth, while small, is nothing new for the conference, which encompasses the eastern side of North Carolina.

    The conference has seen its membership grow for the past 15 years, said the Rev. George D. Speake, the conference statistician and pastor of First United Methodist Church in Henderson, N.C.

    Speake attributed the growth in part to North Carolina’s overall growth in population.

    The United Methodist Church is growing worldwide. (Again, Thank God fro the 2/3rds world)

    The latest numbers I have. I doubt much has changed in a couple years. Notice the size of growth being boasted? Membership up 5 and 7? Notice the attribution to growth in population. I have looked carefully and I see no growth rates in the conferences that comes near the population growth rate when there is any growth at all.

  • JD2012

    BW3,

    While I applaud your humor (I might have to look into some of those boxers). I did take issue with what you said in the comments, especially this point,

    “I think frankly it is indeed time for those who want to continue waving the LGBT banner to realize that they are free to move on and join a denomination that agrees with their views, but it’s time for them to stop wasting the time and the money of the UMC trying to get it to take an unBiblical stance on either same-sex sexual relations or marriage.”

    If this is truly your position, then the UMC may potentially continue in its membership decline in the US. Those annual conferences that are growing are at least split on the LGBT issue. You will also (and already have) lost the witness of wonderful LGBT ministers by the Discipline’s stance on the issue. It appears as though you are also ready to lose even affirming straight ministers to another denomination.

    Contemporary scholarship has disproved the “clobber” passages: Leviticus 18:22, the story of Sodom, as well as the Pauline passages. There is no concept of the loving same-sex relationship that we know toady either in the 1st century or in the 1600 BCE contexts.

    It’s time for the UMC to get on the right side of history. When I became a Methodist, I took a vow to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression, in whatever forms they present themselves.” It is in this spirit that I continue to be an LGBT affirming Methodist and applaud the prophetic witness contained in these comments and throughout the denomination.

    Best Wishes,
    JD

  • Ben Witherington

    No JD, Contemporary scholarship has certainly not disproved the so-called clobber passages. Far from it. They have been shown to be guilty of special pleading. And I don’t know what denominational statistical chart you are looking at, but it is absolutely untrue that the Episcopalians or the UCC have gained members by endorsing the gay lifestyle. Far from it. They have declined even further, and we shall see what happens with the LCA. BW3


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