Richard Hall Online

A Methodist Minister Blogging like it’s 2006

Is Methodism dying?

This is a tricky time to be a Methodist in Britain. Truth to tell, the whole Church in Britain, of every stripe and flavour, is a bit under the cosh. There’s a great deal of anxiety around.

People have been predicting the demise of the Methodist Church for a long time. Sooner or later, those predictions are going to come true — I can say with confidence that the Methodist Church is dying because I know for certain that the Methodist Church is not eternal. One day, just like every reader of this blog and every organisation that they might belong to, the Methodist Church will be no more.

It doesn’t matter that we’re dying. There isn’t anything anyone can do about that. Death isn’t failure. It’s an inevitable part of life. What matters is what we do with the knowledge of our mortality. That’s as true for an institutional church as it is for an individual. In any case, death and resurrection are central to the Christian gospel. To quote Will Willimon, “We serve a God who lives to raise the dead–even us. Therefore, we work with hope–not hope in ourselves and our efforts, but with hope in Christ.”





5 responses to “Is Methodism dying?”

  1. Revd Ian P. Hamilton Avatar
    Revd Ian P. Hamilton

    Bonhoeffer thought we ought to……and many have died since he said it, admittedly. Few do it willingly.

    1. Richard Hall Avatar

      Quite. As Kim Fabricius put it in the Advent Sermon I posted the other day, “No one knows the when, where, or how of the arrival of the Grim Reaper –though we do know that he will be infinitely more attractive than those who, in their ishoo-laden cosmetic attempts to delay the date, are only ensuring that they look more like a gargoyle than he does when he comes to collect them.” We all know we have to have an appointment with the Reaper, but (I think, rightly) we’re in no hurry to make it!

  2. Bob Stoner Avatar

    Thank you for your comment about the death of Methodism. In life we are often afraid of mentioning death. We speak of passing, moving on but avoid the word death because it has the note of finality. When death actually confronts us, we are in a state of trauma because we weren’t prepared to engage with the journey to death. I recall that the Methodist website used to have a phrase that death was but a bus stop on the journey of life, it wasn’t the terminus. Perhaps we might need to equate death in life to death of the Methodist Church.
    But if we did, people would get morose and look at their shoes… I wonder how the workers of a hospice might feel each and every day when they go to their work and listen, support and care for those on their final journey on Earth. There is hope, hope because they can deliver quality of life for those people. They can enrich their lives, one day at a time.
    Perhaps if the Methodist Church might see that death is inevitable, as you say, that death is not a barrier but a passing moment, we might be willing to journey on and see what comes next. Whether the Church returns to a movement or morphs with another group of people, that is for the future. Our task is to listen, support and care for those today, one day at a time.

    1. Richard Hall Avatar

      Whether the Church returns to a movement or morphs with another group of people, that is for the future. Our task is to listen, support and care for those today, one day at a time.

      Absolutely. The task is always to stay faithful. Death is not failure, but a consequence of being alive

  3. […] wrote a piece yesterday, Is Methodism Dying? and some have, I think, misunderstood. Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of the Methodist […]

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