Guiding Questions

As we gather for UMC Next, we have been asked to consider some guiding questions for our work. These are the questions that have been guiding most of the conversations since General Conference ’19, and it is helpful for us to have your insight on these topics.

The agenda is clear and helpful about the work. We’ll begin tomorrow by framing our work together, discussing who we are as a church, and discussing our context.

Tuesday, the conversations will be around justice and the path forward as we understand a faithful response to the outcome at General Conference.

We’ll conclude Wednesday by discussing what we can do and what is next for all of us.

Below are the questions we’ve been asked to consider:

1.  If you were to poll your congregation (the church you pastor or attend), what percentage of your congregants would be:  TRADITIONAL INCOMPATIBILISTS, TRADITIONAL COMPATIBILISTS, PROGRESSIVE COMPATIBILISTS OR PROGRESSIVE INCOMPATIBILISTS? 

[Edit] These terms are defined by Adam Hamilton as such:

There have been four words/categories that have been used to describe where United Methodists stand on same-sex marriage in the church:

  • Traditionalists: “Marriage is between a man and a women”
  • Progressive: “God allows his gay and lesbian children to marry, as well”
  • Incompatibilist: “I cannot be in a church where others disagree with me and are allowed to do something different than what I believe is right regarding same-sex marriage”
  • Compatibilist: “I can be in a church where others disagree with me and are allowed to do something different than what I believe is right regarding same-sex marriage.”

2.  How would you summarize Methodism’s theological essentials – the essential doctrines that must be a part of Methodism’s future? 

3.  If a new Methodism were formed, what elements of United Methodist polity, General Church structure and organization, local church structure and the Discipline do you believe must be retained?  Which do you feel are no longer helpful and should be set aside?

4. What do you value about the UMC and our connection?  In other words, why remain together in a denomination versus simply leaving the denomination? 

5. Among the strategies widely discussed is to “stay and reform the church from within.”  This includes resisting the Discipline’s policy on LGBTQ persons.  What might be ways in which individuals, churches or annual conferences could pursue this strategy in a way that ultimately leads to change in the denomination?

Hold this process in your prayers. It is going to be challenging and difficult to talk through these things, especially given the diversity of perspectives represented.

May God bless us, may the Spirit give us courage, may Christ be our guide.

2 thoughts on “Guiding Questions

  1. I hope that the those convening at UMC Next will keep in mind ecumenical relationships as they go through this process – particularly with full communion partners in the Pan-Methodist group, ELCA, Moravians, and (hopefully soon enough) Episcopal Church. If schism is to occur, perhaps a silver lining would be to draw into even closer communion with others and perhaps even move into an organic unity that retains the traditions’ distinctive gifts. Aside from the Christian imperative of unity, from an organizational infrastructure standpoint these relationships could greatly assist a fledgling denomination and work together to avoid wasteful duplication of efforts.


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