Questions to Consider


By Paul Newhall
IGRC Retired Clergy

I had a long talk this morning with a family member this morning because her congregation is considering disaffiliating. As we talked, I came up with some discussion points for churches, particularly rural churches, that are considering this move. While not exhaustive, I hope they might help churches who are having these discussions.

  1. Who is driving the discussion? If it's the pastor and not the congregation what impact does this have on what's being presented. Are you getting information from both sides of the discussion - conservative, mid-line, and progressive - to make well informed decisions?
  2. Is your congregation looking at this primarily for theological or financial reasons? Be honest about this. If your congregation is just tired of paying apportionments make sure you've talked about and understand where apportioned funds really go.
  3. Are you considering joining the Global Methodist Church or becoming an independent church? If it's the former, how long will it be until they have an organizational structure for your congregation to really consider? If it's the latter then the next questions will be more applicable.
  4. As an independent church what will your theological basis be and who will determine it? If it's your pastor, who will have a voice in determining what your core beliefs and practices will be? If you're striving to be a "Bible Believing" church (I don't know any that aren't) how will you determine which parts/aspects of the Bible you'll follow? Will members/attendees be allowed to question these beliefs? (you can as a UM member)
  5. Are you looking to separate because of major differences or just a few differences?
  6. Will disaffiliation allow you to stay the same or will you be looking at ways to improve/expand your understanding of what the Bible is saying to you corporately and personally?
  7. How will you define the role of pastor and how will you call your next pastor? Remember that there won't be any more pastoral appointments.
  8. How will you define who can become a member and/or participate in the life and leadership of your congregation?
  9. Is the congregation looking for a way to "save" what's left of your congregation or really looking for ways to expand your ministry? Will you continue to have the same leadership/power structures in place?
  10. How will you care for you pastor and his/her family over the long run? Will you provide health insurance and retirement benefits to them or are you just looking for a way to lower your bills?
  11. Finally, who will leave and who will stay? What impact will this have on the congregation? Remember that there will always be folks on both sides of the debate and folks will leave and/or attempt to take on different roles. 
Hope these are helpful