When I talk to fellow pastors about a Way Forward for United Methodism, the most common question I hear is: “When should I begin talking to my congregation about a Way Forward?”
Some congregations have already picked a side. Some congregations have stayed up to date on all the denominational happenings. But it seems most pastors have been patiently waiting for the right time to prepare their congregations for the possibility of significant changes to United Methodism as we know it.
It’s understandable for many pastors to be waiting. They want to have as much accurate information as possible and they do not want to unnecessarily interject anxiety into the life of their congregation. So, generally when I have gotten the question about the right time to talk to your congregation about the way forward, it has been difficult to answer.
Thankfully, the new statement by the Council of Bishops about the way forward offers a timeline that helps answer the question of when to talk to your congregation. In their statement, the Bishops say they are exploring 3 options for the Way Forward (we’ll discuss those options in more detail in future posts) and they say that the Commission on a Way Forward will give their final report to the Council of Bishops in May 2018.
Here’s what we can infer from that tidbit of info:
How do we take this information and turn it into a timeline for constructively talking to our congregations about the Way Forward? Here’s my basic recommendations. (As always, you may need to adjust it for your local context.)
I realize this suggested timeline may not be right for everyone. I have been working with numerous churches recently to discover the best timeline and most constructive format for these important conversations in their local settings. If you need help discerning the timeline for your congregation, please feel free to email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help you find the right timeline for your context.
In my upcoming posts, I’ll share options for how to structure these classes and what we have learned from the 3 options presented in the recent statement by the Council of Bishops.
Blessings to you and your church,
Wil Cantrell serves as the Associate Pastor of Concord United Methodist Church in Farragut, TN. Wil’s driving passion is to help people live an authentic life while experiencing a real growing faith in Jesus Christ. Previously, he served as the associate pastor at Middlebrook Pike UMC and as the pastor of Lebanon Memorial UMC (Lebanon, VA) before coming to Concord UMC in July 2015.