Liberal United Methodists know that the General Conference in May, 2016, may be their last chance to capture the United Methodist Church (UMC) with their radical secular agenda. They are well aware that even though the American culture seems to be moving in a more liberal, secular direction, the UMC is actually trending in the opposite direction! Why? The secret is Africa. Even as American Methodism loses over 90,000 members each year, the UMC overseas gains over 200,000 members annually, thanks mostly to the growing churches in Africa. While all of the other American mainline denominations are losing members, the UMC, thanks to its overseas components, keeps growing and will soon reach 13 million in membership. Thankfully, most United Methodists outside the U.S. are Bible-believing conservatives.
Liberal United Methodists know these membership trends. They know that liberal churches in the U.S. are shrinking while conservative/evangelical/orthodox churches are either growing or at least holding their own. The liberals understand that by the time of the 2020 General Conference, the Africans may well constitute a majority of the UMC and control a decisive number of votes. Therefore, the liberals know that 2016 may be their last chance. Expect them to pull out all the stops in Portland next May. Don’t be surprised if they try to shut down General Conference with angry rainbow demonstrations. Even though much of the debate will be about homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the real issue will be the authority of Scripture.
Now is the time for Bible-believing, orthodox United Methodists to stand firm. “Speaking the truth in love,” we must “contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). We must not be intimidated if the liberals call us names and try to pressure us into unholy compromises with secular values. Our authority is Holy Scripture; therefore, we stand on holy ground.
Surely God works in mysterious, wonderful ways! One hundred years ago we American Methodists were sending missionaries to Africa. Little did we know way back then that in 2016 the African United Methodists would rise up and save the UMC! Isn’t it just like God to take the least affluent part of the UMC (Africa) and use it to save the most affluent, prodigal part (the U.S.)?
How great is our God!
Dr. Bill Bouknight is the Associate Director of The Confessing Movement Within The United Methodist Church. He studied at Duke University, received a Masters of Divinity from the University of Edinburgh, an STM from Yale Divinity, and an honorary D.D. from Wofford College.