I wrote this response to Maxie Dunnam on his Facebook page in regards to the "Anonymous Eighty" and their insistence that the United Methodist Church "must divide." I have great respect for Maxie, but until the UMC and General Conference starts to make generative discipleship and mission our priorities (as they are in Scripture and in our own denomination's mission statement), a schism is self-indulgent and an act of avoidance of the most sinful kind.
Until we make discipleship and mission our first priorities, the United Methodist Church will continue to lose members, just as denominations such as the Southern Baptists and Episcopalians - who, while having definitive statements on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriages, continue to lose members for the same reason: failure of generative discipleship and missional focus. You would think we would learn from our sister communions - but we seem hell bent to repeat their mistakes.
Generative discipleship and mission SHOULD BE the future for United Methodists - and was at the heart of the BIRTH of Methodism. Schism at this time and over this issue (homosexuality/same-sex marriage) is sinful, self-indulgent, and shows unwillingness to be faithful to our primary task. We are taking away energy, resources, and precious time away from what our Lord commissioned us to do, first and foremost: make disciples of Jesus Christ who go and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
I'd be more impressed by these 80 leaders if they shared their best practices toward discipleship and growth. Say what you want about Adam Hamilton - but he's been unselfish about sharing evangelistic tools and missional strategies that WORK. And if you go to his church, you'll hear very little about this issue, and more about THE issue we Christians should be worried about: making disciples, transforming the world.
Our denomination looks like congressional infighting. I suspect we'll end up with the same approval ratings.