[The last 40 years of American cultural] change situates The United Methodist Church in a state of confusion, denial, grief, and rapid decline. In our attempt to be something for everybody, we have become irrelevant to most people in our mission fields. Once again the United Methodist movement represents between 1 and 3 percent of the US population, and we find ourselves competing for the hearts and minds of people who don’t know us and seem very disinterested in an organized church.
This has resulted in at least a 40 percent decline in The United Methodist Church since 1963. The rapid decline is well documented, and this contributed to a corporate depression and malaise across the system. Due to aging leadership, contracting income, and cultural polarizations, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church functions very much the same way as the United States Congress, which is to say that it doesn’t really function very well at all….First, real organizational change always comes from the bottom up and the outside in. It rarely occurs from the top of the organization itself. Very few organizations can self-reform without a major crisis (e.g., exile). Although we are experiencing a slow fade and a slow death as an organization, we have yet to face a major crisis.