Poll: Making disciples tops United Methodists’ priorities; sexuality ranks low

UMC_Logo-01NASHVILLE, Tenn.—A new poll of United Methodists in the United States shows that issues related to human sexuality rank significantly lower than other concerns, and members want the church to engage on this issue and bring a positive perspective to the discussion.

Creating disciples of Christ, spiritual growth and youth involvement are among the top priorities for U.S. church members, according to the survey, commissioned by United Methodist Communications. The research is based on a May 30-June 1 survey of United Methodist members in the United States. The research was conducted by Corporate Research of Greensboro, N.C., and Research Now of Dallas. It had a 4.4 percent margin of error.

“We found that regardless of a person’s position on homosexuality, members felt strongly that the church could offer a positive and different voice to the broader conversation occurring in society today,” said John Deuterman, president of Corporate Research. “They overwhelmingly reject the idea that the disagreements over this issue were justification for splitting the church.”

Seventy-six percent of members said the church “should engage and bring positive perspective” to society’s discussion of issues related to sexuality.

More than 90 percent of respondents said The United Methodist Church should not split over issues related to human sexuality. Sixty-three percent said the issue of sexual orientation and same-gender marriage is “diverting the church from more important things.” They ranked it 8th in importance among issues facing the church today.

The most important issues, according to members, are creating disciples of Christ (39 percent of respondents ranked it as first or second in importance); youth involvement (27 percent); members’ spiritual growth (24 percent); decline in membership (19 percent); poverty (17 percent); children at risk (17 percent); and social injustice (16 percent). Sexual orientation and same-gender marriage drew 11 percent.

“This poll shows what really matters to the members of The United Methodist Church,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, general secretary of United Methodist Communications. “It also clarifies that the people in the pews are more concerned about faithful living and changing lives for Christ than they are about some of the other issues that we hear so much about.”

The poll is helpful as The United Methodist Church looks ahead to its legislative assembly in 2016, Hollon said. “As the church wrestles with issues related to human sexuality leading up to 2016, this is a hopeful reminder that our connection is strong and that people in the pews are neither ignoring this discussion nor letting it distract from our effort to answer Christ’s call.”

UMReporter Staff

This story was posted by a staff member of The United Methodist Reporter. For over 160 years The United Methodist Reporter has been helping the people called Methodist to tell their stories. If you have stories that you think need to be told, please let us know at editor@circuitwritermedia.com
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29 Comments on "Poll: Making disciples tops United Methodists’ priorities; sexuality ranks low"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 

Guest
Anne
1 year 2 months ago

Yesterday I submitted a comment critical of this poll. Why doesn’t it appear? Are you censoring comments to show only the positive ones?

Guest
Anne
1 year 2 months ago

This so-called poll is totally bogus, it was quickly created and published to justify the “progressive” viewpoint prior to conferences this month. And the results in NO WAY represent what I and most of my Georgia UMC friends believe. The poll was not sent to all UMC members — only those who go to the UMC website saw it, a very small minority of Methodists. The clergy may be leaning toward unity and acceptance of gay marriage, but believe me, we in the pews do NOT approve. If the Conference votes to allow gay clergy and same-sex marriage, people will leave the UMC in droves, so the clergy better be prepared for that. For a more accurate response to those issues, send the poll out to all churches and their entire congregations! In my opinion, a split is inevitable.

Guest
Chris
1 year 2 months ago

I wish someone had told me about the poll. The best kept secret in our Denomination until the results came out. The bigger issue in the UMC didn’t seem to even be on the list – The Authority of Scripture vs Culture.

Guest
1 year 2 months ago

I took the poll, and the questions were biased and fixed to get this result. Of course everyone on both sides thinks making disciples is a higher priority than sexuality, but that doesn’t mean one opposes schism if gay marriage / ordination continues. Even the ones sent the poll were carefully hand picked. It was dishonest and misleading.

Guest
Kevin
1 year 2 months ago

The 11% who do think same sex issues are important are enough to bring The UMC to its knees. And the other 89% are content to allow them to do so.

Guest
William
1 year 2 months ago

To make disciple of Jesus Christ for the TRANSFORMATION of the world — we proclaim. But, the progressives seem to want to transform Jesus to the world. If it is for the transformation of the world, then why are we so bogged down with sexual immorality? Could be that progressives are capitulating to the world a sin of sexual immorality so as get themselves off the hook by having a denomination endorse their sin — thus it’s been voted out as a sin by the sheer numbers of a mainline church.

Guest
1 year 2 months ago

Creating disciples, youth involvement, and declining membership are the top three concerns. How can the United Methodist Church expect to create disciples when much of the declining membership is due to young people leaving the church over the treatment of LGBT people. I don’t have to look too far from home; my daughter quit attending church when she saw how the United Methodist Church chose to treat me because I am gay (and she let our bishop know this when the bishop tried to stop the Holy Ceremony that my husband I had last year). Young people do not want to be a disciple to a perception of Christ as one who does not embrace his creation…all of it.

United Methodists and especially those of the conservative faction can pretend that the issue of LGBT equality is not important, but they do so at their own peril.

Guest
Elaine T.
1 year 2 months ago

My daughters were born, raised and married in the UMC. Today they would never consider belonging to an UMC congregation. They are all active in very large congregations of other denominations that have significant numbers of young people in them. ( My estimate would be that 60-75% of their attenders are under the age of 50.) I would guess that our UMC has those number in the reverse) Why wouldn’t they consider the UMC? They see how God created the concept of marriage between a man and woman in the creation story That model is illustrated throughout the whole Bible. It’s like God puts the bow on the whole package when He sums it up in describing The Marriage of the Lamb where Christ is the groom and the church is the bride. What you don’t hear much about is what you find smack in the middle of the Bible . There is a whole book devoted to how God values the sexual relationship between a man and a woman. It is the plan that God introduces, illustrates, and glorifies from Genesis to Revelation.

Guest
Mark
1 year 2 months ago

Very good comments, Elaine. Those who want to talk about the “few verses” that discuss sexuality are missing the big picture. Go all the way back to Genesis. A major theme of the entire Bible that emanates forward is the problems occurring when there is a breach in the man/woman relationship, which is the focus of procreation for a creating God. Redefining this relationship is a much deeper issue spiritually than is commonly appreciated.

Guest
1 year 2 months ago

Would it be possible to post or send exactly how these questions were asked? I see these kinds of polls (not just from the UMR but Gallup etc.) but have neve been personally called and don’t ever know anyone who has been called. I would like to unoffically be able to answer them as if I had been contacted. Thanks so much.

Guest
Anne Carey
1 year 2 months ago

What’s really disappointing about these results is the relative position of matters like poverty, children, and injustice. When I read the gospels, I don’t find Jesus being so concerned about “making disciples” (code for church growth) or “youth involvement” (ditto). I do find him being much more concerned about the poor, the sick, and those who are excluded. Makes me wonder if I really want to continue my affiliation with United Methodism.

Guest
1 year 2 months ago

could others see the poll questions and the result?

Guest
1 year 2 months ago

Can a link be provided of the actual survey study? I would like to know how many people were surveyed, from where, and the questions that were asked? Mr. Dave makes good points, it is the foundational issues that drive perceptions and opinions that should be polled. Those would be long questions in a survey though, which is not ideal.

 
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