The “Done” Church Plan

I already wrote a blog calling the One Church Plan the “None” Church Plan. It’s worse than that. It’s a surrender to all things that we as United Methodists are not. So, a better title is the “Done” Church Plan, because if it passes at the GC Special Session, we’re done. The Propaganda War for the One Church Plan is well underway. As a delegate to the Special Session of the UM General Conference next February, I and others are being inundated by material touting one plan over another. The most pressure is from the proponents of the One Church Plan. As head of our delegation, in our local church, and in the district, I have spoken at listening sessions and done my best to pay careful attention. I will not panic over some of the misleading information, but I will trust that Jesus and the mission of the church will prevail.

Here are some of my problems with the One Church Plan (OCP), and specifically yesterday’s brochure from the group calling itself “Mainstream UMC.” I want to quote from the actual words of the document to cite my issues: “Many of the leaders of the organizations supporting the Traditional Plan are willing to throw away 250 years of Methodism over the issue of homosexuality.” The problem with this is that for 250 years, and including right now, the UMC has supported marriage as between one man and one woman. John Wesley’s commentary on Scripture supports the traditional understanding of God’s best plan for humanity through the complementarity of male and female union. This isn’t just the teaching of Methodism for 250 years, and the action of every General Conference since 1972. This has been the position of Judeo-Christian teaching for 4,000 years! Who in the world do we think we are that we can overturn the consistent teaching of the Bible?

Sure there have been those who used the Bible to put down women and promote slavery, but the same Scripture promoted women in leadership from Miriam, Deborah, Esther, Huldah, Ruth, Mary, Elizabeth, Anna, the Women at the Empty Tomb, Philip’s 4 prophetess daughters, Phoebe, Euodia, Synthche, and many more. Scripture has also been used to promote slavery and racism, but Scripture also says, “In Christ there is no Jew, nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free (Galatians 3:28).” Here’s the bottom line, the whole of Scripture teaches a morality UNLIKE the pagan world. Here we are in 2018-2019 doing the opposite. We want to reshape ageless Biblical ethics into the time-limited circumstances of our fallen world, not the other way around.

And for those who say Jesus never talked about the practice of homosexuality, you’re mistaken! Jesus used the foundational passage about human relationships from Genesis 2:24 that “a man shall leave his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” From the beginning of creation we have been made in God’s image, “So God created humankind in his own image… male and female he created them (Genesis1:27).” Jesus used this exact passage in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:6-8, and there are other exact quotes in the NT.

So here’s the point for those of us who choose the Traditional Plan over the One Church Plan. The OCP redefines the Biblical definition of marriage for the whole UMC. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the Philippines, Africa, or Europe. The Bible will be overturned. Now I believe in civil rights for everyone, but I will not compromise a high view of Jesus the Logos, the Word of Scripture for the sake of being politically correct. What’s worked for 250 years in Methodism and Biblical sexual ethics for thousands of years has not changed.

Then the brochure from “Mainstream UMC” goes way out on a limb. It says as it quotes one author’s perspective, “The reason that I cannot support the Traditional Plan is because it is in opposition to the unity of the church.” The unity of the church has taught exactly what the Traditional Plan promotes! If anything, it is the One Church Plan that is seeking to overturn the clear teaching of Scripture and destroy the unity of the church. I’ll say it again, EVERY General Conference of the UMC has kept faith with the sexual ethics of the vast majority of the church.

It is the One Church Plan that wants to let every local church have a church conference and vote on whether it will allow same-sex marriages on its property. That’s not unity. You’ll have one church in this part of town pitted against another one. All of the tension and disruption that’s been at the General Conference level will be brought to our local churches. The whole One Church Plan isn’t about oneness! It’s about letting everybody do what they want to do! They can call it “contextualization,” or whatever, but it is wrong from Scripture and our historic self-understanding as a denomination.

We have been a connectional people working together to spread the Gospel and do missions around the world. The One Church Plan causes us to fragment into a congregational system where sexual ethics will become THE litmus test for pastoral appointments. Let me ask it this way, “If local churches are going to decide whether they want to follow the historic traditional teaching of the church universal, then who is going to lose?” Will it be the pastor, the local church, or both? The answer up front and personal will be everybody. Can you imagine the divisiveness and rancor? Then another question arises. Whom do you think most churches will want as their pastors if you slip into the One Church Plan’s congregationalism? Wake up, people! This is not how we do church. We are a sent system of clergy deployment. This flips that and it won’t look good for our prophetic voice to the world. Church unity will have been sacrificed on the altar of progressive hubris and false fruitfulness.

The Traditional Plan is faithful to the Bible, church history, and United Methodism. The One Church Plan asks each local church and pastor to violate their most sacred loyalty to God. The One Church Plan will bring the fight to each and every pew and person. The Traditional Plan will uphold the values that our faith heritage has supported for thousands of years. The One Church Plan will turn us into a denomination that will have thousands of localized interpretations, and have no real Book of Discipline. In a Congregationalist system every church becomes its own arbiter of truth and hiring agency, and our UM heterogeneity and diversity of clergy will be squeezed into the box of a market-driven call system of clergy deployment. We will not be United Methodists. The adherents of the One Church Plan are selling out, but I will not. I am confident that we will uphold Scripture, the historic teaching of the church on marriage, and will not lose our connectional ecclesiology.

The Traditional Plan has won this battle not just since 1972, but for 4,000 years. The falsely named One Church Plan will result in chaos and defeat. We must stand tall and expose its problems. The Traditional Plan is who we are as the UMC, and as the church universal. The One Church Plan is a disaster in the making. This is a fight that we have won over and over again, and if we want to transform the world for Jesus, we’d better win again.

Broken Church

30 thoughts on “The “Done” Church Plan

  1. I agree with you, this will only cause us to judge and blame, not to love unconditionally as Jesus taught. Both of these plans are causing division and conflict but the One Church plan will cause division that will destroy the United part of our denomination.

  2. Tim, I stumbled across a blog post from about a year ago by Preston Sprinkle, a professor, speaker, and a New York Times bestselling author, from the Catalyst web site, that is still very relevant and connects to some of the issues that you are addressing in your blog. http://www.catalystresources.org/my-journey-into-the-lgbtq-conversation/

    My greater worry in all this, which I am not hearing addressed at all by the UMC Bishops or proponents of the OCP, is the expansive embrace of the LGBTQ+ community, and how it will play itself out in the life of the church, in regards to both relational and sexual orientation. In other words, we are not simply removing the language concerning homosexuality, it also involves the subtle acceptance of all who fall under the LGBTQ+ heading. And the UMC has not, and is not, as far as I know, giving any guidelines as to what the relational and sexual lifestyle boundaries should be for the church and for those who seek ordination. Even if UMC was giving some kind of guidance, would they be in the position to do so, if the denomination does, in fact, embrace either of the other two plans other than the Traditional View Plan? What grounds would the UMC church have to say to a Bi person, especially seeking ordination, “You have to choose one or the other gender to love for the rest of your life”? Or, to the individual who finds fulfillment and believes they were made to share their love in a multi-partnered relationship, would the church have the moral and biblical right to say, “no”? To follow the current logic, and acceptance of the ever expanding cultural norms, I don’t believe the UMC (or any other church) would have any moral, spiritual or biblical ground to challenge or questions any relational or sexual lifestyle/orientation of an individual because, by disregarding any biblical and historical stand by the church against homosexuality, they must also disregard any and all biblical references and traditional church stand to ALL sexual “sins”, orientations and relationships.The OCP simply throws Biblical imperatives, church tradition, experience and reason into the cultural wind, which is ever testing the boundaries of morality and holiness.

    One last thing. Believing that marriage is sacred and between a man and a woman, and that any other type of sexual orientation outside of God’s sovereign will, does NOT mean that the Christian has the freedom to treat ANYONE unloving, unkindly, or to keep anyone from worshiping and participating in the life of the church. To do so is wrong, sinful, and just plain being a poor witness and representative of Christ and his church.

    1. Jim, Great analysis and we must treat all as with sacred worth, tough and tender love! t

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  3. If we are, as the Methodist Church, going to desecrate Yahweh’s Word, what hope do we offer to those who do not know our Savior? If we think, talk, accept and act like the unsaved folks do, why would anyone want to become a Christian? My heart is breaking over what is happening. I cannot rationalize how Bible believing people can so totally ignore and twist what the Bible clearly teaches us. Tim, thank you for standing up for what is right and TRUE! I don’t know what the future will hold for the Methodist Church, but I know we risk losing the presence of the Holy Spirit in our services if the one church plan is successful. We must be diligent and faithful in praying for Creator’s guidance.

  4. One aspect of OCP never brought up is lack of obedience on what the united UMC has spoken consistently. General Conference spoke clearly that we uphold BofD and scripture. OCP has been rejected multiple times by past GC. Who are the ones dividing church with rebellious spirits not aligned with global UMC?

  5. I hope Methodists everywhere will read this, seek guidance from the Holy Soirit, pray about it, and dig in our scripture. The truth is there as you said. Then speak up like Tim!

  6. Tim, my prayers are with you and the rest of the delegates to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If the bishops have their way and the OCP passes we will see an immediate decline in the UMC with a large drop in attendance and income. Between large evangelical churches leaving the denomination and individual members leaving the mid and small size churches, apportionment’s will crash and the pension plan, and the rest of our funding will be in big trouble. The elders that are supporting the OCP may be shooting themselves in the foot. I hope they have retirement savings beyond the pension plan. An exit clause with payment of a churches share of unfunded liabilities may be the only way to save the pension plan at this point.

    1. Scott, Money talks, for sure! Praying for this to be a defining moment and start of revival, tim

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  7. Tim, I wish we had Bishops with your thoughts. Too bad you was not able to be elected. It is the Bishops that have become our problem. They want the one church plan to succeed because they see the decline of membership in the United Methodist Church as a result of not excepting LGBTQ Clergy and marriage. What a crock. There are other reasons for our decline and some of our progressives are so pushy with there agenda that they will not let the Orthodox community have an opinion. For the Bishops it is the progressive view or none at all. Everything has to be PC. Bishops have no guts at all. I am in a Conference (North Georgia) that I can tell you if we go with the one church plan, 2/3 of our churches will pull out of the United Methodist organization. What does that say about unity and a way forward. The minority rules. Our very own Bishop in the North Georgia Conference is even pushing for the one church plan and putting pressure on the delegates. I guess she wants to be unemployed. She needs to move own and be part of a congregation that shares her views and leave the rest of us alone. She is part of a progressive mission, not the mission of God as I understand our Bible. In my life I have known 3 staff persons (Youth Directors and DCE’s) of a United Methodist Church that were lesbian. All three imposed themselves on young teens and they got away with it where the ministers covered it up. Only one staff person was dismissed. I know this because one of these women was part of my family. All three of these church was in the South Carolina Conference. I bet you would be surprised what churches they were. One was in the district that you served as DS. We see such behavior in the Catholic church today. Many are not dealt with at all. My question is when we have LGBTQ clergy and such behavior arises as it will and a law suit is filed from a parent, who is going to be responsible for paying up? Interesting thing to ponder. My money I give to my local church is not going to be part of that because I am leaving the United Church if the one church plan is passed. Please share my experiences with your General Conference group. Remember there are other Wesleyan denominations out there for us to join. The non church one could be history.

    1. Bob, Agreed and will pass on! Hang in there and stay in prayer! tim

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  8. The One Church Plan (OCP) is actually what the world calls, “One World” or, “Global.” Looking at the “Globalization” of everything everywhere and this cancerous thing from a garbage heap called, Political Correctness (PC), it is no wonder that this Satanic cuagmire has infected some within the UMC. We are aware of the extreme damage that PC Globalization has wrought everywhere that it has been accepted. Many other religious congregations, worldwide, have already succumbed to something akin to the OCP. if you, as our church leader, accepts this OCP, I suspect that we can expect some “push-back” from within and from outside our church. I know that you will never accept this OCP. Our parishoners will not welcome it as well. As in any large organization, secular or spiritual, there will usually be some that will go their own ways. As I have stated before, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God!”

    Robert M. Winston

  9. Thank you, Pastor Tim, for standing on God’s Word. And thanks to Cindy for leading us in weekly prayer for this matter. And we continue to pray for His guidance, wisdom, strength, courage, peace, and protection for you both as you seek and serve Him.
    Any time we depart from obeying God’s Word, we are in error…disobedience…prideful and self-centered and wanting our own way. Jesus died and rose again to give us victory over sin. Praise Him, the Victor. Live for Him, not self.
    This matter is coming to the front in many churches/denominations and it is a matter of either putting God and His plan for our lives first, or putting our own plan for our lives first…who is more important, God or self?
    For me, the main question to ask oneself is – does this bring glory to God???? Our lives are meant to be lived to bring glory to God. Do you and do I want to live according to God’s Word and bring glory to Him??? God gives each of us a choice…honor Him or honor self…which will you and I choose? I choose to live for Him, with the enabling of His Holy Spirit. To God be the glory. Amen.

    1. Thanks, Bob, and Happy Thanksgiving to y’all! tim

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  10. Ultimately, I believe this to be an issue of the authority of an inerrant Scripture in our lives. If we’re not willing to accept that on the issue of homosexuality, then why would we accept it on the issue of the Lordship of Jesus, the Incarnation, the sinfulness of man, and the need of belief and faith in Jesus work on the cross for our redemption.

    1. Gary, The issue is indeed more encompassing than sexual practice. Amen, tim

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  11. Tim, you are a wonderful thinker!!! I met you for the first time in July 2017 in DRC when you came to preach to my annual conference session in the North Katanga, UMC. The Traditional Plan is the plan that has maintained the church united since its creation to date!!! To change it will only bring desaster to the church and assassinate it!!!

    1. Merci, Nday! God bless you and all in North Katanga! Tim

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