Finding New Ways To Engage Young Methodists

Over the course of ten years, the total membership of Methodists in the UK has diminished by over 100,000.

This isn’t a scare tactic.

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Nor is this number the result of gross manipulation of statistics.

Taken from the Statistics for Mission report, produced by Alan Piggot (Research Officer for the Methodist Church), this number was not plucked from thin air.

Since 2002, the Methodist Church has been actively collecting data for their Statistics for Mission, with the aim of assessing the number of people actively involved in the UK’s Methodist community.

A single ‘pro forma’, the standard form that is required to be filled in by each Church, requires 108 unique pieces of information to be filled in.

With nearly around 4,600 local churches spread across the length and breadth of England, the total data collated stacks up to a staggering 188,905 separate records. This is the amount of data that is collected and analysed by the Church every year. As a result, there are now over 20 millions individual records at researchers disposal to.

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Of course, statistics can often be misleading.

Indeed return rates from churches were initially low at around 85%. This would have significantly skewed results and given us Methodists some hope that there were perhaps more of us, simply choosing to go uncounted. However, these rates have since improved, with a 99% return rate recorded in 2013.

The results are now conclusive. Taken on average, the Methodist Church has been losing around 9,000 members a year, since records began in 2002. Let us not forget the words that John Wesley wrote in 1986:

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist. However, I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of a religion without the power.”

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The only question now is, what are we going to do about it?

We need to be devising new ways to engage people from all backgrounds to visit their local Methodist Church and become part of the community. For the last month, we have been conducting meetings and discussion groups, to brain storm ideas on how best to do this. Here are some of the few ideas we’ve come up with so far:

Engage Educational Establishments

Luke 11:9 says: “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

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Mimicking companies in America, who are always looking for news ways to market to college students, we need to be getting amongst school and college kids, raising awareness of Methodism. Getting involved in Open Days and offering counselling are just a few examples of what we could be doing.


Open Up Church Spaces

Acts 5:14 says: “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women…”

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Earlier this year it was proven that communal experiences, such as Pokemon Go, could successfully lure young people into church spaces. By paying closer attention to current recreational trends, the Church could open up safe spaces for young people to enjoy at their own leisure.


Social Media Experts

Mark 16:15 says: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'”

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Part of our responsibility as Methodists is to spread the word of the Lord, through any means necessary. Standing out on the pavements, attempting to wrangle unwitting members of the public, is no longer a viable option. Social Media is the most efficient method of outreach in the 21st century and it’s one that we need to be making better use of.


However we choose to approach the matter- we need to act decisively to bring more members into the fold. This is no longer an issue that can be ignored. 

Mary’s Trip To Florence’s Duomo

Finding God and Sanctification in a Foreign Land

Church Organist and avid Traveller, Mary Piper, tells us about her holiday to Florence which became an unexpectedly spiritual experience…

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I went for the sights and discovered a sense of sanctity.

Since my retirement from teaching 10 years ago or so, I’ve been lucky enough to have the funds and time to explore foreign lands. The trips usually consist of some sightseeing and food – but, very rarely, I find my spirit transported.

When the Winter months begin to batter our small little community of Livingston Green – I act rather cowardly and book myself a holiday.

The Christmas season is a very busy one for me as Church Organist for the area, so I tell myself that I need a break before my schedule starts to fill up.

For a long time, I’ve been applying a ‘spin-the-globe’ methodology to picking my destinations, but this time I was acting on a recommendation from a good friend. She told me that the temperate weather (around 20 degrees at this time of year) would help lift my spirits and that the Cathedrals truly had to be ‘seen to be believed’.

I’ve always thought that places of worship should be humbly furnished.
However, after seeing the duomo, I had to agree with her.

After going through my usual rigmarole of finding the best flights, packing a small bag and booking my airport parking at Manchester (where I was due to fly out on the Friday, for a long weekend) – I was on the plane, excited to touch down in a new land an visit a Cathedral that had left such an impression on my friend.

Florence is one of Italy’s most popular tourist cities, thanks to it’s central location (making it a great stop-off between places like Pisa, Venice and Rome) and gorgeous architecture. Home to great works of art, such as Michelangelo’s iconic ‘David’, as well as some beautiful plazas.

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Amongst the plethora of tourist attractions lies Il Duomo di Firenze – a building started in 1296 and not finished until 1436 – a Goliath of Gothic architecture and an unexpected fount of sanctification.

As I’ve mentioned briefly, I’ve always found the extravagance of Cathedrals to undermine the simple nature of praising God. The grand ornateness of England’s Cathedrals may have astounded older generations of believers, but now they merely serve as distractions to the would-be faithful masses.


That was the opinion that I had before setting eyes Florence’s main church.

Philippians 4:8 says: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”duomo-3

The Bible tells us to dwell on the good, excellent things that exist in our world. Although the intricate designs, and endlessly detailed paintings that cover it’s interior, could be deemed extravagant – almost boastful – they fostered in me a deep sense of inspiration and awe. 


The city of Florence is abound with lush sights and stunning vistas, but there are none more spiritually uplifting than the Duomo.

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A building that made me stop and think about the wonder and majesty of our world.