When Via Media Methodists started over 3 years ago it was a pipe dream of three individual clergy. We believed that we could better the conversations taking place in The United Methodist Church. During our time together we have talked to Bishops, Professors, Pastors, and Laity in The United Methodist Church. We have brought in guests from across the theological spectrum on both our blog and our podcast. It was and is always our hope to add deep listening and interesting dialogue to an already crowded marketplace of ideas. In some ways we succeeded. There are more people aware of the deep divisions in The United Methodist Church today than there were four years ago. New people are talking and new voices are being heard.
In other ways we failed. So much of the talk today is just noise. Our beloved denomination is becoming more political and more polarized. Conversations and civil discourse are getting trampled by shouting, fear, accusations, and distrust. If I could name the biggest way in which we failed as via media methodists it would be in building trust across the denomination. A mentor of mine remarked that the main issue facing The United Methodist Church today is that our trust is broken. We can no longer break bread together as one family.
So what should we do when everything has failed? What should we do when our trust is broken? In my estimation there are really two options.
- Give up. A lot of people have voiced this opinion on both sides of the debate. They have good reasons to do so. You cannot be in a relationship with someone that you don’t trust. It will never work. I understand this option and the people that espouse this option. Some of my best friends are of this opinion. If this is what happens in The United Methodist Church I will lament my own brokenness and trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in the remnants of our brokenness.
- Try something else. Maybe The United Methodist Church can’t work the way its currently set up, but maybe there is a different way that it can. Maybe the Holy Spirit isn’t done with us quite yet. Maybe God can still raise us from the dead. Maybe we need a new revival to sweep through these dry bones. I don’t know the answers to all our problems, but I am willing to try something different. I have too many relationships on both sides of the divide to give up so quickly.
Our fear is the same as John Wesley’s prophetic fear:
I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.
So changing our name from Via Media Methodists to A Wesleyan Way is an attempt to try something different. We will still attempt to bring our readers and listeners the best Wesleyan/Methodist thought from across the world. We will still offer a unique voice in a chaotic world. We will still be ready to listen to others. Along with these things we hope to bring you new relevant content to your journey in sanctification. There will be new guests, important book and curriculum reviews, and rich Wesleyan theology.
Thank you for being a part of this journey and continuing to pray with us into the future of Methodism in America. The hope for the future of Methodism is also found in John Wesley’s last known words:
The best of it all is, God is with us.