A national evangelism executive of the United Methodist Church declared here that "we have the fewest converts for the most numbers of any Protestant denomination in North America, and we plant fewer new congregations per year than any other denomination in the western hemisphere."
Dr. George G. Hunter III, of the Division of Evangelism. Worship and Stewardship, made the statement at a meeting of the denomination's Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Missional Priority of Evangelism.
He reported that "the United Methodist Church has been fairly effective at making disciples our of its own members. Members are more relevant in their faith than 10 years ago, but we aren't so effective at converting our neighbours."
Hunter said the evangelism section has developed several strategies, including certification of "evangelism church growth consultant trainers," use of educational television in urban areas for schools of evangelism, and work with social scientists to research such matters as what kind of people are attracted to the United Methodist Church, why they stay, and why they leave.
Dr. G. Ross Freeman, superintendent of the denomination's Macon, Ga., District, warned against "the trap of believing that church extension is the same thing as church growth."
He emphasized. "We don't neccessarily need church buildings; we should move into social groups, mobile homes and subcultural groups. These are the types we haven't learned to "evangelize." We are good at going to the middle-class neighbourhoods and building a church; we need to do more."