General Conference authorizes study of United Methodist men

The mystery of why men are missing from United Methodist pews may soon be unlocked.

On May 5, General Conference delegates voted 469-443 to allocate $35,961 to implement a 2005-08 study on men across the denomination. The request for funds will be reviewed by the Council on Finance and Administration. That fiscal agency will present its budget recommendations for all general church funds to the May 8 closing plenary session for final action.

The study will be implemented by the Commission on United Methodist Men and the research arm of the General Council on Ministries (or its equivalent structure).

According to Bill Smith, a delegate from South Carolina, research shows that when a man is the first one in a family to come to Christ, the family follows him 93 percent of the time, compared to 17 percent when children are the first to attend and 27 percent for women.

"We need to find out why," Smith said.

The men’s commission reports that studies by researcher George Barna have found that women are 54 percent more likely than men to be lay leaders, 54 percent more likely to be in a small ministry groups and 39 percent more likely to have personal devotional time.

The study will enable the commission to "develop effective resources, respond to current needs, challenge long-held assumptions and develop effective strategies" for reaching men. The study committee will report its findings to the 2008 General Conference.

*Lauber is a news writer for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7.

After May 10: (615) 742-5470.

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