We had a quiet clergy session last night (which is good actually!) and a quite interesting morning worship time with Bishop King. In his sermon, he equated the decline in church membership/attendance to a lack of small group fellowship and accountability. The UM roots are steeped in both of these things and he thinks that if we would just get back to our foundation that we could become a vibrant and growing denomination again.
I am struck by this need as well. The difficulty in finding a church home for many people is that they do not feel included and/or needed. This is one of the reasons why church planting has become such a focus across churches. A new place where everyone is on equal footing is a more inviting environment for many people in our society than an established place where friendships are already established. It also goes to reason that new churches are more sensitive to new people out of necessity and therefore more likely to be inviting. These are grand generalizations I know, but you get my point.