Does your church celebrate misfits?
The youth program at Quincy Union UMC has grown from an average of four to nearly 30 young people in less than two years.
Numerous factors account for the dramatic growth. One of them is the group's underlying sense of identity and purpose. That identity is reflected in their unusual name -- the Methodist Misfits.
The term was coined by one of the young people in the group and was adopted by the rest. Some parents expressed objection to the moniker, not wishing their kids to be labeled as "misfits" even if it was a self-applied label.
This prompted Bob Morwell to write an Identity Statement for the group:
<I>Some people have asked why we call ourselves the Methodist Misfits. A few have objected to the name.
The truth is that following Jesus makes you a "misfit" in a world where so many people thinkg that "fitting in" at any cost is the most important thing they can do. Peer pressure forces people to conform to all sorts of actions and attitudes that are often deeply destructive ... or just plain dumb. People who desperately want to "fit in" are often seduced into disastrous choices.
Jesus was a misfit. There's no getting around that fact. He was about something other...something more...than looking out for Number One, being popular at any price, and following the crowd even when it was charging toward a cliff. He was crucified for being a misfit, according to the standards of the world. As the Apostle Paul (another misfit) wrote to the church in Rome, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2)
Yes, some of us felt like misfits even before joining this odd and gracious group. But here, we have discovered Someone who loves us, even with our problems, quirks, eccentricities...and let's face it, everyone has them! He is the One who has called us together.
That means we will still be "misfits" in a world that judges people by all sorts of shallow, materialistic, and even cruel standards....Because we follow Jesus, who measures our worth by a radically different standard.
He stands with us. So we stand with him. Even if that makes us "misfits."
We figure we're in good company.</I>
For what it's worth, welcoming and embracing misfits has caused this youth program to flourish.