Recent reports of revival on the campuses of Asbury University, Asbury Seminary, Lee College, and other Christian institutions across the United States are creating world-wide chatter. These reports of revival have resulted in folks flocking to the various schools seeking first-hand exposure/experience and an attempt to validate the authenticity of what is going on.
I had a long talk this morning with a family member this morning because her congregation is considering disaffiliating. As we talked, I came up with some discussion points for churches, particularly rural churches, that are considering this move. While not exhaustive, I hope they might help churches who are having these discussions.
My understanding of the team’s conclusion can be summed up in a few words: disappointment with human failure. They appeared to be disappointed that various persons and groups within the denomination have violated clear mandates of The Book of Discipline. Why was I not surprised? I have been part of many groups whose perceived failures have been disappointing. Did that compel me to withdraw? Or could it be an invitation to remain and work for renewal and reform from within the structure?
I cannot in good conscience, cast a vote to disaffiliate in order to join a denomination that was established primarily to stop the discussion about human sexuality and deny the full inclusion of my LGBTQ+ friends and family into the church. I can’t and I won’t. At the very least, the UMC is still open to the discussion. Nor can I be a part of a denomination that has deemed it necessary to recruit clergy, members, and even whole churches through what I see as a pattern of deceit, fearmongering, and unfair maligning of my church. That is certainly not how Jesus taught us to treat each other.
The Bible has a lot to say about change. From Genesis to Revelations, the entire Bible focuses on transformation and change. The core message of the gospel (good news) is that change is not only desirable, but it is an essential requirement for experiencing personal spiritual transformation.
The season of Advent is a reminder that Jesus Christ alone, our solid rock, provides us hope in times of darkness. Jesus is not only our rock of stability, but he is the light that overcomes any and every dark storm that we face. Jesus offers us a peace that guides us through the turbulent storms of life and yields ultimate joy, as we not only withstand the storms, but we triumph over the storms. “On Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!”
My Thanksgiving Challenge is for you to invite yourself and others to list five things that you are thankful to God for. Give each person a small piece of paper and something to write with. Invite them to jot down five things that they are thankful to the Lord for providing to and for them.
There is nothing like the United Methodist Church when the United Methodist Church is working right!