What I Learned By Not Blogging or Reading #UMC

It’s been over 3 months since I’ve written anything about the United Methodist Church and it’s contentiousness over human sexuality (to the applause of my 3 or 4 readers, I’m sure).  I don’t intend to ruin that streak here, but wished to share a little of what I have learned during my hiatus from blogging in hopes that it might be beneficial to one or two of you.

One of our blogging superintendents, Sky McCracken, has said time and time again that we need to get back to the task of making disciples of Jesus Christ.  Three months ago I am sure I asked him something to the effect of, “That’s fine, but how do we do that when we can’t even agree on what makes a disciple?”   Over the past 12 weeks I believe I answered my own question, perhaps discovering what Sky and others have been trying to say all along:

As a pastor called by God to shepherd God’s people, that’s my job.

What this means is, who cares how a pastor in another state, or even across town, is making disciples?   I have enough on my own plate praying with and for, teaching, preaching, counseling, visiting, visioning, leading and training the hundred or so people I have right here in front of me.   If I would focus on making disciples right here and right now to the best of my God-given ability then I will be far too busy to care what my colleagues are doing with their flocks and, Lord willing, do a far more faithful and better job of it.   In fact, this is precisely what has happened these past 12 weeks when I stopped focusing on what others were doing and determined to focus on Jesus Christ and the people who need him right here in my own little neck of the woods.

And praise be to God we have seen the fruit of such labor!   In the past 12 weeks we have baptized 13, brought in 29 new members (with more coming this Sunday), reshaped the vision and focus of our Sunday worship from a traditional, gospel feel to a more modern/contemporary feel, and increased community awareness about the recovery ministry we are gearing up to launch in November which promises to transform hundreds if not thousands of lives in our county starving for such a holistic, Christ-centered ministry.   I don’t share any of this to boast but to simply yet loudly announce this to my colleagues living in cyber space on both sides of this issue:   Get off the computer and get to work!   

I say this in love, and i hope you receive it as such.   Yes, I know, there are problems in our denomination.  Yes, I know, there are people doing things they should not do.   And yes, I know, we need leadership which will address these issues and lead us faithfully into a new, bolder future.   But until you or I (God helps us) become a district superintendent or a bishop, I believe our task is to serve the people in our local parishes and make disciples for Jesus Christ.  If we would each do this faithfully, while praying for those in leadership over us, I believe God will take care of the rest.

I am still committed to the same truth I was blogging about every week or so in the spring of this year and before.    But I am even more committed to, and even more enlivened and excited about, the work of making the church at which I am appointed the best we can be to the glory of God.  I want to make Jesus famous here, not an issue or cause.   And you know what?  I think most people who know me would say I’m a happier, more joy-filled, hope-filled pastor (not to mention a more present husband and father) because of it.

make-disciples

So a challenge:  Stop blogging for 3 months about any issues.  Stop reading blogs about issues.   Read stuff and write stuff that instead feeds your soul and those of others.  Read and write stuff that points people to a Savior who loves them and died for them and wants to be in a relationship with them today.   

Put an end to the cycle of talking heads and see for yourself what God will do right in your own backyard when you take your eyes off the backyards (and bedrooms) of everyone else.   To God be the glory. Amen.

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22).

Now….back to the mission field!   Happy disciple making!

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7 thoughts on “What I Learned By Not Blogging or Reading #UMC

  1. Pingback: Thanks, Chad, for a good idea | John Meunier

  2. Welcome back, Chad! You are a talented writer and, more importantly, a strong voice calling us to true holiness and righteousness (without which no one will see God). As one of your “3 or 4 readers”, I have been both challenged and blessed by the blog posts you have written. I completely understand the importance of focusing on your church and on your family, but I would also encourage you not to underestimate the impact of your blogs with their uncompromising call to holiness which, sadly, is almost absent in the UMC today.

    On topic, I’m torn by your position on our primary goal being making disciples rather than worrying about the wider denominational problems. First, leading others to Christ and helping them to grow in their faith is absolutely the correct focus. The issue I have been struggling with for 15 years though is how to effectively accomplish this within the UMC.

    You are correct that by focusing on the local church, you can do great things, but … at the same time, you need to walk a difficult tight-rope to ensure that those under your charge are not eventually led astray by the many unbiblical positions, teachings, and literature being produced by the apostate UMC infrastructure. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to fully resolve the path forward on this even though we have a good local church. I also have never fully resolved the issue of how to give effectively within the UMC when several of our agencies are actively working against Christ; targeted giving is the only path that leaves my conscience clear but is not a great (or effective) answer.

    For these reasons, I firmly agree that our primary task is proclaiming the Gospel to a lost and dying world and making disciples. But, at the same time, if we stop advocating and working for change within the UMC, wouldn’t part of making disciples necessarily mean helping them understand that the UMC is a broken denomination with the result that many, of necessity both for their souls and for our souls, would eventually need to switch to more faithful denominations where they can grow in the Word with less opportunity for their faith to be ship-wrecked? After you leave your charge, what becomes of your new members who are not yet firmly grounded in the Word if wolves are appointed after you?

    In my opinion, in the western world, the UMC is currently a missions field to a greater extent than it is a missions organization. I wonder if that changes how we should approach “making disciples”?

    Blessings to you and your family!

  3. Thanks for writing this Chad, and I agree. By and large, what happens on a wider denominational level has nothing to do with my ministry. Personally, I don’t do social media much at all anymore because I find it distracts from what I’m called to do locally.

    At the same time, the navel-gazing culture of the UMC seems to me a grind, and I don’t believe theology is being done poorly if it seeks answers rather than never resolved questions, conversations, and appeals to “holy conferencing.” I just today received a postcard from a regional Wesleyan seminary asking if I’d be open to a talk that explains why I’m wrong on what I perceive to be a really simple interpretive issue.

    About six months ago I realized that I just don’t find scriptural interpretation to be that arduous a task, and I knew it was time for me to leave. I do pray, though, that God will continue working through your wonderful witness, and through the witness of other faithful Christians in the INC.

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