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.
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!