Saturday, May 05, 2012

Real Church

I am especially thankful to my annual conference for trusting me to be a reserve delegate to General Conference. I pray I have been faithful to that task. I know that I am as frustrated as anyone about the past two weeks.

Everyone has an opinion about what happened here in Tampa/General Conference. I have my own, too. Of course, opinions are like... opinions. Everyone has one. But I think this opinion is an especially good one:
The church exists in its most robust, most consequential form in local congregations. And it is through the witness and ministry of those congregations that new Christians are called to faith, baptized and formed as disciples of Jesus...
Evangelism and witness are Christian practices that faithful Christian men and women pursue in a local community. Worship happens in congregations. And redemptive love must always be given and received from one to another. That love comes first from Christ to the church, and it can then be shared person-to-person.

All this means that ministry is an inescapably intimate reality. As necessary as certain legislation might be from the “top down,” it can only serve in a secondary capacity to the calling upon Christians in their local situations—where life happens, and where salvation is received.

So the future of the church is still largely what it has always been. We—the pastors and laity of the United Methodist Church—must repent, recommit ourselves, and so reinvigorate the life of the church in our day.
- Andrew Thompson, UM Reporter, May 5, 2012
To that, I can only say in my best Kentucky brogue: "Yup."
Almighty God,
Forgive us when we miss the "main thing."
Being and making disciples is what you call us to do, and
we are thankful that you trust us enough to that commission.
These past two weeks, we were more worried about our own "plans"
instead of yours.
Remind us that you are Our Father. And remind us it is "Thy will."
And forgive us, for we are a fallen, flawed, and self-absorbed people.
At the same time, remind us that you can redeem us even when
we are at our most screwed-up and most selfish states
of mind and soul, if we'll only confess, repent, and
do something about it.
Enable us to go home, preach the Gospel clearly, witness
our faith effectively, save the lost, all according to
YOUR plan and call to action.
In Jesus' name. Amen.


John Bonson said...

Well stated, brother. Thank you for your faithfulness through this process of discernment.

General Conference is not just about legislation - although it resembles that mostly. It is about the "holy convesations" that take place during that time together with delegates from the whole world.

We, who have followed your blog and postings, have had the opportunity to experience at least some of that holiness through your eyes and heart!

Bill Lawson said...

Amen; thanks for the representation!

The vital structure and framework of the Church, periodically reviewed and updated through the conferencing processes, provides support for each of us as we strive to fulfill God's call on our lives. Where two or three of us can find a way to agree, we are further empowered. Our greatest vitality is in those points of unified mission and service.

Billy Watson said...

Thank you for this beautiful reminder of God's Truth, brother!