By Jessica Brodie
I know a lot of people who fiercely believe in and follow Jesus, but they have no desire to be part of a church community. Scarred by mean or judgmental Christians they’ve encountered and even what many refer to as church trauma, they steer clear.
I always took the urging in Hebrews 10:25—that we should not be “giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”—as addressing why we should continue going to church even if we don’t really want to, as well as encouragement for those persecuted to continue to meet even if it’s risky. Gathering together strengthens us and allows the Spirit to move powerfully.
Lately I’ve been attending a lot more church events, particularly on the conference level. After the pandemic shut things down for so long, particularly in the church, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Killingsworth gala recently, and just before we went to press on this edition of the newspaper, I got the chance to be at the Greenwood District Day, featuring wisdom from Bishop Jonathan Holston and other conference leaders. This June we had our first in-person Annual Conference since 2019, and last month I got the chance to gather with United Methodist communicators from all over the nation.
It’s been good to get out again, to see people, to gather.
I think that’s one of the reasons so much strife, division and isolation are occurring in our church right now—alone we are at our worst. The devil knows this and, like a prowling lion, searches for a way to attack (1 Peter 5:8).
But together, we are mighty in the spirit of the Lord. Together, we can learn and grow in new ways.
I’ve never been a big fan of meetings, and I get my best work done in solitude. But there is so much good that happens when we intentionally gather. Yes, it’s extra work and travel, but it’s important. It reminds us we are all together in this kingdom, all united in a common mission despite our differences and quirks.
I’m so glad to know District Days will be happening across the annual conference. Two more are scheduled for this month (see article, Page 1), and I encourage you to attend your district gathering. Even if you don’t hold a leadership position in your church, it’s good to go, good to work together for a stronger and mightier kingdom of God here on earth.
Even if you’re an introvert, go and gather. Even if there’s strife, go and gather. Even if you’re tired, go and gather.
In this time of discontent in the church, we need this more than we know.