By Jessica Brodie
I’ve had about enough of the doom and gloom, the quarrels about which side is more “like Jesus” or “like John Wesley,” the founder of Methodism. We all know what Jesus said about fulfilling the Law and loving others. It’s all important. Those of you reading this who are traditionalist or progressive or somewhere in the middle, know all of us are probably a little bit right and a little bit wrong. And one day, Jesus will set things straight.
But until then, we’ve got a church to build. And every day we get bogged down in the pettiness or the arguments or the hurt feelings or the finger-pointing is a day lost.
Some days it feels like everything is on hold right now as we wait … for General Conference, for the churches separating to separate, for the proverbial sky to fall.
So let’s stop waiting. There’s never going to be enough money or a culture super-hungry for the Gospel or a perfectly-in-alignment theological perspective where everyone is in absolute unity. Come on—we’re living on Earth right now, not heaven.
What we’re tasked to do is share the Gospel. Love others. Even in the midst of strife.
And while we’re at it, we need to keep our in-fighting to a minimum lest it distract other new or potential believers from the real message: the saving grace we claim in Christ Jesus.
It’s one thing to talk about what’s going on in your denominational newspaper. Debate is healthy, and it helps us grow. But it’s a whole other thing to press pause on ministry and mission and everything else that breathes life into our churches until everything is settled. It’s like we’ve gone radio-silent. It’s high time our churches got loud and proud about communicating what Jesus has to offer this world.
So let’s proclaim it, my friends, in all the ways we can. Let’s look at our own churches from an outsider’s perspective and see what message we’re sending. Do we look like a boring congregation where people are asleep in the pews, like a people who just shuffle in for an hour-long Sunday service and shuffle back to our comfortable homes once more? Are we sending more of a ho-hum message than a message that we serve the living, triumphant, eternal God whose grace and love are available to every single soul, no holds barred?
And how do people find us? Do we have a website? Are we on social media (and on more than “just Facebook,” which caters to an older audience)? Do we have signs outside that say what time worship is held and encourage all to come? (I visited a church recently that had one time on its website, only to show up and they were meeting an hour earlier. Not good!)
And in those communications do we still have news about our Lenten studies from two months ago, or a picture from our Christmas service, or are we relevant and timely? Are we open to seekers? Do we talk about our ministries and let other people know what we’re doing? Do we tell our local newspapers and TV stations or send postcards to neighbors? Or are we perhaps coming across like a little clique of religious insiders who don’t really want to open up to the world, or who aren’t really doing much with this glorious gift of salvation?
I’m looking around, and I see a lot of churches who are hiding their lights. Maybe they’re waiting for General Conference, or too busy discerning their future, or too tired to do God’s work and communicate about it. I repeat: There’s never a “perfect time” to do anything. So let’s all step up and get to work spreading the news about the good things Methodists are doing in the world today, about the ways we love each other and care for those in need, about the fact that our doors are open to all and we all kneel in worship to the one who made the stars. It’s time.