Here it is, the new year, 2007. I find myself still in the United Methodist Church.
I’m happy with our new pastor; we still have a special group of brothers and sisters at our church; –but– people still aren’t interested in good, deep Bible study; money in our church is still frequently spent foolishly; I still disagree with certain theological positions of our new pastor (though I like him and think he’s a fine pastor); and the church is still way too interested in being like the culture rather than in transforming the culture.
I’m coming to grips with the idea of staying in the apostate UMC. If you’re in a church that isn’t apostate; if you’ve come out of the UMC, you might have some difficulty in understanding this. But I have become quite comfortable with the idea. Certainly I still have problems with a lot of things. I’m still very frustrated with the corruption at the top level of the church, including the council of bishops. I would much rather that my local church would not pay our apportionments to the corrupt, anti-Christian general boards and agencies. I am still very frustrated by the abuse of power on the part of the liberals/progressives. I am even frustrated that our local church uses the NRSV Bible in our services and gives the GNT to our third graders.
I haven’t given up on getting the church to make desired changes.
But I think I’m becoming truer to my purpose for which God called me back into the UMC.
The following are portions of a post from a friend of mine on the UCMPage discussion board, Dan Tilly of Newburn, TN, and I think it says very clearly my own thoughts on this:
Here’s how I see it.
You cannot save the denomination. All who try will become frustrated, disoriented, and eventually will leave or give up in exhaustion. Just look at what has happened to those who have tried…
Secondly, to try and save the denomination is a wrong-headed approach. It’s not what the kingdom is about. This giant bureaucrasy called the UMC is a monstrosity that has become self-serving and literally cannot be saved by trying to save it. In fact, Jesus words apply, “Whoever saves his life will lose it.” And whoever tries to save the UMC will either quit trying or lose his soul trying.
Third, suppose for a moment that the evangelicals COULD take over the UMC. It would still not be saved. That is, even if all the groups like Good News, the CM, and othes were to successfully pull off the “take over” at General Conference, the UMC would STILL be lost. Suppose GC were to reverse its stand on abortion to a strong pro-life position. This would still not save one child from abortion, and it would not save the denomination.
There is only one hope and one only of saving this movement. It will never come through watching bishops, gathering votes at General Conference, or withholding apportionments (although, all of those actions may be commendable at certain junctures, but they can do NOTHING to save the church).
The only way to save the UMC is to quit trying to save it. Let it die, if it must. Let it self-destruct, if it must. In the meantime, begin faithful, fruitful, and godly ministries where ever you are. Minister to the poor, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, save the babies, and make personal sacrifices to do the work of Christ. If the “powers” that be toss you out on your ears for being a faithful servant to Christ, then so be it. God will provide. If the powers that be persecute you for your loyalty to the gospel, then “pray for them who persecute you and spitefully use you”, but “yours is the kingdom of heaven.” If the bishop sends you to a hell hole, build an outpost of heaven there. But whatever you do, don’t try to save the denomination. Turn over the tables of the money changers if you must, but don’t expect to save them.
Go into the prisons and the houses of the prostitutes. Visit the hospitals and the dying. Take the sacrament to the nursing homes, and pray with the infirm and the Alzheimer’s patients. Start real worship services in your churches, and lead people into deep communion with God…
…If the UMC is to be saved at all, it will be saved because we have given up saving it, and instead have gone after Christ and saving the ones for whom Christ died. In the end, only God can judge the motives of those who remain in the denomination and those who depart. I don’t even judge my own self, although I search my heart constantly. In the end we stand before the judge of All. My only desire is to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Everything else is secondary.