In his recent blog post, Dan R. Dick of “United Methodeviations” writes,
“…we’re not dead, we’re simply lost. We don’t need resurrection (yet), but reform, renewal, restoration and a return to what we do best.”
Dan writes with a great hope that many of us in the UMC share, a great hope that the Lord will bring revival to the church, that we will become the church that God intends for us to be, making disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.
In the comments of the same post, Jeff Uhler writes,
“Call it what you will, but the result is the same – declining numbers and lack of evangelistic zeal. I’ve had folks tell me they weren’t going to take a class I offered because they “know all I want to about God already.” While there are exceptions, many of our churches are filled with folks who want to attend a worship service on Sunday morning, put a little bit of money in the offering plate, say their prayers at worship and go home feeling that they’ve “done their duty.” They’ll leave the “ministry” of the church up to the pastor. And, they expect that “God will be happy.”
Jeff has a very good point. The fact is that in just about any church you will find people with that mentality. They are people who do not want to be put into a position that is different than they have always seen themselves. They want to hold their religion out at arm’s length. The fact is, they want to be lukewarm Christians. No reason to become radical about anything. Somebody might think you’re a “fundamentalist” or something! No, they just want to continue on as they have always done, as Jeff says, going to church on Sundays, putting a little in the offering plate, saying their prayers at worship and going home feeling good about themselves. In other words, “I’m just fine the way I am. Don’t bother me.”
You will always find such people in the church. They have probably always been there, and they will always be there. Church is a “social club” to them. So what do we do? You can’t change them.
Well, for the most part, we who do care, we who are dedicated believers and followers of Christ, need to continue on doing what we can. Continue doing what you believe you have been called to do. God has given you a gift, or two or three, or whatever. Make use of them. God sees you; He knows what you are doing, and He will not fail to reward you in the end.
But more than that, what you may not realize is that there are great numbers of people in the church who also care, and are willing to do their part to help make the church what God intends for it to be. You may not see them around you; you may actually be blind to them. I have discovered in my own church many people who do have faith, who strongly believe God is calling them to do certain things, but who are afraid to speak out against things they see in the church that are wrong, and don’t know how to go about correcting them.
We need to speak out. If we don’t we won’t know who our allies are within the church, fellow believers who believe just as we do.
When we had liberal/progressive clergy leading our church, who denied the deity of Jesus and his vicarious atonement on the cross, his miracles, and so on, and who frowned upon any such appeal to Jesus as Lord and God, people clammed up! Most of the congregation continued to attend worship services, but nobody said anything, so people seemed to approve of such teaching because of their silence in the face of it.
When we got a more evangelically-minded pastor who held to a high Christology and spoke boldly about the power of God through His Son and the Holy Spirit to transform lives, why, the people started coming out and speaking boldly about their own faith, too. So don’t think just because people are silent that they are dead. There may be a vital, powerful faith in Christ bubbling under the surface where you are unaware of it, but which is ready to burst forth if given the opportunity.
United Methodists, speak your faith! Don’t be afraid! You will discover you have friends.