Faithful Ministry

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I have been in a prolific state of writing papers for my next phase of ordination as of late.  I’m spending most of my days and nights getting reacquainted with my Book of Discipline (the United Methodist version of the Roman Catholic Catechism), and being up to my elbows (literally) in scripture.  I came across this on page 90 of the Book of Discipline, and it struck me:

¶129. Faithful Ministry – The people of God, who are the church made visible in the world, must convince the world of the reality of the gospel or leave it unconvinced.  There can be no evasion or delegation of this responsibility; the church is either faithful as a witness and serving the community, or it loses its vitality and its impact on an unbelieving world.


(Image courtesy of daletedder.wordpress.com)

In plain English, black and white: either we accomplish our mission of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or we don’t.  There is no “well, I tried.”  Our churches are either faithful, or we are not.  We either witness and serve, or we dwindle and die.  Take a look around.  I do not think it is too hard to see where we are headed.  Is it too late?  Is the church beyond help?  No, never.  With God, all things are possible, and all things can be made new.  However, God is not going to wave a magic wand and fix the church.  No, we are.  We are going to work hard, work our fingers to the bone, and wear out the soles of our shoes.  We are going to fix the church, because God calls us to be faithful and serve.  We start in the church; it expands out into the community, and then out into the world. 

We are going to do this, or we will go the way of the Ancient Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, and all the other civilizations that had so much to offer, but it never endured.  Then, one day, we will stand before our Lord as he judges the nations, and we will have to account.  There will be no exemption for belonging to a dysfunctional church, a dying denomination.  Christ will want to know what we did to change things, how we worked to turn things around.  Here’s the real kicker.  Clergy cannot do this on their own.  We cannot carry the entire church, and I do not believe that God would have us try.  We are in ministry WITH YOU.  We are working to accomplish the will of God WITH YOU.  Christ expects faithful witness from us AND YOU.  We want and need to do this transformation of the world on a massive, unprecedented scale with you.  Are you ready?  Are you willing?  Now is the time, and this is the day.

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