Central United Methodist Church
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Endicott, New York
Pastor's Corner

Last month I made a (greatly oversimplified) summary of Martin Luther’s argument with the Church of his time that it had left faith behind in favor of religion--and that religion had become unwieldy and wrong, and his 95 Theses protest of it. So, in our culture that increasingly views the church as irrelevant, I suggested instead of 95 theses, a mere 9.5 the Church needs to consider in order to reboot and reclaim its vitality and relevance*. Last month, I gave you five of these points:

*adapted from a sermon by Rev. Dr. Michelle Bogue-Trost and Rev. Dr. J.A.Fenimore, 2011.


1.  It’s not all about us
2.  Radical Hospitality

3.  Thriving, not surviving
4.  Connecting people

5.  Spiritual formation for all

here are the other 4.5…
6.  Cultural engagement
One of the major complaints about the church from those who are not in it is that it is not culturally relevant. The church is so often behind the times in so many ways, technologically, politically, educationally, ecologically and some may say theologically. If 1950 comes again we are so ready, the saying goes. But what if church actively engaged the realities of our 21st century world as opposed to simply reacting.

7.  Developing Christian Leaders

The Christian life is an active life. Pastors are not the only leaders in a church, nor should they be. Each person is called by God to ministry of one sort or another-- to serve the world God loves. Part of the task of any church is to help persons identify their gifts for service and begin to use them, inside and outside of the congregation.

8.  Empowering, not gatekeeping
The easiest way to discourage leaders in the church is to make it difficult for new ministries to emerge. We need to be empowering. We need to recognize that God sometimes calls people to do things that we cannot even conceive. Who are we to stand in the way? Every church needs to assess its systems, structures, procedures etc. to ensure that they become nimble and empowering where they are not.  

9.  You only fail if you don’t try
We sometimes carry a notion of failure that tells us a failure is the end of something, that we have to go back to the beginning and stop trying. No church can be afraid to risk, or step out, or fail, just because we are more comfortable with the way it’s always been. Risking new things won’t always make everyone happy--Paul got run out of several churches for proposing that God might be calling them to a different way--but as a wit once said, “The key to failure is to try to please everyone.”

9.5.  If it ain’t fun, lighten up.  

In the end, the journey we are called to,  should be one we enjoy. The path of discipleship is serious, yes, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. We are not alone.  We have a tradition that tells us that God wants good for us, and we have companions to make the journey easier.

Still in One Peace,