Yesterday and today I have been in Stafford, VA for a continuing ed event sponsored by the Virginia Conference of the UMC. One of the headline speakers is Dan Kimball. I am impressed that they brought a speaker from outside the denomination. I have really enjoyed Dan’s perspective and approach to being a worshiping community.
The focus of the conference is on connecting with the disconnected, i.e. evangelism. Dan asked some good questions and I think really challenged the folks who attended. The biggest thing that I think is a Methodist cultural issue – reaching outside the four walls of the church building. There are many UMCs that do this well. However, I would argue that the majority of UMCs don’t do this well. We have somehow lost the DNA of Wesley where people go out to where the people are.
It seems that in our culture, the pastor and church staff sit in their office in the church preparing for the people that are already attending. Mission is leaving for one week in the year to serve someone in a far off place.
Yet, there are many people in our own community that need to be connected with the kingdom of God. Our churches need to be missionaries in our communities. We need to have vital, celebratory, life-giving worship. We need to be developing authentic relationships with people outside our churches. We need to be growing in our own relationship with God so that we can be transformed in love to serve and love the people in our community, not because they are a number, but because they are loved by the Author of grace and creation.
The church is not social club. The church is the people who are the body of Christ called to go out into the world.