As I write this, “Pastor’s Ponderings” to you I am in the midst of preparing to attend an educational growth experience for pastors as we lead congregations of the United Methodist Church. This growth experience is called, “Healthy Congregations” and as I prepare for this experience and learning during the first week of October, we, as participants, have been asked to pray and prepare ourselves to explore a number of statements to move us along in this learning journey. I would like to share just a few of the statements with you:
– When we speak, discern and lead within our churches we are standing on Holy Ground because we are rooted and grounded in love. We are called to take off our shoes in humility.
– The love of Christ is far greater than the knowledge that each one of us has.
– We can only grasp the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love when we love one another.
– Every single child and family in heaven and on earth takes their name from God.
– Who is God calling us to be at this moment? Who are we? Whose are we?
During these past couple weeks, as I have prayed and attempted to discern not only my answers but my feelings on these statements, I have recognized that the Holy Spirit has come into my life from different angles and movements and this coming into my soul has caused me to reflect back on a number of encounters with others that I have had. I have become open to seeing possibilities on who we are as the Claybanks United Methodist Church within our community, our United Methodist denomination and as Christians.
For the past two years one of my functions as your pastor has been to assess how healthy is the Claybanks United Methodist Church. My response to those who asked the question, is that Claybanks United Methodist Church is one of the healthiest congregations within the Michigan Area Conference of the United Methodist Church. That being said, there is one area that has come to my attention because of some recent encounters – we and most churches withdraw and do not assert ourselves and share God’s grace with others. We wait for, “opportunities” rather than opening the doors wide.
Many churches, the United Methodist denomination and other denominations, are on a slow decline. While there are many reasons for this, I do believe that one reason is we are not blessing others because we do not share the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ openly. Within our congregation we love each other and receive many blessings when we come together to worship and fellowship within the Claybanks United Methodist Church congregation. But we and so many other Christians, churches, and denominations miss the opportunities to share God’s love, grace and mercy with those around us. Why do we do this? Primarily because we don’t want to be offensive by being, “too churchy”. Too often when we are with others and the subject of, “Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and are you attending worship” comes up, we are proud and excited to share that we attend Claybanks United Methodist Church and what a blessing it is for us. To the point that this is such a personal blessing, we hold it for ourselves and miss a chance to share the blessing with all of God’s people. So, we fall short by not saying, “Come join us”! I, as a pastor, also fall short by not always extending an invitation to attend “my church”. I try to use the excuse that I and many of those who I come in contact with live quite a distance from Claybanks. But I should be encouraging those I meet to attend one of the many churches close to where they live and work. To do this is to use the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ has commanded us to share our faith with those around us. When we share the love, grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are truly opening our hearts, our minds and our spirits to the greatest gift we have ever received and that is Jesus Christ as our Savior. We as Christians must get excited and share the Word of God, the peace of Jesus Christ and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit with all of those who God has sent into our lives. The openings are there, and we have the words, for the Holy Spirit empowers us to share our faith with all of God’s children.
I/we must share our faith and be invitational with all of God’s people as we journey hand-in-hand with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for eternality.
Share God’s Grace! It is a gift to be shared.
The Holy Spirit goes with you.