I have been wondering for a while on whether to contribute to the debate on some Methodist blogs about the future of the Church (see connexions » Efficiency, connexions » Responding to decline (again): Change and connexions » Gotta get a system – I’ll leave you to find the other side, it shouldn’t be too difficult from the comments on connexions).
I have wondered whether to write a response to those views which make me despair for the future of the Church, ones that seem to be full of aggression and vindictiveness.
In the end I have decided not to play that game.
You see my experience is quite different. Like many newish Methodist Ministers I have come into ordained ministry later in life after a career in other fields. I am not some naive, wet behind the ears graduate who has never touched the real world.
So I now work within a Church that has problems, that has at times in it’s history lost its way, one that does not have a reputation for rapid change.
What do I find here in this Church?
- I find loving and competent people determined to know and serve Jesus.
- I find dedicated people giving huge amounts of time to the Church, to their communities – all for the Kingdom of God.
- I find an openness to change (by no means everywhere, but in more than enough places and people to give plenty of hope
But more than all these things, I find the Holy Spirit at work – changing lives, transforming situations. I see people experiencing the love of Christ who forgives, heals, restores. I see the creative energy of the generous Father in new opportunities, new lives, new ventures.
When I was young I was frustrated by the slowness of the Church in adopting skills, techniques, processes from business. Now, rather older, I rejoice in being part of a Church where God is at work creating, redeeming, giving life. A Church in which we can face death through the real hope that only comes from God dying for us and then bringing resurrection and new life. Now I rejoice in the diversity and generosity of his love.
For me the future of the Church rests in the hands of the God who loves me – despite my failings. What a wonderful thing that is. Hallelujah!