The proper perspective

I am sitting at home after another WOT (Worship On Thursdays) [this is our local chaotic remodelled version of Messy Church].

I am wondering about perspective.

For years people have been telling me to get a proper perspective on the Methodist Church. Typically the proper perspective has included things like:

  • Leave because the Methodist Church is in terminal decline
  • You won't find any Methodists interested in Evangelism
  • Methodists aren't interested in Mission
  • There are no young people in Methodist Churches
  • Methodists can't/won't change or do anything new
  • Methodist Worship is boring and traditional, it is of no interest to people outside the Church
  • Methodists are boring and have given up.
  • Methodists are silly liberals who don't believe in the Holy Spirit or in Jesus or in anything really
  • Methodist Churches in rural areas and small towns are doomed. You might as well just close them as soon as possible.

I want to thank all those who have shared views like this with me over the years. These views help me keep a proper perspective.

Without this proper perspective I might look at what is happening in Raunds, particularly at WOT and be led astray.

For example I might be confused by the new people, who have never been in a Church before, who keep coming.

I might be confused by the young people who keep bringing along more friends. Without the "proper" perspective I might think that young people enjoy being part of this Church.

It is lucky that I have these "proper" perspectives or I might look at the numbers in the register and believe that just because they keep going up there is growth.

Without that proper perspective I might be confused by the dedication of the Methodists here, by their eagerness to share their faith and to care for others. Without the proper perspective to correct me I might have mistakenly believed that they took you seriously and through the power of your Spirit in them were alive and active as part of your Kingdom reaching out to those who don't know you yet.

OK enough of the sarcasm.

This is want I really want to say:

Thank-you ever loving and living God for the people called Methodist that I have the privilege of serving in the Nene Valley Circuit. The wonderful people here who are eager to praise you, follow you, serve you, tell others of you and show them you through their love.

Thank-you again and again for your son Jesus, our Lord. Thank you for his teaching and example that it is our joy and delight to share with these young people and their families. Thank-you that they find him as attractive, welcoming, affirming and life changing as your people have through the centuries. Thank-you that we are able to share wonderful news that he died on the cross to offer forgiveness, reconciliation and new life to all. Thank-you that new people are receiving new life through your risen Son.

Thank-you for the work of your Holy Spirit among us, bringing us new life, changing lives, challenging and changing us. Thank-you for the wonderful gifts your Spirit has poured out on your people here to use in your service. Thank-you that you have never given up on us.

And as for me Lord I thank you that your perspective is so different to that of the world. I praise and thank you for best time of my life that you have led me to. May my perspective always come from you.

Thanks for the growth of your Church here. Whooo Hooo :-)

Yiiiippppeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Amen!!!!

If this is what being part of a boring, dying Church is like – then can I have some more please :-)

7 thoughts on “The proper perspective

  1. Chris

    Hello Dave
    Perhaps you might remember me – I was minister of St. Paul’s for 5 years up to 1999.
    You probably remember me as one of those Ministers who resigned.
    Glad to hear you are doing well.
    I’d like to add my own positive words about the Methodist Church. Although, I resigned and have been worshiping in many different churches during this time, I’ve chosen to return to the Methodist Church (and to a struggling church – but I am convinced there are signs of hope).
    Yes, it is in a bad way in places and God knows what the future is but I have become convinced that the Methodist Church does have a part to play in the future of Christianity in the UK.
    Methodists need to get their confidence in God back.
    - Chris (Brown)

    Reply
  2. Will

    Dave, I have gone back and forth as to whether to comment. I don’t know the particular people you are arguing against in this post, but there are times when I fit and I hear the satire against things I have said.
    I appreciate your perspective. It is a reminder to me that the Methodist Church in places is still moving with the Spirit.
    But, please don’t completely block out those who (whether we are in the minority or not) are frustrated by what we see as what at times can be ‘being part of a boring, dying Church’ – and I don’t want any more of it. Those of us who get frustrated by the ‘Sunday only’ mentality and by those for whom discipleship is either defined by this mentality or believe it is for religious fanatics. And frustrations with discussions that centre more on saving buildings than people.
    I’m not saying that the entire church is like this, and certainly your post (here and your other ones) reminds me of this. But, those of us who have a different perspective from the one you have need to be a part of the conversation as well.

    Reply
  3. Dave

    Will,
    I am sorry. I should be more careful with my use of humour, particularly sarcasm. It is too easy to offend people that I have no intention of offending.
    My digs were at people who have told me to leave the Methodist Church and they are not people who are part of the Methodist Church.
    It was not a dig against those who love various aspects of the Methodist Church and tradition (they are the least likely to tell me to leave all they love behind). It was not a dig at those who enjoy more traditional worship. After all I lead a spectrum of Sunday worship and that range extends to the very traditional – and I love worshipping in all these ways. People who love Methodist worship of whatever style are not asking me to leave.
    It was certainly not a did against anyone seeking to bring whole life discipleship into the Methodist people.

    Reply
  4. PamBG

    I like “Yiiiippppeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!; Amen!!!!”
    as the closing to a prayer and how could I respond with anything else?
    Thank you for not listening to all the voices of temptation urging you to give up.

    Reply
  5. Revtel

    Dave,
    I think you rather overstate the case (on both sides), but the original list of advice you have received does contain at least some elements of truth.
    For example:-
    “You won’t find any Methodists interested in Evangelism” – Evangelism is not really a priority in most Methodist Churches.
    “Methodists aren’t interested in Mission” – For most Methodists, “mission” involves putting some money in an envelope or money box.
    “There are no young people in Methodist Churches” – There are worryingly few young people attending Methodist worship across the UK.
    “Methodists can’t/won’t change or do anything new – Methodists tend to be resistant to change, and often treat anything new with suspicion.
    “Methodist Worship is boring and traditional, it is of no interest to people outside the Church” – All too often, Methodist worship is boring and old-fashioned and does not meet the needs of this present age.
    “Methodists are boring and have given up.” – In many Methodist Churches, decline has become a way of life, and there is a sense of weariness about the place.
    Thankfully, that is not the case in every church or circuit, and I dare to believe that God is giving us another chance. So please allow me to join with you in a (slightly) muted “yippee!”
    By the way, hello Chris and Will. Having served in Crawley and North Lancs, I feel quite at home here!
    Terry

    Reply
  6. Dave

    Terry,
    You know me, I have never overstated anything in my life :-)
    I am not interested in focusing on the negative or perceived failings. There are plenty of people doing that. Instead I wanted to respond to people outside Methodism who have no idea that anything good happens in Methodism.
    Besides where there are churches as bad as people describe I close them (3 so far) and help those who are alive and committed to an evangelical gospel start fresh expressions (3 so far for nice symmetry).

    Reply

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